March 05, 2013
The Secret Door
A clever app using Google's StreetView. (There's a sound control in the upper right corner.)
The Secret Door is presented by Safestyle UK
Via The Presurfer
July 18, 2012
A tragic tale
The Tragic & Unfortunate Story of Ronald McDonald in a slideshow.
March 09, 2012
The scale of the Universe 2
A well-done Flash presentation of scale which ranges from 10-36 to 1027 meters (some of it is obviously speculative.). It's like an interactive Powers of 10.
Via David Thompson
February 29, 2012
Via David Thompson
December 13, 2011
Hit the switch
Impressive explosions with a click of the mouse.
Via The Daily What
August 17, 2011
Time waster 4
A clever adaptation of Tetris.
July 27, 2011
This may look out of date but that's only because I couldn't find the one with the "2011" title slide available on line. (They're identical otherwise.)
H.T. Tucson John
July 01, 2011
A free 3D Pong game called Curveball.
May 31, 2011
H.T. Tucson John
March 29, 2011
Solar system explorer
Here's a very nicely done interactive orrery. If you don't like the Copernican view, try the Tychonian.
January 28, 2011
Hot to grill
A slideshow of unusual outdoor grills.
December 21, 2010
A collection of "adult themed" cartoons. They're probably NSFW and they may even harsh your Yuletide mellow.
November 10, 2010
The brief and wondrous life of a text
It's not technical at all; the animation's pretty interesting.
November 05, 2010
The walls of Brussels
Murals in Brussels - many done in trompe l'oeil style. Full-screen mode recommended.
August 03, 2010
It's all in the timing
Steve R sends a PowerPoint slideshow of well-timed photos. There are some pretty impressive pix here.
May 21, 2010
The Empire State Building under construction
When men were men...
H.T. Tucson John
May 04, 2010
The New York Times has an entertaining slideshow of signs from Shanghai (in what they call 'Chinglish').
January 28, 2010
Here's an interesting time-waster: The eyeballing game.
December 27, 2009
Shipping the unshippable
Tucson John sent a PowerPoint slideshow about this ship. Luckily, I found it on Slideshare (courtesy of George Martin). It must have some incredible pumps built into it.
November 15, 2009
Interactive unemployment demographics
This is a very well done Flash presentation from the New York Times: The Jobless Rate for People Like You.
October 30, 2009
Size and scale
Here's a pretty cool interactive Flash app, illustrating scale from millimeters to picometers.
October 15, 2009
The Color Test
If you can ace this test on the first try, you're unusually good at following directions.
September 08, 2009
More hot air
A slideshow of creatively designed hot air balloons.
August 20, 2009
Life.com has a slideshow about The Hindenberg. I hadn't known that its fabric envelope was covered with "iron oxide and something called aluminum-impregnated cellulose acetate butyrate, or CAB -- an incredibly flammable compound that today is used in rocket fuel."
July 23, 2009
More funny signs
WFTV has a slideshow of 70 funny signs (mostly from Flickr).
July 14, 2009
Quite a panorama
I've been (mostly) avoiding mentioning Michael Jackson but this 360° view of his 'personal arcade' (and museum) piqued my interest.
June 17, 2009
A little astronomy
Carol sends a slideshow of photos taken by the Hubble Space Telescope; full screen mode recommended.
April 18, 2009
Carol sends a Powerpoint show about recent tech. Here it is, courtesy of SlideShare.
Full screen recommended.
April 13, 2009
Peeps Show 3
April 07, 2009
Here's an interesting slideshow about housing built from shipping containers.
March 03, 2009
Mike writes, "The Port of Tacoma has some new shipping container cranes delivered this month. The Port Authority put together a slide show (with cheesy audio commentary) on how they were moved from ship to dockside. Enjoy."
There must have been a heck of a lot of ballast in that ship. I wouldn't want to ride in it, either.
February 25, 2009
Someone (was it you, John?) sent a PowerPoint slideshow of very nice plane pictures. (They're mostly from Airliners.net.) I checked out a couple of slideshow-sharing sites and found basically the same show at SlideBoom - except this one contains more images than the PowerPoint version.
Full-screen mode recommended for this one.
February 23, 2009
Care to guess what this is? There are 12 others like it in The World's Smallest Puzzles at Discover magazine's site.
January 08, 2009
Assembling the ISS
Here's a nice Flash animation (with dates) of the building of the International Space Station.
December 31, 2008
Our message of hope
Here's a timely Flash clip.
It’s been quite a year. Between a seemingly endless election and a worldwide economic crisis, our screens have been filled with the same familiar faces repeating tired campaign buzzwords and sobering economic sound bites. After all that bad news, we thought you could use a more uplifting message for the New Year.
So we’ve taken those faces and sound bites and created a mashup that we call “Our Message of Hope.” After you view our film we’ve provided the tools for you to easily create your own message to enjoy and share. From serious to absurd, express yourself.
In the new year, may all of your news be good news.
December 03, 2008
Let those sleeping dogs lie
Boue's Big Day is a stop-action show on Flickr.
November 27, 2008
Here's one of Jacquie Lawson's Flash greeting cards: Pumpkin Pie.
October 31, 2008
A Flash version of an old practical joke.
October 26, 2008
If you want a copy of the Powerpoint show, it's here.
September 02, 2008
Here's a time-waster
Try to click on the ball
Found here, if you want a larger version.
August 22, 2008
50 years of American history
Mary sends a like to a Flash clip based on Billy Joel's We Didn't Start the Fire. The presentation's a little cheesy, but the collection of images is pretty good. (Of course, it helps if you like the song.)
June 18, 2008
Drum Machine by TokyoPlastic was my favorite, followed closely by one called Kaleidoscope.
May 31, 2008
A quick tour of Egypt
Here, at long last, are some pix we took on our trip to Egypt in March. There are 90 or so, culled from the ~500 that we took. (And we still missed several sites I wish we hadn't.)
A Flash slideshow follows after the break...
What comes next is my travelogue for the trip. We booked a package tour and were gone only 10 days, which included 2 days traveling. So it was definitely a whirlwind, considering all of the places we visited in our short stay. Our guide told us, "You'll need a holiday to recover from this holiday" and he was right. I wish I'd had another week to relax when I got home.
