Archive for September, 2007

Wichita’s Troll

Walking in downtown Wichita, I couldn’t help but take pictures of the beautiful Arkansas River.  A local couple passed me and noting my camera they asked me a peculiar question.

“Are you hear to take a picture of the troll?” they asked.

Say what?!?!

Wichita has a hidden troll!  Just uphill from the river, the sidewalk passes a sizeable storm grate:

Ordinary Storm Grate?

Well, shackled and tortured beneath the sidewalk is the troll.

The troll is trapped below

He is HUGE and the details are exquisite.  The artist (Constance Ernatt) should be commended for her work.  As I snapped pictures, children walked by and timidly asked, “Is it dead???”  I think the fact that the artist gave the troll unkempt toenails says a lot about the thoroughness of the project.

Eww, troll toenails!

The Walking Tour of the River Corridor Project says, “Some legends believe that trolls come alive at night, turning to stone in the daytime.”  I don’t know about night, but when I was first previewing my pictures, I was unnerved to find the troll’s mouth appearing to move.  It turns out, it had to do with my camera angle.  On one side, his mouth is open and on the other it is closed.  Phew!

Mouth open

Mouth closed

If I had thought much about it, I could have found myself self-conscious that I was carrying a camera about, looking like a tourist.  But in this case, it really paid off.  I doubt I would have ever known about the troll otherwise!

September 13, 2007 at 12:18 am 9 comments

Gene Ray and Time Cube EXPOSED!!!

My brother has this real neat book on Native Americans that has a dedicated section on the Iroquois Confederacy and its influence on the United States Constitution.  The book even had a side by side comparison with the Iroquois charter on one side and extremely similiar passages of the U.S. Constitution on the other side.  To my eyes, skimming the section, it did appear like our founding fathers were heavily influenced by the Iroquois principles.

Well today, walking in downtown Wichita, I stumbled upon a more surprising, more shocking discovery of uncredited Native American influence.  I think Gene Ray based his ground-breaking “Nature’s Harmonic 4-Day Time Cube” from the Plains Indians!!!  I passed the following sign near the Arkansas River.  It illustrated and explained the Sacred Hoop of the Plains Indians:

The Sacred Hoop

Equally significant was the number four.  The four quadrants of the hoop were symbolic of the four seasons, four directions, four times of the day and the four elements.

Each quadrant, when placed to correlate with a specific direction, is represented by a unique color, animal, element and plant

The important of the number four.  The quadrants.  The four times of the day!  This is very similiar to one of Gene Ray’s illustrations of how there are actually four days in each rotation of the earth.  Instead of an animal or element representing each quadrant, Gene Ray has Einstein, Bill Clinton, Socrates and Jesus:

Gene Ray explains Time Cube

I’m not saying plagarism.  I’m just saying– the similiarities are shocking.

Of course, I saw no indication the Plains Indians used phrases like “educated stupid”, “snotbrains” or “Biblistic Selfnic Bastardism ” 

Perhaps Gene Ray had some original material after all.  🙂

September 12, 2007 at 11:48 pm 3 comments

Not So Camouflaged Humour

Greetings from Wichita, Kansas!  In our social group, we often repeat lines from movies and TV Shows.  Lines from The Office, Seinfeld, Office Space, Super Bad, and a little bit of The Flight of the Conchords all make it into circulation.  The references are pretty fun and they don’t really get old.  Tonight I have two tales of repetitive humour that doesn’t age as well. 

In high school, my friend Jeremy decided to have a yard sale.  After posting a series of signs around his neighborhood, it started to rain so he had to move everything to the garage.  Parked in the garage was some classic, restored car that belonged to Jeremy’s father.  I can’t remember the make.  Anyway, throughout the day, Jeremy said a number of shoppers would come in and scope out the inventory and then make a joke, “How much for the [car]?  Heh heh heh.”

Jeremy reported that each comedian seemed rather pleased with his joke and had no idea that many, many others said the exact same thing earlier in the day.

And now I have a contemporary memory!  A couple of weeks ago, I used a Gap gift card to buy myself a pair of camouflaged pants.  This increases my already formidable inventory of drab green garments.  I am quite pleased with them and the ratio of the frequency I’ve worn them versus the frequency I’ve washed them may be disturbing to some readers.  So moving on…

New pants, pictured in a hotel bathroom in Wichita, Kansas

Almost instantly, Sean starting cracking jokes.  Stuff like, “Where are your legs?  I can’t see your legs.”  I figured it was Sean being Sean.

