3rdBorn Clothing

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The man behind 3rdBorn; Artist / Designer David Eagles learnt the ropes during a 9 year stint at Quicksilver where he designed clothing for the surf wear behemoth. Now staying in Bali, the Australian draws inspiration from his new home for his clothing designs.

David started putting out tees under the 3rdborn label in the year of 2000 after his departure from Quicksilver. He left the giant as he was displeased at the direction the surf industry had taken and instead decided he would be happier putting out clothing under his own label and vision.

The company takes pride in avoiding the (seemingly standard based on their location) standard sweat shop manufacturing route and boast on their website "3rdborn's product are not manufactured in crazy sweat factories, everything is made by us or our friends, we personally know everyone involved and we have worked with the same crew for years. Everyone has a name and a smile. "

As well as clothing, the 3rdborn designer has recently been commissioned to create a 40m piece of banner art work to hide renovations in Kudeta, Bali; an upmarket, sunset, party location in Indonesia. For this piece, he used photos of palm trees, fish and ponds all taken locally and created an abstract landscape with enlarged trees and kio fish.

The clothing designs have a vintage American / Japanese feel and are made from high quality materials so you know they will last a long time. With Davids credentials, you would expect 3rdBorn clothing to cost an arm and a leg, but you would be pleasantly surprised to find that their price point is similar and in a lot of cases lower than the major brands.

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Source by Rodney Munch

Celtic Swastika

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The word swastika is derived from the Sanskrit svastika. Its design is made up of an equilateral cross with its arms bent at right angles facing either to the right or to the left. Archaeological evidence points to the swastika’s origins dating back to Neolithic era and was first found on the Indian subcontinent where it is still used as a religious symbol.

The swastika however has become taboo in much of the Western world because of its Nazi connections. In many areas it is outlawed yet many other political extremists use it as their symbol including neo-Nazi groups and the Afrikaner Weestandbeweging in South Africa. Stylized versions are also used by the Syrian Social Nationalist Party as well as the Russian National Unity.

The Celtic Connection

A bronze front piece used by the ancient druids in their religious ceremonies was found near the River Thames. Named the “Battersea Shield” and comprising 27 embossed swastikas wrought in bronze and red enamel it dates back to 350-50 BCE

As well as this an Ogham stone found in Co-Kerry which was modified as an early Christian gravestone and was found decorated with two swastikas in West Yorkshire a swastika shaped pattern can be found engraved into a stone called the Swastika Stone. Its design is made up of a double outline with 5 curved arms and no other symbol like this has ever been found since.

All these finds are traced back to Celtic heritage and is said that the swastika meaning is related to the sun in ancient Celtic civilization, yet this has never been confirmed. What is confirmed however is that the swastika symbol has been dated back as far as the Bronze Age and it is a symbol that is unquestionably related to the ancient Celts.

The swastika on Scottish gravestones

The ancient Celts had no written word and left us evidence of their culture in the form of Celtic symbols. As a result not much is known about the swastikas to be found in Scotland. There is however some folklore that may explain their existence.

The story encompasses a collection of Celtic warrior tribes, known as the Picts. The Picts were heralded for their artworks which can be seen today on many carved stones around the country as well as in many parts of England and in some parts of Europe.

Among these designs is a simple swastika as well as others that are more complex but which give the appearance of a swastika. An example of this is one that was found engraved on a grave slab and which now stands in the Meigle Museum in Australia. It consists of four figures arranged in a swastika type pattern. A similar one can be found on the Kells Market Cross in Ireland.

These swastikas are evidently from the pagan period of the Celts yet others have a clear leaning toward Christianity. In this case the swastika is known as a Gammadion. The name is greek in origin and is derived from the quadruple capital Greek “gamma”.

An example of a Gammadion is to be found on grave slabs, one in particular stands out. Called the Barhobble cross slab it was discovered in Wigtownshire during excavation works towards the late 1800’s. It has been dated back to around the 10th Century and was closely related to christian worship.

Was the swastika pagan or christian?

Many people have long accorded the swastika with the ancient pagan Celts or druids. Yet it has recently been suggested that the swastika came about as a result of the Vikings forays, bringing with them their sacred symbol the Gammadion. If this is in fact the truth then neither paganism nor Christianity can lay claim to it.

There is certainly a relation between the Celts and Viking traditions which shows in their art. Christian sculptors have been more than eager to incorporate these ancient symbols into their artwork, give them new meaning and take full credit for them.

The christian influence on the swastika may have then come about as a result of sculptors having a free hand in representing the Christian Cross with more ancient designs.

What seems to be more factual is the Celtic influence on the swastika. It is said and can perhaps be confirmed that the swastika came about as a result of the evolution of the three legged Spiral design. When it later became a four legged design the spiral essentially became a swastika.

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Source by Tim Lazaro

The Hand Colored Photography of William James Harris

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Interest in early 20th c. hand-colored photographs by “Harris” has been increasing in recent years, especially in Harris’s Florida scenes. Yet I’ll wager that most collectors don’t even know Harris’s first name, let alone anything about his background.

