AirToob Lightning
I like looking on the bright side. I relate very much to the Mediterranean extended-family, take-it-slow, money-isn't-everything outlook on life. I'm not a great cook but I like cooking, especially Mediterranean food (my recipe page is here). I'm interested in environmental issues. My main hobby is flying (on a PC simulator).

The people I admire most are those who see no end to pain, illness, grief or disability and who still retain a sense of humour, people who spend time making life better for others in any way, and people with toxic parents who have "broken the chain" in bringing up their own children.

If you like my pages you will probably also enjoy my web site - do visit! You can get a quick flavour of it here.

PS: I'm a refugee from StumbleUpon. I have copied all of my old SU reviews (the ones containing images) here, except for some not-so-good and outdated bits.



As Michelle in 'Allo, 'Allo might say, please read the following very carefully - I shall write it only once!

I'm a great believer in tags. SU restricted you to 5 tags per post (and then only for site-review posts), but here you can have as many tags per post as will fit into about 200 characters, so I have tried to take full advantage.

For example, you can select from this blog (if you want to) only posts to do with arts, science, entertainment, books, movies, music, environment and so on.

If you're feeling down (or even if you aren't), try this selection of things to enjoy in life, which is pretty much what these pages are all about.

You will find a larger selection of my favourite tags here (or click the White Rabbit below).

The main thing is: if you like something about one of my posts, try clicking the corresponding tag at the top of the post. If you keep doing this, you may find yourself navigating down some nice paths through this blog (for example, this one or this one).

Among these tags you will find the name of a Categorian or Stumbler if their work features in that post, so if you click one of those names (e.g. expressioniste or johnshaven) then you will get (hopefully) a nice selection of that particular person's work as it appears on my blog.

You can find my posts that introduce other Categorians if you click the Cat... then if you like one of the posts that you find, click that Categorian's tag on that post to see everything that I have snaffled from that person! (And you can do the same for ex-Stumblers if you click the image to the right.)

There are plenty more tags to choose from. Enjoy your visit!



WHITE RABBITS - If you're pressed for time, and you would like a quick sample of what I think are the best of these pages, or help in finding quickly what you need, then go here or click the White Rabbit!



Click the cat to chat!




OK, so you're in a hurry and missed the White Rabbit... Just to point out that there's a lot of (hopefully) good stuff hidden in the back pages that most people don't see. If you want a fast sample that jumps you in at different points, try clicking the Coyote!

Once you're there, you can follow a sequence by clicking the chevrons >> at the end of a post, or try clicking a tag you like at the top of a post.

Have fun!



Brian's miscellaneous rambles...

... with words (thoughts on Life, the Universe and Everything) - click the image to the left

... with pictures (my photos and photoblogs) - click the image to the right!




HELP!

For essential Categorian help, just click Help at the top of your screen - and don't forget to make Help your "friend", that way you can easily see when new help information has been added.

It can really, really help to know something about HTML and web pages, if you don't already.
Try here for pointers to some good stuff (even for complete beginners), and also the web design utilities that Matt lists here - and don't miss Karenak's Guide for Categorian Beginners and Borderline's Categorian Help.

When you look at someone's awesome web page and wonder "How do they do that?" then (if you know at least a little HTML) try looking at the source text ("Page Source") for that page. You can do this from the "View" menu of browsers (or Ctrl+U on Firefox or Chrome) - some later versions of browsers hide it under "Web Developer" or similar.

My own Categorian Help posts will be found here, and my Computer Help posts will be found here.



Do you want your reviews to be noticed by other users?

Do you want to find other users who share the same interests as you?

Do you want to be notified of new site reviews for topics that you like?


The Categorian Library is your key to all these things... if you need some help with it, you might find some useful stuff here (or click the image).



HERE BE TREASURE - or my archive pages, anyway:

1 (Oct 2007) | 2 (Jan 2008) | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 (Jan 2009) | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 (Jan 2010)| 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 (Jan 2011) | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 (Oct 2011) | Nov | Dec 2011 | Jan 2012 | Feb | Apr | May | Jun-Aug | Sep | Oct | Nov | Dec 2012 | Jan 2013 | Feb | Mar-May | July | Aug | Sep-Nov | Nov-Dec 2013 | Jan-Feb 2014 | Jun-Jul | Aug-Sep | Oct-Dec 2014 | Jan 2015 | Feb | Mar | Apr 2015 |

Archive pages 1 to 34, and part of 35, come from my StumbleUpon blog. Dates in brackets refer to original post dates on SU. Because I transferred the blog manually, dates in my Categorian blog prior to October 10th 2011 (unless marked as original dates) are the date of the transfer.

