April 20, 2018

Miscellany #95

Did a Typo Help End World War II?  It certainly helped.
The mistake led to a moss specialist being deposited into one of the most intense covert operations of the war.

Perfect Diamonds Can be Made in a Microwave

These artificial diamonds are nothing like those cheap, lab-grown imitation diamonds, such as cubic zirconia - they have the exact same physical structure and chemical composition as a diamond that's been pulled out of the ground.

You had one job

 Hilarious Tile

Scientists Have Accidentally Created a Mutant Enzyme That Eats Plastic Waste

They found the first ones in Japan in 2016. Hidden in the soil at a plastics recycling plant, researchers unearthed a microbe that had evolved to eat the soda bottles dominating its habitat, after you and I throw them away. While examining how the Japanese bug breaks down plastic, scientists accidentally created a mutant enzyme that outperforms the natural bacteria, and further tweaks could offer a vital solution to humanity's colossal plastics problem. 

That problem is highly localized 95% of plastic polluting the world's oceans comes from just TEN rivers

The top 10 rivers - eight of which are in Asia - accounted for so much plastic because of the mismanagement of waste. About five trillion pounds is floating in the sea, and targeting the major sources - such as the Yangtze and the Ganges - could almost halve it, scientists claim....More than half of the plastic waste that flows into the oceans comes from just five countries: China, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam and Sri Lanka. While China is responsible for 2.4 million tons of plastic that makes its way into the ocean, nearly 28 percent of the world total, the United States contributes just 77,000 tons, which is less than one percent, according to the study published in the journal Science. The U.S. and Europe are not mismanaging their collected waste, so the plastic trash coming from those countries is due to litter, researchers said.

The 'Indonesian fish people'

 Indonesian Fish People

The 'Indonesian fish people', who can dive 230ft and hold their breath for 13 minutes underwater, are members of the Bajau tribe who have wandered the seas of southern Asia for more than 1000 years.  Turns out they have a genetic anomaly, PDE10A, that causes their spleens to be 50% larger that their land-dwelling neighbors, the Saluan.  The evidence showed that Bajau spleens were permanently enlarged, and did not get bigger simply as a response to diving.

These Flames Are KFC's Hong Kong ad for "Hot & Spicy Chicken


True story. British Airways Flight 9 and its captain, a master of understatement.

On a scheduled British Airways flight from London's Heathrow to Auckland on June 24, 1982, the 747 aircraft flew into a cloud of volcanic ash thrown up by the eruption of Mount Galunggung (approximately 110 miles south-east of Jakarta, Indonesia), resulting in the failure of all four engines.

"Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. We have a small problem. All four engines have stopped. We are doing our damnedest to get them going again. I trust you are not in too much distress."

The reason for the failure was not immediately apparent to the crew or air traffic control. The aircraft was diverted to Jakarta in the hope that enough engines could be restarted to allow it to land there. The aircraft glided out of the ash cloud, and all engines were restarted (although one failed again soon after), allowing the aircraft to land safely at the Jakarta airport.

Was Queen Victoria a drug addict?

The contents of Queen Victoria’s medicine cabinet are eyebrow raising to put it mildly. There was obviously opium, sold as a painkiller. But then we also find that Victorian favourite, Laudanum. This was a tonic consisting of opium dissolved in alcohol. One swig and one was ready to perform one’s public duties!  To pep herself up, Her Majesty had chewing gum infused with cocaine. She was very fond of this treat. So much so that she even shared some Charlie laced chewies with a young Winston Churchill when he came to stay at Balmoral, her Scottish estate.  Menstrual cramps were eased with marijuana. ...And as for labour pains during her many pregnancies, Victoria reached for the chloroform, which she said was “delightful beyond measure”

Polish artist Pawel Kuczynski  illustrates the absurdity of our everyday lives

-Satirical-Illustrations-Polish-Pawel-Kuczynski-13-5Abb45Db8D50B  700

Drunk Tourist Accidentally Climbs Mountain While Trying To Get Back To His Hotel

An Estonian tourist known as Pavel, had one too many drinks at Cervinia Resort in the Italian Alps when he decided to call it a night and head back to his hotel. Unfortunately, he took a wrong turn and began heading up the mountainside....At some point between 2 and 3 am, Pavel finally realized that he had made a mistake, but through sheer luck he stumbled across Igloo, a restaurant and bar that was closed for the night. He broke in to seek shelter.

In the New Yorker,  Where the Amish Go on Vacation in Florida

Earrings, usually forbidden, can be seen glittering from beneath white bonnets, and houses are outfitted with satellite dishes. Horses and buggies are nowhere to be seen, but adult-sized tricycles abound. Swimming, volleyball, and shuffleboard are encouraged; ice-cream cones are a nightly ritual.

Carrots were purple, yellow and white until the 1600s, when Dutch Farmers crossbred them creating Orange

 Rainbow Carrots

William the Silent, Prince of Orange, was a leader of the Dutch War for Independence against Spanish rule, which after the Eighty Years' War (1568–1648) led to an independent Dutch state. It become a monarchy in 1815 under the House of Orange.  Orange is the color of the Dutch Royal Family and the color orange has come to symbolize the country, and to signify national pride.


The House of Orange has long had the reputation of being one of the wealthier royal houses in the world, largely due to their business investments. They are rumored to have a large stake in Royal Dutch Shell. Other significant shares are supposed to be in the Philips Electronics company (known in the Netherlands as Royal Philips), KLM-Royal Dutch Airlines, and the Holland-America Line (a cruise ship company)

See Yourself As You Truly Are in This Mysterious Metal Mirror

For over 500 years, Indian artisans  in Aranmula, Kerala, have used a mysterious alloy, a secret passed down over generations to create the metal mirrors called "Aranmula kannadi".  The uniqueness of the Aranmula kannadi is that it is front-reflecting, unlike plane glass mirrors where reflection takes place on the back surface of the glass, where the reflective coating is applied. In plane mirrors, light travels through the glass and back, so it gets refracted and changes direction.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:16 PM | Permalink

April 9, 2018

Miscellany #94

'Homer can help you': War veterans use ancient epics to cope

The trials of Odysseus are really not that different from the struggles of those learning to readjust after wars of today, modern veterans are finding....For many in the UVM class, Homer's 2,800-year-old verses seem all too familiar: the siege of Troy, the difficult quest of Odysseus to return home after 10 years at war, his anguish at watching friends die, and his problems readjusting to civilian life....."Using Homer, because of the distance involved and also its great storytelling, is a way to break into those experiences."..."It opens that avenue so that they can speak to issues that they are having."  Homer-for-veterans is the brainchild of Dartmouth College classics professor Roberta Stewart, who is now hoping for a grant that will allow her to expand the idea nationwide.

Julian Peter's A Visual Interpretation of "Birches", the poem by Robert Frost  is just charming.

Delingpole: NOAA 2.5 Degrees F Data Tampering – ‘Science Doesn’t Get Any Worse Than This’
In other words, pretty much the entirety of the 20th century warming in the U.S. “measured” by the world’s primary temperature record gatekeeper may be fake.

'Worst ever' sex gang case cop claims his bosses thought stopping Telford child abusers was 'too much trouble'
A police source says he was 'horrified' after court orders against more than 20 suspects were abandoned

Man Tattoos Entire Face Grey, Dyes Beard White, Ends Up Looking Like a Negative Version of Himself


Adam Curlykale, a 32-year-old tattoo enthusiast, claims tattoos helped him get over a really difficult period of his life. When he was 22, he was diagnosed with cancer of the large intestine, and although he managed to beat the disease, the aggressive medical treatment he had to endure took a heavy toll on his body. ...Months of radiotherapy, chemotherapy, molecular therapy and stem cell therapy caused several skin conditions and a partial disappearance of the pigment in the skin, otherwise known as albinism. People in his native Poland did not accept him, and Adam admits that he had problems accepting himself.  Eventually, he became depressed, suffered from eating disorders and even contemplated suicide. Luckily, tattoos saved him.

“Have children” - wrote Bruna Estrela

“If I could only give my friends advice, it would be this: have children. At least one. But if possible, have 2, 3, 4 … Brothers are our bridge with the past and the safe harbor for the future. But have children.  Children make us better human beings.  What a child does for you no other experience does. Traveling the world transforms you, a successful career is rewarding, independence is delightful. Still, nothing will change you as permanently as a child....

Have children so you can receive that a and a tight hug when you get home, and feel that you are the most important person in the whole world for that little being. Have children to see them smile like you and walk like your father, and understand the beauty of having a part of you going around the world. Have children to re-learn the delight of a bubble bath, a bowl of water in the heat, playing with a dog, and eating mango without any concern about not getting your hands (and clothes) dirty while doing it....

Have children just because you have so much to learn. Have children because the world needs us to be better.

Cascade of Lava Extraordinary photographs taken by Michael Shainblum at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

 Lava Cascade

The Internet Can’t Stop Laughing At The Worst Hotel Guest Ever Who Got Banned From Hotel For Lifetime

If you haven't read this story yet, you must.  It will have you laughing out loud.

The Curse of the Bradford Pear
All those white blooming trees you see everywhere... are an environmental disaster happening right before your very eyes.

Feather Stars.  Watch the Rare Moment when a Feather Star is Swimming.

 Feather Star Comasteridae - Oxycomanthus Bennetti-001

Feather stars are usually found curled up during the day, but at night they extend their feathery arms to catch plankton in the currents.
They float, crawl, roll, walk or even swim through the current to different locations. Some small animals like clingfish and crustaceans can be found in the arms of feathers stars....Very much like sea stars if their arms are damaged they can regenerate at will.  They are marine animals called Crinoids  that make up the class Crinoidea of the echinoderms. Those crinoids which in their adult form are attached to the sea bottom by a stalk are commonly called sea lilies. The unstalked forms are called feather stars.  They live in both shallow water and in depths as great as 30,000 ft.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:19 PM | Permalink

March 16, 2018

Miscellany #93

Drones as Aerial Light Sources
Photographer Reuben Wu uses modified drones as aerial light sources that illuminate obscure landscapes in a way that makes each appear new and unexplored in his ongoing series Lux Noctis.

 Ruben Wu' Drone Illuminated Mountaintops

Ingenious way Finns cruise in the winter

Poop Visible From Space Helped Scientists Find a Remote 'Supercolony' of Penguins

In 2014, Stony Brook University's Heather Lynch and NASA's Mathew Schwaller identified guano stains in satellite images of
the Danger Islands, a rocky archipelago off the Antarctic Peninsula. The visible guano marks signaled that a large population of penguins was living there. When the scientists launched an expedition to the islands to learn more, and counted birds by hand and with a camera-equipped drone, they discovered a "supercolony" of more than 1.5 million Adélies.

The Life of a Parent in a Single Painting by artist Andrei Popov of St Petersburg

 Popov Parent Single Painting

The Rise and Fall of the Waterbed

Time, which first reported on the popularity of the waterbed in 1971, published an article in 2012 about the trend of buying waterbeds for cows. Yes, cows. Apparently this unconventional accommodation helps to reduce sores and infections, and is less likely to grow bacteria than beds of traditional materials like wood chips. There are entire companies devoted to producing waterbeds for cows. As one Oregon farmer put it: "Happier cows, happier milk."

Turning architectural details into visual puns

 Don Quixote

The Science of Crunch - Why We Crave Loud and Crunchy Foods

Why isn't this mandatory equipment on all town and city snowplows?

Another reason why I love Switzerland

"She read me the Riot Act"   Where It Came From and What It Means

First passed by British Parliament in 1714 , the Riot Act - when read aloud - served as formal notice that the parties involved were overstepping their bounds....Typically, the raucous formation would be given 60 minutes to take a hike. If not, their just punishment would be prison, labor, or death.

A Who's Who of the 19th century in a Quilt  Adeline Harris’ masterpiece signature quilt is now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art
It took almost 2 decades to collect the autographs and stitch together the quilt in an extraordinary achievement of craftmanship.


The signatures include congressmen, governors, Union Army generals, an astonishing eight presidents of the United States (Martin Van Buren, John Tyler, Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, Ulysses S. Grant) and two vice presidents (Schuyler Colfax and Henry Wilson). There are also notable academics, university presidents, journalists and editors, actors, reformers, scientists, artists, poets, essayists, novelists, folklorists, clergymen from numerous denominations. Rubbing shoulders on this extraordinary quilt are the autographs of Samuel Morse, Horace Greeley, Washington Irving, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Julia Ward Howe, Harriet Beecher Stowe, William Cullen Bryant, Alexandre Dumas, Oliver Wendell Holmes, William Makepeace Thackeray and Charles Dickens.

Where does all the FAT go when you lose weight?

The most common misconception, by far, was that fat is converted to energy... Some respondents thought fat turns into muscle, which is impossible, and others assumed it escapes via the colon. ...The correct answer is that fat is converted to carbon dioxide and water. You exhale the carbon dioxide and the water mixes into your circulation until it’s lost as urine or sweat.  If you lose 22 lbs of fat, most of it (18.5 lbs) comes out through your lungs and the remaining 3.5 lbs turns into water. In other words, nearly all the weight we lose is exhaled.  This surprises just about everyone, but actually, almost everything we eat comes back out via the lungs.

World Map with the Literal Translations of Country Names

 Literal North America

Canada is "The Village" while Brazil is "Red Dyewood".  Here are some more

Ethiopia: Land of Burnt Faces
Egypt: Temple of the Soul of Ptah
Spain: Land of Many Rabbits
Hungary: 10 Arrows
Qatar: Land of Tar
Israel: He That Striveth with God
Thailand: Land of the Free
Nauru: I Go to the Beach
Australia: Southern Land
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:56 AM | Permalink

February 23, 2018

Miscellany #92

A Single Glowing Atom

David Nadlinger’s photo of a positively charged atom trapped in electric fields won the overall prize of science photography competition held by Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and it’s continuing to impress people all over the world.  He called it “Single Atom in an Ion Trap."  The photographer managed to capture an illuminated atom suspended between electric fields. Magnified more, it's a pale purple dot that is so astonishing,  I was immediately reminded of the impact when we first saw our own pale, blue dot

 Atom-Blue Dot

These Bacteria Digest Toxic Metals And Poop Out Tiny Gold Nuggets

One metal-gobbling bacterium, Cupriavidus metallidurans, manages to ingest toxic metallic compounds and still thrive, producing tiny gold nuggets as a side-effect.

 Bacteria Poops Gold Nuggets
The arrows point to gold particles on C. metallidurans  (American Society of Microbiology)

Nuns, guns and the Wild West: the extraordinary tale of Sr. Blandina

According to legend, and to Sr. Blandina’s journal and letters, one of Billy the Kid’s gang members had been shot and was on the brink of death when the doctors of Trinidad, Colo. refused to treat him. Sister decided to take him in and cared for him for three months, nursing him back to health. But Billy the Kid (William Leroy) was still unhappy. Word got out that the outlaw was coming to town to scalp the four doctors of Trinidad in revenge. When he arrived, Sr. Blandina intervened, and convinced him to call off his mission on behalf of his man she had saved. After that incident, Sr. Blandina and Billy the Kid became friends. She once visited him in jail, and he once called off a stage-coach robbery as soon as he realized Sister was one of the passengers.

Rediscovering the Blazingly Bright Colors of Ancient Sculptures and why most of us grew up believing classical sculpture is white.

 Classical Statues Were Painted

The great story behind  John Singer Sargent's portrait of Theodore Roosevelt

 Theodore Roosevelt By John Singer Sargent, 1903

How to get dressed, 18th Century style
After watching this fascinating video, I now understand why women needed help to get dressed for the day and how they went to the toilet with all those clothes.

Before and After - Extraordinary Street Art

 Exreaordinary Street-Art

My Life Not Knowing What Colors Look Like.  A woman with color-blindness.

Here I am, 16 years old, at a brand new school, and I just want what every other 16-year-old wants: to fit in. I was leaving English class when this boy Thomas came up to me and said, “I think your eyes are bleeding.” I thought it was a prank, or a weird joke, and I just kind of laughed and shrugged it off.

When I got home later the makeup I’d put on that morning was still out on the dresser. My red lip liner and my brown eyeliner were both Clinique brand, and I’d mixed them up. Thomas thought my eyes were bleeding because I’d been wearing bright red lip liner on my eyes all day. I was mortified, and I never wanted to make that mistake again. To this day, I make sure my lip and eyeliner are always different brands.

Flowering Stones

Lithops are beautiful succulent plants that have evolved to avoid being eaten by grazing animals by blending in with the stones in their natural environment.  In the wild, Lithops inhabit vast dry regions of South Africa. Like a cactus, they survive due to their capacity to store water for long periods of time. The leaves are thick to store enough water for the plants to survive for months without rain.


The Reactionary: Aphorisms of Nicolás Gómez Dávila

Where Christianity disappears, greed, envy, and lust invent a thousand ideologies to justify themselves.

Society until yesterday had notables; today it only has celebrities.

In the modern state there now exist only two parties: citizens and bureaucracy.

The bourgeoisie is any group of individuals dissatisfied with what they have and satisfied with what they are.

In medieval society, society is the state; in the bourgeois society, state and society confront each other; in the Communist society, the state is society.

Beauty does not surprise us, but fills us till we overflow.

The Wheel of Feelings

Feeling a certain way, but not quite sure of the best word for it? The wheel of feelings is a literary (or thereapeutic) tool for lending precision to fear, anger, disgust, sadness, happiness and surprise.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:46 PM | Permalink

January 17, 2018

Miscellany #91

The remote Siberian village, Oymyakon, Siberia is  so cold in the winter that eyelashes freeze in seconds. This week, the public thermometer in a the village known as the coldest inhabited place on earth  broken as temperatures plunged to near-record depths at -62C which is about -80F....Oymyakon has 50 permanent residents and its name means “non-freezing water” due to a nearby thermal spring.

 Frozen Eyelashes Siberia

How to Take a Picture of a Stealth Bomber Over the Rose Bowl
An aerial photographer explains precisely how he took this amazing photograph.

 Rose Bowl Stealth Bomber

NASA's $1 Billion Juno spacecraft Just Sent Back Gorgeous New Images of Jupiter after completing  its 10th high-speed trip around Jupiter in December. ..The robot gets relatively close to the gas giant planet and takes new photos with its JunoCam instrument roughly every 53 days, while travelling at speeds up to 130,000 mph. 

 Juno-Jupiter Photos

Two of the 2018 Hasselblad Masters

 Landscape Winner Benjamin Everett-Lopez-Island-Usa
Landscape Category Winner BENJAMIN EVERETT Lopez Island, USA

 Portrait  Winner Tina Signesdottir Hult Norway
Portrait Category Winner TINA SIGNESDOTTIR HULT Torvastad, Norway

Soap Bubbles blown in sub-zero temperatures turns into stunning ice crystals before bursting
Pre-school teacher Girlie Figueroa captured the phenomenon during sub-zero temperatures in Aldie, Virginia. The clip captures ice crystals dancing along the fragile surface of the bubble before it collapses in on itself. Her special bubble mix is made using dish-washing soap, corn syrup and water which is blown through a straw and works best below -13°F.

 Soap Bubble Ice Crystals

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:48 PM | Permalink

December 2, 2017

Miscellany #89

Something Wonderful: The Escherian Stairwell.  I can't figure it out.

Two Stars Slammed Into Each Other And Solved Half Of Astronomy’s Problems. What Comes Next?

Farmers urged to bury their underpants to improve quality of their beef

The ‘Soil my Undies’ challenge was first launched by the California Farmers’ Guild in July and is slowly being adopted by agricultural organizations across the world.  The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) and Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) claim interring a pair of cotton smalls in a pasture can reveal vital information about soil fertility. According to the experts, sterile and lifeless soil will keep underwear intact, but organically thriving soil will eat away at the briefs, leaving nothing but the elastic waistband. Dig up the pants after just two months, and it is possible to judge how healthy the land is.

Prehistoric Dinosaur-era Shark with Insane Teeth Discovered Swimming off the Coast of Portugal


The rare frilled shark is considered a “living fossil,” because evidence of its existence dates back to at least 80 million years ago. This summer, researchers found one alive and thriving off the coast of Portugal. Named after its gills, the frilled shark has six pairs of gills that have “frilly” edges.  And  300 teeth neatly lined in 25 rows... specifically designed to help it “to trap squid, fish and other sharks in sudden lunges.”

Turquoise Icebergs Dot Iceland’s Black Sand Beach

 Turqoise Icebergs Black Sand Beach

Learning About Cities by Mapping Their Smells

The English artist Kate McLean is trying to preserve our olfactory memory with smellmaps.
“People expect Amsterdam to smell primarily of cannabis,” she says. But in her spring 2013 smellwalk, participants recorded the sugary sweetness of waffles, the spices of Asian and Surinamese restaurants, and pickled herring from the markets, which McLean notes is a link to one of the city’s old industries. These food smells were accompanied by the wafting aromas of old books in basement doorways and laundry odors from the city’s house hotels.
During a smellwalk in Brooklyn, one of her participants reported the “smell of shattered dreams.” McLean asked each person in the group what that meant and eventually a consensus was reached. “We agreed that the ‘smell of shattered dreams’ is the smell of walking out of a bar, with that typical stench of beer and cigarettes, and going home alone again.”

The frozen Siberian that 'sounds like whales singing'

 Singing Siberian Lake

A photographer in the Altai Mountains recorded the extraordinary haunting noises while walking on the frozen water of Lake Ak-Kem which she posted on Facebook.  Svetlana Kuzina said she was frightened the first time she heard the 'alien-like' sounds in the middle of the night while photographing shooting stars at Lake Ak-Kem.  The noise was 'soft, low, thick, long, taut, howling, changing between quiet and very loud - somewhat reminiscent of whales 'singing'.''The mournful howling sounds made me really feel aliens must be close by."  The frozen acoustics are from the ice expanding and contracting, say experts.

The typeface that helps dyslexics read
Designer Christian Boer had problems reading as a child because of dyslexia. Now he’s created a downloadable font called Dyslexie  that can untangle the jumbled letters that many dyslexics see. 

How the sandwich consumed Britain

 British Chilled Sandwiches

Mass-producing a meal that you could, if necessary, rip open and consume in the street was transforming people’s behavior. “Instant gratification and total convenience and delivery,”....The rise of the British chilled sandwich over the last 40 years has been a deliberate, astonishing and almost insanely labor-intensive achievement. 

For the first time, the Ratzinger Prize is awarded to a non-theologian: the Orthodox composer Arvo Pärt  He's extraordinary.

Somebody wrote an email bot to waste scammers' time

When you get a scam email, forward it to me@rescam.org and a bot will keep the scammer busy emailing back and forth with it, giving the scammer less time to rob gullible humans....Re:scam is an initiative aimed at helping people from becoming fraud victims by occupying the time and resources of scammers through deploying a well-educated artificially intelligent chat bot. Instead of junking or deleting a scam email, you can now forward it to Re:scam who will continue the conversation indefinitely – or until the scammer stops replying.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:47 PM | Permalink

November 9, 2017

Miscellany #88

There’s so much going on in this breathtaking new Hubble photo you could stare at it for years

The photo, which NASA says is of “a random patch of sky” is absolutely stunning, and it’s packed with lots of different objects in all different shapes and sizes. You’ve got bright blue spiral galaxies, bold orange clusters of galaxies, and smudges of deep red which indicate galaxies that are so far away the expansion of the universe itself has warped their color. Oh, and then there’s the bright white “worms,” which have an entirely different explanation.  Original resolution here

 Random Hubble-2

The 12-year-old prodigy whose "first language" is Mozart on 60 Minutes with Scott Pelley

Alma Deutscher was playing piano and violin by the time she was 3 years old and wrote her first opera at 10. For her, making music seems as natural as breathing.

 Alma Deutscher

‘Old fashioned’ nursery rhymes are no longer being sung to children – leaving them badly prepared for school,

Humpty Dumpty may seem old-fashioned, but children who can sing a song and know a story off by heart aged four are better prepared for school. 'Nursery rhymes provide a collective experience and teach a little bit of social history to boot,’ she says. Literacy consultant Sue Palmer, author of the book Toxic Childhood, said nursing rhymes were vital for a young child’s 'language development’. But she said many children were simply being played the classic songs by tape or video, when the secret to their success was in the interaction between the singer and child. She said: ‘These old rhymes have hung round, mothers have sung them through the ages. It is ancient women’s wisdom that is getting lost now. ‘They have been sung throughout the ages because the child responds well to them, and the reason the child responds well to them is that the child can imitate that song and…. develop their language ability.’

Incredible restoration removes 200 years of grime from oil painting in seconds

“A remarkable Jacobean re-emergence after 200 years of yellowing varnish … after Restorer Philip Mould  tested a special mixture of gel and solvent on an ‘oil on panel’ surface before carefully applying it to the picture of the Jacobean lady.  Watch the  mesmerizing 20 second video.

 Restoration Art Varnish

Scottish Jews Have Their Own Official Tartan

 Kosher Tartan

The central colors are blue and white, both of which decorate the Israeli and Scottish flags; they are complemented by lines of gold (representative of the Ark of the Covenant), red (Kiddush wine), and silver (the ornamentation on the scrolls of the Torah).

A Hard Day's Night: Solving a Beatles mystery with mathematics

The opening chord of A Hard Day's Night is probably the most recognizable sound in popular music.  Yet for decades, no-one could figure out exactly how those two seconds of music were made.

The lava lamps keeping you safe online

With 10% of all web data passes through its servers, the internet firm Cloudflare uses lava lamps to create truly random numbers  to create encryption keys for its data.  The lava lamps are constantly recorded and their movements used to create the truly random numbers.

 Cloudflare's Lava Lamps
Cloudflare's 'wall of entropy at its San Francisco headquarters.

Satellite images show ancient mysterious city in the middle of the Pacific ocean

 Mysterious Island-Ocean1

The virtually uninhabitable Nan Madol, located just off the main island of Pohnpei in Micronesia in the Pacific, is reportedly thought to have been built in the first or second century. Nan Madol, which means “the space inbetween”, is 1,600 miles from Australia and 2,500 miles from Los Angeles.  It was described as the Eighth Wonder of the World by early European explorers, with 97 individual geometrically-shaped blocks, separated by narrow channels of water. The city appears to be sit on top of a lagoon and consists of a series of canals and large stone walls. No records exist to explain its foundations or structure.

Gallery of Accidental Camouflage

 Camoflage Beach Woman

Artist Preserves Childhood Memories In Jars

There are some places in the world that you would just love to put in your bag and carry around wherever you go. That is pretty much what the photographer Christoffer Relander did when visiting his childhood environments in Southern Finland and “capturing” them into glass jars with the help of double exposure.

 Artist's Childhood In Jar

4.5 megabytes of data in 1955 on 62,500 punched cards.  That's not enough for a one minute high-quality YouTube video.

 4.5 Megabytes 1955

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:19 PM | Permalink

November 3, 2017

Miscellany #87

When life imitates art - literally!
Austrian photographer Stefan Draschan observes people in galleries and museums in Paris, Berlin, and Vienna and captures people who inadvertently match the pieces they're looking at.

 Life Imitates Art Museaum

The First Recorded Pizza Delivery Was To A Catholic Bishop… In the 10th Century!

The first ever usage of the word “pizza” was found recorded in a document stored in the archives of the Cathedral of Saints Erasmus and Marciano and Santa Maria Assunta in Gaeta, Italy. The document, entitled codex diplomaticus cajtanus, was a rental agreement over the usage of a mill and its associated land that the Church owned at the time. ...
“Every year on Christmas Day of the Lord, you and your heirs must be paid to us and our successors, by way of rent for the overwritten bishop and without recrimination twelve pizzas, shoulder pork and kidney, and similarly twelve pizzas, and a couple of chickens in the day of Holy Easter of Resurrection.”


Secret of gold finally found: precious metals are forged in cataclysmic collision of neutron stars

Gold has fascinated alchemists for thousands of years, but now scientists have finally solved the mystery. Precious metals are forged in the cataclysmic collision of neutron stars and then flung out into the universe where they eventually aggregate with other stardust into larger bodies, like planets or comets. Previously scientists had theorized that such cosmic smashes could create the vast amount of energy needed to create gold, platinum and silver, but for the first time, they have actually recorded it happening....Researchers say this is the first time a cosmic event has been seen both with gravitational waves and with the full electromagnetic spectrum

 Artist Gold From Stars

Artist's concept of the explosive collision of two neutron stars by Robin Dienel at Carnegie Institution for Science.

I have a message for you…“I put up my hands to protect my head and I jumped from the train.”
Gerard Vanderleun calls it the "most extraordinary tale of loss, survival and regeneration I have heard in many a year."

Butterfly Specimen Boxes Painted as Multi-Story Murals
France-based street artist Mantra has been unveiling a series of trompe l’oeil murals that convert the facades of commercial and residential buildings into larger-than-life butterfly display cases in Spain, Austria, France, and Bogota.

 Martabutterfly-3 Mariposas De Aragon

"Dave The Period Fairy" -  A Viral Sensation After A Woman Shared A Nightmare Hiking Experience On Reddit

Blue Hole discovered in the Great Barrier Reef that is home to incredible, healthy coral colonies

Divers discovered the Blue Hole over 125 miles from Daydream Island. Blue Holes are marine sinkholes that formed during previous ice ages. The discovery of healthy coral in the Blue Hole may come as a surprise to experts, following extensive coral bleaching in the Great Barrier Reef.

 Blue Hole+Great Barrier Reef

Red Rainbow over Sulov, Slovakia

 Red Rainbow Over Sulov Slovakia

World's largest cashew tree

 World's Largest Cashew Tree

Strolling inside the sprawling canopy, you may think you are walking in an entire lush, green forest of cashew trees, but you are actually walking within one single tree. The tree covers about two acres, which approximates to the size of five football fields, or about 70 normal-size cashew trees.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:22 PM | Permalink

October 12, 2017

Miscellany #86

The science behind Mona Lisa’s smile.  How Leonardo da Vinci engineered the world’s most famous painting


His greatest triumph of combining art, science, optics, and illusion was the smile of the Mona Lisa, which he started working on in 1503 and continued laboring over nearly until his death 16 years later. He dissected human faces, delineating the muscles that move the lips, and combined that knowledge with the science of how the retina processes perceptions. The result was a masterpiece that invites and responds to human interactions, making Leonardo a pioneer of virtual reality.

The magic of the Mona Lisa’s smile is that it seems to react to our gaze...In no other painting are motion and emotion, the paired touchstones of Leonardo’s art, so intertwined. The Mona Lisa’s smile came not from some divine intervention. Instead, it was the product of years of painstaking and studied human effort involving applied science as well as artistic skill. Using his technical and anatomical knowledge, Leonardo generated the optical impressions that made possible this brilliant display of virtuosity.

One mom’s ingenious way of getting her kids off their phones and into books.

“This week’s wifi password is the color of Anna Karenina’s dress in the book. I said the book, not the movie!! Good luck!

Contenders in the annual Sony photography awards next year. 
Photographer Diego Faus Momparler from Spain submitted this photograph of Cap de Formentor in Mallorca, taken with a  long exposure just before sunset.

 Mallorca Photo Winner

Solzhenitsyn’s cathedrals  Gary Saul Morson on the literary works of Russian author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.

In Russia, history is too important to leave to the historians. Great novelists must show how people actually lived through events and reveal their moral significance. As Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn explained in his 1970 Nobel Prize lecture, literature transmits “condensed and irrefutable human experience” in a form that “defies distortion and falsehood. Thus literature . . . preserves and protects a nation’s soul.”

How would you walk down this hallway?

-Illusion Hallway Tile

British tile company Casa Ceramica have designed a novel optical illusion flooring system that uses real tiles to create a vertigo-inducing warped floor. The skewed checkerboard floor functions as the entryway to their showroom in Manchester, lending an Alice in Wonderland atmosphere to a generally traditional medium.

Dr. Robert Liston is famous for performing the only operation with a 300 percent mortality rate.

In the days before anesthesia, surgeons had to get creative with their surgeries in an attempt to save lives while minimizing a patient’s pain. One of the most effective ways was to perform the surgery as quickly as possible, sometimes in under five minutes.  There was an upside to this method, of course, as the less time a surgery took, the less likely the patient was to bleed out and the less likely they were to feel pain. However, there was also a downside, as accuracy would usually be sacrificed in favor of speed....Liston was particularly skilled at quick amputations. Where most surgeons at that time lost one in four patients, due to his speed and skill, Liston only lost about one in ten.

Robert Liston was performing a leg amputation on a patient who was lying flat on his table. As he brought down his knife, he was so focused on his speed that he took his surgical assistant’s fingers off along with the patient’s leg. As he swung the knife back up, it clipped a spectator’s coattails, and he collapsed, dead.  The patient and Liston’s assistant both died after their wounds became infected, and the spectator who collapsed was later discovered to have died of fright. The three death’s made Liston’s surgery the only one on record with a 300 percent mortality rate.

Migrating Painted Ladies Over Denver
Large quantities of migrating painted lady butterflies show up on radar over Denver on October 4, 2017.  Call them a swarm, a flutter, a rabble or a kaleidoscope of  butterflies, there's no collective noun big enough.

 Migrating Butterflies Denver

Entries to the National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year competition
Harry Collins captured this photo of an Atlantic Puffin on the remote nesting island of Machias Seal Island off the coast of Maine.

 Atlantic Puffin By Harry Collins

Giant Straw Animals Invade Japanese Fields After Rice Harvest  Repurposing rice straw left over from the harvest.

 Straw Lion Japan-1

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:10 PM | Permalink

October 4, 2017

Miscellany #85

All History in a Nutshell

Good Times

Scientists confirm the obvious: drinking beer makes you happy

Scientists in Germany looked at 13,000 different food components to find out which were the most effective at stimulating the reward center in the brain. And they were surprised to find beer topped the list. The feel-good effect is caused by the neurotransmitter dopamine.  Tempting foods and, it turns out, beer, stimulate the reward center in the brain where the dopamine D2 receptor is located.  Hordenine, which is found in malted barley and beer, does the job of cheering us up pretty well. The new findings were reported in the journal Scientific Reports....Professor Monika Pischetsrieder said “It came as a bit of surprise that a substance in beer activates the dopamine D2 receptor, especially as we were not specifically looking at stimulant foodstuffs.”

‘How do you thank someone for saving your life?’

Professor Jill Brown was giving a lecture when a member of the audience, Dr. Iris Jaffe, a cardiologist at Tufts Medical Center, realized that Brown was showing the classic signs of a pulmonary embolism, a potentially fatal blood clot in the lung. ‘What am I going to do?’ Who am I? I’m somebody in her class. Should I say something? Maybe it’s none of my business.”  Jaffe decided to risk embarrassment and tell Brown about her concerns, “I’m a physician, but I’m not your physician, and I know nothing about your medical history, but I’m concerned you have a blood clot in your lungs and you need to be seen right away.”  Brown shocked said, “What are you talking about?”  But she went to the hospital after the lecture and was diagnosed with multiple blood clots in her lungs and deep vein thrombosis — a blood clot — in her lower right leg. There the doctors kept telling me, ‘That woman probably saved your life,’ because I would have just ignored my symptoms because I thought they were normal after surgery.”  Brown emailed Jaffe, “How do you thank someone for saving your life?”

List of countries by firearm-related death rate per 100,000  in one year

 Edited Gun Deaths Per Capita

American gun ownership and American murder rate

 Gun Ownership+Gun Death Rate

The invisible world of WiFi signal bombardment

Have you ever wondered what the electromangetic fields (EMFs) that surround virtually every person carrying a mobile device with WiFi or data capability look like?  Visual artist Luis Hernan at Digital Ethereal uses a Kirlian Device, which transforms signal strength in light color (reds for high intensity, blues for low intensity) and couples it with long exposure photography to register the changing qualities of wireless networks.

 Wifi Bombardment

9-Year-Old Boy Asks For Dessert, School Calls Him Racist and Calls the Cops
All he asked for was 'brownies" at the end-of-the-year class party at an elementary school in New Jersey.Update at the Philadelphia Inquirer

Wolves changed the ecosystem of Yellowstone National Park and the park's physical geography

Watch this remarkable video, a little over 2 minutes long, to see how.  A longer, narrated video, How Wolves Change Rivers explaining the trophic cascade, has amassed 38 million views.


Man’s Tumor Turns Out To Be A Playmobil Traffic Cone

A 47-year-old man from Preston went to a respiratory clinic complaining of a cough. As the man admitted to having smoked for most of his life, the doctors feared the worst– lung cancer. The doctors then took x-rays, which revealed a spot on his right lung, something they feared was a tumor. They operated immediately, hoping to remove the tumor and begin treatments. However, when they removed the mass, they realized it was not a tumor but in fact a Playmobil traffic cone. The man recalled receiving the cone, along with the rest of the playset, on his seventh birthday over 40 years ago. Doctors concluded that because he was so young, his lung tissue simply grew around it.

Mobile Micro-Lending: 17th-Century Book-Shaped Library Hides 50 Tiny Books
This Jacobean traveling library, bound in leather over a wooden shell, housed dozens of small books. In theory the books could be swapped out for different journeys, much like loading up a Kindle with books to read before heading off to the airport.

Vintage-Book-Case 50 Tiny Books

Holloways: Roads Tunneled into the Earth by Time

They are centuries-old thoroughfares worn down by the traffic of time....The name “holloway” is derived from “hola weg,” meaning sunken road in Old English....No one ever engineered a holloway — erosion by human feet, and horses or cattle driven alongside, combined with water then flowing through the embankments like a gully, molded the land into a tunneled road. It’s hard to date them, but most are thought to go back to Roman times and the Iron Age.


Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:00 PM | Permalink

September 22, 2017

Miscellany #84

Inventor Stephen Davies is creating prosthetic arms for children in his garden shed

Hidden within the most ordinary of garden sheds is a state- of-the-art workshop where a brilliant designer makes prosthetic arms to help scores of children.  Inventor Stephen Davies was himself born without a left lower arm and never forgot the stigma of the NHS-issue prosthetic he wore as a child....Having learned how far lighter limbs could be created on a 3D printer, he began to experiment in his garden shed. He has now set up Team UnLimbited, which creates customized ‘cool’ limbs for children, featuring their choice of color and pattern.  The father of three said: ‘We’ve done Iron Man designs, Harry Potter, Lego and Spider-Man. The key is making something the child actually wants to wear and feels is cool enough to show their friends. The limbs work for children born without a lower arm. When the wearer moves their elbow, the fist closes, enabling objects to be grasped. Each arm costs about £30 to make, and takes a few days to print and assemble. All are made in the shed which is insulated with solar-powered air-conditioning to keep it within the very narrow temperature range needed for the 3D printer to work. 

 Inventor Stephen Davies+Garden Shed
Video interview at his shed.

People who came Face to Face with themselves in a museum

 Museum-Lookalikes #1

The world's favorite color is a rich teal

U.K. Papermakers GF Smith conducted an online global survey of over 30,000 people from 100 countries to determine which color people loved the most. An explosion of paper helicopters in Hull revealed the results. They named the shade Marrs Green in honor of survey participant Annie Marrs from Dundee, who chose the shade closest to the winning hue who said, 'The color was inspired by the landscape that surrounds me at home in Scotland and that deep green hue with a tinge of blue has always been a favorite of mine.'

