Hair Color: The Colors, The Developers, and The Additives

*Post originally written by Olivia J on The Unknown Beauty Blog. If you see this post elsewhere, it has been stolen!**

Many of you have been reading my Definitive Haircolor Guide and I am quite thrilled by that! I also know there are many more questions about the various colors available today, especially the non-natural colors. Some are just semi-permanent jars of fun, others are important color additives. In this post, I hope to shed light on some of these products.

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A Lesson from General Eisenhower for Hillary Clinton©

I was born in the middle of World War II, so, I am old enough to remember some of the heroes of that war.  Memorial Day has brought some of those to my recall. The first president of the United States that I remember with any clarity was Dwight D. Eisenhower. The famous general of D-Day was a national hero.  During my boyhood I liked Ike.

I am currently reading a book of quotations collected by Elizabeth Dole, former U.S. Senator, and Secretary of a couple of agencies of the government. In her section on “Leadership” she began with a quotation from Ike which I have read many times, but which had a special appeal for me tonight.  In anticipation of a possible failure of the D-Day invasion Ike wrote the following:
“Our landings have failed. And I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available. The troops, the air, and the navy did all that bravery and devotion could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt, it is mine, and mine alone.”
Elizabeth Dole’s short commentary about this statement is worth reading too. She said, “‘If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt, it is mine, and mine alone.’ There in one simple sentence, is true leadership. How many of our societal problems would vanish overnight if we could just get those words right: The responsibility is mine alone.”  She continued, “In the final analysis, that is what great leaders do .... They don’t pass the responsibility or blame to someone else. They stand ready to make the hard decisions, and to live with failure or success.”(1)

Cliche?  Maybe.  True?  Absolutely!  Consider then, Mrs. Hillary Clinton’s near total silence for a month over growing questions about her responsibility in not following policy to use government e-mail accounts; in being her own arbiter about what e-mails to give to the government and what e-mails to delete; or her knowledge about the Islamic extremist attack on the embassy in Benghazi; or the fact that her boss Barak Obama did not want Sidney Blumenthal in his government, but Hillary used him as an adviser surreptitiously; and worst of all, consider her response to the mounting evidence of a pattern of influence peddling while she was Secretary of State.  When questioned about these matters she dismisses them with a wave of the hand, saying this is the kind of attack you expect from the conservative right.

I argued earlier that she owes it to the American people to let us know as much as we can about her so we can make enlightened judgments about her suitability to lead us. Good luck on that one Dan! It is crystal clear that she is self-serving in the extreme; she wants all the power she can get, but none of the responsibility for what she does with it. When stacked up against Dwight Eisenhower’s example of accepting responsibility for possible failure on D-Day, she is on a totally different and very barren planet.  She is not the man for me.

Let's think together again, soon.

1.  Elizabeth Dole, comp., Hearts Touched With Fire: My 500 Favorite Inspirational Quotations, (New York: Carroll & Graff, 2004), pp. 139-40, emphasis added.

The Bleaching of Gray Hair

*Post originally written by Olivia J on The Unknown Beauty Blog.* If you see this post elsewhere, it has been stolen!*

Many of you become stumped when it comes to gray (grey) hair.  You think it can't be bleached when it can.  Like non-gray hair, bleach will do what it is suppose to do, remove pigment.

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Vintage Dinosaur Art: Prehistoric Life (Visual Books)

Over on his Theropoda blog, Andrea Cau has been watching the trailers for Jurassic World, noting that a lot of the dinosaurs actually look more retro than those in previous entries in the franchise - in fact, they resemble palaeoart of the 1940s-60s. Given the imminent release of said film, it's surely quite apt that the art in this week's post is exactly of that bent, and is looking extremely dated nowadays. Of course, the book concerned was published forty-two years ago.

Prehistoric Life (first ed. 1973, this ed. 1974) features restorations with a very 'classical' feel, in that although they are by all accounts horribly dated from a scientific perspective, the artwork is actually pretty decent on a technical level. Scaly skin textures, in particular, are very well done and somewhat reminiscent of Bernard Robinson's work. The bulk of the illustrations were handled by Peter Connolly, and it seems clear that he had some experience in depicting living animals, as is made particularly evident in his paintings of prehistoric mammals. But I'll get back to that. We're here for the dinosaurs, after all.

And's a dinosaur! Albeit one looking rather lost in a scene filled with marine reptiles. Most of the creatures here wouldn't look out of place in a Burian painting - besides the rather lizardy Camptosaurus, notable are the Knightian Tylosaurus just being cropped off to the right (set to make a comeback in Jurassic World!), the oddly short-skulled Steneosaurus based seemingly on living crocodilians and not much else [EDIT: or, I've missed the obvious mislabelling; see comments], and the armour-plated Kronosaurus also clearly based on crocodilians (which makes considerably less sense). Basing pliosauroid plesiosaurs on crocodiles was something of a trope back in the day; obviously, it was far too tempting to base them on what was perceived as a living reptilian 'analogue'. I can also confirm that, while the pterosaurs are stark raving nekkid, at least Oligokyphus has been given a short fuzzy pelt.

As if to confirm the book's retro-pop-palaeo credentials, here comes a peculiar perching Hypsilophodon, Neave Parker stylee (complete with back nodules). There's also the suggestion that it "may have been the ancestor of the first bird," in spite of the considerably older Archaeopteryx being described as "the first bird" on the opposite page. More interesting here is the depiction of a hypothetical 'Tetrapteryx', an idea proposed by William Beebe in 1915, and which did prove prescient in the end. Connolly's depiction appears more lizardy and less dinosaurian than Beebe's, particularly in the way it's awkwardly sprawling one leg out to the side while running bipedally along the ground. It actually looks a little painful.

At some point, you've just got to have a sort of 'March of the Dinosaurs' timeline, depicting a neat line of dinosaur progress...right up towards some sort of precipice, marking their extinction (in this case, just the top of the page). In this case, the rather bloated saurians look like they've just been ejected, one-by-one, from an all-you-can-eat buffet. The parade is accompanied by larger, coloured illustrations of various animals, and Connolly sticks to type here, too. The Polacanthus is wonderfully Parkeresque, and is also reminiscent of the jolly smiling fellow who miraculously survived the Great Blackgang Chine Fibreglass Dinosaur Cull of 2014. Elsewhere, we have a really very familiar looking Styracosaurus (Burian? Zallinger?), a squat porker of a Protoceratops and an equally tubby Gorgosaurus, which serves to show off the awkwardness of pairing the animal's leg arrangement with an upright, tail-dragging posture. Still, nice texturing.

Happily, when we finally reach a full-on spread of dinosaurs in their environment, the illustration presented is nothing short of a real corker. Plaudits should be awarded, I think, for the extensive flora and varied topography - too often, illustrators were happy to stick their dueling dinos in a Dutch-flat desertscape and call it quits, but not Connolly! There's a lovely painterly quality to the forest in the background, too. Of course, attention is immediately drawn to those two erstwhile sparring partners, Rexy and, er, Trikey (or should that be, 'Trikey!'). The animals are presented largely in a retro fashion, but there's decent attention to detail in Trikey's lumpy skin and Rexy's meaty meaty thighs. And there's buckets of blood, too - as well there should be. Too many books tone this stuff down - a fight to the death between two 7-tonne beasts equipped with huge, pointy weapons probably would get pretty (or, horrifyingly) messy. Not in an awesomebro way, but matter-of-factly. Go on, illustrate a tyrannosaur with a ceratopsian-inflicted, gaping, intestine-spilling wound, somebody.

