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My paleo-art to-do list for Summer 2018

Hi everybody,

Now that the manuscript for my history book on the ancient history of the Balkans is finished, I have some time to work on my art, which I have been neglecting for months. A while back, I wrote a post saying that I had a “to-do list” of various subjects that I wanted to address either in artwork or articles based upon items that have appeared in your searches of my website, but that was some time ago, and a lot has changed since then. Even so, I have kept this list in my mind, and I have been working on tackling the various items on it. Projects that I’ve completed so far are Alamosaurus, Ornithomimus, a Jurassic pliosaur, and – my latest post – Caenagnathus (which might be the same animal as Chirostenotes).

Now it’s time to move on to other things. A lot of you have been looking for stuff related to Dakotaraptor. Alright, that’s my next project, and I’ve already started work on it. Hopefully, it will be finished by the end of the month. It’s still very much in the pre-production research phase.

But what about what comes afterwards? Well, I’ve got several projects lined up. Here is a “top ten” schedule of what I’ll be doing, based upon what you have been looking for:

  1. Dakotaraptor (work has already begun on this).
  2. Allosaurus head (6 searches).
  3. Re-doing my full-body Allosaurus drawing, for the sixth time (a LOT of you have been looking for Allosaurus-related stuff on this website; 81 searches).
  4. Re-doing my Troodon drawing. The drawing that I posted to this website years ago is pathetically inaccurate, and needs to be re-done. (53 searches).
  5. Velociraptor (23 searches).
  6. Prehistoric sharks (10 searches).
  7. Prehistoric fish (7 searches).
  8. Carnotaurus. This guy’s one of my personal favorites, and I’m really looking forward to doing a full-body rendition of him (7 searches).
  9. Mosasaur (7 searches).
  10. Pterosaur (7 searches).
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Review of the 2016 Thunderbird Mid-Summer Pow Wow at the Queens County Farm Museum

Hello all. A week ago, I attended the Thunderbird Mid-Summer Pow Wow which takes place at the end of July at the Queens County Farm Museum. I have been coming to this place, and the associated Green Meadows Farm Petting Zoo (which I originally thought was part of the QCFM, but later learned that it’s an entirely separate organization) ever since I was in pre-school. Chances are if you went to pre-school or elementary school here in Queens, New York, that around October you came to this place for some pumpkin picking. I enjoy coming here for the special events that they host, and among them is the yearly gathering of the Indian tribes from across the Americas to represent and honor their heritage – from Canada to Ecuador, and everywhere in between.

As a historian specializing in tribal cultures from ancient times to modern times, I feel that behooves me to come to events like this as often as I can in order to keep up my credibility as a historian and quasi-anthropologist. Also, I just love coming here purely for it’s own sake – I greatly enjoy coming to this place, I enjoy the “rendezvous” like atmosphere, and of course, I love the music and the dances. The food isn’t bad either!

The pow wow was a three-day event, and I arrived on saturday July 30. The weather was forecasted to be pretty bad that weekend, and on Friday, the first day of the festivities, it poured. When I arrived on Saturday, the sky was gray and heavy, and there were warnings that there would be occassional showers throughout the day.

Although it’s called a “museum” the QCFM is working farm where they grow crops and raise livestock. In fact, it is the last fully-operational farm left in all of Queens County. It’s a large place, and the pow wow events were confined to the front portion of the farm where the gate and most of the buildings are. The center and rear of the farm were pretty isolated, aside from a few farm workers and some families looking at the animals in their pens.

I enjoy walking amidst the gardens and crop fields. As I’ve said in previous posts on this blog, although I’ve lived my whole life in the city, I’ve always been more of a country person at heart, and this place allows me a certain amount of escapism.

Just beyond the gardens is the cornfield. they grow the corn in the form of a maze which is then enjoyed by the children during autumn. When I was there, the corn stalks were five and a half feet high, up to my chin.

You’re probably expecting me to post pictures of the pow wow celebrations, but I deliberately took NO pictures of this. The dancers, musicians, and story-tellers that were present here have strong feelings about having their pictures being taken. Remember, these people are not tourist attractions. They are people deserving of respect, and I felt that it would not be appropriate to be snapping pictures of people when they don’t want to be photographed. Besides, in this age when everyone who attends a concert records it on their smartphone rather than sitting back and enjoying the show, I am adamant in not allowing technology to get in the way of an immersive sensory experience. So, no photos. Don’t like that? Tough.

