Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
This is a beautiful video showing the fun of Carnevale in Venice, Italy. The first part of the video shows partiers and dancers, foot jugglers and more. Following this is a segment that shows how the masks are made - surprising how much work they are, custom made for the clients' faces. Enjoy!
Monday, December 17, 2007
Sunday, December 16, 2007
We just came back from a friend's Christmas party. Among their table of gifts piled high, we couldn't help notice what was among them, unwrapped. See the bottom left of the photo! Ah, yes, these are our most fun friends! We love them to death!
If you can't see it real well, click the photo to enlarge it.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
From the London Daily Mail by Hazel Courteney. I've verified this on other sources too.
Nestling in the foothills of the Alps in northern Italy, 30 miles from the ancient city of Turin, lies the valley of Valchiusella. Peppered with medieval villages, the hillside scenery is certainly picturesque.
But it is deep underground, buried into the ancient rock, that the region's greatest wonders are concealed.
Hall of the Earth: An amazing room built on the visions of its creator
Here, 100ft down and hidden from public view, lies an astonishing secret - one that has drawn comparisons with the fabled city of Atlantis and has been dubbed 'the Eighth Wonder of the World' by the Italian government.
For weaving their way underneath the hillside are nine ornate temples, on five levels, whose scale and opulence take the breath away.
Constructed like a three-dimensional book, narrating the history of humanity, they are linked by hundreds of meters of richly decorated tunnels and occupy almost 300,000 cubic feet - Big Ben is 15,000 cubic feet.
Light fantastic: The giant glass dome of the Hall of Mirrors
Few have been granted permission to see these marvels.
Indeed, the Italian government was not even aware of their existence until a few years ago.
But the 'Temples of Damanhur' are not the great legacy of some long-lost civilization, they are the work of a 57-year-old former insurance broker from northern Italy who, inspired by a childhood vision, began digging into the rock.
It all began in the early Sixties when Oberto Airaudi was aged ten. From an early age, he claims to have experienced visions of what he believed to be a past life, in which there were amazing temples.
Around these he dreamed there lived a highly evolved community who enjoyed an idyllic existence in which all the people worked for the common good.
More bizarrely still, Oberto appeared to have had a supernatural ability: the gift of "remote viewing" - the ability to travel in his mind's eye to describe in detail the contents of any building. [I am skeptical, but believe as you wish!]
"My goal was to recreate the temples from my visions," he says.
Oberto - who prefers to use the name 'Falco' - began by digging a trial hole under his parent's home to more fully understand the principals of excavation.
Play time: Children look happy in the amazing surroundings
House of secrets: Below this house is the Damanhurian temple which is one of the largest temple complexes in the world
But it was only as he began a successful career as an insurance broker that he began to search for his perfect site.
In 1977, he selected a remote hillside where he felt the hard rock would sustain the structures he had in mind.
A house was built on the hillside and Falco moved in with several friends who shared his vision. Using hammers and picks, they began their dig to create the temples of Damanhur - named after the ancient subterranean Egyptian temple meaning City of Light - in August 1978.
As no planning permission had been granted, they decided to share their scheme only with like-minded people.
Volunteers, who flocked from around the world, worked in four-hour shifts for the next 16 years with no formal plans other than Falco's sketches and visions, funding their scheme by setting up small businesses to serve the local community.By 1991, several of the nine chambers were almost complete with stunning murals, mosaics, statues, secret doors and stained glass windows. But time was running out on the secret.
Hall of Spheres: Creator Oberto Airaudi based his creation on wonderful visions
Bright window: The window decorations have a church-stained window theme
The first time the police came it was over alleged tax evasion and still the temples lay undiscovered. But a year later the police swooped on the community demanding: "Show us these temples or we will dynamite the entire hillside."
Falco and his colleagues duly complied and opened the secret door to reveal what lay beneath.
Three policemen and the public prosecutor hesitantly entered, but as they stooped down to enter the first temple - named the Hall of the Earth - their jaws dropped.
Inside was a circular chamber measuring 8m in diameter.
Egyptian wall paintings: Damanhurian art is greatly influenced by both Egyptian and Celtic styles
A central sculpted column, depicting a three dimensional man and woman, supported a ceiling of intricately painted glass.
