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Stonemasonry

Stonemasonry or stonecraft is the creation of buildings and sculpture using stone as the primary material. It is one of the oldest professions in human history. Many of the long-lasting, ancient shelters, monuments, fortifications, roads and entire cities were built of stone. Famous works of stonemasonry include the Egyptian Pyramids, the Taj Mahal, Cusco's Incan Wall, Easter Island's statues, Angkor Wat, Tihuanaco, Persepolis, the Parthenon, the Great Wall of China, Chartres Cathedral. Masonry is the craft of shaping rough pieces of rock into accurate geometrical shapes, at times simple, but some of considerable complexity, arranging the resulting stones together with mortar, to form structures. Quarrymen split sheets of rock, extract the resulting blocks of stone from the ground. Sawyers cut these rough blocks to required size with diamond-tipped saws; the resulting block if ordered for a specific component is known as sawn six sides. Banker masons are workshop-based, specialize in working the stones into the shapes required by a building's design, this set out on templets and a bed mould.

They can produce anything from stones with simple chamfers to tracery windows, detailed mouldings and the more classical architectural building masonry. When working a stone from a sawn block, the mason ensures that the stone is bedded in the right way, so the finished work sits in the building in the same orientation as it was formed on the ground. Though some stones need to be orientated for the application; the basic tools and skills of the banker mason have existed as a trade for thousands of years. Carvers cross the line from craft to art, use their artistic ability to carve stone into foliage, animals or abstract designs. Fixer masons specialize in the fixing of stones onto buildings, using lifting tackle, traditional lime mortars and grouts. Sometimes modern cements and epoxy resins are used on specialist applications such as stone cladding. Metal fixings, from simple dowels and cramps to specialised single application fixings, are used; the precise tolerances necessary make this a skilled job.

Memorial masons or monumental masons carve inscriptions. The modern stonemason undergoes comprehensive training, both in the classroom and in the working environment. Hands-on skill is complemented by intimate knowledge of each stone type, its application and best uses, how to work and fix each stone in place; the mason may be skilled and competent to carry out one or all of the various branches of stonemasonry. In some areas the trend is in other areas towards adaptability. Stonemasons use all types of natural stone: igneous and sedimentary. Granite is one of the hardest stones, requires such different techniques to sedimentary stones that it is a separate trade. With great persistence, simple mouldings can and have been carved from granite, for example in many Cornish churches and in the city of Aberdeen. However, it is used for purposes that require its strength and durability, such as kerbstones, countertops and breakwaters. Igneous stone ranges from soft rocks such as pumice and scoria to somewhat harder rocks such as tuff to the hardest rocks such as granite and basalt.

Marble is a fine worked stone, that comes in various colours, but white. It has traditionally been used for carving statues, for facing many Byzantine and buildings of the Italian Renaissance; the first and most admirable marble carvers and sculptors were the Greeks, namely Antenor and Critias, Praxiteles and others who used the marble of Paros and Thassos islands, the whitest and brightest of all, the Pentelikon marble. Their work was preceded by older sculptors from Mesopotamia and Egypt, but the Greeks were unmatched in plasticity and realistic presentation, either of Gods, or humans; the famous Acropolis of Athens is said to be constructed using the Pentelicon marble. The traditional home of the marble industry is the area around Carrara in Italy, from where a bright and fine, whitish marble is extracted in vast quantities. Slate is a popular choice of stone for memorials and inscriptions, as its fine grain and hardness means it leaves details sharp, its tendency to split into thin plates has made it a popular roofing material.