We had no information on Harris ourselves until several years ago when we mentioned Harris in a previous article and asked readers to supply us with any known information. As a result we received an article on Harris postcards, and an article that had been published on Harris by the St. Augustine Historical Society in 1991, both of which shed considerable light on the hand-colored photography career of William James Harris.

William James Harris (1868-1940) was born on October 12, 1868 in Herefordshire, England. His family emigrated to America in 1870, settling in the Wilkes Barre, PA area. Known in his youth as both “Will” and “Willie“, by age 20 he apprenticed under a local photographer. Within one year he was able to start his first photography business while living with his parents and operating his first studio within their house.

In 1890, the 22 year old Harris moved with his family to W. Pittston, PA where, although he continued operating a studio in his parents home, he also began his career as a traveling photographer. During the early 1890’s, he spent considerable time photographing coal miners and mining operations in eastern Pennsylvania’s coal regions. Soon thereafter he began utilizing the railroads to transport him, and his photography equipment, to the mountains, lakes, cities, and wherever else he decided to take his camera. Cabinet photographs sold by Harris around this time listed his address as West Pittston, PA; Tunkhannock, PA; Pittston, PA; Penn Yan, NY; Binghamton, NY; and Keuka, NY

In 1893 Harris traveled to the World’s Columbia Exposition in Chicago. While there his began the first of many subsequent promotional feats. One of the focal points of the 1893 Columbia Exposition was the first-ever introduction of George Ferris’s great “Ferris Wheel“. And it was Harris who was the first to photograph it. He envisioned that by climbing upon a roof approximately the same height as the Ferris Wheel’s center shaft, he would be able to produce a view whereby the curves of the wheel were not distorted vertically by perspective. This photograph was so impressive that Harris donated 2000 of them to the Ferris Wheel Company, each of which included his name and address, which helped to make an early name for the young photographer.

In 1895 he married Maude Dunn, a marriage that was short-lived because she died suddenly and unexpectedly in 1897.

Shortly after Maude’s death, Harris and some friends opened a tourist business in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains, selling pictures of Buck Hill Falls, the Delaware Water Gap, and other local attractions to tourists and local residents. While operating from the “Harris Gallery” his services also included cabinet cards and tin-type photographs,. This portable studio once again served as an excellent promotional feat because it enabled him to both advertise his business, and process his photographic work, wherever he went.

Around 1901, Harris married a second time, making Marion E. Briant the second Mrs. Harris. Together they had two children, a daughter (Ruth) and a son (Carver). This marriage lasted until about 1920. After the divorce, Marion Harris returned to her Dover, NJ home with Ruth, leaving Carver with his father.

Soon thereafter, Harris married Ella Anderson, his third and final marriage.

Lake Hopatcong: It was in 1898 that Harris moved to a location that would play a vital role in his life…Lake Hopatcong, NJ. Located in northern New Jersey, it’s 9 miles of coastline and coves make it New Jersey’s largest lake and at the turn of the century, Lake Hopatcong had become a summer mecca for the rich and famous. Conveniently located to nearby New York city, Lake Hopatcong offered an easy summer getaway from the city heat and many summer “cottages“, which in many instances were more like mansions, began springing up around the lake. Harris quickly recognized the need for his photographic services here during the summer months.

Beautiful sunsets became the Harris trademark while working on Lake Hopatcong and he was farsighted enough to set himself up on a part of the lake that was recognized as having the best sunsets. And being the great promoter that he was, Harris began advertising his studio as offering the finest sunset photographs on the lake. Soon tourists began flocking to his studio for their personal and family photographs on Lake Hopatcong.

In another move of public relations genius, Harris created his own personal “Floating Studio” in the summer of 1899. Replacing his land-based portable studio, this floating studio was actually a houseboat specially outfitted as a photographic studio. Called the “Harris Photo Float“, this 16’x50′ floating studio was capable of traveling around the lake, and even had a special porch for his famous sunset photos. Although other photographers were also working around the lake, Harris’ floating studio and his gift for promotional effect gave him a competitive edge over the other photographers and he controlled a sizeable portion of the lake’s photography business. Unfortunately, in 1903 Harris’ floating studio sprang a knothole leak and sank, taking with it much of Harris’ photographic equipment.

But he quickly recovered from this disaster and went on to continue a nearly 40-year relationship with Lake Hopatcong. Harris continued his summer visits to the lake until as late as 1939, when he was in his 60’s and his photographic career began winding down.

St. Augustine, Florida: In 1898 Harris moved to St. Augustine, Florida where he opened the “Acme View Company“. Harris’s Florida photographic services included the sale of cameras and equipment, free photographic instructions to amateur photographers, the use of his darkroom, as well as professional photographic services to local residents or visiting tourists. He also lost no time in photographing the beautiful sights in St. Augustine and the surrounding Florida countryside.

Harris quickly fell in love with St. Augustine and to a larger extent, nearly all of Florida. Between 1898 and 1940 Harris began a photographic career that most of us would aspire to achieve today…summers along the shorelines of beautiful Lake Hopatcong, NJ… and winters in warm and sunny St. Augustine, FL.

St. Augustine offered a variety of photographic subjects that appealed to Florida’s growing tourist trade including the Fountain of Youth, the Oldest House in America, Ft. Marion, City Gates, and The Old Slave Market, among others.