 Revealed Marrs Green-1

 Marrs-Green Favorite Color
Marrs Green
Hex triplet #008C8C
sRGBB  (r, g, b) (0, 140, 140)

Incredible Coincidences - This Bird Landed On The Page About Itself

 Bird On Page

Photographer Niaz Uddin and his Aerial Lanscape Images

 Niazuddin Yellowstone
The Grand Prismatic Spring at Yellowstone National Park

Octlantis - the underwater "octopus city" discovered off the coast of Australia.  Short video at link.

This discovery of octopuses interacting in a high-density den challenges scientists' previously held belief that octopuses are solitary and antisocial creatures.

This 500 year old machine makes enchanting music.

A carillon is a large musical instrument typically housed in a bell tower. It spins a large wheel with spokes set at deliberate intervals, which strike pegs connected to bells. You can listen to Martin Molin and the 500 year old machine in the Speelklok museum, the Netherlands, at the link.

The Hobbit Churches.  Only six of the Icelandic 'Turf Churches' still stand.

 Hobbit Churches

Very funny video - The  Ultimate Dog Tease

 Dog Tease Funny Video

Beauty most of us will never see

Photographer, vlogger and a sailor, that’s how you can describe JeffHK, the author of this incredible 30-days timelapse which he took on a cargo ship en route from the Red Sea to Hong Kong.  Stitched together from 80,000 photos and 1500GB of project files, this journey takes viewers across the Indian Ocean and major ports around it. Showing not only the intricacies of a cargo ship operation but also the incredible natural shows like lightning storms or the incredible stars displays along the way.

 4K Timelapse Cargo
YouTube link

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:35 PM | Permalink

September 14, 2017

Miscellany #83

The Strange History of the Sunflower

Sunflowers originate from North America but would travel to the Old World and back – and back again - in their centuries old journey to become the plant we know today. They were probably one of the first crops to be grown in the Americas. Before this they were picked by hunter gatherers as a natural source of fat. The seeds could be ground up and mixed with flour to make bread much like the pita variety we eat today.


Balmy 77-Degree Oasis Found In Antarctica

....in a web of hidden ice caves beneath Ross Island’s Mount Erebus where the air temperature hovers around 77 degrees Fahrenheit.  “You could wear a T-shirt in there and be pretty comfortable,” said lead researcher Ceridwen Fraser.

Has the mystery of the 600-year-old Voynich manuscript been solved?

For more than a century, researchers have been trying to decipher ancient texts found in the Voynich manuscript, discovered in an Italian monastery in 1912 and preserved at the Beinecke Library at Yale University.  The 600-year-old document, described as 'the world's most mysterious medieval text,' is full of illustrations of exotic plants, stars, and mysterious human figures, as well as many pages written in an unknown text.  Now, one British academic, Nicholas Gibbs, an expert on medieval medical manuscripts, claims the document is in fact a health manual for a 'well-to-do' lady looking to treat gynecological conditions.

 Voynich Manuscript

Ancient Ruins Older Than The Pyramids Discovered In Canada

When researchers were searching Triquet Island, an island located about 300 miles north of Victoria, British Columbia, they found ancient fish hooks and spears, as well as tools for make fires as well as an ancient cooking hearth, from which they were able to obtain flakes of charcoal burnt by prehistoric Canadians. Using carbon dating on the charcoal flakes, the researchers were able to determine that the settlement dates back 14,000 years ago, making it significantly older than the pyramids of Ancient Egypt, which were built about 4,700 years ago....

To understand how old that truly is, one has to consider that the ancient ruler of Egypt, Cleopatra lived closer in time to you than she did to the creation of the pyramids. This newly discovered settlement dates back more than three times older than the pyramids.

Bird Photographer of the Year 2017 awards

 Flamingos Photy
Alejandro Prieto Rojas for Feeding Flamingos
Best Portrait 2017
 Bird Photy
Bret Charman for Australian Pelican landing on water
Gold Category Birds in Flight 2017

Watch this mesmerizing GIF to see what happens to pills after they enter your body

The Hidden Memories of Plants

Biologists have shown that certain plants in certain situations can store information about their experiences and use that information to guide how they grow, develop, or behave. Functionally, at least, they appear to be creating memories....  scientists have found that certain plants can remember experiences of drought and dehydration, cold and heat, excess light, acidic soil, exposure to short-wave radiation, and a simulation of insects eating their leaves. Faced with the same stress again, the plants modify their responses.

The Menorah Panel of The Arch of Titus in Color

One of the most famous monuments in ancient Rome is the Arch of Titus, constructed by Roman emperor Domitian around 81 C.E. after the death of his brother and predecessor, emperor Titus. The arch celebrates Titus’s military victories during the First Jewish-Roman War (66–74 C.E.)—when the Romans infamously burned the Temple in Jerusalem. One of the arch’s panels depicts Roman soldiers carrying captured treasures from Jerusalem’s Temple, including a large menorah, through the streets of Rome.  Once brightly colored, today, all the colors have faded, so that it looks colorless.

This digital reconstruction shows the Arch of Titus’s menorah panel after it has been restored and colored by the Arch of Titus Project and the Institute for the Visualization of History. A glimpse of what ancient Rome looked like.

 Colorized Arch-Of-Titus-Restoration

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:55 AM | Permalink

September 6, 2017

Miscellany #82

Politically Incorrect but Hilarious Maps of Europe from the Atlas of Prejudice by Bulgarian artist Yanko Tsvetkov

 Europe Potato Tomato

Horse-Riding Librarians Were the Great Depression’s Bookmobiles

 Horse-Riding Librarian

In 1936, packhorse librarians served 50,000 families, and, by 1937, 155 public schools..."'Bring me a book to read,' is the cry of every child as he runs to meet the librarian with whom he has become acquainted," wrote one Pack Horse Library supervisor. "Not a certain book, but any kind of book. The child has read none of them." ..."The mountain people loved Mark Twain."

Not even an act of God can get Texans to go vegetarian. Jennifer Lopez Fuller, a food writer and foodie based in Houston, photographed the empty shelves at Walmart when she came across ...

 Houston Vegan Shelves

Netherlands is world number two in agricultural exports by using greenhouses and new technology

The Netherlands is a small, densely populated country, with more than 1,300 inhabitants per square mile. It’s bereft of almost every resource long thought to be necessary for large-scale agriculture. Yet it’s the globe’s number two exporter of food as measured by value, second only to the United States, which has 270 times its landmass...

Banks of what appear to be gargantuan mirrors stretch across the countryside, glinting when the sun shines and glowing with eerie interior light when night falls. They are Holland’s extraordinary greenhouse complexes, some of them covering 175 acres.  Each acre in the greenhouse yields as much lettuce as 10 outdoor acres and cuts the need for chemicals by 97 percent.

 Greenhouses Netherlands

Artist Umberto Romano, born in Italy and raised in Springfield Mass, completed in 1937 the installation of six mural panels in the Springfield Main Post Office, a project underwritten by the Federal Arts Project.  One of those murals celebrates the fur trader who founded the city, Mr. Pynchon and the Settling of Springfield  Wait!  Is that a smartphone the Indian in the front is holding?

 1930S Painting Indian+Smartphone

The Polish Doctors Who Used Science to Outwit the Nazis

The Germans knew how dangerous typhus could be. “The immunological resistance of the Germans was lower and mortality was higher in respect to epidemic typhus than was that of Poles and Russians.”....A well-placed typhus epidemic could cripple the Reich.....

To Lazowski, a fake typhus epidemic represented immunity, a way to help his townspeople avoid participating in the war. Every neighbor who came down with the disease would become safe from deportation, slave labor, and harassment from the Gestapo. And if enough people in the region reportedly had the disease, entire villages could be quarantined. He and Matulewicz could build peaceful oases in the heart of German-occupied Poland...

 Dr. Eugene Lazowski+Dr. Stasiek Matulewicz
Dr. Eugene Lazowski and Dr. Stasiek Matulewicz saved more than 8000 people over three years.

Random Acts Of Genius Vandalism

 Tiny Rain Forest

Wonderfully creative barcodes like the shaving cream barcode below.

 Shavingcream Barcode

How the Kindness of Strangers Became a Multi-Billion-Dollar Industry

Portraits Of Random Strangers Before & After Photographer Johanna Siring Kissed Them

 Before&After Photographer's Kiss

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:51 AM | Permalink

August 24, 2017

Miscellany #81

Incredible Shots Of The 2017 Solar Eclipse.  My favorite comes from reddit, photo by curstenj in Lewiston, Idaho, who said" I am the accidental photographer of this once in a lifetime shot."

 Solar Eclipse Plane Contrail

How Three Doctors Invented A Disease To Fool The Nazis And Save Jewish Lives

The little-known story of Syndrome K, which stayed secret for 60 years after the war.
From September 1943 to June 1944, Nazi forces occupied the city of Rome. During this time, a mysterious illness broke out, which led many to be quarantined in an isolated wing of the city’s Fatebenefratelli Hospital. Called Syndrome K, the disease resulted in zero fatalities, and instead saved dozens of Jewish lives.

The Women Warriors who served Wine on the Battlefield

The Vivandières, alternatively known as cantinières, was the French title for women attached to military units who sold wine to the troops and offered better cuisine on the battlefield than the army could offer, a tradition that began in French Army regiments during the early 18th century. Most Vivandières were married or related to soldiers in their regiment.  They kept soldiers from straying from camp in search of these extras, lowering the possibility of desertion....Their role evolved from canteen keepers to include everything from an auxiliary presence at camp, to acting as nurses and support to the troops, to taking part in battle themselves...


The practice was widely imitated and equivalent versions of their role have appeared in armies across the world.  They served on both sides of the American Civil War and in the armies of Spain, Belgium, Italy, Germany, Switzerland and various armies in South America...In the American Civil War, vivandières on both the Union and Confederate sides were known as “daughters of the regiment.” On the battlefield they were brave soldiers, charging to the front lines shoulder to shoulder with their male comrades in arms.


Theo Jensen and his Strandbeest
A Dutch artist, Theo Jensen began in 1990 to build large mechanisms out of PVC that were able to move on their own and, which he called collectively, Strandbeest.  Watch them walk the beach in a mesmerizing video at his website.


Tired Boy And His Cow Lose Out At Dairy Fair, Fall Asleep And Win The Internet

That would be Mitchell Miner and his cow Audri at the Iowa State Fair dairy cattle show where Mitchell's father captured this moment.

 Boy-Cow-Take-Nap-Together-Mitchell-Miner-Iowa-State-Fair-1-59953Edf68446  700

A Secret Work Studio Suspended Below a Highway Overpass

 2Secret Studio Underpass

Spanish furniture designer Fernando Abellanas has built a studio affixed to a highway underpass where the floor and walls function as a self-operated horizontal elevator. Using mechanics adapted from a metal dolly, Abellanas hand-cranks his way to his studio...The studio hasn’t been sanctioned by the city of Valencia, so its exact location is a secret.

New Jersey husband finds his wife's diamond engagement ring in a sidewalk crack in Italy NINE YEARS after she lost it there while on vacation

Justin and Margaret Mussel were visiting San Marco dei Cavoti, Italy in the summer of 2008 where her family owns a home when Margaret noticed that her ring was gone....Nine years later, Justin and Margaret, now 36, and parents to two boys, took the family back to the same southern Italian town.  They were sitting on a bench in the front yard on August 5 when something caught Justin's attention. 'I saw this flicker of light coming out of a crack in the sidewalk.' The crack was several inches deep, so he grabbed a screwdriver from inside the house. And there was the ring. Only 10 feet from the house.

 9Years Later Ring FoundA

What a dump of 12,000 tons of orange peels looks like now.

In exchange for donating a portion of unspoiled, forested land to the Área de Conservación Guanacaste — a nature preserve in the country's northwest — the park would allow the company to dump its discarded orange peels and pulp, free of charge, in a heavily grazed, largely deforested area nearby. One year later, one thousand trucks poured into the national park, offloading over 12,000 metric tons of sticky, mealy, orange compost onto the worn-out plot.
Sixteen years later: Compared to the adjacent barren former pastureland, the site of the food waste deposit (on the right above) was "like night and day."

 Orange Peel Dump

Watch a Charm of Hummingbirds frolicking in a birdbath.

 Charm Of Hummingbirds

A horse in Turkey has been dubbed the most beautiful horse in the world.

The horse is an Akhal Teke, a breed that is a direct descendant of the extinct Turkoman horse that lived in ancient times. With only a few thousand of these horses in existence, it's little wonder that the Chinese refer to them as "Horses from Heaven."

 2Golden Horse

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:47 PM | Permalink

August 16, 2017

Miscellany #80

In 1956, it took four men and a truck to transport 5MB of memory That's the equivalent of 1 song on an iPod.

 1956 5 Mb

Goldfish make ALCOHOL in their cells to survive months without oxygen in icy waters -

They convert lactic acid into ethanol which keeps them alive under frozen lakes ....Research led by the University of Liverpool and Oslo found crucian carp produce between 50 and 100 mg per millilitre in their blood. 'This puts them above the legal drink drive limit in most countries', lead researcher Michael Berenbrink, an evolutionary physiologist at the University of Liverpool.

Italy's tiniest VOLCANO is a four foot high 'flaming fountain'

'The Volcano of Monte Busca', up the slope near Tredozio village, Province of Forli, is barely more than a small pile of rocks on a hill.  Yet, the flame burns day and night, come rain or shine, as a result of natural gases from under the surface.

 Tiniest Volcano

Genius Church Signs That Will Make You Laugh

 Church Sign Apple Terms

Introducing Steve - a Newly Discovered Astronomical Phenomenon

 Large Aurora Steve

Rare Photos of Elvis as a Child and Teenager


Amazon’s Alexa Can Now Read Audiobooks To Your Dogs While You’re Away
Available titles include "A Dog's Purpose," “Soldier Dogs” and “The Art of Racing in the Rain.”

'Crown Shyness'

A naturally occurring phenomenon where tree tops avoid touching is called 'crown shyness'.  The visual effect of images of crown shyness are akin to the appearance of winding rivers.

  Crown Shyness

Magical Beauty Of Mushrooms Captured By Jill Bliss

Jill Bliss is an artist (and naturalist, educator, farmhand, caretaker, and deckhand) who lives on a small island in the Salish Sea in the Pacific Northwest. In 2012 she sold her house and nearly everything she owned to move to the island and reconnect with nature after a busy career as a designer in New York and San Francisco. Using a wide assortment of the beautifully vibrant wild fungi she finds, Bliss turns them into stunning arrangements and photographs them for a project she calls Nature Medleys.


Jaw-Dropping Long Exposure Photos

 Long Exposure Milky Way
#2 This Long-Exposure of the Milky Way Looks Like Fractal Geometry

 Long Exposure Candlelight Procession Salisbury Cathedral
#27 Long Exposure Photo Of Candle Procession At Salisbury Cathedral

 Long Exposure Train Canadian Rockies
#13 A Long Exposure Photo Of A Train Roaring Through The Canadian Rockies

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:06 AM | Permalink

August 11, 2017

Miscellany #79

The shortest time between two points is NOT a straight line

Sampling DNA From a 1,000-Year-Old Illuminated Manuscript

The York Gospels were assembled more than a thousand years ago. Bound in leather, illustrated, and illuminated, the book contains the four gospels of the Bible as well as land records and oaths taken by clergymen who read, rubbed, and kissed its pages over centuries. The Archbishops of York still swear their oaths on this book. The York Gospels are also, quite literally, a bunch of old cow and sheep skins. Skin has DNA, and DNA has its own story to tell.....Every one of these books is a herd of animals.

 York Gospel2

This Newly Discovered Dinosaur, Titanosaur,  Makes T. Rex 'Look Like a Dwarf'

At 76 tons, the plant-eating behemoth was as heavy as a space shuttle.  The dinosaur’s fossils were found in southern Argentina in 2012.

Amazing photos of Trees That Just Won't Give Up

 #1 Enchanted Tree

 #5 Tree Of Life Olympia

8 Amazing Things Uncovered by Melting Glaciers and Ice

Lost Clan Found in Highlands of Italy

"Especially the way you say 'yes'. It's 'si' in Italian and usually, in other dialects, you just change it a bit, like 'shi'," she says. "Here it's 'aye'. They actually switch the accent so it's more 'ayee' than 'aye' but it sounds like the Scottish way." 

 Tartan Baby

Yoda-like bat discovered in 2011

 Yoda Fruit Bat

Scientists have also re-christened it the 'Hamamas tube-nosed fruit bat' after the Papuan word for 'happy'. After extensive research, the bat - discovered in a remote Papua New Guinea rainforest - has been formally registered as a newly identified species. The bat's scientific name, Nyctimene wrightae sp. nov. honors the conservationist Dr Deb Wright who devoted 20 years of her life to conservation in Papua New Guinea.

The move comes after University of York biologist Dr Nancy Irwin's team studied some 3,000 fruit bat specimens in 18 museums around the world. She said: 'Most of the morphological characteristics that separate this bat from other species are associated with a broader, rounder jaw which gives the appearance of a constant smile.

Recreating a 70-year-old photo  "Same brooch, same necklace"

 Queen And Prince  70Yrs Apart

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:25 PM | Permalink

August 8, 2017

Miscellany #78

Bald Eagle Stuck In Ocean Saved By Lobstermen (video)

Lobsterman John Chipman and his stern-man Kevin Meaney spotted a bald eagle swimming in the ocean. While bald eagles in the wild are able to swim for small periods of time, the lobstermen realized that the bird was struggling to stay afloat. The majestic bird was on the surface of the water using its large wings to propel itself forward.

 Baldeagle Saved Lobsterman

Light My Fire at 50 - Fascinating interview of Ray Manzarek about its creation and the Bach inspired intro.

Popular beer is renamed to honor priests

A Cardiff pub that turned away seven Catholic priests after they thought they were on a stag do has renamed a local beer after them to say sorry....“The Thirsty Priests” is a “rich, warming ale with a clean, rewarding finish”  It even has its own witty slogan  --- “saving souls and satisfying thirsts”.

 Thirsty Priests

The airplane that drew an airplane in the sky.

Boeing Test team draws in the sky during 18 hour endurance test.

 Boening Makes Map

The Ex-Anarchist Construction Worker Who Became a World-Renowned Scientist

Despite a late start in his field, Kerry Knudsen might know more about lichens than anyone alive today. "They have no use except their own beauty and life"


American Digest has the video The Lichenologist: His Whole Life Is an Acid Flashback

"As beautiful to me as seeing the redwoods"...."Not a plant, not a moss, not even a mushroom, lichens are a fungus in a symbiotic relationship with an algae....The algae is captured when the fungus is young and is kept alive within the fungus....The fungus literally grows a garden within itself...."I enjoy just seeing this...the intense feeling of reality, of just being here."

X-ray decks: the lost bone music of the Soviet Union

You can get the sense that what is being played is no ordinary vintage record: indeed, on the platter, instead of a vinyl, is the X-Ray of some guy’s skull, cut in the shape of a disc.....
From 1946 to 1964, he found, people in Soviet Russia had been using X-rays as makeshift records to listen to the music they loved. The reason for that was that most of that music was forbidden....
When it came to choosing the recording material, Coates says, discarded X-rays were an obvious choice. “ X-ray film is soft enough to be recorded on, but strong enough to hold the groove,” he explains. “It was also very easy to find: Russian hospitals had to get rid of their X-rays within one year because they were flammable, back then.”

 X-Ray Record Bones Coates Pic

A Man of Science Confronts Demonic Possession

Dr. Richard Gallagher, an Ivy League-educated, board-certified psychiatrist who teaches at Columbia University and New York Medical College. ...has become something else: the go-to guy for a sprawling network of exorcists in the United States. For the past 25 years, he has helped clergy distinguish between mental illness and what he calls "the real thing." He estimates that he's seen more cases of possession than any other physician in the world.  He says demonic possession is real. He's seen the evidence: victims suddenly speaking perfect Latin; sacred objects flying off shelves; people displaying "hidden knowledge" or secrets about people that they could not have possibly have known....

Eerily charming abandoned wrecks

SS Ayrfield, Homebush Bay, Sydney, Australia

Rare white lion quintuplets born in Czech zoo (video)


An Iceberg Flipped Over, and Its Underside Is Breathtaking

In the case of this jewel-like iceberg, the ice is probably very old. In glaciers, years of compression force out air pockets and gradually make the ice denser,... "The ice absorbs a small amount of red light, leaving a bluish tint in the reflected light, which is what we see.” In addition, minerals and organic matter may have seeped into the underwater part of the iceberg over time, creating its vivid green-blue color.

 Alex Cornell Antarctica-1

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:16 AM | Permalink

August 4, 2017

Miscellany #77

The Power of Nature

 Grandprize-Nature 1St Velasco
For this dramatic photo of a lightning bolt flashing on the Colima Volcano in Mexico, photographer Sergio Tapiro Velasco won Grand Prize, and 1st Prize Nature Category in the 2017 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year contest.

A U.S. President Born In 1790 Has Two Living Grandsons  Three generations of Tylers have managed to span 227 years and counting.

U.S. Still Paying a Civil War Pension A North Carolina woman is the daughter of a Civil War veteran, and still collects his benefits. 

How Amish produce gets to Whole Foods—without the internet, tractors, or phones

The Invention of the Chilean Sea Bass

Until 1977, the name Chilean sea bass didn’t exist and few people ate the fish before the 1990s which was known as the Patagonian toothfish....In short, the Chilean sea bass is a pure marketing invention -- and a wildly successful one. Far from unique, the story of the Chilean sea bass represents something of a formula in today’s climate of overfishing: choose a previously ignored fish, give it a more appealing name, and market it. With a little luck, a fish once tossed back as bycatch will become part of trendy $50 dinners.

During World War II, American soldiers wore milk to battle.

Aralac was blended with rayon to produce hats....Aralac spread so quickly throughout the United States—it soon appeared in coats, suits, and dresses—that a 1944 LIFE article declared, “A great many U.S. citizens, without knowing it, are wearing clothes made from skimmed milk.”

Mystery of ball lightning is finally solved:

Ball lightning is a sphere of electrical light that can appear during thunderstorms, but can also form inside aircraft and closed rooms. The strange phenomenon can appear in the sky from the size of a golf ball to several meters across and can last between one second and tens of seconds. Naturally occurring fireballs have been mistaken for UFOs for many centuries. Now scientists have come up with a theory to explain the strange phenomenon: the eerie orb-like glow is created when radiation gets trapped inside a plasma bubble.

Facebook shuts down robots after they invent their own language

Miniature Scenes Set Amongst Office Supplies by Derrick Lin

 Derek Lin Office1

 Dereklin Office2

Probiotic Beer Coming Your Way

Badass Woman Escapes Kidnappers Using A Manual Transmission And Nerves Of Steel

The Little Old Sod Shanty on My Claim


In one of his most famous photos, and one of his first, he captured the four Chrisman sisters, my distant relatives, late teens or early twenties, perhaps, standing before the front door of their soddy, flanked on both sides by a saddled horse, their floor-length cotton dresses—each a different pattern—lost in the brittle prairie grass. They stand tall and altogether badass, reigning in the prairie one day at a time, each of them with three claims to their name.  See more at Solomon D. Butcher’s prairie photographs.

The most famous book that takes place in every state

The Drug Runners

The Tarahumara of northern Mexico became famous for their ability to run incredibly long distances. In recent years, cartels have exploited their talents by forcing them to ferry drugs into the U.S. Now, with their land ravaged by violence, they’re running for their lives.


Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:05 AM | Permalink

July 28, 2017

A roundup of feel-good stories

Bride Lost Her Son Before She Got Married. Then A Stranger Shows Up At Her Wedding

Becky Turney donated the heart of her late son, Triston Green, for an organ transplant in October, 2015.  Nearly two years later she was about to marry Kelly Turney when he turned to her and introduced a surprise sixth groomsman, Jacob Turner.  Secretly, her groom had organized her first meeting with the transplant recipient who flew from San Diego to Alaska to be a part of their big day.

 Surprised Bride-1

Along with marrying the man of her dreams, Becky was able to listen to Kilby’s heart with a stethoscope and feel her late son’s presence once again....“Everyone has a legacy, but to see how Triston changed Jacob’s life is just incredible,” Becky said. “It makes you super proud.”

Wild Lioness Spotted Nursing A Baby Leopard at Ndutu Lodge, a conservation area in Tanzania.

Typically, a lioness would kill a baby leopard. "It's unprecedented," said Luke Hunter, president and chief conservation officer of the global wild cat organization Panthera,  "It's a once-in-a-lifetime event."

 Lioness Nurses Leopard

101-Year-old Breaks World Running Record: “I Missed My Nap for This”

 101 'Hurricane" Hawkins

In Birmingham, Alabama, at the National Senior Games, 101-year-old Julia “Hurricane” Hawkins ran the 100-meter dash in 40.2 seconds, which is six seconds less than the previous world record for women over 100 years old....She also became the oldest woman to compete in the USA Track and Field Outdoors Masters Championships (USATF).  “[I] missed my nap for this,” she said casually, according to USATF.
Hawkins says she only recently took up track and field because of her constant activity outdoors, biking and gardening... “I’m always outside and the phone always rings, and I come running in is how I knew I could run.”

Ten hour time lapse of an Amish barn building

Jilted Bride Donates $30,000 Reception to City’s Homeless

Sarah Cummins had spent two years planning her dream wedding with her fiancé Logan Araujo, but a week before the big day, the bride and groom decided to cancel the event.  The expensively lavish affair was to take place at the Ritz Charles in Carmel, Indiana, and came with a non-refundable $30,000 deposit.

 Jilted Bride's Reception

Instead of letting the food and decor go to waste, however, the 25-year-old Purdue University student called local homeless shelters and invited the residents to what would have been her wedding celebration. Over 150 of the city’s homeless residents showed up to enjoy a deliciously prepared dinner and reception. Additionally, news of Cummins’s good deed spread across social media, inspiring other locals to donate formal attire for the guests.

Job Offers Come Rolling in for Former Prisoner Who Missed Job Interview to Save Car-Crash Victim

“It was a bad situation. It was really bad.”

John Ogburn doesn’t remember a single thing about Monday, June 26.  He doesn’t remember waking up that morning, or helping prepare breakfast for his three young children, or kissing his wife Sarabeth goodbye...He doesn’t remember crumpling to the floor in Panera Bread at about quarter past 4, his heart gone completely, terrifyingly still. He doesn’t remember any of the many, many things that happened next. But in the two and a half weeks since, he’s come to understand this: If a single one of those things “didn’t happen correctly,” he says, “it could have gone differently pretty quickly.”  And John Ogburn would be dead....

When Ogburn went into cardiac arrest at a Panera Bread cafe, CMPD officers Lawrence Guiler and Nikolina Bajic were able to respond almost immediately - and stayed with him. For more than 30 minutes after his heart stopped, they continued to give him CPR.  “Nobody wanted to give up on him.”

 2Officers+Man They Saved

Just over a week after Bajic and Guiler found John Ogburn unresponsive, they stood with their arms around him in his hospital room, smiling for a camera. “It was very emotional,” Bajic says. “I got goosebumps all over because when I saw him and his wife, and how happy they are, and we met his parents and they couldn’t stop thanking us for saving their son’s life ... that’s when you realize, we did all this. ... All these people’s lives were impacted by what we did.”

8-year-old girl leads cops in prayer at a restaurant

These police officers were still mourning the death of one of their comrades, Miguel Moreno, who was shot down 6 days earlier while investigating a vehicle theft case when they gathered together for a meal at Libby's restaurant in San Antonio, Texas.  Eight-year-old Paige Bosquez approached the agents and asked them: “May I pray for you to be safe, and so that God may take care of you all?”


Doctor On The Verge Of Giving Birth Pauses To Deliver Another Woman’s Baby

Amanda Hess was dressed in a hospital gown and ready to give birth to her second child last week in Frankfort, Kentucky. But when she heard another mom-to-be’s cries of pain, the obstetrician-gynecologist figured her own kid could chill in the womb for a few extra minutes.

The woman down the hall, Leah Halliday-Johnson, was actually one of Hess’s own patients. So when nurses told Hess that Halliday-Johnson was going through labor much faster than they had anticipated, and that the umbilical cord was wrapped loosely around the baby’s neck, and that the doctor on call had stepped out for a break, Hess didn’t hesitate to spring into action.

 Dr Amanda-Hess-Baby
Dr. Amanda Hess and her new baby

Husband REFUSED to switch off his wife's life support after she had a heart attack and a stroke.

Alexander Way, 44, was left devastated after his beloved wife Beatrice, 42, suffered a stroke and a heart attack at their home in the village of Ugley, Essex, six years ago. With Beatrice in a coma, Alexander recalled how he was 'stunned' when doctors asked whether he would end her life support and donate her organs. He vehemently refused and urged the team to continue treatment.  Beatrice defied the odds to make a full recovery and last year the couple welcomed their first child together, a daughter named Rosemary.

 Miraculous Recovery

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:58 PM | Permalink

Miscellany #76

Guitar made of trees, dedicated to a man's lost love.

 Guitar Forest

Argentine farmer, Pedro Ureta memorialized his wife Graciela who unexpectedly died from a brain aneurysm at the age of 25.

There’s A Genius Street Artist Running Loose In New York, And Let’s Hope Nobody Catches Him

Tom Bob is quickly building a reputation for himself as a brilliant and elusive New York street artist who can turn any street feature he stumbles upon into extraordinary graffiti.

 Tornbob Teeth

 Tornbob Elephant

 Tornbob Lobsters

Man Takes Home 550-Pound WWII Bomb And Now His Whole Neighborhood Has To Be Evacuated

River stones with pouches Japanese artist Hirotoshi Ito

 River Stone W Zipperjpg

Treasure chest with £100 MILLION of Nazi gold is found by a British crew in the wreck of a ship deliberately sunk by Hitler to avoid being captured

A group of British treasure hunters have found a chest that could contain up to £100million in Nazi gold in the wreck of a German cargo ship off the coast of Iceland. UK-based Advanced Marine Services found a box containing up to four tons of valuable metal, believed to be gold from South American banks, in the post room of the SS Minden, which sunk in 1939. They have  applied to the Icelandic government in hopes of gaining permission to cut a hole in the ship to remove the box. The treasure hunters, who believe the haul belongs to the finder of the box, want to bring the contents back to Britain.
The gold was believed to be on board the ship and headed to Germany when the boat sank 120 miles southeast of Iceland on September 24, 1939, shortly after World War II began. When the Minden was spotted by British cruisers HMS Calypso  and HMS Dunedin, Adolf Hitler ordered Minden's captain to scuttle - or deliberately sink - the ship so the Royal Navy wouldn't seize the cargo.

What happens when you leave a tetherball in the forest (video)

British wildlife photographer says this image published 50 million times cost him his life savings and marked the end of his award-winning career

 Grinning Monkey-Macque Selfie

His story has all the elements of a 21st-century farce — involving crazy controversy over copyright law in a Californian court, and the 'inhumanity' of an activist animal charity that has filed a suit against Dave on behalf of the six- year- old male macaque, claiming it is the rightful owner of the photograph's copyright.

How Capitalism Saved the Bees

A decade after colony collapse disorder began, pollination entrepreneurs have staved off the beepocalypse.

600 lb octopus escapes through hole the size of a quarter  (video)

The Strange Similarity of Neuron and Galaxy Networks

Not only are the complexities of the brain and cosmic web actually similar, but so are their structures. The universe may be self-similar across scales that differ in size by a factor of a billion billion billion.....Interestingly enough, the total number of neurons in the human brain falls in the same ballpark of the number of galaxies in the observable universe.

Restaurant goers can’t believe their eyes when man leaves in car that transforms into a speedboat

Hundreds of diners were flabbergasted as they watched a man leave a restaurant and drive his vehicle into the sea. Video shows the Jeep floating on water before taking off at high speed. Witnesses at the restaurant described the moment as like 'being on a film set'  Richard Robinson, 45, was out for a meal with friends and family at the time when he filmed it all. 'But what took everyone by surprise is when the driver drove it into the sea. It went off like a rocket.'  His video at the link.

 Jeep To Speedboat

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:14 PM | Permalink

July 20, 2017

Miscellany #75

Hilarious Panoramic Fails


Humans hardwired to lean to the right while kissing the world over

DC security robot quits job by drowning itself in a fountain

 Dc Security Robot Drown

30 GIFs PERFECTLY Explain Life’s Little Mysteries
How dogs drink, how keys work, how chains link together, Pi explained, how ice cream gets sandwiched, how braces rearrange teeth, how popcorn pops

BBC clip How Baby Flamingos Become Pink They are fed with a bright red 'milk' from both their parents.

 Baby Flamingo

Britain's lost tribe

The islanders of St Kilda, some 40 miles west of the Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland, whose primitive way of life date back to the Bronze Age, survived for centuries on its own until outsiders brought diseases and the island was evacuated in the 1920s.  The islanders spoke Gaelic and an important aspect of St Kildan life was their daily ‘Parliament’ where they would decide upon the day’s activities.

 St. Kildans Tweed

The population never exceeded more than 100 people after 1851 and the islanders survived by keeping sheep, a few cattle and a limited amount of food crops. The St Kildans eschewed fishing because of the heavy seas but seabirds, particularly puffins and gannets, were a mainstay of their diet. Hunting these seabirds involved considerable skills in climbing, especially on the precipitous sea stacks.



Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:07 PM | Permalink

July 14, 2017

Miscellany #74

Majesty in Miniature The amazing and mesmerizing beauty of hummingbirds flying, shaking and drinking captured in slo mo by National Geographic.  They flap with a twist and drink with a forked tongue.

“Put a high-speed camera on it, and you’re like, ‘Holy cow! That’s what the bird’s doing?’ ”


Can Goats be Scabs?

Western Michigan University is one of the top four-year colleges in the nation. Its five campuses in and around Kalamazoo, Mich., comprising more than 1200 acres, feature plenty of green, open spaces meticulously maintained by union members of the local AFSCME chapter.  In addition to all those green lawns, there's a 12-acre section of woodland where a titanic struggle is being waged between the AFSCME local and university officials over the use of non-union labor, a herd of 20 goats.


The union has sued the school alleging they are using scab labor to maintain the woodland and didn't inform them of their plans to do so....University spokeswoman Cheryl Roland said a small goat crew has been on campus this summer... to clear undergrowth in a woodlot, much of it poison ivy and other invasive species that are a problem for humans to remove. "Our analysis showed the goats to be a sustainable and cost-effective way of removing them."

Man's big toe transplanted on to his HAND after his thumb was torn off in a cattle accident

Zac Mitchell was working on a remote cattle station in Western Australia state in April when his hand was kicked by a bull and thrust against a fence, slicing off his right thumb....With the nearest hospital five hours away, the 20-year-old cattle handler put the thumb on ice until he could receive treatment, but attempts to reattach it were unsuccessful...'To recreate a thumb you can just use skin and bone, but that doesn't work so well, so really the toe is just the best option by far- when it works well,' said plastic surgeon Sean Nicklin, who performed the operation, adding the procedure had a success rate of over 95 percent. ...Mitchell will receive ongoing hand therapy and is expected to have feeling in his new thumb after about a year.

 Big Toe Now Thumb

What's directly across the ocean if you're in North and South America

Mom ‘Dresses’ Daughter In Food And Flowers

 Food Dresses Girl

Your Brain Treats a Blink Like a Tiny Nap

You probably don’t realize it, but you spend a good chunk of time each day walking around with your eyes closed. Scientists estimate that the average person blinks somewhere between 20,000 and 30,000 times a day.

A Gallery of Iconic Guests Of The Ed Sullivan Show  I remember many of them, the Beatles, Diana Ross, the Rolling Stones, Buddy Holly, the Jackson Five and George Carlin who cracked me up. 

 George Carlin George Carlin in 1968 on Ed Sullivan show.

Best story of the week. Stuck inside an ATM

 Atm Help

An unidentified man was fixing a lock inside the ATM room at Bank of America, Corpus Christi, when he accidentally locked himself in, and then realized he'd left his phone in his truck.  The contractor resorted to posting notes begging ATM customers for help 'Please Help. I'm stuck in here, and I don't have my phone. Please call my boss'.  Numerous ATM users wrote the note off as a bizarre practical joke until one did call his boss. Eventually, the police were called and kicked down the door, freeing the man who had been trapped for 2 hours.

Ancient Easter Island civilization did NOT obliterate itself by exhausting its natural resources

 Easter Island

The inhabitants of the remote location, off the coast of Chile, were believed to have been wiped out by bloody warfare, as they fought over dwindling resources. New research, however, has flipped these findings on their head, suggesting the islanders were highly competent at managing their resources.

An international team of researchers analyzed human, animal and plant remains from the island, known as Rapa Nui, famed for its Moai statues....'The Rapa Nui people were, not surprisingly, smart about how they used their resources. ..they had extensive knowledge of how to overcome poor soil fertility, improve environmental conditions, and create a sustainable food supply.

So what did happen to the Rapa Nui? Some claim the first Dutch ship to arrive in 1722 brought illness and that, as the died in huge numbers, the islanders lost their faith in the protection of the Moai and knocked them over.

What we do know is that ships passing between 1862 and 1864 kidnapped up to 3,500 Rapa Nui from the already-dwindling population. These included all the elders who could read glyphs known as Rongorongo and who passed on the tradition. They were used as slaves in Peruvian mines and just two survived long enough to return to the island, bringing yet more disease with them. By 1868, there were just 111 Rapa Nui left. Today’s population of about 4,000 Rapa Nui stems from those 111 people.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:18 PM | Permalink

July 5, 2017

Miscellany #73

On a wing and a prayer! Bald Eagle struggling to fly is rescued in D.C. just in time for Independence Day
A Bald Eagle who was struggling to fly was rescued by a team of wildlife experts in Washington DC.  The adult bald eagle was struggling to breathe and was unable to fly after getting injured.  ...'According to City Wildlife, the eagle is in stable condition and prognosis is guarded.

The Simple Joys of the Dull Men's Club  Delight in the ordinary in a 3 min YouTube video

What you can learn from Einstein's Quirky Habits which were 10 hours of sleep, one-second naps, daily walks outside and eating spaghetti.  Well, for one thing, people who have more spindle events tend to have greater ‘fluid intelligence’ – the ability to solve new problems, use logic in new situations, and identify patterns.

10+ Best Pics From The Best Photoshop Battles Ever

 German Shepherd On Ice

After 500 years, Leonardo da Vinci’s music machine is brought to life

His extensive archive of ideas and schematics has been collected in a 12-volume set known as the Codex Atlanticus. It was in these pages that Polish instrument maker Sławomir Zubrzycki found a forgotten invention, an instrument played like a harpsichord, but with the sound of a chamber orchestra....Constructing the first viola organista  took Zubrzycki 3 years and 5,000 hours to complete.

Mick Jagger: ‘The Times hit the floor of my cell. The same day I was out’

Who breaks a butterfly on a wheel?

Why Did Greenland’s Vikings Vanish?

