Quieta non movere

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Robert Plant, former singer for Led Zeppelin, was observed at the Lynchburg Community Market last year, the town where I went to High School and the town where nothing interesting happens.  It’s a great place to be from, but not a great place to go.  Yet, Plant, in the echelon of significant contributors, ranks as rock royalty, looking rather… casual.   In any case, celebrities have lives, but they lead them somewhere else, right?  In estates with tall fences or private islands or penthouse condos or….  wherever they’re comfortable, which is usually not where people might beg for autographs or selfies. 

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Robert Plant continues to record critically acclaimed CDs, sell out music venues on tour, and command a stage.  This is obviously his secret identity costume.

More recently, I came across an interview from several years ago with Plant that asked a lot of typical questions to probe the wisdom and riches of the highly esteemed.  Plant plays along, as celebrities must, in ways supporting that he remains musically relevant.  Throughout, though, is sort of a prevailing feeling of “What’s it like to be you?”   There may be some anticipated content about the freedom that money allows or the imprisonment of public recognition or such.  But it’s as interesting a question to ask oneself.   When one pokes at the essence of oneself, there are questions of morality, the meaning in life, fundamental beliefs, lessons learned, accomplishments and much more.  Whether profound or pedestrian, everyone has their own answers should they be asked.  The grand finale of the interview asks, “What is life about?”  Plant flippantly responds “A tuna melt?” (I can almost guess that he had just eaten at the nearby Market at Main).

He shortly arrives at a more honest answer: “Let sleeping dogs lie… In Latin, it’s quieta non movere.”   I’m familiar with the English version; I never took Latin.  Who can say why we take an interest in some things?  I did on this one.

First, it’s pronounced: kwē‐ā´ta nōn mōwā´rā, one more syllable than I would have expected.  A better translation is: “Don’t disturb things that are at peace.”  That possesses an elegance with which I think even lovers of Latin might agree, certainly more so than its other derivatives:  “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” and “Don’t rock the boat.”  The Latin phrase is also used in legal terms, a maxim counseling conservatism when a factual or legal homeostasis has emerged, akin to “Do not move settled things.” 

That phrase was a favorite of Sir Robert Walpole, the first Prime Minister of Great Britain (1676-1745), who exercised considerable influence over King George I as well as King George II and guided England during 20 years of prosperity.  So our subject du jour may reflect tactful moderation, for which Walpole was known. 

Further back we find mention in Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde (1374), “It is nought good a sleepyng hound to wake.”  In the same century, Proverbia Vulgalia et Latina, (curiously recorded in French), contains “Ne reveillez pas le chien qui dort.”  Translation:  “Do not wake the dog that sleeps.”   And before that, we find the holy Writ in Proverbs 26:17 which says, “Like one who grabs a stray dog by the ears is someone who rushes into a quarrel not their own.”

Meaning is one thing (or variations thereof) but application is another.  A short story titled “Quieta Non Movere” first appeared in The Eighth Black Book of Horror in 2011, which in part reads:

“An architect was engaged and there needed only a decision to be made over the location of the chapel. The obvious place was an area closest to the crossing and facing east. This would’ entail the partial destruction of the eastern wall of the north transept, an exercise which would require the relocation of a number of funereal plaques and stones, the most significant of which was a sixteenth century memorial to a Canon of Morchester Cathedral, one Jeremiah Staveley. It was quite an elaborate affair in polished black basalt about seven foot in height overall, set into the wall some three feet above the ground. It consisted in a slab topped with scrollwork, crudely classical in feel with a niche in which was set a printed alabaster image of the Canon, standing upright in his clerical robes with his arms crossed over his chest. The figure was tall and narrow, the bearded face gaunt: a somewhat disconcerting image which looked as if it portrayed the corpse rather than the living being. Beneath this on the polished slab an inscription had been incised, the lettering picked out in white. It read:

JEREMIAH STAVELEY
Canonus Morcastriensis, obit anno 1595 aetat 52

It was followed by these verses in bold capital letters:

BEHINDE THESE SACRED STONES IN DEATH STAND I
FOR THAT IN LIFE MOST BASELY DID I LIE
IN WORD AND SINNE FORSAKING GOD HIS LAWE
I DANCED MY SOULE IN SATANN’S VERIE MAWE

WHEREFORE IN PENANCE I THIS VIGILL KEEPE
ENTOMBED UPRIGHT THUS WHERE I SHOULDE SLEEPE
WHEN DEAD RISE UP I’LL READYE BE IN PLACE
TO MEET MY JUDGE AND MAKER FACE TO FACE

STRANGER, REST NOT MY CORSE UNTIL THAT DAYE
LEST I TORMENT THEE WITH MY SORE DISMAYE

The implication of these lines, that the body of Canon Staveley was actually entombed behind the slab, was borne out by the cathedral records and one of the old vergers whose family had been connected with the cathedral since time immemorial. Dean Coombe was disposed to be rather benevolent towards this worthy whose name was Wilby. The man was a repository of cathedral history and lore and the Dean was content to listen politely to Wilby’s ramblings, but he did not expect his condescension to be rewarded by opposition to his plans.

‘Mr. Dean,’ said Wilby one afternoon, as they stood before the memorial in the north transept. ‘You don’t want to go a moving of that there stone, begging your pardon, sir.’

‘My dear man, why ever not?’

‘Don’t it say so plain as brass on that there ‘scription? ‘Tis ill luck to move the bones of the wicked. So said my granfer, and his before him.’ “

So, here we find more of a metaphysical threat in the form of “Let the dead sleep, lest they scare the bejusus out of you.”  Wise words, I’m sure.

A more taxing application is its place in “Systems Thinking.”  Newton’s first law of mechanics states “Every object remains in its state of rest or uniform motion in a straight line unless a force intervenes to modify this state.”   That sounds like quieta non movere, does it not?  However, systems thinking has its own Law of Dynamic Instability:  “expansion and equilibrium are processes that do not last forever; are not propagated ad infinitum.  Sooner or later stability is disturbed.  Sooner or later the dynamics are stabilized.”   It sounds like, oh, my son poking my daughter until parental intervention settles things down.   That practical application reads much better than “every repetitive system does not endlessly produce its own reinforcing or balancing processes because other processes intervene to reverse the dynamics.”  Until thermal death.  Read at your leisure.

We have literature and physics covered.  Let’s turn our attention to videography which perhaps strikes a more persuasive argument for Mr. Plant’s creed of  “Do not disturb things at peace.”

 

I like the feel and the look of quieta non movere, at least as I’ve encountered and depicted it here.  But it falls short as an overarching philosophy.  It’s likely our aging rock star, not a stranger to spiritual reflections, favors this approach as a precept to avoid creating conflict.  Often, that’s probably true.  But it is also true that through conflict we can grow.  Elsewhere, quieta non movere  risks complacency, as what “ain’t broke” often can be and should be improved.  Whatever the endeavor – tools, literature, art, physics, philosophy – human nature is to create, to invent…as an artist such as Mr. Plant would agree and recognize in himself.  In any case, it’s rare that reading an interview with a musician is thoughtful in any regard.  And kudos to Google for the research assistance. 

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Facebook Follies

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As an adult, I feel no remorse for dispossessing the younger generation of Facebook, that aging platform of “What I’m doing and who I’m doing it with.”  If the first generation of college and High School users embarrassed each other or became petty at times, we adults have certainly done a great job in setting a more mature example.   Certainly it remains exemplary for keeping up with the current events of family, friends, acquaintances, and, at times, the complete strangers who touch their lives.  It’s also a media empire, with news feeds based largely on my interests or subjects that I allow.

Let’s get to it.  The political season wrecks what is otherwise a fairly consistent source of distraction and information.  To say I’m not without political opinions would be to understate that I actually do hold firm to a set of values, though I’m willing to test them.  Others may approach issues similarly.  And others just hate.