Archive pages present posts in increasing-date order (oldest first). This is the opposite direction to the "normal" blog pages which are in decreasing-date order (newest first). One effect of this is that the contents of a given archive page (page 5, say) always remain the same, unless you delete something, whereas the contents of a given page on the "normal" blog keep changing as you add stuff to the front.


“Summer Pastoral” by the British Columbia-born Canadian artist Don Li-Leger, whose other work is well worth exploring

One of many treasures to be found on the fine pages of Jerzee55sst - thanks, Jerry!



“Country Pub in Brannenburg” by Max Liebermann - my kind of place!

Another one from the wonderful art gallery of Ceara - click the image for her original, fully-documented post



“At the End of the Porch”, a beautiful picture by the American artist John Sharman

From the wonderful art gallery of Ceara - click the image for her original, fully-documented post


Ash Lawn-Highland, home of President James Monroe, May 2015

After a sad event in my life, I spent part of the next day in this wonderfully peaceful place, set in the hills above Charlottesville, Virginia, not far from the more famous (and much more busy and expensive to visit) Monticello, home of Thomas Jefferson.

It was very quiet, a slight breeze blowing and just the sound of birds singing.



A very interesting guy, I discovered - see here




An old game where you flip a ball up with your foot and hit it with something like a small cricket bat to a group of catchers








A modest home for a great man, set in a beautiful part of the world



This minimalist house has been designed by Barend Koolhaas, and is set among the beautiful countryside of Almen, in the Netherlands.

Despite its outward appearance from the front of the property, the building is actually triangular in shape, cutting its apparent footprint in half. The exterior has been designed in the shape of the barns found in the local area, and it’s been clad with timber siding, and corrugated steel on the roof.

This great example of living simply and sustainably is worth looking at in more detail, as is the rest of the site.

Thanks again to my friend overthetrail (Sandy) for this one!

(She hasn't posted here much for a while, but click her overthetrail tag to see some really nice stuff that she has sent my way over the years.)




There seems to be a sudden upsurge in interest in green roofs (click the image for some great examples).

For instance, this story from March 2015 has been widely reported:

Green roofs are apparently popular in Germany and Australia. It is not hard to see why if you take a look here.

The city of Toronto mandated the use of green roofs in industrial and residential buildings in 2009. It's good to see an entire country following its example, even if it's in a modified and flexible form... hopefully other countries will realise the benefits and do the same soon.


The Art of Animation: Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli

I am a long time fan of Studio Ghibli, and I still consider Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away to be the finest animation ever made (a close runner-up being The Illusionist by Sylvain Chomet).

One reason that I am a fan is the beautiful environments (often urban) created in many of their films. These are works of art in their own right, and I have done my best to capture (with my own screenshots) some of the ones that I particularly like.

In order to keep this post a reasonable length, and because the art in many of the films can only be appreciated in animated form, I have chosen only three films (omitting, for example, the beautiful natural environment of My Neighbour Totoro along with many others). Click any image if you would like to see links about that film.


Kiki's Delivery Service

This charming story about the early difficulties of a trainee witch, based on a children's fantasy novel, would be worth watching just for the artwork of the beautiful Scandinavian-style landscape and city. When the weather is lousy or everything seems miserable, I watch this film again, thinking how much I would like to live here - and how much designers of modern architecture could learn from the film.

Kiki standing outside the bakery, overlooking the sea. Behind her is a glimpse of the lower part of the fictional city. The (apparently hand-painted) details of mortar, stones, plaster, tiles and so much else is incredible - the more you look, the more you see. As with so many of Miyazaki's urban environments, it is set on a hill, giving it added interest as a place and a wonderful three-dimensional feel as art.

The fictional city is “Koriko” or “Coriko”, although the characters don't mention it. Miyazaki's inspiration for it was the town of Visby on the island of Gotland, Sweden (worth looking at), although the fictional Koriko is a much larger place.