“It’s a good thing they can’t make you give your PhD back once you’ve got it,” McGovern jokes. He and the small community of scholars who study the Norse experience in Greenland no longer believe that the Vikings were ever so numerous, or heedlessly despoiled their new home, or failed to adapt when confronted with challenges that threatened them with annihilation.

The Nazis Had No Idea the “Perfect Aryan” Child in their Propaganda Was Jewish


7 Sanctuaries linked by a straight line: The legendary Sword of St. Michael

A mysterious imaginary line links seven monasteries, from Ireland to Israel. Is it just a coincidence? These seven sanctuaries are very far from each other, and yet they are perfectly aligned...the Sacred Line also is perfectly aligned with the sunset on the day of the Northern Hemisphere’s Summer Solstice....The Sacred Line of Saint Michael the Archangel represents, according to legend, the blow the Saint inflicted the Devil, sending him to hell.

 Sword St Michael

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:57 PM | Permalink

June 23, 2017

Miscellany #72

Got Sisu? Essential Guerrilla Tactics from the Finnish Winter War

“Finland alone, in danger of death — superb, sublime Finland — shows what free men can do.” –Winston Churchill, January 1940.


First, Apocalyptic swarm of mosquitoes hits La Guardia, then a  Giant Swarm of Mysterious Bees Shuts Down Fifth Avenue

Gangs of aggressive killer whales are shaking down Alaska fishing boats for their fish

John McHenry, owner of the F/V Seymour, described orca pods near Alaska’s Aleutian Islands as being like a “motorcycle gang.” “You’d see two of them show up, and that’s the end of the trip. Pretty soon all 40 of them would be around you,” he said.
A remarkable 2006 video by the Avoidance Project captured one of the 50,000 kg whales delicately shaking fish loose from a line. After a particularly heavy assault by sperm whales, fishers are known to pull up lines in which up to 90 per cent of the catch has disappeared or been mangled.

Professor Caveman -Bill Schindler is teaching college students to live like early humans

The skills prehistoric peoples depended on seem exotic to today’s college students, who Schindler says arrive on campus each year with less and less of the sort of practical experience that he emphasizes in his class. He tells of the time he asked some students to crack eggs and separate the yolks from the whites. He returned to the kitchen 10 minutes later to find that not a single egg had been cracked. “I asked them if the problem was that nobody had ever told them how to separate the yolk from the whites, and received blank stares in return,” he recalled. “After a minute of silence, one of them said, ‘I’ve never cracked an egg.’ I was floored—how do you even make it to 19 without cracking an egg?”

Swedish inventor created his very own hovercraft - using drones bought online.

 Drones Flying Man

In the footsteps of John McPhee,  AFTER ORANGES by Wyatt Williams

Where does chocolate milk come from?

48% of Americans weren't sure, but 7% were positive that it comes from brown cows.  Previous research showed that 20% of Americans didn't know hamburgers are made from beef, that is, meat from cows.

Bananas 29 things you didn't know

4. In the Philippines, bananas are used in place of tomatoes to make the popular banana ketchup.
7. Bananas are curved because they grow upside-down towards the sun.
8. The so-called "banana tree" is not a tree at all. In fact, it is the world's largest herb.
9. Walmart sells more bananas than any other item.
10. Banana fibers can be used to purify water.
11. There are more trade restrictions on bananas than on AK-47s.
21. Bananas give off radiation.

Why is ketchup called ketchup?

---in various dialects spoken throughout Fujian and Southeast Asia in the 18th century, the name for the sauce was ke-tchup, kôechiap, or kê-tsiap, depending on the dialect. These words translate to “fish sauce.” ....By the mid-18th century, ketchup was popular in England, but referred broadly to any type of spiced sauce. Mushroom ketchup, walnut ketchup, anchovy ketchup, and oyster ketchup all became popular...

Magic without Wizards, It's a Wonderful Loaf . A charming animation of a poem written and narrated by Russ Roberts.

 Wonderful Loaf

It’s the product of our actions but no single mind’s designed it
There’s magic without wizards if you just know how to find it

Kennel Club'a Dog Photographer Of The Year Maria Davison Ramos, Portugal

 Winner Dog Photo

Watch Kevin Parry demonstrate 100 walks in 6 minutes on YouTube.

Ecstatic Experiences

The polling company Gallup has, since the 1960s, measured the frequency of mystical experiences in the United States. In 1960, only 20 per cent of the population said they’d had one or more. Now, it’s around 50 per cent. In a survey I did in 2016, 84 per cent of respondents said they’d had an experience where they went beyond their ordinary self, and felt connected to something greater than them. But 75 per cent agreed there was a taboo around such experiences....

‘I was out walking one night in busy streets of Glasgow when, with slow majesty, at a corner where the pedestrians were hurrying by and the city traffic was hurtling on its way, the air was filled with heavenly music, and an all-encompassing light, that moved in waves of luminous colour, outshone the brightness of the lighted streets. I stood still, filled with a strange peace and joy … until I found myself in the everyday world again with a strange access of gladness and of love.’
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:17 PM | Permalink

Miscellany #71

The Roman Empire’s 250,000 Miles of Roadways Imagined as a Subway Transit Map by University of Chicago sophomore Sasha Trubetskoy.  For $9, he'll send you a full-resolution pdf to print as a poster

 Romanempire Subway

Girl Mistakes Bride For Real-Life Princess From Book She’s Holding

“My wife and I got married last February, and during the photo shoot this little girl and her mom happened to be walking by,” Scott Robertson writes. “The little girl thought my beautiful wife was the Princess from her favorite book (the one she’s holding).” Since this all happened during their photo shoot, photographer Stephanie Cristalli managed to snap some photos. The little girl even got a flower from the bride’s, Shandace Lerma’s, bouquet. “Your wife is forever the Princess of Ballard to her,” the little girl’s mom told Scott.


Two twins in one:

Model and singer Taylor Muhl was born with a rare condition called Chimerism. The California native's torso is divided straight down the middle with her skin color on one side and her twin's pigmentation on the other. Chimerism is an extremely rare medical condition and is when an individual is composed of two or more genetically distinct cell lines originating from different zygotes.

 Model 2 Skintones Twin

The 33-year-old fused with her unborn fraternal twin sister while in the womb. She has two immune systems, two blood streams and her sister's DNA.

Man who mowed lawn with tornado behind him says he 'was keeping an eye on it.' This is just classic.

 Man Tornado Lawnmower

391-Year-Old Bonsai Tree Planted In 1625 Has Survived Hiroshima And Keeps On Growing


Can We Blame the Mafia on Lemons?

Economists and historians are connecting the early rise of organized crime with Sicily’s citrus trade.

States That Can Be Described By A Single Photo

 Single Photo Describes State

Accidentally Excellent  How accidents led to the discovery of safety glass, super prints, penicillin, even silly putty.

Police Dog Fired For Being Too Friendly, Given Fancy New Job Instead

Gavel the German Shepherd was deemed too sociable for life on the force, so he's now officially been made Vice-Regal Dog instead.  In this new role, Gavel's duties include taking part in ceremonial occasions (while sporting a custom-made uniform), welcoming guests and tour groups at the Queensland Government House, and serving as a companion to the governor himself.

Listen to Bob Dylan's Nobel Lecture at Nobelprize.org or read the transcript

When I first received this Nobel Prize for Literature, I got to wondering exactly how my songs related to literature. I wanted to reflect on it and see where the connection was......

It began with Buddy Holly

If I was to go back to the dawning of it all, I guess I'd have to start with Buddy Holly. Buddy died when I was about eighteen and he was twenty-two. From the moment I first heard him, I felt akin. I felt related, like he was an older brother. I even thought I resembled him. Buddy played the music that I loved – the music I grew up on: country western, rock ‘n' roll, and rhythm and blues. Three separate strands of music that he intertwined and infused into one genre. One brand. And Buddy wrote songs – songs that had beautiful melodies and imaginative verses. And he sang great – sang in more than a few voices. He was the archetype. Everything I wasn't and wanted to be. I saw him only but once, and that was a few days before he was gone. I had to travel a hundred miles to get to see him play, and I wasn't disappointed.

And then Dylan recalls his grammar school education back in the days when students read great books and  used Spark notes to prepare for class.

But I had something else as well. I had principals and sensibilities and an informed view of the world. And I had had that for a while. Learned it all in grammar school. Don Quixote, Ivanhoe, Robinson Crusoe, Gulliver's Travels, Tale of Two Cities, all the rest – typical grammar school reading that gave you a way of looking at life, an understanding of human nature, and a standard to measure things by. I took all that with me when I started composing lyrics. And the themes from those books worked their way into many of my songs, either knowingly or unintentionally. I wanted to write songs unlike anything anybody ever heard, and these themes were fundamental.

Specific books that have stuck with me ever since I read them way back in grammar school – I want to tell you about three of them: Moby Dick, All Quiet on the Western Front and The Odyssey.

Winners of the Red Bull photo contest
The Overall Winner was Lorenz Holder for this image of BMX Pro Rider Senad Grosic on a bridge in Gablenz, Germany.

 Winner Redbull Photo Contest

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:51 PM | Permalink

May 30, 2017

Miscellany #69

The Golden Egg in the Arctic in Sweden’s Lapland

 Golden Egg-1

It’s actually a rather brilliant design for a social structure for townspeople to meet and talk, while also serving as a fully functioning sauna.  The Solar Egg created by the artists Mats Bigert and Lars Bergström, is designed for harsh Kiruna’s town Arctic climate, where it goes from 24-hour-a-day darkness in the winter to the opposite with the sun around the clock in summer.

 Inside Golden-Egg-1

The Moon Trees

“Scattered around our planet are hundreds of creatures that have been to the Moon and back again. None of them are human.”—NASA

Pilot Takes Incredible Photos From His Cockpit, And They Will Blow You Away

You're Welcome says Gerald Vanderleun - 14 Mind-Blowing Tool Hacks

Spring in gorgeous time-lapse by Jamie Scott on Vimeo

The mysterious narwhal, with its strange protruding tusk, is called the ‘unicorn of the sea’

The tusk is actually a canine tooth which spirals anti-clockwise up to nine feet forward from the head of adult males and contains thousands of nerve endings which help narwhal sense tiny movements around them. Tusks washing up on the shore are thought to have inspired tales of unicorns. Now footage captured using aerial drones has found that the narwhals actually use the tusk to stun Arctic cod, rendering them immobile and thus easier to capture and eat.

England’s 500-year-old angel roofs are striking – and all but unknownslideshow at link

Think of medieval England’s finest gems, and castles probably come to mind first. But the country has another type of treasure that few people know about: angel roofs. Built between 1395 and the English Reformation of the mid-1500s, these roofs are decorated with intricately carved wooden angels. Only 170 survive today.

...The angels at Westminster Hall aren’t just decorative. Projecting out from the walls, they support vertical hammer posts and help hold up the entire roof structure, which is no mean feat: the roof’s oak alone weighs some 600 tons.

Because so little of the art from England’s medieval churches survived the Reformation makes these cherubim “the largest surviving body of major English medieval wood sculpture”, writes photographer and expert Michael Rimmer in his book The Angel Roofs of East Anglia: Unseen Masterpieces of the Middle Ages.

 Angel Roofs-1

When England broke with the Roman Catholic Church during the English Reformation. In that period, reformers attacked – and destroyed – all forms of medieval religious imagery, including the countless numbers of paintings, statues and other decorations that once made England’s medieval churches bright and colorful. It’s thought that more than 90% of religious imagery from England’s Middle Ages was lost by the mid-17th Century.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:44 PM | Permalink

May 10, 2017

Miscellany #68

'Angry' bear tries to break into home of Connecticut woman baking brownies

Neighbors called 911 after the panicked woman spotted the bear outside her home after it was enticed by the smell of the baked treats. The black bear slammed on the terrified Connecticut resident’s glass back door and spent 30 minutes trying to get into the property.

 Angry Bear

Couple Climbs Mount Everest For 3 Weeks To Get Married On Top

 Everest-Camp-Wedding Climb


Congratulations to Ashley Schmeider and James Sisson.

People Photographed As Young Adults And 100-Year-Olds

The "Faces Of Century" series by photographer Jan Langer is a side-by-side comparison of how people who have lived for a century look now compared to how they looked in early adulthood. The twelve people Jan chose as his subjects were all chosen from his homeland, a dozen people representing the over 1200 centenarians who currently call the Czech Republic home:

 Faces Century

Women over 100 years old share their best beauty advice, A short and charming video at link.

New Jersey Twin Sisters Give Birth to Baby Boys on the Same Day, Hours Apart

 Twin Sisters Gavebirth Same Day

Best hobbit house I've ever seen.  My uncles crazy hobbit house on Imgur.  The inside rooms are quite extraordinary.  Like the kitchen below:

 Hobbit Kitchen

Irish beach washed away 33 years ago reappears overnight after freak tide

Villagers express delight after entire beach that vanished in Achill Island storms in 1984 turns back sands of time

Narrative Optical Illusions Painted by Rob Gonsalves who never fails to enchant.


91-Year-Old man Spends 56 Years Building His Own Cathedral Alone

Former monk Justo Gallego Martinez has been constructing his own cathedral in Mejorada del Campo, Spain, since 1961. He had no prior knowledge of architecture and hadn’t laid a brick in his life, yet his project currently stands 131ft tall, and acts as a wonderful reminder that faith overcomes everything.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:19 AM | Permalink

May 5, 2017

Miscellany #67

Total Eclipse Stamp
Using "thermochromic" ink for first time, the USPS will issue a new stamp that changes with heat from finger.


Aquaculture provides more than half of the world's seafood

About 80% of trout consumed in the U.S. comes from southern Idaho fish farms.  In Magic Valley, “The spring water is a constant 58 °F (14.4 °C) year-round, saturated in oxygen, and perfect for raising rainbow trout.”

The Last Wild Apple Forests

Granny Smiths, Fujis, and Pink Ladies can all be traced back to Kazakhstan, where apples still grow wild.

In The 1930s, People Kept Babies In Cages Suspended Out Their Windows

So, even apartment babies could get fresh air.  Believe it or not, no cage-related injuries or deaths were ever reported.


Japan’s new luxury sleeper train is the ultimate travel experience

East Japan Railway’s new luxury sleeper train, “Train Suite Shiki-shima”, providesa cruise experience with a modern Japanese taste -- sky views, bathtubs and dark wood interiors.  The top suite costs a mere $10,000 or a four-day trip from Tokyo to Hokkaido.

Below is a photo of the deluxe, but not the top, suite on the train. Below that is a cutaway of the regular suite.  More photos of the train with unimaginable luxury here.

 Suite Japan Sleeper
 Japan Train Suite

Soccer Pitch, Lofoten Islands, Norway

 Soccer Pitch Lofuten

Dancing Forest

Between the Baltic Sea and the Curonian Lagoon, on the Kruglaya Dune of the Curonian Spit, there is a forest where the pine trees seem to be doing the twist.

 Dancing Forest

Dozens of trees in the Dancing Forest of Russia have trunks that are contorted into rings, spirals, and other loops and squiggles, and the reason for this mysterious malformation is not known. The trees were planted in the early 1960s to stabilize the dune sand, but the unstable sand is one explanation people posit for the trees seeming so unstable themselves. Locals call the crooked wood the Drunken Forest.

“Grand Model of Russia” in St Petersburg

It is the largest model in Russia (800 square meters) showing cities and towns, forests and seas, people and animals, roads and railways.The exposition has all key and typical objects of every Russian region. You can see different scenes from the life of the country: moving trains and cars, naval base, spaceport, a shepherd with a flock of sheep, ships at sea, etc. Here is just a small part of the models presented.

 Grand Model Russia

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:54 AM | Permalink

April 27, 2017

Miscellany #66

Massive icebergs float down "Iceberg Alley" by seaside town in Newfoundland

 Iceberg Alley

A 'hydrogen halo' surrounds the Milky Way

After combining more than 700,000 wavelength patterns, scientists have discovered that this hydrogen gas engulfs the entire galaxy, accounting for much of its ‘missing’ mass.  This particular state of hydrogen different from most found in the universe.  ‘It’s like peering through a veil.’

 Galaxy Halo

Indonesia's Flores 'hobbits’ may be the earliest human species to have left Africa 1.75 million years ago

Floresiensis Jg Recon Head Cc 3Qtr Lt Sq 0
Homo floresiensis, female. Reconstruction based on LB-1 by John Gurche.

Dubbed ‘hobbits’, Flores Man found in Indonesia were an entirely different species and not a shrunken version of early humans, homo erectus.  The ancient hobbits, homo floresiensis, would have stood at 3.5 foot tall, were found at Liang Bua on the island of Flores in 2003. Researchers at The Australian National University (ANU)  think they were related to a sister species of Homo habilis – one of the earliest known ancestors of modern mankind which lived in Africa 1.75 million years ago

Amateur Skywatchers Spot New Atmospheric Phenomenon and call it 'Steve'.

The Alberta Aurora Chasers Facebook group first spotted the phenomenon last year and called it Steve in a reference to the movie Over the Hedge “in which a character arbitrarily conjures up the name Steve to describe an object he’s not sure about.”

 Steve Proton Arc

Eric Donovan, a Canadian physicist and astronomer who studies aurorae at the University of Calgary used data from the European Space Agency’s Swarm mission which didn't show a proton aurora. Instead, it showed something that had never been observed before: a temperature spike of over 5400 degrees Fahrenheit in a spot about 186 miles above Earth’s surface combined with a gas ribbon over 15 miles wide that was flowing west more slowly than the other gases that surrounded it.

Money Laundering the the Westin St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco

takes 10 hours a week and uses buck shot to make even once-rusted copper pennies turn into shimmering bronze coins.  They take coins from a fountain that were so dirty no bank would accept them.  Watch the one-minute video to see how.

The Rise of Slime Videos

 Slime Videos

For Donna Boyd, a 17-year-old from Harrisburg, Virginia, slime is therapeutic. She’s never purchased slime, or made it herself. She just watches hundreds of videos from her five favorite accounts over and over again. “It honestly just makes me happy and de-stresses me,” Donna told me. “I suffer from anxiety, and slime videos help me a lot during panic attacks.” She says she gets lost in them after watching a few, going into a kind of meditative state.

American Gothic Barn in Mt Vernon, Iowa

 American Gothic Barn

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:34 AM | Permalink

April 20, 2017

Feel-good roundup

3-Year-Old Who Lost An Eye To Cancer Loves Her New One-Eyed Doll

Brynn, 3 years old, lost one eye due to cancer.  Her mother Danielle contacted Jessica Sebastian, a doll-maker, to make a bunny doll with one eye.  At her birthday party, Byrnn opened the special gift to find Sparkle and exclaimed, "She matches me!"

 Brynn 3 One-Eye-Doll

Mystic Lake, a Sony 2017 World Photography Winner

 2017 Sony Mystic Island
© Aleš Krivec, Slovenia, 2nd Place, National Awards, 2017 Sony World Photography Awards

Woman Rehabilitates Husband Even After Doctors Told Her To Let Him Die

In July 2011, Matt was involved in a terrible motorcycle accident on his way to work. He’d struck a vehicle that was parked illegally in a merging lane. A car accident of this nature would have been rough enough, but on a motorcycle, it was far worse...After nine days in the hospital, Matt’s doctors felt that he had been fighting long enough. They recommended he be taken off of life support, and estimated that his chances of survival were a slim 10 percent...Despite the doctors’ advice, Danielle decided she could never give up on her husband. She dedicated herself to his recovery and stayed by his side, day and night. The couple had only just begun their life together, and Danielle was unwilling to give up on the man she loved...Matt was allowed to go back home while he remained on life support. The outlook was bleak, though, as his condition showed no improvement for months. He was not walking or doing much of anything on his own. ..Danielle kept remembering the times they shared and she refused to give up..Amazingly, after a month at home, something changed in Matt—and he began to open his eyes. ..After only three months after regaining consciousness, Matt was walking again! He still needed the assistance of a walker, but could hold a conversation, crack jokes, sing, and enjoy the company of his loved ones. It was a truly phenomenal recovery in every conceivable way.

Stranger Helps Amputee Up The Stairs, Then Returns The Next Day And Builds Him A Ramp

Support team for Maelyn, a 4 year-old soccer player

 Support Team 4Yo

Two Eye Surgeons Have Restored Sight In 4 Million Blind People In The Developing World

Dr. Sanduk Ruit, a Nepalese eye surgeon, met Dr. Geoff Tabin, an American eye surgeon and world-renowned mountain climber, and together they created the Himalayan Cataract Project. Their mission is to completely eradicate preventable and curable blindness in the developing world. Together they have restored eyesight to more than 150,000 patients in 24 countries. Doctors they've trained have restored sight to 4 million more.

The surgeons perfected a small-incision cataract surgery, which takes just minutes and costs about $20. Their focus was originally in the Himalayas, but they have been so successful they renamed their group CureBlindness.org. They've operated in two dozen countries, including North Korea and Ethiopia.

Dr. Tabin points out, they are doing more than restoring sight. "You know, once someone goes blind in a developing world, their life expectancy is about one-third that of age and health matched peers. And also in the developing world, it takes, often, a person out of the work force, or a child out of school, to care for the blind person. So when we restore sight to a blind person, we're freeing up their family and restoring their life."

Marine dad drill instructor surprised by tea party his 4-year-old daughter planned just for him


Hero UPS driver rescues family from burning house with a garden hose

UPS driver Paul Pereira had a special delivery for a family whose lives he likely saved when he saw their porch was on fire and rushed to douse the flames and get them to safety.

On Monday, Pereira was making his last delivery of the day in his UPS truck when he noted tall orange flames leaping around the white wraparound porch of Brian and Tracy Lavender and their children in Haverhill, Massachusetts reported WCVB. While bystanders on the street lingered videotaping the scene, the deliveryman leapt into action, asking someone to get a hose.....After putting out the flames, he banged on the door to see if anyone was inside the burning house. Lavender said his wife and children were inside the home but they didn't realize it was on fire and thought the smell of smoke was from a neighbor barbecuing.

Nebraska town arranges wedding and graduation ceremony for the children of beloved cancer-stricken doctor,

Dr Dan Harrahill, 52, a father-of-four from St Paul, Nebraska, was told he would not survive long enough to attend his teenage son's high school graduation or his daughter's summer wedding on March 23.  Within hours of hearing about his bleak prognosis, the town's residents arranged for both events to take place the next day.  The family doctor died eight days later after watching both from his wheelchair in the chapel of the CHI Health St. Francis, the hospital where he was being treated.

 Dr.Dan Harrahill Daughter's Wedding

Wounded vet with prosthetic leg carries woman over the finish line at the Boston Marathon
Retired Army Staff Sgt. Earl Granville, a veteran, made hearts stop at the Boston Marathon after he was seen carrying a woman over the finish line as she held an American flag. In the summer of 2008, Granville and his unit were on patrol in Zormat, Afghanistan, when their vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb. Granville sustained injuries that required doctors to amputate over half of his left leg.

 Earl Granville Boston Marathon

The woman he was carrying was his running guide, Andi Piscopo. They’re part of the Achilles Freedom Team, a group of wounded warriors who have become marathoners.  In an interview with CBS Boston

“Maybe around mile 10 I just started cramping and cramping and cramping,” said Granville. But he wouldn’t stop. “I said, looks like we’re walking, Andi.”

9 bruising hours later

“It was literally just a spur of the moment. Just about 50 feet from the finish line I just said to Andi, let me buddy carry you, and I picked her up and we crossed the finish line together, and that was that,” Earl Granville explained...

Despite the pain he was in, he broke into a run for the last few minutes of his marathon. “The energy of Boston, they say Boston Strong, man it’s that energy. It keeps you going. I had tears coming down my face. It was unbelievable,” Granville said, adding that “You just got to keep going, and that’s it.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:57 PM | Permalink

April 14, 2017

Miscellany #65

The desert comes to life: Colorful wildflowers carpet the sands of California after extreme rainfall.

 Blooming Desert

Graphene-based sieve turns seawater into drinking water, BBC

A UK-based team of researchers has created a graphene-based sieve capable of removing salt from seawater.
The sought-after development could aid the millions of people without ready access to clean drinking water.

With a change of perspective, a very familiar icon can look very different. Sylke Scholz, a photographer based in Dresden, Germany, took this amazing photo.  Can you guess what it is?

 Lookingup Eiffeltower

Flower power! 'Old Cornish Red'

Britain's widest single stemmed rhododendron, measuring 30ft high and 40ft wide was planted 120 years ago by Victorian explorer Frederick Du Cane Godman.

 Old Cornish Rhod

Incredible moment stunned military buffs discovered five gold bars worth £2million hidden inside an Iraqi tank ...

bought for £30,000 on eBay was captured on camera.Nick Mead and Todd Chamberlain expected to find rusty guns when they investigated the diesel container of a tank they had just bought for £30,000 on ebay. Mr Mead, who runs Tanks-a-Lot in Helmdon, Northamptonshire, filmed their search and was left gobsmacked when instead of artillery his mechanic pulled out a stash of glistening bullion.

Why your shoelaces won't stay tied.

Oliver O’Reilly, a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of California, Berkeley,  and his colleagues, used high-speed cameras to discover...that poor knot takes a tremendous amount of force when your foot strikes the ground—sometimes as much as seven times the force of gravity which deforms the shape of the knot. At the same time, the flapping motion of the shoelaces as your foot swings adds additional forces. Those forces combined take your laces from tied to untied with ease.

Bulb River reaches full bloom in early May.


The wind blowing through 35,000 bright purplish-blue grape hyacinths creates the illusion of a true river on the grounds of Heritage Museums & Gardens in Sandwich, Massachusetts. Like any river, the Bulb River is bordered by “eddies,” in this case made up of 1,500 bright yellow daffodils to compliment the lovely purple-blue flow. They are arranged at intervals on both sides of the river, which flows down a gentle hill and winds around the trees and bushes that populate the grounds.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:01 PM | Permalink

April 5, 2017

Miscellany #64

Circular Tunnel of Books in Zhen Yuan, China, the bookstore Yangzhou Zhongshug

 Tunnel-Like Book Entrance China

A grand optical illusion that you only see once you’ve set foot inside. Its lobby is a cavernous tunnel that most notably features striking black mirrored flooring. Together, the reflective ground and curved shelving creates the feeling that you’ve stepped into a perfectly circular room, making you question which way is up. Luckily, there’s help in finding the path forward. The shelves are split by a lightning bolt-shaped gap in the ceiling that leads you into the rest of the store.

Compare that to this photograph of the Stuggart Library entitled "Paradise is a Library"

 Sony Winners 2017 Paradise Library
© Luis Pina, Portugal, 2nd Place, National Awards, 2017 Sony World Photography Awards

How To Irritate Europeans In Just One Sentence

In a contest to find Canada's equivalent of "as American as apple pie", the winning entry was "as Canadian as possible under the circumstances."

The domestic terrorist Ted Kaczynski, known as the 'Unabomber', was a Harvard graduate who submitted his current information to the Alumni Association in 2012 and listed his eight life sentences as "awards" and his current occupation as "prisoner."

A “grammar vigilante” sneaks around at night fixing an infuriatingly common error on public signs.

A BBC video shows an anonymous “grammar vigilante” roaming the streets of Bristol, in the UK, adding apostrophes where they’re missing and covering unnecessary ones. He’s been moonlighting for 13 years, according to the story, and carries a long stick—the “Apostrophiser”—to help him reach improperly punctuated signs. The stealthy stickler does what every English grammar defender wishes they could. In the video, the grammar vigilante denies it's a crime, "It's more of a crime to have the apostrophes wrong in the first place."

Another Sony 2017 winner, Mathilda

 2017 Sony Matilda
© Alexander Vinogradov, Russian Federation, 1st Place, Open, Portraits (Open), 2017 Sony World Photography Awards

Lady Deborah Moody, the Dangerous Woman Who Started a Colonial Town

Deborah set up a town on the southwestern tip of Long Island, becoming the first woman to charter land in the New World.  Gravesend, as it was called, was located in what is today Brooklyn.

Chile Is a Ridiculously Long Country – Europe & US Size Comparison

A Visual Guide to Vantablack, the Darkest Substance Ever Made   See videos at link to understand how black

Vantablack® is a super-black coating that holds the world record as the darkest man-made substance. ...Vantablack is not a black paint, pigment or fabric, but is instead a functionalized ‘forest’ of millions upon millions of incredibly small tubes made of carbon nanotubes. ....

It's so dark because light energy striking the Vantablack surface enters the space between the nanotubes and is rapidly absorbed as it ‘bounces’ from tube to tube and simply cannot escape as the tubes are so long in relation to their diameter and the space between them. The near total lack of reflectance creates an almost perfect black surface. To understand this effect, try to visualize walking through a forest in which the trees are around 3km tall (that is almost 2 miles tall) instead of the usual 10 to 20 metres (30-65 ft). It’s easy to imagine just how little light, if any, would reach you.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:58 PM | Permalink

March 30, 2017

Miscellany #63

The Movie Elvis Did with Mary Tyler Moore - Change of Habit (1969)

 Mary Tyler Moore+Elvis

Mary elaborated on their relationship years later in her 1995 autobiography: "I was his last leading lady. The King would slyly say later on, 'I slept with every one of my leading ladies but one.' I don't want to bust anyone's cover, but I know who the 'one' is."

Star-crossed and destined for love?

Newborns named Romeo and Juliet born hours apart to different parents in the same hospital and named coincidentally pose for literary photoshoot. 

 Babies Romeo+Juliet

Vietnamese Man Hasn’t Clipped His Fingernails in Over 35 Years


HA! Title of motion in lawsuit against Buzzfeed is amazing!

"When I was a federal law clerk, I would've granted this motion based solely on the title, hands down"

These Indian Runner Ducks Are Late For Work 

 Indian Runner Ducks

Believe it or not, these are just a few of the 800 ducks going to work in the Vergenoegd Wine Estate in Australia.  They have an important job to do- eating the snails off the vines.  After work, they all go for a swim and then back home for dinner.  Watch their day on YouTube.

Amazingly beautiful.  Perseids meteor shower from space

This shower peaks in mid-August, when Earth intersects the dust cloud left by comet Swift-Tuttle.  It's an interactive map so you can look at all the meteor showers at once, then pan out to see what looks like a thumbs-up.

Earth’s newest cloud is terrifying videos at link.

 Cloud Asperatus Photo  Elaine Patrick

On World Meteorological Day, March 23rd, the World Meteorological Organization made its first addition to the International Cloud Atlas in over half a century to recognize the cloud formation “asperitas". 
There Are Now 12 New Cloud Types.  In the new Cloud Atlas  – which the WMO says will now primarily exist as a web portal – the body has recognized one new species, called volutus.  Also known as a roll cloud, volutus are usually long and hang low in the sky, and their tube-shaped bodies sometimes look like they're rolling, as the name suggests:
 Volutus Cloud

Cute little girl hugs a discarded water heater she thinks is a robot, "Hi robot. l wuv you."  Adorable video

 Little Girl Hugs Robot

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:55 PM | Permalink

March 25, 2017

Miscellany #62

Earliest known photo of Elvis Presley with parents Gladys and Vernon in 1938

 Elvis Earliest Photo

Scott Adams Declares Mobile Phone Carriers to Be Enemies of the State

My observation is that smartphones have made half of all adults mentally ill. I mean that literally, not figuratively. The business model of phones is addiction, not value. And they addict you at the expense of the things humans need in their lives to be happy and healthy.  Kids have it worse. They haven’t developed any natural defenses. They are pure victims.  Today I declare the phone companies to be enemies of the state. They are ruining everything you love, and everything you care about. And they are doing it right in front of you.

Hüseyin Sahin's Dream-like Photo Collages

 Digital Collage

The Big Dig in Boston. Did it Deliver? 10 years later

[T]he most expensive highway in US history, the Central Artery and Tunnel project...It didn’t just cost a lot of money. The copy-and-paste phrase on reporters’ computers was that it was “plagued by cost overruns,” ballooning from $2.6 billion to nearly $15 billion ($24 billion, counting interest on the debt). It didn’t simply take more time than expected; it was eight years behind schedule by the time it was done.

 Bigdig 10Yearsold

Girl Turns Her Skin Into Art After Being Bullied For Having Vitiligo

Diagnosed with vitiligo when she was 12 years old, Ash Soto was ashamed of her skin and bullied as a teen-ager
It wasn’t until she started doing body art that she learned to love her skin condition....“I never realized how beautiful my vitiligo was until I traced it with a black marker."

 Ashley-Soto Vitiligo-Body-Art-Map

Hushme - The Weird Mask Muffles Your Voice to Keep Phone Calls Private

Don’t you just hate it when you have to take an important phone call and you’re surrounded by potential eavesdroppers? You either have to whisper or go outside to keep the conversation private, which is not exactly ideal.


Hushme is a bizarre high-tech mask that blocks the sound of the wearer’s voice so that people nearby can’t hear what is being said. It connects to your phone via Bluetooth and comes with a pair of earbuds. When you get a private call, all you have to do is put the muzzle-like mask on and it will do the rest. The pair of thick cushy pads over your mouth do a good job of muffling your voice, but to ensure nothing gets through, Hushme also features external that play a variety of sounds when you speak.

March Madness


Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:57 PM | Permalink

March 16, 2017

Miscellany #61: Bananas, umbrellas, Wyatt Earp & John Wayne, Eagle Cam, Oxford comma, Hipster junk food, alcohol & caffeine, goldfish in a wheel chair

Smoking Banana Peels Is the Greatest Drug Hoax of All Time  They called it mellow yellow.

Umbrella Trees


The city-state of Singapore is located in a tropical rainforest climate, getting 92 inches of rain every year. But in Singapore’s Little India, on the aptly named Hindoo Road, locals and tourists alike can get protection from the frequent downpours by sitting beneath one of the neighborhood’s unique Umbrella Trees.  Part of art installation created by local artist Marthalia Budiman, the Umbrella Trees have transformed a small public park space into an oasis of color, beauty, and protection from the elements.

Wyatt Earp Hung Out With A Teenage John Wayne

Wyatt Earp was one of those guys who wasn't satisfied sticking to one job for too long -- over the years he was a lawman, buffalo hunter, brothel keeper, miner and boxing referee, among others. But obviously he was best known for being an infinitely badass cowboy dude. Earp took part in the most famous shootout in the history of the American Wild West, the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral -- a 30-second gun battle that has inspired dozens of feature-length films.

Towards the end of his life, Earp settled in California and tried to break into Hollywood. Earp did get to befriend some Hollywood actors -- including a 17-year-old nobody called Marion Morrison. You might know him under his somewhat manlier fake name, John Wayne.

 Teen-Age John Wayne
Marion Morrison later known as John Wayne

While hanging out on movie sets, casually choreographing historical gunfights for directors like John Ford, Earp would share stories from the Wild West with the actors. The future Wayne, then a lowly extra/prop man, soaked them up. He also paid close attention to the way Earp talked and carried himself. ...once he went on to star in westerns of his own -- to the point that, according to his son, whenever Wayne had to play a tough cowboy, he just channeled Wyatt Earp

World watches nesting eagles fight storm to save eggs

Mr. President and The First Lady, a bald eagle pair nesting at the U.S. National Arboretum in Washington, D.C., hunkered down in the snow and cold to save their two eggs, which are expected to hatch later this month...The determined duo’s battle was watched live from around the world thanks to the DC Eagle Cam Project.

 Dc Eagles Protect Eggs

The First Lady covered the eggs with her body as she allowed herself to be covered by snow and ice. Mr. President joined her, partially covering her body with his wings as snow and ice accumulated on him. They continued to keep their bodies close, exchanging warmth and attempting to protect their future eaglets.

A court’s decision in a Maine labor dispute hinged on the absence of an Oxford comma

A US court of appeals determined that certain clauses of Maine’s overtime laws are grammatically ambiguous. Because of that lack of clarity, the five drivers have won their lawsuit against Oakhurst, and are eligible for unpaid overtime...The profoundly nerdy ruling is also a win for anyone who dogmatically defends the serial comma.

Artist Shows How To Repackage Junk Food So That Hipsters Would Buy It

 Slim Jim

How Alcohol and Caffeine Built Civilization

Chelsea Follett, managing editor of HumanProgress.org, a project of the CATO Institute, explained exactly how "alcohol and caffeine created civilization" in a recent USA today column....Consuming alcohol likely gave early humans a survival edge. "Before we could properly purify water or prepare food, the risk of ingesting hazardous microbes was so great that the antiseptic qualities of alcohol made it safer to consumer than non-alcoholic beverages — despite alcohol's own risks," she wrote.

"The domestication of plants [was] driven forward by the desire to have greater quantities of alcohol beverages," archaeologist Patrick McGovern told National Geographic. If alcohol inspired agriculture, caffeine jumpstarted progress.

"The impact of the introduction of coffee into Europe during the seventeenth century was particularly noticeable since the most common beverages of the time, even at breakfast, were weak 'small beer' and wine."  Those who drank coffee instead of alcohol began the day alert and stimulated, rather than relaxed and mildly inebriated, and the quality and quantity of their work improved....Western Europe began to emerge from an alcoholic haze that had lasted for centuries."

German Scientists Grow Tomatoes in Urine in Anticipation of Future Space Expeditions

Sick Goldfish Couldn’t Stay Afloat, So 19-year-old Taylor Dean Built Him A Tiny Wheelchair


Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:13 AM | Permalink

March 15, 2017

Feel-good miscellany

McDonald's worker is filmed jumping out of the drive-thru window to save a police officer who fell unconscious while picking up her order

Pedro Viloria jumped through window at restaurant in Doral, Florida. A second member of staff helped out by giving CPR.  The off-duty officer was suffering breathing duties and passed out in her SUV.

 Mcdonalds Worker Saves Life

Viloria told WPLG: 'In that moment, I thought, I'd rather save that woman's life. I see she's like inflating her neck, like trying to breathe, like "ahh", and basically I thought something was going wrong.' He jumped through the window and found she was unconscious, with her children anxious in the back seat.

Woman who formed a giant dreadlock after being bedridden with depression for six months is given a stunning new look by kind hairstylist who wanted to help 'change her life'

Kate Langman, a hairstylist described meeting a woman who had been bedridden for months with depression, leaving her unable to wash or brush her hair.  Over a grueling eight hours, Kate combed out the woman's hair, dyed and cut it, leaving it looking stunning, and leaving the woman feeling like herself again.

 Hairstylist+Depressed Woman

'By the end of this service, I could see the sparkle in her eyes and I could see her cheeks get rosy pink from the excitement of not only being able to run her fingers through her hair again, but she felt herself again,' said Kate. 'I changed someone's life today... and I'll never ever forget it.'...I LOVE MY DAMN CAREER.

He Got a Bad Grade. So, He Got the U.S Constitution Amended.

Gregory Watson went on a mission after getting a C on a paper in government class.  That mission to ratify the
Gregory needed 38 states to approve the amendment -- three-quarters. Nine states had already approved it, most back in the 1790s, so that meant he needed 29 more states for it to pass.  It took him 10 years. More than 200 years after it was written, the 27th Amendment was finally ratified.

“No law varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives shall take effect
until an election of representatives shall have intervened.”

How Nuns Shaped Healthcare in the U.S.

