Wednesday, February 29, 2012
And speaking of artists, I think I'd love to sit under the sun in the middle of nature and paint. That's what en plein air artists do. Think van Gogh and his sunflowers. Ah...think talent, people. I don't have it.
The same can be said of my writing. I've written contemporary and historical. I've also tried my hand at romantic suspense. Now, I'm trying to write a paranormal. Emphasis on "trying." Is it wrong to step out of our comfort zones as writers? Do you think it puts a dash of freshness to our writings? Over the weekend when my head hit the proverbial "wall" so hard my cheeks still ache, I'd have told you it certainly does hurt to step out of our comfort zones--or our areas of expertise. I mean, what was I thinking?
Were YOU to try it and falter, I'd be right there, extending a hand, offering a smile, whispering in your ear you can do this.
So why is it easier to encourage others more so than it is to encourage ourselves? Don't WE deserve to value ourselves as women, as artists, as writers?
We all have our own comfort zones. We've all worked hard to expand them. It's never an easy or painfree process. We flounder and are embarassed. Sometimes we stop trying. More often than not, we keep chipping away at that granite mountain obstacle until we achieve what we want. Our perserverence pays off. Our drive delivers. Our singlemindedness of purpose helps us excel. And we know our power, our real power comes from deep within.
So, will I finish that paranormal? You betcha. Will it be any good? Well, now, let's focus on one thing at a time, shall we. "Finish what you start" is a rule I live by.
What have you started lately? What outside of your comfort zone calls to you? Making a speech? Hiking the Appalachian Trail? Sewing a quilt? Painting a field of blossoms? Or writing an online workshop? I'm betting you can do it.
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Still, it's difficult to cram everything you want to do into one day, and social media is no exception to this. In fact, as I'm writing this post, I'm thinking of a thousand other things I need to be doing. One time-saving trick that I love is retweeting useful and/or entertaining information. Retweeting takes up less time than composing your own tweets, and everybody's happy. The original poster gets a retweet out of it (and retweets are always nice to see in your connections), your followers get a good tweet they might not have seen otherwise, and you get to tweet without doing the legwork, so to speak. Tweeting links to blog posts or articles or other useful info is also good and takes relatively little time. People seem to like this, too. I've even ended up in people's daily newsletters shared via twitter thanks to my tweeted links.
So that's one useful way to save time on Twitter. How about you? How do you tackle your internet v. daily life multitasking?
And in other news, I have recently discovered Pinterest thanks to my friends. I don't know if you've heard of this Pinterest, but if I am late to the party, blame the rock I live under. I need some more time to familiarize myself with it before I do a post about it, though. So next time, Pinterest!
Monday, February 27, 2012
Sunday, February 26, 2012
A true "War Horse"
This is the story of "Reckless," the mare.
"This horse was a pack horse during the Korean war, and she
carried recoil-less rifles, ammunition and supplies to
Marines. Nothing too unusual about that, lots of animals
got pressed into doing pack chores in many wars.
But this horse did something more. During the battle for
a location called Outpost Vegas, this mare made 51 trips
up and down the hill. On the way up she carried
ammunition, and on the way down she carried wounded
What was so amazing? Well, she made every one of those
trips without anyone leading her.
One can imagine a horse carrying a wounded soldier, being
smacked on the rump at the top of the hill, and heading
back to the "safety" of the rear. But to imagine the same
horse, loaded with ammunition, and trudging back to the
battle where artillery is going off, without anyone
leading her is unbelievable. To know that she would make
50 of those trips is unheard of. How many horses would
even make it back to the barn once, let alone return to
the soldiers in the field even a single time?
Here is a clip of her story and photos to prove where she
was and what she did.
Reckless was retired at the Marine Corps Base in Camp
Pendleton where a General issued the following order:
"She was never to carry any more weight on her back except
her own blankets." She died in 1968 at the age of 20.
P.S. How bad was the battle for Outpost Vegas? Artillery
rounds fell at the rate of 500 per hour, and only two men
made it out alive without wounds. Just two. And also a
horse, and she was wounded twice."
Friday, February 24, 2012
As spring comes, I’m sure I’ll find a few that didn’t make it. Luckily, I’ve learned this lesson before, and now only plant perennials one zone hardier than the listed zone for my area. This listing seems to be inaccurate anyway. Another piece of information gardeners learn from their work—don’t believe all the charts.