In 1912 Harris began a long, and sometimes controversial, relationship with the St. Augustine Historical Society. Serving as its business manager and head curator, Harris was instrumental both in recruiting new members to the Historical Society as well as promoting both the history and heritage of St. Augustine. While on his watch, certain members began to dispute some of the Historical Society’s unsubstantiated claims…was the “Oldest House in America” actually as old as claimed?. Was the “Old Slave Market” truly a “Slave Market” or was it simply a “Public Produce Market“.. The “…well, they could have been…” responses by certain area business people met resistance from other historical purists, and some changes in St. Augustine’s historical claims resulted.

Regardless of the controversy, Harris’s association with the St. Augustine Historical Society lasted until his death in 1940 and all the while, Harris continued to promote his St. Augustine postcard and photography business.

Harris Postcards: It was in 1893 while visiting the Columbia Exposition that Harris saw a glimpse of the next coming trend…postcards. By 1898 Congress passed a law authorizing the manufacture and use of “Private Mailing Cards” and what started as a trickle soon exploded into a huge business. And Harris was in a perfect position to earn his share of the business. The telephone was not yet commonplace and postcards soon became a primary means of casual communication. In 1901 Harris was selling a grouping of 30 Lake Hopatcong views that were capable of being inserted into a letter, so converting them into postcards was a relatively simple task. Quickly converting much of his existing stock into postcards and adding new views each year, Harris soon had literally hundreds of Lake Hopatcong postcard views and became known around Lake Hopatcong as “Harris, the Postcard Man“. Anyone wishing to send a personal message about their special trip or vacation on Lake Hopatcong usually did it using a Harris postcard. In 1909 alone Harris claims to have sold over 200,000 Lake Hopatcong postcards and projected even more for 1910.

As his postcard business grew, he expanded into the souvenir and novelty field, selling paperweights, cups, fancy holders, and other assorted wooden and birch bark novelties, all with the name “Lake Hopatcong” on them. Although such a souvenir business was common in St. Augustine and other places, Harris was one of the first to start such a business at Lake Hopatcong.

As the postcard craze began to wind down around 1915, Harris had been watching from a distance the success of Wallace Nutting in Massachusetts and soon decided to enter the field of hand-colored photography himself. With his background, it was a natural.

Hand-Colored Photographs: Harris’s earliest attempt with hand-colored photographs came when he first hand-tinted his Lake Hopatcong postcards. After working in black & white for many years, starting around 1905 Harris assumed that the added color could lead to increased sales. But he also soon learned that the added expense of hand-coloring his postcards led to a higher unit price, and eventually to lower sales. Ultimately Harris went the route of so many other postcard photographers of having his postcards produced in color on large-run color printing presses.

As part of his New Jersey summer-Florida winter cycles, Harris began taken new photographs with the intention of hand-coloring them for re-sale. His best selling pictures soon came to be from the New York Adirondack Region (especially Ausable Chasm) and Florida (especially The Singing Tower), although his northeastern pictures came from throughout a four-state region and his Florida pictures came from throughout the entire Miami-St. Augustine stretch.

Before long, “Harris Pictures” began to replace “Harris the Postcard Man” as his primary source of income. According to his son Carver…”what money he had, he made from colored pictures“. And apparently he made enough money to buy houses in Florida and New Jersey, an imposing automobile, a house-car, and several launches and speedboats (which enabled him to get around Lake Hopatcong faster than ever).

Like Wallace Nutting pictures, Harris pictures were usually hand-colored photographs, tipped onto a linen-type matboard, and signed with the “Harris” name lower right, and title lower left, usually signed in pencil. Most Harris pictures were matted, although a fair number were “close-framed” and signed directly on the picture without any matting. And quite often you will still find an original “Harris” label either on the matboard back or on the backing paper.

Yet Harris pictures carry several subtle differences between Nutting and some of the major Nutting-Like photographers:

• Most Harris pictures were oblong views, with the length usually being more than twice the width (or vice versa).

• Harris only sold Exterior (outdoor) views. He never sold Colonial Interior scenes.

• You will only see the name “Harris” signed on the picture, never “W.J.‘ or any other variation of his first or middle names. There is also never any mention of Harris’s first or middle name on any of his picture labels.

• Although the “Harris” name is usually written parallel under the picture, occasionally you will see the “Harris” name written at a 45 degree angle.

• While more unusual, it is not uncommon for the Harris name to be lower left and the title to be lower right.

• Most Harris signatures are signed in pencil

And perhaps most different from Nutting, many Harris pictures are hand-colored “photogravures” rather than hand-colored photographs. Although his earliest scenes were produced on photographic paper, some of his later and best-selling views were reproduced in larger black & white quantities using the photogravure printing method, and then individually hand-colored. Whereas Nutting had nearly 100 colorists at his peak, Harris never had more than 5 people coloring his pictures at any given time.

One interesting story about Harris pictures relates to several of his pictures that feature a egret standing in the Florida water. Apparently for the sake of simplicity, Harris carried a “stuffed” egret as part of his photographic equipment, presumably because it was easier to shoot a still bird for effect rather than a live, uncontrollable bird. He was also known to carry a stuffed alligator for effect as well.

