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 I have copied all of my old SU reviews (the ones containing images) here, except for some not-so-good and outdated bits.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 |

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.


Thanks to my friend Ceara for this beauty from Rob Hefferan


If you like this...

[You might like the romantic tag - just a suggestion!]



“The Art of Snacking” © by Trisha Selgrath, whose other work is well worth exploring



“Implement Blue” by Margaret Preston

“Margaret Preston was an Australian artist. She was highly influential during the 1920s to 1940s for her modernist works as a painter and printmaker and for introducing Aboriginal motifs into contemporary art.”Wikipedia

If you like this, you may enjoy exploring the various links above (including clicking the image for info about the painting).


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]

Nice, Côte d'Azur, France, February 28th to March 15th, 2015



Some posts about our recent visit to Nice on the Côte d'Azur appear below (or click either picture to go there).

If you are interested, here are the direct links to my photoblogs:

[Nice, Côte d'Azur, France, February 28th to March 15th, 2015]
[Day trip to Saint Paul de Vence, medieval walled commune in the Alpes-Maritimes]

If you would like to skip the photoblog, then (as usual) click the chevrons (>>) below to move on to my next “normal” post


Visit to Nice, Côte d'Azur, France, February 28th to March 15th, 2015

We spent two very pleasant weeks in Nice this year, escaping the British winter, staying in a small self-catering apartment just behind the Promenade des Anglais. The air was cool (high 50's) but we had blue skies and hot sun most days.

We loved Nice, which we learnt is the 6th largest city in France, after Toulouse. Even at this time of year there is much to be enjoyed, almost all of it on foot, and although it is beautifully located on the aptly-named Côte d'Azur, it doesn't feel like a seaside resort.

Nice day in the Promenade du Paillon, a park which runs at an angle from the sea front, starting at the Promenade des Anglais, with the Old Town to its right



It was lucky that we decided to go up on the wheel now (6 Euros), as it wasn't there next week!


The wheel, and these great bouncy things, were probably put here for the Nice Carnival that runs through the second half of February, and later in our stay they were being removed. We missed the Carnival on this visit, except the final firework display.


Going up on the wheel... The curved sculpture in the park is a 110 degree arc, the same as the arc of the Baie des Anges, the beautiful bay around which Nice is set.


Looking down on the Old Town, and the modern and excellent tramway


The hill in the distance is the Colline du Château - on the other side of the hill is the Commercial Port (see later)


A rubber-wheeled Tourist Train (8 Euros) starts on the Promenade, goes through the Old Town and takes you up the hill, at the top of which there is a recreation park and great views all around (see later), stopping there for 10 minutes before returning to the Promenade


Down from the wheel, enjoying walking through more of the Promenade du Paillon


We know a small person who would like playing here...


...and here...


...and here!


A day trip to Cannes... and the only picture I thought it worth taking there. Cannes, unlike Nice, seemed to us a horrible mix of pretension and seaside holiday resort tat. The bus to Cannes takes 1½ hours but only costs 1.5 Euros... we took the train back, happening to catch a TGV (½ hour, 7 Euros).


The self-catering apartment where we stayed was on the front ground floor of 1, Gloria Mansions - B1 in the photo. Originally very grandly situated with a carriageway leading up to it, the developers have added B2 in front of it, and another even grander B3 behind B1 (not visible here). At this time of year the balcony of our apartment got only 2 hours of sunshine after lunch, the rest of the time the sun being blocked by B2. Our apartment still had much to recommend it. B2 shields B1 from the noise of the road, and it is excellently situated for shops and walks, and...


...it only takes 2 minutes to carry the apartment's deckchairs onto the beach!


We loved the evening light


Monument set into the side of the Colline du Château, near the Commercial Port




We loved the decorative walls on the parths leading up the Colline (we took the Tourist Train up, and walked down)


Interesting things to see up there...