While I wait out the winter, the mail has brought me dozens of nursery catalogs. I’ve looked through them all, highlighting with a bright orange marker the plants that interest me which brings on a bad case of spring angst. I’m like a kid in the toy aisles of a store with a bad case of ‘I want this, and this, and...’
This has prompted a reflective state. How many more plants does my garden really need? I swore my garden would not reach a size I could not handle. It is nearly there. Are some new cultivars really going to kick the desirability of my site to a new level? How many different varieties and colors of coneflower does my garden need? (My inner devil or angel, I’m not sure which, shouts at least the orange, oh, and the green one, maybe in both the single and the double, and certainly the frilly white one, but the burgundy is so special.) The changes in this one plant over the last decade have been spectacular, and this is only one of a hundred different species. However, nothing compares to the simple eyecatching charm of the wild purple coneflower. Am I dithering and indecisive? Lord, yes, and anxious to start. I must get something new!
If I were a hardy gardener, I’d not be worrying about this. Instead, I would be out pruning my apple trees right now; but I hate cold, and so I’m babysitting instead. It’s warm and my grandkids are so wonderful. I’m sure you would agree if you were here. We’ll take a walk a little later, an inch of snow fell overnight, and some chilly fresh air might be just what we all need. The garden will wait.
Thursday, February 23, 2012
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Did you rake leaves last fall? If not, you'd better do it soon or the hibernating grass underneath will die. And that means weeds will take root.
Did you pull up your dead annuals after the frost? If not, clean up your beds now. It won't take long. Really.
Did you do a final weeding last fall? Me too. But my mister has pointed out the miserable little minions are emerging again. Already! I need to get on top of this before I have a big job to put off.
Did you prune last fall? Trim the shrubs? If not do it soon. Except on the flowering bushes, like Rhododendrons, lest you cut off all the potential spring blooms inadvertantly.
A little effort here and there now and you yard will be beautiful soon.
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Sunday, February 19, 2012
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes.” Marcel Proust
Math was never one of my better subjects in school. Since then, I've learned to appreciate numbers thanks to esoteric studies. Sacred Geometry is one reason, and as I learn more about the topic, I realize that numbers are my friends. Well, that's my goal, anyway.
Simply explained, Sacred Geometry describes the universe's natural order mathematically. It is an ancient science and has been used for centuries to plan and build religious structures, and for religious art. Sacred meanings are assigned to certain geometric shapes and proportions. One of the most famous examples of this is Leonardo da Vinci's Vitruvian Man (above left).
Another example would be any of Palladio's architectural designs from the mid-1500's. His buildings incorporated the golden ratio, a concept that dates back to Indian, Egyptian, Greek and Roman architecture. And by the way, he used the Parthenon for inspiration.
Speaking of the Greeks (and getting back on track), 2500 years ago, they taught that there are five perfect 3-dimensional forms - the tetrahedron, hexahedron, octahedron, dodecahedron, and icosahedron ... collectively known as the Platonic Solids. They also taught that these forms are the foundation of everything in the physical world.
Their ideas developed from observation of the natural world. The chambered nautilus, sunflowers, passion flowers, snowflakes, honeycombs, are all examples of logarithmic spirals, as are low-pressure systems and spiral galaxies. The same geometric and mathematical patterns are apparent in all of these examples. Plato explained this by writing, “God geometrizes continually.”
Many scholars ridiculed the idea of Sacred Geometry until the 1980's, when Professor Robert Moon at the University of Chicago demonstrated that the entire Periodic Table of Elements is based on the five Platonic Solids. Modern physics, chemistry and biology are not immune to geometric patterns of creation, and additional proof is found daily.
Crop circles exhibit sacred geometrical shapes and mathematical ties to the golden ratio. So do labyrinths, Celtic art such as the Book of Kells and the aforementioned Parthenon. Monuments - Stonehenge and the Pyramid of Khufu at Giza - are based on these same principles. On a more personal basis, our DNA strands and eye corneas emerge from the timeless geometric codes known collectively as Sacred Geometry.
