Constructive Creativity

Sunday, March 27, 2005

The Passing of a Giant

Up to this point, I have been mostly writing here with an eye toward providing posts that would be entertaining or interesting to my kind audience. However, this time I am writing out of purely selfish motivations. Recently, on Thursday March 17, one of the truly great writers of modern science fiction and fantasy passed away at the well earned age of 93. It was my great pleasure to have read a number of the works of Andre Norton. I read her books mostly as a young teenager. Indeed, she wrote with that age group specifically in mind. The second science fiction book that I ever read was one of hers. It was called "The Zero Stone". It was the first book that I checked out of my Junior High School library. I enjoyed it so much that I became a regular library patron. All the librarians knew me by name! I found a picture of the original hard cover book that actually looks quite familiar to me, even after many years:

Her books really captured my imagination and led me to read the stories of many other authors of science fiction and fantasy in later years. I owe her a debt, and to her I say, with fond remembrance, thank you and farewell!

Sunday, March 06, 2005

My Favorite Butterfly

Male Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

I have been thinking that some readers might appreciate an explanation of the various clues in my riddle that was solved recently by Ehsan with help from Jamak. I hope that you like the picture above. It is, of course, the subject of my riddle. I found this picture some months ago. It is by far the best picture of a tiger swallowtail that I have ever seen!

Ok, lets get to the clues. The first and most apparent clue was the color of the paper: yellow with black ink, the main colors of the butterfly. "Chromation commingles Twix saffron and swarth", compliments this clue. "Mong myriad min. moieties: Unmanifest motley crews", was the subtitle of my first posted clue. This picture is a photograph of a tiger swallowtail's wing magnified about 650 times. The picture shows the microscopic scales that give color to the butterfly's wings. "Brigandine occults crystal Sans aegis reception", again refers to the microscopic scales on the wings. Brigandine, as Khodadad correctly noted, is a type of ancient body armor worn by soldiers. It is composed of interconnected metal scales. Now, I said that this was one of the more obscure clues. All insect wings consist of a transparent membrane that is made rigid by a network of stiffening veins. Many insects simply have transparent wings; for example, most people will have noticed this feature of common house flies. Butterflies and moths have the same transparent wing membranes, only the transparency of their wings is hidden by millions of tiny colored scales. Aegis is a word that refers to the shield of the mythical god Zeus, or in general as a protection. Now, the clue should be understandable. The butterfly's "brigandine" hides the crystal wings without offering any protection. "Pon planular paired adjuncts; Fore ante hind; Frail borne' trails Brandish ahinder", is a more strait forward clue. The butterfly has two pairs of wings. It has fore wings and hind wings. The "frail borne' trails" are the tails on the hind wings. "Kin felinus maximus: Via simile in mien", simply means that the subject of the riddle looks like the world's largest cat: the tiger. Many people probably believe that the so called "king of beasts", the lion, is the world's largest cat, however, the largest tigers outweigh the largest lions by several hundred pounds. The last part of the riddle is the clue from the movie "Monty Python and the Holy Grail". The "aeronauts toting coconuts", in the movie, are swallows, although it is not established as to whether they are African or European swallows. :) Thanks to everyone who participated in my riddle. I am glad that it has finally been solved!