The tour was booked through Insight and I was pleasantly surprised by how well it turned out. I usually dislike the regimen of a tour group but this tour was well organized, well run, and we had a good group of traveling companions, so I had fewer problems with the tour than I'd expected.
All the images are thumbnails. Click any of them for a larger view.
We left early Friday afternoon (around 2 PM, GMT+6) and arrived in Cairo late afternoon (after 6 PM, GMT-2) on Saturday. We traveled ~20 hours or so from St. Louis to Chicago to Istanbul to Cairo.
Here's Cairo as we came in for landing.
The remainder of this day was spent getting over the jet lag. We stayed at the Cairo Marriott, which is a very nice hotel on an island in the Nile. (It's a large island with many buildings on it and I didn't realize it was an island until I was told.) The Marriott has many features to entertain its guests, including a nice pool, a casino, ten different restaurants and four lounges on site. Amusingly, a couple of the restaurants featured American-style menus. We ate there twice and visited the pool once; food was OK, swimming was great.
Here's a view from one of the bridges over the Nile in Cairo.
Cairo reminded me of Mexico City. Its population is 19 million and the only traffic signals are flashing yellow lights. Actually, the traffic signals are the other drivers' horns, but no one's too loud about it. To get from the airport to the Marriott - a distance of 20 kilometers - took anywhere from 1 hour to 2 hours, depending on the time of day. Roads that were striped for two lanes of traffic usually carried three. I'm glad I wasn't making a driving tour on my own.
Nonetheless, I didn't see or hear any traffic accidents in the few days we were there.
The first thing Sunday morning we were off to Giza to see the famous pyramids and the Sphinx. Left-to-right, these were built by Khufu (Cheops), Khafre and Menkaure. If I recall correctly, these people were father, son, and grandson in that order. The pyramid at the left is the largest but is shortened by distance.
The middle one (Khafre's) still has a bit of the limestone casing at the top. I imagined how impressive these must have been when they were new and their white limestone coverings were intact. They'd have stood out like lighthouses in the bright Egyptian sun.
That gray smudge on the horizon is Cairo in the distance with its dust and smog.
The pyramids themselves have names and our guide told us that the largest one was named Cheops Dominates the Horizon. What did those Greeks know about hubris?
Speaking of Greeks, the guide also told us that 'pyramid' and 'sphinx' are both Greek terms. The natives call them something different, but I don't recall what (and couldn't transliterate it even if I did remember it). Our guide added that the name 'Egypt' is itself a Greek invention, based on the ancient name for Egypt: "House of the Spirit of Ptah." He said that the elision of 'ka' (spirit) and 'Ptah' is the root of the word 'coptic' and that the ancient Greeks called the place 'Ecopt' based on that elision. This site confirms some (but not all) of his etymology.
The locals today call Egypt (and sometimes Cairo itself) 'Misr' and you'll see that everywhere in its Roman form. To take a rather grim example, the Misr Spinning and Weaving company was the site of a riot in April that left three dead and led to the arrest of many.
As you'd expect, we heard all about how many thousands of blocks were use to build the pyramids and how many tons the blocks weighed. But what piqued my curiosity was how these things had been financed. When I asked the guide how the ancients could have afforded to build such structures, he replied, "They owned everything. They were kings." All right. But even kings have opportunity costs. What else could a pharaoh have done with all those resources? Despite a few more questions, I never did get any kind of answer. I even asked him how the modern Egyptian government would finance building a new pyramid today - just to get across the sense of my questions - but that got only a blank look.
Here's the Sphinx at Giza with Khafre's pyramid in the background. As you can see, it's an easy walk from the middle pyramid to the Sphinx.
The pyramids are nowhere near the Nile these days. (So much for the old song You Belong To Me.) But according to our guide, the river used to run right at the feet of the Sphinx. The Giza plateau is a limestone bed and I believe that most of the building material for the pyramids was quarried in the area, excepting the stand-alone granite pieces which came floating down the river from Aswan.
After leaving Giza, we traveled south of Cairo to Memphis and Sakkara. On the way, we stopped for lunch at a restaurant where they were making bread like this.
As you can see, it was taken straight from the oven to the table. That's what you call home cookin'.
After having her picture taken, the lady baking the bread asked for baksheesh. This is the custom everywhere in Egypt. When one visits a public restroom, for example, there will usually be an attendant expecting a 1 pound note. Egyptian currency is called the Egyptian pound and is abbreviated 'L.E.' for livre égyptienne. (When we visited, an Egyptian pound was worth about 18 US cents.)
If a street vendor can't sell you something, he'll 'give' it to you. Then he'll ask for baksheesh or for a 'present' in return. The difference between this sequence of events and an outright sale is a question I'll have to leave to the theologians.
In Memphis, which is a pretty small town, we saw a gigantic statue of Ramses II which had never been used because of a flaw. It's housed in a building of its own. The flaw is not the obvious problem with its legs, but rather that its ears weren't in the right position relative to its eyes, according to our guide.
Quite a bit of different stonework and statuary has been moved to Memphis where it's all exhibited. For example, we saw another sphinx there which is made of alabaster (crystallized limestone).
At Sakkara, we saw pyramids that were older than the ones at Giza. Here's the step pyramid of Zoser I at Sakkara.
The layers are called 'mastabas', which I heard was the word for 'table.' According to our guide, the construction of this step pyramid was a step-wise affair (so to speak). That is, it wasn't designed the way it turned out. The tomb of the king is underground and the first layer was built over it after the king had been interred. Later, the second layer was built. Followed by the third layer, after more time had passed. Our guide didn't explicitly say that building step pyramids was how the ancients had learned to build pyramids, but that seems a safe inference.
Near it was another step pyramid that was collapsing; it looked like a big pile of blocks.
There are also the ruins of a temple near Zoser's pyramid.
On the way back from Sakkara to Cairo, the tour coach stopped at rug-weaving school. This is a place where children are taught to make rugs. Our guide claimed that Egyptian rugs rival rugs from Iran and India. (It could be, for all I know about oriental rugs.) Here's a shot of some of the finished rugs that includes Jude and Liam, an Irish couple traveling with our group.