Not surprisingly, Harris was usually his own best salesman and his photographic expeditions also became sales trips as well. Whenever he went into the countryside to shoot new pictures, he usually stopped at various art and gift shops along the way to obtain new wholesale and retail orders for his picture business. It was estimated that more than 70 shops on both coasts of Florida alone carried Harris’s hand-colored pictures. Many hotels used Harris pictures on their walls to promote the beauties of early 20th c. Florida, and it is estimated that Harris would typically need more than 25,000 pictures per season just to satisfy the demand of his Florida sales outlets.

And as the Florida season would end Harris would pack car, head back north, and start the cycle all over again at New Jersey’s Lake Hopatcong.

The Final Years: William James Harris died on August 2, 1940 after suffering through a long illness and was buried in his adopted city of St. Augustine. Although not as well known as Wallace Nutting or some of Nutting’s other contemporaries, Harris did achieve a considerable level of fame. He enjoyed a reasonable financial success in his chosen photographic field, he enjoyed the travel and work between the northeast in the summer months and Florida in the winter months, he had a diverse family life, he developed a strong bond with his adopted city of St. Augustine, FL, and his photographic works certainly helped to popularize Florida more than any other photographer of his time.

And now more than ever, collectors of hand-colored photography are actively seeking the beautiful hand-colored pictures of William James Harris.

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Source by Michael Ivankovich

Blobitecture – Blob Architecture

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Blobitecture, also called “blob architecture” or “blobism”, refers to modern buildings with an amorphous, blob-like shape. “Blobitecture” is a term actually coined by New York Times Magazine writer William Safire, who used it to sardonically describe the sudden rise of amoeba-like buildings. Contrary to his intention, architects happily adopted “blobitecture” to describe a new and exciting architectural movement.

Blobitecture is a dynamic form of architecture still widely in use today. Blobitecture is unlike any other architectural form because it completely originates from computer-aided design (CAD). In software architect jobs, architects use CAD to manipulate buildings’ outlines to virtually any shape. While they do this, the software automatically calculates mathematical equations that instill structural soundness into the design. Before CAD’s development, architects adhered to mainstream geographical shapes since they were confident of these shapes’ structural stability. Now, thanks to CAD software, a building’s shape has boundless possibilities.

Today, most architects implement blob architecture for glass-and-steel structures. Rarely is it used for private residential homes, because the glass and steel materials makes “blob buildings” fairly transparent. Rather, it is much more frequently used for tourist attractions, such as museums, theatres, and concert halls. It is also increasingly used for scientific buildings, such as geodesic domes used for weather observatories and greenhouses. Lastly, a greater number of commercial buildings are blob structures, such as London’s City Hall and the Future Systems architectural firm.

Blobitecture arose during the 1990s when CAD systems were first being developed for architects and interior designers. In 1993, the first blobitecture building was erected: the Water Pavilion in the Netherlands, which was completely designed in CAD. Other large-scale projects followed in rapid succession, the most well-known of which is likely the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. This museum, located in Bilbao, Spain, was designed by renowned Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry. Opened to the public in 1997, it consists of various concave and convex curves. Since it is located on a port, it glass and titanium curves reflect the light from both the sky and water. Moreover, its curved silhouette resembles that of a ship. This modern-art museum strongly contributes to making Bilbao a Spanish tourist attraction.

The United States has its own ‘blobitecture’ buildings. Seattle has the Experience Music Project museum, another Gehry-designed building, opened in 2000. Like the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, this museum consists of seemingly random curves made up of sheet-metal. The building’s undulations give it a fluid silhouette, perhaps as a tribute to the museum’s musical exhibits. While the Guggenheim museum’s shape reflects its port vicinity, the Project’s shape can be summarized as “form follows function.”In fact, Gehry directly attributed the building’s shape to that of a smashed Stratocaster electric guitar, made famous by Jimi Hendrix. Unlike the Guggenheim, the Experience Music Project also incorporates more colors into its exterior design, though its metal reflects as much light as the Guggenheim.

Other cities have recognizable examples of blobitecture. England contains blob structures not only in London, but in other cities. For instance, the northeastern city of Gateshead has the Sage Gateshead building, which was designed by the Foster and Partners architectural firm. This building is a performing-arts center and musical institution. This structure has a caterpillar-like shape, made up of multiple spheres that contract and dilate as the building progresses. Its materials include glass and stainless steel, allowing it to shimmer from capturing all angles of sunlight. Its free-flowing shape may be said to reflect this institution’s philosophy that all musical genres are equal.

Berlin, furthermore, has another “form follows function” blobitectural structure. This structure is the Philological Library, designed by English architect Norman Foster. Opened in 2005, the Library is part of the Free University of Berlin campus. In keeping with the university’s intellectual purpose, the Library resembles a human brain. Like many other blobitecture buildings, its principal components are steel and glass.