1. American nuns have been called the first feminists. Nuns in 19th century America often made decisions in business without ever consulting a man. In a culture and country where most women followed the orders of a father or husband, these women were planning, building and even providing employment without the lead of a man. By 1906, over eight hundred hospitals and ten thousand schools, colleges and universities were founded by Catholic nuns.
2.  Helped start the Mayo Clinic.....
3.  Made the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous possible...
4. Participated and helped to develop the first prepaid health insurance plan in the U.S.....
5. Pioneered “family-centered” and “holistic” care.....

Texas mother  took in the mentally ill homeless man she drove past every day, gave him a job and helped him track down his family

 Texas Woman Homeless Man

Ginger Jones Sprouse took in Victor Hubbard, 32, after driving past him every day to work. He had been living on a street corner for three years looking for his mother.  Mrs Jones Sprouse gave him a job at her cooking school and bought him clothes. She set up a Facebook and GoFundMe page to help care for him which have now gone viral.  Victor is now receiving prescriptions to treat mental illness and has glasses. He has tracked down and spoken to his mother who abandoned him years ago.

It is unlikely he will be able to live independently but she is eager to settle him in to a 'normal life'. 'I just think of him as part of our family. 'Part of me feels very motherly towards him. I think he will probably always need a degree of supervision. 'One of our goals was to get his identification then another is to maybe get a bank account of his own. He is welcome to live with me and my family for as long as he wants to,' she said.

Hubbard said, "I can accomplish anything when I'm around Ginger so anyone around me can witness that and they can get to know me if they like me."

Midwife from Auschwitz: The woman who saved hundreds of newborns

Stanisława Leszczyńska and her husband.. got involved in helping Jews, which soon led to the arrest of the entire family by the Gestapo. ...in a tube of toothpaste she managed to smuggle German papers confirming her occupation. Despite enormous risk, she went to Dr. Mengele... and offered her assistance to women in labor....

 Midwife Auschwitz

As she wrote in a report, “Until May 1943, children born at the camp were cruelly murdered, they were drowned in a keg....Stanisława received the command: treat newborns as dead. She was short in stature, but she could stand up to the doctor. She replied, “No! Children must not be killed!” And she delivered approximately 3,000 babies, not one stillborn. None of the mothers died either. Even the best clinics in the world at that time could not boast of such statistics.
The prisoners called Stanisława Leszczyńska “mommy” and “the angel of goodness” which, as Elżbieta Solomon, one of the Auschwitz mothers wrote later in a poem, came to give “notice to the future centuries that there, in the midst of death, misery, and filth, there too, she brought forth Jesus— Mary in the striped uniform.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:54 PM | Permalink

March 14, 2017

Miscellany #61: Discrimination, Irish pubs, Hemingway, sky dancing, Coca Cola, Max Weber and Hitler

The Experience of Discrimination in Contemporary America:

Results from a Nationally Representative Sample of Adults
Key result: 5% of black people (compared to 4% of white people) say they “often” face discrimination; 29.8% of black people (compared to 30.3% of white people) say they “never” face discrimination.

Meet the Companies Literally Dropping ‘Irish’ Pubs in Cities Across the World

It all began with a architecture student Mel McNally who with some classmates analyzed the city's pubs....McNally went on to research the whole of Ireland to establish a definitive playbook of pub varieties, which led to the foundation of a design and manufacturing specialist, the Irish Pub Company [IPC], in 1990. The ambition was to design and build complete interiors of pubs, first domestically, but then for foreign markets, assembling huge shipments of flooring, decorative glass, mirrors, ceiling tiles, light fixtures, furniture, signage, and bric-a-brac, as well as the obvious centerpiece: the bar itself. The group now sells bars in six “styles” that can be selected from a company catalog: Shop, Gastro, Victorian, Brewery, Country, and Celtic.

 Irish Pub.

Designed and prefabricated in Ireland: an export not cultural or theoretical, but actual. The assiduous export and installation of these pre-made Irish bars has been going on for more than 30 years, resulting in a global network of establishments that are interrelated but unrelated....More than 500 bars and 27 years later, it continues to ship the makings of the Irish bar as far afield as Russia and Kazakhstan

McNally, the effective grandfather of the movement, is a formalist, and everything he manufactures and sells is Irish-made...Asked about essential components of an Irish bar, McNally offers, “I think everybody recognizes that good stained glass makes a difference.”

Hemingway Was a Spy

In 1940, as he was preparing to go on a trip to China, the writer agreed to work for the NKVD, the Soviet foreign intelligence agency.  Despite numerous contacts with Soviet agents over a 10-year period, though, Hemingway never did anything of substance for them and, ironically, cooperated far more fruitfully with American intelligence.
In a letter, he denounced Churchill after his “Iron Curtain” speech as the real threat to world peace, not Stalin, and in another he defended the Soviet purges—the people who “deserved shooting were shot.” He ardently supported Castro and praised the 1959 Cuban Revolution as the fulfillment of his dreams for Spain.

No wonder he was paranoid that the FBI was tapping his phones.  They were.

Will Indoor Skydancing be the next Olympic sport?

A Facebook video of 17 year old Maja Kuczynska has garnered 30 million views in less than a month.  She calls it calls it 'flying'.  She performs in a vertical wind tunnel where the wind speeds can reach 186 miles per hour.  The moves look effortless but staying in control requires enormous strength, flexibility and precision.  YouTube link to the amazing, gravity-defying video.

"'It's such a fast-paced discipline, right now there's no one to teach me....'A couple of different people and I are creating this discipline.'

The Quiet Tragedy Behind The Invention Of Coca-Cola  John Pemberton struggled with addiction for much of his life. Somewhere along the way, this addiction spurred invention.

Before John Pemberton served in the Third Georgia Cavalry Battalion, he made his living as a chemist and a pharmacist. ...at the Battle of Columbus in April 1865, he sustained a saber wound to the chest which nearly killed him. Pemberton survived, but was left to battle a crippling morphine addiction, which caretakers offered to Pemberton as a painkiller to treat his substantial wounds.

The Catholic work ethic.

Max Weber (1864–1920) wrote that Protestantism gave birth to a unique work ethic that spawned capitalism, and thus it is that modernity is a direct result of the Reformation. Even now, Weber’s thesis of the “Protestant work ethic” lives on among sociologists, being recounted in detail in every introductory textbook on the market. ...

The celebrated Fernand Braudel complained that “all historians have opposed this tenuous theory [the Protestant ethic], although they have not managed to be rid of it once and for all. Yet it is clearly false."  Everyone writing on capitalism accepts that it rests upon free markets, secure property rights and free (uncoerced) labour. By this definition, capitalism was a very Catholic invention: it first appeared in the great Catholic monastic estates, way back in the 9th century.

Hitler Was a Socialist

 Hitler Socialist

Adolf Hitler wasn’t “right wing.” If you take nothing else from this post, just remember Hitler was a socialist. With terrible facial hair. There’s an easy way to remember it, too. NAZI stands for National Socialist German Workers‘ Party.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:47 PM | Permalink

March 13, 2017

Feel-good miscellany

Chef at two-Michelin-star Danish restaurant Noma makes his longtime DISHWASHER a partner in the business

Ali Sonko, a 62-year-old from Gambia, has been the head dishwasher at the famed Copenhagen restaurant Noma since it opened in 2003. And this week, chef René Redzepi rewarded him massively for it: The food genius made him a new partner in the award-winning eatery.  Redzepi also named two other longtime employees, restaurant manager James Spreadbury and service director Lau Richter, as partners.

 Employees Named Partners
Chef René Redzepi (far right)

'This is only the beginning, as we plan to surprise several more of our staff with a piece of the walls that they have chosen to work so hard within. This move is one of the happiest moments of my time at Noma.'  Speaking of the dishwasher in particular, Redzepi said at a staff party: 'Ali is the heart and soul of Noma. I don't think people appreciate what it means to have a person like Ali in the house. He is all smiles, no matter how his 12 children fare.'

In Kentucky, Boy asks mom for haircut ‘like his friend’ so teacher can’t tell them apart

 Black+White Boys Haircuts

Bus Driver Spots A Woman On The Bridge. He Pulls Over, Asks For A Hug And Saves Her Life

Driver Damone Hudson was crossing the Main Street Bridge that spans the Great Miami River in downtown Dayton when he noticed a woman standing on the other side of the rail.  Surveillance footage shows him pulling his bus over to the side of the road before opening the door and urging the woman to step back from the ledge.

He then said, "Ma'am, you look like you're having a bad day, you know. Can I give you a hug?"  When police arrived the woman stood back from the ledge, and Hudson carried on with his route.  "Everyone's going through something. Even if you are, just reach out and try to touch someone, even if it's in a small way," Hudson said.

You Can Hear The Difference Between Hot And Cold Water  What's really interesting is that you already knew this. It's just something you're not aware of consciously.

A pregnant mom spent months carrying around a secret trophy in her purse, waiting for a single moment.

Lin, a pregnant working mother in New York City,...decided to have a unique thank you prepared for the first man to offer his seat...She bought a small, bronze, trophy-like figurine with a plaque that said, “#1 DECENT DUDE. First Man to Offer Subway Seat to Pregnant Woman throughout Two Pregnancies.” Lin cleverly kept it tucked away in her work bag, secretly waiting for its winner.

She found him in Ricky Barksdale....An honored (and surprised) Barksdale explained, “It’s just a common courtesy thing … I have no problem giving up a seat regardless of how tired I am, or where I’m going.”

 Trophy Decent Dude

Brothers Use Website To 'Borrow' Puppy That Helps Grandma With Alzheimer's

Brothers Richard and Martin Dawson look after their grandmother who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's five years ago. "Nan, 95, would get very upset whenever she experienced pain or confusion. But the brothers noticed she became lovingly distracted by their baby nephew.  "Since their nephew couldn’t be around all the time, the siblings thought a dog might have a similar positive impact on their grandmother."

That's when Richard discovered a website called BorrowMyDoggy.com, which connects people looking for a bit of puppy affection with local dog owners and their pets. Richard connected with a woman named Ann and her dog Orla, a 9-month-old dachshund puppy. Nan and Orla immediately hit it off. Orla visits with Nan twice a week. But after seeing the affect it has on their grandmother, the brothers plan on setting up more play dates.


Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:18 AM | Permalink

March 8, 2017

Miscellany #60

Spotify? More like Trotify! Yes, it IS a horse in headphones ...and he really is listening to music

Scientists have designed a new set of high-tech headphones – that allow horses to listen to music as they trot....But the development does have a serious purpose, as the headphones both improve the animal's focus and block out external noises that could spook more nervous mounts.....Hidden within a bonnet that slips over the horse's head, the headphones come with Bluetooth technology to pick up songs played on the rider's mobile phone.  A headset that clips to the helmet also allows the rider to talk to their mount through the headphones.

 Horse Wearing Headphones

Jimmy Buffett Launching Margaritaville Retirement Homes

According to the website for Latitude Margaritavile, the first of the communities is being planned in Daytona Beach, Florida, and it promises that the party will continue well into the golden years.....The paradise where you can "grow older, but not up" promises homes starting in the low $200s, with furnished models slated to open in early 2018 for residents who have to be 55 or older.

How Bored Bookstore Employees Entertain Themselves at Librairie Mollat, a bookshop in France.  A wonderful series at the link and on Instagram.


 Man+Book  Librairie-Mollat-8

Chinese man shocked to learn that the "nutcracker" he has been using for the last 25 years was actually an old hand grenade.

 Chinese Handgrenade

Only after reading a police safety leaflet about explosives, did he stop using it. He has since handed the grenade over to police who are examining the device to find out whether it is still capable of exploding. It does not have a pin and was likely manufactured back in the 1960s.

Vets Surgically Remove Nearly 1,000 Coins From Sea Turtle’s Stomach

Surgeons have successfully removed nearly 1,000 metal coins from inside “Piggy Bank,” a Thai green sea turtle with a tremendous bellyache.  Tourists searching for good fortune fed the 25-year-old sea turtle 915 coins over the course of her life, chucking the money into the pool where she lives in Sri Racha, Thailand. Seven hours and a 4-inch incision later, veterinary surgeons removed 11 pounds worth of coins from inside Piggy Bank’s belly. Some of the coins — many of which were foreign — had been in Piggy Bank’s stomach for such a long time that they were partially deteriorated.

Inside the Loneliest Five-Star Restaurant in the World

You can eat foie gras at Antarctica's Concordia Station, but your closest neighbor is the International Space Station and you might not see oranges for three months. ...In these isolated conditions, food takes on a special importance for everyone at the base......Luca Ficara, who has been serving as the base's resident chef since November is from Sicily having won the lottery run each year by the Italian National Program for Antarctic Research ... This lottery system has won the station something of a reputation for its food, which received a nod in the Lonely Planet as a place "considered by many to enjoy Antarctica's best cuisine, with fine wines and seven-course lunches on Sundays."

Now THAT'S a long lunch:  An 18ft giraffe is fed from the top floor window of a Kenyan manor

 Giraffe Fed Upper Story Manor

Giraffe Manor, modeled on a Scottish hunting lodge, is a small hotel which is also home to a number of endangered giraffes....As well as swinging by for food, the nosey giants also have a reputation for poking their heads through the hotel doors and even peeking through the windows of guest's bedrooms. Mr Witkowski said: 'The giraffe's are fed specially formulated pellets. As long as you have the pellets they are friendly and will come to you. If you do not have the pellets they have no interest in you'

While setting up his equipment for a night time shoot, a professional photographer didn't know he had his shutter open for 40 seconds that captured this shot of a meteor over Mt Rundle in Banff, Alberta,Canada.

 Incoming Meteor Bamf

Hot story: Miami lawyer’s pants erupt in flames during arson trial in court

A Miami defense lawyer’s pants burst into flames Wednesday afternoon as he began his closing arguments in front of a jury — in an arson case.  Stephen Gutierrez, who was arguing that his client’s car spontaneously combusted and was not intentionally set on fire, had been fiddling in his pocket as he was about to address jurors when smoke began billowing out his right pocket, witnesses told the Miami Herald.

He rushed out of the Miami courtroom, leaving spectators stunned. After jurors were ushered out, Gutierrez returned unharmed, with a singed pocket, and insisted it wasn’t a staged defense demonstration gone wrong, observers said.  Instead, Gutierrez blamed a faulty battery in an e-cigarette,
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:41 PM | Permalink

March 3, 2017

Miscellany #59: Old McDonald's, the color red, snuggie-clad goats, two monks and more

Old McDonald's closes its 12th century medieval branch in Shrewsbury, England.

In a building  hundreds of years old, with parts dating back to the 1100s, customers have enjoyed Big Macs in medieval settings for 34 years.  'This decision has not been taken lightly but unfortunately the building is not suitable to meet our future plans."

 Better Old-Mcdonald'sjpg

Snuggie-clad goats found wandering Idaho neighborhood


"Have you lost your goats? Or your Snuggies? If so, we found them near Lake Lowell and Midland Blvd.," police said.  Officers managed to track down the owners within about three hours to reunite them with their sensibly dressed goats.

The Bug That Had the World Seeing Red

Once there was a color so valuable that emperors and conquistadors coveted it, and so did kings and cardinals. Artists went wild over it. Pirates ransacked ships for it. Poets from Donne to Dickinson sang its praises. Scientists vied with each other to probe its mysteries. Desperate men even risked their lives to obtain it. This highly prized commodity was the secret to the color of desire—a tiny dried insect that produced the perfect red.

Thousands of years ago, however, Mesoamericans discovered that pinching an insect found on prickly pear cacti yielded a blood-red stain on fingers and fabric. The tiny creature—a parasitic scale insect known as cochineal—was transformed into a precious commodity... The carminic acid in female cochineals could be used to create a dazzling spectrum of reds, from soft rose to gleaming scarlet to deepest burgundy. Though it took as many as 70,000 dried insects to make a pound of dye, they surpassed all other alternatives in potency and versatility.
When the Spanish conquistadors landed in Mexico, they were struck by the stunning scarlets of the New World. The exotic source of the dye became a sensation back in Europe, where it was deemed the “perfect red.” The Spanish would go on to ship tons of the dried insects back to the Old World and beyond. Their monopoly on the color’s source made it one of their most valuable exports from Mexico, second only to silver.

 Portrait Of Agostina Pallavicini. Getty Museum

Portrait of Agostina Pallavicini. Getty Museum.

This 'perfect red' was preferred to the more common and easily available red ochre, the oldest known naturally occurring pigment in the world, found in the creation of cave art, used in early religious ceremonies, and on ancient pottery.  All of it attributable to Dying Stars and Physics   Portrait of Agostina Pallavicini. Getty Museum.

Red ochre contains hydrated ferric — or iron oxide, a compound of oxygen and iron — which also makes up that orange/red rust you’ll see on some iron and steel fixtures. Because iron and oxygen are both abundant elements found in Earth’s crust and atmosphere, red ochre can be found in large amounts all over the world, which has allowed for the easy creation and low cost of red paint more than any other color.
The reason that certain heavy elements such as iron are found on Earth can be attributed to the supernovae responsible for the formation of the solar system our fair planet finds itself a part of.  In its infancy, the iron found in the Earth’s crust didn’t react to atmospheric gasses because free oxygen simply wasn’t around to oxidize it into a rusty state.
As plant life emerged, however, oxygen became naturally released into the air, causing the high levels of iron to rust, eventually forming iron oxide. This process resulted in an abundance of the material, which led to the formation of some of the earliest paints recorded — one that remains an affordable option, and can be seen peppered throughout countrysides from coast to coast to this day.


The Monk Who Saves Manuscripts From ISIS

Rescuing the world’s most precious antiquities from destruction is a painstaking project—and a Benedictine monk may seem like an unlikely person to lead the charge. But Father Columba Stewart is determined. Soft-spoken, dressed in flowing black robes, this 59-year-old American has spent the past 13 years roaming from the Balkans to the Middle East in an effort to save Christian and Islamic manuscripts threatened by wars, theft, weather—and, lately, the Islamic State.

Old Cement Factory Turned Into Home May Look Great From Outside, But The Interior Is Even Better

Architect Ricardo Bofill found this cement factory in 1973 and quickly realized its possibilities. It took him nearly 45 years to transform it into his home, but the end result looks breathtaking both from the outside and from the inside.


The Accountant Who Changed The World

Luca Pacioli was a monk, magician and lover of numbers who discovered double-entry bookkeeping.  In 1494, he wrote a huge math encyclopedia and included an instructional section on double-entry bookkeeping. Thanks to the newly invented printing press, his book was mass produced and became a big hit.

 Portrait Of Luca Pacioli
Portrait of Luca Pacioli Attributed to Jacopo de' Barbari

About the painting. Perhaps no other work so epitomizes the deep Renaissance connection between art and mathematics.  Pacioli (a Franciscan friar, shown in his robes) stands at a table filled with geometrical tools (slate, chalk, compass, dodecahedron model, etc.), illustrating a theorem from Euclid, while examining a beautiful glass rhombicuboctahedron half-filled with water. Every aspect of the picture has been composed meaningfully, and art historians have analyzed it at length, yet the figure at right remains a mystery.

The 10 Best-Selling IKEA Items How many do you own?

'Beware, cows may be frisky': Drivers share the laugh out loud road signs they've spotted around the world

 Remove Dentures

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:29 PM | Permalink

Feel-good miscellany

My recovery from a 'flesh-eating bug' amazed nurses and defied medical explanation. Will the nun who saved my life be canonized? ....Seven weeks after my leaving hospital, the surgeon told me that he was surprised how well I looked and how much progress I had made. Now came the question. “Do you know what happened to me?” I asked. The answer was simple: “No.”  The surgeon reiterated that someone with the condition usually has a life expectancy of less than 48 hours.

What Your Favorite Foods Look Like Before Harvest And Processing.  I am continually astonished at the beauty of the world.


Face transplant recipient hails staggering results of his procedure just EIGHT MONTHS after surgery and 10 years after he nearly blew his head off in failed suicide bid

Andy Sandness is now healing after one of the rarest surgeries in the world - a face transplant. He received the nose, cheeks, mouth, lips, jaw, chin, even the teeth of his donor. ....The exchange came near the end of an extraordinary medical journey that revolved around two young men who tried to kill themselves 10-years apart and 500 miles away. Sandness tried to take his own life before Christmas in 2006 with a gun and instantly regretted his decision.  His new face once belonged to 21-year-old father-to-be, Calen Ross - who killed himself in June of 2016
The entire medical procedure to transplant the face took the 60-strong team at the Mayo Clinic 56-hours . Dr. Mardini and his team devoted more than 50 Saturdays over 3 ½ years to rehearsing the procedure, using sets of cadaver heads to transplant the face of one to another.
First allowed to see his new face three weeks after the operation and said it 'far exceeded my expectations'.

Little boy born without a brain can now speak, count, and attend school

Shelly and Rob picked out a baby coffin for Noah, but they also never stopped believing he was anything less than a great gift. They took him home and the entire family surrounded him constantly with love, affection, and 24-7 care. Noah’s brain began to grow. And grow. And grow some more.

Britain's Blitz girl at 100:

Mary Ellis was one of the 'Ata-girls', the select gang of female pilots who flew Britain's fighters during the war. Originally from Oxfordshire, the First Officer had her first flying lesson in 1938 and flew for pleasure until 1941. But when she heard a BBC radio appeal for women pilots to join the auxiliary service she signed up for duty..

 Maryellis+Male Pilots

Forgotten images of female pilot who flew spitfires during the Second World War
were revealed two weeks after she celebrated turning 100.

'She flew 400 Spitfires and 76 different types of aircraft, including heavy bombers during World War Two. 'Mary helped the war effort by delivering much needed aircraft including Wellington Bombers, Mustangs and many more to the aircrews of RAF fighter and bomber command squadrons.' ...'Mary became Europe's first female air commandant and remained as managing director of Sandown Airport on the Isle of Wight until 1970.'

Mary turned 100 on 2 February and a surprise party was held in her honor at Sandown Airport, where over sixty guests attended. Mary said at the event: 'The war was a challenge and one had to do something about it. I went on and on until I flew everything. I love the Spitfire – it's my favorite aircraft, it's everyone's favorite, it's the symbol of freedom.'

 Maryellis 100 Bday
As part of her celebrations Mary was handed the controls of
a 275mph twin-seater Spitfire as it swooped over West Sussex.

Trespassing in Christina's World

....My sister Cynthia ventures, “Isn’t it rude to show up on someone’s doorstep without asking?” Dad grins and winks at us in the rearview mirror. “He’ll be flattered.”

We pull up to the farmhouse to find a courtly white-haired man trimming the hedge with a set of clippers. “It’s him!” Dad whispers. He rolls down his window and leans out. “Hello, good sir!” The man seems a little nonplused. “I have a car full of young readers here who’d give anything to meet their favorite author. A word from you, and they’ll remember this moment for the rest of their lives.” What choice does the poor man have? Within a few minutes, the famously reclusive E.B. White is demonstrating to a cluster of little girls in bathing suits that when you crush pine needles between your fingers and hold it to your nose, the smell is as strong as patchouli. And Dad is right — we never will forget it.


Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:37 AM | Permalink

February 24, 2017

Miscellany #58

Drunk Canadian Men Arrested for Riding Couch Towed Behind ATV Through McDonalds Drive-Thru.
but, as Stephen Green points out, "They were wearing helmets."  OH, CANADA!

The Mesmerizing 'Glory Hole' Spillway (drone video at the link)

 Overflowing Glory Hole

Earth has a new continent
Scientists say the 5 million square kilometre landmass east of Australia should be formally known as ZEALANDIA.  11 geologists argue that Zealandia has all four attributes necessary to be considered a continent....'It was not a sudden discovery but a gradual realization,' the scientists wrote....The new continent would be the 'youngest, thinnest, and most submerged' of the continents, with 94 percent of the landmass submerged in water.


Winners of the 2017 World Press Photo Contest

 Fire In Ukraine 1St Prize
Long-Term Projects, First Prize—Black Days Of Ukraine by Valery Melnikov / Rossia Segodnya

 Rescued From Rubble Syria
Spot News, Second Prize, Stories—Rescued From the Rubble (Syria) by Ameer Alhalbi / AFP

French diner overwhelmed with customers after it is accidentally awarded a Michelin star.  They confused Bouche à Oreille, Bourges with Bouche à Oreille, Boutervilliers, 100 miles away.


The Coffee Shaman  Meet the man responsible for third-wave coffee—and the Frappuccino.

George Howell “pushed light roasts and single-origin beans” while the rest of us were still drin­king Nescafé. He invented the Frappucino, sold out to Starbucks, then travelled the world for decades meeting growers. Now he is back with a new method for grading coffee beans — and it seems to work: “The third cup tastes unbelievable, so good that each hit from the cupping spoon exerts a magnetic effect on my tongue as powerful as the crumbs at the bottom of a bag of Doritos”

You can try it for yourself at his new cafe, George Howell Coffee in Newton, Mass.

How a Mexican Janitor Invented Flamin' Hot Cheetos  The Frito-Lay janitor is now an executive vice president at PepsiCo, all because of a spicy snack.

The Last Howard Johnson’s in the Universe.  America’s first great restaurant chain comes to the end of the road.

 Howard Johnson

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:01 AM | Permalink

February 15, 2017

Feel-good roundup

Firefighter adopts baby he delivered on emergency call  "It was meant to be," says the proud dad.

 Firefighter+Adopted Daughter

Fireflghter Marc Hadden, who worked with the medical unit, was eating dinner in the middle of his 24-hour shift when he had to hop in the ambulance and head out to the emergency. He and his partner found a woman in labor, and as soon as they got her in the ambulance she was ready to give birth. Hadden took charge — his first time ever being in charge of a delivery in 20 years of his work, according to a story on CBS News.  Little did the firefighter know at that moment that he was helping his own daughter take her first breath.

Mystery student brings enough valentines for everyone, 1,300

Students of Troy High School, in Ohio, received a wonderful Valentine’s day surprise yesterday when each student found an origami heart stuck on their locker. The truly impressive part is that all of these hand crafted gifts were made by one anonymous student ---who began making them last September.

 Valentines 1300 For Everyone

'I Know They Are Going to Die.' Foster Father Takes in Only Terminally Ill Children

 Bzeek Cares For Dying Children

Mohamed Bzeek has chosen a tough, heart-wrenching vocation. The quiet, devout, Libyan-born Muslim has for more than two decades been a father to terminally ill children in Los Angeles County’s foster care system. And as a long profile in the Los Angeles Times makes clear, he is very good at what he does. Bzeek reportedly has buried about ten children -- some of whom died in his arms -- yet still maintains the patience and empathy to do what even the children's parents can't or won't do.'I know they are going to die'....

Mohamed Bzeek moved from Libya to the US in 1978 and began fostering in 1989 with his late wife Dawn

after they decided to care exclusively for terminally ill kids.  He has buried ten children in the past 20 years of fostering severely ill children.  Dawn died in 2013. Bzeek cares for the kids, and his disabled son, by himself.  Bzeek is currently caring for a six-year-old girl who is paralyzed, deaf and blind. Foster care workers say he is the only person they can turn to with an ill child.

'The key is, you have to love them like your own,' Bzeek told the Los Angeles Times. 'I know they are sick. I know they are going to die. I do my best as a human being and leave the rest to God.'

Great Britain digs deep for grieving siblings

For the three siblings who lost their parents to cancer within days, a nation pulled out the stops. A homeless beggar donated his day’s earnings, a family in Scotland offered a home, countless others gave a tenner in anonymity.

Luke, 21, Hannah, 18, and Oliver Bennet, 13, were “astounded” as the total amount raised to keep them in full-time education soared above £192,000 in five days. The money poured in via the website JustGiving after Julie and Mike Bennet’s children, who live in the Wirral, released a picture of their parents holding hands on their deathbeds.

 Parents Just Before They Died

Mike Bennet, a cabinet-maker, had a brain tumor diagnosed four years ago. Last May his wife, Julie, a primary school teacher, had liver and kidney cancer diagnosed. Last month, after their treatments failed, the couple were admitted to Arrowe Park Hospital in the Wirral and put in adjacent beds for their final days. Mr Bennet died there on February 6, aged 57. Mrs Bennet was then moved to St John’s hospice in Bebington, where she died on Saturday, aged 50.

“They are extremely, extremely grateful,” Ms Gallagher said. “They just cannot believe the support they have been given. They are proper down-to-earth kids whose parents brought them up well. It is not about cars and new shoes with them. It is about rallying around each other.”

 Siblings Can Continue Their Education

The money will allow the siblings, Oliver 13, Hannah 18 and Luke 21, to continue in full-time education
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:10 PM | Permalink

February 13, 2017

Miscellany #57

I really admire this weatherman's sang-froid on live TV. This Arizona weather report started out normally… except for one small glitch on the green screen. After all, he was reporting on the hottest day of the universe.

The Devil Went Down To Georgia, washing machine edition (video)

Aaron McAvoy’s washing machine makes a banging noise while washing clothes so he played The Devil Went Down to Georgia in time with the banging. This is the most perfect little internet entertainment…I actually started crying I was laughing so hard. A much needed respite from the world.

Overflowing Bouquets Built From Hundreds of Spare Utensils

Ann Carrington produces sculpture that elevate objects used in the everyday... In her series Bouquets and Butterflies, Carrington gathers hundreds of spoons, knives, and forks both shiny and tarnished to create elegant bouquets. Clumping spoons together she is able to recreate the shapes of roses and tulips, some appearing so realistic you wonder if they are organic flowers dipped in a layer of silver.

Anncarrington Silver Bouquet

Scientists Engineered the Perfect Song to Make Babies Laugh with video at the link.

Get a professional musician together with some psychologists, brush up on the baby-laughter literature, write some tunes, write some lyrics, and cobble it all together into a research-backed piece of sonic science. There are easier ways, sure, but this one’s still pretty cool: As Caspar Addyman, a developmental psychologist at the University of London, recently explained in the Conversation, he and his colleagues — including singer Imogen Heap — have created the first song engineered specifically to elicit adorable baby giggles.

Kingfishers are perfectly preserved after plunging into a pond to catch fish... and FREEZING

The two birds were discovered by a priest in Weisendoft, northern Bavaria.  Foresters cut the remains of the kingfishers from the ice with saws  It is assumed that either they could no longer find the exit while underwater, or the hole froze over quickly. Forestry director Peter Proebstle called it a 'tragic, but also a bizarre and somehow beautiful sight'

 Kingfishers Preserved Ice

The Apollo Astronaut Who Was Allergic to the Moon

On the last of NASA's manned moon mission, Apollo 17 in 1972, Astronaut Harrison “Jack” Schmitt came down with lunar dust hay fever. Schmitt, it turns out, was basically allergic to the Moon....Of all the difficulties involved with putting a man on the Moon, “the major issue the Apollo astronauts pointed out was dust, dust, dust.”  Moondust may look soft and pillowy, but it’s actually sharp and abrasive, largely the detritus of micrometeorite impacts. With no wind or moving water on the Moon’s surface, moondust never erodes. Effectively, no natural process exists on the lunar surface that can round its edges. When astronauts inhale what is essentially finely powdered glass.....

Schmitt was the first, and only, professional scientist to walk on the Moon, a  Harvard-educated geologist who had dedicated the better part of a decade to studying the Moon’s landscape

 Harrison Schmitt

In December 1972, Schmitt landed in the Moon’s Valley of Taurus-Littrow, surrounded by mountains and endless stretches of moondust. During their first moonwalk, the lunar roving vehicle lost a fender. The tires spun, and the rover kicked up a cloud of dust.  The sediment got lodged in every wrinkle, fold, nook, and cranny of Schmitt’s spacesuit. The dust “gummed up the joints” of his suit so badly that he had trouble moving his arms. The powder chewed up his footwear, too. “The dust was so abrasive that it actually wore through three layers of Kevlar-like material on Jack’s boot,” Taylor said.

My favorite Gifs of the week.
Dog confronts robot dog
Timeline of Queen Elizabeth's Life As Told Through Banknotes.
High Five
Entire crowd goes nuts when special needs player scores final basket
I'm OK

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:04 PM | Permalink

February 8, 2017

Feel-good roundup

USPS mailman builds a ramp for an aging black Lab on his day off,  easing centuries of postal/canine tension
Indeed, Kramer is not only a friend to Tashi but most of the other dogs on his route. “Most of them are now my friend,” he admitted. “In my opinion if you’re not a dog person and you’re a mailman, you’re in the wrong line of work. I’ve got about 30 or 40 that enthusiastically greet me,” Kramer claimed.


Boston Marathon Bombing Survivor To Marry Firefighter Who Saved Her

Roseann Sdoia was a spectator near the finish line and was hit by shrapnel. Boston firefighter Mike Materia rushed to her aid and accompanied her to the hospital, where Sdoia's mother stepped in as the matchmaker.

"In the hospital, my mom tried to set me up with him," Sdoia told the New York Post. "She was like, 'Oh, did you see that firefighter? He's so cute.' And I was like, 'Mom, I just got blown up.' "

But Mom's persistence paid off. The victim and her hero struck up a romance that will soon lead to marriage which is planned for the Fall.


Raise a Glass to the Smithsonian's First Beer Scholar  Theresa McCulla is ready to start the “best job ever” chronicling the history of American brewing

No one will hire girl with Down syndrome. So she starts her own business  - In the North End of Boston, Colletty Divitto is baking up a storm of  Colletty's Cookies.


Collette's story was picked up by CBS local Boston, and aired as a "feel good" story for the holidays.  Well it became more than that!! Within 10 days, she had over 9.5m views of FB, and over 50,000 cookies ordered. She received over 65,000 letters from people all over the world within 10 days, admiring her determination and ambition and finding her inspirational offering them hope.

Scientists have turned cooking oil into a material 200 times stronger than steel A cheaper way to make graphene.

You have to smile at this Sold Puppy Dancing

Mother Of 4 Builds House From Scratch By Watching YouTube Videos (link to video)

 Cara Brookins+Family

Cara Brookins, 45, explained that when she and her four children started building a house in 2008, they were looking for a way to move on from a troubled past. From putting up windows to running the gas line, they did it all with some help from YouTube. She says they had been through a really tough domestic violence situation and when they left, were pretty beaten down. During times when they had no idea how to continue, Brookins put up an front and rallied her children to keep trying.

He Saved 669 Children During The Holocaust… And He Doesn’t Know They’re Sitting Next To Him.

Not many people know who Sir Nicholas Winton is, considering he is older than 100, most can be forgiven for not being aware of who he is. There are 669 people who will certainly never forget the man’s name, mainly because he managed to save them from death. You see Sir Nicholas Winton saved the lives of 669 Jewish children from Czechoslovakia.

From the years 1938-39 he organised and successfully completed the goal of saving the children, bringing them to the safety of Britain. Post war, his deeds went totally unnoticed for almost 50 years, until his wife found records naming every children, along with a picture in one of his scrapbooks. What happened next is truly beautiful, as the man who saved these helpless children 50 years ago shares the audience with those who owe him their lives.

At the link a 1/1/2 minute video that brought tears to my eyes.

'Lock-in' paralysis patients report being happy

The report in Tuesday's journal PLOS Biology is based on four people with complete "lock-in" syndrome, meaning they are unable to move at all due to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease), which destroys the part of the nervous system responsible for movement. Patients are unable blink or move their eyes, and they breathe with the help of a ventilator.  But using a non-invasive brain-computer interface that measured levels of oxygen on the brain, researchers were able to detect whether the patients were thinking "yes" or "no" in response to a series of questions, with an accuracy rate of about 70 percent. 

"We were initially surprised at the positive responses when we questioned the four completely locked-in patients about their quality of life," said lead author Niels Birbaumer, professor at the Wyss Center for Bio and Neuroengineering in Geneva, Switzerland. "All four had accepted artificial ventilation in order to sustain their life, when breathing became impossible; thus, in a sense, they had already chosen to live.  We found that all four patients we tested were able to answer the personal questions we asked them, using their thoughts alone. All four patients in the study were asked, "Are you happy?"  They each consistently responded "yes," over weeks of questioning."
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:22 AM | Permalink

February 2, 2017

MIscellany #56

Best Drone Photos, Out Of 27,000 Contenders. #1 is Exploration by Hanbing Wang/SkyPixel

 Winner Best Drone Photo

English has 3000 words for being drunk: 'ramsquaddled’, ‘obfusticated’, ‘tight as a tick, etc.

There used to be 4 billion American chestnut trees, but they all disappeared The kings of the Eastern forest now die as shrubs.

 American Chestnut

Scientist cracks mystery of the frog’s powerful tongue. It’s called spit

....frog spit can change physical properties, transforming from a glue more viscous than honey to a thinner fluid and back again.The interplay between this reversible frog saliva and extra-soft frog tongues...allows the animals to capture meals in the amount of time it takes a human brain to think of and speak a word..

The home-schooled, self-taught teen who creates exquisite dresses, most historically inspired

Angela Clayton, 19, spends her days lost in eras bygone, designing and sewing dresses that look straight out of a Jane Austen novel or a 16th-century portrait. She also models the creations on her Web sites (including AngelaClayton.Crevado.com).

 Angela Crayton Dress

Garage Door Covers

 Garage Door Cover.Horses

There are Giant Clouds of Alcohol Floating in Space

Ten thousand light years from earth in a constellation far, far away, there is massive cloud of alcohol....1 000 times larger than the diameter of our solar system. It contains enough ethyl alcohol to fill 400 trillion trillion pints of beer.  It’s space booze.

How Trees “Talk” To One Another  Trees form complex relationships with one another to survive...

Forester Peter Wohlleben’s 2015 book, The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate – Discoveries from a Secret World,  invites readers to understand the capabilities of trees as social beings who rely on a network to communicate amongst themselves, much in the same way as any group of people or animals might.    Wohlleben found that the groups of trees he studied formed friendships, used electric signals to communicate, and even kept their fallen comrades alive for several additional years, even centuries.

Shetland pony broke into pub, got drunk and had to be coaxed out with bar snacks  Video at link.

Your Dog Really Loves Reggae Music

 Reggae Dog  Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

Goth Chicken Is Completely Black from Its Feathers to Its Bones


To call the Ayam Cemani the world’s most unique chicken is an understatement. The black chicken isn’t just dark, but it’s entirely black—down to its bones! Indigenous to Indonesia, these Goth fowls’ internal organs and muscles are also inky-colored. It’s eggs, however, are a pleasant shade of cream. ...  This blackness is caused by genetics, a mutation that “produces about ten times as much melanin [black pigment] as you’ll find in a normal chicken.” As a result, the Ayam Cemani’s feathers shine with iridescent greens and purples for a “riveting” effect.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:33 PM | Permalink

January 26, 2017

Miscellany #55

The language of 16th-century Irish falconry entered the colloquial English language thanks in part to one amateur falconer: William Shakespeare. Examples: 'Under your thumb', 'wrapped around my little finger', 'hoodwinked' or 'fed-up'
If you plan on visiting Iceland, catching sight of the Northern Lights is chancy, but it's one of the few places in Europe you can see the Milky Way in all its glory, especially at Hotel Rangna in southeast Iceland which boasts of two of the most powerful telescopes in the country in its own observatory open to all guests.

