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European Castles

   I came upon a really great article showing some European Castles. They say this is just part one, there will be more to come!


  Some of the photos and the settings are so spectacular….. it really hits to home what people can do… what creativity there can be in people. Sadly it seems that protection from others is what (mainly) inspired the lofty creations we call castles but which are more practically fortresses.

   There is a lot of strategic planning on the building of  a fortress, from the site selection at an area of economic or strategic importance, usually on a trade route. In Europe rivers were favored for this, and the owner of the fortress would have a large chain strung across the river, anyone passing up or down must pay a toll, usually in the form of a portion of your goods if a merchant, or gold if a wealthy traveller. Poor people would not normally be on a barge unless as workers.

   The roads to fortresses usually were designed so that anyone approaching would have their right side exposed to the walls of the fortress as they travelled up the road to the gates.  Since most swordsmen carried their shields in their left arm, this left them a bit more vulnerable to attack from the besieged fortress.

   The circular staircases running up the towers were designed in a similar fashion, they wound up in  such a way that anyone attacking and fighting their way up would have the central pillar impeding his sword arm, and the defender backing his way up the staircase would have a full swing possible.

   Most castles had a main entryway with two gates, once through the first, you were in a narrow aisle, open to attack from above on all sides behind and in front, from a higher plane that was difficult to defend from and nearly impossible to get a good shot in.

   No, castles were a hard thing to attack, with a full siege, it was reckoned the attackers needed three men for every one in the castle to make a good assault and take the castle.  That’s why people built castles, they could take refuge in them, and if it had a good water supply, and plenty of stored food, and proper sanitation…. they could conceivably hold out for years (and some places did), this was usually long enough for the attackers to decide it was not worth the expense.

   I visited a score of castles during my time in Europe. But that was before the days of digital photography, when one had to consider the cost of individual photos. Yep, I didn’t take near the photos then that I might now.  But I thought I’d post some up here.


Avalon Spain            

Avalon, a walled City in Spain



A porton of one of Ludwig\'s Castles

A portion of one of (mad) King Ludwig’s Castles



Heidelberg Powder Tower     


 Heidelberg Castle

These two photos are of Heidelberg Castle in the Neckar Valley





  Both of these castles are in a portion of the Neckar valley sometimes referred to as ‘Vierburgenecke’ which means ‘Four Castle Corner’ because the river makes a sharp bend there, and it also happens to be a spot where four castles can all be seen from one spot on the river. Imagine the expense in that five miles stretch to have to pay tolls four times.  I had an uncle who lived in the town, which is officially called Hirschhorn (deer antler).  He was jsut across a draw from the castle to the left which you could see above the hill and trees. It’s quite a sight to look upon a castle everyday.  But oddly, after a few years it becomes an everyday thing.

Schloss Kaserne  

  This is the castle I lived in for two years. Yep, Honest, I lived in a  castle.  It was at a place called Butzbach, on the edge of the plains, and at the foot of the hills.  I was in the Army, and they used it as barracks. We lived for a time on the fourth level, and we could look out over the plains. There was another castle called Munzenburg about eight miles over. I recall a few times watching spectacular lighting shows, with the lightning sparking behind the twin towers of Munzenburg….. some things you will never forget, and this is one of those ones you always like to recollect.


 Eberbach Castle

 This is a little castle near the town my granny lived in, Eberbach.  Note that the narrow are of the gate entrance was blown to bits by some intruders long ago. That’s me standing at the front.

  Yep, if you ever get to Europe, do visit some castles.

Fun ‘help request’ from a friend

Hello folks….

   Nearly two years ago I met a fellow while we were both auditioning for a part in the internet series called ‘The Interior’. I was auditioning for a role as the older fellow, him for the younger fellow… and he got the role! (the role I was denied was taken up by the Shakespearian actor Whitt Brantley, and it’s no shame to lose out to that fellow :-) )   Christian is now in another fight to get work, and his writing talents show to be very high… in the competion so far, he has blazed to the ‘top five’ slot. We wish him the best, hoping he’ll get the spot.. but he needs votes, so we are passing on his eloquent request for visits and votes… please do take a look at his project… I think you’ll be happy to vote for him then….


   My pitch concept “Versus Verses” has made it to the finals for the EpicRecords/RSA music video project for the band Low Vs. Diamond.
An industry panel selected the 5 Finalists, and now it’s up to YOU and the rest of the community at www. Massify. com to vote for the winning pitch. The winning concept will be produced by Ridley Scott’s RSA Films, and the actors will be cast through submissions on Massify. LVD is a major breaking band, the video will most likely air on MTV and several other outlets.
If you have time, please follow this link and consider voting for my pitch “Versus Verses”…http://www.massify.com/pitches/versusverses/overview/4319Every vote and/or comment helps!! You need to register at Massify to vote, but it is quick and easy.
Only 5 days left to vote!

   Plus, if you know any actors who might be interested in the challenging roles in the video, please pass this message on to them, and hopefully together we will get this to the casting phase!Here is the broader link where you can easily see all Five Finalists…http://www.massify.com/competition/lowvsdiamond/pitches

Thanks so much for your help and support!!





