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2014-11-29 – 001-007 – HDR – Longsword
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Image by vmax137
My Rawlings synthetic longsword with a steel crossguard and aluminum pommel for weight. Dogtags for scale, books for learning, and Skyrim with some metal for motivation.

TL;DNR: All sword simulators from wood to blunts have their use in recreating the treatises. For me this synthetic longsword is safer and more realistic than the wooden waster that Arya was using in Game of Thrones but it’s more affordable and safer than good blunt steel sparring swords such as Federschwerts. At 0 USD for the price it’s a good sword simulator for beginners. More advanced students will find steel Feders to be a better option.

A Feder with a soft steel blade from Hanwei is about 0 USD but expect good ones from Albion and Regenyei Armory to start at around 0 USD and up. Finally I’m not a lawyer so please check the *written* local laws on whether transporting a covered sharp sword in public is legal or if a sword-shaped foam would be considered a weapon. In the United States city, county, and state laws can differ from each other.

Some German longsword action using Federschwerts and blunts:
www.youtube.com/watch?v=ohmLaZHStmI

Some Italian longsword action using Federschwerts:
www.youtube.com/watch?v=3WCgubznOlI

I’m not familiar with Talhoffer but the controversial John Clements performs this very interesting interpretation of half-swording:
www.youtube.com/watch?v=vi757-7XD94

Ok it’s going to be asked: yes you can grab sharp blades on some swords without cutting yourself if you avoid the edges or if pressure is applied to prevent slipping (but don’t do this without training by instructors!!):
www.youtube.com/watch?v=vwuQPfvSSlo

**Thank You Lindybeige, Skallagrim, and Scholagladiatoria**

I was reading a gaming forum on Guy Fawkes Day when the discussion of throwing knives behavior in the V for Vendetta movie led me to Lindybeige’s YouTube channel. While clips of his swing dance and wargame modeling were interesting the main draw was the discussion of weapons and various historical topics in bite-sized servings. Indirectly I found Skallagrim’s channel from related videos and topic searches where he assisted by his wife Cara introduced and explain basic historical combat in a very easy to understand manner. Scholagladiatoria’s videos often appear as well with even more in-depth discussions.

Though there may be disagreements in opinion they correspond with each other cordially by offering different viewpoints and are generally the three recommended channels when discussing historical European combat in English. So even though I was very aware of the New York Times video article on Longpoint 2014 back in September, thank you guys for showing that anyone can pick up a longsword simulator and have a go with it in about a week after watching a few videos.

I’m paying it forward with this long review for all those who don’t know about Historical European Martial Arts or HEMA.

Some Background

Let me preface this that I’ve just started and know probably as much as someone who have taken a brief introductory session. I have never held a museum sword piece or even fine replicas such as those from Albion although I have encounter wall hangers, poor heavy replicas, and other Sword-Like Objects.

Obviously there’s much more than longswords with Historical European Martial Arts or HEMA covering polearms, bows, and even WW2 bayonets. I decided that the longsword is a good place to start from as there are many treatises on it, is regarded as a good foundation to have that can be used for other arms, and is two-handed so the physical and mental barrier to entry is lower than say a one-handed sword and buckler. Plus it’s a friggen sword.

What makes HEMA part of but distinct from Western Martial Arts or WMA is the attempt to reconstruct as close to the sources as possible rather than add anything modern. Unlike a lot of other martial arts longsword living knowledge has been broken and this gap demands scholarly research and experimental archeology to verify each other. Interestingly Chinese two-handed sword techniques have been lost and reconstructed then adapted many times in history so what HEMA and WMA are doing isn’t a modern concept.

Normally I would start by checking with schools before getting equipment. But with schools some distance away my goals are simple solo technique drills mixed with historical research that will promote health, understanding of history, combat participant’s mentality, and philosophical enlightenment. Eventually sparring and classes will be required to progress but for now very basic strength training and research (along with poor foot work and plain wrong positioning) are enough of a preoccupation. Consistency first, then correction.

Obviously a waster or sword simulator for practice was needed, something that is a good approximation of a longsword and can handle contact sparring at an affordable price. Some sword simulators can handle the rigors of technique drills but not sparring; they’re not part of the discussion here. Trainers such as MBlades’ Swing are good for confined spaces but they’re not meant for sparring and there’s no way to practice half-swording techniques with them.

Wooden swords or wasters have a long historical pedigree and many still swear by them. They can be too light, bounce on contact, and are too dangerous during thrusts because they don’t flex. "Control!" people will cry, but as a beginner with no pell experience it’s better to err on the side of safety. I really like blunt steel Federschwerts or Feders – also a traditional training tool – but good ones are expensive. Feders from Albion and Regenyei Armory start at around 0 USD and up.

The expense increases further because of the protection required for inexperienced sparring. For those deciding on Feders sparring with against other Feders with the same blade hardness will prolong blade life for all participants. A steel Federschwert using an adjustable screw-held pommel will have to wait for now. Good blunt swords are closer in handling with sharps, but they flex more for safety (typically less than Feders but not always) and because they are blunt the edges do not stick. They are way beyond my budget and safety requirements anyway. Really, synthetic nylon swords are the only remaining option.

I’ve read very good things about Purpleheart Armoury’s Type III Pentti and Black Fencer’s Like Steel Waster Longsword V3. They were either a little too stiff or too expensive so I went with Rawlings. Everything’s that been mentioned have their place in recreating the treatises, it’s just that I’m deciding their usefulness to my situation.

Rawlings Synthetic Longsword Review

The parts were ordered from Purpleheart Armoury, an American company that imports Western Martial Arts and Historical European Martial Arts gear from Europe. Each component had to be selected separately and with everything except for the pommel made in the UK, I opted for a steel crossguard and a 5" extended aluminum pommel for weight and balance simulation. The cost for my build is 0 USD before tax and shipping.

My order needed a few changes but there were no replies to my emails. It wasn’t until the sword arrived that I was able to confirm that the changes were indeed applied so good on Purpleheart Armoury for fast processing and order changes, I just wish they would be more communicative in keeping their customers in the loop. The pieces came in a long rectangular box disassembled but assembly is easy enough that no instructions were required.

