Thursday, May 31, 2012

And old ale and sandwiches, too.

One feature of the Askania Nova Biosphere is a large zoo-park. Part of which is located on the grounds of the former owners (with the house used as an office) and with the usual zoo pens, paddocks and cages.  Part is located on several hundred hectares of grassland where the animals all run loose together and one takes a minibus safari.  We did not have time for the latter but did tour the former.

I do not like animals in cages and small pens unless they are domestic and have been bred to it for centuries, but most of these had room to run around and I think they were switched off with their mates out in the open grassland.

Part of the original owner's manor

Statues carved by Scythians, ancient peoples of the Steppes


Large pond with many species of waterfowl

Nutria sleeping in his hollow log
Gnu munching on hay

There were many African veld species represented in the zoo

The Przewalski Horse (Equus przewalski poliakov) is the last remaining wild species of horses.
A "recreated" Aurochs, reverse selection to return to the original Bos

Did not get the name of this cattle beast but Indian subcontinent, I am sure.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

In Memory of Doc Watson and Earl Scruggs

 We lost two great legends of bluegrass and country music in 2012.

Doc Watson, the guitarist and folk singer whose flat-picking style elevated the acoustic guitar to solo status in bluegrass and country music, and whose interpretations of traditional American music profoundly influenced generations of folk and rock guitarists, died on Tuesday, May 29, 2012 in Winston-Salem, N.C. He was 89.

Earl Scruggs, the bluegrass banjo player whose hard-driving picking style influenced generations of musicians and helped shape the sound of 20th-century country music with his guitar-strumming partner, Lester Flatt, died on Wednesday, March 28, 2012 in a Nashville hospital. He was 88.

Earl Scruggs, Doc Watson and Ricky Skaggs, performed together As The Three Pickers 10 years ago.

Baxter Black - SUSPICIOUS OF THE GOOD COW MARKET

It would be an eye opener for a good portion of consumers to spend a day with a Washington feedlot operator, Illinois corn grower, Georgia seed stock producer, Utah rancher or an Arkansas cotton farmer.  To see computer projections of average daily gain, soil testing, laser leveling, vineyard irrigation systems, dairy genetic selections, swine and poultry’s meticulous ration calculations and the voluminous scientific research being used in all phases of agriculture.

The corn seed or semen sample that is put to work on our farms and ranches every day has as much technology behind it as a satellite on its way to Mars.  But the trusting consumer doesn’t see all that.  They only see us driving a grain truck out to the mill or taking a trailer load of feeders to the sale.  We, in our greasy overalls or well-worn cowboy hat, are the tip of the technological, tried and trusted, diligent, essential iceberg that puts food on their table.

For more see Baxter Black's column On the Edge of Common Sense

Monday, May 28, 2012

Ukrainian News Update

Demeur commented  that he heard they had taken up hockey in the Verkovna Rada.  True, I saw pictures.  Howie Meeker would have been excited and Don Cherry absolutely beside himself.  A great brawl.  Two sent to hospital.

Reuters have a rough cut video here. If you can't beat them in the legislature, you can't beat them on the ice.  Or something like that.

Yanukovych is going to lose his majority in the Rada this fall barring the most extreme fraudulent election in history; so he is trying to ram through legislation making Russian and Ukrainian equal languages in the country.

Ukrainian nationalists are not going to take this sitting down and if it is pushed could have serious repercussions.  Western Ukraine, previously part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, then part of Poland, was part of the USSR from the  signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact in 1939 until independence in 1991.  They want NOTHING to do with Russia and see the imposition of the Russian language as continuation of colonial status.

The rest of Ukraine was the crown jewel of the Russian Empire for several hundred years and Russia would obviously like to continue to exert influence over the country.  From 1654 to 1775 there was some semblance of independence, greater or lesser but Catherine eliminated that when she eliminated the Zaporizhzhia Cossacks. Consequently much of Ukraine is quit Russified, especially the closer one gets to the Russian border. Many Russians live in Ukraine (and many Ukrainians live in Russia) and Russian is the first language for many of both nationalities and only language for some.  For a quick overview of Ukrainian History, go HERE.

Ukraine is trying to establish itself as an independent nation and as such decided from Day One that Ukrainian would be THE national language; part of shedding of colonialism. This is going to play out rather interestingly.  Stay tuned.