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A High School classmate posted a detente type post about the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, likely the result of reading the satisfaction of others who favor a replacement that leans closer to their politics but use the opportunity to voice discontent.  That’s my interpretation.  Here it is:

“If you are a liberal and don't like Scalia, just remember that the way you act gives conservatives free reign to pick your dead hero later. And they will, so don't whine.  You don't get to whine about it unless you show some respect now. And same thing goes the other way. Don't get all incensed at liberal joy at Scalia's death if you haven't behaved well towards their guys.”

Regrettably, when politics are involved, this is known as an appetizer.

“I'm sorry, but Scalia is being shown the respect that he earned by being so rabidly against, gay rights, women's rights, and "liberal" ideals that didn't suit his very conservative view points. He was a very powerful fascist who shrouded himself with the Constitution and used it as a tool to promote his very rigid personal beliefs. If so called "liberals" are not showing him respect in his death, it's because he showed little respect in kind during his life time as a public servant. It's not whining when you don't like someone, it's called an opinion.”

Let’s see, Supreme Court Judge is a “rabid… fascist,” one charged with shrouding himself with the nation’s Constitution yet conducts evil within its guidance.  And there is an ironic dichotomy in calling someone a fascist, yet being associated with “liberal” thought is a name that is unjust. Hey, it’s just opinion, right?  Here’s a follow-up.

”I am not going to apologize for disliking a man and his opinions simply because he’s dead. Conservatives have done nothing but spew hatred and disrespect for the President for the entire 8 years of his Presidency, so I can't really hear it when suddenly all bets are off because Scalia is dead and his opinions on gay people, equal rights, justice for the wrongly accused made him a Fascist in my opinion. I am not asking you to agree with me on that point of view. And by Fascist I mean: "of or relating to fascism, authoritarian, totalitarian, dictatorial, despotic, autocratic, undemocratic, illiberal.”

Okay, strident opinion.  Actually, the poster of this comment is an incredibly bright person, creative and a really good photographer.  What one chooses to post on their Facebook feed becomes an autobiography over time.  Negativism, or worse, speaks to the discontent of a person, if not the soul.  I de-friended her during the last election cycle not because of disagreement but because of the corrosive thread of her posts, which I’ve done with caustic conservatives as well.   With some people, there is no room for discussion and argument.  It’s just name calling.  “I’m right.  And you’re an idiot.”  I can easily find my own information and distractions elsewhere, but I feel sorry for people whose worldview is fixated, in my estimation, on their dissatisfaction with life and their demands that government fix it for them.

But that’s not the end, no.  Shortly after, a person unknown to me adds, “Sure am glad he's no longer among the living. I plan on breaking out champagne when Darth Cheney finally dies.” 

Wow.  That’s just… bewildering. Joy in the death of another person.  Hatred of a person removed from public life for seven years.   That’s a lingering kind of hate which I just can’t understand.  The competition of ideas is part of the fabric of life, but most (I hope) would agree that the eradication of opposing thought sounds, dare I say, fascist (see definition above, to which I would add “intolerant”).     What to do?    

Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned” ~  possibly a Buddhist quote

We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

“You cannot hate other people without hating yourself.” ~ Oprah Winfrey

Those are helpful quotes for reflection. The possibly Buddhist quote above lacks a clear reference source.  It likely descended from the 5th century Buddhist commentator, Buddhaghosa, who in discussing anger wrote, “By doing this you are like a man who wants to hit another and picks up a burning ember or excrement in his hand and so first burns himself or makes himself stink.”   It stinks alright.  Begone.

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Todd Rundgren–Live at Center Stage

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“You’re in for it now.”

Todd Rundgren.  Not really a fan.  But, when offered a free ticket, I welcome the opportunity to become one.

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Rundgren may as well live in Atlanta.  He tours regularly and plays here 2-3 times each year. My concert buddy, Frank, intended to take his wife, who despite her interest months ago when he purchased the tickets favored another option at the time of event.  Her loss and my gain.   We arrived at the parking deck, saved a few $ by enjoying some beer that he had brought along, and then had to go pay the parking meter. This sign was adjacent. 