 

 

Captain Louis Antoine de Bougainville

Louis Antoine de Bougainville

Louis Antoine de Bougainville (November 12, 1729 – August 31, 1811) was a French scholar, military officer, and explorer. He was a brilliant mathematician, gained fame for himself fighting in the French and Indian War, he became the first Frenchman to circumnavigate the globe, and he conducted an extensive exploration of the South Pacific. Bougainville Island, where a ferocious battle took place during World War II, is named after him.

This is a drawing as he would have looked in his 20s during his service in the French and Indian War as a captain in the French Army and as the aide-de-camp to Gen. Louis Joseph, Marquis de Montcalm. Made using a combination of No.2 pencil, colored pencils, and markers. The portrait that you see is based upon several existing portraits of him from later in life (none of them being full portraits), especially his distinctive blue coat with the gold Celtic-style braiding.

For more info, read the following:

My book “Four Days in September”, 2nd Edition, has been released!

Two years ago, the first edition of my history book Four Days in September: The Battle of Teutoburg was published by Trafford Publishing. Since then, my book has been taken on by a well-known military history publisher based in Britain called Pen & Sword Books. Now, the book’s second edition, which is much more accurate and full of new information that wasn’t available two years ago, has been released. I just received my complimentary author’s copies of the books in the mail today, and I’m happy.

If you or somebody that you know likes ancient Roman history, German history, or military history in general, then order a copy of Four Days in September: The Battle of Teutoburg, 2nd Edition today! Available on Amazon!

http://www.amazon.com/Four-Days-September-Battle-Teutoberg/dp/1473860857

The Easter Rising of 1916: 100 Years Later, and some thoughts on the importance of history

Today marks the 100th anniversary one of the most important dates in modern European history. On the Monday after Easter in 1916, a group of young heavily-armed men dressed in military uniforms stood outside the front doors of the General Post Office in central Dublin. There, one of their number, a young poet named Podraigh Pearse (the name is often Anglicized as Patrick Pearse), read a document called “The Proclamation of the Irish Republic”. In front of a curious and ever-growing crowd, he called for full and complete independence from British rule, which had existed in Ireland since the Middle Ages. Then, taking up defensive positions within the post office and elsewhere in the city, Pearse and his fellow rebels awaited the inevitable British military response. What happened next has become a core part of Irish history and cultural legend.

In its immediate sense, the Easter Rising was a failure – all of the defensive positions were taken by British forces and the ringleaders were executed. However, it marked a sea change in Irish nationalism. Previous Irish rebellions had been essentially one-offs, flaring up and then being supressed, with many decades of down-time taking place between each independence attempt. In one circumstance, a whole century went by without any hostilities. However, after 1916, many Irish now made a concerted effort to drive the British out of Ireland for good. This resulted in the rebellion which finally culminated in Irish independence in 1922. I’m certain that the 100th anniversary of Irish independence in 2022 will result in massive celebrations seen throughout the country.

Since the Easter Rising of 1916 is clearly seen by many as the initial spark that led to Ireland becoming free after nearly 800 years of British rule, the 100th anniversary of this event is being marked with great celebration within Ireland itself and amongst Irish populations elsewhere. PBS has regularly been airing programs about this event, a play was created commemorating it, and Irish and British news media have been crackling with item pieces on this event and how it has effected modern Anglo-Irish politics. Both the Easter Rising and its anniversary are important historical and cultural milestones, especially for the people of the British Isles, and I’m happy to see that there has been a lot of conscious media attention on it.