This is animation at its finest (no still images can convey how good it is), and one of my all-time favourite movies. (The version I have is in Japanese, with English subtitles, which I generally prefer.)


The bakery, with another glimpse of Koriko rising above it, lit (as often in Miyazaki's films) by a low sun. The room at the top of the stairs is a kind of storage loft, which Kiki can use free as her room (and have free use of the telephone for her delivery business) in exchange for helping out at the bakery.


The view from Kiki's room, as evening falls.


The bakery at night.

The Wind Rises

This is to be the last of Miyazaki's films (see here), and in many ways is very different from the others. A very good description of it can be found here.

It is a fictionalized version of the life of Jiro Horikoshi, designer of the Mitsubishi fighters that flew in WWII. It features many things: the love and mystique of aviation (and a repugnance for its use in war) that is Miyazaki's own, a stunning sequence covering the Great Kanto earthquake of 1923, 7.9 on the Richter scale, that devastated Tokyo and the surrounding area, and a bittersweet story concerning his love for Nahoko, a girl whom he rescues during the earthquake and then doesn't see again for some time.

The story is fascinating from a historical point of view, but it also features some fine art work that somehow makes even factories and aircraft hangars things of beauty. I have selected just a few here.

A train journey during a period of tranquillity. Jiro is on his way to a hotel where he will again encounter Nahoko. Trains, and other means of transport, feature in many of Miyazaki's films with an extraordinary attention to realistic detail. (In Kiki's Delivery Service, when looking through the front window of an old-fashioned bus about to depart, we can see its nose rise as it is lifted by the torque of the engine, before setting off - a detail most people wouldn't even care about, or notice.)


The outfall from a beautiful spring pool, near the hotel where he encounters Nahoko.


Walking back to the hotel, caught in a sudden rain squall. Wind, rain and clouds are often major features of Miyazaki's films.


The hotel where Nahoko and Jiro meet.


Nahoko sadly dies of tuberculosis. They marry so that they can live together for the short time left, but Nahoko disappears one day, returning to the sanatorium so that he will remember her as she was. Together with other patients, she lies (well bundled up) on the verandah of the sanatorium, and in this beautiful short sequence she looks up at the sky as snow falls.

Whisper of the Heart

This is another great favourite of mine. It's a coming-of-age story set in modern Tokyo. Its heroine Shizuku is led on a journey that becomes more and more magical at it progresses - not, in this case, the magic of myths or legends, but a way of seeing the real world through the eyes of a young teenager that becomes a true voyage of enchantment.

The film was written by Miyazaki but directed by Yoshifumi Kondo, whom Miyazaki hoped would take over from him. Kondo's premature death shortly afterwards, apparently caused by overwork, seems to have led Miyazaki to announce his retirement, although (fortunately for us) he continued to work for a further 15 years but at a more relaxed pace.


The apartment block where Shizuku lives is far from luxurious...


The door is metal and the interior is very small and cluttered. Nevertheless Shizuku's family lives happily there, and apart from the expected occasional friction with Shizuku's older sister, is very supportive of her.

Shizuku's life is one of an ordinary young teenager. She attends a local school, remarkable only for the respect that Miyazaki always shows being given by children to their elders and teachers. Shizuku writes two translated versions of John Denver's “Take Me Home, Country Roads” (hilarious when translated back to English in subtitles) - she doesn't really understand the concept of a “home town”, and her second version is entitled “Take Me Home, Concrete Roads”.

Shizuku is a voracious reader, borrowing books from the library, and keeps encountering the name of a previous borrower, Seiji Amasawa. She encounters Seiji several times without realizing who he is, and is extremely cross when he teases her. But things will change...


One day when Shizuku travels on the local train, she is joined by an unusually independent cat. When they get off together she follows him...


...losing him...


...but discovering him again higher up the hill.


The cat leads her up a steep, narrow rubbish-strewn alley.


(Monitor test: you should be able to see considerable detail even on plain concrete walls.)


Shizuku emerges into what, to her, is a different world...


...and discovers an open, and apparently deserted, antique shop...


...in which she will discover Seiji's grandfather, and learn that Seiji himself lives downstairs, learning to be a violin maker.