Also worthy of note: the Triceratops' head is weirdly skeletal when compared with its body (exposed teeth and all). Not sure why that is.

On the other side of the spread, we have a bunch of other dinosaurs who, rather boringly, are not killing each other in inventive, humorous ways (wait, didn't David have that idea once?). There's "Trachodon", of course, shown posing for Burian, who has his easel propped up slightly out of frame. There's also a herd of Ornitholestes, simply because it wouldn't be a retro-style dinosaur book without a baffling anachronism in an otherwise coherent scene. There are also furry gits eating eggs at the foot of the page, although fortunately this is not described as a plausible factor in the dinosaurs' extinction (in case you were wondering; that trope had legs. Stubby, pink legs).

What with the grand Cretaceous finale being over, one would expect the dinosaurs' reign over the pages of this book to be over. But wait! In an amusing twist, we are asked to imagine...what If Dinosaurs Were Alive Today? A series of illustrations depict just that, starting with a brontosaur in what appears to be a Dutch canal, looking slightly disgruntled about Henk van de Sluis passing by in his pride and joy, 'Gertie'.

Moving on, we have a good-old-fashioned 'legged pineapple' style Ankylosaurus roaming around in the middle of a street full of parked cars; naturally, the humans look more amused than anything. "Its tank-like body was more than a match for any Mini," we are told, although of course this was written a long time before the monstrous UnMini Countryman was so much as a twinkle in some offensively unimaginative BMW executive's eye. Meanwhile, Ornitholestes sneaks up on a nice family just trying to enjoy a day out, as small coelurosaurs are wont to do.

Rexy has to stick his infamously stunted forelimb in somewhere, of course, so here he is enjoying a day at the beach. His pose seems to be based on the former AMNH mount, and the large thighs are notable - a departure from earlier, weedy-limbed depictions that prevailed early on, in spite of evidence to the contrary. Again, the humans appear unconcerned, not even bothering to stop sunbathing in order to run for their lives. Perhaps they'd been reading too many of those peculiar '70s dinosaur books that declared T. rex to be an evolutionary joke, to be filed alongside the likes of the giant panda and double denim.

And finally...remember those mammal illustrations I mentioned? Well, here's the best of them, and it's actually rather gorgeous. The mammoth, in particular, attains a near-Burian lifelike quality that is certainly not to be sniffed at. Perhaps the loveliest aspect of this piece is in the mountains and sky, which look positively dreamy. One could argue that it's too 'busy' to be naturalistic and attain a pleasing composition, but such a depiction of numerous different large species together is required by the remit. I think Connolly can be proud of this one, and I really hope I stumble upon more of his work in the future.

The Difference Between Water Based and Oil Based Makeup

*Post originally written by Olivia J on The Unknown Beauty Blog. If you read this post elsewhere, it has been stolen.*

Ain't No Dressing Like the Salad You Put on Your Face or Makeup is Like Salad Dressing!  This post is about oil and water, you know they don’t mix.  This is the reason why you have to distinguish which of your makeup is oil-based and water-based.

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“The Greatest of All Avenues of Learning:” David McCullough On Reading

[Introduction: In my Spring ritual of reading commencement addresses I lucked on to one by one of my favorite authors and speakers–historian David McCullough.  It was given at the University of Connecticut on 15 May 1999.  He told them he was going to speak about the “greatest of all avenues to learning”–reading books.  I love reading books more than reading commencement addresses, so I thought I would share with you the core of his message.  Please enjoy.]


We're being sold the idea that information is learning and we're being sold a bill of goods.

Information isn't learning. Information isn't wisdom. It isn't common sense necessarily. It isn't kindness. Or trustworthiness. Or good judgement. Or imagination. Or a sense of humor. Or courage. It doesn't tell us right from wrong.

Knowing the area of the State of Connecticut in square miles, or the date on which the United Nations Charter was signed, or the jumping capacity of a flea maybe be useful or valuable, but it isn't learning of itself.

If information were learning, you could become educated by memorizing the World Almanac. Were you to memorize the World Almanac, you wouldn't be educated. You'd be weird.

My message is in praise of the greatest of all avenues to learning, to wisdom, adventure, pleasure, insight, to understanding human nature, understanding ourselves and our world and our place in it.

I rise on this beautiful morning, here in this center of learning to sing again the old faith in books. In reading books. Reading for life, all your life.

Nothing ever invented provides such sustenance, such infinite reward for time spent as a good book.

Thomas Jefferson told John Adams he could not live without books. Adams, who through a long life read more even and more deeply than Jefferson and who spent what extra money he ever had on books, wrote to Jefferson at age 79 of a particular set of books he longed for on the lives of the saints, all forty-seven volumes.

. . . Once upon a time in the dead of winter in Dakota territory, with the temperature well below zero, young Theodore Roosevelt took off in a makeshift boat, accompanied by two of his ranch hands, down-stream on the Little Missouri River in chase of a couple of thieves who had stolen his prized row boat. After days on the river, he caught up and got the draw on them with his trusty Winchester, at which point they surrendered. Then, after finding a man with a team and a wagon, Roosevelt set off again to haul the thieves cross-country to justice. He left the ranch hands behind to tend to the boat, and walked alone behind the wagon, his rifle at the ready. They were headed across the snow covered wastes of the Bad Lands to the rail head at Dickinson, and Roosevelt walked the whole way, 40 miles. It was an astonishing feat, what might be called a defining moment in that eventful life. But what makes it especially memorable is that during that time, he managed to read all of Anna Karenina.

I often think of that when I hear people say they haven't time to read.

There's always time to read. And if your experience, you of the Class of 1999, is anything like my own, the best, most important books you will ever read are still ahead of you.

"Education is not the filling of a pail," Yeats wrote," but the lighting of a fire."

I have some calculations for you to consider.

Reportedly the average America watches 28 hours of television every week, or approximately four hours a day. The average person, I'm told, reads at a rate of 250 words per minute.

So, based on these statistics, were the average American to spend those four hours a day with a book, instead of watching television, the average American could, in a week, read:

The complete poems of T.S. Eliot;
Two plays by Thornton Wilder, including Our Town;
The complete poems of Maya Angelou;
Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury;
The Great Gatsby; and
The Book of Psalms.
That's all in one week.

If the average American were to forsake television for a second week, he or she could read all of Moby Dick, including the part about whales and made a good start, if not finish, The Brothers Karamazov.

Read for pleasure. Read what you like, and all you like. Read literally to your heart's content. Let one book lead to another. They nearly always do.

Read, read, read, is my commencement advice.

Take up a great author, new or old, and read everything he or she has written. Read about places you've never been. Read biography, history. Read the books that have changed history -- Tom Paine's Common Sense, the Autobiography of Frederick Douglass, Rachel Carson's Silent Spring.

I love the mysteries of Ruth Rendell and the letters of E.B. White. I have an old copy of Wind, Sand and the Stars by St. Exupery that I would hate ever to part with. I'm particularly fond of Carson McCullers and Wallace Stegner, and for a book I'm working on I'm having the best possible time reading writers of the eighteenth century - De Foe, Sterne, Fielding, and the amazing Tobias Smollet. To judge by their prose I can't help but feel that the quill pen is still well ahead of the word processor.