For more information on Ukrainian politics, check out the Kyiv Post

Sunday, May 27, 2012

ABC - another bloody cow

Not much happening locally, too lazy to do research on something interesting to write about and too tired to rant. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Jonathan and Charlotte - Second in Britain's Got Talent 2012

If you haven't listened to these two incredible young people, you simply must. They sing together like all the angels in heaven and they bring tears to your eyes. Audition Semi-final Final

Ashleigh and Pudsey - Winners Britain's Got Talent 2012

Audition Semi-Final Final Announcing the winners and final performance

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Sweetening the Deal

A young friend of mine in Ireland is an IT specialist, entrepreneur, software developer and consultant.  Being a consultant is like being unemployed but you can hand out business cards and deduct expenses. Only it is nice to have something to deduct expenses from.

His wife suggested he improve the family cash flow or she was taking junior and going back to mother, or looking for a better offer or something equally desperate.  So Wayne, somewhat reluctantly like Andy Capp, started reading want ads and sending out resumes.

The trick of course is to stand out from the crowd, as any marketer can tell you and as Wayne knew well.  So he positioned himself, not as an IT specialist of which there are many and a dime a dozen, but as an email specialist, with extensive experience in automated emailing.

As an example so you don't think it is just spam, as I did when he told me, automated emails are the kind you get when you subscribe to something that tell you your subscription has been received and the newsletter will be shipped weekly to your inbox when you confirm your address by clicking the link.  And that sends out the newsletter on a weekly basis.  Etc.

As it happens, Amazon.ir was looking for exactly just such a person.  Wayne got called for an interview, and another, and another.  He was down to the last interview and very excited about the job when his wife provided him with a way to sweeten the deal.  Apparently she was excited about the job too, or more like the cash flow.

One dozen home-made Amazon cupcakes

They went over wonderfully well and Wayne is now gainfully employed.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Askania Nova - Research Station, Biosphere and Zoo-Park

The steppes as they once were
Askania Nova started out as a sheep ranch back in the 1890's.  A German chap ran 300,000 sheep on the grasslands.  In 1919 the Red Army shot the current owner who refused to move off and confiscated the property. It was declared a preserved area and gradually became a scientific research institute, along with the virgin steppe biosphere reserve. At the peak of its fame it constituted 40,000 ha or about 100,000 acres, of which 30,000 ha was research institute and 10,000 ha was virgin steppe reserve.




The research institute was famous for animal breeding, developing many new breeds of beef cattle, sheep and pigs. The wool sheep hybrids they developed were some of the best in Russia.

Wool sheep with crossbred meat type lambs. Shearing is end May.
Today the biosphere reserve and the zoo-park and botanical garden is under one management while the research institute is under another - in this case our friend Yuri.  Yuri was in the same beef and forage course as Tanya back in 1999 so the three of us have known each other for a while.
Yuri and I and some of his staff in front of the main building

The walkways in the botanical garden were crawling with snails.  Need garlic butter.


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Perils of the open road

Wednesday morning we left for Askania Nova. 

On our way out of town a flash of colour caught me eye and I glanced sideways at two women who were walking along the sidewalk.  Of course, right then the car hit a hole in the road.
"Watch the road, not the women!"
"My dear, you know I only look at other women to remind myself how beautiful you are and how lucky I am to be married to you".
She replied in Russian.  I didn't catch it all but it may have had something to do with romance and travel.

An hour later we are stopped at a light in Krivii Rih.  There is a stunning drop-dead gorgeous blonde on the crosswalk, tight white dress, hemline and neckline threatening to meet in the middle.  I closed my eyes.
"I am not looking.  I will not look".
"Oh, go ahead and look at her.  She will never look at you".

