Saturday, July 26, 2008

An Interesting Emblem

There are dozens of chairs in this style at the Shriners' Temple in Milwaukee, all marked with this interesting embossed emblem on the back. I thought the central part shows a double-headed dragon; dondelion says it's a double-headed sea-horse. This chair was the only example of its type on the floors on which ladies are allowed (we were not allowed to tour the lower floor where, our tour guide said, most of these chairs are located). Michelle snapped this photograph on 7/25/08.

It is only now, in looking at the photo, that I noticed that the central block of the double-headed dragons (or sea-horses) is enclosed in an embossed square composed of four blue cross-like medallions on each of its four corners and three "sacred eyes" (shaped like the vesica pisces) on each of the north, south, east and west bands enclosing the design in the central block.

This photo also shows some of the beautiful tile-work that decorates the Temple and the rich color-ways that were used in its construction: black, white, tawny orange, gold, blue, mauve-pink. Our guide told us that each tile was individually laid by a family of Italian tile-layers (a father and four sons) who did all of the tile work throughout the Temple and close examination of the floor, walls and columns confirms this. Buildings in the United States just aren't built like this any more.

Goddesschess: The Next Generation?

Through a series of interesting "coincidences", Michelle has adopted a nickname for herself, a long-standing tradition among the Goddesschess crew.

This photo was taken on 7/24/08 in the "hallway" linking the original War Memorial Center/Milwaukee Art Museum with the Calatrava Addition. It shows a pensive Salome Alexandra, perhaps contemplating her future.

Sightseeing in Milwaukee

Michelle snapped this photo yesterday of the gingerbread gazebo at The Wisconsin Club in downtown Milwaukee.

The club has recently undergone extensive renovations - a new logio-style restaurant has been added across the front of the building and the grounds fronting West Wisconsin Avenue have been altered and replanted and new fencing added along with an "improved" entrance. I thought the old entrance was just fine. Unfortunately, some old trees were removed, but a few were saved, including a fine old Osage Orange. The ornate gazebo is a popular spot for wedding photos.

At The Wisconsin Club's website (a fancy affair with too much "Flash!") this structure is called a "belvedere." Okay - whatever, darlings!

Shriner's Temple

No need to tell you that Isis and Michelle are beautiful - I've got their photographs plastered all over this blog and in our anniversary articles at Goddesschess! Here they are outside the Shriner's Temple in Milwaukee. The Temple is a replica (but not in marble) of the Taj Mahal.

Yard Work

The lawn service I hired to do some major yard work (tree and shrub trimming, edging the garden, lawn aeration, weeding) arrived a week ago Friday and tamed the wilds of my backyard before Isis and Michelle arrived. Here's a shot of one of the workers putting an edge on the large garden bed in the backyard. This is a view from the deck.

Summer and Squirrel

My backyard would not be half so entertaining without the squirrels. dondelion snapped a photo of this little fellow surveying his wild kingdom from atop a fencepost in a corner of my garden a few days ago.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Ancient Trade Patterns Revealed in Tomb Goods

From July 24, 2008 Tomb reveals ancient trade network Adriatic coast linked with Mideast, North Africa and Greece (ANSA) - Ancona, July 24 - The tomb of a woman who died around 2,600 years ago on the eastern Italian coast is helping archaeologists piece together the vast trade network that once linked this area with the Middle East, North Africa and Greece. Experts working on a tomb near the port of Ancona say the site contains over 650 artefacts from the 7th century BC, including numerous items made in other parts of the world. ''This tomb is of extraordinary importance, as it contains the only known funerary finds in the area of Conero dating from this time,'' said the Archaeology Superintendent for the Marche region, Giuliano de Marinis. The pieces demonstrate that an extensive network of contact and trade once linked this section of the Adriatic coast not only to Sicily and southern and central Italy, but also much further afield. The tomb contains artefacts manufactured in sites as far away as modern-day Egypt, Rhodes, mainland Greece, the Palestinian Territories and Anatolia. ''This discovery fills in a big gap in our knowledge and helps define the role this area played in past centuries,'' continued De Marinis. ''For example, it shows that items from Greece and the eastern Mediterranean passed through here en route to other parts of the Italian peninsula''. Of particular value are five glazed pottery pendants, which were made in Egypt. Probably used as amulets, they are each six centimetres in length and are shaped like seashells. Also of special interest are a bowl and lid, intricately decorated with horses, and a cowry disc from the Indian Ocean. This latter was considered a fertility symbol and was reproduced in Ancient Egyptians tombs. Among the other items contained in the tomb were pendants of ivory, glass paste and amber, scarabs, and belts of buckle and bone. The head of the archaeological project, Maurizio Landolfi, said: ''These items were possibly transported to the Marche along with consignments of amber, which was in great demand for decorating jewellery and homes''. Over the last two years, over 200 tombs have been uncovered in the area, particularly around the towns of Sirolo and Numana.