While the rest of the group was inside the rug school, I was outside with a cigar passing the time and watching the local traffic. It was late in the day and the farmers were coming in from their fields. This was a common sight: a donkey (or a donkey-drawn cart), laden with alfalfa, that has oxen following along behind it. Here's a short video of a farmer, a donkey and five oxen.
I was surprised by the agricultural practices I saw in Egypt, but more on that later.
In the evening, we returned to Giza for a light show at the pyramids. Some of our group who'd seen it before recommended it but we weren't all that impressed when we saw it. The one we saw was somewhat different than the version in this clip (no bagpipers, for one thing), but you'll get the idea.
The worst of it was that a steady wind was blowing out of the north that night, making it positively cold. (It was the only time I was cold during the entire trip.) For a five Egyptian pounds, I could rent a heavy blanket and so I did.
The first stop on Monday was the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. This is the official, government-founded and -sponsored institution. No photography was allowed, so you'll have to check it out at the link if you're interested. The museum is housed in an edifice built in 1900 and which seemed to me to be bursting at its seams. Our guide told us there was a new, larger facility being built outside of Cairo. Researchers continue to find antiquities in Egypt, according to him, so there's a steady of stream of newly-discovered material to be housed, cataloged and studied. I came across this news recently which proves his point.
The museum and grounds were packed with tourists. We were evidently there at the height of the tour season and we saw many European, Japanese and Korean tour groups. The Chinese-built tour buses (which were very nice) were thick, everywhere we went. What impressed me most about the diversity of the tourists was listening to the native guides speaking French, German, Spanish, Japanese, Russian or what have you as the occasion required. I wondered whether they specialize in one language or they learn more than one. Our guide's English was usually pretty good, though filled with British idioms (and the occasional cross-cultural curiosity).
When we left the museum, we went to the citadel of Salah Al Din (Saladin, as he's called in the West), which is the home of the mosque of Mohammad Ali. ("Not the boxer," as our guide kept repeating.) Along the way, we passed a Muslim cemetery. According to our guide, this one had a large number of people living in it and they'd lived there so long that the city had run electric power to their homes. Evidently, the Egyptian government provides free electric service. The important point, though, is the lack of housing in Egypt - which I'll return to later.
The citadel is too large to fit completely into a ground-based photo. It sits on a high spot and there's a great view of Cairo from there. Here's a panorama.
The process of making the panorama loses a little resolution in the distance. But a lot of the blurriness in this image is Cairo's atmosphere.
The mosque of Mohammad Ali (not the boxer) is also called the Alabaster mosque and it's very famous.
Our guide took us into the mosque itself. He'd warned the women in the group not to dress immodestly (no halter tops or shorts) the day before. A few of them wore scarves over their hair but most didn't. The interior of the mosque itself is empty. Most of the floor is covered with carpet but the only furniture is a built-in pulpit and a large -- a very large -- chandelier.
Once inside, the guide did the only thing I didn't care for on the whole tour. He tried to start a dialog with us about Islam and the West. First he told us that he'd been warned that he should never do this because it was unprofessional. (A sentiment I agreed with.) Then he continued by saying he wasn't worried about being professional and spoke his piece for 10 minutes or so - which I didn't see a need for but didn't particularly mind. Let me say here that I might have enjoyed discussing this topic with him one-on-one; he seemed sincere in his hope for a dialog and wasn't delivering a diatribe.
What bothered me was that he next asked for questions from the group. That part was pretty disappointing since many of the questions were pretty simple-minded and not a few of the answers were as well. (All in your narrator's opinion, of course.) The youngest member of our group, a woman in her early 20s, asked him about the Christian doctrine of turning the other cheek: didn't he think that was better than Islam's approach? He answered her in very practical terms which wasn't much of an answer at all in her eyes.
How did I get stuck listening to a theological discussion I'm not interested in while paying for the privilege? Sheesh...
I should add that, overall, I found our guide to be a fount of information about the country and its antiquities so I was generally very happy with him. He was an engaging speaker and really seemed to enjoy his work.
On our way out of Saladin's citadel, we came across a group of school children there on a field trip. Since our tour group was obviously Anglophones (except for the family from Manila), the children called out to us in English saying 'Hello' and 'Good morning.' It was charming.
This day we had a fairly late lunch at a floating restaurant (on the Nile) called the Happy Dolphin. Actually, lunch was always late by my standards: never earlier than 1PM and frequently between 2 and 3PM. As usual, I found the food bland with very little spice. On our way to lunch, we spotted this graffito.
In the evening, the guide took the group back to Giza to shop for perfume. I'm not sure which of the group requested this; possibly it was the guide's idea. (He seemed to know half of Egypt, though he was a fairly young man.) Since I had no interest in shopping for scent I waited outside, smoking another cigar.
Cigars always seemed to attract the curious in Egypt. A young fellow came up and asked me about it, so I gave him one. Then we started talking about computers when he told me he wanted to study computer engineering. Within 10 minutes or so we had a group of 7 or 8 other young men (late teens to early 20s, I'd say) who were the first guy's friends and relatives. They wanted to practice their English, ask me about the States, and ask me what I thought of Egypt. When they asked me about Egypt, I said I was surprised at all the police I'd seen. You wouldn't see so many police on the street in the States, I told them. 'It's The System,' said the first guy without adding anything and everyone else fell silent at that remark.
Egyptians didn't seem inclined to talk much about politics or maybe they thought (correctly) that I wouldn't know anything about that. One man I talked to later spoke for a few minutes about how Mubarak kept getting elected as President. (He's been in power now for 27 years. And here you've been thinking G.W. Bush has been in office too long.)
According to this gentleman, a number of candidates always stand for the election but in the end everyone decides, 'Well, Mubarak hasn't been doing that bad a job.' and they end up voting for him again. 'Don't rock the boat' seemed to be the gist. I saw pictures of Mubarak throughout Cairo; on small billboards, generally, and with only the image - no text.
The young men brought me a glass of coffee (Turkish-style) and offered me one of their local cigarettes - which they insisted I try then and there. Eventually, my older son (another aspiring computer engineer) came out and I introduced him to the group. We were there for 45 minutes or so altogether and a good time was had by all.