The Commercial Port, seen from the recreation park on top of the Colline


A neat parking job


Ships (not this one) leave from here for Corsica, one of our favourite places (click the link to see why)


The top of the recreation park, from which there are excellent views all around


Disney Theme Park employees should look away when passing this!


More views from the Park


Part of the Baie des Anges, and a good view of the Promenade des Anglais (built by a grandson of Queen Victoria). Note the jetty fragment in the water (see later). The Flower Market is below on the right.


Walking down, heading for the Flower Market...


...which can be seen on the left, with the dome of the Cathédrale Sainte-Réparate to the right






Nice place for afternoon treat sitting outside, not so good for lunch




Can't capture the fragrance from these shops, unfortunately (although we took some home)





Very nice family restaurant next to the Cathédrale Sainte-Réparate


Back on the Promenade du Paillon



In this chain of Boulangeries / Patisseries, the people serving you don't handle money any more. You can put bills or coins in the slots (even a 50 Euro note!) and it gives change. Works great.


Inside the wonderful Chagall museum, which we walked up to on one of the supposedly bad-weather days (we still had sun for a snack lunch outside in the café).


Bad weather day at the Massena Museum (history of Nice), 2 minutes walk from our apartment. I loved the dining room. This was the hangout of royalty and similar at the time of the Belle Époque.



Photo of Nice taken about 1865


Before the "modern" promenade was built (by one of Queen Victoria's grandsons). The jetty and the Casino are no longer there (see below).


Photo of Nice taken about 1865


A papier-mâché model of the old jetty and Casino, made by students at a local college. Found this info about it: "In 1891 the construction of the Casino de la Jetée-Promenade began... it remained until the end of WWII when the Germans began to dismantle the structure stripping it of its valuable metals."


A glass fish in our local restaurant (Les Jardins du Capitole), taken on our last of several visits... it seemed to have attitude! We liked this place, and eventually acquired regular-visitor status (e.g. free Limoncello at end of meal). Very friendly service, good food, well patronised by the locals.

Our other favourite local restaurant was Italian, the excellent Restaurant Davisto - everything authentic and freshly made, and their “Spaghetti alle Vongole” was absolutely the best that I have ever had.

[Photoblog continues in Part 2, a day trip to Saint Paul de Vence]

Day trip to Saint Paul de Vence, Medieval Walled Commune in the Alpes-Maritimes, March 2015
[Photoblog continued from Part 1]


Vence (not visible here) is located in the foothills of the Alpes Maritime (which still had snow), about an hour's bus ride from Nice. Saint Paul de Vence is the medieval walled commune located on a hill top just below Vence itself.


Elecric cars are as available as rented bikes! Vence itself is not that interesting, although due to bad timing we didn't see the Matisse Chapel...


... so we descended a short distance to Saint Paul. Loved this milestone: "You are there."


We started out around the battlement walls, very scenic





Interesting shop windows in the middle of the town - it took me a moment to notice the cat!



The locals playing Pétanque... one of the old guys was practising earlier, he laid a boule against the base of the low wall, backed off at least 20 paces, and could hit it smack on (not bouncing first) with another boule about 9 times out of 10. I was seriously impressed!


This was supposed to be one of our few bad-weather days, but it only got a bit ominous-looking towards the afternoon (and then didn't do much). The locals in Nice told us that we had been unlucky with the early March weather on our trip - but for us, this “unlucky weather” felt almost like summer.

If you like this...

[My "Places To Enjoy Life" page]


“I Will Always Love You”

An amazing child's cover of the Whitney Houston classic - that kid is awesome!




... and I can't resist heavy horses either - a very nice Budweiser ad from this year's Super Bowl


Animal Buddies

I don't do “Awwwww...” very often, but I couldn't resist this cute and heartwarming collection of animal buddies...


If you like this...

[Wild polar bear's amazingly friendly encounter with sled dogs in Hudson Bay (2008)]



“Marina”, a beautiful portrait © by Sergey Spoyalov - thanks, Lex!


