Let’s get small

Although there were some mid-size to large blooms at this month’s orchid society show-and-tell, the stand-out for me was the smallest, Platystele umbellata, above. The entire cluster of burgundy flowers was roughly a quarter-inch in diameter. It was difficult to photograph — I really needed a macro lens (ideally with another lens stacked in front, and with the camera connected to the computer for focus stacking) on a tripod — but after several tries I managed to get a passable picture.

The Platystele was dwarfed by Stelis viridipurpurata, which was nevertheless quite small itself. Each flower was about a quarter-inch across.

There are more pictures here.

In addition to the usual close-up photos, I also made some panoramas of the botanical garden this past weekend, such as this view of the lily pond. (Panoramas look best in the full-screen mode.)

That new church smell …


St. Joseph Church, Andale, Kansas

… is curing varnish.

St. Joseph Church in Andale, Kansas, isn’t actually a “new” church. The current building was probably built during the first quarter of the 20th century (the parish history is vague on specific dates). However, it was damaged by a lightning-caused fire last year and has only recently been reopened after repairs and renovations.

Unlike most of the churches that I’ve been photographing, St. Joseph actually looks like a Catholic church, not a box or a spaceship.

The panorama is best viewed in the full-screen mode.

Not exactly Spanish castle magic

Fillyjonk triggered one of my stranger memories. A long, long time ago I spent a summer in Spain. One day my group traveled to Segovia (by bus, not dragonfly) to see the Alcázar. It was a spectacular place, everything a Spanish castle ought to be. My most vivid memory, though, is not of the Alcázar itself. I spent some time on the terrace at the top of the tower surveying the region. While I was there, someone with a tape recorder played two songs over and over, loudly. One was “American Woman,” and the other was “Spirit in the Sky.” I felt a certain slight dissonance between what I saw and what I heard.1

Literary notes

Gary Saul Morson:

Why is it, Solzhenitsyn asks, that Macbeth, Iago, and other Shakespearean evildoers stopped short at a dozen corpses, while Lenin and Stalin did in millions? The answer is that Macbeth and Iago “had no ideology.” Ideology makes the killer and torturer an agent of good, “so that he won’t hear reproaches and curses but will receive praise and honors.” Ideology never achieved such power and scale before the twentieth century.

Joseph Moore:

Up until current times, it would have been scandalous for a woman in a Catholic country to arrange her own marriage in defiance of her father. Romeo & Juliet is a cautionary tale against just such presumption. The nurse and the friar are the villains of the story, overstepping their rightful duties. Until modern times, readers of the play all understood this.

***

For literature of a different sort, see Dr. Boli.

Good taste …

… doesn’t apply here, except maybe in a Cramps sense. (Right-click and open in a new window to see every lurid detail.) A friend spotted this vehicle in a college parking lot near his place and sent the picture with the comment that “Anime can be dangerous.” Well, maybe. There are better ways of advertising your enthusiasms — though if that’s the sort of anime you like, it might be better if you kept it to yourself.

The Joe DiMaggio of bloggers

For years, one of my first stops every morning after cranking up the computer was Dustbury. There would always be something new and worth reading. The proprietor, Charles G. Hill, a self-described “generalist and occasional wiseguy,” was intelligent and insightful. He was witty and clever, too, very good with bad puns, and an unabashed brony. He was always a pleasure to read. One of the few things I looked forward to on Mondays was his weekly survey of search terms leading to his site, with a wisecrack for each item. His familiarity with obscure popular music rivaled that of the Professor, and he had a healthy appreciation of fine stemware.

Dawn Eden and Charles Hill at an Oklahoma bloggers’ meet-up in 2005.

It wasn’t all wisecracks at Dustbury, though. Hill struggled with depression all his life. During the past few years he faced worsening problems with health and mobility. His “Vents” were often painful to read, and other posts could be disturbing. Although our interaction was limited to occasionally leaving a comment at each other’s site, I worried about him.

Charles Hill passed away yesterday from injuries received in an accident.

Dusty Sage

If there is such a thing as a “national treasure” on the internet, it’s Charles G. Hill’s site. The text deserves to be printed on acid-free paper and available in libraries for ages to come. I hope someone capable steps up to preserve Dustbury, as Pixy Misa and J Greely did for Steven Den Beste’s sites.