Politiken Cup

Chess femme standings after Round 7: (20) IM Victoria Cimilyte 5.5 (30) IM Tania Sachdev 5.0 (63) IM Monika Socko 4.0 (78) WIM Ilena Krasenkova 4.0 (94) WFM Evgenia Pavlovskaia 4.0 (102) WIM Olena Dvoretsja 4.0 (137) WIM Christin Andersson 3.5

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Interesting Chess Set

Giant chess set situated in the Pere Marquette Lodge in the Pere Marquette State Park in Grafton, Illinois.

$68,000 Chess Tables

The city of Chico, California, paid $68,000 for six (6) concrete chess tables in City Plaza. Say what? Are they paved with diamonds? Story.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Bejing Strong-Arms Grieving Parents

Local government leaders have repeatedly promised to get to the bottom of why a staggering 7,000 classrooms collapsed in the quake, killing about 10,000 children. But there is little evidence that they have conducted more than a cursory examination, and there are hints of a cover-up. Even as negotiations with some parents continue [those who have not already been pressured or strong-armed into signing 'settlement agreements'], local governments have bulldozed the remains of many schools, appearing to close the door on a full investigation. The issue remains one of the most delicate facing the Chinese government. Many parents accuse local officials of negligence or corruption during the construction of the schools. Some say they still hope the central government will take action, and they plan to go to Beijing to file petitions after the Olympics. “We don’t want to get the government in trouble ahead of the Olympics,” Mr. Yu said. “We don’t want to hurt the nation’s image.” Poor suckers. You can read the full story at The New York Times - if you can stand it without getting sick to your stomach. I, for one, will not watch a single moment of the Olympics on television. I hope a gigantic earthquake such as has never been seen before strikes Bejing and swallows everyone and everything up during the Opening Ceremony. Justice would scarce be served by such a happening, but it would be something, some small bit of recompense and evening out of the scales.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Women in Archaeology: Gill Juleff

Exeter archaeologists create exhibition for Sri Lanka Updated: 22-Jul-2008 09:19 by: Martin Williams An Exeter archaeologist, who became a comic book heroine in Sri Lanka after working there for 20 years, is returning to the country with her students to set up a museum exhibition. Dr Gill Juleff of the University of Exeter became well known in the 1990s for discovering the large-scale iron industry that existed in Sri Lanka in the first millennium AD. Now she is returning to the country, accompanied by five of her students, to create an exhibition for one of the country’s most important museums. On 23 July, Dr Juleff and her team will travel to the Martin Wickramasinghe Museum of Folk Culture in Koggala, on Sri Lanka’s south coast. Working with museum staff, they will have a month to produce a new exhibition on Sri Lanka’s ancient heritage in iron production. The exhibition will include a full-size model of a wind-powered furnace and accompanying display material. Dr Juleff’s research has focused on understanding the unique technology that was used to make steel in Sri Lanka in the first millennium AD. Working with archaeologists, both local and international, she discovered a type of furnace that made use of the monsoon winds to generate heat of up to 1600 degrees celcius. As well as being published in the leading scientific journal Nature, her discoveries captured the imagination of people across the island. When she returned to Sri Lanka last year she was surprised to find herself immortalised in an educational comic book: Steel Industry in Ancient Lanka. Dr Gill Juleff of the University’s School of Geography, Archaeology and Earth Resources said: “After so many years of hard fieldwork in deep rural parts of the island, walking everyday in the forest and getting to know local villagers, it will be a treat to spend a month on the coast working in the relative comfort of a museum. It is also a wonderful opportunity to give back something to a country that I love and that has given me so much. We will be working with Sri Lankan colleagues who have collaborated with the project for many years and for us all it will be chance to bring the results of our work to a wider audience. If anyone is holidaying on the south coast of Sri Lanka near Galle they are welcome to visit the museum in Koggala and see the work in progress.” Last summer, Dr Juleff returned to Sri Lanka with a group of students to carry out a series of experiments on a model of a wind furnace. It was during this visit that she met Rupa Saparamadu, author of Steel Industry in Ancient Lanka and daughter of one of Sri Lanka’s most eminent writers, the late Martin Wickramasinghe. Now, working with the Martin Wickramasinghe Museum Trust, Dr Juleff and her team will create a new exhibition for the museum that Rupa Saparamadu runs.Five undergraduate archaeology students were selected for the projects based on their applications, in which they had to demonstrate their commitment to the project and outline the skills they could bring to it. First year student Kay Hamilton would not have been able to afford to take part in the project had it not been for the high level of subsidy, which came from the Exeter Alumni Exploration Fund. A keen amateur blacksmith, she will be using her skills to create the model furnace with her fellow students and local craftsmen. She said: “The iron industry is a topic of immense national pride among Sri Lankan people, so it’s a great honour to be asked to create this exhibition. I also feel a great sense of responsibility to get it right as it is such a prestigious project.” The Museum has asked the group to make an exhibit that will last for 10 years. Though they have done as much preparation as possible, the students do not yet know what materials and tools will be available to them. Their first task will be to find materials that will stand the test of time in hot and humid conditions. As well as presenting technical challenges, the trip will be an opportunity for the students to develop skills in interpreting and communicating academic information through the exhibition panels and display items. Second year student Matt Saunders, also a keen amateur blacksmith, said: “With archaeology you can get trapped in an ivory tower, but if you don’t try to help other people understand and celebrate their heritage there isn’t much point in making these discoveries.”