That understanding persuaded me that numbers are more than tortuous ideas designed to drive unwitting/unwilling youngsters to scholastic hell. Sacred Geometry shows us our connection to all that is. It proves we are One even in our diversity. We cannot separate ourselves from the whole when each of us is a puzzle piece making up the jigsaw of life. A study of Sacred Geometry makes clear there is no “us” versus “them.” We are all of one piece.
I invite you to learn more about Sacred Geometry and the unseen laws that govern our Universe. You may even learn to like math!
Saturday, February 18, 2012
Thursday, February 16, 2012
Can I tell you a little about her? She was very special to all of my family.
In 2002 I retired after thirty two years with the local school system. It was a wrenching decision. I wasn't old enough for full retirement, but petty politics had gotten to the point that I thought I might go postal. It was terribly stressful. I had a boyfriend, a wonderful, supportive man who told me over and over how much he loved me and how much he wanted us to be married. I had been divorced for a long time and just never expected to marry again. But he persuaded me to let him take care of me. After retiring in June, we flew to Las Vegas in July (honest, my sister lives there, we had a real wedding, no Elvis or aliens) got married and returned to Virginia to set up housekeeping. He had a tooth ache he had mentioned several times on the trip, and with my new wifely authority, I sent him off to the dentist. The toothache turned out to be a result of head and neck cancer and he died fifteen months later.
My whole world was turned upside down, so many changes in such a short time. From employed and comfortable financially, to married happily, to widowed and devastated. It was a terrible time.
Then one day while visiting my son and his family my granddaughter, Crystal, a nine year old little mother figure, took me out to see their new motherless kittens. She begged me to take one home. I declined. I didn't want a kitten. I didn't want the responsibility. I didn't want the expense. And truth be told, I didn't want anything to disrupt my grieving. I was quite settled in my little dark cave of anger and sadness.
The following week, same scenario. Crystal drags me out to see the kittens. Don't get me wrong. I love kittens. They are about as cute and sweet as it gets. But I didn't want to have the responsibility of a kitten. I just didn't! But Crystal is stubborn and amazingly perceptive. She looked me straight in the eye and said "Grandma, one of those kittens needs you as much as you need one of them."
Well, I chose two, so they could keep each other entertained. One was a male Tuxedo that I named Trouble, the other a silver gray tabby I named Baby.
I took them home and was forced to go out and get supplies, take them to the vet for shots and a few months later back to the vet to be spayed and neutered. I was also forced to get up in the morning and feed the little buggers. Else they climbed up on my bed and frolicked about, patting my face, chasing each other around, hiding under the covers and actually making me laugh as I watched the little lumps beneath my covers crisscross back and forth.
In the evenings I settled in my recliner and turned on the TV and reached for a book. Even then I was not given any peace. The both climbed up in the chair with me, and wrestled and played King Of The Mountain, climbing up my body to perch on the back of the chair to see who could knock the other down. When they tired of their play, they each took a shoulder and fell asleep wrapped around my neck.
Gradually my broken heart accepted that I must go on living. The healing was gradual and I hardly noticed it at first. But slowly, day by day, I found that I wanted to join the world again. My little companions made me smile, and when I couldn't smile, they cuddled up around my neck and their little coats soaked up more tears than I could ever count. I found myself holding them near and telling them how much I hurt and how much I loved them.
I think my grief today is all mixed up with the death of my husband and the way those two little babies lifted me out of the very depths of despair. That and the fact that they became such an important part of my entire family. Everyone loved them both so much. Trouble died about 3 years ago of fatty liver disease, something the vet told me that large cats are often stricken with. But I still had Baby, my ever present shadow, the warm body that greeted me when I got home and spent every moment I was in my recliner in my lap, just as she did as a kitten. Last night was like any other when I noticed she was having trouble breathing. She had not been at all sick or out of sorts. When the vet gave me the news, I called my family and they came and we all wept long and hard over a family member that gave us all so much joy and love. But she gave me the most. She gave me back my ability to love, and the desire to be a part of the world, with all its pain and sorrow. Kitty Heaven has a new angel.
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
|"Bali Hai" MM Sikes|
Kauai is my favorite island in the Hawaiian chain. The first time I saw Kauai, I felt a magic touch in the warm sweet air. From the Princeville Hotel, with its impressive golf course, the glorious mountain formation known as Bali Hai made famous in the musical production South Pacific rises up from a mysterious fog.
