Welcome to Balanced Rocks: Pictures and Stories

Beginning March 16,2010, I began a journey of balancing rocks. I hold to the practice of setting to balance at least five sculptures a day, sometimes, many more. Of these I take lots of pictures and videos. While conducting this adventure, I have been introduced to an incredible unfolding story. Additionally, I discovered this phenomenon is manifesting worldwide. As I post pictures and stories, I found many others similarly engaged and sharing their works. Additionally, as folks come upon me performing my work, many want to find out how this is done and try themselves. This blog shares this work in both pictures and stories. Enjoy


A seeming impossibility becomes possible

Rock Balancing: The Beginning

On a fine summer day, sometime in August, 2009, I was visiting family in Toronto. Like most folks spending summer in a large city, we used up as much time as we could finding outdoor events that would cool us. One afternoon, we headed to the Beaches section of East Toronto. After spending some time playing in a large sandbox in the shade with my grandkids and some of their newfound companions, we headed to the Boardwalk that extends from Balmy Beach to Kew Gardens. Ella accompanied me, Liam took off with his mom, Natalie. They ventured down the boardwalk, Ella and I headed onto the sand toward the water’s edge. Halfway there we encountered what looked like a small size Stonehenge.

About a dozen sculptures were gathered together in a rough circle. Each was a stack of two or three rocks balanced one on another. The tallest one was slightly taller than Ella, who was small average height for a five year older. All were in the neighborhood of three feet and four feet tall. What immediately jumped out was the precarious nature of the balancing. Most points of contact were miraculously slight. Most seemed to be standing on a point. Two more folks were witnessing this amazing display. We imagined that there must be small metal rods embedded at the point of contact, or else some kind of glue was used. Each of us peered from close low angles to detect what could account for this mystical display. Ella, not being so cautious, toppled one structure over. Luckily, it did not land on her.

I hurried over and picked up the fallen rock. I saw no evidence of a rod or glue. It indeed had been balanced on its pedestal. I lifted it up and tried to place it back where I reckoned it had been balanced. I cautioned Ella, to be careful and not upset any more sculptures and went about the task of finding balance. I was not successful and struggled immensely but did not find the magic spot where stability could be achieved. After a lengthy effort, an attractive Asian woman about my age approached and gently nudged me aside offering to demonstrate her work. She pointed to the spot she would set the stone upon. She called it by a foreign name. To me it looked like a slight dimple.

Placing the small end of the upper rock into that hollow, she deftly and quickly moved it around, slightly twisting and cajoling it into position. The sight of this slender woman with longish graying hair performing an intricate dance with a rock slightly larger than her head emanated calmness. It seemed only the ends of her fingers were used to achieve these small movements. Apparently, equilibrium was close. Shortly she was done and withdrew her palms which naturally assumed an open prayer posture. The rock I had grappled with was majestically resting in its previous stable state. She next went over and reset two other structures, I had not noticed were also amiss. I just took them to be part of the rubble strewn about the beach. Now all the display was standing and providing a small sense of order in our chaotic world.

I never got this woman’s name, but heard her story. She had set this display up for the purpose of taking pictures, one of which she hoped to use for a cover of a book she was publishing. Unfortunately not getting her name makes it difficult to find her book. But I carried away with me the sight of her presentation and the incredible feeling I had witnessed an amazing ethereal event. I also felt an urge to explore this practice.

Rock in the Snow

Rock in the Snow
January in Toronto

Saturday, September 27, 2008

It’s a Gas

In teaching about fire, the beginning statement I make is “Neither wood, coal, nor paper burns.” I am greeted by puzzling looks that beg an explanation. “ I go on, “ Solid material does not burn. What you see are gases oxidizing in the final process of combustion.” There are three stages in the development leading to rapid oxidation. The first is applying heat that drives gases from combustible material. The second step requires mixing oxygen usually in the form of common air with the combustible gases. Lastly a spark is needed to ignite the air/gas mixture producing flame and heat. If enough combustible material is present, a sustainable cycle takes place. The heat produced drives off more gases, the constant flame provides ongoing spark and hot gases expand creating an air current that draws fresh air, hence oxygen, toward the gases and flame.
As you gaze at fire, you give witness to this ongoing interplay that produces combustion. The dancing flames show evidence of burning gases. Notice that nowhere is the combustible material, be it wood, coal or paper, aflame. It may glow red which is a sign of its heated state and conversion to gases. Flame displays its lively nature as it stretches out engulfing unburned gases. In the process the quantity of combustible material reduces. It has been converted to burnable gases; its unburnable component is ash. Some is light enough to be lifted away on the upward flowing air currents. Heavier ash sinks to a small pile left after the fire has extinguished.
For all material, this is the fire process. The difference is what temperature is necessary to drive off combustible gases. Gases that are combustible at normal air temperature only need spark. These gases are hazardous to handle. Even liquid gasoline does not burn . However, it’s temperature to convert to burnable vapors is lower than temperatures found outdoors on a mild day. Then spark is all that is needed to begin the inferno. Other burnable materials have combustion temperatures in the range produced in ordinary fires. Other materials will not combust in these fires. Examples are most metals, ceramics, stone, and rock.
But even these things can burn in conditions well beyond the ordinary. Some have combustion temperatures quite high. Even metal can turn to vapors at temperatures high enough. These temperatures are not normal and only found in controlled environments like science labs, deep furnaces, or nuclear experiments. At times, certain other elements need to be present to catalyze burning. They conditions may also occur in the bowels off the earth where high temperatures and pressure produce fires that have powers of transmutation. The ashes from these fires are known as gems and sometimes called precious.


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About Me, Part One

My photo
Rock Balancing: The Beginning. What began as a journal of my travels took a hiatus when I began to settle in Ithaca NY. In the meantime, I took up the practice of setting rocks to balance. I returned to my blog to begin recording this story

Part, The second

On Easter Sunday Morning, 2008, I made a decision to settle in the Ithaca New York area. At the same time, I decided to continue to post my blog, However, the stories now will come from the archive stored internally. These will be the stories I gathered while on previous journeys and never entrusted to paper. The date of each posting will not reflect the date of the story being related but will mark the date that narrative got inscribed.

Carry wood

Carry wood
33 years later

Part: The third

I took a brief hiatus from my daily blog writing. I did not know the direction it would take. part of me thought I would abandon it. It turns out I missed it. The old title "On the Road Again' is no longer apt. It appears I am settling. The travel stories will age to a point, when I will probably resusitiate them and do something with them. I dusted off some old stories and begin this new series.
Thr first is one was written two years ago. I edited it and begin again a series that is more apropos to someone settling in upper New York State. They are meant to warm, amuse, educate and sometimes inflame.