Imagine all there is to read that has been written here in Connecticut by Connecticut authors: the works of Twain, Barbara Tuchman, Paul Horgan, John Hersey, William Styron, the plays of Eugene O'Neill and Arthur Miller, the poetry of Robert Penn Warren and Wallace Stevens, not to say Mr. Webster's dictionaries. In times past, old Noah Webster's "blue-back speller," as it was called, published first in 1783, found its way everywhere in the new nation, from the eastern seaboard to the frontier beyond the Mississippi. It ran to 404 editions and except for the Bible may have been the most widely read book in eighteenth and nineteenth century America.

By all means read Dickens. Read those books you know you're supposed to have read and imagine as dreary. A classic may be defined as a book that stays long in print and a book stays long in print only because it is exceptional. Why exclude the exceptional from your experience? Read the classics.

Go back and read again the books written supposedly for children - and especially if you think they are only for children - my first choice would be The Wind in the Willows. There's much, very much to learn in the company of Toad, Rat, and Mole.

Do not, whatever you do, wait as I did until you're past 50 to read Don Quixote.

To carry a book with you wherever you go is old advice and good advice. John Adams urged his son John Quincy to carry a volume of poetry, "You'll never be alone," he said,"with a poet in your pocket."

And when you read a book you love, a book you feel has enlarged the experience of being alive, a book that "lights the fire," spread the word. Spread the word.

Let's think together again, soon.

Source: David McCullough, commencement address at the University of Connecticut, 15 May 1999.  Text available online at:

How the Displacement is Actually the Placement of Eyeshadow

*Post originally written by Olivia J on The Unknown Beauty Blog. If you find this post elsewhere, it has been stolen.*

I tried just playing with my eyeshadow which I haven't done out of pure leisure in ages.  I used my favorite pro brand eyeshadows -- Stilazzi.  I had to brush-up on the placement of the eyeshadows a bit since I got a bit sloppy lazy.

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The Problem With Mrs. Clinton's Strategy©

It has been fascinating watching candidate Hillary Clinton since she announced she was running for President about a month ago–and the media covering her non-campaign so far. The right are frustrated that she is not giving interviews or facing tough questions.  The left are proud that she is so politically astute. She knows she is ahead, so why jeopardize her position by getting into the fray, which most everyone seems to agree she isn’t good at anyway.

There is one thing that troubles me about this.  I think both sides are missing the point, one that I have yet to hear anybody make. Perhaps someone out there has, but I have not seen or heard it. (Feel free to call my attention to it if you have.)  Her political strategy is debatable. While it may insulate her from herself and from tough questions about e-mail, Benghazi, the Clinton foundation, Sidney Blumenthal, and her accomplishments or lack thereof as Secretary of State, almost all of which go to the matter of her integrity, her silence may also hurt her in the long run. This is why I believe this may be the case.

Some years ago I watched an interview with the very liberal actor Richard Dreyfus.  He was angry about George Bush or his administration about something. I have forgotten the issue now, but it is beside the point. He felt they were not transparent, they were not properly forthcoming.  They refused to answer the tough questions. In animated anger Dreyfus asserted something like this: Somebody needs to shove the mike in their face and remind them that they work for us and insist that they “answer the damn question.”

One American patron saint, Thomas Jefferson, wrote: "I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education."(1)  Nor is the remedy to keep the truth from them. Hillary Clinton is acting exactly contrary to the principle Jefferson expresses; she would keep power from us by keeping us in the dark. The one person in the country the American people need to know the most about is the President. Paul Wagner echoed Jefferson when he said, "It is the individual citizen’s understanding of facts that counts in a democracy.  In totalitarian states, only a few people have to know the significance of facts.  Here in America everyone has to know what facts mean."(2)  Here in America everyone has to know who and what Hillary Clinton is and what she means. According to our wisest precepts she is obligated to so inform us about her views, her past actions, and leadership.

I do not believe the American public wants a woman, or a man, to stand at the head of our nation, the most powerful nation the earth has ever seen, who is afraid to answer the tough question for what ever reason.  More importantly, I do not believe the American public want a president who will not render an account to them as her employer for what she thinks, says, or does!  We do not want a politically savvy sneak, manipulator, artificer, prevaricator, chameleon, or irresponsible and unresponsive coward to represent or lead us. This is why she is making a mistake–Americans can see through the sham.  She apparently has much to hide, and knowing this, she keeps the public in the dark as much as possible.  There are indeed those who love darkness more than the light.

True, there are those for whom none of this makes a difference.  But they should understand the ancient wisdom which says that, skill aside, you reap what you sow in this life.  Her character is the real issue.  Everywhere Mrs. Clinton goes she sows the wind and we the people, potentially her future employer, reap the whirlwind.  I agree with Mr. Dreyfus. Someone needs to remind Hillary that she wants to work for us. Therefore, she should step up to the microphone and answer the questions so we the people may make enlightened judgments about her suitability to do so.

Let's think together again, soon.


1.  Thomas Jefferson to W. C. Jarvis in, Rex R. Eastman (comp.), The Liberty Book of Quotations, p. 30.

2.  Paul A. Wagner, in Malcolm Forbes, The Forbes Scrapbook of Thoughts on the Business of Life, (New York: Forbes Inc., 1976), p. 390.  One wonders if Mrs. Clinton understands the fundamental truth uttered by Maria Razumich-Zec who said, "Your reputation and integrity are everything.  Follow through on what you say you’re going to do.  Your credibility can only be built over time, and it is built from the history of your words and actions."  [Maria Razmuich-Zec, in Bits & Pieces on Leadership, (August 2014), p. 19, emphasis added.]

Live Life Large--Mitt Romney Commencement Speech, 2015

I love graduation speeches.  One of my favorite things to do each spring is surf the net looking for, reading, and extracting quotations, stories, and ideas from great commencement addresses.  Here is one worth reading!  Enjoy.


Mitt Romney
Commencement Address at St. Anslem College, Spring 2015

President DiSalvo, Abbot Mark Cooper, trustees, faculty, honored guests, and weary parents. To the class of 2015: Well done, and congratulations.

To you parents, the years of investment and prayers have added up to this joyful achievement. Hopefully, you are about to experience the new American Dream, which is no longer owning your own home, it is getting your kids out of the home you own.

You have just heard that I have been awarded an honorary degree. When I think of all the times I have been here at Saint Anselm, for debates, forums, town meetings, and rallies, I might argue that it is an earned degree. But to get one of those, I guess I’d have had to win!

16 years of education has made your world a great deal bigger than the world of your childhood. It’s a funny thing about little kids: they don’t see much beyond what’s right around them. They see their family, their school, maybe their city or town, but they just can’t imagine distant places. Their vision, their world is like a small circle, bounded by their very limited experience.

Your world is now breathtakingly large, almost without boundaries. With such vastness and with so many possible directions to take, some of you may understandably feel somewhat anxious and uncertain. You may even be tempted to look for a smaller, more comfortable world, one that’s less complex, and less demanding. That’s not who you are and that’s not what Saint Anselm has prepared you to do. To experience a fulfilling, purposeful life, one thing you’re going to have to do it this: live a large life.

Living large means embracing every fruitful dimension of life.

It means continuing to expand your world and engaging in it as fully as you are able.

Let me offer a few suggestions about how to do that. The first involves your friends.