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That’s just a really interesting sign, isn’t it?  There’s one posted on each level of the garage as, apparently, it’s a message that needs widespread distribution.  There may also be a collectibility factor for dorm rooms or other spots based on the security chain tying it to the wall.  I didn’t inspect it too closely to see if it had itself become a target.  Such begins the Todd Rundgren experience.

Center Stage’s capacity is ~1,050, with steeply tiered reserved seats and a general admission floor area.  It’s about as perfect a setup as a concert goer might ask, though it’s showing its age and wear.  Our seats were in the first row, far to the right.  This microclimate of this corner in the fan universe turned out to be as entertaining as any I’ve been in and also the home of the evening for Rundgren’s Top 3 Atlanta fans.  

Fan #2 brought his wife and had assumed the entire facility was General Admission only to find themselves standing for the duration.  A ticket price comparison indicated he paid the same to stand as we did to sit.  That didn’t go over too well, as he’d paid a few hundred bucks for a ticket to see Rundgren just a few years ago and many times before.  In the “oughtness” of the world, I suppose he deserved seats.  He knew all the lyrics and danced the night away within his elbow’s radius.  

Fan #1, Julie, a very proud graduate of Avondale High School of which I was reminded frequently, saw Rundgren 35 years ago and… had a picture of the event on her phone… and had managed to get her hand on his leg at time.  In your mind’s eye, she sits to my left, Frank to my right.  Fan #3, seated on Frank’s other side, played a minor role in the evening as “Not Frank’s wife” but settled the competition of “Who Owns Rundgren” having seen him the earliest of the three, 40 years ago in Greenwich Village.  There’s bragging rights.

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It kind of makes one feel guilty about getting a free ticket, knowing the name of one of his songs and none of his lyrics beyond a chorus.  Why?  Well, my concert buddy paid about $40 for the ticket after disservice fees.  Fan #1 had bought hers off of StubHub for $238 – I’m hoping that was not per ticket as she also brought her younger sister.  Yay, free ticket!  The show was sold out, and his loyal legions pay to see their Todd. 

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Fan #1 endeared herself to us upon arrival.  Or, maybe attached herself.  She made her way past my buddy, who is quite adept at turning any interaction into a friendly conversational one.  Slightly jostled, he replied with smiled courtesy “Hey now, dont make me spill my drink.”  That was enough for Fan #1 to be enamored with him for the rest of the evening.  The repartee wasn’t as varied as it was persistent. 

She, responding to the possible upset of Frank’s drink:  “I’m a fat assed bitch from Dekalb County!  You don’t mess with me!”  He, possibly mishearing her: “Don’t roll a cab over on me!”   (DeKalb, a cab – get it?)  Repeat this 3 to 4 times.  Kind of fun.  And add Avondale High School for flavor because that apparently means something in Dekalb County.   Her sister then, seems to be the caretaker of the two, holding the leash so that the other doesn’t stray outside of the yard.   She apologized throughout the evening, mouthing the words, at times verbally, and through frequent facial expressions of embarrassment and apology.  It’s hard work being a sister, I suppose.  That said, we learned that Fan #1 arrived pre-lit for the concert (“I felt so bad for the Uber driver.  She kissed him!”), not to read too much into her theatrics as she is a good person who raised three triplets and a son, all of whom are successful adults, and that she used to flip the albums over while her sister sang Todd’s songs when they were kids.  I suspect Fan #1’s might have resulted in scratched records when she’s  exuberant and “into Todd.” 

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As mentioned, Fan #1 freely expressed her love for the guy on stage, and to a degree sought out affection from those around her as well… as in, well, me.  I had a DUI (dancing under the influence) chat buddy.  But she really liked Frank, remarking several times that she shoud sit between us.  And at some point, she figured out that Fan #3, “Not Frank’s wife,” is not Frank’s wife, and then an evil thought emerges.  I lean over to Frank and let him know “You’re in for it now.”  I didn’t give him time to figure that out before quickly swapping positions with Fan #1 who gleefully joined his side.