Blade

The 38" long blade has a lenticular geometry and while much thicker than the real article it has a moderate distal and profile tapering that aids in balance as well as safe sparring by reducing mass at the impact point. For further safety the tip and edges are well rounded with good flex at the last third of the blade for safe thrusting. All of this makes the blade too whippy during full speed swings but really metal sword simulators suffer from this to some degree as well although they’re much more resistant to taking a set or bend.

The 8" plastic tang encases a long metal screw rod that ensures all components will be held in place. The thread for the pommel came greased and for maintenance I recommend a water displacement such as WD-40 be used for cleaning off old grease and other contaminants followed by a very light coating of lubricant such as viscous machine grease.

Of note is that my blade flat had some excess molding material giving an appearance of dripping wax and stress marks. They’re not really bumpy and this sword isn’t a wall hanger so it’s not a problem but it may be for some. Another minor issue are rectangular mold registration points. The two on an edge may affect blade-on-blade impact but are easy to sand smooth. The one on the tip protruded enough to possibly damage fabric during impact and was carefully hand-sanded smooth after some effort.

The blade will take a set from true straight over time either from storage or temperature changes. It’s best to hang this point down by the crossguards if possible for storage and blade self-correction. For severe blade deformations a hot but not boiling water bath for a few minutes will help straighten it back, or modifying it as the case may be.

Crossguard

The 9.5" stainless steel casted crossguard has slightly upturned quillions that end in balls at the tips for safety. It’s held by compression from the pommel against the rubber grip so there is some very slight movement during severe impact at the guard but nothing that’s dangerous. Of note is that my crossguard came with minor cosmetic dings but again this sword is meant to be used. I’ve read from other people’s experiences that this guard can chew nylon blades after many enthusiastic sparring sessions.

The steel guard offers better protection for the hands and even during technique drills the added weight makes things a little more realistic so it’s recommended. The quillions aren’t thick enough to get in the way of fingering the guard, thumbing the blade, or simulate an overhand palm-up sword-throwing hold that would be at home in a judicial duel to settle a domestic dispute.

Grip

The longsword grip is sticky rubber that also compress against the crossguard with the aid of the pommel. It’s adequate but robust gloves such as leather work gloves are recommended against impact shock. Another reason is that when the grip gets wet dragging the palm across the surface will produce eraser-like particles of rubber. Wrapping grip tape may help.

It may not be apparent but the grip is oval at the crossguard and gradually becomes cylindrical towards the pommel which is great. A lot of fantasy swords get this wrong because the oval serves as a tactile indicator of where the blade is oriented. An imprecise cutting angle with a real blade can cause an ineffective bounce or can reduce the blade into a shower of sharp projectiles so this detail aids in forming good habits during practice.

The interior of the grip is sticky making it very difficult to slide over the tang and because of the imprecise fit there will be a noticeable tacky sensation as it shifts slightly during swinging. I used some talcum powder to eliminate it and to aid disassembly. Less then a pinch applied directly to the tang is all that’s needed – seriously, too much will increase movement of the grip that can cause premature wear.

Speaking of which I noticed white scratch marks on the rubber that I have no idea how they were made. When I tried to brush them smooth with my fingers the ridges from my finger prints made fresh white lines. This is the least durable component here but fortunately it’s also the cheapest to replace.

Update 2016-02-29
Some people have asked how to avoid abrasions when drilling bare-handed since the rubber grip unlike leather is a bit too grippy. I’ve used baby powder for a few months which worked really well before switching back to gloves because of stress marks on the palms appeared and general tenderness from drilling without shock protection. Other alternatives other people have suggested in forums include thin fingerless gloves and re-wrapping the grip. Rewrapping can be done easily with grip tape and will most likely prevent the waster from easy disassembly for travel.

Re-wrapping may also help with a slipping effect the loose grip gives when rotational forces are applied, typically during fast guard transitions that gives the waster a momentarily unsteady, mushy response. I’ve seen people made wood grips then wrapped in leather for their federschwert, something I’m sure the same can be done in a way that will allow disassembly for this synthetic waster.

Other possible solutions I haven’t seen tested are adding shims or apply thin tape onto the tang and mallet the rubber grip on.

The rubber grip itself has held up well. It’s very slightly looser than originally but I think it can make it through the rest of this year. The tang has rubber residues from the grip which occasionally needs to be cleaned off with isopropyl alcohol. Other than that some light application of baby power still work to prevent tackiness when rotational forces are applied.

Pommel

Historically pommel weight for balancing in real swords was a secondary function and in fact many were hollow. Here it’s a weight. I decided on the 5" extended mostly solid aluminum pommel (not the PHA or Pentti pommels) for my build instead of the nylon pommel for weight and balance. The two grip bevels and the border between the pommel’s round bottom and the adjacent angled facet were every so slightly sharp for comfort so liquid abrasive was used. The soft aluminum readily lends itself very well for polishing but it’s insanely easy to get scratches. Placing the sword on the ground pommel-first will guarantee gouges to the finish. Of great concern though is that repeated disassembly or looseness can increase the chance of stripping the pommel’s threads.

I found out later that many people prefer this extension for the length advantage it gives during a bout, an advantage that’s slight compared to fighter experience. For me it offers good simulated weight, better leverage, and more tactical options. It creates a very comfortable 13", three hand-width grip-space and overall the beveling was well done, making this a good option for someone who’s interested in some of the German longsword treatises.

For those that prefer a more lively handling snug grip that won’t get in the way with one hand use, something that offers little for an opponent to grab, or for those who decide to follow treatises that require a shorter two hand-width grip but still desire some weight stainless steel short pommels are also available.

Update 2016-02-29:
Aluminum is soft. Even if cared for the pommel will get dinged on a working waster. As a former aircraft maintainer aluminum will absolutely corrode in harsh environments. There’s no corrosion on the pommel so far but it’s never near salt water and food-grade mineral oil is lightly applied after cleaning and coating my montante waster.