When perusing Dustbury, be sure to check the tabs at the top of the page, as well as the main blog. There you will find much else of interest, such as his profile with Norm Geras:

What would you do with the UN?
I’m not quite sure, but I expect it involves dynamite….

Do you have any prejudices you’re willing to acknowledge?
I shun anyone who can speak the word ‘multicultural’ with a straight face.

Update
Tributes to Dustbury: Roger Green; Steve Lackmeyer; Rob O’Hara.

(The post title is from John Salmon; the picture of Dawn Eden and Charles G. Hill is from Michael Bates.)

Bright lights and strange sights

Stromboli has gotten friskier of late. You can see and hear the activity here. It’s particularly dramatic during night on the Tyrrhenian Sea.

***

I’m losing my enthusiasm for Macintosh computers. My iMac should last a few more years, but after that I may replace it with a different brand. Perhaps I’ll install Linux.

Perhaps not.

(Via J Greely and the Brickmuppet.)

Back again to the garden

Tricyrtis

I spent yesterday afternoon at the botanical garden, this time with an ordinary zoom lens. There was relatively little color outside, but I found some. There was more at the orchid society meeting inside, where the room was refrigerated air-conditioned. There are more pictures here.

Trichocentrum jonesianum

Continue reading “Back again to the garden”

The sky below

When I last visited the botanical garden, I took the fisheye lens instead of the macro. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the panorama tripod head with me, so all the garden panoramas came out too glitchy to post. The above was salvaged from one of the waterlily pond.

***

A few odds and ends:

Zappa fans might find this old advertisement oddly familiar:

See also Ronstadt, Zappa and the Remington Electric Razor.

(Via .clue and Dustbury.)

Saints in space

Here’s another example of a faddish round church built in the later 20th century, All Saints in Wichita. It’s not ugly, but it reminds me more of main deck of a spaceship than a place of worship. It was dedicated in 1965, a year before the debut of the original Star Trek, so it’s probably safe for altar boys to wear red cassocks.

To view the detailed interactive panorama, click here.

Incidentally, the pastor of All Saints, Fr. Hien, whom I remember as an energetic and cheerful seminarian, is a refugee from Viet Nam who’s had an interesting life (PDF).

Odds and ends

Items of interest I came across recently.

Is anything still forbidden in Hollywood?

Jesuits, communism and Rod Dreher.

Jesuit vows and the Papacy. (Via TS)

A new Catholic journal?

The post-war conservative movement in the United States has not turned back the clock a single minute and has succeeded only in gradually lowering marginal tax rates as same-sex marriage became law in all 50 states….

If anyone else was interested in creating something like The Lamp it would have existed already. (In point of fact, something like it did exist in the late ’60s and early ’70s: Brent Bozell’s Triumph, almost certainly the only publication in which one could have read things like the traditionalist Catholic case for Black Panther militancy.1)

***

Bonus link: Elizabeth Scalia on Paul McCartney and Christianity.

Unforgettable, irreplaceable

Amy Welborn reminds us that today is E.B. White‘s birthday. Here’s a story of his I liked quite a bit when I was younger.

*****

The Supremacy of Uraguay

Fifteen years after the peace had been made at Versailles, Uruguay came into possession of a fine military secret. It was an invention in effect so simple, in construction so cheap, that there was not the slightest doubt that would enable Uruguay to subdue any or all of the other nations of the earth. Naturally the two or three statesmen who knew about it saw visions of aggrandizement; and although there was nothing in history to indicate that a large country was any happier than a small one, they were very anxious to get going.

The inventor of the device was a Montevideo hotel clerk named Martín Casablanca. He had got the idea for the thing during 1933 mayoralty campaign in New York City, where he was attending a hotel men’s convention. One November evening, shortly before election, he was wandering in the Broadway district and came upon a street rally. A platform had been erected on the marquee of one of the theatres, and in an interval between speeches a cold young man in an overcoat was singing into a microphone, “Thanks,” he crooned, “for all the lovely dee-light I found in your embrace …” The inflection of the love words was that of a murmurous voice, but the volume of the amplified sound was enormous; it carried for blocks, deep into the ranks of the electorate. The Uruguayan paused. He was not unfamiliar with the delight of a love embrace, but in his experience it had been pitched lower — more intimate, concentrated. This sprawling, public sound had a curious effect on him. “And thanks for unforgettable nights I never can replace …” People swayed against him. In the so bright corner in the too crowded press of bodies, the dominant and searching booming of the love singer struck sharp into him and he became for a few seconds, as he later realized, a loony man. The faces, the mask faces, the chill air, the advertising lights, the steam rising from the jumbo cup of A. & P. Coffee high over Forty-seventh Street, these added to his enchantment and his unbalance. At any rate, when he left and walked away from Times Square and the great slimy sounds of the love embrace, this was the thought that was in his head:

If it unhinged me to hear such a soft crooning sound slightly amplified, what might it not do to me to hear a far greater sound greatlier amplified?