Many of the world's most famous buildings have been built of sedimentary stone, from Durham Cathedral to St Peter's in Rome. There are two main types of sedimentary stone used in masonry work and sandstones. Examples of limestones include Portland stone. Yorkstone and Sydney sandstone are most used sandstone. Types of stonemasonry are: Fixer masons This type of masons have specialized into fixing the stones onto the buildings, they might do this with grouts and lifting tackle. They might use things like single application specialized fixings, simple cramps, dowels as well as stone cladding with things like epoxy resins and modern cements. Memorial masons These are the masons that carve the inscriptions on them. Today's stonemasons undergo training, quite comprehensive and is done both in the work environment and in the classroom, it isn't enough to have hands-on skill anymore. One must have knowledge of the types of stones as well as its best uses and how to work it as well as how to fix it in place

Duality (film)

Duality is a Star Wars fan film created by Mark Thomas and Dave Macomber that made its debut on the internet on February 10, 2001. It is one of the first fan films to use bluescreen footage composited onto virtual backgrounds. Sith apprentice Lord Rive, is tasked by his master, Darth Oz, to battle another apprentice, Darth Blight, as a final test determining who would serve by Oz’s side; the two would-be Sith clash violently with their double-bladed lightsabers while Oz watches via hologram. After a long and vicious lightsaber duel, Rive's weapon is severed in two and Blight loses his saber. A quick brawl and the two engage in a final bout with the two halves of Rive's saber, it ends with Rive Blight bisected through the waist. After they die, Darth Oz appears in the flesh. Consumed with fury and wrath at his failure to procure a permanent apprentice, he electrocutes the bodies of the two failed apprentices with Force Lightning. Macomber and Thomas produced Duel as an acting/choreography demo for an actor, but felt they could make a better film with CG stages, as opposed to the location work on the original.

The cast consists of three actors. The script was first written with Macomber devising the fight. After about 14 months of pre-planning, filming took place at Alamo Studios in Santa Barbara, California in September 2000. Post-production was split between Macomber. Thomas handled the digital backgrounds and 3D animation, while Macomber handled compositing and the lightsaber effects; the final version took four months of post-production, using off-the-shelf software from Electric Image and Apple, about in out-of-pocket costs. The first cut of the film featured music and sound effects taken from Star Wars films, but a release had all-new music by Alan Derian. Reaction to Duality was positive, generating over a half million downloads in its first year of release. Entertainment Weekly said its effects "have the impressive digital sheen of Episode I", while IFILM programming director said the film "absolutely blew me away, a lot of people out there are saying this is the best they've come across." The film showed.

Macomber and Thomas said they had "taken a few calls" from Hollywood effects houses after the film premiered. Not every reaction was positive though. Various members of the Star Wars fan films community felt that it was short on story and featured dated special effects when compared to other fan films, that the trollish behavior of Mark Thomas leading up to its release forever tainted the product. In August 2010, Time magazine's online visitors listed it at no. 7 on their list of the top 10 Star Wars fan films. Duality on IMDb Duality on YouTube Duality on Vimeo

Dalbergia armata

Dalbergia armata is a scrambling, deciduous species of legume, native to subtropical to temperate regions of southeastern Africa. The robust, woody liana or small tree is armed with strong spines on branches, it occurs sparsely or in forest, riparian fringes and in wooded ravines. It is sometimes employed as a bonsai subject, it can be propagated from either seed or cuttings, it occurs in coastal, montane or riparian forests of southern Tanzania, Mozambique and eastern South Africa. In South Africa it is present in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo provinces; the Hluhluwe River is named after this species, due to its prevalence on the banks of the river. The species is confined to White’s Tongaland-Pondoland centre of endemism, their thick and 10 to 30 m long ropes have sturdy, sideways-directed spines which may grow in clusters, encircle the stems. The spines which are up to 10 cm long, hook onto adjacent vegetation to direct the plant towards the canopy; the bark is dark greyish brown.

The alternate leaves are up to 8 cm long, finely compound and are bluish green on their upper surfaces. The 21 to 41 oblong leaflets have a alternate arrangement; the leaflets close in overcast weather, the foliage is popular with browsing animals. Their small, sweetly scented flowers are creamy-white in colour, they appear in early summer, are born in dense terminal or axillary clusters. The small and thin seed pods measure about 5 by 2 cm, they are papery in lemon-yellow to pale brown in colour. The indehiscent fruit which hold 1 to 3 seeds each, are produced in profusion, they appear from late summer. The Zebra-wood is armed and has an overlapping range, but its leaflets are fewer and larger, while its flowers vary from white to pink. Other Dalbergia species of the region velvety undersides to the leaflets; the Thorny elm has simple leaves