 Icelandic Observatory

How People With Color Blindness See The World 


A woman flew through a tornado in a bathtub and survived  Unharmed, but emotionally shaken.

Worth seeing again.  Bad lip reading of Donald Trump's Inauguration and The Netherlands welcomes Trump in his own words

The Lego Bridge in Germany. 


Spectacular video captures the 'ice waves' breaking on a frozen lake in Russia

Large parts of Lake Baikal in Siberia, Russia, were frozen close to the shoreline. As the ice approached the shore, it came crashing down - just like a real wave.  It is known as 'ice stacking', and happens after warm air moves across the lake. 

The Ice On Lake Baikal Pictured Began To Break Up Into Shards

You can hear the tinkling of the ice shards

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:13 PM | Permalink

January 19, 2017

Miscellany #54

Salve Regina: The modern version of an ancient hymn dedicated to Mary

 Friar Gabriel

Friar Gabriel is no ordinary man: not only is he skilled in Gregorian chant, he also performs all of his own stunts on the skateboard.

My favorite gifs of the week: Dolphins surfing,    Cactus bloomingUrban skiing  Populating a lake with fish from a plane  Cleaning snow off a roof 

He was soothing his crying baby at 2 AM when he looked out the window and saw these.

 Light-Pillars Timothy
Light Pillars / Credit: Timothy Joseph Elzinga 2017

Why Are Bananas Berries, But Strawberries Aren't?

Your cure for the blues  A15 minute cure that really works.

Feel the mascot's frustration in this local commercial

He looks like a handsome cowboy but he's really an historical linguist    Just listen to hear how beautiful medieval Norse sounds when spoken by Dr. Jackson Crawford. 

 Jackson Crawford Wyoming Linguist

The Amazing Lavender Labyrinth in West Michigan 

 Lavendar Labyrinth

French cyclist Robert Marchand still breaking records at 105. 

 105 Cyclist Award

Extraordinary images by Russian photographer Kristina Makeeva  who spent 3 Days Walking On Frozen Baikal, The Deepest And Oldest Lake On Earth.


The National Park Service Protects Its $40 million Investment in Growing Grass on the National Mall.  Every day 30,000 people walk over the national front lawn.  On Inauguration Day, some 800,000 to 1,000,000 are expected.

The technology to protect turf is a relatively recent invention, too. For the inauguration, contractors are bringing in special panels, 16 square feet each, to cover up the grass. To the human eye, they look white, but they’re actually translucent, which allows light to reach the grass and keep it healthy. The bottoms of the panels are honeycombed with small, square cells that protect the grass crowns from being crushed and act like mini greenhouses.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:25 PM | Permalink

January 12, 2017

Miscellany #53

Little Kids and Their Big Dogs  Russian Photographer Andy Seliverstoff


"The state of endless joy and mutual confidence – that has become the main idea of the series."

 Little-Girl-Big-Dog Andy Seliverstoff

Barns Are Painted Red Because of the Physics of Dying Stars

Grandad Uses Instagram To Share His Life’s Story With The Grandson He Might Not See Growing Up


Across the USA by Train for Just $213
Traveling coast-to-coast across the United States by train is one of the world’s greatest travel experiences. Amazingly, it’s also one of the world’s greatest travel bargains — the 3,400-mile trip can cost as little as $213.

After watching over 50 TED talks, these are the insights that have stuck with me most

Your Shower Is Lame, Your Dishwasher Doesn’t Work, and Your Clothes are Dirty

The English “alphabet song”, also known as “The A.B.C.”, is based on a tune by Mozart
This same tune is also used as the basis for such children’s songs as Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star and Baa, Baa, Black Sheep.

You Can Now Buy Snow White’s Cottage For $952,000 on 7.5 acres of land in Olalla, Washington.

 Snow White's House

'Firefall' lights up Yosemite: Sunset reflects off waterfall making it glow golden in rare phenomenon

 Firefall Yosemitejpg

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:49 PM | Permalink

December 29, 2016

Miscellany #52

Beautiful photos of Iceland

 Iceland-Rainbow Over Kirkufell

Pantone 2017 Color of the Year: Greenery

 2017 Color Greenery-1

How Millions Of Secret Silk Maps Helped POWs Escape Their Captors in WWII 750 successful escapes.

Imagine it’s 1942, and you’re a member of Britain’s Royal Air Force. In a skirmish above Germany, your plane was shot out of the sky, and since then you’ve been hunkered down in a Prisoner of War camp. Your officers have told you it’s your duty to escape as soon as you can, but you can’t quite figure out how—you’ve got no tools and no spare rations, and you don’t even know where you are.

One day, though, you’re playing Monopoly with your fellow prisoners when you notice a strange seam in the board. You pry it open—and find a secret compartment with a file inside. In other compartments, other surprises: a compass, a wire saw, and a map, printed on luxurious, easily foldable silk and showing you exactly where you are, and where safety is. You’ve received a package from Christopher Clayton Hutton—which means you’re set to go.

The Curious History of the Clothespeg

Although pegs might suggest domestic servitude and toil, they also asserted possession, tidiness and small, quick triumphs.

Garbage can be beautiful, if sorted correctly.  Photos from the Secret Trash Collection in a New York Sanitation Garage.

 Secret Collection Of Furbies-1

This is the Treasures in the Trash collection, created entirely out of objects found by Nelson Molina, a now-retired sanitation worker, who began by decorating his locker. Collected over 30 years, it is a visual explosion, organized by type, color, and size.

The Married Woman Who Kept Her Lover in the Attic Dolly Oesterreich, her "Bat Man," and one of the strangest sex scandals ever.

New #ComboPhoto Mashups from Stephen McMennamy

 Bridge Guitar

She Carefully Glued 13,000 Dark And Shiny Pennies To Create This Awesome Floor

It all started with three $50 bags of pennies from the bank and some Elmer's glue...The finished product! About $130 in pennies, 10 bottles of Elmer's glue, some grout and epoxy to give the floor a shiny finish.

 Floor Of Pennies

Watch a Guy Hit 240 Consecutive Green Lights in New York City

Watch 167 Theremin Nesting Dolls Play Beethoven's 9th Symphony then break into a bluesy boogie-woogie rendition. 

Why Do Blind People Wear Sunglasses? to filter out bright and ultraviolet light, to protect their eyes from physical dangers like low-hanging branches, small objects blown by the wind, open cupboard doors, etc, to hide certain deformities , to signify that they’re blind at a distance and because they make others uncomfortable because they can not maintain eye contact.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:07 PM | Permalink

December 26, 2016

Christmastime miscellany

The Twelve Days of Christmas

Though we love Christmas for the traditions that it entails, we have forgotten one of the most important traditions. For several centuries people waited until Christmas to celebrate Christmas. And then they celebrated it for twelve days. There was a fast leading up to the feast, and then there were many days of feasting. But in recent years, in spite of official attempts to deflate Christmas altogether, the festival lasts for over a month leading up to the actual feast, and then it vanishes instantly and all evidence of it is erased.

G.K. Chesterton, Charles Dickens, and the Joy of Christmas

In his brief remarks, Chesterton pointed out that there is no substitute for Christmas. No new religion has made a new festival anything like it. No new philosophy has been popular enough to make a popular holiday. The pleasure-seekers with their nightclub life are not happy people. Chesterton says it is unfair to call them Pagans. It is unfair to the Pagans....The modern Pagans are merely atheists; who worship nothing and therefore create nothing. They could not, for instance, even make a substitute for Thanksgiving Day. For half of them are pessimists who say they have nothing to be thankful for; and the other half are atheists who have nobody to thank.”

Christmas: Embattled From the Beginning.  The Saturday essay in the WSJ
For 2,000 years, believers and nonbelievers alike have fought over the meaning and traditions of a repeatedly reinvented holiday

World’s largest Rube Goldberg machine lights up Christmas tree (link to video)
To make the act of switching on the town’s Christmas tree lights even more exiting, Latvian e-commerce company Scandiweb constructed the world’s Largest Rube Goldberg for the people of Riga with a chain reaction that consisted of 412 individual mechanical steps.

Harvesting One Million Christmas Trees over 6 weeks with chains, trucks and helicopters.

 Harvesting Million Xmas Treee

A 2016 Christmas Card: Silent Night by 8 cellists from the Philharmonia Orchestra (London, UK)  filmed in candlelight at St Mary de Castro, Leicester.

 Silentnight 8 Cellists

Discover What 3 Classic Paintings Secretly Say About The Meaning Of Christmas

like“The Adoration of the Shepherds” by Philippe de Champaigne (1602-1674),


Alison Kraus and Yo-Yo Ma - The Wexford Carol on YouTube

The ‘magic of the global marketplace’ and the ‘miracle of global manufacturing’: Christmas 1964 vs. today

6 Christmas Dates You Should Not Forget

Look at all that we’d miss out on if we shut down our Christmas on December 26 along with the secular world!

General Patton's Christmas Card distributed to 250,000 troops under his command in 1944

During the holiday season of 1944, Gen. Patton’s Third Army was bogged down in their advance against the Germans. According to WND, Patton was bogged down as he was trying to reach Bastogne, a town in southern Belgium that held by 15,000 American troops but encircled by over 50,000 Nazi soldiers bearing down on it. Unfortunately, due to the weather, Gen. Patton didn’t have the air cover he needed to relieve the 15,000 brave American troops holding off the Germans. That’s when he decided to rely on the power of prayer.

Patton had Chaplain Fr. James O’Neill compose a card to be distributed to each one of the 250,000 troops under his command in the Third Army, and had all of the men pray this simple prayer:

 General Patton's 1944 Xmas Card  click to enlarge
And it worked. The next day, the weather cleared, Patton’s Third Army made its way into Bastogne to relieve the 101st Airborne, stymie the Nazis, and … well, you know the rest.

From A Bunch of Hilarious Christmas Posts That You Can’t Help But Laugh At

Funny-Christmas-Tree In A Cage

10 UK Christmas Traditions That Confuse Americans like Crackers for one.

German town forced to evacuate on Christmas (2015)

Thousands of people in the southern German city of Augsburg have left Christmas presents and decorations behind, forced to evacuate while authorities disarm a large World War II aerial bomb.

The bomb was uncovered last week during construction work in the city’s historic central district. Police say Christmas Day is the best time to defuse it because there is less traffic and it is more likely people can stay with relatives. Some 32,000 homes with 54,000 residents are in the evacuation zone.

The Piano Guys sing Angels We Have Heard on High with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and over 1000 angels.

The Origins of a Christmas Carol: The Real ‘Winter Wonderland’ by a  jingle-writer dying from tuberculosis in a sanatorium who was inspired by children playing in the snow outside his window and remembering his own childhood.

Funny Historical Letters to Santa

 Santa Letter Percy From Wv 1907

The True Story of Pain and Hope behind "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day".

30 million tune into the BBC's Christmas Eve broadcast of Nine Lessons And Carols From King’s College, Cambridge. Few know the ethereal carol service was inspired by the horror of the trenches.

Christmas in Aleppo: Worshippers cram into Saint Elias Cathedral that was almost destroyed by rocket fire for the first time in 5 years.

 Aleppo Christmas 2016

How Jimmy Stewart Became George Bailey

After two years of subsisting largely on ice cream and peanut butter, he had only just begun to eat real food and keep it down. He had the shakes and at times flew into rages, and his sleep was interrupted by images of bombers burning in the sky and men tumbling to earth.

“It’s a Wonderful Life” was Stewart’s first picture after almost five years away, including 20 months on the front lines. As a squadron commander of B-24 heavy bombers, he flew his first combat mission to Germany on Dec. 13, 1943. He commanded 12 missions in his first two months and was almost shot down twice. The experience unnerved him enough that he spent time at the “flak farm,” where fliers went to decompress after seeing too much combat.

Where Did the Wise Men Come From?  Dwight Longnecker argues that they came from the Kingdom of Sheba (present day Yemen)

The three gifts of the magi indicate an origin in Sheba since the kingdom was known firstly for its vast wealth from the gold mines of Africa, secondly, the Boswellia tree–from which the gum that is used to make frankincense is tapped–is native only to the Arabian peninsula and Somalia. Thirdly, the commiphora tree–from which the resin to make myrrh is derived–also grows only in the Arabian peninsula.

Japan Is Obsessed with Kentucky Fried Chicken on Christmas  Thanks to the successful Kentucky for Christmas! marketing campaign in 1974, 

These days, KFC records its highest sales volume each year on Christmas eve. Back office staff, presidents and execs come out to help move the lines along. Fried chicken and Christmas have become synonymous:

An incredible Christmas story from WWII

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:18 PM | Permalink

December 11, 2016

Miscellany #51

Rogue Beaver Apprehended After Trashing Store That Sells Fake Christmas Trees

Anonymouse Opened Up Stores For Mice In Sweden


 Context Little-Mouse-Shop-Sweden

Bullets from the Battle of Gallipoli

 Gallipoli Bullets

The Best Military Tricks to Make Your Daily Life Easier like how to keep your dress shirt tucked in and waterproof gadgets using two condoms.

Here Are the Real Boundaries of American Metropolises, Decided by an Algorithm
How is the U.S. actually split geographically?

 Real Boundaries American Cities click to enlarge

In Defense of Fahrenheit
A lot of scientific thought went into developing the United States' stubbornly-held temperature system.  For example Fahrenheit is a more precise scale than Celsius.

Two women sue groom after getting hit in the head by drone at wedding

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:31 PM | Permalink

December 1, 2016

Miscellany #50

Fifty shades of white: Artist captures beautiful images of albinos against light backgrounds to reveal 'their beautiful tones'

Yulia Taits, 38, from Moscow, captured the images of models and says she did not need to use Photoshop for any of them.

Ms Tait, who now lives in Israel, said: 'Their unique beauty hypnotizes me. This beauty is so pure and amazing for me, as if it was taken from fantasies and fairytale legends. ...'I’m excited to prove that white is not just one color! It has many tints, shades and beautiful tones."

 Albino Aldi

Lost poem by Anne Frank unearthed: She wrote the eight lines of advice when she was only 12, in a book belonging to Christiane 'Cri-cri' Van Maarsen, the younger sister of her best friend Jacqueline, only months before the family went into hiding from the Nazis. 

If you did not finish your work properly,
And lost precious time,
Then once again take up your task
And try harder than before.
If others have reproached you
For what you have done wrong,
Then be sure to amend your mistake.
That is the best memory one can make.

Migrants Burn Down German Refugee Center After Camp Runs Out of Nutella and Gummy Bears

Rakotzbrücke Devil's Bridge

This jaw-dropping 19th-century bridge uses its reflection to form a perfect circle.  Commissioned in 1860 by the knight of the local town, the thin arch stretching over the waters of the Rakotzsee is roughly built out of varied local stone. Like many similarly precarious spans across Europe, the Rakotzbrücke is known as a “devil’s bridge,” due to the colloquialism that such bridges were so dangerous or miraculous that they must have been built by Satan.

 Devil's Bridge

‘Suicide bomber’ squirrel hospitalizes Chicago politician who spoke out against squirrels

The Factory of Fakes In the New Yorker - How a workshop uses digital technology to craft perfect copies of imperiled art.

Explore the stories behind the 100 most influential images of all time put together by Time magazine and an international team of curators

15 Reflections That Mess With Your Head

 #2 Starry Night In A Puddle
#2  Reflection in a Puddle Where The Gravel Looks Like A Starry Night Sky

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:38 PM | Permalink

November 14, 2016

Miscellany #49

The New York Times, the so-called paper of record, reports on the U.S. Presidential election.  The first is satire; the second is not.

Trump Forces Black Family From Home

'Democrats, Students And Foreign Allies Face The Reality Of A Trump Presidency."  Howard Kurtz said,"This is the most incredible headline I have ever seen in The New York Times , big screaming banner: 'Democrats, Students And Foreign Allies Face The Reality Of A Trump Presidency.'Just think about this for a second. The man has just won perhaps the greatest political upset victory in the history of American politics. He proved all the pundits and prognosticators wrong. He is the next president of the United States...

Daylight Savings Made Each of These Twins the Older One

Daylight Savings Time makes for some weird situations -one particularly strange example took place this year, when Emily and Seth Peterson gave birth to twins on November 6. One twin, Samuel, was born at 1:39 AM, but the later born twin Ronan arrived after the time change -at 1:10 AM. So which one is older -the one born first or the one born at an earlier time?


More Accurate World Map Wins Prestigious Design Award You probably won't like it, but what went into its creation is fascinating.


Do The Dutch Reach — A Bicyclist You Didn't Door Will Thank You.  And you may save a life

Michael Charney, a 70-year-old retired doctor from Cambridge, Massachusetts, is spearheading a grassroots campaign to end dooring forever. The campaign promotes the Dutch Reach — a technique where a driver reaches over with his right hand to open the car door, forcing him to turn his body, look over his shoulder — and hopefully see any oncoming cyclists.

"It's simple, it's obvious, and it costs nothing" Charney told The Boston Globe. "People just have to switch from one thoughtless habit to another thoughtless habit — but the second one is safer."

Armenian Fashion illustrator Edgar Artis Creates Amazing Dress Designs Using Everyday Objects   

 Pasta Dress Edgar-Artis

Famous Paintings Made Real With 3D Technology
A neat little video of 13 different Van Gogh's paintings turned into 3D scenes by Luca Agnani studios at the Van Gogh Museum in the Netherlands.

Funny, Creative Real-Life Trolls from De Milked

 Mystery In Bookstore

A giant, mysterious Celtic cross made of trees was recently discovered in a forest in Donegal county in Ireland.

 Celticcross Forest

An investigation by UTV found the answer: local forester Liam Emmery secretly created the image years ago by planting two different kinds of trees, telling few people about it outside his family. His wife Norma said she had forgotten about the image since Liam died 6 years ago.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:15 PM | Permalink

October 12, 2016

Miscellany #48

The Jesuit who invented hypertext
If you surf the internet, it's thanks to Father Roberto Busa, a professor of Thomist philosophy who mastered Latin, Greek, German, French, English and Spanish in addition to his native Italian.  He spent 50 years and completed an index and concordance of the writings of St Thomas Aquinas, a work in 56 volumes of almost a thousand pages each.  Then

...he met with the founder of IBM, Thomas Watson, in order to produce a digital version of the Index in which a researcher could effectively search for related concepts in Aquinas’ work. Watson told Busa that the computers they had back then could not relate the contents included in the Index in any way. But Busa, of course, insisted.This conversation gave birth to the hypertext project: a structure for sharing and linking information between different sources, through links.


Mark Twain's List of 60 American Comfort Foods He Missed While Traveling Abroad including "Ice-water—not prepared in the ineffectual goblet, but in the sincere and capable refrigerator".

Greatest Doctor's Note Ever


Galapagos Tortoise Saved His Species From Extinction by Having Tons of Sex

When there were only 14 members of the Chelonoidis hoodensis species left, horny tortoise and noted sex hero Diego had his work cut out for him. Luckily, he was up for the challenge. And he has 800 tortoise children to prove it.

A Macro Timelapse Highlights the Micro Movements of Spectacularly Colored Coral   Mesmerizingly beautiful reminder that corals are living things of fantastic strangeness.


Interested in documenting one of the oldest animals on Earth, Barcelona-based production company myLapse set to capture the minimal movements of brightly colored coral, recording actions rarely seen by the human eye. The short film took nearly 25,000 individual images of the marine invertebrates to compose, and photography of species, such as the Acanthophyllia, Trachyphyllia, Heteropsammia cochlea, Physogyra, took over a year.

The Mesmerizing Glow-in-the-Dark Bike Path in Poland made of small crystal-like particles of phosphor called ‘luminophores’ that charge during sunlight hours and can glow for up to 10 hours.

 Illuminated Bikepath

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:19 PM | Permalink

October 7, 2016

Feel Good Miscellany

Remember This Old Man With Alzheimer's Singing Karaoke? He Just Landed A Record Deal

 Karaoke Alzheimers
YouTube link - Quando Quando Quando - Teddy Mac - The Songaminute Man

An 80-year-old man who became an internet star when his son posted videos of him singing in the car, has landed a record deal. Decca Records signed Ted McDermott to a deal after videos of his carpool karaoke were watched 40 million times on YouTube.

Ted was diagnosed with dementia in 2013. But singing his favorite songs seems to "bring him back," if only for a few brief minutes. His son, Simon McDermott, found that singing the songs while driving around helped his father cope with his disease.

"This is a dream come true not only for dad, but for the entire family," Simon said.  "There have been some really tough days in the last few years - especially for Mum.  We threw an 80th birthday party last month and thought that would be his last time singing solo for people, so it's amazing to think he now has a single coming out!"

He Notices His Brother's Body Shut Down Near The End Of The Race. 

The World Triathlon Series finale took place on Saturday in Cozumel, Mexico. But the headlines from the event are not about the man who won the race - they're about the men who finished second and third.  Olympic champion Alistair Brownlee gave up his chance to win to help his exhausted younger brother Jonny over the finish line. Watch the dramatic ending at the link.

World’s Oldest Man, After Century Wait, Celebrates Bar Mitzvah at Last

Yisrael Kristal, like many a bar mitzvah boy before him, celebrated the event last weekend, reading the Torah and enjoying the company of his family, who danced, sang and threw candies.  But Mr. Kristal was surrounded at the ceremony in southern Israel by his two surviving children, nine grandchildren and 30 great-grandchildren. He is 113, and he had to wait a century to mark the occasion.

 Bar-Mitzvah At 101__

Ms. Kristal Kuperstoch said her father had prayed every morning for the past 100 years. She attributed his longevity to “the above." “He believes in God,” she said. “He is a simple man, a wise and intelligent man. He believes in himself. He is someone who takes happiness in everything.
Mr. Kristal’s granddaughter Liat Bashan, a 32-year-old social worker, said that seeing her grandfather at his bar mitzvah ceremony, in a room spilling over with relatives and loved ones, had left her overcome with joy — and mindful of all those who perished in the Holocaust. “All those people from one person,” she said. “Imagine how many rooms could be filled if six million had lived.”  She added: “Every time I see my grandfather, I want to make a blessing.”

How Libraries Save Lives

A beautiful testament to that emancipating, transformative power of public libraries comes from one such troubled little girl named Storm Reyes, who grew up in an impoverished Native American community, had her life profoundly changed, perhaps even saved, by a library bookmobile, and went on to become a librarian herself. She tells her story in this wonderful oral history animation by StoryCorps.

 Bookmobile Indian Girl
YouTube video here

The forger who saved 1000s of Jews from the Nazis

If you’re doubting whether you’ve done enough with your life, don’t compare yourself to Mr. Kaminsky. By his 19th birthday, he had helped save the lives of thousands of people by making false documents to get them into hiding or out of the country. He went on to forge papers for people in practically every major conflict of the mid-20th century.

 The Forger Nytvideo
Times video at the link

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:20 AM | Permalink

September 6, 2016

How would you explain colors to a blind person?

There was a time when the little girl Ashley could seen nothing but light and dark.  Now grown-up and after a lot of work with a great doctor, she can see just fine. She never forgot how her friends and family explained colors to her.

Red.  They had me stand outside in the sun. They told me that the heat I was feeling is red. They explained that red is the color of a burn, from heat, embarrassment, or even anger.

Yellow  I didn't touch anything for this, they just told me that whenever you laugh so hard you can't stop, that that happiness is what yellow looks like.

Green  I held soft leaves and wet grass. They told me green felt like life. To this day it is still very much my favorite color.

Blue.  They put my hands in their pool. They told me that that sensation I felt while swimming, that omnipresent coolness, that's blue. Blue feels like relaxation.

Brown I held dirt and I touched a tree. They told me brown felt like earth, and like crunchy leaves or wilting flowers.

Grey They told me that the rain is grey, and that so is concrete or cement. That it is a hard color, stern and with no personality. (Sorry grey, I like you now! But you scared me back then)
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:35 PM | Permalink

September 1, 2016

Miscellany #47

Two sets of identical twins marry in joint ceremony

The couples first met at on social media where they started conversing because they had so much in common as identical twins. After getting on so well, they set up a double date.  It was quickly crystal clear that both relationships were serious and so they took the next natural step: a double wedding.

Rostislav said: 'When we met them they were just as shocked as we were. And then… love.'  When asked if he ever got confused to the two brides, he shook his head and said of his new wife: 'I'd know her through galaxies.'

 2 Sets Identical Twins Marriage-1

Photographer Tammy Swarek dressed up homeless dogs in a bid to attract new owners.

She said the project was a form of 'therapy' after watching her mother suffer with Alzheimer's Disease.

 Homeless Dog In Jeans-1

An Assisted Living Facility Designed to Look Like the 1940s so Alzheimer's Patients Feel at Home

 Alzheimer's Facility 1940S Theme

The line is "baked in a buttery flaky crust".

While attempting to do a commercial for the chicken pot pie at Dysart's Restaurant in Maine, this gentleman has a little problem with saying his lines. This just gets funnier and funnier as it goes on, and it is imperative that you watch until the very end. This is the hardest I've laughed all week.

 "Baked In A Buttery Flaky Crust
video at the link

Diversity Training Fails from the Harvard Business Review

‘Laboratory studies show that this kind of force-feeding can activate bias rather than stamp it out.’

How One Pilot's Sweet Tooth Helped Defeat Communism

OPERATION "LITTLE VITTLES".  Not surprisingly, dropping candy from a military airplane was against regulation, but Halvorsen was resolute. First, he convinced his copilot and their engineer to give him their weekly candy rations. Then he tackled the problematic physics of “candy bombs”: Chocolate dropped from a plane going 110 mph hurtles toward Earth at alarming speeds. Halvorsen’s solution was to craft mini-parachutes from handkerchiefs and attach them to the candy with twine.

Halo Effect.  Swimmers in Thailand Surrounded by Clouds of Bioluminescent Phytoplankton

 Halo Effect Thailand

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:48 AM | Permalink

August 26, 2016

Miscellany #46

The Olympic medal for kindness

Rare Pierre de Coubertin medal awarded only 17 times is given to the NZ and US runners who fell and helped each other to carry on,  American Abbey D'Agnostino and Nikki Hamblin of New Zealand were both awarded the extremely rare medal after displaying the 'Olympic spirit and fair play' after helping each other finish the 5,000m.  They were 3,000m into the race when the American appeared to clip Hamblin's heel, sending both tumbling to the ground but instead of appearing frustrated that their dreams of glory were apparently over, they helped one another to carry on.

 Olympic Medal For Olympic Spirit

Beer Archaeologist: How Alcohol Shaped Our Civilization

Due to its nutrtiional value and mind-altering effects, alcohol provided "incentives for hunter-gatherers to settle down and domesticate grain". So to drink that beer, they set up villages and new societies. They would also use alcohol in religious ceremonies and as medicine. As such, according to the scientist, "The beginnings of civilization were spurred on by fermented beverages."...paradoxically beer is healthier (of course, if used in moderation). It kills bacteria and could have been a safer drinking choice than "raw water".

Bride Walked Down the Aisle By Man With Her Father’s Heart.

Jeni Stepien’s father was murdered in 2006.  His heart was later given to Arthur Thomas, who waited 16 years to have a heart transplant.  On Friday, the day before her wedding, Stepien met Thomas for the first time. She was able to feel her father’s heart beat for the first time in 10 years.  “What greater honor could a person have than walking the daughter of the man who’s given his heart to him,” Thomas told reporters. “I can’t imagine a greater honor.”

 Jeni Stepian Father's-Heart Arthur Thomas

Gross 'black slime' creeps over Washington DC's most famous monuments - and no one knows how to get rid of it

It's called biofilm which only needs nutrients and a surface to grow. The National Parks Service has hired scientists from all over the world to find a solution.  Black slime goes global from Italy to Cambodia

Timeless tips for "simple sabotage" from the CIA 

In 1944, the OSS (the precursor to the CIA) produced a document called the Simple Sabotage Field Manual. It was designed to be used by agents in the field to hinder our WWII adversaries. The CIA recently highlighted five tips from the manual as timelessly relevant......

Eight brilliant true stories about Bill Murray

After the New York premiere of Hyde Park on Hudson, Murray and the film-makers took questions from the audience. The film stars Murray as the crippled US president Franklin D Roosevelt, and one scene shows FDR swimming, his horribly wizened legs dangling under the water. According to US GQ, one audience member wondered how the special effects department had managed to make the limbs look so hideous. As the giggling from the stage quickly made apparent, no special effects were involved. Murray let the laughter die down. “That,” he said after a long pause, “is acting.”

Couples risk their lives to be VACUUM-PACKED in plastic bags for bizarre photos that are all the rage in Tokyo .

Photographer Hal Kawaguchi smothers couples in lube before vacuum-packing them in plastic bags and keeps  a paramedic on hand to make sure the partners aren't suffocated during the session.

 Vacuum-Packed Couple

Fisherman found giant 34kg pearl and kept the two-foot long gem under his bed for TEN YEARS as a good luck charm

He didn't know the potential eye-watering value of $100 million and kept it as a 'good luck charm' in his rundown wooden home.  But a fire at the property earlier this year forced him to have a clear out and move house.  The fisherman handed it in to the stunned local tourism officer in remote Puerto Princesca who verified that it had been found in a giant clam.

 Giant Pearl $100Million

Circle of Hotness This is hysterical.  Jen explains why 86 degrees isn't so hot on the Circle of Hotness.  YouTube video at the link.


YouTube video at the link.

Some dogs are terrible at playing hide and seek

 Hide+Seek Dog

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:33 PM | Permalink

July 27, 2016


The Smithsonian is Hiring a Beer Historian
The Smithsonian National Museum of American History is hiring a beer historian/scholar for a three-year appointment. Curator Paula Johnson explains that the gig is a new position funded by the Brewers Association and that the museum is seeking someone who can "focus and dedicate efforts towards research, documentation, and collecting American brewing history.....with special emphasis on the craft industry

The Rarest Plant in Britain Makes a Ghostly Appearance - The Ghost Orchid
Decades go by, and people are prowling the woods, eyes down, hunting for it—crawling, searching, losing hope, and then, all of a sudden, there it is again! In a totally unexpected spot, far from the last sighting, hiding in the dark, barely as tall as your thumb, leafless, probably the rarest plant in Great Britain. It's known as the ghost orchid, and when it shows up, people go nuts.

 Ghost Orchid

What makes mosquitoes so good at getting under our skin?
Mosquitoes kill more than a million people every year  by transmitting diseases such as malaria and dengue fever, making the insects the animal kingdom’s most prolific killer of humans by a wide margin  A short video offers a close-up of how female mosquitoes use a sophisticated set of evolutionary tools – essentially, six ultra-sharp needles – to pierce our skin and suck our blood. 

35 Photos You Won’t Believe Were Taken In New York City


34 First Lines of Famous Books

 34 First Lines Famous-Books

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:52 PM | Permalink

July 17, 2016

Miscellany 45

Brother Wolf, Welcome Back to Yellowstone

14 Canadian wolves brought into Yellowstone National Park transformed a whole ecosystem… for the good!
The effects in the park were deeper, better and more striking than expected. The whole ecosystem was transformed. Even the course of the rivers changed! How could wolves provoke such incredible changes in nature? Watch the clip and marvel.

This Simple Invention Is Helping To Solve The Water Crisis =  the Hippo Water Roller.

The Hippo isn't a re-invention of the wheel, simply a way to use the rolling motion to help people transport drinking water home far easier and in much larger quantities.

 Hippo Roller-1

Before the Hippo started changing lives people could only carry about 20 liters of water home at a time, in a bucket carried on their head no less, but the Hippo allows them to roll 90 liters home easily and quickly.

You can’t copy money on any printer because of the Eurion Constellation - It's the secret anti-counterfeit symbol.

Fooling the Nazis: How a Roman hospital invented ‘K Disease’ to save dozens of Jewish lives

The name was terrible, but the “K Disease” was not a lethal virus. It was actually the clever invention of Professor Giovanni Borromeo and a religious of the Hospital of the Brothers Hospitallers of Saint John of God, to save the lives of dozens of Jews persecuted by the Nazis during World War II.

When the SS entered the Fatebenefratelli hospital located on the Tiber Island in Rome, medical personnel and religious explained to the Germans that behind the doors of two special wards, there were patients suffering from this terrible K Disease, some of whom were terminally ill. The officers did not dare to enter the wards.  Had they done so, they would have met with Jewish families, men in one room, women and children in another.

In recognition of this singular feat of creativity and courage, on Tuesday the Raoul Wallenberg Foundation bestowed upon the hospital — one of the oldest and most renowned facilities in the Eternal City — the prestigious recognition of “House of Life.”

England vs Great Britain vs United Kingdom Explained.  Brilliant Venn diagram


Man's leg is compared to a Neapolitan ice cream after he gets sunburned TWICE

 Sunburn Neopolitan

Why are Toilets Called “Johns”?

The first actual water closet resembling today's toilet was created for Queen Elizabeth I. It was created by her godson, Sir John Harington, in 1596. Although his creation was rejected by the public at large, it is Sir John Harington we honor every time we say we have to go to "the john.”

80-Year Old Couple Finishes Marathon Hand in Hand to Celebrate 57th Anniversary

 80 Yo Couple Finish Marathon
Kay and Joe O'Regan are 80 years old and in fantastic condition--as is their marriage.  Their time in the race was 5 hours and 23 minutes. Their time in marriage has been 57 joyful years. The Today show reports:

With the finish line in sight a half mile away, Joe grabbed Kay's hand and together they completed the race, clocking in at 5 hours and 23 minutes and making them both come in first for their age group.  It may be hard to believe, but these fit octogenarians didn't get into running until the age of 49. They have their son, Sintan, now 56, to thank for that. They were living in London at the time when he complained to his parents about having to train for rugby in the rain.

"I said to him, 'You can't let a little rain stop you,' and he dared me to go out and run around the neighborhood in the rain with him," Kay told TODAY. "And here we are 30 years later still running."

Photographer Discovers 1,200 Rolls of Unprocessed Film from the 1950s

A photographer known only as Paul had snapped pictures of American life during the 1950s--fully 1,200 rolls of pictures. Then he wrapped the rolls in tin foil and athletic tape, then labelled these packages with photographic details, such as light modifiers and the cameras used. These packages were placed in cigar boxes, which were in turn packed carefully inside more tape, foil, and newspaper.

The mysterious Paul created a time capsule, then disappeared.  Levi Bettwieser is now slowly and carefully excavating the find. He calls his efforts the Rescued Film Project.

The Secret Apartments of New York Libraries

In the early to mid twentieth century, the majority of the city’s libraries had live-in superintendents. Like the superintendents who still live in many of the city’s residential buildings, these caretakers both worked and lived in the buildings for which they were responsible. This meant that for decades, behind the stacks, meals were cooked, baths and showers were taken, and bedtime stories were read. And yes, families living in the city’s libraries typically did have access to the stacks at night—an added bonus if they happened to need a new bedtime book after hours.
Unfortunately, the days of live-in superintendents at libraries appear to be over. The last known live-in superintendent moved out of the NYPL’s Webster Branch, located at 1468 York Avenue in Yorkville, in 2006. ...

If the opportunity to work and live in a library still existed today, qualifications for prospective live-in superintendents would likely include everything from a great command of English to the ability to supervise staff to a general knowledge of electrical, plumbing, HVAC and carpentry repair. Many current live-in superintendent positions also require applicants to have a high-level of computer skills and experience working with one or more building management software programs. Finally, anyone interested in taking on the role of live-in superintendent needs to be committed to working around the clock and working year-round.

End of the pub? Classic Sodastream gadget can now instantly turn water into beer

SODASTREAM launches new Beer Bar accessory that transforms tap water into an instant home-crafted brew.  Not available yet in the U.S.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:23 PM | Permalink

June 11, 2016

Miscellany 44

He shrubs up nicely: Bizarre tree looks just like a real person spotted in the Balkan Mountains, Bulgaria

The 65ft beech looks like Treebeard the Ent, a walking and talking tree from J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of The Rings-trilogy.

 Bulgarian Human Tree

Yale English Majors Petition Not to Have to Read Chaucer and Shakespeare Also included in the Major English Poets class are  Edmund Spenser,  John Donne, John Milton, Alexander Pope, William Wordsworth, and T.S. Eliot.  Too white, too male.

How about saying: The canon of English literature is filled with first-rate writing. If you're a Yalie and you don't like that, major in "Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies." Not a word of Chaucer in the required reading.

The Blind Astronomer of Nova Scotia

Tim Doucette only has ten percent of his vision, but strangely, he can see better in the dark. Since his pupils do not dilate and constrict, too much light gets in during the daylight hours. Yet he can see stars in the night sky better than most people can. So it only made sense that he would study those stars.

Greatest story of the week.  Bungling bicycle thief gets lassoed by horse-riding Oregon cowboy in WalMart car park

Borba heard the woman's shouts while he was stocking up at Wal-Mart. Luckily, he had Long John and his lasso to hand.  Born in California, Borba used  to work rodeos, but prefers the ranching life in Oregon.

 Rancher Richard Borba

Fish gobble plastics like teenagers eat junk food: Young creatures prefer harmful man-made materials which stunts their growth

Lowe's Hires A Man Who Requires A Service Dog, Makes A Custom Vest For The Dog

 Lowes Customer Service Dog

Jokes that can be told in Church

Two boys were walking home from Sunday school  after hearing a strong preaching on the devil. One said to the other, 'What do you think about  all this Satan stuff?'  The other boy replied, 'Well, you know how Santa Claus turned out.  It's probably just your Dad..'

Attending a wedding for the first time, a little girl  whispered to her mother, 'Why is the bride dressed in white?''
The mother replied, 'Because white is the color  of happiness, and today is the happiest day of her life.'
The child thought about this for a moment then said,  'So why is the groom wearing black?

A police recruit was asked during the exam,  'What would you do if you had to arrest your own mother?'
He answered, 'Call for backup.'
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:45 PM | Permalink

June 3, 2016

Miscellany 42

I never knew there was such a thing as a pollen corona

 Pollen Corona

Soon to open in Bruges, an Underground Beer Pipeline

De Halve Maan Brewery, a centuries-old beer-maker, is the sole brewery remaining within the city center of Bruges. The tight space there, however, means that while the beer is brewed downtown, it's bottled elsewhere, two miles away. Rather than driving trucks back and forth through some of the most congested streets in Europe, the brewery will soon move its delectable brew via the pipeline (built at a cost of $4.5 million) at a speed of more than 1,000 gallons per hour,

Vintage Photo Reveals Who Invented The Original Selfie Stick


In this romantic portrait from 1934, a creative couple uses a tree branch to rig up what just might be the original selfie stick.While the devices are ubiquitous today, it seems that this Swedish couple — Helmer Larsson and his wife, Naemi — may have invented the very first one.  The modern selfie stick was released in 2014, and it hasn’t always produced rosy outcomes à la the Larssons: Since 2014, 49 people have died while snapping pictures of themselves.

Apple boss Tim Cook jokes that he's spotted an iPhone in a 1670 Dutch painting

The tech boss was on a visit to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam with EU Digital Commissioner Neelie Kroes when they spotted the device in a painting entitled 'Man Handing a Letter to a Woman in the Entrance Hall of a House'.