This had a number of benefits, really.  I assuaged her sister’s concern for the toll Fan #1was having on the evening.  I watched the band for longer moments without distraction.  And, Frank got to an enjoy Fan #1 dancing in front of him inviting him for a grind, while occasionally cooing over her shoulder “You know that I’d be with you if I could” and “spend the night if you think I should” during Rundgren’s classic song, “Hello It’s Me.”  That’s the song I knew was Rundgren’s, now a soundtrack for one of my best moves ever.

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That’s the Rundgren experience, an absolute hoot.  Now, for the concert.

Frank had guessed and hoped that Rundgren would not have an opening act and, at the age of 67, might start on time resulting in an early evening for us.  The show was posted for an 8:30 start.  Rundgren takes the stage at 8:37, briefly mimics the pose on the backscreen, and off we go.  You’re already introduced to Fan #1.  She screams, “I love you Tooooooooooooooooood.”  This phrase was repeated at least once per song and, truth be told, Todd did seem to favor our side of the stage though I didn’t see any flicker of recognition for his legendary leg groper.

It turns out that there are several Rundgen songs that aren’t just familiar, but known.  “Can We Still be Friends?” – a dose of 70’s classic pop.  “I Saw the Light” – ditto.   “Bang the Drum All Day” - Hard not to know that one, but I was probably the only adult who didn’t know what was coming when a snare drum was brought to the stage.  Rundgren spoke a bit about receiving letters from angry fans who attended a show where their favorite songs weren’t played.   With a touch of bitterness that people preferred to skip his work of the last several decades, he labeled this “The Walking Dead” tour but softened it as songs not for the head but the heart.

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I knew that Rundgren had played many  instruments on some of his albums, but I was still surprised by his prowess at guitar.  Straightforward, classic leads are not heard often today, but he relished the moments in songs such as “Kiddie Boy,” “Unloved Children,” and “One World.”  Elsewhere, he occasionally let the band play and more or less conducted himself with his arms as he sang – perhaps the producer in him speaking out.  His voice was surprisingly good, and he still reaches for the falsetto parts ably.  Rundgren was engaged with the audience and spry.  He’s at the age that I might retire… I hope I’m as nimble.  Overall, the experience rated higher than the concert, but it was a surprisingly good one.  (i.e. Thanks Frank!)

Set list:

I Saw the Light
Love of the Common Man
Open My Eyes
Can We Still be Friends?
Buffalo Grass
Love in Action (Utopia song)
Kiddie Boy
I Don’t Want to Tie You Down
Bang the Drum All Day
Secret Society (Utopia song)
Hammer in My Heart (Utopia song)
Soul Brother
Lost Horizon
Fascist Christ
Unloved Children
Drive
Medley: I’m So Proud / Ooh Baby Baby / I Want You
Lysistrata (Utopia song)
Determination
One World (Utopia song)

Encore:

Black and White
Hello It’s Me
A Dream Goes on Forever

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Surly Brewing

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Through frequent suggestions, a persuasive desperation, and a sympathetic audience, I was finally able to make it to Surly Brewing, probably the best brewery in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area – at least according to Beer Advocate.  And, on the strength of their IPAs I’ve had, I’m not going to contest the “objective” reference.

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Surly constructed a $30M “destination brewery” which opened over a year ago.  And, by car or bicycle (implied by the racks and their likely use by nearby University of Minnesota students), it’s a worthy one.

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Upon entering, you’re greeted with a clear view into a portion of the brewery, and the investment is readily apparent in the flooring and the mammoth concrete slab through which the tanks descend.

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Venturing further, you find a fairly spacious beer hall as well as a second floor with an upscale restaurant and an event/meeting space that overlooks another section of the plant.

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The beer list was considerable, including many offerings not bottled or readily available.

