Tuesday, July 24, 2007

She’s a Princess AND a Psychic

Why is it that royal families seem to be particularly afflicted with thoughtless credulity?
Norway's Princess Märtha Louise, daughter of King Harald and Queen Sonja, has emerged as a clairvoyant, and is launching an alternative school aimed at training students to contact angels. Officials at the Royal Palace won’t comment on the princess' latest business venture.
-- http://www.aftenposten.no/english/local/article1901846.ece
She has a website, but it’s in Norwegian, which – despite my SCA persona – I am completely unable to read.

According to the news article, though, “Courses will be offered twice a week over three years, at a cost of NOK 12,000 per half-year. Students are obligated to sign up for at least one year at a time.” I’m not sure how much that is in dollars, but I’m confident that it’s money wasted.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

More Fencing Video

Again, courtesy of Jack, we have a few rounds of me fencing with... Jack.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Fencing Practice Video

Thanks to Jack, I now have a spiffy new video of Corbin stabbing me at our last fencing practice.

I know we took some more video that day, so hopefully there are more episodes forthcoming. Anyone in sports will tell you that video is your friend, as you can look at it and see all the silly mistakes that you should know better than to be making.

Monday, July 09, 2007

It's Mine... My Own... My Precious!

While I didn’t top out any of the official tournaments at Back to Basics over the weekend, I did manage to be the first to challenge Lord Reynard for the Iron Ring of Meridies.

I would like to thank Lady Ysabel de Saincte-Croix for acting as my second in this duel. In an effort to follow tradition, Reynard and I had our seconds (his being Lord John, known as Jack) decide upon the terms of the duel. This event being a demonstration event for newcomers to the SCA, the terms were to win three bouts out of five in each of the major SCA fencing styles: single sword, sword and dagger, sword and buckler, sword and cape, and case of rapiers. I managed to win the first three bouts to secure the Precious, and we went on to fight the other two just for fun.

For those interested, the Precious will be going with me to Pennsic, which is the next event at which I expect to be fencing. I’m not sure what events I may be attending after that, but with both Jack and Jean-Michel planning to be at Pennsic, I’ll be surprised if I’m still carrying the Iron Ring when I return from the war.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

A Word About Independence Day

The Fourth of July is an important day for Americans, but sometimes we forget exactly what we're celebrating. Jay Leno presented some particularly horrific examples of this forgetfulness on his "Jay-Walking" segment last Friday (June 29th). Granted, if you go out on the street recording answers to "Why do we celebrate the Fourth of July?" and air the worst answers you find, you get to hear some truly awful ignorance, but here's a more common mistake.

Some people think of the Fourth of July, 1776, as the day on which the United States gained their independence from England. That's totally wrong.

July 4, 1776, is the day on which our ancestors publicly announced that we were going to fight for our independence. It took years of war to actually win it.

It's ironic that on that day, King George III, unaware of what was happening across the Atlantic Ocean, wrote in his diary that “Nothing of great importance happened today.”


I would like to start this article by thanking Michael Bay for not trampling my childhood memories.

While it certainly wasn’t “deep”, Transformers turns out to be a very enjoyable movie. Various plot points from the old cartoon series have been altered, but the changes all make sense and work with the original Transformers theme.

The movie does have a fairly large amount of sitcomish humor, yet it doesn’t dip into true stupidity and it moves fast enough that it’s not hard to swallow. It relieves the tension that comes with the movie’s plot, and this movie can use the relief.

There is definitely a very adult and dark side to this movie. For a movie based on a children’s cartoon series, the writers and director don’t pull any punches when it comes time for the violence. There’s a very believable ruthlessness to the way the Decepticons treat human beings and their Autobot enemies. I call this movie a complete success, and I don’t say that about many movies I see.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Death by Dish Soap

My mother sends me the occasional chain letter with some piece of sage advice or other. Don’t misunderstand; she’s beyond taking their contents for granted. She forwards them to me so I can check them out and determine whether they’re blog fodder.

Case in point…

When having a cook out. you don't like those pesky mosquitoes, especially now that they have the potential to carry the West Nile Virus?

Here's a tip that was given at a recent gardening forum.

Put some water In a white dinner plate and add a couple drops of Lemon Fresh Joy dish detergent. Set the dish on your porch, patio, or other outdoor area. Not sure what attracts them, the lemon smell, the white plate color, or what, but mosquitoes flock to it, and drop dead shortly after drinking the Lemon Fresh Joy water mixture, and usually within about 10 feet of the plate.

Check this out. It works just super! May seem trivial, but it may help control mosquitoes around your home, especially in the South and elsewhere where the West Nile Virus is reaching epidemic proportions in mosquitoes, birds, and humans.

Pass it on!
The “Pass it on!” at the end immediately makes the message suspect. It’s like a big red label that says “WARNING: Bogus chain letter spam!”. Bogus chain letter spam is seldom new, so I usually turn to Snopes.com to see if it’s already been vetted. Sure enough, this one’s BS, and it dates back to 2000.

Dishwashing liquid neither attracts nor poisons mosquitos. Female mosquitos need to extract some blood in order to lay their eggs, so they are attracted to carbon dioxide, which large animals like us produce in noticeable quantities as we breathe. While their normal diet is nectar from flowers, there is nothing about the lemon scent in dishwashing detergent that would attract mosquitos.

Granted, if the mosquitos were inclined to land in the soap dish, they would drown. Normally they can walk on the surface of water without breaking through. Soap, however, reduces the surface tension of water enough for them to be pulled under. Unfortunately, the mosquitos would have no particular inclination to land in the water dish. What absolutely won't happen is mosquitos dying of "dish soap poisoning" in a ten foot radius around the dish.