Kauai is truly a fantasy place. Not only does it have its own Grand Canyon, but the Na Pali can only be reached by boat. There are some trails to the other side of the island, and we started up one but found it pretty rugged. On Kauai, it was shocking to discover a Grand Canyon almost as awe-inspiring as the one in Arizona.
|"Hawaii" - MM Sikes|
We took the long scenic drive from Kapalua to Hana without realizing until we were well along the way how dangerous this little trail actually was. When we began to see white crosses by the path on which we had our car, it was already too late to turn back. I'm not sure that was even possible because the road was so narrow we wondered how any car traveling from the other direction would be able to pass us.
From seascapes to waterfalls to volcanic ash, Maui has it all. We enjoyed the visit to Hana but decided it would be a more pleasant trip to return a different way and visit the island's volcano.
Lahaina, full of upscale art galleries, was a special treat for me. For golf fans, there are 14 courses from which to choose.
|Moana Surfrider MM Sikes|
Because the famous Waikiki Beach was overloaded with tourists, I was again disappointed. However, the Moana Surfrider, built in 1901, and the Royal Hawaiian, constructed in 1927, and both located on Wakiki made the trip to Oahu worthwhile. We spent several days in the Royal Hawaiian, affectionately called the "Pink Lady". I created paintings of both the Moana Surfrider and the Pink Lady and plan to include them in a future book.
|"Pink Lady" MM Sikes|
For those who love to travel, a visit to the Hawaiian Islands is a must. Plan ahead and be sure to see the things you find most attractive. For me, the spectacular scenery on Kauai was the most appealing. We have returned there twice since our original visit.
Monday, February 13, 2012
I'm glad Adele did so well. She has a beautiful voice, and she just went through vocal chord surgery as well. Good for her picking up all those Grammys. The Beach Boys reunion was good, too. I did happen to see that part. Right before I got on Twitter and saw Billboard's 140 character critique of Maroon 5 and Foster the People's intro for the Beach Boys. I wonder who tweets for Billboard. That seems like it would be a pretty sweet job. And good job to Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters, who recorded Grammy award-winning music in Grohl's garage. Way to stay true to their musical roots. Then again, as my roommate pointed out, his garage is probably loaded down with expensive, fancy recording equipment. Still, the idea of garage band music winning a Grammy is a nice one.
It was nice to see LL Cool J hosting. I haven't seen him in a while--doing anything at all. I didn't see any tweets about him, but I'm sure they were out there. I'm kind of surprised he wasn't a trending topic, considering he was the host, but you never know about these trending topics. They can be unpredictable.
Anyway, that's my Twitter experience "watching" the Grammys. Did you watch them/read them/Tweet, Facebook, etc. about them? What did you think?
Saturday, February 11, 2012
What exactly is a microchip?
Good question. Its a tiny implant, no larger than a grain of rice, that is placed between the cat's shoulder blades by use of a syringe.
Each microchip contains an identification number. These numbers can be read with a scanner. Most veterinarians and shelters today have scanners. So if you've lost Mittens and he ends up at a shelter or veterinarian's office that has a scanner, odds are you'll get him back.
If your kitty ends up in a shelter without a chip, there's a very real chance he'll be put down.
Cats with chips have been lost and found years later. One cat had been gone for thirteen years when he was picked up and taken to an animal shelter. Since he wasn't in great shape and was a senior, if he hadn't been chipped, he would have no doubt been euthanized instead of reunited with his joyful family.
Another lost kitty was found over 1800 miles away. As you can see, chipping dramatically ups your lost pet's chances of recovery.
How much does it cost to microchip your pet?
Approximately $45. It's not a painful procedure and doesn't even require anesthesia.
Once your pet is chipped, you'll need to register it with a national recovery database. If your pet is lost, found, and scanned, the recovery database is called and they in turn call the owner.
Phone numbers should always be kept updated in the system.
How long is a chip good for? A lifetime.
Friday, February 10, 2012
The quad is also at the core of the most discussed and debated topic in the figure skating world. Why? To understand, you’ll need a little history.
Prior to 2004, skating competitions were scored on a 6.0 ordinal process, with 6.0 being absolute perfection—Michelle Kwan got the Heinz 57 of perfect 6.0s. Still, as you can imagine, a zero-to-six scale with vague guidelines made the sport very subjective. You may also remember the French Judge drama from the 2002 Olympics.