I wish that I could say that there was more, especially in the United States, where the mainstream media don’t seem all that interested in such things. I remember that the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg in 2013 received minimal media attention. The 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War in 2015 received hardly any attention at all, and the 250th anniversary of the passing of the Stamp Act of 1765, also in 2015, which many people see as one of the defining moments in the move towards American independence from Britain, received absolutely NO RECOGNITION WHATSOEVER! To a historian like myself, this is nothing short of deliberate historical and cultural extermination, a detestable process in which the hallmarks of people’s history are ignored or discarded in favor of other things which we are brainwashed into thinking are more important. The reason for this is disturbingly simple – nobody in the US really gives a damn about such things anymore. In today’s fast-paced tech-obsessed reality TV-obsessed society, things like history are seen as boring and irrelevant. I once worked with someone who hated history because, in her words, “it’s of no use to me now”. I can’t stand it when people have this mindset of “if it doesn’t benefit me personally, I don’t need it”. In a way, I can understand this way of thinking. Really, are all of those names and dates really important to your normal day-to-day affairs? Probably not. However, as the old saying goes, those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. When people lose sight of their own cultural heritage, it makes it all the easier for them to be manipulated and molded by those who are in power, either at home or abroad. I’ve been seeing this for years with the emergence of so-called “sheeple”.

In Europe, including Britain and Ireland, history is a living breathing thing. It’s a palatable thing in the air and earth. In America, I don’t see this. I see people who are only concerned with the present and the future, and give little to no thought about the past. No wonder that college and university history programs are dying all across this country. No wonder that having a history degree is considered useless when looking for a job. What will happen in 2025 when America has the 250th anniversary of the beginning of the Revolutionary War? Or in 2041 with the 100th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor? Sure, there will probably be a handful of quick news items on it, and maybe a few special edition magazines seen on news stands, but aside from that, I dare say that these upcoming important anniversaries will be acknowledged by a collective shrug. People in the US will take a quick note of this, say something like “Oh, that’s interesting”, and then move on to what they were doing before and give no thought to it for the rest of the day.

For me, this is sad. I place great value on history and historical memory. I’m sure a lot of other people in the United States do too, but for the most part, I don’t see it. I see people who are losing sight of their historical heritage more and more with every passing year. Is it any wonder why we’ve been seeing platitude-spouting demagogues taking center stage in American politics? When history is forgotten, history can get twisted around to suit other people’s ends. American historical memory is being constantly re-written so that people here imagine that things played out differently than they actually did. Incorrect facts are being constantly touted as cold hard truth. Historical characters are cast in exclusive good/bad, black/white relationships to each other with no gray area in between. TV channels, such as “The History Channel” of all things, have replaced informative programming with, well let’s be frank, bullshit. The History Channel, which by the way is no longer called that, is now dominated with programs on aliens, rednecks, Alaska, the Bible, doomsday, and Nostra-fucking-damus.

I look at all of this for what it is – the gradual eroding of history, the altering of historical memory, and by extension the manipulation of culture. In Europe, history is alive and well. In America, it’s dying.

Portrait of a Huron war-chief

Huron chief Long Spear

Hello all. This is a portrait of a war-chief of the Huron tribe named Long Spear – I don’t know how to say that in Huron/Wyandot, but I’m certain somebody out there knows. This person was supposed to be a character in a video game set in the French and Indian War that my friend Andrew and I were going to develop years ago, but that idea unfortunately never got off of the ground.

I found the original version of this man’s portrait that I had made back in 2005, I think – there was no date on it, but I’m pretty sure that’s when I first drew him. The overall pose and design was the same, but it was less detailed, done with markers instead of colored pencils, and was rather sloppy. I decided to re-make Long Spear’s portrait, and the result is what you see here.

Media for this portrait include:

  • No. 2 pencil
  • Crayola and Prismacolor colored pencils
  • Black felt-tip marker

I’m sure that many of you will likely see the influence that Wes Studi’s portrayal of Magua in the film The Last of the Mohicans had on this design. However, I tried very hard not to make a clone copy of THAT Huron war-chief! If you have any questions or comments, please write them. Hope you enjoy my latest work. Keep your pencils sharp, everyone.

Review of 2015 Hudson-Berkshire Wine and Food Festival

Vacation trip to Chatham, Columbia County, New York

Saturday, May 23 to Monday, May 25, 2015

During the week of May 17, 2015, I learned of the Hudson-Berkshire Wine and Food Festival, to be held upstate in the town of Chatham, Columbia County, New York during Memorial Day weekend. I love going up into the country, as I’ve always felt much more at home there than amidst the noisy, crowded, and polluted surroundings of the city. I really needed to get out of the city for a bit, and I hadn’t been on vacation in nine years. My mother also desperately needed a break from the drudgery of her daily routine. Her birthday was coming up soon, too, so I decided to take my family on vacation up there for the weekend as a present.