Here she also meets The Baron, an amazing statuette with crystal eyes, whose story links to an unfulfilled love in the grandfather's past life.


Seiji's grandfather shows her a marvellous clock that he is repairing, whose mechanisms include another depiction of unfulfilled love.



Shizuku later meets Seiji here, and learns that he hopes to leave schooling early for a career making violins - but first he will have to prove himself by becoming an apprentice to a strict violin-making master in Cremona, Italy.


Shizuku realises how much she will miss him, and decides to challenge herself while he is away by writing a long story, which she calls Whisper of the Heart, inspired by the story of The Baron.


Seiji's grandfather wants to be the first to read her story, and Shizuku waits for hours on his lower verandah while he does so, in an agony of suspense. He finally appears and tells her that her story is a little rough, like any craftsman's first work, but she has dug out some real gems from her heart - and makes the hugely relieved Shizuku a supper of Ramen noodles.


Early one cold morning Seiji returns, and calls to Shizuku to come down.


He takes her high up to one of his favourite places...


...to watch a magical sunrise above Tokyo




If you like this...

[Wingsee, a delightful site dedicated to the work of Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki]
[The painting "Ship Flying Over The Rainbow" from "Kiki's Delivery Service"]
[Joe Hisaishi plays his piano music from "Spirited Away"]
[The Art of Animation: Disney's “Tangled”]



La droguerie de limandes, Scheveningen, 1882 aka “The fish-drying barn" by Vincent van Gogh

A particularly nice picture that I hadn't seen before - thanks so much to Betty-Boop for this one!




Margarita Kareva from the Russian city of Ekaterinburg is a wedding photographer making magical photos of women. [Margarita] is all grown up, but fairytales still inspire her everyday job as a fantasy photographer...”

A photographer whose other work is well worth exploring, found on the beautiful and interesting pages of Ladygray.






This great hi-def trailer video comes from Fantastic Fungi, The Official Site for Everything Fungi - “for foodies, scientists and explorers”.

Thanks again to my friend overthetrail (Sandy) for this one! (She hasn't posted here much for a while, but click her overthetrail tag to see some really nice stuff that she has sent my way over the years.)



Hand-painted stones, examples of what the artist calls “dotillism art”, by Elspeth McLean, a painter and art therapist from Australia, who writes:

“Painting is my way to find my “happy place” and colour is a way to express and celebrate the colours of my soul. By using bright and vivid colours and intricate dot work style, the artwork I create becomes a direct expression of my experience of life. I tend to focus on the more uplifting and beautiful aspects of this world because I think there is already enough darkness.”

I can certainly relate to that...

One of many delights to found on the pages of regtf1948.



“Red Dinghy”, acrylic on canvas, by John Mansueto, whose other work is well worth checking out

Another one gratefully snaffled from the fine pages of Jerzee55sst - thanks, Jerry!


Using the “Photoblog” facility on someone's blog

It's actually Step 2 that's the important one, and it's often missed out.

What kind of happiness are we talking about?

The assumption here is that you want to feature a particular post by someone on your own blog.

If you include Step 2 then anyone visiting your own post will be able to click on the image(s) or the link and will be taken directly to the original post. This will make the visitor happy (if they're like me) and might also make the blogger that you're featuring happy too.

If you don't include Step 2, then your visitor will be taken to the whole page that contains - or used to contain - the post that you featured. If some time has passed since you featured that post, then the visitor may well end up on the wrong page, and have to spend some time finding the original post.

Including Step 2 might also make the “Photoblog” tool happy too, since it will have to work much less hard to find the image(s) that you're interested in.

BTW: this also works if you're featuring a post on a non-Categorian blog. If you don't see a date/time, try clicking the title of that post to get a permalink for Step 2.

Apologies if you knew all this already!


If you found this useful...

[Go here or click the image for some more Categorian help]

Silk: Interactive Generative Art

“Draw something...”

A simple and brilliant App that lets even people like me produce some wonderful coloured patterns. This was my first attempt, and not so wonderful, but you can change colours on a blend chart, alter the symmetry, add spiral effects, and of course save and share your artwork.

Click the image to try it!

Thanks to Ceara (who has a wonderful art gallery on Categorian) for this one.


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