I remember sitting in a business class, looking around the room and thinking to myself that I’d probably never see any of these guys again after I graduated. All my attention was focused on what was being taught. But you know what, I’ve forgotten almost everything that was taught; it’s the classmates I remember, and it’s those friends that I value most today.

40 years since my graduation, the guys in my six person study group continue to get together. We’ve congratulated one another on our highs and consoled one another on our lows.

Believe it or not, your parents can become even closer friends than they are today. My friend Stuart Stevens decided to take his father to every single Ole Miss football game, home or away. What’s unusual about that is that his father is 95 years old. And Stuart had moved away from home for college over forty years ago. He lives in Vermont and his Dad lives in North Carolina. So these father-son excursions would involve a great deal of time and travel- – and long talks. He would dig deep into understanding his dad: his personality, his dreams and his fears. Delving so far into his father’s personhood, their friendship deepened, and their relationship expanded in such interesting ways that a noted New York publisher, Knopf, will publish a book about their experience this fall.

Your life will be larger if you value and nourish friendships, friends from here at Saint Anselm, from your home, and from the growing circle of your life.

For most of you, living life to the fullest will also mean marriage and children. I don’t expect that everyone here believes as I do that the Bible is the word of God or even that it is inspired by God. If not, then at least you will have to acknowledge that it represents the wisdom of the ages, written by extraordinary thinkers and philosophers. Either way, its counsel warrants serious attention.

In its opening pages, Adam gives this direction: “therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” The “one flesh” part we get, but the part about leaving mom and dad and getting married trips some people up.

I’m surely not going to tell you when to tie the knot. You’ve got parents who will do that. But I will tell you that marriage has been the single-most rewarding part of my life, by far. Marriage involves passion, conflict, emotion, fear, hope, compromise, and understanding – in short; it is living to the max.

And then children. In the Old Testament, Psalm 127 says: “children are a heritage of the Lord… As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them.”

I’m not sure whether having five sons qualifies as a full quiver, but I can affirm that they brought immeasurable happiness. And to my point, they engaged Ann and me in life, in ways we would not have expected.

On one occasion, Ann and I were invited to speak to students at the Harvard Business School about our choice of careers, I as a management consultant and she as a full-time mom. Ann was reluctant, in part because two other couples would also be speaking on the same topic, and both of the other women had chosen to be Wall Street bankers.

In the class, the other couples went first, I followed, and Ann spoke last. She explained that while she expected to have a career outside the home in the future, she had chosen to be a full-time mom until her five kids were raised. She went on to explain that her job had required more of her than she had imagined: she was psychologist, tutor, counselor, scoutmaster, coach, nurse practitioner, nutritionist, budget director, and more. When she sat down, the class was silent for several seconds and then it rose in a standing ovation.

Golda Meir, the former Prime Minister of Israel, was asked what her greatest accomplishment was. “Raising my daughter,” she answered.

Marriage and children expand your world and engage you more fully in it.

There’s a family burger joint I like whose founder put out a little book of his homespun wisdom. He says that to be happy requires three things: someone to love, something to look forward to, and something to do, in other words, work. You might be inclined to think that a Garden of Eden life would be preferable to working at a job, but you’d be wrong. I’m convinced that Adam and Eve would have been bored to tears if they’d stayed in the garden: no kids, no challenges, no job. I think that Adam being made to grow food “by the sweat of his brow” was a blessing, not a curse.

Of course, there’s a lot not to like about a job: the early alarm clock, the rush hour traffic, the stress. But work engages you in life. You come to know more people, to understand their motivations and values, and to learn the intricacies of the enterprise that employs you.

Don’t waste time bemoaning your job. Don’t skim by with the minimum of effort. Dive in. Get more from your job than the paycheck. Hard work is living large.

There’s a part of life that you won’t welcome: bad things. Bad things that happen to you. If you’re like I was, you imagine that bad things happen infrequently and that when they do, they mostly happen to other people.

I used to sit in church and look around the congregation. Everyone was smiling and happy. Life seemed to be nothing but puppies and pansies for everybody. And then my church asked me to serve as the pastor of that congregation. As pastor, I got to really know the people behind those smiling faces. And to my surprise, many of them held what Ann and I call a “bag of rocks” behind their back. That bag of rocks could be a chronic illness, a battle with some kind of addiction, a child that couldn’t keep up in school, unemployment, a financial crisis, withering loneliness, or a marriage on the rocks. To my surprise, almost every single family faced one kind of challenge or another. They all had a bag of rocks behind their backs. We all will hurt.

Engaging in your world means accepting that hurt, confronting it, and endeavoring to ascend above it so that you can keep pursuing a fulfilling and abundant life.

During my campaign, I met Sam Schmidt in Las Vegas. In January of 2000, Sam’s Indianapolis racing car hit the wall. This father of two young children spent five months on a respirator and was rendered quadriplegic–he can move nothing below his neck. He and I spoke about his life today: his morning begins with a two to three hour routine for bowel, bladder, teeth, shower and dressing. That would be enough for a lot of people to just give up. But instead, Sam owns and manages an Indy car racing team which regularly dominates the Indy Lights, having won 60 races. And he himself has actually begun to drive again. He has a Corvette that has been fitted out with special controls. To accelerate, he blows in an air tube. To brake, he sucks the air out of it. To turn left or right, he looks carefully left or right respectively. Accordingly, he warned his racing buddies: “You gotta keep the bikinis out of the grandstands because you don’t want any sudden movements.”

Sam’s disability is still there. He endures it every day, every hour. But that has not kept him from fully engaging in life.

Your career may be very different than you expect.

The biggest departure from my predicted career path came with my decision to run for political office. When I stepped into the auditorium to debate Ted Kennedy in Boston’s historic Faneuil Hall, I turned to Ann and asked: “In your wildest dreams, did you see me running for US Senate?” “Mitt,” she replied, “you weren’t in my wildest dreams.” Actually, she didn’t say that. That was a joke I bought for my campaign from a joke writer.

Through all these occupations, I have experienced successes and failures. I am asked what it felt like to lose to President Obama. Well, not as good as winning. Failures aren’t fun, but they are inevitable.

More importantly, failures don’t have to define who you are. Some people measure their life by their secular successes –how high on the corporate ladder did they get? How much money did they make? Did they do better than their high school classmate?

If that’s the kind of success you’re looking for, you’re bound to be disappointed. Life has way too much chance and serendipity to be assured fame or fortune.

More importantly, if your life is lived for those things, yours will be a shallow and unfulfilling journey.

The real wealth in life is in your friendships, your marriage, your children, what you have learned in your work, what you have overcome, your relationship with God, and in what you have contributed to others.

This last dimension, contribution to others, is often the most overlooked and most undervalued.

Tom Monaghan’s father died when Tom was just four years old. His mother entrusted him to a Catholic orphanage because she was unable to care for him and for his brother. He graduated from high school and enrolled in the University of Michigan. The tuition proved to be beyond his reach, so to help meet costs, he bought and ran a pizza shop.

He called his shops Domino’s and Tom became wealthy. He bought a Bugatti for $8.4 million. He bought the Detroit Tigers and won the World Series the next year.

When I met him in 1998, I was surprised to find him seated in a closet-sized ante-chamber to what had once been his lavish and spacious executive suite. He had sold the Tigers and the car. Tom had signed what was called the Millionaire’s Vow of Poverty. Accordingly, he would not drive a luxury car, fly in a private plane, or assume any of the trappings of wealth. That had included trading his impressive office for the small cubicle where I had found him.

