Egyptian Pyramids

The Egyptian pyramids, funerary monuments to pharaohs, are incredibly old, a testament to the wealth, government, and culture of ancient Egypt. Above, the first pyramid, the Step Pyramid of Djoser, was built in the 27th century BC, 4,800 years ago. The Egyptian pyramid fields are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

As you’ll see, the pyramids are huge and precise. Building them required a civilization with manpower, engineering, and political will. Ancient Egypt had the wealth and organization to specialize crafts and devote tremendous resources to build these tombs, at a time when the rest of the world lagged far behind.

The initial tomb design was a mastaba, which “comes from the Arabic word for a bench of mud”. A mastaba is a solid structure of mud brick. Located in a Cairo suburb, the Step Pyramid is constructed with six steps of cut stone, with each step taking the form of a mastaba on top of the earlier one. Stone is stronger than mud brick, enabling a taller and more durable structure.

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Islamic Art from Mosques of Islamic Cairo

Islamic art has focused on the depiction of patterns, whether purely geometric or floral, and Arabic calligraphy, rather than on figures, because it is feared by many Muslims that the depiction of the human form is idolatry”. The Islamic artist has a palette that is more restricted than artists from most cultures; this art can be beautiful. This post shows examples of Islamic art from three mosques of Islamic Cairo, part of a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Above, the Citadel and Mosque of Mohammed Ali are on the hill above Islamic Cairo. Compare the pencil minarets of the Ottoman Mosque of Mohammed Ali with the stubbier minarets of the Mamluk-style mosques on the left. It doesn’t rain much in Cairo, so the predominant color is the sand of the surrounding deserts. After the Citadel, we visited Islamic Cairo and the two mosques on the left and a third mosque where I took this photo from a minaret.

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Propagating purple Douglas Iris

This weekend I divided and transplanted a clump of this purple Douglas Iris, a California native plant. The purple iris has beautiful flowers. Our favorite iris, it’s more delicate than the white irises I propagated several years ago. They’ve done great so we’re trying the purple ones this year.

I followed the same technique I used for the white irises.

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Robie House

Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, Chicago’s Robie House “is renowned as the greatest example of the Prairie School style, the first architectural style considered uniquely American”. Inspired by the Great Plains, the Prairie style is “usually marked by horizontal lines, flat or hipped roofs with broad overhanging eaves, windows grouped in horizontal bands, integration with the landscape, solid construction, craftsmanship, and discipline in the use of ornament. Horizontal lines were thought to evoke and relate to the native prairie landscape.” Seen above, the Robie House has all this.

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Waiting for a Tesla

Before 6:00 this morning, I joined in line in front of a Tesla dealer in Palo Alto, California. At 10:00 Tesla would start taking orders for their Model 3, an electric vehicle that will sell for $35,000. The early people pitched tents. I brought a chair.

The dealer was well prepared for us. The manager provided coffee, and employees came through the line offering bottled water. But they didn’t open their restrooms until 10:00. Most of us declined the water, planning ahead.

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Protecting Our Fruit from Squirrels

With oak trees and more than a half-dozen fruit trees in our yard, we battle hungry squirrels for fruit every year. Nature won while we slowly developed a design to protect our fruit trees from the ravages of squirrels. This year we were finally successful.

We like eating fruits and vegetables, but oak trees simply have squirrels. Our Santa Clara Valley has an amazing climate for growing fruits and vegetables. “Until the 1960s it was the largest fruit production and packing region in the world with 39 canneries.”

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