Jackie Peng Wins Age Group

From Richmond Hill Jul 21, 2008 12:03 PM Ten-year-old Jackie Peng called checkmate on the nation, as she brought home the national chess crown for her age group in Quebec City Sunday. Representing Ontario, the Richmond Hill girl, a Crosby Heights Public School student, went undefeated, winning six and drawing one match to claim the Canadian title. The Grade 5 student is spending her summer preparing for the World Youth Championships this October in Vietnam. The tournament will be more like a Peng family vacation, Jackie’s mom Xuekun Xing says, as Jackie’s little sister Janet placed third in the nationals and will also compete at the world’s.

Monday, July 21, 2008


Mr. Don arrived safely. The weather has been hot and humid but today dawned cooler, still humid. The grass is greatly overgrown and needs to be cut but it's far too wet! Isis and Michelle arrive tomorrow! Today the gardeners are coming to spruce up the yard, and I put Mr. Don to work hacking back grape vines and pruning the junipers. We've cooked out 2 nights in a row, yummy! I will blog as time permits - just catching a few minutes here now. I don't want you guys to think we're dead! Now, back to my vacation...

Indus Valley Article in Science Magazine

Just came across this blog - All Things Pakistan:

Science Unmasks New Knowledge about the Indus Civilization
Posted on July 20, 2008 Filed Under Adil Najam

It reports on an Andrew Lawler article in the June, 2008 issue of Science Magazine - available online only by subscription. I will probably subscribe just to get access to the full article.

The Indus Civilization is a fascinating connumdrum. We can't figure out the written language - heck, as far as I'm aware there isn't even a consensus that those symbols found on seals and pottery ARE actually writing.

This article looks to be the most comprehensive treatment in a popular science magazine to date - written in understandable terminology (no "terms of art" by archaeologists clouding things up) and this map which really shows how widespread the Indus influence was - and how close some of the Indus sites were to such cities as Shar-i Sokhtah in the border area where modern-day Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran all meet.

It is sad, silly and frustrating that scientists on either side of the borders of India and Pakistan cannot work together and combine their efforts in collaboration to advance knowledge of the Indus civilization because of religion and politics! Why can't people realize that in the flow of history, gods come and go; the gods of thousands of years ago are dead to us today, and thousands of years from now (if we manage not to destroy all life on this planet in the meantime), the gods of today will be dead, too. But knowledge - that is something that can live forever.

Ivana Furtado Wins Award

From The Navhind Times Ivana wins Gulab award for best sportsperson NT NETWORK MARGAO - Goa’s young chess wonder, double U-8 world champ and Dempo’s Goodwill Ambassador Ivana Maria Furtado won the Gulab Award for best sportsperson for the year 2007 on Sunday. The award was received on Ivana’s behalf by her brother Keegan at Gomant Vidyaniketan, here. Mr Eduardo Faleiro, Commissioner for NRI Affairs was the chief guest. Meanwhile, two-time world under-8 girls champion Ivana Furtado, who is presently competing for the title at Asian Youth chess championships in Tehran (iran), also remained in joint lead in the under-10 girls after compatriot M Mahalakshmi proved equal to her in a keenly contested game. Both the Indian girls now have 3.5 points apiece and continue to be atop the table with five more rounds to go. ************************************************************************************ Report on Ivana Furtado at the Asian Youth chess championship from The Press Trust of India: From our chess correspondent Tehran (Iran), July 20 (PTI) Twice world under-8 girls chess champion Ivana Furtado faltered and went down to compatriot G K Monnisha while M Mahalakshmi continued to roll in the under-10 girls section of the Asian Youth chess championships now in progress here. With just two rounds to come in the 9-rounds event, Mahalakshmi emerged as the sole leader on 6.5 points out of a possible 7 and now enjoys a huge 1.5 points lead over nearest rivals. Barring a debacles, Mahalakshmi's gold is confirmed. After losing her 5th round game against compatriot Swetty Patel, Ivana Furtado lost her second successive game to remain on 4.5 points. The Goan girl who holds a unique record in the world championships, will now have to wait for the Asian title till next year.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Who Came First?