In an attempt to make scoring more consistent (and fair), the International Skating Union decided to incorporate the "Code of Points". This new system assigns a value to every element executed by a skater during the performance. To get full credit, the skater must execute the jump/spin/footwork sequence/etc. without error, otherwise there are mandated deductions. There are also limitations on the number of things a skater can do (for example, only seven jump elements are allowed). To win, the athlete attempts to do as many elements as possible with the highest degree of difficulty for each element. At the end of the performance, all element scores get totaled.
Sounds reasonable, right? So what’s stoked the big quad controversy?
The results of the 2010 Olympics. America’s Evan Lysacek kicked Russian Evgeni (pronounced like New Guinea with a “U” or in slang terms, “pompous jerk-wad”) Plushenko’s well-toned buttocks.
At the heart of this controversy—you guessed it—was the quad. Evan didn’t execute one. Evgeni landed two.
Experts are like opinions, everyone has their butt-hole. Oops, got that backwards, didn’t I? Anyway, as television’s Monk would say, here’s what happened:
Lysacek, the reigning 2009 world champion finshed ahead of Plushenko by 1.31 points, becoming the first man since 1994 to win the Olympic title without a quad. Prickly Plushenko pouted, calling the results an embarrassment and “not in keeping with the established practice.” (Do I sound a bit biased?) Well, neiner-neiner, Plushenko was the one who said the judging was unfair. Duh, Eastern Block calling the West square?
The results of that competition were analyzed, over-analyzed, and bitched about some more. Both men scored the same for program components, but Lysacek got more points for the execution of such technical elements as spins and footwork. Yikes, I am starting to sound like the French judge, oui?
Jacues Rogge, the president of the IOC, said, “Plushenko may have done the quad, but the overall quality of Lysacek’s program was better.” Guinea Pig supporters disagreed and Lysacek’s win unleashed a wave of whining. Many insisted that more difficult routines should earn the title, thus once again igniting the artistic quality versus difficult jumps controversy.
What do you think? Should skaters who are able to do the hardest elements the best win? Or should the system remain as is, rewarding the overall performance?
Copyright © 2012 by Robin Weaver
Thursday, February 9, 2012
I have a special treat today. I've asked Anastasia V. Pergakis, an energy-ball-of-a-friend, to guest post. Her imagination never ends. Seriously, it spans the spectrum. And with all her obligations, she always finds room to help people.
- for your Kindle at Amazon
- for your Nook at Barnes & Noble
- for your other E-Readers at Smashwords
- in paperback at Amazon
- in paperback at Barnes & Noble
- in hardback at Kinir Elite Website
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
We don't carry a credit card balance, we always paid the monthly charges in full when the bill arrived, saving all interest charges and fees. I recently heard Clark Howard, then others, say you should pay your credit card off before your monthly statement. So you have a zero balance. When someone, like your auto insurance company, checks your credit report, the creditors report your last monthly balance. Ours could have been anywhere from $3,000 to $8,000 depending on Christmas, vacations or just regular budget months. Well, for the last few months, I've stopped charging two business days before the statement closes, and paying off the balance before we are billed. So now when the auto insurance company checked our credit report, it saw zero balances for the credit cards which upped our excellent FICO score even higher. And lowered our premium!
Monday, February 6, 2012
Here is a story about fatherhood and family. It is a story from the dining room table, the greatest parenting tool in existence. The dining room table is the place to meet, the place to talk, the place to laugh, the place to cry, the place to game, the place to argue and the place to learn from each other. To warn you, though, it runs a bit to the smartass/amusing side, as many things do around our dining room table. In fact, this story made the Mom expel her lime green jello from mouth to plate during the dinner where the tale was first told. For the record, that hasn't occurred in a LONG time. (Don't say anything to the Mom about the lime green jello incident, though. Some things are better kept between us.)
Son, age 17, and father, age 47, went to a doctor's appointment in another town. While on the hour-long drive, son periodically shouts "Bingo" and tallies a count.
Finally, as they hit the highway stretch, the dad says, "Bingo? What the heck is that?"
"You say 'Bingo' when you see a yellow vehicle."