The last thing we did on this day was board a sleeper train for Aswan. It was a 12-hour ride that began around 9 PM. The train ride itself wasn't too bad, though I think I woke up every time the train stopped at a station. The train was old and plain but clean. The Egyptian crew members joked with us that the problem was that the train had been made in the US (which I think was true, albeit circa 1960). The dinner they served us was beyond lame. Luckily, breakfast the next morning was mostly rolls with cheese and butter and we could eat that.
There was a club car with the train and some of the younger tourists (there were three different tour groups on the train) had a party there. I stopped off by one of the porter stations to smoke the last cigar of the day. That attracted the porter himself who came out to smoke cigarettes, chat with me and (of course) ask about the cigar. He told me about his work schedule (3 days on the line, followed by less than a day at home) and his young son who was 18 months old or so. He reminded me of some of my Irani friends in the States in their younger days.
While we occasionally got a cold stare during our trip, our only real problems dealing with the Egyptians was getting used to the baksheesh custom and dealing with the street vendors, who are very persistent. But all of our noncommercial, man-on-the-street meetings with them were very cordial and informative (at least for me).
When I woke on Tuesday, we were still a couple of hours away from Aswan so I went to the club car for the morning cigar. A porter who was cleaning from the previous evening brought me a glass of coffee. The porter didn't speak English well enough to converse. But I did learn that he (a) liked America, (b) liked Hillary Clinton and (c) didn't like George Bush.
While riding the train that morning, I saw a lot of people out working in the fields. Here's a farmer in a field of alfalfa with a field of sugar cane in the distance.
All of the people I saw working crops were working them by hand. I saw a few tractors in Egypt but all I saw them used for was to pull wagons. I never saw a large plow or disk. I didn't see any combines.
They raise a lot of sugar cane there and I saw large fields of that, so perhaps they have machinery for harvesting cane. I hope so, since I saw so much of it. Near the end of the tour, outside Luxor, our guide pointed out a very narrow gauge railway (12 - 15 inches, I estimated) that ran alongside our route. He told us it was for the "sugar cane train." This railroad ran alongside some large fields of cane and was used to haul cane to a processing plant.
Aside from the cane fields, the plots were small - 10 to 30 acres, say - suitable to being worked by animal and human power. Vegetables and alfalfa were grown in these small fields and they were harvested by hand and hauled away on donkey-drawn carts.
Late in the morning we arrived in Aswan and went off to a quarry to see a fractured obelisk. The story of how the ancients mined granite for making obelisks and other stonework sounded like something you'd use a chain gang for. The quarrymen chiseled holes around the edge of a block of granite - perforating the stone if you will - and then filled the holes with wet wooden stakes. As the stakes expanded from the moisture, they'd crack the rock and break loose a block that could be worked. Imagine chiseling these holes 18 inches apart around the perimeter of a 50 foot obelisk: you'd have to want that piece of stone pretty badly to get it that way. (But, hey - the king's paying all the bills, right?)
Then we went to see Aswan High Dam. There are two dams across the Nile at Aswan: an older one built at the turn of the 20th century by the British and the newer High Dam built in the 1960s by the USSR. Both of them generate electricity though the old British dam is much smaller than the High Dam. (Still, it's large enough to have a road across its top.)
Our guide told us that when the High Dam was finished, the Egyptians "kicked the Russians out because they wanted to run it." The High Dam is a military base now.
Actually, much of Egypt (as seen by a tourist) looks like a military base: there are guards with automatic rifles at every tourist site we visited. All these sites (the Giza pyramids, the old temples, even the Aswan quarry) are operated by a government agency and patrolled by these guards. I never learned whether the guards are part of the army, part of the police, or whether there's any difference between the army and police. There have been terror attacks on tourist sites in the recent past, so the presence of the guards is understandable.
Here's an interesting sculpture -- a gift from the Russians -- at the High Dam.
It's a stylized lotus flower with a gear near its top. I took it to be a symbol of the combination of ancient and modern. Though maybe it's a symbol of the Eternal Friendship Between the Russian and Egyptian Peoples. (Just speculatin' there.)
The High Dam is capable of generating 2.1 gigawatts. Our guide told us that was 60% of Egypt's total demand, including the electricity they export to neighbors. I could see why the government provides electric power for free since hyrdopower is generally the cheapest to produce. The lake behind the High Dam, called Lake Nasser, covers over 500,000 square kilometers. The guide claimed it was the largest man-made lake and I believed him.
After the dam, we took a boat ride onto the lake itself to see the temples at Philae. In this picture, you see the prototypical Egyptian temple: the front is high at the right and the left and lower in the middle. Our guide told us (many times) that this symbolizes the Eastern desert, the Nile Valley, and the Western desert (the Sahara).
Philae is one of many ancient sites that were relocated to higher ground when the High Dam was built and Lake Nasser began to fill. There are actually several temples at Philae. There's the Egyptian one above. There's a Greek addition to that temple which isn't shown. And there's a Roman temple removed a bit from both those (also not shown). This was something we saw at several sites in Egypt. The ancient Egyptians built something and then the Greeks (i.e., the Macedonians) came later and built something at the same site. Sometimes the Romans had got into the act as well.
The Macedonians ruled Egypt after Alexander the Great conquered it -- or liberated it from the Persians, depending on whose account you read -- in 332 BCE. Alexander then left command of it to Ptolemy, one of his generals. Ptolemy went on to found his own Egyptian dynasty, called the Ptolemaic kings.
Our next stop was the New Cataract hotel in Aswan, where we stayed the night. We had a great view from our room. The boats with the sails up are feluccas. We took a ride on one of them the next day.
The New Cataract is immediately next to the Old Cataract hotel, which has had a few famous British guests: Winston Churchill and Agatha Christie, among others. There isn't much of a cataract left these days because of the dams, I assume.
That evening we went to the Old Cataract and had a high tea on its patio. I was a little disappointed by the tea because there was no coffee and the only food was sweetmeats. 'Where are the cucumber sandwiches?" I wondered.
Wednesday morning we rose early. I mean we rolled out at 3:30 AM to catch a plane to Abu Simbel to see the temple of Ramses II and Nefertari (Mrs. Ramses II). Here's a view of Lake Nasser from the plane.
Egyptian Air runs a shuttle flight between Aswan and Abu Simbel for the tourist traffic. Mentioning this flight reminds me of something I noticed on all Egyptian Air craft. On the wall near the forward galley is a small shadowbox containing a copy of the Koran. (In case of emergency, break glass?)