 Pieterdehooch 1670 Painting

Why I decided to give up my life in London and become a goat in Switzerland

Thomas Thwaites, 35,  spent a year creating prosthetic 'goat legs' that would allow him to roam the Alps comfortably on all fours and an artificial stomach that would enable him to blend in and 'eat grass'.


Thwaites said: 'When I first had the idea a lot of people called me crazy, but I was fed up with my life anyway and I needed a break. I was jobless and I had a lot of personal problems, and I found everyday life so stressful.' 'One day I was walking with the dog of a friend and I noticed that the dog just seemed really happy about life, without any worries, and I thought to myself it would be really great to be you for a day.'

He applied for a university grant to study goat psychology and tracked down a goatherd in the village of Wolfenschiessen in Switzerland who was prepared to tolerate him living with his animals as they were being taken to their summer pasture....The prosthetics were painful, the landscape was tough and Thwaites was constantly battling the cold. Those challenges, however, were nothing compared to the task of convincing the herd he was one of them.

Thwaites said: 'I suffered quite a lot as a goat, because of the slope I was constantly falling over, and of course I had to eat grass. 'Also the goats didn't seem to like me very much, sometimes I thought they were really going to try and attack me. And they have particularly dangerous horns. But I later realized that they were just letting me know there was a hierarchy, and I should know my place.' Thwaites said: 'The best moment was when one of the goats suddenly decided she was going to be my friend, and she just followed me everywhere.

Dead Man's Fingers

 "Dead Man's Hands

Neither fingers nor art, these projections come from Xylaria polymorpha, a saprobic fungus.
It is a common inhabitant of forest and woodland areas, usually growing from the bases of rotting or injured tree stumps and decaying wood. It has also been known to colonize substrates like woody legume pods, petioles, and herbaceous stems. It is characterized by its elongated upright, clavate, or strap-like stromata poking up through the ground, much like fingers.

Isa Lake, The only natural lake in the world that drains into both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

When the mountain snows melt, and the springtime runoff swells the banks of this narrow lake situated at the summit of Craig Pass in Wyoming’s Yellowstone National Park, something unusual happens.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:49 AM | Permalink

May 20, 2016

Miscellany 43

Amazing. Teen Discovers Lost Maya City Using Ancient Star Maps

Using an unprecedented technique of matching stars to the locations of temples on Earth, a 15-year-old Canadian student says he’s discovered a forgotten Maya city in Central America. Images from space suggest he may actually be onto something.

William Gadoury, a teen from Saint-Jean-de-Matha in Lanaudière, developed an interest in archaeology after the publication of the Maya calendar announcing the end of the world in 2012. After spending hours pouring over diagrams of constellations and maps of known Maya cities, he noticed that the two appeared to be linked; the brightest stars of the constellations overlaid perfectly with the locations of the largest Maya cities. As reported in The Telegraph, no other scientist had ever discovered such a correlation.

" I was really surprised and excited when I realized that the most brilliant stars of the constellations matched the largest Maya cities.”".....Daniel de Lisle of the Canadian Space Agency said he was fascinated by the depth of Gadoury’s research, and that linking the position of stars and the location of a lost city “is quite exceptional.”

In The Guardian, The day we discovered our parents were Russian spies

For years Donald Heathfield, Tracey Foley and their two children lived the American dream. Then an FBI raid revealed the truth: they were agents of Putin’s Russia. Their sons tell their story

If Tim and Alex’s story sounds eerily familiar to fans of The Americans, the television drama about a KGB couple living in the US with their two children, that’s because it’s partly based on them. The show is set in the 1980s, providing a cold war backdrop, but the 2010 spy round-up served as an inspiration. The show’s creator, Joe Weisberg, trained to be a CIA case officer in the early 1990s and, when I speak to him on the phone, tells me he always wanted to put family at the heart of the plot.

A Secret Sculpture Made of Living Trees

 Secret Sculpture
David Nash, an artist, owns land in rural northern Wales. In 1977, he began growing and shaping a circle of trees to form this structure. It's a living sculpture of 22 ash trees called Ash Dome.

8 More Extraordinary Pieces of Architecture Grown From Living Trees

 Gilroy Gardens Cal

How a Wine and Cocaine Cocktail became Coca Cola from the VA Viper

Less well-known is the story about how Coca Cola originates from an alcoholic drink based on cocaine and wine, Bordeaux wine to be specific - a particular combination which made for a distinctly more toxic beverage, known as Coca Wine.

Coca Wine was first developed in 1863 by a French-Corsican entrepreneur in Paris, Angelo Mariani. His advertising in Europe and the United States claimed the tonic would “cure melancholia … restore health, strength, energy, and vitality”. During the second half of the 19th century, everyone was drinking the stuff. Vin Mariani was a favorite amongst celebrities of the day including Thomas Edison, Jules Verne, Sarah Bernhardt, Ulysses S Grant and was even Queen Victoria’s drink of choice. Pope Leo XIII personally endorsed the wine, lending his face to the brand’s advertising campaign - he even awarded it the Vatican gold medal.

And, in fact, when alcohol and cocaine combine, they form a chemical they create a third unique drug called cocaethylene, which produces a feeling of euphoria more powerful and longer lasting than cocaine is capable of producing on its own.

Newlywed husband divorces his wife hours after the ceremony because she was too busy texting her friends to have sex on their wedding night

A relative told Saudi daily Al Watan: 'The groom tried to get closer with her and more intimate, but he was shocked when she ignored him, not responding to his words and action. 'When he asked her if her friends were more important than he was, the bride answered that they were.'

Civilization As We Know It May Have Started Because Of Beer

Civilization started because of agriculture — that much is known. But what if agriculture started because of beer?  Which came first, beer or bread?

Why Do We Put Candles on a Birthday Cake?  And for heaven's sake, don't miss the short video of a 102-year-old woman blowing out the birthday cake candles and her dentures as well.  Here.

How Winston Churchill's Doctor's Note Allowed Him to Drink "Unlimited" Alcohol in Prohibition America

Reading digital books can hinder your ability to think abstractly

Researchers at Dartmouth Tiltfactor lab have found that reading news stories, features and books on screens makes people more inclined to focus on concrete details rather than interpreting information more abstractly.

What Happens When You Build a Cube Out of One Way Mirrors is mesmerizing.

BBC  How Dung Beetles Dance on a Ball of Manure While Mentally Recording a SkyMap They Use to Navigate

Goose Finds Cop and Leads Him To Her Trapped Baby   In Cincinnati, Officer James Givens was sitting in his patrol car when...

"This goose came up and started pecking on the side of the car.  I threw some food out for her, but she didn't take it. She just kept pecking and quacking. Then she walked away, stopped and looked back. Then came over again and pecked some more."

When the goose walked away a second time, and again looked back, Givens decided to follow her. And it's a good thing that he did.

"She led me about 100 yards away to this grassy area near a creek. That's when I saw one of her babies all tangled up in some string from a balloon. His little feet were kicking," said Givens. "She led me straight to him."
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:31 PM | Permalink

May 7, 2016

Miscellany 41

I began listening to nature sounds in the 80s and often still do when I am writing.  But I never knew about  The Man Who Recorded, Tamed and Then Sold Nature Sounds to America

A forgotten 1970s-era hippie polymath named Irv Teibel created the "soothing" vibe of the great outdoors....New York's least likely media mogul was the mastermind behind Environments, a series of records he swore were "The Future of Music." From 1969 to 1979, he took the best parts of nature, turned them up to 11, engraved them on 12-inch records, and sold them back to us by the millions. He had a musician's ear, an artist's heart, and a salesman's tongue....

Between 1969 and 1979, Teibel released 11 environments LPs. Most sold well, though none approached the success of "The Psychologically Ultimate Seashore," which moved enough units that he never had to work again. His records couldn’t go out of style, Teibel figured, because they were never in style in the first place. They were functional items—“like a bar of soap,” he said.
Teibel's cultural reputation is quietly growing alongside his scientific one, thanks to historians and music buffs like Jonathan Een Newton. ....It is, in his eyes, a major one. Teibel is a kind of auditory missing link. "Before, there’s Muzak, there’s mood music, and there’s sound effects records. Afterwards, there’s new age music, ambient music, Brian Eno... and he’s right in between," Een Newton says. "He's a forgotten godfather."

Why Do We Forget What We’re Doing the Minute We Enter a Room?

It’s called the Doorway Effect, and it’s actually a sign that your brain is in fine working order.

Four generations of royals

On the occasion of her 90th, some spectacular photographic portraits of Queen Elizabeth the royal family have been released.   Queen+3 Generations

My favorite by Ranald MacKechnie was planned as a stamp sheet


Meet the woman who makes fake fingers for Japan's reformed gangsters

Yukako Fukushima crafts lifelike pinkies to help yakuza criminals who severed fingers as a mark of contrition begin a new life

Mesmerizing Gifs Capture The Changes Of Old Age

They are animated to show a clean transition between youth and old age, in which the young and old images of the pictured individuals are superimposed onto each other. They are an excellent way of highlighting what changes in us as we grow older – some facial features remain recognizable and similar, while others change drastically.

Signs of the Times Shepherd Charges Phone Using A Donkey and A Solar Panel


Two remarkable examples of what the human spirit can achieve:  Handless 7-Year-Old Wins National Handwriting Competition

 Anaya Ellick 7 Wins Handwriting Competition
And Russian teenager born with no fingers becomes celebrated piano player
Alexey Romanov first took up music two years ago after being inspired by the works of Mozart and Vivaldi.  In the short time since he has performed for the republic’s orchestra and has found fame on national TV.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:35 PM | Permalink

April 16, 2016

Miscellany 40

Salmon Caught Near Seattle Are Full Of Cocaine And Antidepressants. 

Water samples from Puget Sound showed high levels of Prozac, bug spray, cocaine, Zantac, ibuprofen and 77 other drugs. These drugs littered not only the water but also the tissue of juvenile chinook salmon.


12 GIFs That Will Make You Say 'So That's How They Make That'

From canning beer, making braided wire, industrial bacon slicer, making Crayola crayons and my personal favorite, harvesting carrots.

8 of the world’s most bizarre flowers

All of them orchids with names like swaddled babies, flying duck orchid, hooker's lips orchid, ballerina orchid, monkey orchid, naked man orchid, laughing bumblebee orchid and white egret orchid

 Swaddled-Babies Orchid
Swaddled babies orchid

How an internet mapping glitch turned a random Kansas farm into a digital hell

The default location for 600 million IP addresses just happens to be the front yard of Joyce Taylor’s farm...For the last decade, Taylor and her renters have been visited by all kinds of mysterious trouble. They’ve been accused of being identity thieves, spammers, scammers and fraudsters. They’ve gotten visited by FBI agents, federal marshals, IRS collectors, ambulances searching for suicidal veterans, and police officers searching for runaway children. They’ve found people scrounging around in their barn. The renters have been doxxed, their names and addresses posted on the internet by vigilantes. Once, someone left a broken toilet in the driveway as a strange, indefinite threat.  All in all, the residents of the Taylor property have been treated like criminals for a decade. And until I called them this week, they had no idea why.

The Story Behind Those Jaw-Dropping Photos of the Collections at the Natural History Museum

 Bird Collection Smithsonian

That's feather identification expert Roxie Laybourne surrounded by colorful birds.  Photographer Chip Clark took roughly 8 hours to set it up.
Carol Butler, the assistant director of the museum’s collections, said "These images come from a motivation to show people, in a beautiful and interesting way, a view into the richness of the collections. These are America's collections—so we want to give people a view into the collections even though we can't invite every single person to walk through the storage areas."

Scientists Successfully Breed Kale with Cannabis. 

The new cross, called Kaleabis, would be available as a superfood juice shot in Oregon dispensaries this summer.

'You're bald. Your nose is really big. We hope your private parts are as big':

 Kate Shocked

The Duchess of Cambridge, 34, was left stunned today when she discovered the very rude translation of a song cheerleaders were chanting during an archery contest in Bhutan.  Traditionally in Bhutan, men sing songs to celebrate hitting the target and are cheered on by women supporters who sing songs of support for their own men, and obscene chants to try to distract their rivals.  And it turned out that at today's contest, the female cheerleaders were chanting: 'You're bald. You're a baldy. Your nose is really big. We hope your private parts are as big.'

Nut thieves. International crime gangs are posing as truckers to steal shipments of California almonds and pistachios worth MILLIONS

International crime rings targeting California's booming agriculture industry are increasingly stealing truckloads of high-value nuts, prompting authorities and the firms falling victim to ramp up efforts to break the spree costing millions.  The sophisticated organizations in many cases use high-tech tactics, hacking into trucking companies to steal their identity. Armed with false shipping papers, they pose as legitimate truckers, driving off with loads of nuts such as almonds, walnuts or pistachios valued at $150,000, and some worth $500,000 each.

This is NOT the Eye of Sauron,  but a NASA composite image of a solar eclipse

 Nasa Composite Solar Corona

9 Things you never knew about PENCILS

Yellow pencils have been a tradition since the late 1800s, when the best graphite in the world was produced in China. Western pencil tycoons wanted their customers to know their pencils were filled with top-quality lead, so they painted their instruments in the color associated with Chinese royalty:

Czech Republic to be renamed Czechia to make it sound catchier

The country that gave the world Kafka, sugar cubes and Pilsner Urquell beer is to get a rebrand.  Officials at the Czech Republic's foreign ministry believe a new name - Czechia - is more practical and flexible when referring to the state.  Unlike most European countries, the Czech Republic has lacked a one-word version of its name in foreign languages.  Neighboring Slovakia is officially the Slovak Republic and similarly the Russian Federation is shortened to Russia in everyday conversation.  President Miloš Zeman regularly uses the name to refer to his country and said on a trip to Israel in 2013: 'I use "Czechia" because it sounds nicer and it’s shorter than the cold "Czech Republic".'...Not everyone is happy with the plans though, critics have said the new name could be confused with the Russian republic of Chechnya - almost 2,000 miles to the east.

French family stumbles on long lost €120m Caravaggio while mending leaky roof

The exceptionally well-preserved tableau had remained hidden in the attic of their home outside Toulouse, southwestern France, untouched for more than 150 years since an ancestor brought it back to France from his campaigns abroad as an officer of Napoleon’s army. Experts have already dubbed the incredible find a “momentous occasion” in European art history and the “most important painting by far” to have emerged by one of the great masters in modern times.

 Lost Carravagio French Attice
Judith Beheading Holofernes

UK couple find $70,000 lump of 'whale vomit' on beach 

Otherwise known as ambergris which perfumers use to make scent last longer.  ""It smells too bad, though. It's a very distinctive smell, like a cross between squid and farmyard manure."
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:56 AM | Permalink

April 10, 2016

Miscellany 39

Good sea-dog! Meet Lila the Labrador who catches LOBSTERS for her owner
Alex Schulze has trained Lila the Labrador to dive and catch lobsters.  All he has to do is point in direction of lobster, and Lila does rest

 Lila The Labrador Lobster Catch

The inventors of Bubblewrap thought of it as a new type of wallpaper, but when they were left with tons of inventory....

Castaways Rescued After Spelling 'Help' with palm fronds. Navy plane spotted men on remote Pacific island.  The men, who also waved orange life jackets to attract the plane's attention, had been stranded for three days after their boat capsized, forcing them to swim all night to the island.

 Rescue After Help In Palm Fronds

Seal Crosses The Road Every Day To Visit Seafood Restaurant. Video at link.

 Seal Shimmeys Seafood Restaurant

Street Artist Installs Secret Rooms Under Abandoned Manholes In Milan  That's where Italian artist Biancoshock has been busy converting the spaces below manholes and the other metal shutter doors you sometimes see in the middle of the sidewalks, into little secret rooms.

 Secret Rooms Under-Manhole Milan

The Discovery of the Skull of the Long-Rumored Siberian Unicorn Stuns Scientists

 Siberian Unicorn

When Given Colored Construction Paper, Wasps Build Rainbow Colored Nests

 Wasp Colored Nest

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:35 PM | Permalink

April 2, 2016

Miscellany 38

New Mexico "Musical Highway" Plays America the Beautiful

Winners of 2016 Sony World Photography Awards

 Sonyphotog Winner Nature+Wildlife

My favorite contemporary artist Natural sculptures by Andy Goldsworthy.


"Andy Goldsworthy is an extraordinary, innovative British artist whose collaborations with nature produce uniquely personal and intense artworks. Using a seemingly endless range of natural materials—snow, ice, leaves, bark, rock, clay, stones, feathers petals, twigs—he creates outdoor sculpture that manifests, however fleeting, a sympathetic contact with the natural world. Before they disappear, or as they disappear, Goldsworthy, records his work in superb color photographs."

 Goldsworthy Icicles1-1

The Never-Ending Greatness of L.L. Bean's Boots

The L.L. Bean boot factory in Brunswick is a thrumming hippodrome the size of an airplane hangar, a place filled with the clatter and hum of machinery, the metallic music of cutting, fitting, skiving, stitching, and brushing. The scent of solvent and leather hangs thickly; light flows through a filmy window. It could be any factory, anywhere, except no: It's an American factory making an American product entirely out of American materials, a rare trifecta in this era of offshore, chockablock manufacturing. Even more remarkable, the product—a century-old hunting boot known by its odd hybrid of soft leather uppers married to waterproof rubber bottoms—is the cornerstone of a $1.6 billion mail-order empire with a hearty American legend of its own. Each boot takes about forty-five minutes to make—and, given the whimsies of demand and supply, customers seem to wait with the same bated breath, react with the same delight, when they finally get their hands on a pair.

US mother spends $7,000 on a trip to France so she can marry HERSELF - in a romantic ceremony under the Eiffel Tower

Beautiful Existence - who changed her name from Desiree Longabaugh - from Seattle, 42 years old, spent $7000 so she could go to Paris and marry herself under the Eiffel Tower

 Beautiful Existence Marries Herelf

The mother-of-two said, 'It was hugely emotional.  'Looking at myself on that screen as I Skyped the officiant, saying exactly what I wanted to say to myself was soul-shifting.

Photos of Babies That Got Over-Excited At Their Photo Shoot


The Extraordinary Iridescent Details of Peacock Feathers Captured Under a Microscope

 Peacock-9 Microscope

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:24 AM | Permalink

March 26, 2016

Miscellany 37

The Clothes Horse

At the annual Cheltenham Festival in Gloucestershire, the handsome Irish chestnut gelding, Morestead, who will be 11 in two weeks, struttin' in his tweed ensemble. And his friend, 20-time champion and former jockey, Sir Anthony McCoy in matching style. The dapper suit is a first of its kind, took 4 weeks and it took Emma Sandham-King more than 59 ft of tweed to make.


I've waited my whole life for this moment.

Of Mouse and Men

Nearing his 90th year, Mickey has not only outlived his adversaries, he has conquered them. Emerson famously advised his readers that if they built a better mousetrap, people would beat a path to their doors. Walt Disney wisely ignored his advice. Instead of a better trap, he built a better mouse, and the world paved a superhighway to his property.

Pigeons wearing tiny backpacks tweet about air pollution

Equipped with little backpack sensors, a group of London pigeons are flying around the city measuring and live-tweeting air pollution levels.

In Search of Ambergris  A highly prized slurry of squid beaks and whale feces also known as the secret ingredient in Chanel No. 5.

Enchanting Storybook GIFs Animated by artist known as ‘Sparrows’

Each storybook animation features some form of magical realism where pelicans play scrabble, tattoos bloom from skin, or breakfasts appear to cook themselves. Sparrows tells us that she works professionally as an illustrator, but these brief standalone pieces are just ideas she wants to exist outside of her head.

Longreads.  Loving Books in a Dark Age

In the “dark ages” of Europe, people began reading silently to themselves, and a love of books and learning took hold, pioneered by Bede.

The people of Bhutan celebrate the birth of the king and queen's first son by planting 108,000 trees across the nation


In Buddhism, trees are symbols of longevity, health, beauty and compassion. The number of saplings was also symbolic, as Buddhists believe each person is required to overcome 108 defilements in order to achieve enlightenment.
"We are now nurturing the plants as if we are nurturing the little prince."

 Bhutenese Plant 108,000 Trees

The incredible true story of Colonel Sanders: How the bad-tempered creator of KFC once SHOT a business rival and served dinner to scientists while they worked on the Hiroshima bomb.

The Monarch butterfly population is skyrocketing in the forests of Mexico where the butterflies spend their winters, a new survey has found.
The increase in the butterflies was absolutely massive: there were three and a half times more of them this winter compared to last winter, and the vibrant orange and black creatures blanketed 10 acres of forest, according to a CBS News report.

Why the song "Danny Boy" is so popular

“Songs like 'Danny Boy' that last 100 years are rare. They appear simple, but are beautifully complicated. You need a bunch of keys to unlock the mysteries of 'Danny Boy,' but I believe one of its most essential elements is its emotional dialectic – loss and hope, joy and pain, sunshine and shadow – and these lie at the very center of all our lives.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:37 AM | Permalink

March 12, 2016

Miscellany 36

20 Shots From Popular Movies Show How Visual Effects Transform The Whole Thing.  From now on, I'm giving more credit to actors for their acting with ridiculous props.  Here is Emilia Clarke playing Daenerys Targaryen petting one of her dragons in Game of Thrones.

 Special Effects

Penguin swims 5,000 MILES every year to visit Brazilian man who nursed it back to life after he found it covered in oil and dying on a beach

Retired bricklayer and part time fisherman Joao Pereira de Souza, 71, from an island village just outside Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, discovered the tiny penguin languishing on rocks in 2011.  The helpless creature was starving and covered in oil but Mr de Souza took him in and nursed him back to health, naming the South American Magellanic penguin Dindim. When Dindim was well again Mr de Souza released him back into the sea, never expecting to see his new friend again.

He was astonished when, just a few months later, the penguin returned to the island where he recognized Mr de Souza and returned home with him.  Now, Dindim spends eight months of the year with Mr de Souza and spends the rest of his time breeding off the coast of Argentina and Chile.

 Dindim+ Despouza-1
'I love the penguin like it's my own child and I believe the penguin loves me,' Mr Pereira de Souza told Globo TV.
'No one else is allowed to touch him. He pecks them if they do. He lays on my lap, lets me give him showers, allows me to feed him sardines and to pick him up.'

21 Reasons To Never Ever Step Inside A Whole Foods Again

Why I’m moving to the place I called ‘America’s worst place to live’

Last summer, Christopher Ingraham  snarkily called Red Cloud, Minnesota, "America's worst place to live."  This summer, the Washington Post reporter is moving there with his whole family. 

A Banana Grows in Iceland, only 177 miles from the Arctic Circle thanks to heat from volcanic hot springs.

Picture of the week: Shaun Cunningham saves his nine-year-old son Landon from being hit in the face.  It was his 9th birthday and Landon was attending his first baseball game and texting a photo to his mom when his father went into protective Dad mode.


The man who was sucked into a nuclear power plant’s sea intake – and LIVED!

Christopher Le Cun, 30, from Florida, was out scuba diving with his friend Robert Blake and they decided to check out huge structures beneath the waves which turned out to be 16ft-wide intake pipes for a nuclear power plant. ...Cun was sucked into one of the structures which turned out to be 16ft-wide intake pipes, capable of draining 500,000 gallons of water per minute into massive pools used to cool the plant's reactors. Cun described the sensation as similar to being sucked over a waterfall, saying he suddenly found himself in complete darkness and still being swept along. ...

Blake, sure he'd just witnessed his friend die, swam back to the boat and broke the news to Cun's wife Brittany, who was sitting in the craft with the couple's young son and daughter.  Meanwhile, hundreds of feet below them, Cun was adrift in total darkness and fearful of being cut to piece by whatever turbine was sucking the water in.He added: 'I contemplated, you know, do I just pull the regulator out of my mouth and just die? I started thinking about my family, you know, how are they going to survive without me?'

After around five minutes Cun was deposited into one of the reservoir pools used to store water before it is pumped into the reactor, where he managed to climb out....Still in his scuba diving gear he confronted a shocked employee who, after several moments of disbelief, got Cun a phone so he could call his wife and tell her he was ok.

Dogs that look like food. Chihuahua or a muffin?

 Chihuahua Or Muffin

Portland-based Karen Zack has also uploaded 'Labradoodle or fried chicken? Puppy or bagel?  Shar Pei or croissant? Dog or mop?

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:23 AM | Permalink

March 5, 2016

Miscellany 35

Chemists at Oregon State University discover a brilliant new blue pigment - "YinMn" by happy accident

 New Blue Pigment

Formed by a unique crystal structure that allows the manganese ions to absorb red and green wavelengths of light, while only reflecting blue,  the vibrant blue is so durable, and its compounds are so stable – even in oil and water – that the color does not fade.  Nor is it toxic.
"During the Renaissance, vivid blue ultramarine pigments, often used for painting the Virgin Mary’s cloak, were worth five times their weight in gold," writes Virginia Postrel, " In 1704, another accidental chemical discovery, of what became known as Prussian blue, made less expensive synthetic true blues available

Brahms Lullaby, the beautiful and most effective lullaby in the world as you can see in this wonderful clip.

I love Stephen McMennamy's photo mash-ups.

 Stephen-Mcmennamy-Cauliflower Poodle

 Stephen-Mcmennamy-Lightbulb Egg

Daughter of Civil War vet still getting a pension 

Private Mose Triplett was 19 when the Civil War ended in 1865. Later in life, he married a woman 50 years younger than him and, in 1930, they had a daughter Irene. Irene Triplett is now in her mid-eighties and gets a monthly benefit check from US Department of Veterans Affairs for her father's service so many years before.

New Spray Painted Tile Floor Patterns in Abandoned Spaces Apart from Banksy, Javier De Rib is the only graffiti artist I like. 

 Riba Floor-2

A peacock in flight

 Flying Peacock

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:10 PM | Permalink

February 26, 2016

Miscellany 34

Michelangelo's Tuscan Villa for Sale only $8 mil

 Michelangelo Villa

An Oklahoman grocer's great idea: stacked baskets on wheels. How the Shopping Cart Revolutionized the Way We Shop

Wile away some time at The Museum of Endangered Sounds.

David Zinn draws utterly charming Characters on the Streets of Ann Arbor.

 Zinn Chalk Drawings

Deere John. "A man and a 22 ton John Deere excavator dance a dance of discovery, fulfillment, and eventually, the loss that any diesel-based relationship must suffer."  Very well done.

The Unbearable Asymmetry of Bullshit

There is a veritable truckload of bullshit in science.¹ When I say bullshit, I mean arguments, data, publications, or even the official policies of scientific organizations that give every impression of being perfectly reasonable — of being well-supported by the highest quality of evidence, and so forth — but which don’t hold up when you scrutinize the details. Bullshit has the veneer of truth-like plausibility. It looks good. It sounds right. But when you get right down to it, it stinks.

When a 7-year-old girl channels her inner Steph Curry:  Unbelievable.  The assignment desk at ESPN is looking for the owner to license rights to show across "all platforms".

The Chemistry of Lighting a Match  I wish I could embed the gif

The process takes merely tenths of a second. But within that tiny amount of time, there's a lot going on. The American Chemical Society used a high-speed camera operating a 4,000 frames a second to illustrate the sequence of chemical reactions that take place when a match is struck against a striker. The simple match is a marvelously complex device.


Murderous cattle How Not to Get Killed by a Cow

Between 1993 and 2015, cattle killed 13 people who were out for walks in the United Kingdom. Dozens more walkers received broken bones or other injuries from the animals.
1. Don't take the pet dog close to cattle
2. Don't approach cows with young calves
3. Don't stroll through a herd of bulls.

The Rape of Europa — The Myth That Became Reality

The Final Days of Bob Hope

Towards the end, when his wife Dolores asked him where he wanted to be buried, the amazing Bob Hope quipped, “Surprise me.”

Lighthouse Libraries

The most precious cargo for lighthouses across America was a traveling library.  By 1885 there were at least 420 libraries circulating for lighthouse workers in the U.S., each one packed in a box that did double-duty as carrying cases and bookshelves.

 Library Case Bookshelves

The Truth About DDT and Silent Spring

While critics of Silent Spring have tended to focus on the one-sidedness of Rachel Carson’s case or on those of her claims that have not held up over time, the fraudulence of Silent Spring goes beyond mere cherry-picking or discredited data: Carson abused, twisted, and distorted many of the studies that she cited, in a brazen act of scientific dishonesty. So the real tragic irony of the millions of deaths to malaria in the past several decades is that the three central anti-DDT claims made by Carson and other activists are all false. We shall examine each in turn. 

From Imgur, "I have some terrible news"  You  have to laugh.

NASA’s Giving Away Brilliant Space Travel Posters For Free  These WPA-style artworks from NASA’s design studio are wonderful.


A few Random Reflections

I didn't make it to the gym today. That makes five years in a row.  I decided to change calling the bathroom the John and renamed it the Jim. I feel so much better saying I went to the Jim this morning.

Last year I joined a support group for procrastinators. We haven't met yet...
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:15 PM | Permalink

February 20, 2016

Miscellany 33

The sun you've never seen before until you watch Our Sun is a Rolling Ball of Magnetism

Best dog picture in a while: Cornered.

 Dog Cornered Fark

The 38 most amazing vulgar slang terms from colonial times.  Funny and useful.

Technicolor taxis in India with Interiors created by Mumbai-based art collective Taxi Fabric.

 Taxifabric Cabs India

People started shouting Geronimo when they jumped out of planes to demonstrate their bravery.

The Army’s first official parachute unit, the 501st Parachute Infantry Battalion, made “Geronimo” the motto on their unit insignia after their commander tracked down descendants of the real Geronimo to ask for their permission to use his name.

U.S. Army Develops Pizza That Can Last For Three Years

More from Tatsuya Tanaka's miniature photo project.

 Tatsuyatanaka Earth

 Tatsuyatanaka Carrot Firewood

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:54 PM | Permalink

February 3, 2016

Miscellany 32

Here's what fruits and vegetables looked like before we domesticated them

-Modern Domesticated Vegs

Hair Dyeing Interpretations of Famous Works of Art

 Hair Dyeing-Vangogh

The 'electric road' that never freezes over: Researchers reveal smart concrete that can conduct small amounts of power

By changing less than one-quarter of the makeup of standard concrete, a researcher from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has developed a way to melt ice and snow from the ground up.The seemingly ordinary concrete can conduct enough electricity to clear pathways and even create shields against industrial espionage, but is safe to the touch.

How the Dutch defeated the Spanish invasion in the Eighty Years' War …with ice skates!

The first test of that theory came shortly afterward when the ragtag Dutch fleet was frozen into the Amsterdam harbor, making the Dutch unable to confront the Spanish ships head-on. Taking that advantage, Spanish troops began marching across the ice to attack the ships first, and then they planned to head to the coastline on foot.

But as they marched gingerly across the frozen ice, they were confronted by a horrifying apparition. Wave after wave of Dutch soldiers flew across the surface of the ice with incredible speed, flitting into range just long enough to fire a musket before retreating again behind walls of ice and frozen snow. The Spanish soldiers had never seen anything like it: “It was a thing never heard of before today,” the Spanish Duke of Alva recounted with grudging admiration, “to see a body of musketeers fighting like that on a frozen sea.

23 Delicious Mad Men Era Dishes America Shouldn’t Have Given Up On.  Beef Wellington for sure. Chicken Kiev, Waldorf Salad, Apple Cake, Chicken a la King

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:55 AM | Permalink

January 29, 2016

Miscellany 31

Airglow from Lake to Sky, Astronomy Picture of the Day, photographer Dave Lane on January 28, 2016

 Airglowfan Lane 2400

Why would the sky look like a giant fan? Airglow. The featured intermittent green glow appeared to rise from a lake through the arch of our Milky Way Galaxy, as captured last summer next to Bryce Canyon in Utah, USA. The unusual pattern was created by atmospheric gravity waves, ripples of alternating air pressure that can grow with height as the air thins, in this case about 90 kilometers up. Unlike auroras powered by collisions with energetic charged particles and seen at high latitudes, airglow is due to chemiluminescence, the production of light in a chemical reaction. More typically seen near the horizon, airglow keeps the night sky from ever being completely dark.

Beauty Is Physics’ Secret Weapon by Steve Paulson

Frank Wilczek, a professor of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, ... won the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physics ...is not just a leading theoretical physicist but a student of philosophy and admirer of poet William Blake and Renaissance Italian architect Filippo Brunelleschi. ....

"It matters to me a lot whether the world is beautiful. It’s also a practical question for physicists, engineers, and designers. At the frontiers of physics, we’re dealing with realms of the very small and the very large and the very strange. Everyday experience is not a good guide and experiments can be difficult and expensive. So the source of intuition is not so much from everyday experience or from a massive accumulation of facts, but from feelings about what would give the laws of nature more inner coherence and harmony. My work has been guided by trying to make the laws more beautiful....Take the fact that the laws are eternal. That doesn’t sound like symmetry, but it is because the laws don’t change as the universe ages. So we have a change without change."

College student builds 'stained glass' igloo with blocks of colored ice and smallish front door.  Mitch Fitch, 18, got the idea from his mother and built the igloo in front of his dorm at St. John's University in Minnesota.

 Stained Glass-Igloo

The Tree Farm in a land where there are no trees.

Now the great spaces of Sutherland and Caithness have become famous for their silence, their seclusion, their isolation. One’s eye may roam for miles all around, unfettered, over empty lands where once there were trees, and then there were people, and now there is nothing.

Alexander Litvinenko: the man who solved his own murder

Babel Tower: A Kinetic Mirrored Ziggurat Reflects the Surrounding Iranian Landscape See it move at the link.

 Babel Tower Mirror-1

Photographer Captures Wedding Using Only An iPhone And The Result Is Beautiful


Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:19 PM | Permalink

January 22, 2016

Miscellany 30

That time President George H. W. Bush Escaped Cannibals

With eight of his comrades left to the fate of a nightmare island, the future president escaped a similar end because he bailed out of his plane further from the island’s shores than the other crews, and despite a bleeding head injury, managed to climb on to an inflated raft. His co-pilot’s parachute did not open. Japanese boats set out to capture Bush but several American fighter planes circled protectively overhead, driving them back with heavy fire. Bleeding, vomiting and weeping with fear, George H. W. Bush’s ordeal went on for many hours until the giant black hull of the USS Finback submarine suddenly surfaced right in front of his raft. Having escaped just the clutches of death, he said to his rescuers, “Happy to be aboard”.

New Portraits of Fashionably Dressed Wildlife and Floral Bouquets by Miguel Vallinas


Why 'invisible effects' are Hollywood's best kept secret

Car manufacturers got in on it a long time ago. Virtual vehicles are easier to light and keep clean, and don’t reflect camera crews, which is why most car ads haven’t featured real cars for years.

Anatomy of a Song: The Story Behind ‘Runaround Sue’ which you can hear Dion sing on YouTube

Dion DiMucci recalls how a basement party in the Bronx in 1960 inspired ‘Runaround Sue’ .

I then came up with background vocal harmony parts and had everyone sing them over and over. It went like this [Dion sings]: “Hape-hape, bum-da hey-di hey-di hape-hape.” With this going on, I made up a melody and lyrics about Ellen. People were dancing, drinking beer and having fun.  When I left the party that night, I couldn’t let go of that riff and melody.

Pleasure is good: How French children acquire a taste for life

In France, pleasure, or “plaisir,” is not a dirty word. It’s not considered hedonistic to pursue pleasure. Perhaps a better translation of the word is “enjoyment” or even “delight.” Pleasure, in fact, takes the weight of a moral value, because according to the French, pleasure serves as a compass guiding people in their actions. And parents begin teaching their children from very early childhood in a process called the education of taste, or “l’éducation du gout.”
One of the most surprising things that French mothers shared with me in my research was their belief that stimulating children’s appetites for a wide variety of life’s pleasures can actually deter them from becoming addicted to drugs!

The Mysterious Link Between Autism and Extraordinary Abilities

This Is What 17 Different Foods Look like Growing in Their Natural Habitats


Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:37 PM | Permalink

January 14, 2016

Miscellany 29

The Most Amazing Lie in History  How a chicken farmer, a pair of princesses, and 27 imaginary spies helped the Allies win World War II.

In the weeks leading up to D-day, Allied commanders had their best game faces on. “This operation is not being planned with any alternatives,” barked General Dwight D. Eisenhower....The sheer size of the invasion—it would be the largest in history—was staggering. But so were the stakes. With the first day’s casualty rate expected to reach 90 percent and the outcome of World War II hanging in the balance, the truth was that Eisenhower was riddled with doubt.
They were worried for good reason. With so many troops and so much artillery swelling in England, it was impossible to keep the attack a secret. Hitler knew it was coming, and he’d been preparing a defense for months. Only one detail eluded him, and he was confident in a Nazi victory if he could figure it out—he needed to know where, exactly, the attack would happen. To make D-day a success, the Allies needed to keep him in the dark: They’d have to trick the Germans into thinking the real invasion was just a bluff, while making it seem like a major attack was imminent elsewhere. The task seemed impossible, but luckily, the British had a secret weapon: a short, young balding Spaniard. He was the king of con men, an amateur spy gone pro, the world’s sneakiest liar. He was also, of all things, a chicken farmer.

Robert Kulwich on The Fantastically Strange Origin of Most Coal on Earth

This is a story about trees—very, very strange looking trees—and some microbes that failed to show up on time. Their non-appearance happened more than 300 million years ago, and what they didn’t do, or rather what happened because they weren’t there, shapes your life and mine.

28 Authors on the Books That Changed Their Lives

Day in the life of an African watering hole: Breathtaking composite photograph captures flow of elephants, zebras, hyenas and hippos over 26 hours in the Serengeti

 24Hrs Waterhole Serengti

10 Incredible Real Life MacGyver Moments That Saved Lives

10. creating a makeshift radiator...
8. Using an MP3 Player to Navigate and a Snowboard to Survive...
6. Reviving a Sick Passenger with a Hair Tie and Booze
5. Chopping Down Power Poles as an Emergency Beacon....
2. Using a Paddle and Ladder to Stay Fed and Hydrated After a Shipwreck ...
1. Jerry-Rigging a Pediatric Nebulizer at 30,000 Feet

Cowboys Rescue City From Stampede, Then Give The Most Hilarious TV Interview Ever

The Instagram Symmetry Monsters, started by an artist by the name of Traperture, celebrates symmetry in its most solid form: architecture. Rooftops, radio towers, bridges, reflections on glass walls – everything is fair game for a dedicated symmetry hunter.

 Syscraper Perfection-Symmetry

Knitters With Hopelessly Knotted Yarn Call ‘Detanglers’ for Help  Snarled yarn messes bring detanglers to rescue; ‘Send it to me!’

Many say their work untangling yarn is strangely relaxing, an escape from their worries and a way to create order out of chaos. Some also enjoy unwinding iPod headphones cords and straightening Christmas-tree lights...
Knot a Problem was started in 2008 by Stephanie Rothschild, 44, of Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., who discovered her love of detangling when she worked at a yarn store. It pained her to see the owner tossing tangled skeins in the garbage.
Group members like to post before-and-after photos of what they call “tangle porn.” Heaps of yarn resembling bowls of spaghetti become neat balls and cakes. “I think it’s fulfilling for people when they see what it was, sort of like house remodeling,” says Ms. Rothschild. “You see how crappy it was and how beautiful it turned out to be.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:40 PM | Permalink

January 9, 2016

Miscellany 28

The scientific breakthroughs discovered by ACCIDENT: The treadmill, anesthesia, artificial sweeteners, X-Rays, penicillin, warfarin, pacemaker, smoke detector, breathable shoes, Viagra and smart dust.