   P.S., if you want to see Christian’s directing ability… click on the image below, it will take you to the trailer of his new release….’Resemblance’


   And you just KNOW I’m gonna try to promote anyone who can use cactus as such stunning architectural elements in a film! – John







Cereus Pitaya


This plant is a columnar type cactus called Cereus peruvianus.   When they have some years on them, they can yield a very small amount of fruit. This particular plant is about ten or twelve years old, and is some nine or ten feet tall. It just this summer gave us its first fruit… sometimes generically called ‘Pitaya’.


Cereus Pitaya

This is the one fruit we got off that plant. It has a delicate taste, but is not as juicy and sweet as the fruit we get off our fruit bearing Opuntia (prickly pear) plants. It does not have the large hard seeds of the Opuntia though, and perhaps some people like the mild understated taste.  Personally, I prefer the cactus apples we sell to this… even though this also was off one of our plants.

Ag Comm Web site

Yep, we get along well with our local ag officials…. so I was examining their web site.



Sustainable Ag Expo




Sustainable Ag Expo


Sponsorships and Exhibitor Info Available - Attendee Registration Open

For information on the Succession Planning Workshop sponsored by California Farm Link, click Agenda

Attention Growers, Consultants, Resource Professionals, Extension, and Vendors
The 2008 Sustainable Ag Expo has Something for Everyone

  • Crop specific and general seminars featuring researchers, extension, consultants and growers!

  • Extensive print and electronic promotions for sponsors and exhibitors!

  • Topics addressed are appropriate for row crops, strawberries, vineyards, orchards, nurseries & more!

  • Continuing education credit for Pest Control Advisors, Private Applicators, Certified Crop Advisors and water quality, including 2 hours of laws and regulations!

  • Unique trade show includes businesses with specialty products!

  • Exhibitor Showcase and Wine Reception to kick off the event!

Have a good time at Bon Temp Creole Cafe!

We got a phone call this morning from Valerie Johnson of the ‘Blues Doctors’.  Her band is playing tonight at the Bon Temp Creole Cafe in San Luis Obispo… they are are having a Halloween Costume Party tonight, and they invite all the locals to come on over and party!Bon Tempe has a reputation of really fine food and good times… in fact in Cajun… Bon Temp means ‘Good Times’…. if ever you are in San Luis Obispo California… and if you like good spicy food, this is the place to go!


My parents and I went to visit my uncle in Glendale this weekend. He’s in a nursing home… someone broke into his home, and hit the 92 year old blind WWII veteran over the head, and left him laying on the floor unconscious. We don’t know how long he laid there in that state, a day or two. He was dehydrated and unconscious when his housekeeper came in the following Monday. Now he is a bit less mobile, and has to be cared for which is something an independent guy like him does not much like.    I have seen this short film called ‘Reveille’ before, and liked it then… and each time I see old old veterans, I think of uncle Bob…. this video reminds me even more of him now.



Massive Cows

   Selective Breeding is what humans have used for Milena to breed advanced varieties of plants and animals. The attributes humans breed for are usually increased size (so you can obtain greater yield), and greater ability to prosper in the local environment.   European breeders have been working with animals for a great number of years, and have come up with a breed of cow called ‘Belgium Blue’ that has hypertrophy (greatly enlarged muscle mass) characteristics.

   Actually, to me the breed while massive and amazing in itself, and a wonderful testament to the ability of humans to manipulate the species they use…. it is a massively muscled breed that is somewhat weird looking… it’s just too bulky. But I’m used to the local cattle… I suppose if I saw them in the fields and hills for a while I’d get used to the look.

  But every time humans specialize a breed of animal to such an extent, the animal runs the risk of being too developed and advanced to run wild in the woods like our local cattle.  No, I don’t think we’ll ever see muscly cows like this in our hills…. our breed (as I’ve mentioned before) is a specially bred cow with short legs on one side, this allows them to roam around the hills eating the grasses without the risk that they will fall down…. and we get ‘short ribs’ from them also!



Analysis of Tocqueville’s philosophy

Analysis of Tocqueville’s philosophy

On Citizenship

We have an issue in the canyon…   A nearby vineyard has proposed adding some 130 homes, a dude ranch with 72 cabins, an equestrian center with horse riding, training, boarding and stabling, and events with stadium lights… all of this in a small canyon with some thirty five or forty families total. They plan to increase the population of this canyon by a factor of five with the stroke of a pen.

   It is generally agreed in the canyon that the issues of water and traffic outweigh any possible beenfits such a development might give us. While I might relish the thought of the possible landscaping jobs this might bring…. if our well goes dry and we have no more water, it does not matter if I made a little money putting in plants and the very sprinklers that will cause our wells to go dusty.


   I am very happy to report that we do have a fairly cohesive group of people in the canyon, the majority of whom are against the project if it can possibly be kept out. The risks to the water supply are simply too great.



   There was a meeting of the local Community Services District, and the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) was voted on.  I posted a report of the meeting at Nipomo Community Services District Meeting.


  Over twenty people form the canyon showed up at the meeting last night… it went on until almost midnight… but it was a sight to see the government bending before the weight of a score of people… yes, the council seemed to agree with us all that the scope of the project was way out of place for the area.



   We have a web page (Los Berros Canyon)  to keep track of events and meetings also… it was done by a young volunteer who was ‘volunteered’ by his Mom (way to go Molly, and thanks for the good work Andy!).