Here's a travelogue about the Abu Simbel temples:
Ramses II was the Queen Victoria of his day, I take it. He ruled over a wide-spread empire and his reign lasted for decades: 66 years (a bit longer than Victoria's 63 years). He fought quite a few battles/wars and consolidated Egypt's power over its domains. Quite the monarch, he was.
Both Ramses' and Nefertari's temples were so crowded that I didn't venture in, though others in my family did. Abu Simbel is one of the high points of a visit to Egypt, so it was very crowded even at 8AM.
The most impressive thing about these temples is that they were also relocated when the lake was filled. But they aren't free-standing buildings, as the Philae temples are. Instead, they were originally carved into hillsides. How you move something like that and have it turn out well is quite a story. (See the video above for a brief description of how this was done.)
After we flew back to Aswan from Abu Simbel, we headed for our cruise boat, the M/S Miriam. We spent the next three days on this boat, going back down the river to Luxor. After lunch on the boat - which was the first tasty food we'd had - we hung out on its sundeck. The meals on the boat were great and the fresh tomatoes were outstanding. The boat below isn't the one we were on, but it's very similar.
Late in the afternoon, we headed out to take a river tour on a felucca (the Arabic for 'boat'). Here's a shot from the prow, looking back at the helmsman. I enjoyed the trip and the crew certainly knew what they were doing, but near the end they rolled out a collection of jewelry for sale and set up a little bazaar on the boat. Have I mentioned how persistent the vendors are?
That evening, most of the group headed to the boat's lounge. We had two young Canadian women in our group and they were in the mood to par-tay. But my older son wanted to see the local color so he and I he walked a couple of miles along the river to go to an Arabic cinema instead.
That day happened to be a religious holiday in Egypt - some famous imam's birthday, I think. It's an occasion for gift-giving among family members and, in Egypt, it also means you get a small something from your boss. So the streets were full of people, many in funny hats. When we got to the cinema, there was some difficulty buying tickets. The cashier didn't want to sell them to us because the movie wasn't in English.
After my son finally bought tickets, we had to hang out in a small park (two square blocks) next to the theater while we waited for the next showing. Naturally, we were soon surrounded by young men who wanted to practice their English and to check out the Americans and find out how they liked Egypt. The first person to speak to us spoke English very well but he confused us for a minute or so by pronouncing Aswan as 'a swan.' ("How do you like a swan?" / "Well done?")
We spent 45 minutes or so before the movie started chatting with these guys and fending off a couple of young children who kept asking for money. (More of the baksheesh bit - or maybe it was the custom to indulge children on that holiday. We didn't oblige them in either case.)
The movie itself was curious. It seemed to be a melodrama: bad guy abducts a young woman, good guy saves her, good guy fathers her illegitimate son, she leaves town in shame, and so forth. The most interesting part of it was that the audience was practically all young men. There were a couple of scenes in the movie that suggested sex pretty strongly -- think of a moving headboard -- and those were greeted with loud cheers. There was another scene where someone was set afire during a street fight and the crowd went absolutely wild at that.
About a third of the audience appeared to be smoking (cigarettes). After 90 minutes or so, the theater was so smoke-filled that my eyes were burning. So I convinced my son to leave and we walked back to the cruise boat, where I had a cold Egyptian beer and a hot American cigar.
There was a tour to a Nubian village this morning for those who wanted to go. About ½ of the group did (not including your narrator). This village was built for people who were displaced when the High Dam was built and Lake Nasser flooded the Nubian desert. It's located near the High Dam.
The Nubians keep crocodiles - small ones - in their homes. It's for good fortune, I think. When one of these crocs dies, it's stuffed and mounted over a Nubian doorway. (That's got to be a lot more trouble than a horseshoe.)
Here's a Nubian crocodile; it's small enough to hold in your two hands.
Part of the tour was to visit a Nubian home. Here are two Nubian women in one of the houses. The floors are sand to keep the house cool.
The boat left Aswan early in the afternoon, headed for Kom Ombo. There we visited a temple dedicated to a crocodile god called Sobek.
Here's a lintel stone with a cartouche that was left at ground level.
Everywhere we went, there were street vendors. This picture shows a small part (about a tenth) of a bazaar that sits in front of the temple.
Here's the temple all lit up at night. This photo doesn't do it justice. A nearly full moon had risen behind the temple that evening and the scene was quite a sight.
After touring the temple, we had a 'galabea party' where everyone was asked to dress in Egyptian costume. A galabea is the long (neck-to-ankles) gown worn by men in Egypt. (See the farmer returning from the field above.) They're fairly common in Cairo and other cities. They're ubiquitous once you get away from the cities. They're the analog to Levi's jeans in the States, I think.
Here's a group shot of that with our tour guide, Mohammad Abdullah, front and center. He was usually much more dignified.
Friday morning the boat took us to Edfu, where we visited a temple to Horus, the Falcon god. The temple is very well preserved. Here's Horus himself, in the stone.
Here's the front of the temple. Remind you of anything? We'll see the same front at the temple at Luxor: the standardization of these temples is amazing. That must have been quite a theocracy they had going, 4 millenia ago.
This is from the inner courtyard of the temple. The capitals of the columns represent papyrus and lotus blossoms alternately.
Here's a section where the carving has been defaced. We saw this in several temples. Our guide claimed that this was done by early Christians who used the temples for their own purposes and didn't want the carvings of pagan gods to be visible.
This image shows hieroglyphic carving on the walls. This covered most of the interior walls in Egyptian temples: the man-hours it took to carve all this must have been phenomenal.
When we left Edfu, we cruised along checking out the riverside scenery. We passed one town during the call to prayer. (Actually, this happened not a few times: there are calls to prayer throughout the day.)
In the afternoon, our boat transited the lock at Esna. Here's another boat preceding ours through the lock.
To illustrate my point about the vendors, here's what happens at the lock. Since the boat nearly fills the lock, side-to-side, the vendors stand at the sides of the lock and throw merchandise to tourists on the boats. If the tourists want to buy any of these goods, they throw the money back down. This happened on our boat, though no sales were concluded (that I knew of).
We arrived at Luxor early in the evening and immediately went to see Luxor temple. It was just dusk when we arrived.