Tom explained that reading the Bible and the essays of C.S. Lewis had reminded him of his upbringing in the Catholic orphanage. He wanted to change his life, and devote his remaining years to service.

On behalf of Bain Capital, I ultimately wrote Tom a check to buy Domino’s for over $1 billion. All but a small living stipend he then turned around and donated to Catholic charities. He founded a college and named it, not after himself, but after Mary: Ave Maria University.

I asked him a few weeks ago what the most rewarding part of his life was–winning the World Series, building Domino’s, or driving his Bugatti. You can guess his answer. “It wasn’t the toys – I’ve had enough toys to know how important they aren’t. It was giving back, through the university.”

Living life in fullness includes serving others, and doing so without pride or personal gain. It will fill your heart and expand your mind. I’ve seen that kind of service in large and small ways in my own family.

My sister has devoted the last 45 years of her life to the care and development of her Down syndrome son. My wife volunteered as a teacher for a class of at-risk girls. My mother was a frequent visitor to the homes of shut-ins and widows. My brother-in-law served in the Navy. My cousin Joan was foster mother to 57 children. My father and I both ran for political office.

Wait a second: that last item, running for office, may not seem like real service to you. I know that for some, politics is an occupation, and a fine one at that. But for Dad and me, it came after our careers were over. I believed, and my father believed, that we could really help people if we were elected.

Most of you probably won’t run for office, but the country needs all of you to serve. America faces daunting challenges: generational poverty, looming debt, a warming climate, and a world that is increasingly dangerous and tumultuous. Washington appears inept, powerless and without an effective strategy to overcome any of these. America needs your passion, your impatience with inaction, your participation in the political discourse. You have the opportunity to take part in one of America’s greatest endeavors – New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary. Get involved with the candidate of your choice. Work a phone bank, march in a parade like my favorite: the 4th of July Wolfeboro parade. Go door to door. Attend a town hall meeting and ask tough questions. New Hampshire is the greatest presidential proving ground we have; its enduring impact is only as certain as the next generation of citizens who choose to get involved. Engaging in your world includes engaging in citizenship.

The cozy little world of your childhood is long gone. You may be tempted to try to create for yourself that same kind of small and safe circle, concentrating on entertainments for yourself, doing the minimum at work, reading nothing because nothing has been assigned, avoiding meaningful commitments, complaining about the inevitable unfairnesses of life. Alternatively, you can live large by expanding your world and engaging in your world, constantly learning, nourishing friendships, overcoming reversals, engaging in citizenship, and serving others. That is the road less travelled, and it will make all the difference.

God bless you in your life’s journey.


Let's think together again, soon.

Help Brian Switek Tell the Stories of Fossil Hunters in the Field its core, fieldwork still relies on patience, luck, and a strong back to carry enough water to fight off lingering hangovers. - Brian Switek, from his "Have Allosaurus, Will Travel" Kickstarter campaign page.

Brian Switek prepares to enter Natural Trap Cave. Photo by Eric Scott.

Brian Switek is on a mission to tell a story. For years, he has carved out a niche as a journalist of life's history, and has written about every major palaeontology story in recent memory. More importantly, he's shed light on many that don't hit the front pages. He's told these stories via the various incarnations of his Laelaps blog, as a freelance reporter, and as the author of the popular Written in Stone and My Beloved Brontosaurus (as well as his new Prehistoric Predators, featuring the art of Julius Csotonyi, which I reviewed last week).

Next, he intends to tell the stories of the men and women who work for months in conditions most people wouldn't tolerate for a day to make the shiny museum exhibits and cavorting CGI saurians possible. He describes it as a need more than a want. To make this possible, he's raising funds via Kickstarter to allow him to spend the summer traveling between 10 important dig sites across western North America, spanning the last 250 millions years of Earth's history.

I love this idea. Pop-palaeontology often jettisons the uncertainty and debate that surround discoveries. Look no further than the NatGeo Spinosaurus blitz of last year, in which the publication of new fossil material was accompanied by a documentary, magazine cover story, and museum exhibition. These publicity efforts sell the public a story, one that tends to elide the "more research is needed" that is almost always part of a research paper's conclusions.

Brian is on the road now, but took a few minutes to do a brief interview about the project.

What do you think are the major misconceptions people have about the way field work and other research is undertaken?

Have a look at paleontology news items. Most of them are about the results of science - the naming of a new species, or a discovery about the way a particular animal lived. The passion of paleontology - the thing that keeps people trudging through deserts and spending countless hours in the lab - is often missing. That's symptomatic of science storytelling in general. The result is the focus rather than the process. And even though the first Jurassic Park film came out over 20 years ago, it partly fills that void. I regularly get asked whether paleontologists use ground-penetrating radar to find fossils (nope) and there's often an assumption that dinosaurs come out of the ground as lovely, articulated skeletons (that's rare).

The truth is that fieldwork roughly resembles how it was done a century ago. Making an important discovery starts with being dirty, sweaty, tired, and possibly hungover on long desert hikes where you feel like your brain is going to boil out of your ears. And when you find a fossil of note, it's often the beginning of commitment that involves years of digging, chipping, studying, and puzzling. It takes a special kind of madness to enjoy this kind of work, but it's that human story that I want to tell.

What media - writing or otherwise - do you think has done a good job of telling the story of palaeontology?

Some of the best works on the process of paleontology are books that look at the history of the discipline. Some that immediately come to mind are Paul Brinkman's The Second Jurassic Dinosaur Rush, David Rains Wallace's The Bonehunters' Revenge, and the harder-to-find biography of O.C. Marsh by Charles Schuchert and Clara MaeLeVene. Maybe it's because we're more distant from these researchers - and their dinosaur-sized personalities - so we feel more comfortable talking about their successes as well as their faults. Whatever the reason, these books are at the intersection of science and the personalities that drove it.

Do you have a favorite field site you've visited?

I don't know if I can choose! I've been lucky enough to work at a variety of sites around the west over the past four summers, and each has its own flavor. Quarries brimming with bone, such as Ghost Ranch, are nice, but there's nothing quite like the thrill of going prospecting to find a new site. So even though I can't pick a favorite, I'll say that I'm the most excited about the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry. It's a rich Jurassic boneyard full of Allosaurus, and last summer I found a new dinosaur site outside the main quarry. I don't know what dinosaur it is or how much is in the rock, but in a few weeks I'll be going back to find out.

Best of luck to Brian in his efforts - I know firsthand how difficult crowdfunding can be. At the time of this posting, he has a week to raise about half of his funds, so please do consider pitching in and spreading the word on social media. Let's help him in this effort to sing the praises of palaeontology's usually unsung heroes.