Latest geological evidence supports theory that Europeans arrived first in North America. First Humans To Settle Americas Came From Europe, Not From Asia Over Bering Strait Land-ice Bridge, New Research Suggests ScienceDaily (July 17, 2008) — Research by a Valparaiso University geography professor and his students on the creation of Kankakee Sand Islands of Northwest Indiana is lending support to evidence that the first humans to settle the Americas came from Europe, a discovery that overturns decades of classroom lessons that nomadic tribes from Asia crossed a Bering Strait land-ice bridge. Valparaiso is a member of the Council on Undergraduate Research. Dr. Ron Janke began studying the origins of the Kankakee Sand Islands – a series of hundreds of small, moon-shaped dunes that stretch from the southern tips of Lake and Porter counties in Northwest Indiana into northeastern Illinois – about 12 years ago. Over the past few years, approximately a dozen Valparaiso undergraduates have worked with Dr. Janke to create the first detailed maps of the Kankakee Sand Islands, study their composition and survey wildlife and plants inhabiting the islands. Based upon the long-held belief that most of the upper Midwest was covered by a vast ice sheet up until about 10,000 years ago, Dr. Janke said he and other scientists surmised the Kankakee Sand Islands were created by sand in meltwater from the receding glacier. That belief was challenged, however, when he and his students discovered a year and a half ago that the islands were composed of sand that had come from Lake Michigan – something that should have been impossible with the Valparaiso Moraine standing between the lake and the Kankakee Sand Islands. “That created a lot of problems with what we had previously believed about ice covering this entire area,” Dr. Janke said. “How could it get over the Valparaiso Moraine and be deposited there?” Figuring out that puzzle required taking core samples from some of the remaining islands and the development of a new test by one of Dr. Janke’s colleagues to determine when sunlight last shone on the sand. The answer that came back – the Kankakee Sand Islands were born between 14,500 and 15,000 years ago from Lake Michigan sand – was startling. “We thought the area was completely covered by ice at that time,” Dr. Janke said. “That was a really earth-shattering result for us.” Yet it also supports research showing that North American Clovis points – a particular type of arrowhead that represents the oldest manmade object on the continent –identically match arrowheads found in Europe and made by humans at approximately the same time. And just within the last year, new research has provided strong evidence that a large meteorite struck the ice sheet covering North American and melted much of the ice shortly before the formation of the Kankakee Sand Islands. “Our research at Valparaiso supports this other recent research because it indicates there wasn’t a massive ice sheet covering North America that would have allowed tribes to cross over from Asia via a Bering Strait land-ice bridge,” Dr. Janke said. Dr. Janke’s research on the formation of the Kankakee Sand Islands is continuing this summer, with a focus on determining whether the islands closest to Lake Michigan are younger than the southernmost islands. At one time, approximately 1,200 of the islands stretched out in a series of curved bands north and and south of the Kankakee River that are separated by a few miles and mirror the southern tip of Lake Michigan. Though many were destroyed by human settlement, about 700 still exist today. Dr. Janke and his students also have been active in the Woodland Savanna Land Conservancy, an organization working to protect the Kankakee Sand Islands. Scott Osthus, a recent graduate who worked with Dr. Janke to map the Kankakee Sand Islands and support their preservation, enjoyed being involved in the research effort. “During my four years at Valparaiso, I saw how interesting and significant the Kankakee Sand Islands landscape is,” Osthus said. “I want to see this area preserved because it is so historically significant.” Landowners have donated a handful of islands to the trust for preservation, and Dr. Janke is hopeful that others will follow their lead and perhaps eventually build enough support for some of the islands to be incorporated into Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore or their own state park. “The Kankakee Sand Islands are archaeologically significant, with numerous Native American artifacts and burial grounds still present in the surviving islands, and they provide crucial habitat for native wildlife and plant species,” Dr. Janke said. “I’m hopefully the sand islands can be protected so we can continue to learn about and appreciate them.”