The Art of Animation: Disney's “Tangled”

Alan Jones, writing in the UK's historically-named Radio Times (now our leading TV and Radio magazine):

“This deft vrsion of a Brothers Grimm fairy tale find Rapunzel (voiced by Mandy Moore) trapped in a tower by Mother Gothel (Donna Murphy), who uses the princes's long magical hair to stay forever young. Flynn Rider (Zachary Levi) is the handsome, cocksure thief who provides the kidnapped royal with a possible escape route. It's a smart, snappy and sparkling tale, which uses Rapuzel's multitasking flowing tresses to great effect.”

Frozen is (to date) the most successful animation feature ever made, and I really enjoyed it. However Tangled is still my favourite production from Walt Disney Animation Studios, thanks in no small part to Glen Keane, Disney's master character animator, who subsequently left Disney (more on that here if you're interested).


Pascal and Rapunzel (click the image for many more)


Click this image for the full-size HD wallpaper, which also shows several of the new animation features used in the production


Flynn, beginning a long process of personality improvement...


Maximus, a horse with serious attitude, and a real masterpiece of character animation... definitely worth clicking on this one...


A particularly beautiful animation sequence (click the image for many more)

It seems that Tangled was produced at a critical time for Walt Disney Animation Studios. Recent productions had not been a success, and they were losing out to studios like Pixar Animation Studios and Dreamworks Animation. The turning point for Disney animation was Glen Keane's seminar to his colleagues, many of them wedded to old-style animation, reported here in The New York Times.

From Wikipedia's article on Tangled (worth reading):

Technical and artistic brilliance wouldn't have been enough in themselves to make Tangled as successful as it was. As Alan Jones wrote, it's a “smart, snappy and sparkling tale”, with a strong story line and many really hilarious moments. Many people were involved with that, but without Glen Keane it would have been a different tale altogether.

If you like this...

[Watch “Duet”, a wonderful animation short by Glen Keane]
[Superb animation that was NOT done by motion capture: the Tiger in “Life of Pi”]



Check!

And if you like this, don't miss the other list from Time: The 100 Best Young Adult Books of All Time.

You might argue with which list some books fall into, but you'll probably find some of your favourites in one or both lists - and maybe discover a few new ones, as I did.

(BTW: you'll need to click the right-arrow on each page to see all 100 from each list, if that isn't obvious.)



From the page:

There's more thought-provoking stuff to read here, for example the statistics from the Federal Bureau of Prisons supporting previous findings that “the unaffiliated and the nonreligious engage in far fewer crimes.”

The question “Can we be good without God?” is one that has interested me for some time, and I am not surprised by the findings of this research. My own thoughts on the subject, FWIW, appear here on my web site.

My own answer to that question is yes, there are a number of ways, including the humanist point of view, the best-known proponent of which is probably the author Sir Terry Pratchett, who sadly died recently (see my previous post below).

From my web site:

It is a sad fact that some of the world's religions, as practised by people, have given rise (and are still giving rise) to much human misery, in spite of their otherwise good aspects. Again FWIW, my thoughts on that subject can be found here on my web site.

Hmmm... Food for thought...


A suggestion...

[Try clicking the life-improvement tag at the top of this post...]



Sir Terry Pratchett OBE
April 28th, 1948 - March 12th, 2015




The world has suffered the loss of an almost universally loved fantasy writer, humanist and campaigner for the right to die with dignity and for Alzheimer's research.

He was an enormously prolific author, filling the bookshelves of people all over the world with many treasured possessions. As years went by his output became seriously funny, in every sense, and was often deeply humane.

Not all of his work was fantasy - for example “Dodger”, one of his finest works, is a gripping story set in historical London. As with many of his books for younger readers, “Dodger” can be (and is) enjoyed equally by adults.

He was knighted by the Queen in 2009 for services to literature.

He will live on in so many ways (a good number of which are described here). One of these ways is through his daughter Rhianna, already an author, who (with his blessing) will take over writing the Discworld series.

Click the image of Sir Terry for a superb tributes page (thanks, Karenak), and click the quotation for many of his best quotes.


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