Well Fed Northern Cardinal

(Toledo, OH) "Well fed" is a better euphemism for "fat," as I can personally attest, and such is the case with the cardinals that regularly flock to my bird feeders. They gorge themseleves on sunflower seeds and other components of the bird food I supply, and this red fellow looks a bit too stuffed to fly, as if he might need a turbocharger to get airborne once again.

Luckily, the bird's wing muscles have grown this summer to accommodate the extra girth, but this is one puffy cardinal.


Dead Yellow Jackets

(Toledo, OH) I commenced a campaign of cold-blooded revenge against a nest of yellow jackets that stung me six times last night while mowing the lawn. All told there appear to be several dozen dead insurgents outside the nest, with untold more casualties hidden from view behind landscaping stones.

There still are a few more of the pesky insects flying around, but one can of cheap grocery store wasp killer seems to have wielded quite a chemical ordinance on my foes.

Now, if I only had low-cost access to professional massage therapy, the world would be at peace.


Passing Storm

(Toledo, OH) Ten days without rain were momentarily interrupted this afternoon with the passing of a brief thunderstorm in Northwest Ohio. Little rain fell on my parched lawn and potato plants, though any precipitation is welcome right about now.

Within 15 minutes of the storm's last raindrops, though, the sun returned and evaporated the meager offerings, leaving me and my gardens wishing for more.


Magic Square

(Barcelona, Spain) I found a chiseled example of a magic square on the exterior of the Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família , a cathedral in Barcelona that was designed by the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí.

If you add the numbers in any row, in the diagonals, along the four corners, or in the four smaller squares, you get 33. This is believed by many Christians to be the age of Christ when He died on the cross.

Mathematicians, of course, know that Gaudi's magic square is not a normal magic square, as two numbers (10 and 14) are duplicated and two others (12 and 16) are missing, thus failing the 1→n² rule associated with true magic squares. Still, I admire Gaudi's creativity and sense of symmetry.

Labels: ,


Alcanede Castle

(Alcanede, Portugal) While driving along back roads I stumbled upon one of the many castles that dot the Portuguese countryside. This particular castle stands above the village of Alcanede, looming overhead like a stone beacon.

Restoration work began in the decade of the 1940s, and the building seems to defy the environmental elements that could have caused this medieval structure to collapse long ago. Archaeological evidence suggests human habitation of the site at least to 150 BCE, when it appears to have been some sort of Roman installation.



Lisboa Skyline from Castelo de São Jorge

(Lisboa, Portugal) I took the accompanying photo looking northwest from the Castelo de São Jorge (Castle of St. George), a medieval castle overlooking the Tagus River. There was also a cool breeze today, which made sightseeing in Lisboa quite pleasurable.

Like all tourist destinations, the castle also offers a variety of personalized gifts and souvenirs, but this facility is a must-see for tourists in Portugal whether or not you choose to spend extra dough on trinkets.



Tomb of Philip II

(El Escorial, Spain) Pictured on the left is the tomb of Spanish king Philip II, which is located in the King's Pantheon at El Escorial, the Royal Monastery of San Lorenzo El Real.

The Pantheon contains 26 marble sepulchers with the remains of the kings and ruling queens of the Spanish Habsburg and Bourbon dynasties from Charles I (HRE Charles V) to the present, with the exception of Philip V and Ferdinand VI.

If you travel to El Escorial, be sure not to use a flash, or you will invite the wrath of the guards. Turn off digital displays and be discreet, and you can take photos without being a pest or - more importantly - without getting escorted out of the facilities.

Of course, you can always feel free to spend your time pricing cat trees online - it's a glorious world, folks.


Monasterio de El Escorial

(El Escorial, Spain) I spent a few hours yesterday walking through El Escorial, the Royal Monastery of San Lorenzo El Real, commissioned by Spanish king Philip II. He intended the facility to commemorate the 1557 Spanish victory at the Battle of St. Quentin in Picardy against Henry II, king of France.

El Escorial also serves as a necropolis for the remains of Spanish kings, queens, and members of the royal family. It was a bit creepy to enter these vaults, but I suppose this is not much different than visiting a mausoleum or a cemetery.

I snapped the image while looking out the window from Philip's bedroom antechamber. Cameras are supposed to be prohibited at El Escorial, but I found that the guards only get testy when the flash goes off, or when people might be foolish enough as to bring a Sony Vaio in with them.



Jesus d Natzaret, Reis dels Jueus

(Barcelona) Thus reads the inscription on the front door of the Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família , the church in Barcelona that was designed by the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí.

This cathedral is a must-see when in Barcelona, and I recommend using a tour service with a guide in order to avoid the long lines, as well as a superior micro sd technology to save the myriad images you will take at this site.