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Golf Quotes

1. These greens are so fast I have to hold my putter over the ball and hit it with the shadow. ~ Sam Snead
2. I was three over today: One over a house, one over a patio and one over a swimming pool. ~ George Brett
3. Actually, the only time I ever took out a one-iron was to kill a tarantula. And I took a 7 to do that. ~ Jim Murray
4. The only sure rule in golf is - he who has the fastest cart never has to play the bad lie. ~ Mickey Mantle
5. Sex and golf are the two things you can enjoy even if you're not good at them. ~ Kevin Costner
6. I don't fear death, but I sure don't like those three-footers for par. ~ Chi Chi Rodriguez
7. After all these years, it's still embarrassing for me to play on the American golf tour. Like the time I asked my caddie for a sand wedge and he came back ten minutes later with a ham on rye. ~ Chi Chi Rodriguez
8. The ball retriever is not long enough to get my putter out of the tree. ~ Brian Weis
9. Swing hard in case you hit it. ~ Dan Marino
10. My favorite shots are the practice swing and the conceded putt. The rest can never be mastered. ~ Lord Robertson
11. Give me golf clubs, fresh air and a beautiful partner, and you can keep the clubs and the fresh air. ~ Jack Benny
12. There is no similarity between golf and putting; they are two different games, one played in the air, and the other on the ground. ~ Ben Hogan
13. Professional golf is the only sport where, if you win 20% of the time, you're the best. ~ Jack Nicklaus
14. The uglier a man's legs are, the better he plays golf. It's almost a law. ~ H. G. Wells
15. I never pray on a golf course. Actually, the Lord answers my prayers everywhere except on the course. ~ Billy Graham
16. If you watch a game, it's fun. If you play at it, it's recreation. If you work at it, it's golf. ~ Bob Hope
17. While playing golf today, I hit two good balls. I stepped on a rake. ~ Henny Youngman
18. If you think it's hard to meet new people, try picking up the wrong golf ball. ~ Jack Lemmon
19. You can make a lot of money in this game. Just ask my ex-wives. Both of them are so rich that neither of their husbands work. ~ Lee Trevino
20. I'm not saying my golf game went bad, but if I grew tomatoes, they'd come up sliced. ~ Lee Trevino

Monday, May 14, 2012

Lost in Translation

A long time friend was promoted about 6 months ago to Director of the Agriculture Reseach Centre at Askania Nova, in the heart of the Ukrainian Steppes.  Askania Nova is also home to a large nature reserve with many thousands of animals and birds.  It is managed by the National Academy of Agrarian Sciences so is under our friend's jurisdiction, I believe.

Przewalski's Horses at the Askania Nova Nature Reserve
Tanya and I promised to go down to see him this spring and so we leave on Wednesday morning and will drive down.  Our excuse is a one-day seminar on dairy and beef production which will be held there on 17th, sponsored by another friend's genetics company.  So I have a short presentation to give at that and Yuri asked if I would give a presentation the next morning to his research staff, too.

Tanya offered to translate for me, which thrilled me no end.  English to Russian won't be too bad for her as she has heard much of this before in both languages at other presentations I have made and is familiar with most of the concepts.  Yesterday she was going through my PPT slides and making sure they were translated and that she understood them.  She fixed several areas that had needed work and got me to explain a great many things in detail to her so she understood.

I am not always patient in explaining concepts to someone whom I think should understand them and was a bit short on a couple of occasions.  At supper I apologized and thanked her for not killing me.  She said "The evening is not over yet".

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mothers' Day

When the kids were in elementary school, if a parent volunteer were needed for a school outing, I would go as often as possible.  We had a full-size 8-passenger van and could haul lots of kids if necessary.  For many of those years, Ella was home with preschoolers, ours and others, and besides it was an excuse to skip work.

When #1 Son was in Kindergarten, the class went for a morning outing to the Canada Geese hatching grounds at Wascana Park.  I was the only father in the crowd.  When we had everyone herded into the fenced area, the teacher took over control of her class and said "All you mothers, sit over there".

I spoke on behalf of the parents at his Grade 8 Graduation exercises some years later and recalled the incident, commenting that I had been called a Mother before but usually as part of a compound word.

Friday, May 11, 2012

More Russian Cars

The Pobeda (victory) car was produced from 1946 until 1958.  There is one in Zhovti Vody in pretty fair condition.  It was parked beside me at the bank today so I grapped a couple of photos.  Wiki (link above) says "The Pobeda was the first Soviet automobile to have turn signals, two electric wipers, an electric heater, and a built-in AM radio. The car came to be a symbol of postwar Soviet life and is today a popular collector's item. A total of 235,997 Pobedas were produced".



The Volga was a luxury car, designed to replace the Poboda and was produced from 1956 to present.  It was not available to the general public until after the Soviet system collapsed, having been reserved for the higher ups of the Nomenclatura. My brother-in-law, Valerie, has one relatively new.  It reminds me of a 1990's Crown Victoria in some ways.