Use

With a blade length of 38" and a total length of 52" the synthetic sword built is basically a Oakeshott Typology Sub-Type XVIIIb with a rounded tip. The weight is within historical ranges at about 3 lbs. but mass has been moved towards the guard to reduce tip impact force as a trainer. The point of balance is about 1" away from the crossguard center tip, a little close but again done for safety and is still within the historical range for some longswords.

From everything I’ve read and seen the thickness of the blade creates aerodynamic drag that makes it slower than a metal blade during a swing. The relative lightness allows it to accelerate quicker helping with directional changes so I suspect this nuance is what people are unconsciously implying when they say that synthetics are faster. I don’t know if it’s intentional but the tip creates an audible noise when a cut is done with the blade angled straight through the cutting path which can be extremely useful for training.

As mentioned during full speed swings the blade can get a little whippy but half-swording techniques and even Mordhau is still entirely feasible. Wearing padded work gloves I was able to easily finger the guard for greater point control. Thumbing the blade to assist in rotations or sticking the thumb up to protect it from an attack on the inside-line is also very easily done.

Binding is unrealistic of course as real sharpened swords will stick to each other very securely during edge-on-edge contact instead of sliding around. This is something that also affects dull metal blades. Some HEMA practitioners are testing 3M friction tapes, grip tape, and other alternatives on synthetic blades edges. The sword flats should remain slippy by being tape-free. From what’s been reported taping isn’t as good as sharp edge binds but it allows a much better binding and winding simulation than blunt swords. Skin contact at speed can create some bad abrasions so dress accordingly.

Whether synthetic or blunts for sparring it’s best to use like-with-like since blades can behave differently and can even damage each other at a rate that will outpace their intended life span. There are some very affordable sword simulators such as those from Cold Steel that are as balanced as clubs and the material is relatively rigid making them dangerous. Forget about using PVC pipes, they tend to shatter into sharp pieces and aluminum blades are not useful at all because their behavior deviates from steel so greatly.

Safety

I agree with the philosophy that increased risks adds to increased respect, but up to a certain point. I’m a beginner and we have modern knowledge and protective technology so I’ll leave the advanced fencing approaches to the experts. Since I’m soloing for now I might at most wear work gloves to prevent ripping off calluses. For sparring with synthetics the minimum protection recommended is as follows:

-A HEMA-rated face mask with back of head protection; Kendo and sport fencing masks can’t handle the extra force involved and offers no back protection for the head.

-A separate gorget throat protector will help prevent the crushed windpipes and broken collar bones.

-A chest protector, gambson or fencing jacket, preferably with the ability to insert a separate gorget underneath. People have found built-in throat protectors are not as effective as a separate gorget.

-Thick gloves to protect against broken fingers. Pay especially extra attention to side finger and finger tip protection.

-Male cup for the gents or female cup for the ladies.

Optional gear includes fencing pants, limb guards, joint guards, etc. This isn’t all inclusive and HEMA-rated gear are still being updated. Using wooden wasters and steel will of course increase the level of protection required compared to synthetics. Also armor remains a compromise between protection, mobility, and cost. Limbs still bend certain ways so many of the half-swording and wrestling techniques are very dangerous if done at full speed.

Using a pell to swing near-full speed then stopping just before impact or softening the impact can increase control and training partner survival rate. Generally more experience and familiarity with training partners will demand less protection, inexperience, increased speed, or unfamiliarity with opponents such as during a tournament will demand more. Wearing all of this gear can get extremely hot so hydrate to prevent heat stroke and make sure others do the same, especially in many events held in the open with no shade.

Legal

For transport a friend recommended a cloth Naginata bag for the blade that was on sale at E-Bogu. The sword will have to be disassembled of course but that should aid with peaceful intent if questioned by law enforcement.

I’m not a lawyer but according to the Seattle Municipal Code as long as the sword is covered for transport to or from an event or private location and it’s not being brandished it should be ok. Law enforcement will still have the ability to detain so be professional and if it’s a new club have insurance and uniforms. Otherwise follow Wheaton’s Law.

Conclusion

Those that are thinking of trying out HEMA will find this synthetic sword to be fairly good and is probably one of the best in it’s price category. It’s safer and more realistic than wooden waster sparring swords but more affordable and all things being equal safer than good blunt sparring swords and Federschwerts. Even though the metal parts more than double the price I would still recommend getting them if you’re in the same position of not being able to get a Feder.

But before rushing out to get this do ask the club that you’re going to train with and see what they recommend for gear. Otherwise like most things go with your budget and your ambitions. Thanks for reading, stay safe and have a good fight.

References

Basic properties of swords:
www.myarmoury.com/feature_properties.html

Some differences between sharp swords and blunts:
www.youtube.com/watch?v=T21uXihIZcI&list=PL_hVs5MjWFV…

Oakeshott Typology
www.albion-swords.com/articles/oakeshott-typology.htm

Sparring swords introduction:
www.hroarr.com/sparring-swords-introduction/

Why a sword feels right:
www.tameshigiri.ca/2014/05/16/why-a-sword-feels-right/

Resources

New York Times on Longpoint 2014:
www.nytimes.com/video/sports/100000003040466/inside-the-w…

HEMA Alliance club finder (doublecheck locations):
www.communitywalk.com/user/view/81443

Using different training tools and their characteristics for accurate reconstruction:
www.youtube.com/watch?v=QiEmcOCYElg

Video review of various Rawlings synthetic swords:
www.youtube.com/watch?v=mYBSVHA9drE

A more critical review of an older generation of this synthetic longsword:
www.hroarr.com/the-dave-rawlingsknightshop-synthetic-long…

How to get into Historical European Martial Arts:
www.youtube.com/watch?v=-3rHywjh1bQ&index=102&lis…

Longsword training tips:
www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLMUtS78ZxryOMRve8RkM0vcrIK…

Sword Carolina has excellent solo training videos:
www.youtube.com/user/KASLKdF

Sword School is a supplement to fencing manuals by Guy Windsor:
www.youtube.com/user/swordschool

Flying with Swords (some good advice from experiance):
historical-academy.co.uk/blog/2014/12/26/flying-with-swords/