Okay, easy enough. So we travel a few miles ahead, the ultra-observant dad sees a school bus. "Bingo!"
"That doesn't count." Says passive-competitive son. "Buses don't count."
Next, the dad sees a Catepillar bulldozer in a construction zone. As "Bin..." begins to slip out of dad's mouth.
Teenage son says, "Neither do construction vehicles."
"Are you making the rules up as we go?" Dad asks.
In that wonderful teenage tone comes the answer, "No."
So teenage son runs the score up through the city on the way to the doctor's office. Apparently, not only are yellow buses and construction vehicles not legal fare in this game of Bingo, but about every yellow vehicle the dad points out lies outside the rules.
After the appointment, a trip to exchange some clothes at the mall, which feels like sticking pins into the eyes, we stop by the McD's for a quick lunch and hit the road back toward home.
Son continues Bingo game, every yellow vehicle he points out is acceptable within the rules of the Bingo Society of North America and every yellow-ish vehicle the dad points out gets negated. Back on the interstate, the dad has just about had enough of the game of Bingo.
Ahead, as if sent by God himself, the dad sees a tandem Fed-Ex tractor-trailer in the westbound lane.
"DINGO!" The dad shouts.
Teenage son, 'What are you talking about? Dingo?"
"Yeah, I am now playing Dingo. Delivery truck Bingo...Dingo. Get it?" The dad, using superior evasive strategy, completely dumbfounds teenage son.
"Dingo!" He shouts out at a passing Old Dominion trailer.
"It's Monday, isn't it?"
"Yeah. So..." His mind is racing trying to figure what is coming next.
The dad chuckles, "Son, Monday is Fed-Ex Dingo Day. I am up by one."
On the east side of town, another tandem Fed-Ex trailer. "DINGO! Up 2-Zip"
About a mile or so down the highway we see a mid-size Fed-Ex delivery van. The son points and just about jumps out of his seat.
"DINGO!" He shouts.
"Sorry", says the dad. "That's a van, not a delivery TRUCK." The laughter from one half of the car is uncontrollable as the car veers slightly in the lane.
"That is NOT funny!" Teenage son is not happy as the tables turn in old papa's direction.
You know sometimes you just can't script real life any more funnier than it turns out. There is truly a God and God has a great sense of humor. For just at that moment, as the teenage son turns around and is complaining and pointing at the Fed Ex delivery van that did not count as a legal hit in the game of Dingo, four or five Fed-Ex tandem delivery tractor-trailers, a virtual convoy, rise up over the ridge in the opposite lane. As son is still lamenting about his lack of a score, the dad, who is laughing so hard he doesn't really remember if it was actually four or five trucks in the convoy, says, "Dingo, Dingo, Dingo, Dingo and Dingo!"
Teenage son sits in stunned silence. About 30 minutes down the road, he's still silent. The dad sees a yellow trash truck down the road where they are at a stop sign. Just to rub it in, the dad calmly says, "Bingo."
Teenage son's head snaps up, returns to straight ahead stare position then deadpans, "Nope, that's gold."
Sunday, February 5, 2012
One of the most beautiful was known as copperplate or round hand. It was so called because the penmanship pattern books were printed using copper plates. This is the elaborate, most recognizable calligraphic hand today--the one many people envision when someone mentions calligraphy. It was highly popular from the mid-eighteenth century until well into the early twentieth century. By the time I was in school in the mid twentieth century, most of the flourishes had disappeared, but the sloping, beautifully formed letters still remained.
In many school districts, "handwriting" is no longer taught. Between texting on cellphones and the computers in most American homes, handwriting is no longer considered a necessity. I confess this makes me sad.
Yes, I know many people have nearly illegible handwriting. But I have to wonder what would happen in another generation if the entire electronic industry came to a screaming halt. How would people communicate? Will it all come down to the few survivors who know how to write?
I have spent years working on my genealogy. There's nothing quite like reading a diary or a census record written by hand. There's an immediacy that isn't present in the printed transcribed records. Reading a court record in long hand where some fellow is arguing about paying child support (yep, even in the eighteenth century there were dead-beat dads) is an experience not to be missed.
Wills, land records, letters and diaries--all written by those individuals long ago--offer an opportunity to meet them first hand through their handwriting. And a surprising number of them did indeed have a "beautiful hand".