Perception---you have that power.

There is purpose in design. There is information in a setting. There is truth in your environment. Fake or real, it's there.

All images are copyrighted by Heidi Hoffer unless otherwise indicated. Your courtesy in using my photographs must include crediting me as the photographer. You must tell me when and where you've used them and send the link to me showing your use of them.

Saturday, October 13, 2012


The OKScotsfest 2012 in Tulsa featured typical highland feats of strength. Imagine great beasty athletes in kilts, shrugging off the fact they were wearing "skirts". These brawny men and women are the foundation of the Scottish Festival in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The draw for most Scotsmen athletes is the Highland Games. Generally these games are tests of strength which imply certain knowledge of body physics in order to not harm one's self in the competitions.


The judge on the left in the picture above is writing down a measurement of distance. Notice the military style kilt pin on his kilt shown in the close-up below. The judge has used the pin to hold a second writing instrument!  I also noticed that most of the athletes had on t-shirts with their kilts rather than a nice linen shirt, and several contenders had special shoes and socks. Many also had what looked like weight-lifter’s belts.
All of the athletes appeared to fit the description of big and  burly,  women included. There is simply no way to be dainty and still be able to accomplish these feats. The women looked fabulous!
This fellow is participating in the hammer toss. Notice the safety fencing! The hammer toss is derived from older competitions where an actual sledge hammer was thrown.  The object is to throw the longest distance. The trick is to create a circular elliptic by twisting the body around and around with feet planted firmly into the ground by means of a metal toe spike while swinging the hammer from a low point toward the audience to a high point towards the distance range. The competitor releases the hammer at the high point of his high elliptic. Where it lands and is marked and measured.
Another feat of strength is being demonstrated by this fellow lifting from the ground a large tractor tire. This is one of the most typical strongman events at many competitions, and also one of the most personally dangerous. Each lifter is coached by a professional here.

The traditional caber toss is being performed by this competitor. One lifts the caber (basically, it is a telephone pole) vertically and runs forward judging the correct time to flip it end over to land as far away as possible. Balance seems to be the key goal after strength here. It is originally thought that this skill was considered a good one to have in order to toss logs across chasms in order to cross them. There are several weights and lengths of cabers, even small ones for children!
The weight toss again is a skill attainted by practicing the correct time to throw after acceleration. The goal is to toss up and over a bar. The interesting things, is that while one form of this toss has you tossing sideways, the form I say in Tulsa had the tossers tossing backwards over their heads which is another acceptable form.
The Humvee pull is a well-received event. The competitor in the picture above wears a harness which is for pulling the Humvee and the huge rope he is pulling on is pinned to the earth by the weight of the tires of another truck. The fellow in white is keeping the rope out of the way of the competitor. The object here is to get the Humvee rolling and pull it past a certain point in a certain amount of time.
Other events not pictured include tossing a straw-filled burlap bag with a pitch fork. Amazing skill is needed for that. The Highland Games brought about a stong feeling of admiration for all of the competitors. Well done, athletes!

Saturday, October 6, 2012


When I was in Pretoria, South Africa, I dragged my friends to a Scottish festival complete with pipe band competitions and Scottish foods for sale. I was enchanted by the sound of bagpipes floating towards us from what looked like a huge park, and we followed our ears until we got to the site. You can really hear those war pipes from a long way off. Recently, I was able to go to the Oklahoma Scottish Festival . It was a strikingly similar festival complete with band competitions.

The first thing I did of course was to follow my ears, and find the competition field for the Pipe & Drum bands.
The judges check the group for something worth points and make marks on their clipboards. These judges are extremely serious, and even cup their hands around their ears to better isolate the bagpipe sounds.
The first band I watched was the Silver Thistle. They hail from Austin, Texas. Their unit was slick and polished, and the judges were on them like fleas to a dog. I believe they performed very well.

Members of the Silver Thistle Pipe and Drum corps perform in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Here is another example of one of the judges pacing around the group. What I really enjoyed was the fact that even the judges were dressed with great attention to detail. Just look at the shoe laces that tie up around the ankles! The very shoes are special, too. The socks look thick and wooly, and the ribbons poking out create a nice bright spark of color.
Now, where else do you see such interesting leather cutwork on shoes?

There is something about the perfection of these bands. When they are on the field everyone’s competition pour their eyes over them and discuss in great detail any possible shortcomings. Here is a picture of what I assume are members of the competition.

Above are kilted members of another pipe and drum corps.
Here is one last image that shows more about the peculiar details of clothing one can see at a Scottish Festival. Here you can see the ribbons at the back of the hat and the red pom-pom cockade and the metal badge on the left of this man’s hat.
The Oklahoma Scottish Festival  was filled with regimental kilt wearers and in the next blog post I’ll show some of the other dapper and unusual Scotsmen, or should I say Scotspersons?