Much of what you will read from here onwards comes from the hastily-scribbled notes that I took during the drive and while I was there.

Day 1. Saturday, May 23.

We were supposed to leave at 6:00 AM, but we actually left at 6:52, nearly an hour behind schedule. It’s rather chilly today. The temperature when we left was only 51 degrees F. Clear cloudless blue sky. Slight breeze. If it’s a bit nippy down here, I image it will be even cooler up north, and especially in the hill country.

Crossed the Whitestone Bridge at 7:02 AM.

At 7:29 AM, we entered Sleepy Hollow, Westchester County. I saw a wild turkey on the side of the highway, but the car went by too fast for me to open the window, get my camera out, and take a picture of it. I’m glad to see that a little bit of the wilderness is present so close to New York City.

The first photo that I took was inside the car, travelling northwards across the bridge spanning the Croton Reservoir.

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Entered Columbia County at 8:44 AM. Road is very bumpy around this area.

Arrived in Chatham at 9:20 AM – we made really good time in getting here! The tall tower seen in the background is the steeple of St. James’ Catholic church.

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We went to the Columbia County fairgrounds straight away, as there were hardly any rest stops along the Taconic Highway. The route coming here was very scenic. After we briefly looked the place over, we went to our motel and checked in – the Berkshire Travel Lodge. I love that peculiar motel smell – it reminds me of more pleasant times when my family went on vacations somewhat regularly and had a lot of fun.

After we unloaded all of our food and clothing, we decided to check out what was on offer in the town of Chatham itself. The festival was not due to start until 11:00, so we had one and a half hours to kill. The town of Chatham dates back to the very early 19th Century. As such, there are very few colonial-style buildings here. By contrast, there are lots of Federal-style and Victorian-style buildings in the town. A railroad cuts right through the middle of the town, and we arrived just in time to see a CSX freight train pull in. That was a REALLY long train! We were waiting on the corner for what seemed like five complete minutes for the thing to pass by.

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The oldest building in the town is the old tavern, which has since been converted into an antiques shop.

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This is the town’s municipal building, the Tracy Memorial Village Hall, which serves as the town hall, the town court house, the police headquarters, and the center of local administration.

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This is the Morris Memorial Community Center, kind of like the local YMCA.

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This is the war memorial located in the center of the town.

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I’m always keen on ecclesiastic architecture, so I took several photographs of the various churches in the area. I was surprised that there were so many, considering how small the town was. This is the Presbyterian church.

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This is the First Reformed Church (Calvinist).

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This is the Methodist church.

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Dad was especially eager on checking out a Welsh pub in the town. We decided that we’d have dinner there that night.

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I’m happy to say that there were hardly any franchise chains within Chatham, or indeed any of the places that we saw. The sole exception was a single Rite Aid pharmacy located at the very edge of the town. Every other business was privately-owned. My myself and my father found this exceedingly refreshing.

At 11:00 AM on the dot, we arrived at the wine festival right when it opened. We were one of the first customers there, but it soon became very crowded. I loved a lot of the products that I tasted there – not just wine, but food too. i also had some very interesting and pleasant conversations with people. I promised several of the vendors that I’d write up reviews for the products that I really liked, so here we go.

Winding Drive – Jellies, jams, and sauces

I’m always into fresh jellies and jams. This was the first vendor that we tried, and I was definitely not disappointed. I personally recommend their “apple pie jam” – I guarantee you, you’ll gobble the whole thing down sooner than you think.

There are two other things that I’d like to recommend – their applesauce and their peach mango barbecue sauce.

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The applesauce is liquid gold in a glass jar. There’s a fresh good-for-you liveliness in this stuff that you just can’t get from commercially-available applesauce brands.

The peach mango barbecue sauce is absolutely excellent – I can really see this being used on grilled salmon! It’s also probably great on pork roasts and ham. This is a really good summertime sauce.

Contact info:

Middle Quarter Mall
744 Main Street South
Woodbury, Connecticut 06798
Phone: (203) 263-6961

Worldling’s Pleasure – cheese spreads

This was the first stand that I went to once I got inside the hall where much of the festival was taking place. The kindly man who was attending to the stall had six varieties of cheese spreads, and I tasted (and bought) three of them.