Architects today rely on numerous CAD software programs to construct blob architecture. Contrary to its appearance, many mathematical calculations go into ‘blobitecture’ designs. Most CAD programs, such as AutoCAD, permit the user to create a basic three-dimensional “sketch” and manipulate those lines in numerous directions. Blob architecture arises when the user makes those lines “wavy” and irregular, and “inflates” the building design. In the later stages of the structure’s design, architects can use CAD to specify the building materials and interior components of the project.

As a measure of blobitecture’s popularity, architectural students may now take college courses in blobitecture. There are also online courses featuring blobitectural study. Many architects who concentrate on urban-planning architecture decide to learn about blobitecture, since blobitecture is mainly prevalent in metropolitan areas. Furthermore, many CAD courses, offered both online and on-site at educational institutions, permit architects to gain hands-on practice with blobitectural design.

As more architects break away from established geometrical forms, blobism will likely become part of more international cityscapes. CAD will generate infinite forms of blobitecture in both exterior and interior design. Many ambitious architects are exploiting blobism to push architecture to its outermost limits. In addition, many entry level architect jobs demand CAD experience; so many architectural students are choosing to use blobitecture to gain fluency in CAD.

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Source by A Harrison Barnes

Avoid Frustration And Disappointment – Learn To Paint With Good Basic Watercolors!

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Recently, I had to admit that a critic could have been right to say that my simple 2 stage learn how paint watercolors course was too simple …

It was aimed at artist beginners who wanted to learn to paint without having to learn to draw first. This meant that despite they may not be too good at drawing, they could still get started painting. Painting landscapes, still-life painting, portraits and mechanical objects can come later.

However, there are 2 reasons to go back to the basics of painting watercolors …

  1. It is a good idea to learn how to paint before painting a Mona Lisa
  2. It is a good idea to go back to first principles when your paintings are going wrong

Occidentally, there are lucky people who do not seem to have any problems learning to paint. They pick up a box of paints and a brush and easily paint their first watercolor painting. This minority of people who do not struggle with painting are fortunate indeed.

On the other hand, most of us are not blessed with such talents …

  • Truth is that it is not so easy to learn how to paint watercolor well
  • At times it can seem almost impossible to paint a good watercolor picture

Very soon you can find every brush mark on your painting turning into an awful mess. As you find your watercolor washes flooding uncontrollably, it is easy to create a nightmare of badly blended colors.

All too soon you can turn your great art ideas into a muddy shambles. When you do you are lost. Without you understand what is happening when watercolor paint flows uncontrollably across the paper, your painting will never get better …

  • You need to see how color moves where the water carries it
  • You need to understand that you will wreck a color wash if you have not left it to dry before adding the next wash
  • It is a great idea to learn how to get a range of different color intensities and tone from a single color before adding other colors to the mix

There is great sense in the old saying … "Do not try to run before you can walk"

Watercolor painting can quickly convince you that you have no artistic talent. It can make you look like you have no painting skills. It is a shame to become disheartened when your watercolors go wrong.

So, given the choice, which alternative would you choose?

"Frustration and disappointment … or do you prefer to have a deep understanding of how simple and easy watercolors work in your painting?"

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Source by Michael Dale

Knowing The Difference Between Gain and Loss – Samurai Principle Number 5 – A Book of Five Rings

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Distinguish Between Gain And Loss In Worldly Matters.

(Miyamoto Musashi)

Distinguish – To recognize as distinct or different. Recognize the salient or individual features or characteristics of. To perceive clearly by sight or other sense. To discern

Between – Distinguishing one from the other.

Gain – To get something desired, especially as a result of one's efforts. To acquire as an increase or addition. To obtain, as a profit.

Loss – Detriment, disadvantage, or deprivation from failure to keep, have or get. The state of being deprived of or being without something that one has had. Failure to preserve or maintain.

Wordly – Of or relating to this world, as contrasted with heaven, spiritual life, etc. Devoted to, directed toward, or connected with the affairs, interests, or pleasures of this world.

Matters – Situations, states, affairs or business. Something of consequence. Something of importance or significance.

An Introduction

This meditation is the latest meditation from a concept discussed in a book known as A Book Of Five Rings, by the Japanese samurai master, Miyamoto Musashi.

A Book Of Five Rings, is considered a classic on military strategy, in a manner similar to that of Sun Tzu's Art Of War.

This meditation talks about the importance of possessing and cultivating one's ability to distinguish that which is important in this world (ie the material world).

The ability to distinguish is a fine art; an art that once again, requires careful observation.

Quite simply, one can not distinguish if one does not pay close attention.

If one fails to properly distinguish, then what actually appears to be gain may actually be loss and what actually appears to be loss may actually be gain.

Real Life Situations

Have you ever encountered situations, in your life, where you felt like you earned and it turned out to be a loss?

Have you ever encountered situations, in your life, where you felt like you lost and it turned out to have been a gain?

I know I have. I'm thinking of one situation from the past year where something did not turn out quite the way I expected (in other words, I believed it to be a loss). But, as more time has gone by, I'm starting to realize that the situation was actually a gain, as it prepared me for some incredibly positive experiences that are just around the corner.

As you meditate upon this thought, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Have you ever encountered situations, in your life, where you felt like you earned and it turned out to be a loss?
  • Have you ever encountered situations, in your life, where you felt like you lost and it turned out to have been a gain?
  • What can you do to cultivate your ability to distinguish between gain and loss?