Tired of All the Lemons in the World

*Post originally written by Olivia J on The Unknown Beauty Blog.*

Voiletboard dot com, Brasspad dot com, & Oliveslate dot com based in Lahore Punjab, Pakistan have been copying & pasting many posts including some of mine.  They are GoDaddy based domain and might or do have googleads which are against TOS because of copyright content.  I have reported them but I don't know if I am successful. I purposely put the above picture because what I have to say really has to do with what won't show up on someone's blog.
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If Only These Makeup Palettes Existed - Fleetwood Mac & RUSH

*Post originally written by Olivia J on The Unknown Beauty Blog.*

With all the makeup palettes just looking alike today, I just thought palettes inspired by album covers would be a nice switch; something different in terms of makeup perspective.  I chose two albums which influenced me the most in my teenage years.  They were Fleetwood Mac Rumours and RUSH Moving Pictures.
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Review: Prehistoric Predators

Two years ago, after the director of Jurassic World confirmed that the movie would not feature feathered Velociraptors, John Conway wrote a brief but influential blog post about the effects of what he called Awesomebro culture on perceptions of nature and, specifically, palaeontology. While pitched at a popular audience, Prehistoric Predators, newly published by Cider Mill Press, hits the scene at a time that palaeoart hobbyists, professionals, and enthusiasts are looking critically at the ways that palaeoart can evolve in a pop culture that still holds on to a view of dinosaurs as monsters. Illustrated by Julius Csotonyi and written by Brian Switek, the book is tightly focused on its titular topic, offering almost a hundred pages of ancient beasts in the heat of predatory action.

In the hands of lesser talent, a project like this could go off the rails. But Csotonyi has proven himself time and time again in his adherence to accuracy as well as drama, and Switek is the most prominent writer continually working the palaeontological beat, not afraid of nuance and uncertainty as he portrays the science to his readers. They're supported in the project by an impressive production team, who have wrapped their words and images in a beautiful package. The skin of Csotonyi's vibrant Giganotosaurus close-up cover art features a pebbly, textured surface, with glossy teeth and title text. The end-papers are a pattern made of some of the book's featured predators. And the book is a generous size, measuring just a bit under 12" x 11", as large as it is the the recent Titan Books publications Dinosaur Art and The Paleoart of Julius Csotonyi. With a retail price of $20 US, it's a great deal for the amount of art and information within.

The Mesozoic gets the vast majority of the attention, comprising about 2/3 of the book's pages, so there's no doubt about the book's real stars. The theropods of Prehistoric Predators are decked out with feathers and filaments, from the plumes of Ornithomimus to the moss-and-rust fuzz covering Daspletosaurus (an update of his Judith River mural at the HMNS - the original is much less fuzzy). There's a good variety of takes on integument, and though it's not a focus of the text, readers will come away with a view of dinosaurs that is thoroughly contemporary, and for the most part the animals feel real, weighty, as if caught in mid-action by a preternaturally brave photographer. There are spots where feathers are a bit too detailed to my eye, a bit too shaggy, a bit too closely tracing the contours of the body. When dealing with a group of animals experimenting with plumage, I suppose it makes sense to assume that not all would be covered in a "dynamic shell" of feathers, as Matt Martyniuk has put it. It can be hard for me to completely buy illustrations that split the difference between fuzz and full, birdy plumage. But this is an issue that is larger than is wise to tackle in a review.

Though the overall project will satisfy anyone coming to see high stakes conflict, we do get glimpses of animals in less extreme circumstances, such as the alvarezsaur Linhenykus keeping an eye on the horizon, Cryolophosaurus wading at the Antarctic coast, or Guanlong drinking water in the amber light of dusk. The book features a handful of new pieces, with my favorite being a spread featuring new-look Spinosaurus squabbling with a pair of crimson-headed Deltadromaeus over a sawfish. Csotonyi has also confirmed that besides the Daspletosaurus noted above, several other pieces that have appeared elsewhere have been revised for new information. A bit of dodgy stock art shows up, with the worst case being the introduction to the Permian period, and readers familiar with Csotonyi's work would be able to pick those inferior animals immediately, even without warning.

For younger readers and others who aren't as familiar with palaeontlogy as LITC readers, this would be a solid choice for an introduction to what we know about the history of carnage-dealing beasts on Earth. Switek ably summarizes the featured geological eras and offers plenty of evidence-based descriptions of the animals. Again, even if we are mostly concerned with feats of predation here, readers learn about their palaeoecology, the varieties of theropod diets, and the ranges of size they attained (still an underappreciated fact, in my experience). Therizinosaurus gets a whole spread, Oviraptor is featured prominently, and Sinornithosaurus is seen from the point of view of its prey animal (with no mention of the controversial claim that it had venom glands). Only a few animals are depicted with scale diagrams, and not all of the "lesser" participants in the illustrations are named, but the amount of information is impressive. Switek's descriptions are approachable and light on jargon, taking confused time-travelers by the hand as they visit these lost worlds and their fantastic denizens.

In Prehistoric Predators, the Awesomebro is served up with a hearty helping of modern palaeontological knowledge. I'm optimistic that the book can lead readers to learn more about other aspects of extinct life that are less red in tooth and claw. There will always be a side of palaeontology media that focuses on the monstrous side of life, but that's no different than any nature media. It's refreshing to see it done with such care.

A Show of Appreciation Post with a Simple Act

*Post originally written by Olivia J on The Unknown Beauty Blog.*

This post is about the appreciation.  In this time of all these electronic gadgets and instant gratification, what stands out turns out to be a simple act of old-fashion speed.

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The Everlasting Powder Puff - Forever Puff

*Post originally written by Olivia J on The Unknown Beauty Blog. If you see this post elsewhere, it has been stolen.*

I have been using this Forever Puff ever since I hauled the Stilazzi stuff from the Frends sale.  You could say I am a bit obsessed with powder puffs because they are the easiest beauty tool to use.  Some are made only for powder and I like to break the rules and use them for creams and liquids but they get become messy too easily.  But, not this one.

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Peace & Love is What Mad Hippie Facial Oil is All About

*Post originally written by Olivia J on The Unknown Beauty Blog. If you read this post elsewhere, it has been stolen.*

*PR sample.*

When I had the chance to try Mad Hippie Antioxidant Facial Oil with hemp seed extract, all I wanted to do was run into a field wearing my maxi dress with a headband of flowers on top of my head and swinging my un-braided hair belting out the songs from The Age of Aquarius album. (Did I give you an earworm?)
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Vintage Dinosaur Art: The Superbook of Dinosaurs

Given the despairingly awful recent parliamentary election result in the country in which I happen to live, it's a good thing that Vintage Dinosaur Art is on hand to cheer everyone up. Especially as I've been quite looking forward to writing about this one - it might mostly be a fairly typical book of the period (1985), but it features a few tropetastic pieces that definitely raise a smile. Furthermore, much of the art is actually pretty good - at least at a technical level - and there are one or two early pieces from now well-established names. It's no less than The Superbook of Dinosaurs!

The cover (also featured inside) is instantly recognisable as a Bernard Robinson piece, what with its hyper-detailed scalation and distinctly reptilian dinosaurs. We've looked at Robinson's work plenty of times before, but to recap, he was largely active in the '70s and '80s and produced a great deal of illustrations featuring convincingly detailed and fleshy dinosaurs that were nevertheless of a rather old-school, lizardy bent. This is mostly evidenced in their rather puny Knightian limb musculature; note the toothpick arms on the T. rex above. Hopelessly outdated as it now is, his work still has a palpable solidity and 'reality' about it, and certainly left a great impression on many childhood dinosaur enthusiasts. Plus, I can't help but feel that more people should try giving Tyrannosaurus glassy black eyes. Like a doll's eyes...