Country Store Cheddar. This is a plain basic cheese spread that can go with just about anything. It has a wonderful mellow mild smoothness and creaminess, in contrast to the hard salty sharpness that you normally associate with cheddar. This stuff is amazing to smell and taste, and melts in your mouth. As an experiment, I put a hearty tablespoon-full of this stuff into my macaroni and cheese when I came home, and the flavor difference was practically night and day!

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Rose’s Red Hot. Cheddar mixed with pepper. For those of you who prefer a little bit more zip, this is the thing for you. Ingredients include habanero and jalapeno peppers, two of the spiciest peppers known. However, the cool creaminess of the cheddar cheese counter-acts the powerful pepper spiciness, forming a wonderful and pleasing balance of taste. Personally, I like spicy food, so I absolutely loved this.

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Garlicke and the 7 herbs. A white garlic pesto spread. This stuff has “Italian” written all over it! Of the three flavors that I tasted, I thought that this one was unquestionably the best. Not only can you put this on crackers, but you could also break it up into pieces and mix it into your salad. I spread some on a meatball sandwich the other day. The only word that I can think of to describe this stuff is “amazing”.

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Contact info:

Worldling’s Pleasure
Watervliet, New York 12189
Phone: 518) 879-2306

The Olive Table – honey and olive oil imported from Greece

The family who owns this company owns a farm in Greece, but their company headquarters is in Vermont. Most people know what honey is – the product of when bees process flower nectar and make it into food for the hive. Most people associate honey with garden flowers, but did you know that you can also get honey from trees? Many trees are technically flowering plants, too, and therefore it makes sense that bees would take the nectar from inside tree flowers and turn that into honey as well. Ah, but here’s the twist! Tree-based honey has a lot less sugar in it than regular flower-based honey. It’s also usually darker in color, has a heartier flavor, and does not have the goopy thick caramelized texture of regular honey.

There were four kinds of honey on offer that day: fir, pine, chestnut, and reiki.

Fir honey. Light in color, and light and joyful in taste.

Pine honey. Medium in color. A slightly more intense flavor than the fir honey.

Chestnut honey. Dark brown in color. A rich deep woodsy forest flavor. The full power of the taste hits you about five seconds after you put it in your mouth.

Reiki honey. Light golden color. This honey was much thinner than the other honeys. It produced an awakening warmness on the pallet, which soon spread through my whole body. If sunshine came in a jar, this would be it.

I bought the chestnut honey and one bottle of organic olive oil.

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Contact info:

The Olive Table
Woodstock, Vermont 05091

James Gourmet Ketchup

I have tasted real homemade ketchup in the past, and I loved it then, so I fully expected to love it now, and I did. This stuff is low in salt, so it’s not saturated with preservatives. That means you have to eat it before it spoils. Don’t worry – this stuff tastes so good that you won’t have it hanging around in your fridge for long!

When I tasted it, I went “It’s real! It tastes real!”

One person asked about the ketchup, saying that he never liked ketchup – in fact, he absolutely hated the taste of ketchup. I turned around and I said to him “No, what you have been eating so far is NOT ketchup. What you have been eating is an artificial fake over-processed red-colored sludge that’s CALLED ‘ketchup’!”

If this stuff was made commercially available, Heinz would go crushingly bankrupt within two weeks!!!

PS: I’d suggest marketing their own homemade mustard and relish, too!

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Contact info:

James Gourmet Ketchup
Phone: (518) 557-8006

Hawthorne Valley Farm – makers of homemade varieties of sauerkraut, among other things.

They had three varieties on offer that day: carrot-ginger, regular, and red cabbage.

Carrot Ginger Sauerkraut. A wonderful and complex mixture of spiciness, saltiness, fiber, and earthiness. A perfectly blended combination of flavors and textures with just the right proportions. I felt myself getting healthier while I was eating it.

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Plain Sauerkraut. VERY salty, so be prepared for a bit of a “wow” shock to the taste buds. However, unlike the commercial types of sauerkraut that you often see in stores, this stuff did not have the lip-puckering sour taste so often associated with sauerkraut. Actually, it had a refreshing vigor to it. To offset the saltiness, the sauerkraut itself is very light, airy, and delicate. You could eat an entire jar of the stuff and you’d never feel it!

