Where in the world…

Posted by jerry on February 5th, 2006 — Posted in Journal, Travel

… would you like to go for dinner? With these words, our daughter Eve revealed the birthday gift she had put together for Sharon and I’s combined 50th birthdays. With that, she presented us with a collection of travel brochures for Europe and other parts of the world. To say we were astonished would be an understatement – I was practically in tears!

It seems she had been quietly saving for the past three years for this moment, having come up with the idea the previous year, when she was in Europe herself – backpacking. So for our fiftieth, she is buying airfares and dinner. This gift is doubly amazing when you consider that she earns her living with fire circus performances – it is not an easy way to earn a living.

It’s Sharon’s birthday today, and mine in March, so we have a little time to think about where we would like to go – I suspect that Italy and France are strong possibilities 🙂


Wood – The World of Woodwork and Carving

Posted by jerry on January 31st, 2006 — Posted in Journal, Woodwork

My latest Amazon.com purchase arrived today! The book: Wood: The world of woodwork and wood carving by Bryan Sentance. I first saw it in a bookshop just after Christmas and nearly bought it on the spot – the graphics are excellent and the scope is very wide.

The book is organised into 7 chapters covering: Raw materials (types of wood); Carving and shaping wood (lots of illustrated examples of different styles and techniques); Joinery (fixings, types of joint and corners); Decorating and finishing (veneers and surface treatments); Wood at work (from pots and bowls to chairs, implements, technology, wood and textiles and transport); Heart and soul (printing, toys, rituals, and masks); and Tools (organised by family – measuring, making holes, smoothing, holding and so on).

This is a richly illustrated compendium of brief articles showing a range of treatments, techniques and tools in a social context with some historical examples. The great thing is you can pick the book up, read a quick section over a cuppa and then go on with something else – and wherever you dip there is another fascinating snippet.

To celebrate this new arrival, I have signed up as an Amazon Affiliate and I’ve finally got around to putting my own book in the sidebar, as well as my current reading – you will see the latter change as my reading selections change 🙂


Leonardo’s textile machines

Posted by jerry on January 29th, 2006 — Posted in History, Journal, Technology

Leonardo da Vinci was known for many things – his wonderful paintings, his anatomical science, his optics, his flying machines, his war machines etc – but not so many know he also contributed many innovations to textile technology.

Bear in mind that textiles was one of the leading industries in the Renaissance and played a central role in many European economies at that time.

In addition to innovative mechanical looms and hand looms, Leonardo designed bobbin winders that evenly distributed thread across the bobbins to avoid tangles or high-spots.

He also designed teaseling machines for carding fabric; and a machine for doubling silk – the silk road had been opened to the Orient by then and Europe had a rapidly expanding silk production industry; and a continuous teaseling machine for large bolts of fabric.

So he was clearly as interested and curious about how to solve problems for textile workers as much as for other occupations.


The essential guide for English usage

Posted by jerry on January 28th, 2006 — Posted in Journal, Writing

I do a lot of writing, and wherever I write I always carry one indispensible grammar guide – and that is Strunk and White’s Elements of Style.

More concise than Fowler’s The King’s English; Clearer than the MLA guidelines, the Elements of Style is the ultimate guide to spotting split infinitives and the correct use of the apostrophe.

Strunk uses a terse declarative style which is clear and unambiguous – and there is not a single extraneous word in the whole book – and it’s all online 🙂


Skink in the house

Posted by jerry on January 27th, 2006 — Posted in Journal

In Australia small lizards, known as skinks are considered good luck if you see them – especially for women. Well, since we have been doing so much to the garden recently, and disturbed all the insects and provided drippers for irrigation, the population of skinks in our garden has multiplied considerably. Anyhow, today the little luck dragons came into the house (they eat mosquitoes and other annoying little insects), and I even had the camera nearby to snap the one in our kitchen 🙂

Australian skink

Australian skink

The little fellow was about 15cm long from nose to tail, and had a beautiful opalescence to his skin – I wish him happy hunting to rid the house of tiny biting insects 🙂 He’s welcome anytime!