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From this I selected Furious Black, a roasted version of their trademark Furious IPA.  Here it is, after a couple of sips as taking a photograph is not usually the first thing that comes to mind when beer is placed in front of me.  It was tasty and another step along the path to see if I can find a black IPA that I like as much as the usual varieties.  I’m not there yet.

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Afterwards, I had the Hopshifter #3, which was sadly decent but not overwhelming.  Had I spent more time researching, I might have noted that Todd the Axe Man is Minnesota’s highest rated IPA.  Dangit.  That puts me in the unconventional position of seeking the axe man next time I’m in town. 

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As it sometimes happens, the best thing about the venue was actually the chopped brisket sandwich.  This has less to do with beer mediocrity as opposed to a really tasty sandwich.  It’s a bonus.

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With 55,000 sq.ft., Surly isn’t limited to a shelf in the corner for their souvenirs.  Sadly, their store does not include beer as they have apparently grown to a volume where the State does not permit it.  The entrenched alcohol distribution companies hold their sway over legislatures everywhere it seems. 

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The only other disappointment (#1 – no cans of beer to go, #2 – failure to select the Axe Man) was the kids.  There’s no discernible kids menu, and event the pub food offerings were not inexpensive.  I guess modern breweries are kid friendly, and those that fester in  ancient warehouse or manufacturing spaces are for adults only?  Well, more research is necessary.  Next up as trips to MN allow:  Bent Paddle (on a summer day),  Insight Brewing, Fulton Brewing and Summit Brewing.  I’ll have to pace myself.

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Saint Paul Winter Carnival

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I was in Saint Paul, MN for business, and a co-worker informed me of the two week Winter Carnival that would be ending shortly.  This is when residents go crazy and… go outside into the cold night to drink cold drinks, listen to music and to take in the ice sculptures.  To be fair, there are other events, including a film festival and three parades.

I didn’t have the time or timing for all of that, so I made a quick trek through Rice Park in the 15o heat.  Saint Paul is the childhood home of Peanuts creator Charles Schulz, and statues are scattered in the area, unphased by the weather (in fact, looking much more charming than when I last saw them adorned with bird droppings).

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There’s a temporary ice skating area, and I admit that I was somewhat pleased to see that the natives flounder around the rink as much as southerners.

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Rice Park fronts the eyecatching Landmark Center which has a greater architectural presence than a historical one.   At night, it’s a colorful place – at least during the Carnival period.

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Closer in, there’s an ice restaurant, ice bar, a BBQ vendor, several other beverage outlets and a souvenir tent. 

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On to the ice statues.  Here’s a paddle wheel, I think.  The added lights are great for color, but they give off a hue that along with the limited viewing angle make some objects difficult to decipher. In any case, it’s very intricate and very much 3-D, standing perhaps 3’ high.

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Below is a fish horse rather than a seahorse. Some of the other smaller ones were not illuminated and proved difficult to photograph.

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The larger ones, though, were easier to make out.  Below is Kylo Ren from the latest Star Wars installment.

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If he’s not familiar yet to you, then this one should be.

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I had to tinker with the two photos above, taken with a decent Canon, to show them crisply (in fact, more clearly than they appeared in person).  To give the iPhone credit, it took a decent shot (below).

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Still, I can’t help myself from post-processing…

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There really were a couple of other larger structures that included a person and a fish standing in front of a shell and another that possibly includes a horse and a fish.  Here.  Click on it to make it bigger and you make sense of it.

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Meanwhile, good intentions of looking up for different perspectives sometime result in cool pictures. I’ll attribute the motion to ungloved freezing hands.

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I’m mindful that I normally take pictures of things rather than people.  Other than landscapes, the human element adds character, emotion, scale and other impacts to a photograph, so I intentionally captured a few shots with people.  Hey, it’s difficult taking a picture of people’s backs!  This couple, I would like to think, enjoyed their evening and were headed to a warm hearth or the modern equivalent thereof.

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