How to be comfortable wearing safety gear:
historical-academy.co.uk/blog/2015/01/16/how-to-become-co…

Seattle Municipal Code – Chapter 12A.14 – Weapons Control:
www.municode.com/library/wa/seattle/codes/municipal_code?…

Gear
Albion Swords (high quality and expensive):
www.albion-swords.com/

Black Fencer (their synthetic swords are preferred by some for their rigidity):
www.blackfencer.com/en/

E-Bogu (martial arts stuff for the Bruce Lees and Master Kens):
www.e-bogu.com/

Hanwei Federschwerts (CAS Iberia is importer, Hanwei is hit or miss do research):
casiberia.com/prod_list.aspx?q=feder

MBlades Swing compact sword simulator:
www.mblades.com/swing/index.html

Purpleheart Armoury (sword simulators, HEMA safety gear, etc.):
www.woodenswords.com/

Regenyei Armory (good quality potentially long wait, importer is HEMA Supplies):
www.regenyei.com/en_index.html

Books

The Swordsman’s Companion by Guy Windsor is a training manual that mainly follows the "Italian tradition" using Fior di Battaglia as a source. It’s a good manual for longsword beginners.
guywindsor.net/blog/books/the-swordsmans-companion/#sthas…

Sword School, supporting videos for The Swordsman’s Companion:
www.youtube.com/user/swordschool

Sigmund Ringeck’s Knightly Arts of Combat by David Lindholm and Peter Svärd is a training manual that mainly follows the "German tradition" mostly using Sigmund Ringeck’s Fetchbuch as a source. More of a supplement it covers sword and buckler, wrestling, polearms, and half-swording. Interpretations on mounted cavalry was not included.
www.paladin-press.com/product/Sigmund_Ringecks_Knightly_A…

Blogs

BWF – Box. Wrestle. Fence.
boxwrestlefence.com/

Encased in Steel
historical-academy.co.uk/blog/

Fight with All Your Strength
fightwithallyourstrength.blogspot.com/

Guy Windsor
guywindsor.net/blog/blog-2/#sthash.VDNBSuXh.dpbs

I don’t do longsword
hemamisfits.com/

The Hema-Tome
pterminiello.tumblr.com/

The HEMAists
thehemaists.com/

The Ring of Steel
theringofsteel.com/

Awesome YouTube channels

Lindybeige:
www.youtube.com/user/lindybeige

Skallagrim:
www.youtube.com/user/SkallagrimNilsson

Scholagldiatoria:
www.youtube.com/user/scholagladiatoria

Sword Carolina
www.youtube.com/user/KASLKdF

Update 2016-05-02:
Skallagrim has made an updated review and it’s negative for the Rawlings. Based on everything else consistently written or said by different people and clubs his comments are fairly on mark. The blade for my Rawlings longsword is nowhere as flexible as shown in the video because it’s not used for impact work on a pell, and the weight is closer to a steel federschwert than BlackFencer’s synthetic longswords. For my own use and considering Seattle city parks have legal restrictions dealing with anything that can be mistaken for an actual weapon I wouldn’t hesitate to get another one limited to solo drills.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=0D0R_DJhCW4

Summertime lunch at Bryant Park, Aug 2009 – 50
how to loose weight fast
Image by Ed Yourdon
Note: this photo was published in a Jun 18, 2010 blog titled "Family dining in DC. Celebrate Kids Restaurant Week, June 20-27." I’m always amazed by the mis-matched "context" in some of the publications of my photos: this picture was taken in Bryant Park, in mid-town Manhattan (that’s part of New York City, in case you’re from Mars); but the blog describes various outdoor restaurants where families might enjoy a pleasant lunch in Washington, DC. Oh, well…

The photo was also published in a Jun 23, 2010 blog titled "A Sandwich At Your Desk Equals a Sad Lunch." And it was published in an Aug 21, 2010 blog titled "Las mejores ofertas de restaurantes." It was also published in an Oct 6, 2010 Health Matters blog , with the same title and notes as the ones I had written on this Flickr page. And it was also published in an undated (mid-Oct 2010) Braces for Teeth blog, with the same title and notes as the ones I had written on this Flickr page. It was also published in an undated (mid-Nov 2010) Cider Vinegar Weight Loss blog, with the same title and detailed notes as what I had written on this Flickr page. It was also published in an undated (mid-Nov 2010) HypnoTherapy Institute blog titled Fat Loss 4 Idiots Review: Enjoy Weight Loss Program." And it was published in a Nov 18, 2010 blog titled "Ever Wondered Why Celebs Lose Weight So Fast? 3 Celebrity Weight Loss Secrets Revealed." It was also published in a Nov 20, 2010 Weight Loss Products blog, with the same title and detailed notes as what I had written on this Flickr page. And it was published in an undated (late Dec 2010) blog titled "wHow do you lose wrinkles after fast weight loss?"

Moving into 2011, the photo was published in a Jan 8, 2011 blog titled "RUNNING TO LOSE WEIGHT – ONE WEEK WEIGHT – HOW TO LOOSE WEIGHT IN 4 WEEKS." It was also published in an undated (early Jan 2011) blog titled "Review of Fat Loss for Idiots." And it was published in a Jan 20, 2011 blog titled "Bookmarks: Reviews of recently released books." It was also published in a Jan 27, 2011 blog titled "Child’s Playroom Requirements."

Moving into 2012, the photo was published in a Jan 6, 2012 blog titled "The Best Diet Program | How To Weight Loss." It was also published in a Jan 9, 2012 blog titled "Do you think Hypnotherapy is more effective than psychiatric help?" And it was published in a Feb 9, 2012 blog titled "Latest Lose Weight Hypnosis News," with the same caption and detailed notes that I had written here on this Flickr page. It was also published in a Feb 14, 2012 blog titled "Paul Di Filippo Reviews Ben Marcus." And it was published in a May 15, 2012 Hypnosis blog, with the same caption and detailed notes that I had written on this Flickr page. It was also published in a Nov 18, 2012 blog titled "I’m considering undergoing hypnosis to help with weight loss. Do you believe in hypnosis?"