Red Cabbage Sauerkraut. A much fuller and heavier body. Unlike the plain sauerkraut, this stuff’s got some weight to it. I’ve had red cabbage sauerkraut several times in the past, so I was anticipating a very pungent taste. I must say that it didn’t taste as all like I thought it would. It was a very pleasant taste without the powerful overpowering hit-you-in-the-face sourness that commercial red cabbage sauerkraut has. It had a uniqueness, an enlivening brightness that I had a difficult time describing. All I could say was “It tastes like color!” The salespeople enjoyed that comment.

Contact info:

Hawthorne Valley Farm
327 County Route 21C
Ghent, New York 12075
Phone: (518) 672-7500
Grandpa Pete’s Sunday Sauce
I love eating Italian food, and so I jumped on the chance to taste some varieties of pasta sauce.

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All of the sauces that I tried were excellent. I was especially fond of the garlic sauce. A word of warning, though – don’t spill the meat sauce on your clothes, because the stains are practically impossible to get out.

Contact info:

36 Koeppel Avenue
Catskill, New York 12414
Phone: (877) 447-2823
 Savor Fine Foods – gourmet cookies and other foods
On this day, we tasted samples of various cookies that they had on offer. Every single variety was excellent. I even loved their cranberry cookies, and that’s saying something because I hate cranberries! There were about twelve or so different kinds of cookies to eat, and I purchased bags of five of them.
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Contact info:
Savor Fine Foods
30 Echo Lake Road
Watertown, Connecticut 06795-2609
Phone: (860) 274-9000
Helderberg Meadworks
Mead is alcohol made with honey and herbs. Being the barbarian-lover that I am, I have been trying to find somebody who sells mead for years, and this day was my lucky day. They had four varieties: heritage, apple, maple, and feral. Alcohol level: 15-16%
Heritage. Basic, light, delicate flavor. This would go well with anything.
Apple. A bit of a bitter taste, which my dad liked.
Maple. The best one in my opinion. I said “It tastes like the forest”. I could definitely taste the maple flavor and it had a very earthy overtone.
Feral. Slightly more powerful and gritty in flavor. This drink puts hair on your chest!
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Contact info:
Helderberg Meadworks
PO Box 93
Duanesburg, New York 12056
Awestruck Premium Hard Ciders

My dad suggested that I try their lavender hops hard cider. In fact, I had heard a lot of people talking about, and there was a massive tightly-packed crowd in front of the table tasting samples of it. I thought to myself, If everyone’s raving about it, it would be foolish of me not to at least try it, so I asked for a taste.

Very unique flavor. I’ve never tasted anything like it. All I could say to describe it was “Awesomely awesome!

Lavender Hops Hard Cider. Alcohol level: 6.8%
Contact info:
Awestruck Ciders
44 West Street, Suite 8
Walton, New York 13856
Well, I had a lot of fun that day. On the way back to our hotel, I took some photos of the countryside. The Berkshire Mountains, which are located in eastern New York, are very picturesque.
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In the evening, we went to the Welsh pub, where I had one of the best burgers that I’ve ever had in my life – half-pound hamburger topped with pulled pork, onion rings, and cheddar cheese. Damn, it was fantastic!!!

Day 2. Sunday, May 24.

Now that the fair was over, at least for us (it was a two-day event), we decided that we’d take a much more in depth look at the town of Chatham than we had a chance to the day before. Afterwards, we planned on going up north to a glass-blowing shop, to the New Lebanon Shaker Village, and then swing a sharp turn to the west to visit President Martin Van Buren’s house in Kinderhook. It was going to be a rather busy day.

Had breakfast at Our Daily Bread. Nice atmosphere. Distinct Middle Eastern influence on the menu. They make their own ketchup called “House Ketchup”. No pre-fab tea bags – they make their own tea blends from scratch. Fresh honey – a bit thin, with a prominent cinnamon flavor. The ketchup has a distinct cinnamon flavor to it, too. I ordered two eggs over easy with corned beef hash, which I hadn’t had in a long time, so I was really craving some. On the side, I had two pieces of challah bread. My breakfast looked so good and so perfect that I just had to take a picture of it.