Mr. Casablanca stopped. “Good Christ!” he whispered to himself; and his own whisper frightened him, as though it, too, had been amplified.

Continue reading “Unforgettable, irreplaceable”

Not thrilled

Charles Hill recently posted a video that purports to list fifteen albums that are in the collections of everyone who bought records back in the age of vinyl. Surprisingly, I have four — but only four, and Thriller is not among them.

I thought it might be fun to do the opposite: compile a list of LPs in my collection that almost no one else has. I’m including only albums on vinyl; if I were to include CDs and digital files, I could easily list hundreds, maybe thousands, of obscure recordings. Here are ten records, all worth hearing, that I’ve never seen in anyone else’s music library.

Rare Air, Hard to Beat

Continue reading “Not thrilled”

Rectangles and circles

St. Jude Catholic church

One of my ongoing projects is to make panoramas of Wichita area Catholic churches. Here are three recent ones of churches built in the 1950s and 1960s. None of them look like traditional churches, but they serve their purpose, and any of them would be preferable to the Taj Mahony.

The St. Jude (completed in 1967) website claims that its architecture was ahead of its time. Well, maybe, but to me it looks like your basic shoebox.

St. Margaret Mary Catholic church

St. Margaret Mary (dedicated 1955; the “dropped” ceiling dates to 1992), with its ceiling cutout spanning the length of the church, is a variation on the shoebox.

Christ the King Catholic Church

The circular Christ the King (dedicated 1968) is definitely not a shoebox. It looks to me like something you would find on another planet built by friendly aliens. The parishioners I’ve spoken to are proud of it, and you can certainly do worse.

Previous, more traditional-style Wichita churches: St. Anthony; Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

Click on the names of the churches at the lower left corners of the images to see the panoramas larger.

Allan smashed the ping-pong ball into the net so hard that it burst through the net….

The ball went from being a simple bouncing ball to a bouncing ball that exploded into the sky.

We could see the bouncing star and its ball of light that seemed to follow its path.

It was an incredible sight, and the best thing I did was get myself in the back corner. Then we could film our friends and family watching.

If I had been on the phone with my wife, she would have called me at home to tell me exactly what just happened.

At the end of everything, this world gave us the opportunity to experience being an astronaut on board the Space Shuttle. I couldn’t have been more grateful for the opportunity and thankful to every single human being that saved our world. That we are able to share the story of the space shuttle crew, one of the world’s most successful and innovative organizations, with you, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the launch of the first Shuttle Space Shuttle program, is a truly wonderful thing. Thank you to our crew of astronauts and their families, who did so much for our country.

And now, I can say this: I will return to the shuttle. You were the only ones that would miss me there. If we ever return, we have to go through them all again.

* * *

Um, okay. Let’s try it again, this time with armadillos:

Continue reading “Allan smashed the ping-pong ball into the net so hard that it burst through the net….”

In memory of

I returned to the botanical garden for the first time since I hurt my leg. While there, I spotted the bricks above in the butterfly garden1 walkway.

All the lego sculptures have been emplaced. To me, they just look dumb and waste space better devoted to interesting plants.2 The phony Victoria, above, takes as much room as a dozen real water lilies and looks ridiculous. It’s pointless, too, since the garden usually has the real thing in a different part of the pond later in the summer. Perhaps the silly things are attracting more visitors, but even so I look forward to their removal in the fall.

Although I missed the peak of spring, there were still plenty of real plants to see.

There are more pictures at my Flickr site.

Today’s observation

Pixy:

Returning to the Moon could cost US taxpayers $30 billion. (Tech Crunch)

Which means… Carry the twelve… You could colonise the entire Solar System and the seventeen nearest stars for less than than the price of the Green New Deal ($93 trillion).

***

Today’s beverage:

Something for Ginger Baker. Also available: “Moondance,” “Comfortably Numb” and “Rock Lobster.”

(Via Rod Dreher.)