Most of our pictures of the interior of this temple didn't turn out too well because of the low light. The most interesting thing to me was that most of this temple had been buried under sand for many years. (This was true of many of the sites we'd visited and it accounts for their being so well preserved.)
So, while most of this temple was still underground, the locals had built a mosque in one part of it. The minaret - with the scaffolding around it - is visible in the backgrounds of both pix above. When the temple was excavated, the mosque was left in place. The mosque is being restored right now (hence the scaffolding around the minaret).
The other interesting thing about Luxor (formerly known as Thebes), is the small sphinxes that line both sides of a lane leading up to front of the temple. A very similar row of sphinxes is visible across town at the temple of Karnak; the speculation is that the lane - complete with sphinxes - originally extended between the two temples and is now buried between them. If that's the case, there would need to be thousands of these small sphinxes. The city of Luxor has forbidden any excavation or new building in the area between the two temples.
Here are a couple of pictures of the sphinxes. They're about 5 to 6 feet tall, including their bases.
One other thing I noted in both Aswan and Luxor was the thoroughly modern traffic signals used in both places. They were the three-colored kind (red, yellow, green) we use in the States but mounted horizontally. The really spiffy feature, though, was a large (2 foot square, say) panel that hangs below the lamps. This panel counts down the seconds until the light will change - in the color of the lamp.
So if the signal shows red, the panel counts down the seconds in red digits until it will turn green. When the signal's green, it counts down in green until the lamp turns yellow and then the digits are yellow. I wish I had a picture or a video clip of them. Better yet, I wish we had these in St. Louis.
Today was Saturday and the first thing we did was to leave Luxor for the Valley of the Kings. This was the most interesting place we visited, in my view. Of course this was when the camera decided to become uncooperative.
It was also one of the most desolate places I've ever been. It's a canyon in the mountains to the west of Luxor (on the west side of the Nile). Beyond the mountains lies the Sahara desert. There was not one piece of vegetation to be seen there -- not even scrub or cactus. I was very surprised by that; the soil must be beyond poor, it must be highly alkaline or highly acidic.
I don't have any photos of the valley itself due to camera problems. But the countryside looked like this. It was hot and humid - "hotter than the hubs of Hell," as one of my old bosses used to say in Arizona.
The valley contains a number of underground tombs that have been tunneled into the sides of the canyon. According to what I heard, after the pyramid-building thing went out of style (became too expensive?), Egyptian kings began building their tombs in this valley. There are scores of them and probably more left to find. At the entrance to the valley, there's a 3-D acrylic model showing the location of the known tombs and how they extend into the walls of the canyon.
When they were rediscovered, they were all found to be empty. Someone had removed all the mummies and funeral goods with them. King Tut's tomb is located in this valley -- but his tomb was found to be complete because its entrance had been hidden by a later tomb and it was overlooked by those who cleaned out the others.
Following this, we went to the temple of Hatshepsut, an Egyptian queen who ruled in her own right briefly by pretending to become a man and by shipping off her son. That worked until her son returned -- with fire in his eye, the guide told us -- to reclaim his throne. There are statues of her both as a male and as a female at this temple.
Her temple was near the valley of the kings. She sounded like an interesting character.
In the afternoon, we returned to Luxor to visit the temple of Karnak. Again, due to camera problems, I don't have any pictures of that. It was much like the temple of Luxor but much larger in extent.
I mentioned the Egyptian housing crisis earlier. While we were there, I noticed a lot of construction going on (on a small scale) and it used methods that were new to me. The first thing that caught my eye was the way they built houses. We'd call them apartment houses in the States. The same method was used everywhere: Cairo, Aswan, and points between.
They pour a floor, support columns and a ceiling (next floor) of reinforced concrete and then they lay brick walls between these layers. If there's a stairway between the two floors, it's poured at the same time. The result looks like this building in Cairo. It does have the advantage of allowing you to put the windows wherever you want to.
The satellite dishes were everywhere; evidently there's no cable television service in Egypt. The spots that look like holes in the brick walls are, in fact, holes in the brick walls.
If you look closely at the edges of the concrete floors, they looked layered. At first I thought the floors had been poured in layers, a few inches at a time. But I couldn't imagine why anyone would do that. Then one day we drove past a vacant lot in Cairo where I saw piles of palm boards. The palm is the only tree I saw in Egypt that's large enough to cut up into planks (and even those aren't very wide).
When I saw the palm planks, I realized that the layered look of the poured concrete was due to making the concrete forms with several palm planks along the sides. The lines in the concrete marked the spaces between planks. This is different than using a single piece of plywood for the side of the form, as we'd do here in the States. (For that matter, I didn't see any plywood in Egypt.)
Frequently, they'll leave rebar sticking out of the columns they've poured so that another story can be added when needed. Our guide said it was common for families to add floors to the building as they grew. This reminded me of my young acquaintances at Giza; they were cousins and they pointed out a house to me and said, 'We live there.'
Sometimes a stucco-like material is applied over the brick, making a smooth finish that can be painted. This had been done to this building near Esna. When finished this way, the buildings look very nice. When not finished like this, they look a little rough. (The list to port is in the camera, not the buildings.)
When I saw my first concrete water tower, I realized what the Egyptians had to do to deal with a lack of steel and wood: they made everything out of reinforced concrete.
I even saw some concrete towers for a medium-voltage electrical line.
On Sunday we spent 23 and ½ hours on planes and in airports making the journey back to St. Louis. Yeef... The most interesting part of this journey back was the security questioning at the Istanbul airport. We had to go through two complete screenings and the amusing part was that while the Turkish personnel were asking the questions in English, I don't think they were understanding the English answers all that well.
May 20, 2008
Automated phone hell
Here's a funny Flash ad.
April 28, 2008
March 07, 2008
More terminal cuteness
The cutest screen cleaner you've ever seen.
February 28, 2008
Check out this Flash clip.
December 24, 2007
I don't know when this Flash game will be available for PS/2. ;-) Try your hand at it if you have a little time to kill.
December 15, 2007
My sister writes, "This amused me." It's a nicely done Flash clip based on White Christmas.
December 04, 2007
Name that theme
Try your hand at matching television shows with their theme songs. Some are fairly obscure; others are gimmes because the theme mentions the title character.