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This is a photo comparing the diner’s own brand of homemade natural ketchup with the commercial Heinz ketchup. I want you to notice two things. First, note that the natural ketchup is much darker in color than the Heinz ketchup. I never noticed it before, but I was struck by just how red the Heinz stuff is – no processed food product can be that vividly red naturally. Secondly, I want you to notice that the natural ketchup bottle is one-third empty, while the Heinz ketchup bottle was still full. This visible fact shows that people, if given a choice, will much rather use the natural ketchup rather than Heinz.

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Drove through Spencertown. Despite its name, it’s actually a small village.

This is the Spencertown Public Library – I’m serious. It was located on the corner of a road intersection.

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St. Peter’s Presbyterian Church, Spencertown

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The Spencertown Academy and Center for the Arts
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Very beautiful colonial-style home across the road from the academy
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From there, we drove up north to the town of Canaan to see the glass-blower – “Hoogs and Crawford modern studio glass”. I’d wanted to see, and if possible to do, glass-blowing for a while.
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Not far away was the New Lebanon Shaker Village. I was hoping to see reenactors walking around in period garb, but I was sorry to see that the place looked abandoned. In fact, two buildings were practically falling down. Some of these buildings were private homes, so I was not allowed inside. While I was here, I saw the biggest crow that I had ever seen. The damn thing was the size of a hawk. And when it cawed, it sounded much deeper and louder than any other crow that I had seen. Dad saw it too, so I have a witness. In truth, I think it was a raven – ravens are bigger than crows.
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Afterwards, we drove west and came to the Martin Van Buren house. Unfortunately, I was not allowed to take any photographs inside.
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Had dinner at the Backwater Grill, a lakeside restaurant located not far from the motel.

I had a Jack Daniels steak with bacon mashed potatoes. Appetizer was clam chowder. This steak holds the absolute definitive record for the best steak that I have ever eaten in my entire life – period! Mom had a slice of carrot cake for her birthday.

Day 3. Monday, May 25. Memorial Day.

Gloomy, gray, and overcast this morning. Light misting rain, but it cleared up soon.

Had breakfast at Dan’s Diner – a railroad car that had been converted into a small roadside diner. Don’t be fooled by its humble appearance – this place had EXCELLENT food!!! I had two pancakes and a side of corned beef hash, with a glass of orange juice. Everything tasted amazing.

Picture 073

Time to leave. I’ll miss this quiet place, but I was actually looking foward to going back home – I usually don’t look foward to going back to the city. The main reason was that I wanted to sleep in my own bed and be around more familiar surroundings.

Prince Frederick Augustus

Prince Frederick Augustus 1815

Here is a portrait of Prince Frederick Augustus (1763-1827), the younger brother of Britain’s King George IV. This is how he would have looked at or around the year 1815, I think. It’s thanks to him that the British Army, which had previously been in a state of neglect, was reformed and able to beat back Napoleon. The portrait is somewhat based on an existing portrait by John Jackson dated to 1822 (see here). He is garbed in clothes typical of the early 19th Century. On his chest is a medal from the Order of the Garter.

I found out after making this picture that I made one big mistake – Prince Frederick had blonde hair, not dark hair. Oops.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prince_Frederick,_Duke_of_York_and_Albany

Keep your pencils sharp, everybody.

General Jean Armand, Baron von Dieskau

2014 has been rather hectic for me, between frantically looking for jobs, pounding on the writing, and doing schoolwork. This weekend, I FINALLY found some free time to do a little bit of illustration, and the result is what you see here.

Lately, I’ve been on a colonial history kick. One of my writing projects is on the French and Indian War – I decided to temporarily shelve my book on ancient Egypt. I intend for this book to be fully illustrated, and one of the pictures that will be in it will be this portrait of a French officer. His name was General Jean Ludwig August Armand, Baron von Dieskau. He was a German-born officer who fought in the French Army during the opening stages of the French and Indian War.

Baron Dieskau

 

 

AMNH Allosaurus photos

Recently, I have decided that my Allosaurus color drawing, which I have re-tooled about four or five times and felt so proud of, actually needs to be re-tooled again. I had made that drawing the center focus of one of my blog posts some time ago. Here it is again if you don’t remember it.