National Geographic marks 100 years of national parks

 Ng Yosemite-1

Thousands of reindeer cross Scandinavia for annual two-month migration from Norway to Finland herded by Sami, the indigenous people of Scandanavia who live in the Arctic parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia, in an area recognized as Sapmi.

Photographer Jan Helmer Olsen used a drone to film the migration in temperatures reaching minus 15 degrees, "My footage felt very special as nobody ever manages to see how the herd moves as one body from the air. It's watching a huge flock of birds in flight."

 Sami Herd Reindeer Migration-1

In the Art and Design section of The New York Times, is a wonderful piece Dear Architects: Sounds Matter that you should read with headphones to get the effect of three-dimensional audio.  Otherwise, just hover for sound.

We talk about how cities and buildings look. We call places landmarks or eyesores. But we rarely talk about how architecture sounds, aside from when a building or room is noisy.The spaces we design and inhabit all have distinctive sounds. The reading rooms at the New York Public Library have an overlay of rich sound. Your office may be a big room in a glass building with rows of cubicles where people stare into computer screens.

Much more fun than a scratch-off lottery ticket - just keep moving your mouse over the dots.

A VW Beetle Spotted in the Insect Collection at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History

 Vwbeetle Insect

The Golden Ratio: When Life Imitates Art.

 Creation Of Mancheter

I have to say I couldn't really understand all that was going on until I saw it full size, 1600 pixels wide at the link.
The man still holding his beer in his outstretched hand, Mike Deveney, when asked about the picture being seen by millions of people across the world, he said: 'I'm not really bothered about the photo, I just felt a bit daft. I heard about it about two days later.'  The woman in the red dress Hannah Kirby said that Mike had been knocked over during a scuffle involving police and another reveller......After the photograph's composition was compared to a Renaissance painting, social media users soon turned it into a series of hilarious memes, with one internet wag inspired to photoshop the blue-shirted man into Michelangelo's The Creation of Adam.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:50 AM | Permalink

January 3, 2016

Miscellany 27

This is what the entire universe looks like in one image


Musician Pablo Carlos Budassi combined logarithmic maps of the universe from Princeton and images from NASA. He created the image below that shows the observable universe in one disc.

Our sun and solar system are at the very center of the image, followed by the outer ring of our Milky Way galaxy, the Perseus arm of the Milky Way, a ring of other nearby galaxies like Andromeda, the rest of the cosmic web, cosmic microwave background radiation leftover from the big bang, and finally a ring of plasma also generated by the big bang:

More than $900 billion has been spent saving Matt Damon

Boffins claim to have discovered an '800-year-old mobile phone'


Inside Antarctica’s Catholic Ice Chapel, the World’s Southernmost Church


How to Hula Hoop Like a Man

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:46 AM | Permalink

December 25, 2015

A Christmas Miscellany

Merry Christmas to all.  May this Christmas open your heart and your mind to the greatest story ever told.

Something Wonderful: "Silent Night" featuring Plácido Domingo -ThePianoGuys

 Placido Domingo Silent-Night

Share the Gift.  The Piano Guys and Over A Thousand People Came Together To Break a Record And Bring This Moving Christmas Hymn To Life

 Pianoguys 1000Angelsonhigh

watch on YouTube

In Celebration of Modest Christmases Past
When families had less, when America had less, a single gift could make a lasting impression.

I was in a religious phase, however, and prayed. And on Christmas morning, there beside the tree was a rough, oblong piece of beige plywood stapled or nailed to two pieces of plywood supporting it on either side. And if you looked at it with imagination, it looked exactly like . . . a desk. I was in heaven. I got a kitchen chair, sat at the desk and closed my eyes and thanked God. Then, suddenly, with my eyes closed, in my imagination, I saw it. Everything. There was a manger in the darkness and a man and a woman, and it was cold and there were stars in the sky, and hills, and wise men came with staffs and gazed in wonder. I saw it all, as if on film in a newsreel. It hit me like an electric bolt. I thought: “It’s all true. It really happened. I just saw it.”

Christmas Isn't Candy Canes—It's D-Day in the War Against Satan - Msgr Charles Pope

....the Great Invasion, a daring raid by the ruler of the forces of Good into the universe’s seat of evil. Spiritually speaking, this is no silent night. It is D-Day. Behind the scenes is a deadly enemy....one of whom we rarely speak: Satan. Yet he is active, and involved. 

CHRISTMAS: the hour of faith in the darkness of the world

The Shepherds were there nearby Bethlehem, the Magi faraway, but a principle applies to both: those who seek God with purity of heart are never abandoned. The Shepherds and Magi bore gifts, of different value, but both offered the greatest gifts they had.

There are companies who get the reason for the season like WestJet whose viral video will give you goosebumps as employees perform nearly 14,000 'mini-miracles' , acts of kindness to "help spread Christmas cheer" and AT&T's ad urging us this Christmas to get off our phones,  “This season, give the present of being present.”  While in New York City, it was The Year Christmas Died: Fifth Avenue is a celebration of pretty much nothing––or worse .

Forget public Nativity scenes, as court fiat commanded us to do years ago. On Fifth Avenue this year you can’t even find dear old Santa Claus. Or his elves. Christmas past has become Christmas gone.

The scenes inside Saks Fifth Avenue’s many windows aren’t easy to describe. Saks calls it “The Winter Palace.” I would call it Prelude to an Orgy done in vampire white and amphetamine blue.

A luxuriating woman lies on a table, her legs in the air. Saks’ executives, who bear responsibility for this travesty, did have the good taste to confine to a side street the display of a passed-out man on his back (at least he’s wearing a tux), spilling his martini, beneath a moose head dripping with pearls. Adeste Gomorrah.

For Prisoners’ Children, Angel Tree Is Their Star  Angel Tree has now spent 23 years bringing Christmas gifts to as many of the now 2.7 million children of U.S. prisoners as it can reach.

Started in 1982 by former bank robber and ex-con Mary Kay Beard, Angel Tree exists to ease some of the pain children of the incarcerated experience during the holidays by enabling parents in prison to give their children Christmas gifts.
Regardless of what a child gets for Angel Tree Christmas,” he says, “it’s the most important thing that they have.” He says he has heard of children who have gotten footballs and slept with them for years...He has also heard of children who have shoeboxes full of Angel Tree tags.

Christmas pictures from around the world

 Venice Santas

The Real Life "George Bailey" of It's a Wonderful Life Who Founded the Bank of Italy which became the Bank of America.

The London Telegraph Christmas editorial: Why the angels dance in the pale sky

In the 1500 years before Botticelli and the 500 since, Christians have celebrated Christmas Day, as dwellers on a single Earth that learns of the possibility of its renewal, and rejoices in that hope....What, though, has heaven got to offer? In his picture, Botticelli suggests that mercy and truth, justice and peace have descended....The claim made by Christmas is that those four things are names for the same transcendent thing, for which the whole Earth reaches out and cannot grasp, but knows it needs above all, as a gift sent down from heaven. Mercy and truth, justice and peace are embodied by a little child with nothing to warm him but the ass’s breath.

 Bottecello's Nativity

Gerard Vanderleun's wonderful Christmas stories

The Gift of the WalMagi
I’d come to New England after many years away and, in Seattle, thought I’d packed well for the trip. I’d made a point to bring my very warm Seattle jacket. I stepped outside into the New England winter this morning and between the door and the car I knew, based on testicle retraction velocity, that my coat had nothing to say to this winter. I might as well have packed and dressed in a Speedo.
The Star
The night sky, now so thin and distant, so seldom really seen, was to them as thick and close as a handful of coal studded with diamonds. They could turn it in their mind's eye even as it turned above them. They reclined on their hill sides, their roofs, or in rooms built for viewing and marking the moon and the stars. They watched it all revolve above them and sang the centuries down. They remembered. They kept records and told tales. They saw beings in the heavens -- gods and animals, giants and insects, all sparking the origins of myth -- and they knew that in some way all was connected to all; as above, so below, "on Earth as it is in Heaven". They studied the patterns of it all and from those repeating patterns fashioned our first science, astrology.
Sages and mystics, Eliot and Clarke, and a host of others have all had their turns with the story of The Star. In the end it remains what it was when it began, a story. The story of a road trip by three astrologers, kings, wise men. A journey by men who saw something special in the heavens and determined to follow it wherever it led, no matter what the cost.....To see something special. To see something beyond yourself and your imaginings. To follow it wherever it leads. To always remain prepared for miracle. That is the inner music of the story of The Star. Like all stories that survive, it is the music of the heart and not of the head, and like the heart, it will endure.
The Creche by the Side of the Road
But I also thought of the other nativity scene. Halfway over the Grapevine, up along the slope of the dark mountains, an island of light in the midst of a vast and expanding darkness. A little light arranged by the small hands of faith to mirror a larger light moved by the inconceivable hand of God. I'll look for it next year when we drive north. It's so far out of the way, it should still be there. But then, you never know. Do you?

A wonderful series in The Atlantic: The 12 Days of Christmas Songs: an attempt to uncover the forgotten history of some of the most memorable festive tunes. From December 14 through 25, we’ll be tackling one secular song and one holy song each day.

'In the Bleak Midwinter': A Literary Christmas Carol
The lyrics, written by Christina Rossetti and set to music by Gustav Holst, imagine a child being born in a desolate climate.

‘Joy to the World’ Isn't a Christmas Song
The song is synonymous with the holiday, but it wasn’t originally written that way.

The Apocalyptic Fear in ‘Do You Hear What I Hear’
It’s the nativity story, written around the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis

‘Christmas Time Is Here’: A Hymn for the Ages
The 50-year-old song from “A Charlie Brown Christmas” is here to stay.

‘O Holy Night’: A Call to Fall to Your Knees  The Christmas carol’s charm is in its humility.

'Sussex Carol’: A Reminder of Christmas Music's Local Roots
Before the globalization of Christmas, .....seasonal music was local. In Britain, there were regional and village songs, preserved over decades and centuries in the oral tradition. ....“In several parts of England I have found carols which are peculiar to certain villages, by the inhabitants of which they are regarded as private possessions of great value, to be jealously guarded and retained for their own use."

The Atlantic again, an awe-inspiring  2015 Hubble Space Telescope Advent Calendar  See them in their full glory at the link.

 Advent Cat

a> 6 Shocking New Discoveries About Jesus of Nazareth.  It happened, it really happened.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:52 AM | Permalink

December 16, 2015

Miscellany 26

The Hidden Message on Tojo's Teeth

Hideki Tojo was the Prime Minister of Japan during World War II. After Japan surrendered, the Allies tried him for war crimes. During his trial in 1946, he requested a set of dentures so that he could speak clearly. E.J. Mallory, an American dentist, was responsible for providing dental care to the accused war criminals awaiting trial at the Sugamo Prison in Tokyo. Remembering that it was Tojo who ordered the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Mallory decided mock Tojo in his own way.  [As a 1995 AP story recounted] He wrote "Remember Pearl Harbor" in Morse code on the false teeth that he made for Tojo.  It was, alas, too good a prank to keep secret. Mallory told a colleague, who told other people, and soon word reached the American news media. Mallory and another dentist knew they could get in trouble for the engraving. So they drove to the prison in the middle of the night, woke up Tojo, took his teeth, and ground the marks out.

The 25 most Florida things that happened in Florida in 2015.  Here's one: Florida Store Clerk Throws Ranch Dressing at Robber Dressed Like Darth Vader

Researchers find lettuce is 'three times worse than BACON' for emissions Carnegie Mellon University study

Researchers also measured the changes in energy use, blue water footprint, and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
'Eating lettuce is over three time worse in greenhouse gas emissions than eating bacon,' said Paul Fishbeck, professor of social and decisions sciences and engineering and public policy. 'Lots of common vegetables require more resources per calorie than you would think. Eggplant, celery, and cucumbers look particularly bad when compared to pork or chicken.'

Why Dogs Spin Before They Poop

Wonder why dogs sometimes walk in circles before sleeping or going to the bathroom? Well, it has to do with hygiene and territorial instincts, but it also involves Earth's magnetic field.  Anthony explains in the video how they orient themselves to a north-south axis.

Queen personally thanks man who sent her Christmas cards for more than 50 years

According to Andrew Simes, his grandfather sent a Christmas card to Queen Elizabeth II every holiday season, from 1952 until his death in 2011. When Andrew took up the mantle of card-writing from his late grandfather that winter, he says he received an amazing response from the royal highness herself.

What was Found (and still edible) inside a 150 year-old Sunken Steamboat  -

In 1856, the Steamboat Arabia was frontier bound, loaded with supplies for 16 towns when it sank within minutes to the bottom of the Missouri river with two hundred tons of precious cargo aboard. ... Everyone on board miraculously swam to safety, except for one forgotten mule, tied to the deck.
Using a metal detector and old maps to guide the search, an amateur archaeologist began the search for the lost steamer.  Lost for 132 years, its recovery in 1988 was like finding the King Tut’s Tomb of the Missouri River. Remarkably preserved clothes, tools, guns, dishware and more. ...These artifacts are now housed in a cool little museum in Kansas City called the Arabia Steamboat Museum,

where you can see amazing photos of the perfectly preserved artifacts including the still edible pickles. 

Innovative Candle Holder Makes Candle Last At Least Twice As Long

British artist and designer Benjamin Shine proved that real genius lies in simplicity. He came up with an elegant way to regenerate candles from the wax that would otherwise go to waste after they burn down. The Rekindle Candle is a candlestick holder that collects the wax of a burning candle in a container with a wick, forming a brand new candle ready to use. This innovation makes one candle last almost forever (provided you have extra wicks). The product is called Rekindle by Shine

5 Pies in One: The Turducken of Pies

Scott Neumyer baked five concentric pies. From the outside in, they are apple, cherry, peach, blueberry, and cream cheese. He sealed them inside overlapping pie crusts. After baking and eating the result, he proclaimed it "the greatest pie of all time."

 Pie Terducken
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:32 PM | Permalink

December 11, 2015

Miscellany 25

The Astounding Truth About the Hubble Space Telescope's Most Famous Image

 Hubble Ultra-Deep Field

That image -- seen above -- is the Hubble Ultra-Deep Field. The specks of color and light you see are not stars; they are galaxies -- 10,000 of them in fact! It is the deepest image of the sky over obtained, gazing back approximately 13 billion years...."The image is only one-forty millionth of the sky. In other words, it would take 40 million Hubble Ultra-Deep Fields to cover the entire sky,

Great headlines.  He shoots… he snores! Chinese football commentator is fired after falling asleep during live coverage of a Champions League match.  Bud Weisser arrested at Budweiser brewery.  Nineteen-year-old Bud Weisser was cited for trespassing and resisting arrest.

Austrian Artist Reinvents Door With Innovative 4 Folding Triangle Design and 2 gifs show you how it opens and closes.

Rocky was the movie the studio DIDN'T want you to see

Studio bosses tried to stop hit because 'who would pay for an unknown guy who has a rough life as a fighter and an ugly duckling girl?'....Winkler had to use contract loophole to get it made on budget so small the cast and crew shared one trailer (and one toilet)

Take the Inca trail... as Google Street View launches tour of Peru's Machu Picchu

Backpack-sized Street View cameras - which record 360 degree images of surroundings - were used to create the online feature, which allows people to explore temples, terraces and plazas built in 1438.

 Macchu Piccu

Beehive Fences in East Africa Protect Farms from Elephants

It turns out elephants are terrified of bees because when the insects sting the inside of their trunks the pain is excruciating and there’s little they can do about it. The sound of buzzing alone is enough to make elephants leave an area immediately. King wondered what might happen if a string of suspended beehives at every 10 meters around a field might be enough to keep elephants away. A pilot program in 2009 proved widely successful and soon The Elephant and Bees Project was born.

There are now active beehive fences in Kenya, Botswana, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda, and Sri Lanka. Not only do the fences help pollinate crops and safely deter elephants, they also become an additional revenue stream for farmers who harvest honey and sell it locally, a fascinating example of interspecies landscape engineering.

Hobbit Houses.  Now in modules that can be assembled in 3 days

Green Magic Homes... makes prefabricated houses that are meant to be covered with soil. The homes are easy to assemble, and you can easily plant grass – – or even vegetables if you like. The turf keeps the house cool in summer and warm in winter. GMH are built from modules and come in several sizes. The smallest one room module can be assembled in three days; a large one would take about a week! The material used is fiber reinforced polymer, and is supposed to last two hobbit lifetimes or several human ones… as long as you have assembled it right.

C.S. Lewis Was a Secret Government Agent.

In 1940 the Germans invaded Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, and France.  The British did the next best thing they could do to help Denmark and the rest of Europe: They launched a surprise invasion of Iceland, which was part of the Kingdom of Denmark. ...Thanks to the British invasion, Iceland provided the ideal base for seaplanes to search for the German naval vessels that prowled the Atlantic sinking the merchant fleet with its crucial supplies....Holding Iceland depended upon the goodwill of the people of Iceland who never had asked to be invaded by the British. If Britain retained Icelandic goodwill, then Churchill could occupy the island with reserve troops rather than his best fighting forces.

This was the strategic situation in which C. S. Lewis was recruited. And his mission was simple: To help win the hearts of the Icelandic people.

Out of this world? Stunning aerial shots of America's West Coast look like they could be of the moon or Mars

 Grand Prismatic Spring
Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone

These incredible pictures could easily be a gallery of snapshots from a satellite touring the solar system.
But the stunning photos are actually images of America's West Coast taken from the sky by Jassen Todorov, a professor with a passion for flying. "'Taking these photographs is a hobby of mine, because I work at a university teaching the violin and giving concerts for a living.  I earned my pilot's license while I was studying for a PhD in music and for a while was content to capture the perspectives purely for my eyes only."

The memory of a river


If you measure the contours of a river valley with Lidar (like radar with lasers), you get a beautiful map of all the historical river channels. The image above was taken from a poster of the historical channels of the Willamette River..

A Brief History of Snow Globes

....In 1927, a Pittsburgh man named Joseph Garaja filed his application for a patent for a liquid-filled novelty paperweight that improved upon previous designs; the design he presented and later sold was a fish floating in sea grass. But it wasn't Garaja’s under-the-sea theme that impressed the industry. His real contribution to snow globe manufacturing was in pioneering the now-obvious method of assembling the globes underwater to ensure they were entirely filled. This, David Bear wrote for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in 2000, “revolutionized” the snow globe industry: “They went from being expensive mementos individually crafted by skilled artisans to items that could be cheaply mass-produced and sold.”


Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:32 PM | Permalink

November 21, 2015

Miscellany 24

Bleached Woodpulp + Ink + Glue = A Mature Information Retrieval System

 Bleached Woodpulp+Glue

“You did what with my life?”.. Young Man Interviews His Older Self 38 Years Later

It takes someone with an incredible knack for planning ahead to create a "self interview" video project then pick it up and finish it 38 years later, it takes someone like Peter "Stoney" Emshwiller.  Stoney (who should have won an award by now for his amazing name) shot a video at age 18 in which he interviews his older self, and then he played interviewee at age 56 and finished the "self interview" video 38 years in the making.

Watch it on YouTube under the title Later That Same Life

The Coywolf  is a new species that emerged in the Northeast, -  a hybrid of the coyote and the wolf that is also known as the Eastern coyote. According to a new article from The Economist, their population seems to have reached more than a million.


These animals have a completely new genetic makeup: Their genes are about one-quarter wolf DNA and two-thirds coyote DNA; the rest is from domesticated dogs. A 2013 study suggests this dog DNA is mostly from a few specific breeds, including German Shepherds and Doberman Pincers.

Don't miss this.  In a comic, the amazing story of the young Gene Roddenberry: It’s going to be okay 

 Rodenberrry Okay

Something Wonderful: One Thousand Gifts

Nigerians Are Building Fireproof, Bulletproof, And Eco-Friendly Homes With Plastic Bottles And Mud


These colorful homes are bulletproof, fireproof, and can withstand earthquakes. They also maintain a comfortable temperature, produce zero carbon emissions, and are powered by solar and methane gas from recycled waste.

Animal Balaclavas Turn Skiers Into Cats And Lions


Cool video that explains why people in old movies talked funny

There’s a distinct accent that American actors and broadcasters used in the early days of radio and in pre-World War II movies. It’s most obvious in old newsreel footage where the announcer speaks in a high-pitched tone, omits his “Rs” at the end of words, and sounds like a New Yorker who just returned from a summer holiday with the British royal family. This speaking style is also heard in the speeches of Franklin D. Roosevelt and just about any performance by Orson Welles. But today, this accent is all but nonexistent, prompting the question: Did Americans speak differently before the advent of television?

The True Story of Paul Newman's Salad Dressing

Paul Newman passed on on September 26, 2008. But his smiling face lives on, not only in his wonderful movies, but in grocery aisles across America. And with  what other Hollywood legend can we not only enjoy one of his classic films, but dine on his delicious food and drink while we do so?

 Newman's Own

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:19 PM | Permalink

November 3, 2015

Miscellany 23

Photographer Creates Haunting Photo Series By Removing Phones From Every Image  by Craig Carilli

 Photo-Cellphones Removed

From the Art of Manliness  100 Skills Every Man Should Know

12. Fix a Leaky Faucet
19. Perform CPR
21. Sew a Button
22. Split Firewood
27. Sharpen a Knife
28. Change a Diaper
31. Unclog a Toilet
35. Treat Frostbite
60. Throw a Knockout Punch
84. Make a Logical Argument
98. Cook a Signature Dish

Moon Photobombs Earth In Photo Taken From NASA Satellite 1 Million Miles Away.  Watch the gif at the link

Frenchman develops 'cure' for builder's bum 

Builder's crack, plumber's bum, the coinslot, bottom cleavage… No matter where you go in the world, there's an expression for the unfortunate moment when a tradesman or woman bends down and reveals the top end of their backside.

In French, it's called the plumber's smile (sourire de plombier) or even the "mason's line" (raie du maçon). And Adrien Herve-Pellissier - a 24-year-old man from Rennes in western France - thinks he has cracked it. ..Within nine months, Herve-Pellissier came up with the prototype for a product he named the "sourire de plombier" - a boxer short that keeps the builder's dignity intact.

"The underwear has a large elastic band on it, you see, so when you squat down we don't have to see your arse." The 24-year-old says the phone hasn't stopped ringing since his invention hit the news

7 'Ancient' Forms of Mysticism That Are Recent Inventions  Cracked tells us the reality behind Yoga, Tarot, Satanism, Ouija Boards, Ninjutsu, Friday the 13th and The Viking Religion

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:46 PM | Permalink

October 31, 2015

Miscellany 22

Richard Silver and his astonishing photos of churches in NYC


“Starry Night” Painted In Bacteria

15 Untranslatable Love Words That Don’t Have English Equivalents From the French “retrouvailles” (the joy of reuniting after long separation) to Tamil “oodal” (the fake anger lovers show after a tiff), they all show the more subtle angles of love.

Talented Jack Russell leaps from 12 foot high cliffs in synchronized dives with her owner in Malta

 Diving Jack Russell Malta

11 Smells that are slowly disappearing Burning leaves, freshly-opened Polaroid film, magic markets, bubble gum cards, cap guns and chalk dust are smells that only some of us remember.

A nation of tall cheese-eaters.  The Dutch drink a lot of milk, eat a lot of cheese, and are now the tallest people in the world.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:39 PM | Permalink

September 29, 2015

Miscellany 21

Wow!.  Kurt Steiner world record of 88 skips of a stone over water.  Video at link.

Ten reasons why it's good to be a redhead: From Spartacus and scent to standing up for difference.

 Redhead Girl  By Vianaarts-D5531Ab

But watch out for the "ginger extremists".

Europe trotter on Flickr.

 Trees-Growing On Roof

Russian 5-year-olds dig tunnel out of nursery ‘to buy Jaguar’


Selfies are killing more people than shark attacks  So far this year, 12 people have died while trying to take a selfie

Ten most offensive collective nouns, among them,  a herd of harlots, an obedience of servants, an impatience of wives and an unhappiness of husbands.

Correlation is not causation: charts of weird things that correlate with each other.

 Weird Correlation

New Scientist The lies we tell are more convincing when we need to pee  Urgency conveys sincerity

Progress!  Father pulls out his daughter's wobbly tooth with a drone,  Video at link.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:38 PM | Permalink

September 11, 2015

Miscellany 20

15 Microprints Hiding in United States Currency at  Mental Floss.

Meet Ralph Lincoln,  An 11th Generation Lincoln


There are more than three trillion trees in the world,  about 8 times larger thatn the previous best estimate of 400 billion.  That's 420 trees for every person on the planet.    Researchers from Yale used 429,775 ground-based measurements in 55 countries collected from a variety of sources.

A big number indeed.  By comparison,  the US. government debt now stands at $18 trllion and by the end of the year will be $18.6 trillion, not including state and local debt or the unfunded liabilities of Social Security and Medicare.

Somewhere among the approximately two thousand sandstone arches that compose Arches National Park in Grand County, Utah, sits a tree.


Scientist: Forcing People to Work before 10 AM is Basically Torture  I agree completely

The United Slang of America.  If every state had an official word, what would it be?  Click link for interactive version and complete list

-Us State Slang

11 images that capture the incredible vastness of space at Vox.

We think of the Earth as a big place: flying around the equator on a 747 at top speed would take about 42 hours. Flying around the sun at the same speed, by contrast, would take about six months.


Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:07 PM | Permalink

August 26, 2015

Miscellany 19

25 Maps That Will Change The Way You See The World in an entertaining YouTube video

The Bestseller Book That Didn’t Exist: how the author of a beloved Christmas classic pulled off the Hoax of the Century

How talk radio pioneer and story teller Jean Shepherd  (and his devoted fans) concocted a wildly preposterous hoax – and succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.

The Power of the Post-it From Harvard Business Review

Imagine that you really need to convince someone to do something, such as following through on a task. You might be surprised to learn that one of the best ways to get someone to comply with your request is through a tiny nuance that adds a personal touch—attaching a sticky note.

How Febreze works

Febreze banishes bad odors by using air-freshening molecules that form a cage to trap smelly compounds, making them 'invisible' to your nose.  Odor neutralizing sprays contains a type of chemical called cyclodextrin which is shaped like a cage and can trap odor molecules in the air.  Once captured compounds that cause odors can't reach smell receptors.  A video released by the American Chemical Society explains how odor neutralizing sprays work

Delinquent dog walkers beware The Spanish city of Tarragona

The city plans to start DNA testing dog droppings to catch owners who fail to clear up after their pets. Tarragona official will work to create DNA database of registered dogs. Droppings found on street or parks can be matched through database. Caught pet owners will cover cost of DNA testing as well as paying fine.

The Wolfpack: 'In our heads, we could go wherever we wanted'

Forbidden from leaving their New York apartment, the Angulo brothers learnt about life only from movies. The Wolfpack explores what happened to them when they broke free.

The filmmaker Crystal Moselle remembers the first time she saw the Angulo brothers, walking down First Avenue in April 2010, wearing shades and identical suits, à la Reservoir Dogs, their long black hair down to their waists. “It felt like coming across a lost tribe from the Amazon”, she says. The resulting documentary that she made about them, The Wolfpack, which won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance earlier this year, falls somewhere between François Truffaut’s L’enfant sauvage (1970) and Jean-Pierre Gorin’s Poto and Cabengo – the 1980 documentary about the Georgia twins whose childhood was so secluded that they invented their own language to communicate with one another.

Men in shorts Adolf Hitler Had This Photo Of Himself Banned as "beneath one's dignity".


Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:52 PM | Permalink

August 17, 2015

Miscellany 18

Eagle punches drone out of sky

In the footage from Melbourne Aerial Video (at the link), a Wedge-Tailed Eagle flies up to the drone and hits it directly. The drone sputters and falls to earth. The eagle was unharmed, according to a statement on YouTube. "She was massive, and used talon's to 'punch' the drone out of the sky," the statement said.

So that's why dogs hate cats! Fossils reveal felines drove 40 species of canines to extinction after arriving in North America

The instinct of dogs to chase felines out of their territory might be more reasonable than you think. Fossils have revealed the two species have a rocky past after the introduction of cats to the Americas had a devastating effect on the continent's species of wild dogs. In fact, it is thought that competition from cats caused up to 40 species of dog to become extinct in the region millions of years ago.

The dog family, which includes wolves and coyotes, originated in North America about 40 million years ago. They reached maximum diversity in the continent 22 million years ago when, at their peak, more than 30 species roamed the land mass at the same time.
However, since they were introduced dozens of species have emerged and become extinct over a period of millions of years. 
Only nine species of canid inhabit the continent today, including the domestic dog.

An international team, including scientists from the Universities of Gothenburg, Sweden, São Paulo, Brazil and Lausanne, Switzerland, published the findings in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.  The team studied 2,000 fossils to reach their conclusions.

San Francisco fighting public urination with PAINT that sprays men back with their own pee

San Francisco's Public Works agency has painted nine urine-soaked walls with a pee-repellant material called Ultra-Ever Dry.

Spanish town brings in compulsory siesta law

The town’s summer siesta tradition is so deep-rooted the mayor has enshrined his citizen’s right to an afternoon snooze in law. Ador could be the first town in Spain to actually make taking a siesta obligatory by law.  Mayor of Ador, Joan Faus Vitòria, has ordered that that town’s inhabitants stay quiet between 2pm and 5pm.  "Everything closes between 2pm and 5pm," a town hall spokesman told The Local. "Bars, shops, the swimming pool, everything."

Whatever Happened to the Wild Camels of the American West?

In 1855, under the direction of then-Secretary of War Jefferson Davis, Congress appropriated $30,000 for "the purchase and importation of camels and dromedaries to be employed for military purposes." Davis believed that camels were key to the country's expansion westward; a transcontinental railroad was still decades away from being built, and he thought the animals could be well suited to haul supplies between remote military outposts. By 1857, after a pair of successful trips to the Mediterranean and the Middle East, the U.S. Army had purchased and imported 75 camels. Within a decade, though, each and every one would be sold at auction

Terra Flamma: Stunning Long-Exposure Photographs of California Wildfires

The El Portal Fire burns on a hillside in the Stanislaus National Forest and Yosemite National Park on Sunday evening July 27, 2014. Long exposure photograph by Stuart Palley.

These are wonderful. Everyday For 5 Years This Japanese Artist Creates A Fun Miniature Diorama




 Diorama-Every-Day Sesame Seeds Tatsuya-Tanaka-Japan-1


Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:38 AM | Permalink

August 10, 2015

Miscellany 17

Becoming a Southern Lady, An Essay

She felt like an outsider who didn’t fit in with Southern ladies—that is until, after studying us, she finally figured us out. “All you have to do,” she told me, “is say two things: ‘How’s yo’ momma?’ and ‘Love yo’ hair’.”

Welcome to the Quietest Square Inch in the U.S.

The quietest inch isn’t a sound vacuum. It represents a place with a minimum of human-made noise. The discipline of acoustic ecology, which is dedicated to understanding the natural sounds that come through loud and clear when we're not around, outlines an important distinction between sound and noise.  The blip of water droplets from a forest canopy? Sound. The tinny din of Taylor Swift through smartphone speakers? Noise.

Cooling is as important to civilization as making fire — only much harder

Chilled, Tom Jackson’s enthralling history of how refrigeration changed the world, takes us from Mesopotamian ice-houses to the Large Hadron Collider  It’s a fascinating journey and Jackson conducts it in the manner of a wizard. From heat-pumps we whisk in a flash to 18th-century BC Terqa, on the west bank of the Euphrates, where the new king Zimri-lim sets about building an ice-house. We race, shivering and sweltering by turns, around the ancient world, to fifth-century BC Persia, to Egypt, from stone jars in water-pits to ceramic pots standing in kraters of snow (and, incidentally, giving sense to the naming of sorbet). Cold — colder than it should be — is always, in this narrative, as magical as Kubla Khan’s ‘sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice’

.Russian Photographers Show The World The Way Birds See It

 Russian Drone Central Park

 Birds-Eye-St Basil's Cathedral Moscow

20 Weirdest Waterfalls on Earth


GravityLight generates light from gravity.

GravityLight is unique - it doesn't need batteries or sunlight and costs nothing to run.  GravityLight provides:Instant light, any time.  It takes just a few seconds to lift the weight that powers GravityLight. There's no need to charge in advance, it's ready when you need it.  With no running costs. Meaning that GravityLight pays for itself within weeks of switching from a kerosene lamp.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:23 AM | Permalink

August 5, 2015

Miscellany 16

100 years of plastic surgery

Plastic surgery celebrates its 100th birthday this year. We examine how a medical procedure to treat soldiers in the trenches ended up being used to augment 50,000 Brazilians' buttocks.

“Today, nearly one out of every five dollars spent on cookies is spent on an Oreo.”

Since 2005, Oreo sales have grown by more than 60 percent, which is easily the largest increase among any of the top cookie brands sold in the United States. For context, consider that cookie sales market-wide rose by only 10 percent over that period, or that more than 7o percent of that growth is directly attributable to increased demand for Oreos.

How Milk Became a Staple

Cheese and butter go back a long way as methods of preserving milk. But fresh milk was considered baby food, or a boost for growing children, through most of history. Only about a hundred years ago did milk drinking become common among adults. That was because of the convergence of several trends around the beginning of the 20th century. First, the milk trade became regulated and safer (see our previous articles on that development). Then there was the craze for healing through nutrition, which led to the development of cereals, served with milk. And there was the Temperance movement, with groups trying to get men to drink anything besides alcohol.

Does adding pasta water to the sauce really make a difference?   Yes.  The starch in the water acts to emulsify the sauce

See, the thing is, pasta (the dish) isn't just about the pasta (the starch), and it's not just about the sauce either. It's about the marriage of the two. And like all marriages, there are some secrets to getting the union to work.

Good Morning! Breakfasts Around the 16 Countries of Eastern Europe

Bear Clears Out Bakery
The beast guzzled 24 cherry and 14 apple pies, but left the strawberry-and-rhubarb creations untouched in the raid.

Rod Dreher visits Lyon and discovers Deep France and the best food he's ever eaten

Amazing, amazing story Musicked Down the Mountain: How Oliver Sacks Saved His Own Life by Literature and Song in Brainpickings.

The best hotel in the world

According to TripAdvisor the best hotel in the world is Gili Lankanfushi in the Maldives, on a tiny coral island in a sparkling lagoon, with jetties stretching across the crystal water out to each of the 45 overwater villas. The hotel operates a 'no news, no shoes' policy, so visitors have no choice but to enjoy the uninterrupted ocean views, private butler service and robes.
The water villas float on a lagoon surrounding a tiny coral island in the Maldives, with each villa individually designed using traditional, sustainable materials and methods.  The thick beams of wood in the huts are built from sustainable materials such as plantation teak and re-cycled telegraph poles, and seek to blend rustic charm with modern comfort.
Each thatched villa includes a sundeck, a roof terrace and a stunning bathroom with separate private shower that overlooks the lagoon.

 Best Hotel Maldives
 Best Hotel Maldives2

The great outdoors, indoors: Artist spends 35 years using natural materials to create 'hobbit house' which has been put up for sale with a $149,000 price tag

Lauri Svedberg spent more than three decades transforming her house in Minnesota into a shrine to nature. Her home became a giant canvas which she painstakingly transformed using nothing but natural materials and a glue gun. Minerals, rock and glass were pieced together to create giant mosaics covering entire walls and floors inside the unusual abode.

-Outdoor Feel Lauri Svedberg

 The Forest Scape House Laura Svedberg

 Kitchen Laura Svedberg
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:28 PM | Permalink

June 8, 2015

Miscellany 15

Touching organ donation advert "The man and the dog' will leave you in tears
The agency behind the John Lewis Christmas advert has created a piece on organ donation that has left people reaching for their dogs in floods of tears

Via The Browser, The Lost Man
Australia’s greatest cold case. A body is found on a beach near Adelaide in 1948 — a man wearing a suit and tie, perhaps a dancer, probably poisoned. He carries a fragment from the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám. When the rest of the book is found, a cipher is written on the back, with the telephone number of a nurse who, called to identify the body, almost faints. Her son is said to resemble the mystery man. What was she hiding?

Climbing the roots of the Banyan Tree  Yes, you can do it, but only in certain places.

From Stories, Etc. Old Ed and a Bucket of Shrimp.  Great story that I hope is true

Terry Teachout on How the Second World War Made America Literate.  Between 1943 and 1947, the U.S. Army and Navy distributed some 123 million newly printed paperback copies of 1,322 different books to American servicemen around the world.

 Desk Safari Giraffe For some fun at the office, play Desk Safari

Aeon video:  Magnetic movie How would the world look if we could see the magnetic fields around us? ‘Hairy and messy’, says a NASA space scientist

You have to see the gifs at the link to understand why the Incredible Octopus Behavior Nearly Caused Scientist To Drown From Laughing

Why did men stop wearing high heels, anyway?  Only rock stars and cowboys wear heels now.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:35 AM | Permalink

May 27, 2015

Miscellany 14

A lovely new stamp for Flannery O'Connor  whose Habit of Being is the greatest collection of letters I have ever read.

“All human nature vigorously resists grace because grace changes us and the change is painful.”


How the Little Free Library project launched a global trend.  Tiny Libraries

Tiny libraries in converted phone booths, purpose-built kiosks, experimental art installations, quirky handmade boxes—and even one refrigerator—are springing up on street corners around the world at a rapid rate. These miniature lending libraries lead the communal book revolution, bringing reading material to the masses at a level that far exceeds their size.

Fashion Inspired By Nature: Russian Artist Compares Famous Dresses And Landscapes


Travel advice Russians are given before traveling to the U.S.>

7.When invited on a picnic  - ""As a rule, the invitation will be only on a weekend, and you don’t have to prepare for something extravagant. Everything is the same as ours, only with far less booze. Bring something sporty—ball, badminton, Americans are certainly fervent fans of these things.” "
17. Don't call people ugly. "At the table is better to avoid talking about politics and religion, as the United States is a country of Puritan values. In the straight-line American culture there is a taboo forbidding calling out the physical defects of another person. This is probably due to the constant desire of Americans to always be in great shape and look young."

What's on the other side of the ocean?

 The-Other-Side-Of-The-Ocean Click to enlarge.  It's Spain and Japan where I am.

Cows on the Beach in South Africa

Nguni cattle take daily walks untended to the beach in the sweltering afternoons. The locals believe the cows like the salty water because it helps keep away the parasites; plus, they seem to like cooling their heels. But all that beef on the beach isn’t a new phenomenon: apparently, shipwrecked sailors first talked about these cow-dotted beaches back in the 16th century.