This past weekend, I went to Charlotte, North Carolina to visit friends and watch the LSU-VT slaughter.  There, a friend a whole 2 1/2 hours away, made a similiar comment about my pants.

So Monday, I fly to Wichita.  I’m 1000 miles away from home now.  I walk into the hotel and run into a colleague from Texas who promptly announces, “Vicky, I can only see you from the waist up!”

Apparently, camouflage pants are amusing nation-wide.  If you feel this is a tidbit of wit you’d like to utter, never fear.  I remain undeterred!  I expect to wear the pants frequently this fall.  If our paths cross, you’ll get your chance.

That is, if you can see me!

September 12, 2007 at 12:44 am 21 comments

links for 2007-09-11

September 11, 2007 at 12:23 pm 3 comments

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September 7, 2007 at 12:22 pm 2 comments

Ingrown Toenails and Lost and Found

Circa fifth grade, our family found two young black labs, later to be named Midnight and Liquorice.  Before we claimed ownership, my mother set a good example and placed a “FOUND – TWO BLACK LABS” ad in the local paper.  When we took a look at the printed classifieds section, we discovered an ad adjacent to it read, “LOST – TWO BLACK LABS”.  It turned out to be a completely different pair of black labs.  But, the whole time we ran the ad, we got tons of calls.  Not from people who lost black labs, but just people who noticed the similiarity between the entries.

Yesterday, I got to be one of those good doers who reports similiar postings, though through a different medium.  After a day of working on-site at Roanoke, I got to pull up my Google Reader and see what was happening among my friends.  First up was An American Expat in Deutschland, where Christina asked a question about ingrown toenails.  There was nothing new to look at in ClintJCL Photos, but there was some new stuff on ClintJCL’s blog.  One of Clint’s posts was  HOWTO: Stop Ingrown Toenails.

Now Clint’s post isn’t going to help Christina’s current predictment (Clint selfishly failed to give advice on whether one should see a Fusspfleger, Chirurg, or Hautarzt), so ultimately my observation is just as effective as the black lab sightings in 1985. 

But it was still a neat coincidence.

September 7, 2007 at 9:31 am 7 comments

links for 2007-09-06

September 6, 2007 at 12:22 pm 1 comment

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September 5, 2007 at 12:21 pm 9 comments

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September 4, 2007 at 12:25 pm Leave a comment

Barney’s Wall

After talking about it for a few months, today Mike E and I managed to finally get over to Barney’s Wall. We were accompanied by Sean and the dogs. Barney’s Wall is a big steep rock face. One hiker describes it as one of the “the region’s best-kept-secret stunning views.”

Although you can get to Barney’s Wall from the Cascades, it was my first choice to not go that route. The Cascades is always crowded (even in winter there are plenty of visitors). On a beautiful day like today, the Cascades Trail was about as appealing to me as a Saturday visit to Walmart.

Luckily, there is another route. You can get on the Nature Conservancy Trail from the dirt road that takes you to Butt Mountain Overlook (otherwise known as VA-714). The only problem– we didn’t quite know where the trailhead was. Information on the internet was frustratingly hard to come by and the only map we stumbled upon failed to inspire confidence– it incorrectly labeled VA-714 as VA-71! I had hiked a section of the Nature Conservacy Trail in 2003, but to get on it I, uh, sort of cut across private property. That wasn’t going to fly today. So many times, I’ve passed by trailheads that were obscured by neglect and vegetation. So when we all loaded into the XTerra in Blacksburg, I wasn’t entirely convinced we would find the trail.

Turned out to not be a problem. The trail is beaten enough to be easily visible from the road and a “Nature Conservancy Trail” sign eliminates any ambiguity. There are small pull-offs nearby for vehicles and oh, there is an orange rock (some local campers gave us that particular landmark).

This is obviously a trail– beaten path AND a sign.

Orange rock near the trail

Driving on VA-714 is no picnic and you definitely should take a 4WD vehicle. But the hike itself is quite simple– a quick (~15-20 minutes), gentle decline to the view.

Jimmie at Barney’s Wall

The view took a backseat to something more interesting, though. There were some rappellers out taking advantage of the sheer drop. It looked scary and at the same time, extremely intriquing. Now I want to learn!

Getting ready


As usual, more pictures of our Barney’s Wall hike can be found on my Flickr site. If you are interested in taking the VA-714 route, Mike found some detailed directions (including coordinates) a good four hours after we got home.

September 3, 2007 at 11:07 pm 3 comments

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