Allosaurus

One thing that immediately jumps out at me is that the tail is too narrow – there’s just not enough meat on it. I’ve noticed that many paleo-artists who follow what I like to call the “Gregory Paul School” of paleo-art often have their paleo-critters very shrink-wrapped, especially the tails. The tail’s weight needs to be proportionate to the weight of the front half of the animal; a tail that is not thick enough will make the animal front-heavy, and I can safely say that this Allosaurus looks front-heavy.

The second thing that I have a problem with are the lacrimal horns. Those are the rounded projections on the skull just in front of the eyes. Many times, I have seen paleo-artists put these very large or at least prominent fin-like crests on Allosaurus skulls. I have always been loathe to do this, since I am a stickler for anatomical correctness. If there aren’t any crests, I don’t put them on. However, when I was volunteering at the American Museum of Natural History (or AMNH as it is commonly abbreviated), I took various photographs of the two Allosaurus skeletons that they have on public display. Based upon this information, I knew that I needed to redo my drawing. I have decided to include the photographs here for any future reference for any aspiring paleontologist or paleo-artist.

AMNH Allosaurus entrance hall

Here is that dynamic running Allosaurus that everyone sees when they come into the entrance hall. I want to to take note of several things. First, look at that beautifully curved neck. Second, look how large the arms are in proportion to the body. Third, look at that enormous Baryonyx-esque thumb claw on each hand. Fourth, notice that the body is a lot more rounded than many artists often show, who make the body appear narrower and flatter.

AMNH Allosaurus skull entrance hall

Here is a close-up of the entrance hall Allosaurus‘ skull. I’m sorry if the picture looks a little fuzzy – I think I jerked the camera when I took the shot. Take note of a couple of things. First, notice that the jaws are strongly U-shaped. Second, the face is pretty much flat on both sides. This animal had absolutely no stereoscopic vision. Third, there does not seem to be any real three-dimensionality to the face – not a whole lot of wrinkles, ridges, and bumps, but almost flat.

Allosaurus arm photo

I had a lot of trouble finding pictures of Allosaurus hands and arms for my drawing. So here’s one, so that you can get your proportions just right.

AMNH Allosaurus skeleton 1AMNH Allosaurus skeleton 2

Now we move into the Hall of Saurischian Dinosaurs, located on the fourth floor. This is the room that is always the most crowded, aside from the entrance hall, because here is where the Tyrannosaurus skeleton is located, and seemingly every elementary school child in all of NYC wants to see it. This is the skeleton of Allosaurus seen in that hall. You might recognize the pose as being similar to a Charles Knight painting, which has been endlessly copied ever since. The two Allosaurus skeletons in the AMNH are meant to represent two modes of behavior: predator and scavenger. There are two things that I notice right away. First, it’s brown not gray –  a rather superficial difference. But what jumps out at me is that the skull is a slightly different shape. The skull used on the skeleton in the entrance hall has an almost flat jawline, producing a rectangular-looking skull – this is the skull that is most commonly seen in museums and in dinosaur anatomy books. However, the skull that you see here has a more curvaceous S-shaped jawline, and the skull itself appears to be fatter and more robust than the one mounted on the entrance hall specimen.

AMNH Allosaurus skeleton 3

Here is another view of the skull (again, sorry if it’s a bit blurry; I really need to work on not jerking the camera).

AMNH Allosaurus skeleton 4AMNH Allosaurus skeleton 5AMNH Allosaurus skeleton 6

Here are some various views of that same skull from different perspectives. I took these shots because just having a side view doesn’t really tell me a whole lot of information. Again, you will notice that the skull is flat-faced with no stereoscopic vission. The only way that Allosaurus could see what was directly in front of it was if it cocked its head to the side like a bird so that one of its eyes could see something. Also, look closely at the rounded lacrimal horns. Notice those linear grooves running along the surface. That means that these horns were covered with keratin, the same stuff that your fingernails are made out of. Also, notice that the lacrimal horns are pretty-much in line with the post-orbital bones (the bones behind the eye socket). This would infer that the horns were not as pronounced as I had shown in my drawing.

AMNH Allosaurus skeleton 7

Lastly, here is another photo of Allosaurus arms. Look at the size of those thumb-claws!