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Source by Stanley F Bronstein

Credibility of Distance Learning in the Martial Arts

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Something in the martial arts that is argued back and forth all the time is the effectiveness of distance learning versus traditional training in a dojo and can one learn the martial arts to any degree of profitability through distance learning. In an age where communicating and learning via the Internet are staples of every day life and the ability to learn anything efficiently is open to everyone because of this, my answer is a resounding "YES!".

Consider this … one of the recent arguments I have encountered is that to earn a Dan ranking takes years and years of blood, sweat and tears and that only after you have spilled blood on the dojo floor can you be considered credible to wear the Dan you are awarded by XYZ Organization, School, Federation, etc. and only through this method can you become a better practitioner. While I agree with the idea in general, the argument against distance learning is that there is no way you can advance rank as a Black Belt, or as a Colored Belt for that matter, unless you train in a school under age old traditional methods. There is no way you can possibly learn any system of self-defense through "home study" methods.

OK..well … let's say that a person has put 15-20 years into his / her training and they now wear the rank of 4th or 5th Dan. This person has trained and completed all of the requirements to advance his / her rank. I guess some could say that because of the rank and the years put into the training that he / she is describing of praise and respect, being of great honor and integrity because of the advances and the time spent training in the arts. This person obviously has learned what it means to be a better practitioner and is now credible in the eyes of his / her peers. Seems like a solid point.

Now, on the flip side of that coin, let's say that this same person on the outside looks and acts like the rank they wear and talks the talk of a true Black Belt but underneath has a drinking problem or a drug problem or, still yet , both. They treat people with disrespect behind their backs and are full of ego. Every time something goes wrong in his / her life all they want to do is go out, get high and pick a fight. Just so you know, I am not speaking hypothetically. I trained under just such a person. Does this mean he / she describes to wear the rank of an advanced Dan just because they have put their time in a traditional school and passed the curriculum? Does this make him / her better than me or anyone else who wants to open up their learning to a reliable, comprehensive distance learning program taught by advanced, committed, honorable individuals? I think not as we all know that the martial arts are about so much more than just the belt one wears.

The traditional thinking is if you choose to train like this that it is lacking in so many respects, ie: training quality, lack of training partners, too easy to slack off and not train, no one is there to insure you are actually performing the material, and on and on, that there is no way this can work and once you receive your rank, it is just a "piece of paper" from a "diploma mill" or in the case of a Dan ranking, a paper "Black Belt Mill ". Well, let me pose this question to you, what takes more effort, dedication, perseverance, integrity and personal commitment, walking into a local school and having someone tell you what to do or take a course and break it down yourself, put together a training schedule based around your school or work schedule, provide yourself with a place to train and then effectively complete the training per belt rank? I realize this question is rhetorical but the point I am trying to make is that BOTH methods of study, in class and home study, are just as effective in learning any type of material and that as martial artists, to be so closed minded about knowledge through sources "outside the box", especially in this day and age of advanced technology, is a true disadvantage to the advancement of the arts as a whole.

The traditionalists fail to recognize the doors this can and will, most assuredly, open up to students around the world just as it has with all areas of education. Right now … today … you can earn the highest level of certified, recognized, accredited university degrees online from the most reputable Colleges and Universities – WORLD WIDE! This is an absolute, indisputable fact that even the most dyed-in-the-wool traditionalist can not refute. In my mind, it is not so much how you learn what you learn but how you apply that knowledge after you have learned it. I have always said that certificates and degrees are just pieces of paper but what makes them so valuable is the application of that knowledge and how it is presented to others down the line. We should always be moving forward with our knowledge, always be willing to embrace new ideas and concepts. If we stop learning, we stop growing.

As the sport is constantly evolving, so too must its practitioners evolve. No longer can we just accept the traditional training orthodox as the rule. Just the simple fact that hand-to-hand combatives have become so much more advanced in just the last 10 years would dictate that we as practitioners of the arts should be more open-minded and willing to advance our learning from as many sources outside of our own backyards as possible. Distance learning offers just such a solution by eliminating the geographical boundaries that currently exist in limiting students to train and learn in just one setting, in one style, and from one instructor. With the Internet, video conferencing, online tutorials, forums, blogs, etc. literally at our fingertips, the possibilities are endless. No longer will students have to be relegated to choices for learning that only include the local dojo. Imagine being able to train with and share information and ideas about advancing the arts with students from all around the world in real time!

Of course, to that extent, the traditionalist would argue that there would be a problem with time differences as well as differences in training discipline and that there is no way this would work. Always an excuse. I have heard this argument for years but that is because they fail to see the potential that exists in people to come up with long term solutions to these problems, solutions that are offered by just such a group of dedicated individuals in the AKPKF … American Kick-Punch Karate Federation, headed by Sensei Danny Hill. This is an organization that leads by example and is all about keeping the integrity of the arts intact while attaching 21st Century thinking to an age old problem of bringing the training and discipline to students around the world who else would not have access to the information and they do it for FREE!