5th Polgar National Invitational for Girls

Lubbock welcomes top young American female chess talents Lubbock Avalanche-Journal Sunday, July 20, 2008Story last updated at 7/20/2008 - 2:02 am The fifth annual Susan Polgar National Invitational for Girls, the most prestigious all-girls national chess championship in the United States, will commence next Sunday right here in Lubbock. This prominent national championship will take place over six days, from July 27 to Aug. 1, at the Frazier Alumni Pavilion on the Texas Tech campus. Each state can nominate one talented young female chess player, the top 18-year-old or younger from the state. Thousands of girls compete annually in local, state, regional, national and world events to earn the esteemed invitations. Tech will host this esteemed event for the next 10 years. In addition, TTU will award a four-year academic scholarship each year to begin the following year to the highest-finishing player who has not graduated from high school by August. The rules and conditions of this event can be found at In addition, thanks to the generous sponsorship from the Provost's office, all players will receive free accommodation (based on double occupancy) on TTU's campus, as well as all meals during the six-day national event. Past champions are: • 2007: Julia Kerr (New York) and Eunice Rodriguez (Florida) • 2006: Abby Marshall (Virginia) • 2005: Anya Corke (California), Alisa Melekhina (Pennsylvania), Abby Marshall (Virginia) • 2004: Roza Eynullayeva (Massachusetts) Below are the 50 participants in this year's championship: • Alabama: Hannah Hellwig • Arizona: Sayaka Foley • Arkansas: Crystal Qian • California (Northern): Rebekah Liu • California (Southern): Nisha Deolalikar • Colorado: Alexandra Lasley • Connecticut: Alexandra Wiener • Delaware: Ann Marie Fitch • Florida: Rita Mirchandani • Georgia: Ananya Roy • Hawaii: Ashbea Oyadomari • Idaho: Erica Barkell • Illinois: Sonya Vohra • Indiana: Emily Tallo • Iowa: Dhrooti Vyas • Kansas: Katrina Pritchard • Maine: Sorel Edes • Maryland: Fiona Lam • Massachusetts: Michelle Chen • Michigan: Ashley Carter • Minnesota: Morgan Mahowald • Mississippi: Melanie Newell • Missouri: Joanna Gossell • Nebraska: Elizabeth Oliver • New Jersey: Eve Zhurbinskiy • New Mexico: Rebecca Anne DeLand • New York: Linda Diaz • North Carolina: Amelia Wheeless • Ohio: Rebecca Lelko • Oklahoma: Michelle Farell • Oregon: Taylor Bailey • Pennsylvania: Shinan Jin • South Carolina: Hannah Whatley • South Dakota: Kaitlynn Loos • Tennessee: Autumn Douthitt • Texas: Sylvia Yang • Texas: Rheanna English • Texas Alternate: Sarah Garza • Utah: Jamie Olsen-Mills • Virginia: Susan Brown • Washington: Leanne Hwa • Wisconsin: Mira Ensley-Field • Wild Card: Victoria Bian • Special Invitation: Georgia Olvera • Special Invitation: Courtney Jamison • Special Invitation: Brianna Conley • Special Invitation: Angel Bohannon • SP National Open Qualifier: Claudia E. Munoz • SP World Open Qualifier: Annie Wang • SP World Open Qualifier: Alisha Chawla Here is the tournament schedule: July 26 • 6 p.m.: "Warm-Up" Quads (G/30) in the Lubbock Room of the STU building. July 27 • 1:30 p.m.-2:30 p.m.: Opening ceremony. • 3 p.m.-6:30 p.m.: Round 1 of SPNI. July 28 • 1:30 p.m.-5 p.m.: Round 2 of SPNI and round 1 of Parents/Friends Open. • 7 p.m.: SPNI Chess Puzzle Solving Championship. • 7:30 p.m.: Free chess lecture by Susan Polgar. July 29 • 1:30 p.m.-5 p.m.: Round 3 of SPNI and round 2 of Parents/Friends Open. • 7 p.m.: SPNI Blitz Championship. July 30 • 1:30 p.m.-5 p.m.: Round 4 of SPNI and round 3 of Parents/Friends Open. • 7 p.m.: SPNI Bughouse Championship. July 31 • 1:30 p.m.-5 p.m.: Round 5 of SPNI and final round of Parents/Friends Open. Aug. 1 • 10 a.m.-1:30 p.m.: Round 6 of SPNI. • 2:30 p.m.: Closing ceremony. I would like to invite everyone to come by the Frazier Pavilion during the event to check out the exciting championship and meet some of the top young talents of America.
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