Moving into 2013, the photo was published in a Jan 14, 2013 blog titled "Weight loss with hypnosis and planned pregnancy?"

****************************************

I had a lunchtime dentist appointment in midtown Manhattan the other day, and when it was over, I decided to walk a couple blocks over to Bryant Park, behind the New York Public Library. It was a sunny day, and I thought I might see some gorgeous babes sunbathing on the park lawn in their bikinis (even being an amateur photographer is a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it). If not, I thought perhaps I’d find some photogenic tourists or oddball New Yorkers that I could photograph.

As it turns out, almost all of the central lawn was being covered over with some kind of wooden platform — presumably for an upcoming concert performance of some kind — so nobody was sunbathing out on the grass. But since that area was unavailable, and since it was still the lunchtime period, the periphery around the central lawn was chock-a-block with people. There’s now a cafe immediately behind (i.e., to the west) of the library itself, and it was doing a land-office business. And all along the north and south sides of the park, as well as the broader western side, there were tables and chairs and benches where people could enjoy their lunch with whatever food or entertainment they had brought along.

I was already aware of the pentanque court on the western side of the park, and knew that I’d find one or two good pictures there. But I didn’t realize that the Parks Department had set up two ping-pong tables, as well as several tables for chess-players. In addition, there were a few card games underway, and there was also a section set aside for people who wanted to borrow local newspapers to read.

As for the people: I had to remind myself that because Bryant Park is smack in the middle of mid-town Manhattan (a block away from Times Square, filling the square block between 41st/42nd street, and 5th/6th Avenue), most of the people enjoying their lunch were office workers. So the men typically wore slacks and dress shirts, and a surprising number of them were also wearing suits and ties. The women wore dresses and skirts, and generally looked quite fashionable and presentable. Of course, there were also tourists and students and miscellaneous others; but overall, it was a much more "upscale" bunch of people than I’m accustomed to seeing in my own residential area on the Upper West Side.

I was surprised by how many people were sitting alone — eating alone, reading alone, listening to music alone, dozing alone, or just staring into space alone. You’ll see some of them in this album, though I didn’t want to over-emphasize their presence; equally important, many of the loners just weren’t all that interesting from a photogenic perspective. So you’ll also see lots of couples, some children, a couple of families, and occasionally larger groups of people who were eating and chatting and enjoying the warm summer day.

Three activities dominated the scene, all of which were fairly predictable, under the circumstances: eating, reading, and talking on cellphones. You would expect people to be eating at lunch-time, of course; and you wouldn’t be surprised at the notion of people reading a book as they sat behind the New York Public Library on a warm, sunny day. But the pervasiveness of the cellphones was quite astonishing … oh, yeah, there were a few laptops, too, but fewer than I might have imagined.

I’ve photographed Bryant Park several times over the past 40 years, going back to some photos of 1969 Vietnam War protest marches that you can see in this album. I was here in the summer of 2008 to take these photos; I came back in January 2009 to take these photos of the winter scene; and I returned again for these pictures in March 2009 and these these pictures in the late spring of 2009; all of these have been collected into a Flickr "collection" of albums that you can find here. But if you want to see what New York City’s midtown office workers are doing at lunch, take a look at what’s in this album.

Necrons facing tyranid carnifex in close combat
how to loose weight fast
Image by jon_a_ross
Full battle report here
jon-a-ross.livejournal.com/966006.html

Warhammer battle report Necrons vs Tyranids 1200 points
1200 point annihilation battle Necrons vs. Tyranids, dawn of war deployment. 4th edition tyranid codex against the 4th edition necron codex.

A necron force awakens to find their world has become infested with life. An annoying and aggressive life that needs to be cleansed. The nercon lord arose with his core troops and set an ambush. A monolith and some destroyers would backup the lord should this life force be stronger then what he can deal with.

(turn one)
The alien force themselves was a numerous horde of little clawed beasts and one larger mind leading them toward. The small horde would rush forward towards the nercon lord, ignoring the second group of warriors in their eagerness to rend the nercons. The larger one sprayed some thick acid towards the necron warriors. Three of them started to smoke, as the acid worked its way into their steel breasts. Only one falls as the self repair units are already knitting the others together.

The fallen necron gets back up as the repair units do their job. The tryanid hordes are weaving their way around a number of barriers. These same barriers were now giving the necrons difficultly in cutting them down with their gauss flayers. Only four of the little beasts would be ripped into their individual molecules.

(turn two)
But the screams of the little beasts must have excited the others creatures, as two giant creatures turned towards the necrons. Five larger then man creatures also arrived, acting with more brains then the little ones.

For the necrons however, it was the little ones that were their fixed attention. Two streams of them were flowing around the hill in the center, rushing towards the lord and his bodyguard. Before the little hordes could reach them the large Tyrant splashed more acid upon the warriors, but they were able to ignore such a biological attack with ease.

But as the little horrors reached the warriors, the nercon lord gave the signal to charge in turn. Lightning sparked and jumped between the warriors as they parried bone claws with ageless metal blades. Two warriors find themselves falling to the ground, their limbs removed. Four of the little creatures lay dead upon the ground. Any focus that they had was lost when they rushed and their fear had them flee away from the silent and emotionless warriors.

The necron lord with the cold mechanical skill of a man who has seen more years then a river holds water ordered his troops to cut down the fleeing creatures, wiping them all out.
(Failed leadership tests on the hormagaunt broods who lost combat, sweeping advance successful by the necrons because of the high initiative of the necron lord.)

Even as one of the fallen necron warriors arose, using his fellow fallen warriors head as his own the lord scanned the battlefield. Only nine creatures were out there, but another six in the distance. This battle should be quick indeed. Yet, there was something about the size of the creatures approaching that encouraged the lord to summon his support.

The warriors themselves dug into the ground they held and were prepared to push back the beasts. Fifteen yet unbloodied this battle watch as one large creature with huge claws and a weapon dripping acid approaches. The lord without a word orders his warriors to blast the original large creature. Their shots marked the shell of the creature but otherwise had no effect.