The Moskvich (Muscovite), like the Lada, was a very popular car with a great many still on the road.  It was produced from 1945 to 2002.  Tanya's father had one.  Tanya says one day he took her mother out to teach her to drive and when they came back the car was missing a door.  No one knows exactly what happened but her father wasn't the least upset, "It is only a car".  When they retired and moved home, Tanya's aunt and uncle drove one from Murmansk to Abakan, some 5500 km . This one was parked beside me today also.

Sorry about the thumb.
 There is a great deal of information for car aficionados at the above links to Wiki.

Dnipropetrovsk Bombing Update

Mysterious Dnipropetrovsk bombings remain unsolved

This is the official version – that the blasts were an organized act of terrorism. Two days after the blasts, Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) published three descriptions of the suspected terrorists. However, no arrests have been reported. Also, no one has claimed responsibility or made demands. What may have motivated terrorists remains unclear. 

Prosecutor General Viktor Pshonka said blasts could be related to a similar explosion on Nov. 16 in Dnipropetrovsk, which killed one person and was not solved. 

“This doesn’t look like a terrorist attack, but more like a criminal act stemming from an economic dispute,” said Oleksandr Skipalsky, a former SBU lieutenant general and ex-head of the military intelligence department of the Defense Ministry.

******** 

Two weeks before the blasts, Dnipropetrovsk was shocked by the assassination of businessman Hennadiy Akselrod, known for numerous construction projects and close ties with a local group that is alleged to improperly raid other businesses.

Akselrod was shot near his house in downtown Dnipropetrovsk on April 14. Soon after, Akselrod’s friend and partner, Hennadiy Korban, who together with Akselrod survived an assassination attempt two years ago, said he is “much harder to get to” as he drives around in armored cars and avoids public places.

Speculation is that the blasts are revenge from one side or the other. The murder also highlighted the presence of gangs in the city.

 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

End of the road for the Lada

Love it or hate it, the Lada has reached the end of its 40+ year production run.  According to MailOnLine, Lada manufacturer AvtoVaz will cease production of the classic boxy car it had been building since the early 1970s. The article has some great pictures of that great little car so please check it out.

The end of an era.  Everyone made fun of it but the car represented middle class to the people of the Soviet Union.  It was cheaply made and mechanically unreliable but it was also ubiquitous.  Parts were available everywhere and everyone knew how to fix it.  And they run forever.  I would guess a third of the cars in Zhovti Vody are Ladas.  At least in any parking area, that is what I see.

You see fewer and fewer in the bigger centres as their drivers move "up scale" to Daewoos, Aveos and Chinese cars, while the old Ladas move farther out into the countryside.  A Lada with a small trailer is the village equivalent of the half-ton pickup in rural Saskatchewan. Go anywhere, do anything on these roads.

For most Ukrainians, one car is all they expected to own in a life time so they looked after them.  Since the design never changed until recently, it was hard to tell a 40 year old Lada from a 10 year old Lada.  They may not make any more new ones but the old ones will be here for a few decades more, I am sure.



Wednesday, May 9, 2012

War, Shashlik and Taxes

Sixty-seven years ago on May 9th 1945, the Red Army officially took the surrender of the German army in Berlin.  This was one day after the Germans had surrendered to the Allies on the Western Front.  The Soviet Union felt they deserved their own ceremony and they were right.  Regardless of what you were taught in school or learned from the movies, the Second World War, the Great Patriotic War, was fought and won on the Eastern Front.

This is not in any way to take away from the Western Front but simply to emphasize the magnitude of the Eastern Front which stretched from the Baltic to the Caucasus and to which 80% of German army divisions were assigned and in which some 20 to 30 million citizens of the Soviet Union perished, including Tanya's grandfather and his two brothers.

Today is a national holiday in most countries of the FSU.  (The Baltic states may not see it as much of a celebration as for them they simply exchanged the Nazis for the communists and one can debate under which they were better off).  It is a holiday here in Ukraine.

Tanya and I decided to have the family over for shashlik.  Roman is our BBQ chef but he and Lina couldn't come as Lina had worked all night.  She works for a friend of Andrei's who owns a chain of funeral homes and two loads of stone monuments had come in which she had to receive and check over before signing off.  So I did the honours.  Andrei, Tania and Masha arrived at 2:00 and we had a fine feast.



I also did my taxes today, using Intuit's TurboTax on-line.  I know it is late and it will cost me but I don't care.  How to ruin an otherwise good day.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

This Child Here - Nadia Decides

This post is reprinted with permission from an email circulated by Robert Gamble of This Child Here.  I have posted other emails from him from time to time.