The astonished group walked on to find sculpted columns covered with gold leaf, more than 8m high.
Stunned by what they had found, the authorities decided to seize the temples on behalf of the government.
"By the time they had seen all of the chambers, we were told to continue with the artwork, but to cease further building, as we had not been granted planning permission," says Esperide Ananas, who has written a new book called Damanhur, Temples Of Humankind.
Retrospective permission was eventually granted and today the 'Damanhurians' even have their own university, schools, organic supermarkets, vineyards, farms, bakeries and award-winning eco homes.
They do not worship a spiritual leader, though their temples have become the focus for group meditation.
'They are to remind people that we are all capable of much more than we realise and that hidden treasures can be found within every one of us once you know how to access them,' says Falco
Friday, December 14, 2007
I promise you cannot read these and not laugh out loud. These are real notes written by parents in a school district in a state that will here be unnamed. Spellings have been left intact.
1. My son is under a doctor's care and should not take PE today. Please execute him.
2. Please exkuce lisa for being absent she was sick and i had her shot.
3. Dear school: please ecsc's john being absent on jan. 28, 29, 30, 31, 32 and also 33.
4. Please excuse gloria from jim today. She is administrating.
5. Please excuse roland from p.e. for a few days. Yesterday he fell out of a tree and misplaced his hip.
6. John has been absent because he had two teeth taken out of his face.
7. Carlos was absent yesterday because he was playing football. He was hurt in the growing part.
8. Megan could not come to school today because she has been bothered by very close veins.
9. Chris will not be in school cus he has an acre in his side.
10. Please excuse ray friday from school. He has very loose vowels.
11. Please excuse Lesli from being absent yesterday. She had
diahre dyrea direathe the shits.
12. Please excuse tommy for being absent yesterday. He had diarrhea, and his boots leak.
13. Irving was absent yesterday because he missed his bust.
14. Please excuse jimmy for being. It was his father's fault.
15. I kept Billie home because she had to go Christmas shopping because i don't know what size she wear.
16. Please excuse jennifer for missing school yesterday. We forgot to get the sunday paper off the porch, and when we found it monday. We thought it was sunday.
17. Sally won't be in school a week from friday. We have to attend her funeral.
18. My daughter was absent yesterday because she was tired. She spent a weekend with the marines.
19. Please excuse Jason for being absent yesterday. He had a cold and could not breed well.
20. Please excuse mary for being absent yesterday. She was in bed with gramps.
21. Gloria was absent yesterday as she was having a gangover.
22. Please excuse brenda. She has been sick and under the doctor.
23. Maryann was absent december 11-16, because she had a fever, sorethroat, headache and upset stomach. Her sister was also sick, fever an sore throat, her brother had a low grade fever and ached all over. I wasn't the best either, sore throat and fever. There must be something going around, her father even got hot l ast night.
Now we know why parents are screaming for better education for our kids!
Sunday, December 9, 2007
I had to search for a better way to keep my photos site updated. Each time it took a bit of work, opening Dreamweaver, organizing, etc. I decided on flickr.com. I find it very easy to use and keep my photos updated. Take a look at my new photos site!
Click here to see the new site!
Thursday, December 6, 2007
Joe's (not me) response to my snowfall blog below got me to thinking about a couple of things I learned as a kid:
1. Never judge a day by the weather.
2. A poem:
Isn't man a fool?
When it's hot, he wants it cool.
When it's cold, he wants it hot.
Always wanting what is not.
Never happy with what he's got.
While I was in Italy, The Washington Post printed this little ditty. I caught it when I got back and laughed my butt off. Only if you've been to Italy as a tourist will you know what this means!
Spotted . . . on Sunday by our colleague Tom Ricks, taking the shortest way home from Iraq -- stopping in Rome. In the city's Trastevere neighborhood, Ricks saw a restaurant with a sign posted in English on a tripod by its front door:
WE SAY NO TO THE WAR
AND NO TO THE MENU TURISTICO.
Only in Italy would those two things be considered moral equivalents.
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Monday, December 3, 2007
Not to be outdone by my aunt's presepio, my sister sent me a photo of hers today. Hers looks more traditional but it has a twist: each of the figurines represent a different nationality. It's an international set of characters. I asked her where the Martian one was and she promised to add it soon!