The destroyers also found their shots, for all they had larger gauss weapons, to have no effect upon the beast. The monolith, seeing the lack of success, uses it’s particle whip upon the Tyrant. The blast wounds the tyrant where the lesser weapons had failed.

(Five smaller tyranid warriors will arrive, this group with devourers and a barbed strangler. They join the first tyranid warriors who have deathspitters and a venom cannon. The hive tyrant has scything talons and a venom cannon as well as toxin sacs, bio-plasma and enhanced senses. One Carnifex has crushing claws, tusks, spine banks and a venom cannon. The second has scything talons, spine banks and a barbed strangler. The final carnifex, who doesn’t arrive on turn 3, has two pair of scything talons and bio-plasma.)

Now thirteen large creatures are moving towards the necrons. The large leader once more shoots acid over the warriors, this time two fall under its sticky weight. The one with the claws sprays acid over the monolith, but it is unable to find a crack in the living armour of the necron vehicle. The rest of the tyranid forces just run forward.

The necron force will stand fast to meet them. The gauss weaponry with its unnatural green light lashes out towards the approaching beasts. A beast with two large claws and a seed throwing gun was harmed by both the necron destroyers and the monolith, but it keeps going. The necron warriors led by the necron lord unload into the original large creature, scoring a minor injury for all the guns involved.

(turn four)
The Tryanids themselves kept moving forward. The large creatures all fired with their big guns, one necron warrior falling for their trouble. The little tyranid warriors opened up with their deathspitters and venom cannon on the same necron warriors having four more fall to the ground. The ragged line of the living was approaching the warriors.

The necron destroyers move back a bit as does the monolith. The approaching Tyranids will still have quite a run to get to them, but they are getting very close. The monolith fires into the creatures climbing upon a hill, but even a direct hit fails to kill any of them. (Three wounded) The warriors next to them blast into the clawed creature, but once again only minor wounds are inflicted. The destroyers shoot towards their target, but it refuses to fall. The warriors from their spot on the hill blast the creature that started all the trouble and finally are able to bring it down.

But the creatures are indeed getting close now.

(turn five)
One last large creature, this one all claws, arrives, while the rest move forward. Thirteen shapes remain, with the twelve that are in range all firing upon the necrons instead of running towards them. Two of the necron destroyers are surprised when the seed launched by the taloned beast explodes under them, growing quickly into a twisting vine and pulling them from the air. The same sort of pod grabs a number of the warriors by the meteorites, with another falls to a small slug like creature that was launched as part of a massive volley into them. Four warriors lie fallen, while two destroyers also drop. The necron lords own group weathers the attack much better, now that they know what to expect.

Neither destroyer is able to pull themselves together after their fall, but all the necron warriors get up. The monolith drifts toward, feeling itself indestructible and seeking to end the little creature threat. Between the particle whip and the gauss flux guns along the side four of those warriors on the hill fall, blasted into pieces. The necron warriors attempt to do the same with the large claws beast facing them, but fail to get even a minor wound. The necrons body guarding the necron lord fire into the approaching creatures, killing two for their trouble.

Seven creatures remain, all large and threatening, but perhaps not as much as they were at the start.

(turn six)
The beasts move forward, most blasting with their alien guns. The clawed giant beast melts one of the warriors under the acid spray before crashing into them like a train. The smaller creature on that side misses, perhaps because of the sheer bulk of the beast moving into his line of fire. The taloned beast with the seed pod fires his wide, but still catches the destroyer, only to have this experienced fellow escape damage. The other beasts pouring in kill three more necron warriors with their deathspitters and venom cannon.

The tusked and clawed beast smashing into the necrons had one last secret to share, the rows of spines along its back. One necron warrior gets a face full and falls, while three more are crushed between the claws. They fall into pieces to great to be repaired this battle. The great beast takes a wound from the necrons striking at hit, but otherwise it wins the battle. The fearless necrons see no reason to retreat and thus stay put, attempting to bring it down.

A total of seven warriors have been lost, while there are still seven beasts facing them. The necron lord is growing tired of taking all this damage and gestures a charge forward. The twelve remaining warriors fire into the beasts as they move forward, claiming two of them. The necron lord wounds the last one. The destroyer using his heavy gauss cannon finally strips enough of the matter from the taloned beast to finally bring it down. The monolith uses its guns to slay the final tyranid warrior, while the carnifex goes unharmed. The two scything talons carnifex takes the particle whip and has the wound.

In close combat the clawed beast is too slow to stop a warrior from blasting out a massive chunk of its chest. The rest finish it, reducing it into so many loose strips of flesh.

The two beasts that remain are not much of a problem (game ends.)

I think what did in the tyranids in this battle was the deployment. With only two troop choices on the table at the start it meant they had to pound across the table to get into combat at a disadvantage. Taking such a heavy force towards the large beast side of the scale was perhaps unwise, but with four monstrous targets if they could’ve reached close combat they would have pushed through the necrons in close combat. And once the necrons were reduced to eight people the monolith would no longer be much of a problem.

I was worried actually that the necrons were in trouble when the hormagaunts reached them on turn two. But under the 5th edition rules for close combat, once they lost with their low leadership they were in trouble. Breaking and being destroyed rather then being able to get back into the leadership range of the tyrant cost them.

But that charge is indeed something I would do again, as having the large block of warriors outnumbered and locked in combat slowing being pulled to pieces. I am also thinking of doing a rematch once I have the 5th edition Tyranid codex to see how they compare.