Mind your volume level - the audio starts when the page loads.
November 09, 2007
Check out the products on this Dutch site.
James Fallows has a very interesting Flash slideshow (images with narration) at TheAtlantic.com. Be warned: clicking on the slideshow link may resize your browser window.
The slideshow accompanies Fallows' article called Among the Pandas but a subscription is required to read that.
June 19, 2007
Tech secrets revealed
How does the small arrow on your computer monitor work when you move the mouse?
The Japanese have finally revealed the secret. Now, through the miracle of high technology, we can see how it is done with the aid of a screen magnifier. Click on the link below. The image may take a minute or two to download. When it appears, slowly move your mouse over the light gray circle and you will see how the magic works. Also click while you’re in there to see how clicking works.
Follow this link and find out the truth: http://www.1-click.jp/
Tip o' the hat to Lou
May 31, 2007
A proper introduction
A funny story from Carol.
A man boarded an airplane and took his seat. As he settled in, he glanced up and saw the most beautiful woman boarding the plane. He soon realized she was heading straight towards his seat. As fate would have it, she took the seat right beside his. Eager to strike up a conversation he blurted out, "Business trip or pleasure?"
She turned, smiled and said, "Business. I'm going to the annual Nymphomaniacs of America convention in Boston."
He swallowed hard. Here was the most gorgeous woman he had ever seen sitting next to him, and she was going to a meeting of nymphomaniacs. Struggling to maintain his composure, he calmly asked, "What's your business role at this convention?"
"Lecturer," she responded. "I teach what I have learned from my personal experiences to debunk some of the popular myths about sexuality."
"Really?" he said. "And what kind of myths have you debunked?"
"Well," she explained, "one popular myth is that African-American men are the most well-endowed, when in fact it is the Native American Indian who is most likely to possess that trait. Another popular myth is that Frenchmen are the best lovers when actually it is men of Jewish descent who are the best. I have also discovered that the lover with absolutely the best stamina is the Southern redneck."
Suddenly the woman became a little uncomfortable and blushed. "I'm sorry," she said, "I shouldn't really be discussing all of this with you. We haven't even been introduced."
"I'm Tonto," the man said. "Tonto Goldstein... But my friends call me Bubba."
May 23, 2007
Save the bunny
This Flash clip at 10mg is pretty nicely done. They appear to be a Dutch new media company.
Tip o' the hat to A.E.
May 18, 2007
Flash flower garden
A.E. sent a link to a cute flower garden done in Flash. (It came from here.)
It's below the fold. Check it out before we run out of spring - click, or click-n-drag, anywhere in the image.
May 03, 2007
Dry erase web design
Here's a clever site for a soon-to-be-released book called No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July.
April 18, 2007
Nice Flash presentation
Here's a collection of great images, animated in a Flash presenation from the BBC. Visit the site and then click the Maximize button in the upper left corner for full-screen mode.
December 31, 2006
December 07, 2006
Another clever Flickr-based page, a photo-mosaic clock done in Flash.
November 08, 2006
Don't bug him
Here's a funny Flash clip performing an old trick. Lou writes, "Click on this link and you will see a man. Put your cursor on his nose (and leave it there) and see what happens..."
October 27, 2006
Time again for the Flash pumpkin carver. "Fun!" says A.E.
October 04, 2006
Mike sends a link to this interesting Flash clip called Icon's Story.
It reminds me of the Battlefield Flash clip a few weeks back.
August 29, 2006
A very clever clip: an animated Flash character battles its creator. This will probably be funnier to those who've used Macromedia's Flash.
August 24, 2006
Here's an interesting combination of Google Maps and Flash: a flight simulator called Goggles.
Visit the link and click the Start button. Your origin has already been set, so there's no need to pick it (unless you want a different one).
Anyone recognize the stadium?
August 08, 2006
It's almost a canine version of Subservient Chicken at idodogtricks.com:
August 04, 2006
July 31, 2006
A well done, cute Flash movie.
July 20, 2006
Here's a pretty cool Flash clip by Nike to advertise their golfing gear, made using a camera that will record 4000 images per second.
Watch closely, golfers.
Via the CFG blog.
July 13, 2006
July 11, 2006
A pretty bizarre Flash clip from the Festival International du Cinema d'Animation.
Here's one example, which also appeared on the Kinky Friedman for Governor site.
"Let's get Kinky in Austin!" Is that a great line or what?
Update: Carol writes, "Did you know that the city of Austin uses this tagline in their advertising (e.g., when you land at the airport): Let’s keep Austin Weird ? Somehow Let's get Kinky in Austin! seems to fit right in with that.
June 20, 2006
A Flash game sponsored by Peugeot.
June 14, 2006
You just callled
A Flash editorial cartoon from Newsday. (The linked page wants to re-size the window and doesn't do it very intelligently.)
June 09, 2006
Emergency stress relief -- check it out.
April 28, 2006
This is a slideshow of photos by Paul Fusco. CodeWritinFool says, "disturbing stuff, but very powerful."
April 21, 2006
A pretty amusing game (if you're in the software business) at Fortify Software's site.
April 12, 2006
Here's a time-waster: a Shockwave version of Quake 3 available on the web.
Via A Welsh View.
April 03, 2006
The site is a little gory; don't visit if you object to a little splatter. It appears to be part of the promotion for a television show named Sumarai 7.
March 24, 2006
A 3-D version of Pong done in Flash; pretty challenging.
March 11, 2006
February 01, 2006
...is a Flash animation which won the Grand Prize in Intel's Indies Film Contest. It was made by Nick Worthey and is extremely clever in addtion to being an excellent animation. Click the image to view the clip.
December 23, 2005
Steve writes, "Hope you have a Merry Christmas and safe, healthy & prosperous New Year. This link has a pretty good flash presentation. It may take some time to bring up for low bandwidth connections."
The site says:
"This presentation was originally created for and dedicated to a wonderful young lady who lost her husband in Afghanistan who we got to know over the internet. I posted this one for her but also as a reminder to those who live near families whose husbands and wives have given their lives for their country and those who are currently serving. Let's not forget the sacrifice made by our military families."
December 22, 2005
"An oldie for the holidays," says Steve. Click the image.
December 20, 2005
It's a Wonderful Internet
A great parody -- very nicely done. Click the image to visit the site
Via A Welsh View.