As I begin this, Yulia and I are in flight from Kiev, Ukraine to Munich, Germany, the first leg of the trip home that will take us next to Newark for a few hours and finally to Atlanta. I am thinking about what we know that others do not know and perhaps will not ever know. I am thinking of all the places I have been and adventures I have had and the warm family I grew up in that is the solid base upon which I can and have had such experiences. 

Nadia
These are things the girl in this picture here will probably never know, neither the places I have been nor the experience of a warm family like the one I was formed within. This girl's name is on the paper tag on her shirt: Nadia. Note the arm bands, black and white. I've seen this before. They likely cover scars from a knife or razor.  

In the final weekend of the visit to Ukraine, our team led workshops in two orphanages about three hours by train from Odessa. The girl pictured here lives at the orphanage in a town called Kotovsk. One hundred and ten children live at this orphanage. It is a town of perhaps 30,000 people. 

Nadia decides

 In this moment children are in a circle, in the foreground is a stuffed animal, out of focus, held by Alla, our team leader. The rule is, the person with the toy, speaks; the others listen. The discussion will vary but mostly center on topics like who we trust and why, or how we support our friends. 


Roma - Take my picture
Two other youth are pictured: a boy named Roma who would not participate in many of the games we played, because for him they were too embarrassing, but who clearly wanted his picture taken as he leaned back for me to shoot it. And then, this girl, Tanya  who jumped into the action and conversation, laughing and making others laugh.
Tanya - pick me, pick me

These are kids destined for a life very different from ours. They won't know what you and I know and experience here in America. But that is not the end of hope or the end of the story. What we give these children when we come is the time to build upon the love and friendships and trust they are already forming. 

Our goal is not to hold their hands or give them blankets or candy, but to help them find the strong person they can be--and that person is often hiding inside them.

As I finish this newsletter I am back now in the states. In one of the several airports we passed through, I saw an interesting poster: a picture of a girl who looked to be twelve or thirteen and living in poverty somewhere in Asia. At the top of the picture were the words, "I am powerful." 

That's what we are about in our work with children. It's one thing to help with food, clothing and medical care. It's another to help children find the courage and strength inside to make a life. 
Grace and Peace,
Robert Gamble


--
Dr. Robert Gamble,
cell phone: 828 318 2149
Interim Pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Cumberland MD

Director, This Child Here
www.thischildhere.org
Donations to This Child Here can be made on the website or by check to: This Child Here, 245 Seaview Ave, Daytona Beach, Fl 32118
http://www.thischildhere.org/latestnews/

We do not Believe in
Ourselves until someone
Reveals that deep inside us
Something is valuable,
Worth listening to, worthy
Of our touch, sacred to our touch.
Once we believe in ourselves we can
Risk curiosity, wonder, Spontaneous
Delight, or any experience that reveals
The human spirit.
e.e. cummings

Mole Crickets Again

Tanya has declared war on garden varmints.  Colorado potato bugs ate a bunch of her newly transplanted tomato plants two days after she put them out.  She sprayed them at least once since.  She bought an extra sprayer for roses and cabbages which apparently take the same spray so she can keep a tank loaded for tomatoes and cabbages to respond at a moment's notice.

The mole crickets are back with a vengeance this year.  They make little round holes in the earth about the size of your finger and eat the roots underground and also the tops above ground.  They are omnivorous which means they also eat bugs and grubs.  But they eat Tanya's flowers so they are doomed!

She buys some kind of green granular bait.  A trench is dug with a hoe beside some flowers where the Mole Crickets have been active.  The trench is filled with water and once it soaks in the granules are sprinkled on top and the trench is covered over.  They are drawn to the water and are poisoned by the bait, sometimes coming to the surface to die.  These two shots below are of surfaced dead ones.

The book says 50 mm in length.  These are at least 75 mm.  They also have wings and adults can fly up to 8 km (5 miles). 
 
I blogged about Mole Crickets two years ago here. If you Google Mole Cricket images you will get lots of great pictures. If you like that sort of thing.



Baxter Black on Pink Slime

"Rick and I were discussing the uproar about “pink slime.” He said, “Well, I don’t know much, but I’m sure not gonna buy any of their CD’s!”