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Trái Bằng lăng nước Giant Crape-myrtle, Queen ‘s Crape-myrtle Lagertroemia speciosa, thuộc họ Lythraceae
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Image by Hoa Trai Viet Nam
Tên khoa học: Lagertroemia speciosa, thuộc họ Lythraceae – Cây có nguồn gốc từ Ấn Độ đến Australia.là một loài thực vật thuộc chi Tử vi (Lagerstroemia – một tông chi lớn thảo mộc nước to). Tên tiếng Anh thông dụng là: Giant Crape-myrtle, Queen ‘s Crape-myrtle, Banabá Plant for Philippines, Pride of India, Queen ‘s flower.Entravel, Rose of India
Cây gỗ lớn, thân cao từ 10 – 15m, vỏ nứt màu nâu đen.
Tán lá rậm, hình chóp, rụng vào mùa khô (cành dài mềm hơi rũ xuống). Lá hình bầu dục, cứng, nhẵn, dài đến 20cm, cuống to dài 0,5 – 0,7cm, tròn ở gốc, nhọn ở đỉnh. Cụm hoa là chùm tán khá lớn. Hoa rất đẹp có 5 – 6 đài dính, cánh tràng màu hồng nhạt gồm 5 – 6 cánh nhăn nheo. Nhị nhiều. Quả nang cắt vách hơi tròn dạng trứng, lá đài còn lại xòe ra, quả dài 1,5 – 2cm, rộng 1 – 1,5cm cứng, bên ngoài hơi nhám, hạt có cánh mỏng. Lá, quả làm thuốc. Vỏ nhiều Tanin.
Do hoa có màu tím hồng đẹp, nên hiện nay thường được trồng làm cây cảnh quan đô thị. – Gỗ bằng lăng nước màu nâu vàng, dẻo, dùng đóng đồ mộc thông thường hoặc có thể đóng thuyền.
Nguồn gốc, đặc điểm
Banabá (Bằng lăng nước) là tên gọi theo tiếng Tagalog (dân tộc lớn nhất Philippines) của loài cây đặc thù của Ấn Độ. Loài này có nguồn gốc từ vùng nhiệt đới Nam Á, hiện có nhiều ở Đông Nam Á, Ấn Độ và các vùng nhiệt đới khác. Thân cây thẳng và khá nhẵn nhụi. Lá màu xanh lục, dài từ 8 đến 15 cm, rộng từ 3 đến 7 cm, hình oval hoặc elip, rụng theo mùa. Hoa màu tím hoặc tím nhạt, mọc thành chùm dài từ 20 đến 40 cm, thường thấy vào giữa mùa hè. Mỗi bông hoa có 6 cánh, mỗi cánh dài chừng 2 đến 3,5 cm. Quả lúc tươi màu tím nhạt pha xanh lục, mềm. Quả già có đường kính 1,5 đến 2 cm, khô trên cây.
Sử dụng
Bằng lăng nước là loài bằng lăng hoa tím ở vùng nhiệt đới đã được dùng trong Đông y ở Châu Mỹ, An Độ, Philippnes,… để trị bệnh tiểu đường. Lá láng bóng loài bằng lăng này chứa Colosolic acid ở mức cao (Colosolic acid là một hóa chất thực vật nổi tiếng làm hạ mức đường trong máu). Trong Y học truyền thống châu Á dùng lá bằng lăng nước làm nước trà để trị đau bao tử và bệnh tiểu đường. Các chất trích ly được thương mại hóa đôi khi cũng được dùng làm bớt mập phì. Chất trích lá bằng lăng nước thường tìm thấy trong các thuốc bổ sung đa thành phần để làm giảm cân, tỉ như Cortislim. Nồng lượng thay đổi tuỳ sản phẩm bán, nhưng thường chứa vài milligram đến vài tá milligram một ngày. Lá bằng lăng nước khó kiếm hơn nhưng được bán dưới dạng nước trích lỏng hoặc thể viên.
Loài bằng lăng cho bóng mát và cho hoa đẹp nên được trồng làm hoa cảnh. Thật ra ngoài hoa tím còn có hoa các màu đậm, lợt trắng, hồng, đỏ, tím,… và cuối thu nhiều giống cũng rụng lá vàng, lá đỏ như cây phong xứ lạnh. Vài giống lùn, lùm bụi, cũng được chọn làm cây kiểng, mùa hoa nở đầy chậu. Cây gỗ lớn cao đến 20m, phân cành cao, thẳng, tán dày, lá hình bầu dục hay hình giáo dài, cụm hoa hình tháp ở ngọn các cành, mọc thẳng, nụ hoa hình cầu, hoa lớn có 6 cánh, có móng ngắn, răng reo màu tím hồng. Cây mọc khỏe, thân thẳng, tán cao, cây trồng chủ yếu bằng hạt, ươm gieo như các cây khác.
Trồng trọt
Đất trồng cây Bằng lăng phải có tầng đất mặt tơi xốp, dễ thoát nước, nếu đất có độ pH thấp, cần bón vôi thêm. Trước khi trồng tiến hành đào hố trước ít nhất 1 tháng, kích thước hố và lượng phân bón lót tùy thuộc vào đất giàu hoặc nghèo dinh dưỡng, thông thường 50 x 50 x 50cm, trộn đều lớp đất mặt với phân hữu cơ, NPK, phân bón lót, phân lân, vôi …… Sau đó dồn hỗn hợp đất phân cho xuống hố. Công việc trên cần thực hiện trước khi trồng cây ít nhất là 1/2 tháng.
Cây được trồng vào đầu mùa mưa (tháng 5, 6) và được trồng dặm trước tháng 9 hàng năm. Mật độ trồng thích hợp từ 500 đến 834 cây/ha. Cây cách cây 3 mét, hàng cách hàng 4 mét, hoặc cây cách cây 4 mét, hàng cách hàng 5 mét.
Sau khi trồng cần làm cỏ, xới đất kết hợp tủ gốc giữ ẩm cho cây 4-5 lần/năm. Trong 3 năm đầu khi cây chưa kép tán cần trồng thêm cây che bóng giữa các hàng để bảo vệ đất, nhằm tăng cường chất hữu cơ và giảm công làm cỏ…
Lượng phân bón trong 3 năm đầu như sau: phân chuồng 5-10kg, phân NPK 150g/gốc/năm. Các năm sau tăng dần lượng phân lên, nên bón phân vào lúc làm cỏ và vun gốc vào đầu, giữa và cuối mùa mưa.
Ở Việt nam cây này được gọi là Bằng lăng nước, mọc nhiều nhất ở các rừng vùng Đông Nam Bộ, đặc biệt là rừng cây gỗ toàn là bằng lăng gần thị xã Gia Nghĩa, tỉnh Đăk Nông.
——————————————————————————————————-
Lagerstroemia speciosa (Giant Crape-myrtle, Queen’s Crape-myrtle, Banabá Plant for Philippines, or Pride of India[) is a species of Lagerstroemia native to tropical southern Asia.