As is typical, the book covers more of Palaeozoic life than is really necessary for a title that is ostensibly about dinosaurs, and so we are presented with a highly detailed Dimetrodon basking on what appears to be the surface of Mars. It's tempting to ascribe this to Robinson too, but a signature in the bottom right informs us otherwise - why, it's none other than J. Sibbick himself! These days, Sibbick has developed a unique style that is recognisable from forty paces, but one would be hard-pressed to pin this piece on the palaeoillustration stalwart; it's clear that his technique evolved quite quickly between this and the Normanpedia, which is still recognisably 'Sibbick'. It's also interesting to compare this work with a later illustration that appeared in Dinosaurs: a Global View, particularly in terms of how the palaeoenvironment in the latter is far more richly realised.

Onwards to the Triassic, and back to Bernard Robinson. A spread on the 'rise of the dinosaurs' is dominated by a Robinson illustration of a Plateosaurus being mauled by a, shall we say, rather fanciful-looking Ornithosuchus (not a dinosaur, but a croc-line archosaur). Although armour-plated, the latter still suspiciously resembles some sort of basal theropod dinosaur here; not surprising, as the text describes it as such, reflecting what was for a long time the consensus view on the animal's phylogeny. In any case, I love that the Ornithosuchus-thing has managed to grab a great wad of plateosaur flesh in its jaws. Looks painful.

Curiously, this spread also features a photograph of a nicely made model Ornithosuchus that is proportioned rather more like how it is envisaged nowadays, i.e. with a shorter neck and larger head, more croc-like than dinosaur-like. This looks like something that might have come out of The Age of Dinosaurs: a Photographic Record, although I can't find my copy to confirm [EDIT: it isn't - see comments].

Happily, it's not all hyper-detailed scaliness all the time here, and as the book enters the Late Jurassic we are treated to this monstrosity. Darren Naish looked at this piece back in 2010 as part of his examination of the 'freaky giraffoid Barosaurus meme' - it dates to 1975, and unfortunately I can't shed any more light on who the artist was (as none of the pieces in the Superbook are credited). As Darren noted, this illustration seems to take the famous Bakker barosaurs as its starting point, and then splices in elements of racehorses for a thoroughly horrifying beastie mish-mash.

While the giraffe-like flexi-tongue is troublesome enough, it's that steroidal musculature that truly unsettles. It's almost certainly an example of Dinosaur Renaissance thinking taken rather too far - an over-reaction to the outdated views of the palaeontological 'old guard'. Yes, sauropods certainly weren't blobsome fatties that floated around in fetid swamps all day, their eyes glazed over, barely good for anything except reliably being elected as the Tory MP for Mid Sussex. However, they also weren't out declaring that they, in fact, had the power, battling Skeletor and making rubbish friends designed to pad out the action-figure range. What I'm saying is, it's creepy. Really creepy.

As the Superbook moves on in to the Cretaceous, so it wheels out the marginocephalians, the headbutting, tyrannosaur-foiling heroes of the children. The illustration of two pacycephalosaurs having at it (above) is intriguing, and may well be another very early Sibbick (although don't quote me on that; it's not credited). The striped blue and orange colour scheme is rather natty, and I like that they're placed in a topographically varied setting. On the other hand, there's something rather odd about their necks, which seem distinctly sinewy rather than necessarily muscular. The two animals also seem to be missing each other, although that could well be intentional. Not too bad for the time, in any case.

It's probably best you don't pay too much attention to that Triceratops skeleton. Here's looking at you.

Elsewhere, we have this rather poor Burian knock-off, in which the ankylosaur has been slightly repositioned in order to be delivering a mild reprimand to its classically well-fed gorgosaur opponent. Take that, fatso!

And before you know it, we've reached The End of an Era. There are a few palaeoart memes present in this illustration, not least those of the 'gangly dork hadrosaur' and the disturbing, tiny-handed, stilt-legged ornithomimosaur. Absolutely any reference material on ornithomimosaurs will tell you that their fingers were actually quite long, so how exactly they kept ending up with miniscule, often disturbingly humanoid hands in palaeoart is something of a mystery. Equally, the 'gangly dork' hadrosaur, with its peculiarly long, thin legs, truncated arms and determinedly upright posture, is arguably just as far from the mark as even the Burian-era tail-draggers. But then, such is the power of the palaeoart meme.

Having said all that, I do like that the illustrator of the above piece thought to include (what I take to be) a champsosaur rather than a generic 'modern-style' crocodilian; it's a nice reminder of that oft-forgotten reptile group that survived the K/Pg event, only to go extinct later. The poor sods.

So, the dinosaurs are gone, but the book goes on to remind us of all the wonderful institutions in which we can view their fossilised remains and even, occasionally, the odd lovingly-created diorama...such as the one above. Granted, the grey colouration is a little dull, but the model Rexies still have a pleasingly lean, 'modern' appearance for the era. The book only mentions these as being on display in 'a museum', so I'd love to hear from any readers who have any inkling as to exactly which museum this was displayed in [EDIT: it was the Smithsonian! Again, see comments].

And finally...seemingly from the same artist who brought us the 'giraffoid barosaur', here we have a classic 'size comparison chart' featuring a procession of disturbingly veiny, oily brutes, including one of the oddest Iguanodon I've seen since that one with the theropod head. I shared this picture over on the Facebook page, and comments on the spiky-thumbed one's neck compared it to "an Egyptian-style hair piece" (Saka Haumavarga) and "a squash" (Blake Ó Murchú). Talcott Star, meanwhile, remarked on the animal's proximity to Procoptodon, "just in case there was any doubt as to where that pose came from", while Benjamin Hillier remarked that the human had to be (British actor, TV host and archaeological dig enthusiast) Tony Robinson (owing to his diminutive stature). I don't know, Benjamin - based on the below comparison, I think they might be on the money...

Photo by Niroot.

Coupon Code Reminder and a Mother’s Day Gift Suggestion

*Post originally written by Olivia J on The Unknown Beauty Blog. If you see this post elsewhere, it has been stolen.*

Please, don't forget the coupon codes for Overall Beauty Minerals.  Mother's Day is coming up and if you or your relative is crazy about makeup then please check out the great colors offered.  I reviewed the colors of Overall Beauty Minerals in this post.

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Square Root of Hair Equals Volume - 1907 Fromm Square Thermal Brushes

*Post originally written by Olivia J on The Unknown Beauty Blog. If you see this post elsewhere, it has been stolen.*
*PR sample.*

1907 by Fromm, a legendary brand which has been manufacturing shears for the hair industry has come out with a collection of square barrel hair styling brushes.  When I first saw these, I thought, why didn't anyone do these way back in the 80's when I spent my youth blow drying my long tresses of frizzy and thick hair?
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Down on the (former) Dinosaur Farm

The Isle of Wight seemed faintly magical to me as a child - I mean, there was Blackgang Chine for a start, but where else could you pull off a country road with stunning views of the sea, cliffs and open downland, drive down a track, enter a farmyard barn and be surrounded by fossils and dinosaur art? (No, don't tell me where else you can do that. I don't wanna know.) The Dinosaur Farm museum, as it was back in the '90s, was stupendously exciting to a dino-entranced kiddiwink - it felt raw and unpolished, with fossil hunters actually preparing their finds on-site, and seemed to show the (very fragmentary) reality of finding fossils. Unfortunately, the museum closed a few years ago - but it was swiftly reopened by former staff members, and is now better than ever.

(An aside: I visited with Niroot, who took most of the photos you see here. I will mark the pictures with 'NP' as appropriate. Also, I'll probably get various small details wrong here; please correct me in the comments.)