December 12, 2005
A Christmas Story reprise
Re-enacted by bunnies in 30 seconds! Click the image.
Via A Welsh View.
November 16, 2005
From the ground up
Here's an impressive Flash animation of the process of sketching. It begins with this...
...and ends with this.
November 15, 2005
Windows RG edition
A hilarious spoof of Windows done in Flash by James Cliffe. (Choose Shutdown to view credits.)
Flash below the fold.
November 14, 2005
Dave writes, "I found your Shofar, So Good post quite amusing. I have sold several of my rams horns to Jewish schools, etc. for shofar making." And he included a link to a Flash clip called Shofar Idol.
November 01, 2005
Click the image to play this Flash game that Dave Barry calls the "most mindless productivity enhancer ever."
October 31, 2005
An amusing Flash time-waster - click to play.
Via Dave Barry.
October 28, 2005
This is one of the best Flash ads I've ever seen. It's an unusually large clip, but it's also an unusually good one. Click the image to check it out.
October 19, 2005
How to carve a Jack-o-lantern
A very well-done Flash clip.
Via Dave Barry.
October 06, 2005
Click the image to play this Flash game about conserving energy.
This appears to be financed by the US DOE, 18 state governments (including Missouri's), the Ad Council, and some companies that sell related goods -- Home Depot, for one.
via The Agitator (who doesn't have much good to say about it).
October 03, 2005
An amusing Flash clip on business communication skills.
September 19, 2005
I Can't Afford My Gasoline
A pretty funny Flash about high gas prices. Click the image to view it.
September 17, 2005
Kill the Singing Bass
Carol writes, "This is great!"
September 14, 2005
A Flash for guys
Try to peg the ogle-meter.
September 09, 2005
Cute kittens doing Led Zeppelin's Immigrant Song in this Flash clip from rathergood.com. What's not to like?
September 07, 2005
Click the image to check out one of the best Flash games I've seen yet.
Mind the audio volume. Turn it on - or if it's already on, turn it down.
September 02, 2005
Check out this collection of 20 Flash games at bestflashanimationsite.com.
Click the image to try the one called Sonar Challenge.
August 08, 2005
Click the image to launch this amusing Flash toy. Mind the volume on your speakers: it gets a little noisy when you solve the puzzle.
Via The Braden Files.
August 01, 2005
Challenge your senses
Another interesting Flash widget from the BBC.
July 15, 2005
The service will be Tuesday
A couple had been debating the purchase of a new auto for weeks. He wanted a truck. She wanted a fast little sports car so she could zip around town through the traffic.
He would have settled on any old truck; everything she liked was way out of their price range. "Look, I want something that goes from 0 to 200 in under 8 seconds," she said.
Dropping a hint, she added, "My birthday is coming up. You could surprise me..."
So for her birthday, he surprised her with a brand new bathroom scale.
And here's another oldie that's worth a reprise. This one comes from Andy Naughton at Cyberglass Design.
July 13, 2005
Click the image of the Domainettes (my term for them) to visit see a Flash presentation from Hitachi explaining its new hard drive technology.
It's both informative and amazingly corny; the music is a hoot.
July 02, 2005
Click the image to view this clever Flash clip; refresh the window (F5 on MS Windows systems) to re-play it.
Via The Agitator.
June 24, 2005
Click the image to play this Flash game.
June 20, 2005
All Your Rhapsody Are Belong To Us
This Flash clip has to be seen (click the image) to be appreciated. But be warned: it's 2.3MB.
American Digest calls it, a "Strangely soothing nerd operetta."
June 13, 2005
Click on a horse to make it start (or stop) singing.
Update: A little searching convinced me that this is the source of the Flash above. It's a Swedish site (for public television?) that's done all in Flash. It's worth a visit.
June 05, 2005
I'm not a golfer, but Tucson John sent me a PowerPoint slideshow about golf that included some really nice pictures of southern Arizona - like the one here. They made me a little nostalgic. And there were some nice images of southern California that I liked as well.
So I recast the PowerPoint into this Flash clip just because I liked the pictures. At 6.7MB, it's pretty large; be prepared to wait if you have slow connection.
Maybe Lileks will like it, too, since he's had Arizona on the brain the last few months.
The PowerPoint show included the URL www.haveaboo.com on the final slide. I don't know anything about that site but I'm including it just in case Jim & Kathie Baker are the authors of the PowerPoint. I changed your music, guys.
Here's a link for saving the Flash file if you want a copy.
Update: For those of you who are interested, I found a link to the PowerPoint slideshow I adapted. It's at: http://www.golfconvergence.com/content/view/47/91/.
May 09, 2005
Jim's buddy Hal wrote, "Something for those that have nothing to do or like in my case, just don’t want to do it. Have fun. P.S. Bet you do it more than once."
Interestingly, it comes from this BBC site.
Posted by joke du jour at 08:04 PM
April 27, 2005
Can you tell?
...asks our contributor.
I believe that this very clever Flash clip originally came from here - where you can find a full-screen version.
Posted by joke du jour at 05:55 PM
April 22, 2005
Just in time for Passover
A new JibJab Flash movie: Matzah! Hip Hop fo' Hebrews. (You'll have to watch an ad first.)
Posted by joke du jour at 08:36 PM
March 31, 2005
Our contributor says, "Here's a link to some pictures from our vacation that we just got back from. Enjoy."
As I recall, we've seen these before in PowerPoint form.
Posted by joke du jour at 06:00 PM
March 29, 2005
P. Ralph sends a pointer to this Flash rant about the London Underground (subway system).
It's pretty funny. But watch the volume level on your speakers: it carries a "Parental Advisory" for explicit content. (Just language - no porn.)
Posted by joke du jour at 07:34 PM
March 28, 2005
Check out ZOOMQUILT. A big Flash download, but worth it.
Posted by joke du jour at 07:04 PM
March 03, 2005
Your tax dollars at work in this very nicely done Flash clip.
Posted by joke du jour at 07:58 PM
February 28, 2005
Fishin' ain't so bad
An amusing cartoon about hunting & fishing.
Posted by joke du jour at 07:15 PM
February 27, 2005
...whatever the hell you want.
Posted by joke du jour at 12:02 PM