Thursday, July 31, 2014


Early this morning my dad, Simon, passed away at the age of 93 after a brief illness. Until recently he'd been in good health and spirits and we were fortunate to have him with us for so many years and that he was able to spend so much time with his grandchildren. My first memory of Dad, which I told him about just a couple of weeks ago, was of driving with him (he loved to take us on drives) while he sang (which he also loved to do) Skidamarink a Dink a Dink and I've Been Working on the Railroad. The picture is of him holding me a looonngg time ago.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


Via MentalFloss:

A map of Pangea, the super continent that existed about 200-300 million years ago, with the countries of today superimposed upon it.

At the time what is now the east coast of the United States was bordered by Morocco and Mauritania.

What was to become Asia was missing the entire Indian subcontinent and Tibet.  They were stuck with Madagascar, Somalia, Antarctica and Australia before separating and beginning their drift north slamming into the rest of Asia and giving birth to the Himalayas from the resulting collision.

And South America and Africa fit together quite nicely don't you think?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Can You Follow?

Jack Bruce, best known for his work with Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker in Cream, created some of the most wonderfully weird music of the 1970s when he embarked upon a solo career.  His first three  albums, Songs For A Tailor, Harmony Row and Out Of The Storm, combined gorgeous melodies, soaring vocals and outstanding musicianship with the bizarro lyrics of his co-composer Peter Brown (the pair also wrote some of Cream's best known songs including White Room, Tales Of Brave Ulysses and most of Sunshine Of Your Love; Clapton wrote the chorus).  Some of the song titles from Bruce's solo albums give a glimpse of their sensibilities:

Never Tell Your Mother She's Out Of Tune
Weird Of Hermiston
Pieces Of Mind
The Consul At Sunset
He The Richmond
Boston Ball Game 1967
Escape From the Royal Woods

Though THC was a fan, the albums were not big sellers and Bruce's solo career never recovered.

Can You Follow? captures all of these elements in a mere one minute and thirty eight seconds.  THC will leave you to figure out what on earth this song is about.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Roman Villas

But not modern ones; reconstructed villas from the days of the Roman Empire.  Two fine examples from Following Hadrian, both located in Germany.

The first is the Villa Borg in the Saarland of Germany (near today's border with France).  This area, west of the Rhine, was conquered by Julius Caesar in the first century BC during his campaign to subjugate Gaul but it was only late in the first century AD that Romanization fully occurred.  During the centuries of Roman rule (which lasted till the mid-fifth century) the climate was in a warm phase and agriculture and wine-production flourished and the region prospered with economic stimulus provided by the supply demands of large garrisons of Roman legionaries and auxiliaries posted along the nearby Rhine.

The Villas Borg is a reconstruction based upon the floorplans of several nearby villas and represents a typical large-scale house and grounds during the 2nd and 3rd century AD.  Take a look at some of the pictures from Following Hadrian.

Villa Borg © Carole RaddatoVilla Borg © Carole Raddato
The reconstructed resting room next to the baths, Villa Borg © Carole RaddatoThe second villa is located in Aschaffenburg, Germany.  Unlike the Villa Borg, which began construction in the 1990s and only opened in 2008, The Pompeiianum dates from the mid-19th century and was built by order of King Ludwig I of Bavaria who was inspired by the excavations at Pompeii.  Aschaffenburg itself was on the very edge of Roman occupied Germany from about 85-235AD but did not have a villa culture, so the reconstruction does not reflect local history.

The original 19th century reconstruction was heavily damaged by Allied bombing in WWII and underwent a total rebuild and opened to the public in 1994.  From Following Hadrian some more photos.
Pompejanum, Aschaffenburg, Germany © Carole RaddatoThe Atrium, Pompejanum. Aschaffenburg, Germany © Carole RaddatoSummer triclinium with wall painting, Pompeiianum, Aschaffenburg, Germany © Carole RaddatoPainting from the Tablinum, Minerva Preventing Achilles from Killing Agamemnon, Pompeiianum, Aschaffenburg, Germany © Carole Raddato

Friday, July 25, 2014

Forgotten Americans: John Dickinson

"Experience must be our only guide.  Reason may mislead us."

- John Dickinson addressing the Constitutional Convention (1787)

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Tweeting World War II

Here's something THC just stumbled across (courtesy of Harry's Place) and consistent with our motto - "surfing the web so you don't have to" - we present WW2 Tweets From 1942 which is "live tweeting" what happened on this date in 1942 and for the next four years.  An entertaining and creative concept and you don't have to join Twitter to follow.

The most recent tweet:

Japanese march on narrow Kokoda Trail, 60km over 11,000ft Owen Stanley Mountains, guarded by handful of Allied troops