Dinosaur Expeditions CIC now run the old barn as their 'Dinosaur Expeditions Centre', a showcase for local fossil hunting (as the name suggests, they also run fossil finding trips in the area). In addition to a lot of fascinating old bones, there's also a special emphasis on palaeoart. The above diorama (featuring a former Minmi model being slowly transformed into a half-size Polacanthus, hence the head) features no less than the largest Sibbick painting ever as its backdrop. Our wonderful host Oliver Mattsson provides some sense of scale. Absolutely gorgeous, of course (and the painting's pretty good too).

The painting features a host of Isle of Wight dinosaurs, including non-avian coelurosaurian theropods (here restored as small dromaeosaurs), iguanodonts, a brachiosaur and the spinosaur Baryonyx. The flora is also based on the authentic palaeoflora of the region, and includes at least one species (the broad-leafed plant next to Baryonyx in the below close-up) never depicted before. It's a stunning, richly detailed piece that rewards closer inspection, as more and more animals become apparent. The two birds resting on a log just off centre are particularly easily missed.

Naturally, I'm drawn to the big theropods, and the Baryonyx has a typically Sibbickian colour scheme, with a dull grey-brown base being interrupted by vibrant blue, yellow and burnt orange striped and dappled patterns. This restoration appears unusually hump-backed at first glance, but this is mostly down to the stooped posture (and hey, Baryonyx did actually have some pretty tall verts, even if they weren't as ridiculous-looking as those on some of its relatives).

The Minmi/Polacanthus-to-be that forms the centrepiece of the three dimensional part of the diorama is still very much a work in progress, and currently sports an adorable cardboard head. Oliver showed us a box of spiky osteoderms, sculpted by himself, that will be painted and attached in the near future. No doubt a Gastonia-like head will follow (the head of Polacanthus itself being yet unknown).

Opposite the diorama, the Centre boasts an original Bob Nicholls piece, 'live-painted' during the BBC's Live From Dinosaur Island series back in 2001 (a week-long event during which, sadly, nothing particularly spectacular was found). It's another huge painting, so I thought it'd be worth picking a shot with another human scale bar - even if that happens to be me. Apologies. Unlike me, the Nicholls artwork is lovely - the Neovenator and unfortunate iguanodont sport very fetching stripy colour schemes, and the palaeoenvironment is wonderfully realised. Apparently, there would likely be more vegetation included if this scene were to be painted today - but such is the nature of the science.

The Centre can even boast one of Mark Witton's lifesize giant pterosaur models, once exhibited in London (see Darren Naish's article from the time, featuring a seemingly teenage John Conway), saved from an ignominious fate of rotting outside Portsmouth University and serving as an impromptu bed for drunken students to pass out on (possibly). What a stunner! While it was unfortunately damaged during its time outdoors - and much of the beak was chopped off in order to get it into the barn in the first place - there are plans afoot to resculpt the missing parts and stick 'em back on as required. Hurrah!

And speaking of giants...the Dinosaur Expeditions team are currently working on a mounted skeleton of the island's brachiosaur, based on scaled-up elements of a juvenile specimen. Upon completion, it's set to be the largest mounted dinosaur skeleton in the UK. There's still a fair way to go, of course, but it's worth noting that a fair number of elements, including ribs and vertebrae, are in storage nearby and due to be mounted in the near future. I'd love to come back next year and see how far along they are with this - it should be spectacular even before it's finished.

In all the excitement over the wonderful palaeoart on show, it's easy to overlook the fossils - which are, of course, the very reason for the Centre's existence. Just as with the more 'blockbuster' Dinosaur Isle museum over in Sandown, there's a lot of original, unique material on show that a more casual visitor might miss. The above case contains rare bits of Polacanthus, namely the ilium and a small section of the sacral shield (fused armour over the hips), which is certainly special enough in itself. However, what to make of a tiny lump of bone nearby, placed on a stand all by itself?

This small piece of Polacanthus armour is, in fact, the only one of its type known. Originally posited as being part of a small 'tail club', the exact nature of this bony chunk is currently a matter of contention.

Elsewhere, this cut 'n' polished Neovenator caudal vertebra is particularly eye-catching, although perhaps I am just drawn, magpie-like, to Shiny Things. Niroot was also especially taken by this specimen - Penny Newbury certainly did an excellent job.

Perhaps the museum's most significant collection of theropod parts consists of the most complete collection of Calamosaurus foxii bits anywhere - some collected by Oliver. These include the only known remains of the animal's leg (a tibia and metatarsals). Precious little is known about this small coelurosaur of otherwise uncertain affinities, and the Favorite Co. Velociraptor skeleton model is there mainly to illustrate what a small coelurosaur looks like. (The '90s-style nekkid dromaeosaur toy seems like an odd pick, although Oliver, at least, does explain to visitors that coelurosaurs are now thought to have been feathered.)

Somewhat more visually spectacular is this truly enormous Baryonyx vert, which absolutely dwarfs the Calamospondylus tibia placed next to it. Baryonyx seems to be rather overshadowed by its bigger, more specialised relatives these days, so it's good to be reminded that it, too, was still pretty bloody huge. The Eotyrannus restoration here is by Peter Charles Montgomery*, and is one of a series of pieces by said artist on display in the Centre, which also features the excellent work of Beth Windle; they're keen on championing up-and-coming palaeoartists.

Elsewhere, iguanodont specimens are, of course, in abundance - back in the Early Cretaceous, you wouldn't have been able to walk ten metres without bumping into one of the spiky-thumbed ones, eating ferns and mooing and switching between a bipedal and quadrupedal posture like some sort of oversized circus cow. The Centre contains specimens attributed to Mantellisaurus (the smaller 'Iguanodon' mounted at the Natural History Museum in London, for those who've been), the poorly known Proplanicoxa and the 'proper' Iguanodon, I. bernissartensis. While the latter animal makes for the more spectacular fossils (being a proper big ol' lump of an ornithopod), it's always fascinating to see specimens of its lesser-known relatives.

They've got sauropods too, of course - after all, the discovery of the 'Barnes High' sauropod led directly to the creation of the Dinosaur Farm back in the day. Why, there's an entire lovingly-put-together display case containing various sauropod specimens, as (partially) shown above. Incidentally, the museum-quality replica on show here is the Wild Safari Brachiosaurus, which I happen to have standing in my kitchen.

And finally...upon arriving at the Centre, one can't help but spy this old fella lurking in the background, looking rather worse for wear. As I recall, this model was created to promote the Dinosaur Farm, and was parked near the otherwise quite inconspicuous entrance in the glorious tradition of the USA's roadside dinosaurs. Decrepit as it may be, I'm glad that that someone decided to hang on to this old guy, rather than consign him to a Blackgang-style scrapheap.

In all, I'm very glad we took the time to drop in on the Centre. The dedication exhibited (almost literally) by the volunteers running the place is truly exceptional - inspirational, even. It's run by dinosaur enthusiasts, for dinosaur enthusiasts, with nary an apology in sight. Although there's already plenty of wonderful stuff to see, perhaps the best aspect of the Centre is the huge promise that it holds - and as I'm sure you can imagine, I'm particularly excited about its potential as a new centre for exhibiting and celebrating palaeoart. Many thanks to Oliver for showing us round and doing a sterling job of explaining the various specimens - I hope we can meet again next time Niroot and I are on the island! (The first round's on me.)

*Warning: slightly ugly website, may induce Geocities flashbacks