Now, I understand that traditionalists want to keep the training in the dojo's … OK … but what about the aspiring student who wants to become involved in the martial arts but has now to train, or who lives in a remote area where it is 50-100 miles to the nearest dojo? What about the people around the globe who live in villages where there is no training for thousands of miles around? How then does the traditionalist solve that geographical problem? They solve it by continuing to argument for classroom training as the only beneficial means of learning self-defense. In my opinion, what that argument really boils down to is money.

Think about it. They insist that receiving your certification via distance learning is not credible yet they take "Little Johnny's" tuition every month, usually an exorbitant amount, and pass the student through the system whenever he / she has learned the material or not. Again, I am not speaking hypothetically here. I have seen this first hand even at the Black Belt level. This problem exists on a wide scale and is becoming worse every day. The traditionalists say that distance learning has become a blight on our beloved art form and that it is denigrating everything that is sacred about our beloved sport, even to the point of "bastardizing" what the arts stand for, while all along doing the same thing by charging outrageously monthly fees and providing training that is mediocre at best. To me, this action is deplorable and not even remotely describing of respect and honor, yet this practice continues to grow day by day with new "McDojo's" springing up on just about every street corner. The traditionalist view has become about "selling the product" and not about "teaching the art". Anything that does not "jibe" with their way of thinking is garbage and only their style and only the way it is taught by them, is the "be all to end all" and the only path towards martial arts excellence. In my opinion, there is nothing reliable about this practice or this way of thinking and it is only hurting the arts, not enhancing them.

In closing, let me state that I have had great personal success training in both mediums. Each method has its place in education and each, in my opinion, is equally effective. I believe that both methods can co-exist peacefully. I personally have continued to expand my knowledge of self-defense through many different methods of learning such as books, tapes, cd's, dvd's, online tutorials, and traditional training on the mats with practitioners who are also open-minded enough to see the positive impact that distance learning can have on all of us if we would just overlap the need for this type of studying. I have my own dojo and am about to begin my training in Renzoku Jiu-Jitsu, a program that is taught by Soke John Cozatt who happens to live on the East Coast (and I, it is a distance learning program, one that I can advance to 5th Dan in and since that is the highest level of achievement in that system, that is my goal. In lieu of this program, in order for me to train in a "traditional" traditional jiu-jitsu class setting, I would have to drive 100 miles round trip 3 nights a week at great expense to accomplish what I can do in my own dojo via distance learning. Whether or not I make it to 5th Dan will strictly be up to me but that really is not the issue. The point is that the opportunity exists for all of us to utilize modern day technology to continue to move forward with our training and help advance this sport through the 21st Century. We have to continue to be open to new training methods and learning techniques so that the martial arts can continue to grow and survive. I for one will do all I can to be at the forefront of that movement.

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Source by Tim Gannon

Analysis of The Sunflowers – Vincent van Gogh

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Vincent's Sunflowers

"The sunflower is mine in a way." -Vincent van Gogh

Van Gogh's "Sunflowers" are among his most famous paintings, but few people realize he did many sunflower pictures, not just the most famous "Vase with Twelve Sunflowers" and "Vase with Fifteen Sunflowers." These were canases he made to decorate the Yellow House in Arles in anticipation of his friend Paul Gauguin's visit, and in the hope that other artists would follow and form a Utopian art community. Some of Vincent's sunflower paintings are all but indistinguishable, with only tiny differences to prove one reproduction is different from the next. During his stay in Paris, he painted cut sunflowers in different stages of being, from fresh to wilted to dry.

He appears to have bought his passion for sunflowers with him from his homeland in Holland where he roamed, and indeed, they make the kind of dramatic subject he loved. Around the world today, the sunflower is conspicuous with Vincent's work, immediately recognizable and every bit as much his own as the water lilies belonging to Monet.

Vincent's "Sunflowers No. 2," the most famous sunflower still life, yellow on yellow, possesses the same universal appeal and impact of all his most beloved pictures. So broadpread is the appeal of his sunflowers, in fact, that in 1987, a Japanese company paid a record of the equivalent of almost 40 million dollars for "Vase with Fifteen Sunflowers" at an auction. Van Gogh's many sunflower canvases are flung all over the world in testimony to his mastery, now staying in art galleries in Europe, London and Tokyo, to name a few.

During his stay in Paris, Vincent hobnobbed with some of the greatest Impressionist painters of the period. The artists all had a great effect on one another, including van Gogh, who was recognized as a formidable genius by "Les Vingt," Monet and Toulouse Lautrec, among others. One can readily discern the Paris sunflowers from the ones Vincent painted later, in the Yellow House at Arles, since they are cut flowers without vases. These cut sunflowers are depicted in various stages of wilting, but Vincent's final bright and bold color palette is evident at this point in his artistic development, permeating the pictures with life and joy.

The master's influence on western art and artists can not be overstated. His work bridged impressionism, expressionism, cubism and more with a unique language understood by all lovers of beauty and truth. The intense popularity of a simple vase of sunflowers attests to his power and sincerity.