It’s all in a name; Pink Floyd, Pink Panther, Pink, Pinko Commie, pink in the center (medium rare), pink eye, Pinky Lee and/or pinkie finger.  Pink slime, as you have heard is a predominately lean beef that has been separated from fat and is added back to hamburger to make it leaner.  It is puffed with ammonia gas to eliminate bacteria.  They could have chosen to call it lean beef crystals, beeffulls, red stripes, lean beef sprinkles, or recycled fresh beef calorie reducers.  But they didn’t, so unwittingly, they became targets..."

Continued Read Baxter's Column | Baxter Black

Saturday, May 5, 2012

I love my job

I LOVE MY JOB
This is even funnier when you realize it's real!
Next time you have a bad day at work think of this guy.
Bob is a commercial saturation diver for Global Divers in Louisiana
He performs underwater repairs on offshore drilling rigs.
Below is an E-mail he sent to his sister.
She then sent it to radio station 103 .5 on FM dial in Indiana, who was sponsoring a worst job experience contest.
Needless to say, she won.
Read his letter below...
~Hi Sue,
Just another note from your bottom-dwelling brother.
Last week I had a bad day at the office.
I know you've been feeling down lately at work, so I thought I would share my dilemma with you to make you realize it's not so bad after all.
Before I can tell you what happened to me, I first must bore you with a few technicalities of my job.
As you know, my office lies at the bottom of the sea. I wear a suit to the office.
It's a wet suit.
This time of year the water is quite cool.
So what we do to keep warm is this: We have a diesel powered industrial water heater.
This $20,000 piece of equipment sucks the water out of the sea.
It heats it to a delightful temperature.
It then pumps it down to the diver through a garden hose, which is taped to the air hose.
Now this sounds like a darn good plan, and I've used it several times with no complaints.
What I do, when I get to the bottom and start working, is take the hose and stuff it down the back of my wet suit.
This floods my whole suit with warm water.
It's like working in a Jacuzzi.
Everything was going well until all of a sudden, my butt started to itch.
So, of course, I scratched it.
This only made things worse.
Within a few seconds my butt started to burn.
I pulled the hose out from my back, but the damage was done.
In agony I realized what had happened.
The hot water machine had sucked up a jellyfish and pumped it into my suit.
Now, since I don't have any hair on my back, the jellyfish couldn't stick to it, however, the crack of my ass was not as fortunate.
When I scratched what I thought was an itch, I was actually grinding the jellyfish into the crack of my ass.
I informed the dive supervisor of my dilemma over the communicator.
His instructions were unclear due to the fact that he, along with five other divers, were all laughing hysterically.
Needless to say, I aborted the dive.
I was instructed to make three agonizing in-water decompression stops totalling thirty-five minutes before I could reach the surface to begin my chamber dry decompression.
When I arrived at the surface, I was wearing nothing but my brass helmet.
As I climbed out of the water, the medic, with tears of laughter running down his face, handed me a tube of cream and told me to rub it on my butt as soon as I got in the chamber.
The cream put the fire out, but I couldn't shit for two days because my ass was swollen shut.
So, next time you're having a bad day at work, think about how much worse it would be if you had a jellyfish shoved up your ass.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Prague Holiday - Cesky Krumlov

Cesky Krumlov town is THE tourist trap of Czech Republic.  Tanya and I want to spend at least three days there on our next trip.  The entire old city is a UNESCO world Heritage site, complete with humongous castle and associated building and hundreds of beautiful old buildings now all converted to eating, drinking, sleeping and shopping establishments.

The castle was built to defend the southern borders of Bohemia.  It is the second largest noble residence after Prague castle. Of course we never actually got inside it.  Next time. For history and pictures see UNESCO link above.

Oxbows in the river act as natural moats
Approaching the castle from parking lot

On the inside from a bridge

Closer view of the river side of the castle
Looking over the town in the centre oxbow
Looking back towards the castle

Lovely old buildings
Narrow streets

Restored original decorative paintings

And cannons!!!!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Midnight Chorus


There is nothing to see on this video as it was done at night and you need to turn the sound up pretty good.  And it was still 30 MB.  I need to learn a better way to record sounds.

Growing up on a farm in Saskatchewan, we did hear frogs singing in the sloughs in spring, but it was one kind of frog and one voice of singing. I find it quite interesting to listen to these guys. One a good night there are about 4 to 6 voices that can be distinguished.  They go all night and all day.  The cuckoo chimes in (so to speak) starting about 5:00 am and someday I will record him/her too.