Saturday, January 28, 2006


I'm going to give this blog a rest for a while and start a photoblog (mainly of Barcelona) here. Suggestions and comments welcome.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


Seventeenth-century Dutch master Gerrit Dou's "Woman fine-tuning Giardinere’s high-resolution edible imaging technology with cutting-edge night-time vision feature", sometimes known as "Woman Peeling Carrot".

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

tale of two Giuseppes

In the mid-sixteenth century Rudolf II von Habsburg, emperor of the Holy Roman Empire and king of Bohemia and Hungary, commissioned Giuseppe Arcimboldo to paint a portrait of Giuseppe Giardiniere, Florentine scientist, inventor, artist and gardener whose experiments with edible herbaceous plants led to the development of the ADSV (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Veg) fast data transmission, or "broad bean", system.

After experimenting with a wide range of common garden vegetables such as marrow, carrot and spinach, Giardiniere discovered that the system, which preceded Internet technology by four hundred years, worked best with Vicia faba, the large flat seeds of which provided sufficient bean width to render the use of an external power source unnecessary.
Giardiniere was a visionary and far ahead of his time. Only recently, centuries after his death, have Vicia faba Pods become a popular means of digital music and image reproduction.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

.... and punishment

Fig. 1. "Captain Horatio Fitzgerald bravely defies the cruel tempest and saves the lives of the crew of the Spaniel" by Theodora Jerrican, official paintress of the Fitzgerald family.

After several food- and waterless weeks, second mate Peasbody was flagrantly to flaunt seafaring etiquette and the captain’s own rules by sneaking up on an unsuspecting Diomedea exulans, which was perching on the ship’s windlass, and walloping it on the head with the captain's cricket bat.

Several days later, with the wind up and the mainsail bulging afresh, the Spaniel, in which Fitzgerald and his crew hoped to sail to the comfort of a sheltered Micronesian harbour, came upon a violent storm. Nothing could be done to prevent the vessel from breaking up, not far from what Captain and crew initially believed to be the coast of the southern Marquesan island of Hiva ‘Oa, but later discovered was the town of Grimsby.

Thereafter, Fitzgerald experienced difficulties in finding a merchant vessel to command. He therefore enlisted in the Royal Navy and in no time at all was appointed captain of HMS Basset.

Now, years later, he still attributed the Spaniel’s misadventure to the shooting of the bird, which was said to be the reason for his strict Vegan dietary habits and regular quotations of long passages from Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner, while he masticated tofu.

Sleeping interrupted the Captain’s story to intervene on behalf of his cabin boy and future man.

"Thank you Captain Fitzgerald but the boy is in my charge and thus disciplining him is a matter that I ought to deal with. I will see to it that he is severely punished, I can assure you."

Fitzgerald’s face turned a deeper shade of purple and, without uttering another word, he turned on his heel and swiftly left the cabin.

"Now, Crabtree," asked Sir Reginald, whose bite and bark were equally as lame. "Which is to be: Carolus Linnaeus’ Systema Naturae in Latin to the tune of Greensleeves, or six of the best with a large seabird in full rigor mortis? It’s up to you."

"The recitation I think, sir?" replied Crabtree sheepishly. "May I recommend the use of the bird’s corpse for the purposes of scientific analysis?" he added.

"Excellent thinking," answered Sir Reginald, whose misgivings about Crabtree’s unruly nature were now on the wane in light of the boy’s uncommon common sense.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

crime ....

Just then there was a loud and assertive knock at the door, following which the burly and extremely displeased-looking figure of Captain Fitzgerald burst into the cabin with a dead albatross under his arm.

"You!" he hissed, indicating Crabtree and raising the bird’s carcass, "What the devil ...?"

Fitzgerald broke off his tirade, hastened over to Crabtree, grabbed the cabin boy’s ear lobe with his Diomedeidae-free hand and bellowed.

"Do you know what happened the last time someone shot an albatross aboard one of my vessels?"

"No, sir!", stammered Crabtree in reply.

Fitzgerald launched with furious enthusiasm into the tale of the Spaniel, which he had once captained and whose patron had considered the award-winning Harrison H3 marine chronometer too costly and cumbersome a piece of equipment to have on board his vessel.

The ship’s owner had encouraged Fitzgerald to use the mixed Polynesian stick chart (or mattang) and tried and disproven Lunar Distance Method method of longitude calculation. It was thus of no surprise that the ship and its crew later encountered themselves drifting, without the slightest stir of a breeze, somewhere, the captain asserted, in the South Seas.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Ship’s cat and chief navigation officer reflects on developments in longitude calculations.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Sir Reginald's urgent reply

It was with deep regret that I read your recent net, both because of your touching tale of sadness and solitude to which, I admit, I have contributed greatly, and also because I have reason to believe that the
Sir Godfrey Newhouse you mention is not the person he claims to be.

Logic and intuitive reasoning have led me to conclude that he is, in fact, none other than Lord Percival Spicer, bounder and ne'er-do-well, whose submission of fictitious accounts of the Stichopus sexipedus six-legged sea cucumber and a host of other non-existent life forms in places with no geographical nor geological substance whatsoever (such as the Gillypay Archipelago) led to his expulsion from the Society and is just one of a long series of misdeeds.

My suspicions were aroused for several reasons. First, Jenkins, who provides me with detailed information on the significant events and comings and goings of local society during my absences, made no mention at all of anyone by the name of Sir Godfrey. Second, close inspection of the net you sent me revealed the initials P.S. and a faint but nevertheless discernible outline of the Spicer coat of arms.

Although the sweet features and charming conversation of my wife are such that any gentleman would certainly be enchanted thereby, I nevertheless believe that Lord Percival, if indeed the man who claims to be Sir Godfrey is the impostor I suspect him to be, is not driven by a suitor’s yearnings, but rather by underhand schemes to purloin my unpublished studies on Galapagos flora, to win himself acclaim among today’s men of science and to ensure himself a place in the anals of pioneering research.

"I think that should be two 'n's," suggested Crabtree, who was sneaking glances at the letter over Sir Reginald’s shoulder.

"Thank you Crabtree," replied Sleeping, "it’s a good job I’m not embroidering it".

Sir Reginald penned in the extra "n" and added "Do you think you could move a little further away? Your proximity is making me feel rather uncomfortable".

"Certainly sir, " assented Crabtree.

The letter continued.

My dearest Celia, I am fully aware that you may consider these words to be the jealous ravings of a cuckolded husband and, with just indignation, deem them unworthy of your esteemed regard. I nevertheless implore the following of you. Should Lord Percival (Sir Godfrey) make any enquiry as to the whereabouts of the key to the right-hand cupboard of my writing desk in the study, in which the documents are kept, do not under any circumstance inform him that it is to be found in the middle drawer of my reserve dressing table.

Otherwise I shall be made the most notorious geck and gull that e’er invention played on," added Sleeping twelfth-nightedly.

"Now Crabtree," he enquired, "how long till we dock and can send a telegraph?"

"Two weeks till the Cape sir," answered Crabtree "but you’ll have to wait another fifty years or so to send a wire."

"Damn it!" cursed Sleeping and added "Then we’ll just have to dispatch it on the first England-bound vessel we encounter!"
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