Although Vincent was plagued by a serious mental imbalance and ever took his own life, he left a body of over 2,000 canvases, painted in about a decade, as a living legacy. Whether they represent his portrayals of living fields of wheat or swirling stars, tender and thoughtful portraits of the peasants he loved or starkly vivid flowers in a simple vase, his works all bear his own stylistic imprint. Seen as a superb form of communication of the spirit, his work succeeded beyond his wildest dreams to comfort and console humanity through art. It is through his paintings, not his over-romanticized, beleaguered life, that he should be judged as the poet, prophet and master artist he was.

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Source by Elizabeth Harding

His Most Famous Painting (I and the Village) – Marc Chagall

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One of the famous twentieth century French ‘Modern Art’ masters of Jewish-Belarusian origin, Marc Chagall (July 1887-March 1985), employed primary and secondary colors with different techniques to come out with a unique painting. He would use various shapes and symbols to gather the attention of the viewers for a detailed analysis. One of the most famous paintings of Marc Chagall is “I and the Village,” painted in Paris in 1911.

Marc Chagall’s most famous painting “I and the Village” seems like relating a small fairy tale in a rural area, his native village precisely. This oil on canvass painting, measuring 192.1 cm × 151.4 cm (75 in × 59 in), portrays the artist’s memories of Hasidic Community, a native community present outside Vitebsk. This painting is inspired by Marc’s Jewish life and his Russian childhood. Reflecting his emotions well, “I and the Village” is truly non-imitable and can be described in many beautiful words. At first, this remarkable painting perplexes its viewers, owing to its superimposed images. Upon analysis however, it unfolds as a beautiful horizon of fantasy.

Marc Chagall’s most famous painting “I and the Village” interestingly describes about the nature and its importance to human beings. Through different symbols and graphics, Chagall showed the give and take relationship of humans with the nature. He has depicted the mutual interdependence of humans, peasants here, animals, and plants on each other. In the foreground, a green-faced man, wearing a cap and holding a tree in his dark hands, can be seen staring at a goat, with its cheeks depicting the image of a smaller goat being milked. The background shows a violinist woman and two houses on the top, placed inverted, as Chagall did not give any importance to logical sequence. There is a series of houses, next to an Orthodox church. In the front of the violinist woman, a man, wearing black clothes with a scythe in hand, is shown.

Marc has also used a variety of large and small circular forms to show the sun’s revolution in the orbit, earth’s revolution around the sun, and moon’s revolution around the earth. Marc Chagall’s most famous painting “I and the Village” depicts an eclipse in which moon is situated at the lower left. The noticeable tree in the middle of the painting, balance it out to impart symmetry. The geometrical structures, such as lines, angles, triangles, circles, and squares used in “I and the Village” are inspired from ‘Cubism,’ the art of urban avant-garde society. Chagall’s paintings covered a particular geometric frame. Similarly, “I and the Village” is a scene of a particular area of the village, covered in a particular imaginary frame.

Considered a gem in the world of creativity, “I and the Village” of Marc Chagall is valued high. It presently graces the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Integrating Eastern European folk culture, both, Russian and Yiddish, this masterpiece is a smart star on the lines of creative fantasy. Truly, Marc Chagall was a marvelous painter, who could put all his emotions and qualities in the form of art.

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Source by Annette Labedzki

Energy Saving GLS Light Bulbs

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The term GLS, when applied to lighting, literally means 'General Lighting Service'; the name is usually applied to an incandescent bulb with a traditional bulb shape. However the growth in popularity of power saving bulbs has meant that there are a wide range of energy efficient equivalents available.

Replacing traditional incandescent bulbs in the home or business with energy efficient bulbs is one of the easiest ways to save energy, the environment and money. The cost of electricity bills can be reduced significantly, while also knowing that a difference is being made on a larger scale.

The GLS bulb is just one type of light bulb that is now available as an energy saving bulb or CFL, (Compact Fluorescent Lamp), Up until recent times CFLs were only available in a few shapes such as the spiral shaped bulb. However, these eco friendly bulbs in their recent form are a much better product than when they were first introduced.

Many different shapes now exist, with the GLS energy saver being very popular as it can act as a direct replacement for the traditional incandescent GLS. In most households this is a change that makes sense. Some say the newer energy saver bulbs look better and add more character to certain light fittings.

Whereas the first low energy bulbs to be introduced flickered when switched on and tended to be dull due to a low Lumen value, a vast improvement has been made.GLS Light Bulbs are now available in various sizes, wattages, lumens values, bases and color temperatures. These variations make the modern energy efficient light bulb more versatile. For example, a cozy warm white bulb with a color temperature of about 2700 Kelvins is an ideal choice for households, whereas a daylight white bulb (6500 Kelvins) better suits an office or larger business plans,

Most GLS bulbs are available with an ES and BC base, (Edison Screw or Bayonet Cap). They are usually available in 11 watt and 15 watt options, 15 watts low energy being equivalent to around 60 watts incandescent. The Lumens value is a highly important factor, with a higher Lumen value meaning a stronger light output.

Energy Saving GLS Light Bulbs are a popular power saving replacement in Europe. Most have an average lifespan of at least 8000 hours and can save 75% to 80% of energy used. Large financial savings can be made by the switch to energy saving bulbs.

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Makler Heidelberg

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Source by Nick Gent

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