Growth
It is a small to medium-sized tree growing to 20 m tall, with smooth, flaky bark. The leaves are deciduous, oval to elliptic, 8-15 cm long and 3-7 cm broad, with an acute apex. The flowers are produced in erect panicles 20-40 cm long, each flower with six white to purple petals 2-3.5 cm long.
Cultivation and uses
It is grown in South East Asia, India and the Philippines.
It is also widely cultivated as an ornamental plant in tropical and subtropical areas.
Banaba extract is used as a natural health supplement and is made from the leaves of the banaba tree. Some research suggests that banaba extract may support blood sugar balance and weight loss. The primary active ingredient is corosolic acid, and there are also numerous possible synergists including lager-stroemin, flosin B and reginin A.
Banaba Tea The leaves of the Banaba and other parts are used widely by the Philippines, Taiwan, and Japan as a Tea preparation. This tea is consumed as a natural means for a variety of reasons involving the kidneys, such as dissolving kidney stones, kidney cleanses, and kidney health in general. Research being conducted in Japan shows much promise for this plant and its potential uses in the medical community.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lagerstroemia_speciosa

National Zoo Welcomes Lion Cubs
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Image by Smithsonian’s National Zoo
Photo: Smithsonian’s National Zoo

The Smithsonian’s National Zoo’s Great Cats team celebrated the arrival of its first litter of African lion cubs in four years. On Jan. 24, the Zoo’s 10-year-old lion Nababiep gave birth to three cubs—two surviving—in an eight hour period. These cubs are the third litter for Nababiep and the fourth for 8-year-old father, Luke.
Animal care staff watched Nababiep give birth via a closed-circuit webcam and continue to monitor the family’s behavior. The first cub was born at 3:58 a.m. and appeared active and healthy. Five hours later at 8:51 a.m., Nababiep delivered her second cub, but it was stillborn. The third cub was born at 11:24 a.m. and appeared active and healthy. It is not uncommon for animals, in this case a lion, to have some healthy and one or more stillborn cubs in the same litter. Nababiep and her two cubs have been under close observation throughout the weekend by the Zoo’s animal care team. They appear to be nursing, moving and vocalizing well, so keepers have not needed to intervene.

“The first few days of a lion cub’s life are very fragile,” said Rebecca Stites, an animal keeper at the Great Cats exhibit. “Naba continues to prove that she has great maternal instincts, so the best course of action is for us to allow her to care for and bond with her cubs. We have every indication that she will successfully raise these cubs just as she did her previous litter.” (Note: Nababiep gave birth to one cub in May 2010 that lived for 48 hours.)

The mortality rate for lion cubs (including those that are younger than a year) in captivity in 2009 was about 30 percent, compared to a 67 percent mortality rate for cubs in the wild. Animal care staff are cautiously optimistic that the cubs will thrive and are giving Nababiep the solitude she needs to care for her young.

The Zoo received a recommendation to breed the lions from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan for African lions. An SSP matches individual animals across the country for breeding in order to maintain a healthy, genetically diverse and self-sustaining population. About one month after Luke bred with Nababiep, he and her 9-year-old sister Shera also bred. Animal care staff are closely monitoring Shera and suspect she is pregnant based on her physical changes and weight gain, among other cues. Keepers gradually separated Nababiep from Luke and Shera to give Nababiep the privacy she needs to emulate the natural process. As Shera’s expected delivery date draws near, animal care staff will separate her from Luke as well. In the wild, female lions will typically leave the pride for a secure area and give birth alone. A lioness may wait up to six weeks before introducing her cubs to the rest of the pride.
The formation of prides makes lions unique among the great cats, many of which are solitary animals. Hunting, disease and habitat loss have contributed to a decline in the population of African lions, which are considered a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
“One of the best parts of this job is seeing all of our planning and preparation come to fruition,” said Kristen Clark, an animal keeper at the Great Cats exhibit. “In 2010, we had a remarkable opportunity to watch seven cubs grow, master husbandry training, and go on to other zoos to contribute to their breeding programs. To watch this litter follow in their siblings’ footsteps will be incredibly exciting and rewarding.”

Nababiep’s cubs will not be on exhibit until late spring, which will give the Zoo’s animal keepers and veterinary team time to examine them. However, National Zoo visitors can see 5-month-old Sumatran tiger cubs Bandar and Sukacita on exhibit every day that weather permits staff to give them outdoor access.

To follow the Zoo’s progress in caring for the cubs, check for news on the Zoo’s Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Image from page 78 of “The Canadian journal of medicine and surgery” (1897)
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Identifier: canadianjournalo46torouoft
Title: The Canadian journal of medicine and surgery
Year: 1897 (1890s)
Authors:
Subjects: Medicine Surgery
Publisher: Toronto
Contributing Library: Robarts – University of Toronto
Digitizing Sponsor: University of Toronto

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Text Appearing Before Image:
ist. Thewaters are conducted by gravity to the bathhouse and dis-tributed fresh from the ground to the bathing apartments ondifferent floors without loss of heat or its increase by artificialmeans, and fully charged with all their gases and other health-giving qualities. At none of the celebrated places in Europe,and at no other springs in America, is the temperature pre-scribed for hot baths that at which the water actualh- emergesfrom the earth in the natural springs. The springs are beneficial, not only for bathing, but fordrinking. Besides the hot springs, the effects of which asdrinking waters are pronounced, there are magnesia, sulphur,and soda springs within the grounds, and alum water from aspring not far distant. The water from the soda spring comesstrong and clear from the ground at a uniform temperature of74 degrees. Physicians should address for full informationChristian S. Andersen. Esq. • Publishers Department. Aug.. 1919. Canadian Journal of Medicine and Surgery. xxxv

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