This video is eerie and mesmerizing.  Watch Art of Ancient Greek Vases Come to Life with 21st Century Animation

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:00 AM | Permalink

May 15, 2015

Miscellany 13

The Uyuni Salt Flats:  Where Land is Indistinguishable from Sky.  Video at the link

 Uyuni Salt Flats

The most incredible treehouses in the world

It's Just Like Hogwarts! What makes Gothic architecture so magical?

 Christ Church Hall Oxford
Christ Church Hall at Oxford

Colorblind People See A Rainbow For The First Time With These Special Glasses

The Spy Among Us  A transcript of Steve Kroft's piece on 60 Minutes.  Jack Barsky held a job at some of the top corporations in the U.S. and lived a seemingly normal life -- all while spying for the Soviet Union.  So how did he quit the KGB without getting killed?

Barsky said: "There's three things I tell people that the Russians were afraid of. AIDS, Jewish people and Ronald Reagan." 

He wrote them a letter saying he had AIDS and the only place he could get treatment was in the U.S. And then the FBI moved next door.

The Curious Case of $2 Bills in Ecuador

They are in such demand that there is a black market where you can buy and sell them for double or triple their face value depending on the bill’s condition. Everyone wants them. Some stores have them on display underneath glass and discretely operate exchanges.

“They bring us good luck. If you keep a $2 bill with you it will bring more money,”

How to Drink Like a Saint  With moderation, gratitude, memory, merriment and ritual.

 Drinking Monk  Eduard Grutzner

Spiders fall from the sky in Australia leaving what enthusiasts call 'Angel Hair'

 Spiders Leave Angelhair

“What happens is that during a particular time of the year, particularly in May and August, young spiders in the Outback somewhere throw these threads of spiderwebs up in the air and use them as a parachute to detach themselves from the ground and move in large colonies through the sky,” Mr Basterfield explained.

“They fly through the sky and then we see these falls of spider webs that look almost as if it’s snowing.

In the Atlantic.  The Wedding Sting When a police department  lured all the drug dealers to one big party.

By 9:00 p.m. the party was in full swing, but behind the scenes was pure tension: Sweaty hands gripped weapons. Synchronized watches were checked. The band knew it was time to give the signal and began to play the song: “I Fought The Law (and the Law Won).”

Williams reached into her garter and felt for her revolver. Shooter jumped onto the stage, and grabbed the mic.

“Let’s have some fun,” he shouted. “Everybody here that’s a cop, stand up!”

A dozen undercover officers rose to their feet as uniformed detectives burst through the door.

“Okay!” Shooter yelled. “All the rest of you motherf***** put your hands on the table, because you’re under arrest! This is a bust!”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:40 PM | Permalink

May 9, 2015

Miscellany 12

The unbelievable backstory of the 18-year-old classified ad that refuses to die

 Time Travel Ad

What matters most to people in every country of the world in one fantastic infographic

In Madrid,  Julien de Casabianca is bringing Forgotten Classical Paintings Taken from Museums to the Streets

 De Casablance Classical Paintings Street

10 Interesting Facts About the Placebo Effect  It can still work even if you know you're taking a placebo

Bigger than 87 average-sized IMAX screens, Hoover Dam Turned into an Enormous Projection Screen

Mad Men endgame theory: Don Draper is D.B. Cooper


What Westeros would look like in Google Maps

Beautiful art made from old keys and coins by self-taught Australian artist Michael Moerkerk.


10 Amazingly Enjoyable Things About Having Kids
Is having kids 'all joy and no fun'? Totally wrong. If you're not having fun, you're not paying attention.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:11 AM | Permalink

April 26, 2015

Miscellany 11

Scientists Claim They Found a New Species of Frog, and It Looks Like Kermit.  The newly discovered species of translucent frog, Hyalinobatrachium dianae,  was found in Costa Rica's Talamanca Mountains.

 New Frog Kermit?

X-Ray Art Reveals the Internal Beauty of Everyday Objects

 Xray-Tulips Arie Van't Riet
Dutch artist/physicist Arie van't Riet

Twinkie's Miracle Comeback: The Untold, Inside Story of a $2 Billion Feast
But while you wouldn’t find Twinkies on Whole Foods’ shelves or in Gwyneth Paltrow’s pantry, Hostess had something you can’t find in a locally sourced, chia–seed snack–millions of nostalgic fans. “The brand awareness was unbelievable,” says Jhawar. “It’s not every day you have an opportunity to acquire a brand that is ubiquitous, that had $1 billion in revenue before the bankruptcy and 80–plus years of legacy.”

Pasta? Ruby grapefruits? Why organic devotees love foods mutated by radiation and chemicals
Ruby Red grapefruits, along with 3,000 other crop varieties consumed by millions every day, were actually created through mutation breeding, also known as mutagenesis. Plants were exposed to atomic radiation, thousands of genes scrambled in laboratory experiments that took years.

In the last 60 years, mutation breeding has produced a sizeable fraction of the world’s crops. Varieties of wheat, including almost all the most popular varieties used to make top-grade Italian pasta, vegetables, fruit, rice, herbs and cotton have been altered or enhanced with gamma rays, and often separately or additionally soaked in toxic chemicals, in the hopes of producing new desirable, traits. Now these varieties are marketed as conventional and organic foods, and are unlabelled.

The English Trailer for ‘The Little Prince’ Is Here, and It Will Break Your Heart  Watch it here.

From Bon Appetit.  Be a Rebel: Cook Your Vegetables to Death
But last summer I had an experience with a pot of fat green Romano beans that changed the whole game for me. They were cooked to the point of collapse, completely soft and yielding, a process that took (gasp!) two whole hours. Seasoned with nothing more than olive oil, garlic, and salt (plenty of all three), they were insanely delicious: deeply vegetal, rich and satisfying, completely yielding in texture but maintaining definition. They turned my whole vegetable-cooking world upside down. I didn’t miss the crunch. I just wanted more…….With a little care, soft-cooked vegetables can be more satisfying than any raw kale salad could ever dream of being. We developed a formula for long-cooked vegetables so good it had editors’ eyes rolling back in their heads.

The co-founder of Earth Day Ira Einhorn killed then composted his girlfriend.  He jumped bail and evaded authorities for 23 years before he was extradited to the U.S. to be tried for murder.  His defense?  The CIA did it.  The jury didn't buy it and he was found guilty and is now serving his life sentence.

If you haven't seen the video of the giraffes diving into a swimming pool by animator Nicolas Deveaux,  don't wait any longer

 High-Diving Giraffes

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:44 AM | Permalink

April 18, 2015

Miscellany 10

The HBO 'Static Intro' is the Most Powerful Force in the Universe

You know the HBO “Static Intro” as soon as you hear it. There’s the sound of a TV powering on. It’s followed by the appearance of a white line that spreads across the screen, and it fills in the darkness with the static snow of an old black-and-white TV set. The electric snowstorm is joined by a single tone that ascends like a gospel choir singing to the heavens. One that revs your emotions.

More about static. Did you know that the static you hear as you search for a radio station is the sound of "cosmic microwave background radiation", composed of photons of energy that are still cooling 15 billion years after the Big Bang.  Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson won the Nobel prize in physics in 1978 for discovering this.  It's also called the 'afterglow of creation'.

It accounts for 99.9 % of all the particles of light, or photons, in the Universe.Remarkably, only 0.1 per cent is tied up in the light from the stars and nebulae and galaxies. If you were in space with ‘magic glasses’ that showed microwaves, you would see the whole of the Universe glowing brightly with the big bang afterglow just as if you were inside a light bulb.

NASA is planning on using glitter clouds to help make contact with new worlds.  Lasers would align each glitter grain in the same direction, transforming clouds of glitter dust into a reflective surface that would enable high-resolution imaging in space at a very low cost.

40 Inspiring Workspaces Of The Famously Creative
From tiny writing desks to giant painting studios, the only thing all of these creative studios have in common is that they inspired their successful inhabitants to create greatness. 


Man Invents Shoe That Grows 5 Sizes to Help Millions of Poor Children
Kenton Lee invented The Shoe That Grows,  a sandal that comes with snaps in the front, back, and sides. It can expand to 5 shoe sizes. The shoes comes in small and large varieties, so two pairs of shoes can meet a child's footwear needs from the ages of 5 to 15.  The charity that distributes the shoes, Because International, lives out its motto of practical compassion.

An albino dolphin that turns PINK when he's angry or sad: Mammal baffles scientists by blushing when he gets emotional. Its thin skin means it changes color when it's emotional like a human.  The rare albino dolphin lives at the Taiji Whale Museum in southern Japan.

 Pink Dolphin

11 images that capture the incredible vastness of space


Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:20 PM | Permalink

March 30, 2015

Miscellany 9

From London to the U.S. by car New proposed superhighway

 London Us Superhighway

Washington Post. There are more museums in the U.S. than there are Starbucks and McDonalds – combined

Comfort Food - The taste of home, in 10 countries

In Canada, it's poutine, French fries in brown gravy, topped with melted cheese curds.

16 famous brands that started off as products for the military like M&Ms, Ray-bans, Superglue, Silly Putty, Duct tape.

What ‘Justified’ Really Says About Modern Manhood And Westerns.  The FX series 'Justified,' like Westerns themselves, is not about personal morality. It's about the kind of men who civilize barbarism.

Things I can't get my head around
That being nice to women is sexist -  in a way more insidious and treacherous than hostile sexism
That eating three meals a day is racist
That a father became the brother of his own son
That it costs  $30 million to open an existing lane on a bridge
That DEA agents allegedly had 'sex parties' in Columbia with prostitutes hired by drug cartels
That clapping triggers anxiety.  Women's conference says use jazz hands instead
That another once prestigious college is not afraid of looking ridiculous  Wesleyan Now Offering LGBTTQQFAGPBDSM Housing
That an online dating service encourages false representations.  OKCupid Allowing Users to Identify as Five Sexual Orientations at Once

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:09 AM | Permalink

March 21, 2015

Miscellany 8

How to Become Gluten Intolerant  A wise and very funny guide to this year's food fad fascism.

The Top 10 Secrets of Grand Central Terminal
9. Grand Central houses a hidden bar. The Campbell Apartment, in Grand Central, serves as a testament to the grandiosity of another era. If appropriately attired, you can enter the room and sip on cocktails from the fin de siècle in this virtual museum to the opulence of New York’s high society of the past. ….


PBS How not to raise a narcissist    Children whose parents told them they were “special” and “superior” grew more narcissistic over time…..in short, jerks.

Entire Neighborhood Secretly Learns Sign Language To Surprise Deaf Neighbor
Muharrem, a deaf man living in Istanbul, just received a huge surprise when, one morning, everyone he bumped into in his neighborhood responded to him with sign language!
A team of people from Samsung and the Leo Burnett ad agency spent a month setting up cameras and teaching people throughout his neighborhood sign language. On the appointed day, Ozlem went for a walk with her deaf brother, who was stunned to meet so many signing people in a world where those who can communicate in sign are often few and far between.
The ad was designed to raise awareness about Samsung’s new call center for the deaf and hard-of-hearing in Turkey.

In Fortune, How Ikea took over the world
With €3.3 billion ($4.5 billion) in net income, up 31% in the past five years, the chain is more profitable than behemoths Target and Lowe’s. And it has gotten that way by mastering one of the hardest challenges in the retail universe: selling high volumes of inventory at a consistently low price in vastly different marketplaces, languages, and cultures. Ikea is a model for retail regeneration—though, ahem, some assembly is required.....Ikea printed 217 million copies of its most recent annual tome—which the company claims is the biggest run of any publication of its kind in the world
There’s an internal nickname for products that take too long to put together. “Sometimes,” Dickner says, “we call it a ‘husband killer.’ ”

33 Hilariously Vandalized Signs

 Vandalized-Sign Bacon

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:52 PM | Permalink

March 7, 2015

Miscellany 7

Painter Nelson Shanks claims he put reference to Monica Lewinsky's infamous blue dress in Bill Clinton painting that hangs in National Portrait Gallery

00 Years Project: Photographer Captures Portraits Of People From 1 To 100 Years Of Age
Russia is a strange land, and a very big land. Keen Heick-Abildhauge lived there for some time and wanted to show its people to the world. Thus One Hundred Years “The Russian Portrait” project was born. A hundred pictures of Russians aged 1 to 100 tells a shifting story of dreams and images.

 100Years 100Portraits

Phantom of the Orchestra Astonishing story of Mamoru Samuragochi,  a deaf genius, second-generation atomic bomb victim whose music inspired a nation. But the “Japanese Beethoven” wasn’t who he seemed.

4 Lessons from Downton Abbey’s Fifth Season.  "Is this why we like to watch Downton Abbey — it offers old, but seemingly fresh solutions to the patterns of behavior that leave so many people unhappy and alone?…It celebrates our human need for communal life: the comforts of married love, parents’ devotion to their children, and the gift of true  friendship. This is a Catholic vision of community nourished by unconditional love, compassion and mercy."

'We show our birth certificates to prove it': One-in-a-million mixed-race twins reveal they have to prove they are sisters.

 Twins Mixed Race

Nature creates its own bubble wrap ready for popping in the form of air pockets on a frozen lake

Dramatic moment extreme skier uses his parachute to fly OVER an avalanche Ugo Gerola, 23, captured the action on his helmet camera as he was hurtling down a slope on the Aiguille du Midi in the French Alps as he used a parachute to dodge an avalanche that nearly swept him over the edge of a mountain.

30 of the Best Parents in Literature

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:20 PM | Permalink

February 28, 2015

Miscellany 6

What would Ken Burns produce about the 2015 Boston Snow Storms?
 Boston Snow + Sad Fiddle MusicYouTube link

The girl who gets gifts from birds
Lots of people love the birds in their garden, but it's rare for that affection to be reciprocated. Eight-year-old Gabi Mann in Seattle is luckier than most. She feeds the crows in her garden - and they bring her gifts in return.  She sets a bead storage container on the dining room table, and clicks the lid open. This is her most precious collection….
Inside the box are rows of small objects in clear plastic bags. One label reads: "Black table by feeder. 2:30 p.m. 09 Nov 2014." Inside is a broken light bulb. Another bag contains small pieces of brown glass worn smooth by the sea. "Beer colored glass," as Gabi describes it.


Most writers love words. This one loves letters. Review of "Alphabetical: How Every Letter Tells a Story" by Michael Rosen
Michael Rosen knows his ABCs. A poet, novelist and host of the BBC radio show “Word of Mouth,” he has spent a lifetime pondering and deciphering this “cunning code,” as he calls it. In “Alphabetical,” he doesn’t just explore the creation, evolution, pronunciation and uses of each letter throughout the centuries, but digresses into delightful tales of the personalities who shaped the English alphabet into what it has finally become. Though I shouldn’t say “finally.” In Rosen’s telling, letters are born, grow, fight, change or die. Don’t count on these 26 letters being the last word.

“Alphabetical” is organized into 26 chapters (surprise), each devoted to one letter….In “J is for Jokes,” he explains why the alphabet has only 25 letters at Christmastime (“No-el, no-el, no-el, no-e-e-el”). And in “U is for Umlaut,” he destroys my faith in ice cream by explaining that the corporate name Häagen-Dazs “doesn’t mean anything to anyone anywhere in any language.”

Lost Sherlock Holmes Story Discovered in Attic
In 1902, a flood destroyed a wooden bridge in the town of Selkirk, Scotland. Residents tried to raise money to build another one. One proposal was to print and sell a collection of short stories called The Book o’ the Brig. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the author who created the famous detective character Sherlock Holmes, enjoyed visiting the town. So he contributed an original story called “Sherlock Holmes: Discovering the Border Burghs and, by deduction, the Brig Bazaar.”The project was a success and Selkirk got a new bridge. Doyle’s story helped. But it was never published anywhere else. Walter Elliot, a historian, received a copy of The Book o’ the Brig about 50 years ago. He placed it in his attic and forgot about it.  It was only recently that Elliot found the book and Doyle’s story in it. The world now has fresh, original Sherlock Holmes. You can read the entire story here.

Five guys built “Icehenge” on a lake and it is beautiful!


Comparing genomes: Killer whales are more Cow, Walruses more in common with dogs and wolves, Manatees more closely related to elephants.

Medieval Cathedrals Used to Be Full of Brilliant Colors


"For the most part, the portable computer is a dream machine for the few" said the New York Times in 1995
On the whole, people don't want to lug a computer with them to the beach or on a train to while away hours they would rather spend reading the sports or business section of the newspaper. Somehow, the microcomputer industry has assumed that everyone would love to have a keyboard grafted on as an extension of their fingers. It just is not so….But the real future of the laptop computer will remain in the specialized niche markets.  Because no matter how inexpensive the machines become, and no matter how sophisticated their software, I still can't imagine the average user taking one along when going fishing.

Astonishing childhood pictures of celebrities
 George Clooney Today, he's considered a hunk.

Ten Reasons People Still Need Cursive
While some argue cursive writing belongs in the archives and Common Core ushers it out of schools, the evidence shows we need it as much as ever.

School lunches around the world

 Schoollunch Spain

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:49 AM | Permalink

February 20, 2015

Miscellany 5

I live outside Boston and it's really, truly the worst winter ever.  Below are my 2 favorite snow storm photos.

 Boston Snowstorm Fav

When a black German woman discovered her grandfather was the Nazi villain of 'Schindler's List'  An odd series of events led Jennifer Teege to discover that her grandfather was none other than the notorious Nazi Amon Goeth.

Why Footbinding Persisted in China for a Millennium Despite the pain, millions of Chinese women stood firm in their devotion to the tradition

"A small foot in China, no different from a tiny waist in Victorian England, represented the height of female refinement. For families with marriageable daughters, foot size translated into its own form of currency and a means of achieving upward mobility. The most desirable bride possessed a three-inch foot, known as a “golden lotus.” It was respectable to have four-inch feet—a silver lotus—but feet five inches or longer were dismissed as iron lotuses. The marriage prospects for such a girl were dim indeed.
 Footbinding Golden Lotus
"Foot-binding, which started out as a fashionable impulse, became an expression of Han identity after the Mongols invaded China in 1279. The fact that it was only performed by Chinese women turned the practice into a kind of shorthand for ethnic pride. Periodic attempts to ban it, as the Manchus tried in the 17th century, were never about foot-binding itself but what it symbolized. To the Chinese, the practice was daily proof of their cultural superiority to the uncouth barbarians who ruled them. It became, like Confucianism, another point of difference between the Han and the rest of the world. Ironically, although Confucian scholars had originally condemned foot-binding as frivolous, a woman’s adherence to both became conflated as a single act.
"The truth, no matter how unpalatable, is that foot-binding was experienced, perpetuated and administered by women. Though utterly rejected in China now—the last shoe factory making lotus shoes closed in 1999—it survived for a thousand years in part because of women’s emotional investment in the practice."

20 years later, two men united by Sonoma County DUI crash reflect on shared path. A  remarkable story of forgiveness and its ripple effect.

The moment I heard a human voice for the first time, aged 39: How a woman born deaf took the gamble of her life and escaped a world of silence

"Are you ready for me to switch the implants on now?’ she asks. My heart leaps to my throat. This is it. Every hair on my body is standing up, a feeling like electricity is pulsing through me. There’s a tingling inside me, a ringing in my ears, my arms, my legs, like no sensation I’ve ever felt before.  It goes all through my body, this tingle, all the way from my head to my toes, and then is swallowed up into the floor.  Every letter and syllable bounces off the walls, the ceiling, the doors, ringing out around the room, in my ears, and rattling round my brain.

"The audiologist stopped speaking seconds ago, and yet sound lingers in the room, long after her lips have stopped moving.
‘Caaaaan . . . yoooooou . . . heeeeear . . . meeeeeeeeee?’  The first words I’ve ever heard."

The Gorgeous Typeface That Drove Men Mad and Sparked a 100-Year Mystery

"Cobden Sanderson and his partner, Emery Walker, founded the Doves Press in 1900. Walker was a businessman, with plenty of other concerns in the world, but Cobden Sanderson was a creative perfectionist—a man obsessed with authenticity and craft. …….Their type was created in 1899, and the duo would use it to print indescribably beautiful books, bound by hand and designed with the perfect balance of craftsmanship and modern utility. Cobden Sanderson was a bit of a snob in the sense that he only wanted to commit his designs to the finest literature, the "most beautiful words." They printed Paradise Lost. They printed the English Bible. Today, copies of these books are extremely rare, and they command thousands of dollars at auction.

Aeon video Forgotten Things. Going to the movies in January 1940,  The impact of WWII newsreels showing the icy fields of the Maginot Line and Shirley Temple’s smile.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:20 PM | Permalink

February 12, 2015

Miscellany of the week

Lead, Mercury And Death: Beauty’s Historically High Cost

"Life is Short Even on Its Longest Days. Transcript of Bob Dylan's MusiCares Person of Year Award

I'm glad for my songs to be honored like this. But you know, they didn't get here by themselves. It's been a long road and it's taken a lot of doing. These songs of mine, they're like mystery stories, the kind that Shakespeare saw when he was growing up. I think you could trace what I do back that far. They were on the fringes then, and I think they're on the fringes now. And they sound like they've been on the hard ground.

The Photographers Behind Their Most Well-Known Images

The 600 year old butt song from Hell - Listen at the link

Luke and I were looking at Hieronymus Bosch’s painting The Garden of Earthly Delights and discovered, much to our amusement, music written upon the posterior of one of the many tortured denizens of the rightmost panel of the painting which is intended to represent Hell. I decided to transcribe it into modern notation, assuming the second line of the staff is C, as is common for chants of this era.

 Bosch Butt Song

Found in a Swiss bank vault, the £90million long-lost Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece that vanished TWICE

 Da Vinci Portrait Isabella D"Este

A long-lost Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece thought to be worth £90million and discovered in a bank vault is finally being returned to Italy.  The painting of Renaissance socialite Isabella d’Este, attributed by experts to da Vinci, was seized by police after being found in a bank vault in Switzerland in 2013.  Investigators said the piece had been exported illegally and was in danger of being sold on to an investment fund in the UK.

The portrait, which had been missing for centuries, was uncovered among 400 pieces of art stored in the vault. But in a further twist, when art police ruled the painting had been exported illegally and went to the vault to seize it, they found it had gone missing again.
Incredibly, it surfaced for a second time last year during a car insurance fraud, when Italian police discovered a lawyer was trying to negotiate its sale for £90million.

Prosecutor Manfredi Palumbo said: ‘As part of a separate insurance fraud investigation came to know that an Italian lawyer in Pessaro had been made the agent to tell a painting attributed to da Vinci for no less than 95 million euros (£70m).
‘Just before we seized it we discovered that the lawyer was in negotiations to sell the painting to a UK fund for 120 million euros (£90m).’

Daniel Silva writes an convincing and exciting thriller, The Heist,  about the world of international art theft

Legendary spy and art restorer Gabriel Allon….embarks on a daring gambit to recover a stolen Caravaggio and learn the identity of the collector. His search will take him on an exhilarating hunt—from the shimmering boulevards of Paris and London to the gritty criminal underworlds of Marseilles and Corsica, and finally to a small private bank in Austria where a dangerous man stands guard over the ill-gotten wealth of a brutal dictator.  At his side is a brave young woman who survived one of the worst massacres of the twentieth century. Now, with Gabriel's help, she will be given a chance to strike a blow against a dynasty that destroyed her family.

How To Pronounce The Names of 24 Famous Places You‘ve Mispronounced Your Entire Life


In Wired, This Incredible Hospital Robot Is Saving Lives. Also, I Hate It by Matt Simon

Eating the Enemy. In Massachusetts, green crabs are an invasive species that is feasting on clams.
" I’ve been stepping on these pesky buggers at the beach for years,” says Legal Sea Foods executive chef Rich Vellante. “Who knew what a pure, clean, sweet crab stock they produce?”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:22 PM | Permalink

February 7, 2015

Miscellany 4

Lars Anderson takes Archery to a whole new level.  What he can do is absolutely amazing

Bill Whittle in Number One with a Bullet.  A devastatingly effective video that shows while the U.S. is number one in gun ownership per capita, it is one of the safest places to be in the world.

Neil Bromhall films a Mesmerizing Time-Lapse Video of an Acorn Growing into an Oak Seedling Over the Course of Eight Months

The Amazing Video that takes you INSIDE the Largest Photograph Ever Taken is awesome and mind-blowing.

 Nasa Andromeda

Earlier this month, NASA and ESA released the biggest and highest resolution image of our galactic neighbor, Andromeda, that has ever been taken. The 1.5 billion pixel image was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. Each tiny dot of light in the picture represents one of 1 trillion stars in the galaxy; many with their own expansive planetary systems.

As you watch this video and contemplate Andromeda’s mind-boggling size, remember that this is just a drop in the bucket compared to the rest of the universe. As large as this galaxy is, it is only one out of 200 billion galaxies in the known universe

Source of Van Gogh's Starry Night
 Vangogh Parsons

Van Gogh likely based his famed Starry Night on this scientific illustration of the Whirlpool Galaxy by one William Parsons that appeared in a 19th century popular astronomy tome, according to Michael Benson's new book Cosmigraphics, a history of our efforts to illustrate the universe.

Why Cary Grant's suit in North by Northwest  is iconic and still looks so good

12 Enjoyable Names for Relatively Common Things

4. The string of typographical symbols comic strips use to indicate profanity ("$%@!") is called a grawlix.
7. What do you call a group of rattlesnakes? A rhumba.
8. To waste time by being lazy is to dringle.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:46 PM | Permalink

January 17, 2015

Miscellany 3

In Aeon, How Stories Change Hearts and Minds

One man talked about his identification with Santiago, the beleaguered fisherman in Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. The man said he sometimes felt an inner pull to go back to his drug habit, but that Santiago’s will to persevere motivated him to stay a sober course. ‘The fictional character was alive for the student at that crucial moment, an inspiration, a stranger become a friend,’ Waxler writes. ‘It was not an exaggeration to say that a story had caught this student’s attention and perhaps saved his life that day.’ In a study of 600 participants, rates of criminal activity declined by 60 per cent compared to only 16 per cent in a control group.

Something Amazing: Gravity Glue

Vinepair's United States of Alcohol

 United-States-Of-Alcohol-Map click for full size

You won'f forget the Royal Dutch Guide Dog Foundation commercial for veteran dogs.

The Beautiful Math Inside All Living Things from RealClearScience

For most evolved life, efficiency is everything. It is in pursuit of this perfection that some of nature's most astounding patterns have arisen. Ever count the petals of a flower or the spirals of a pinecone? Each will always be a number from the Fibonacci Sequence, in which the previous two numbers add up to the next: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, etc……At first, this is mind-boggling. Why would Nature do this? But as YouTube educator Vi Hart pointed out, the reason is beautifully simple. Plants want to maximize the amount of sunlight they receive, so logically, each petal should never completely block another out. "This design provides the best physical accommodation for the number of branches, while maximizing sun exposure," the University of Georgia's Nikhat Parveen described.

The Victorian Fight Against Filth Mud was ubiquitous on London’s streets during Victoria’s reign. It was mostly horse dung, plus particles of iron and cobblestone…..Lady F.W. Harberton ( Florence Wallace Pomeroy, wife of Viscount Harberton), who campaigned for sensible female attire, claimed to describe the flotsam caught up in a trailing skirt during a walk through Piccadilly—including a piece of pork pie, orange peel, cigar ends, toothpicks and part of a boot.

The murder that has obsessed Italy On 26 November 2010, Yara Gambirasio, 13, went missing. Three months later her body was discovered in scrubland nearby. So began one of the most complex murder investigations in Italian history, which will reach its climax later this year.

Much of the investigation focused on DNA evidence from Ignito 1 (unknown 1)
If Ignoto 1 really was the son of the late Giuseppe Guerinoni, the only explanation was that, somewhere out there, was his illegitimate child. “It became,” Ruggeri says, “an investigation within an investigation.” She was now hunting a woman, presumably in middle- to old-age, who 30 or 40 years ago had had an affair with a married man, now long dead, and given birth to a boy who went on to murder Yara Gambirasio.
Long-forgotten infidelities and old suspicions surfaced. Bonicelli laughs as he describes how his journalists discovered five illegitimate children in two small villages: “Five! We could have started a gossip magazine. It was like an open sewer: we were receiving anonymous letters, stories, people telling us about backgrounds and cuckolds.” A society which had always prided itself on its sense of loyalty and traditional Catholicism, suddenly discovered the betrayals in its midst. “Perhaps the point is this,” Bonicelli wrote in an editorial, “we don’t know each other any more.”

The Overprotected Kid A preoccupation with safety has stripped childhood of independence, risk taking, and discovery—without making it safer. A new kind of playground points to a better solution.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:15 AM | Permalink

December 30, 2014

Miscellany I forgot to post last week

Excited shelter dogs on their way to a new home   and more here:  They can practically smell the freedom

 Excited  Shelter Dogs-1

Is this REALLY an early Mona Lisa? Painting claimed to be by a younger Da Vinci - and showing younger version of the same woman - goes on show in Singapore, its first public display in 400 years.
 2 Monalisas

A group of historians claim Leonardo da Vinci painted the work, dubbed the 'Early Mona Lisa', more than a decade before his masterpiece portrait and depicted the same Italian merchant's wife.

It was unearthed before the First World War but lay hidden in a Swiss bank vault for 40 years, while a consortium carried out secret tests before unveiling it in 2012 - though many experts still insist it was one of a litany of inferior copies…..It has earned the seal of approval, at least partially, from modern experts including Renaissance historian Giorgio Vasari, art historian John Eyre, research physicist Professor John Asmus and Professor Alessandro Vezzosi, one of the most influential living experts on Da Vinci.


'It's like goosebumps on your brain': Maryland Maria draws YouTube audience of millions for her whispered voice which induces mysterious physical sensations. Millions listen to her hushed whispers on videos that can instill tranquility and even overcome insomnia.Scientists say the videos induce a physical sensation known as autonomous sensory meridian response which feels good.  Maria made her first ASMR video in February 2011

The mystery of the magical 'Ulfberht' Viking sword. Made by  German 'supermonks' believed to have forged the superstrong weapons of metal so pure  so pure it baffled archaeologists, who thought the technology to forge such metal was not invented for another 800 or more years, during the Industrial Revolution All of the mysterious weapons are inscribed with a single word - 'Ulfberht'.
Thomas Woods in Chapter 3 of his 2005 book, How the Catholic Church Built Civilization, focuses on the immense contributions of the monks who

taught metallurgy, introduced new crops, copied ancient texts, preserved literacy, pioneered in technology, invented champagne, improved the European landscape, provided for wanderers of every stripe, and looked after the lost and shipwrecked.

In particular,

The Cistercians were also known for their skill in metallurgy. “In their rapid expansion throughout Europe,” writes Jean Gimpel….Every monastery had a model factory, often as large as the church and only several feet away, and waterpower drove the machinery of the various indus- tries located on its floor.”  At times iron ore deposits were donated to the monks, nearly always along with the forges used to extract the iron, and at other times they purchased the deposits and forges. Although they needed iron for their own use, Cistercian monasteries would come in time to offer their surplus for sale; in fact, from the mid-thirteenth through the seventeenth century, the Cistercians were the leading iron producers in the Champagne region of France.

"Oh my God, it's Mom" A great C-Span moment.  Two brothers on CSpan with differing poitiical views face off.  Next caller.  who doesn't want them arguing when they visit her for Christmas.
Why the Colosseum hasn't collapsed: Roman concrete used 'secret' ingredient to stand the test of time - and now engineers want to copy it
According to an x-ray analysis of concrete, the mortars used to bind the concrete were made up of 85% volcanic ash which formed a crystalline structure that prevented cracks.  The process of production was also far more environmentally-friendly

Mysterious Boston woman is top Amazon reviewer  She is 5-foot-2, drives a Honda CR-V, and has very detailed opinions on printer cartridges, tax preparation software, and five flavors of Burt’s Bees lip balm.

Drunk birds sober up in Environment Yukon holding tank  Bohemian waxwings get tipsy on fermented berries

How a Massachusetts man invented the global ice market  An entrepreneur’s 1806 scheme to sell chunks of frozen New England ponds still shapes how we live

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:23 PM | Permalink

Miscellany 2

The Benefits of Being Cold by James Hamblin in The Atlantic
Year-round warmth is a modern luxury, and one that could be affecting body weight and health.

Money to Burn. Fed Scores in Bid to Keep Cash From Trash

The Fed destroys more than 5,000 tons of U.S. currency a year—billions of dollars in torn, dirty or worn-out bills that are withdrawn from circulation and shredded…It’s now succeeding in bringing the dollar out of the dump, recycling more than 90% of its discarded bills. Power plants burn them for fuel. Compost piles turn them into fertilizer. Some of them even end up in manufactured goods.

The Everything Book.  Reading in the Age of Amazon    "solid-state devices filled with culture"

Inside the Kindle lab ..From the start, Amazon has defined its hardware mission narrowly: to build devices that disappear in the hand, with uniquely useful features, for a low price. "We would never make a gold thing, because that’s too distracting," Green says. "There are many companies that create pieces of jewelry. We’re not going to do that, because that's an added cost that takes away from the actual content."
Great writing ought to get into people’s brains," Katz says. "And how it gets there shouldn’t be a matter of religiosity."

How to Sit in a Victorian Bustle YouTube

Photographer Beth Moon Spends 14 Years Of Her Life Documenting World’s Oldest Trees


San Francisco Schools Transformed by the Power of Meditation.  School day extended by 30 minutes for 2 periods of meditation resulted in better academic performance and a 75 percent decrease in suspensions.  Important life skill learned.  So when will it, like silent periods for prayer,  be banned?

Government bans sprinkles on ice cream.   Next on the list, Christmas lights

Ship of Light in Amsterdam, A 3D Ship Projected onto Curtains of Water
 3D Light Ship P

Photo © Janus van den Eijnden

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:10 PM | Permalink

December 5, 2014

Weekend Miscellany 6

The Detectives’ Lunch Club

Word soon got out and detectives from all over the country flooded the office with requests. Before long, the Vidocq Society upped its meeting schedule from four times a year to nine. Today, the 82 chartered members hail from all areas of the crime-solving trade. There are DNA specialists, experts on cults, psychoanalysts, Naval Intelligence men, polygraphers, and long-retired FBI special agents. They convene every month, except July, August, and December—even veteran sleuths need a vacation—in the upper reaches of the Union League, a stately old building in the heart of Philadelphia. And at each meeting, over a lavish multi-course meal, they hear the details of a single unsolved case.

From DeMilked, 23 Breathtaking Ice and Snow Formations  like these Baikal Ice Emeralds

 Baikal Ice Emerald

An amazing video if you want to know  What Sound Looks Like

An Hungarian art historian was watching a Christmas movie with his daughter when what did he see but a long lost Hungarian masterpiece in the background in a scene of the movie Stuart Little.   Researcher spots Sleeping Lady with Black Vase by Robert Bereny being used as a prop in Hollywood children’s movie

 Stuart Little  Still

Pantone's Color of the Year 2015 - Marsala


The Motions Of Kayaking, Canoeing, And Swimming Captured With LED Lights And Long Exposure


7 Minutes on Queen Victoria

Photographer Elena Sumilova captures the bonds between children and their pets

 Children+Pets Elena Shumilova

Artist Sacha Goldberg delights with Portraits of Superheroes in Flemish Style

 Spiderman In Flemish Style

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:46 PM | Permalink

November 21, 2014

Weekend Miscellany 5

The Modern Supermarket is a Miracle  [M}ost Americans are but a handful of generations removed from subsistence farming. Our forebears watered the crops they planted in tiny plots of land with their own sweat; we stand in air-conditioned bazaars and pick from an endless array of produce—pears from Chile, and chilies from Mexico, and kiwis lovingly cultivated by actual Kiwis—and then complain about the Muzak.

Best video of the week.  On YouTube.  Hilarious Golden Retriever Really Wants To Race But.. First Things First.

Deer found with incredible single antler, a real life unicorn  This roe deer, shot in Slovenia at an advanced age, had a rare antler deformity that caused its two antlers to fuse together in a single, unicorn-like protrusion central bone that was  probably caused by an injury when its antlers first started growing.

 Unicorndeer Skelton

In Quartz We may be close to a world of limitless power from artificial leaves  Formed in 2010, JCAP is a $122 million federally funded initiative based at the California Institute of Technology. Its assignment was to develop a viable artificial photosynthesis device by 2015. The prototype had to be durable, be made from commonly available materials and convert sunlight to fuel at an efficiency of 10%….“Four years ago you would have said this would not be possible,”

Facts That Make You Smile
• Every year, hundreds of new trees are planted because squirrels forget where they bury their nuts.
• Cows get stressed when separated from their best friends.
• Otters hold hands when they sleep so they won't drift away from the group.
• This smiley animal, the size of cat, lives in Australia and is called a quokka.

Beautiful, Terrible Watercolors of a 19th-Century Whale Hunt, Found in a Ship's Logbook.  These watercolors, painted into the pages of the logbook of the ship Hector during a voyage it took between 1842-1845, were made by a seaman named James Moore Ritchie.

Charles Cooke takes a trip to the Canadian oil sands, a "wonder of the world" and reports Whence Keystone Comes  It's utterly fascinating.

Republished, a 1984 article: A Spreadsheet Way of Knowledge  A generation ago, a tool unleashed the power of business modeling — and created the entrepreneurial boom that has transformed our economy. 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:28 AM | Permalink

November 15, 2014

Weekend Miscellany 4: Tattooed monk, comets, crickets, angels, tuna, wolves and murder for lobster

The tattoo artist who became a Benedictine monk .  Brother Andre Love is now curator of Mount Angel Abbey's art collection.

Six years ago, Mount Angel Abbey's serene hilltop campus shook, as leather-clad Bobby Love rolled in on his motorcycle. Love removed his helmet revealing pierced ears and a mop of dreadlocks. With tattoos on his hands, arms and neck, he looked like an extra on "Sons of Anarchy" not a someone attending a retreat for those who might become Catholic monks…….

Above the neckline of his black hood, his neck tattoos remain. His hands are marked with a spiderweb, women's faces, an alpha and omega, and "HOLD FAST" on his knuckles. A red heart marks his palm. His name is Love after all…….

Looking back at his story, Love sees that his uncompromising passion for art led him into spiritual desolation, but ultimately, it led him to drive his motorcycle to a discernment retreat at Mount Angel Abbey. His one word explanation for how this happened is "God."

Broken sleep  People once woke up halfway through the night to think, write or make love. What have we lost by sleeping straight through?

Modern, electrical illumination revolutionized the night and, in turn, sleep. Prior to Edison, says the Virginia Tech historian A Roger Ekirch, author of At Day’s Close: Night in Times Past (2005), sleep had been divided into two distinct segments, separated by a period of night-waking that lasted between one and several hours. The pattern was called segmented sleep.

How to Make a Schadenfreude Pie  Dark. Rich. And oh so bittersweet.

National Geographic uses tintypes to illustrate Children of Civil War Veterans Still Walk Among Us, 150 Years After the War  The still living sons and daughters of the blue and gray

 Tintypes Children Of Civilwar

Astonishing.  The "tropic cascade" in Yellowstone National Park when, after an absence of 70 years, wolves were  re-introduced into the park.  They brought back all sorts of new life and even changed rivers.  How Wolves Change Rivers

Listen to This: Comet's Eerie 'Song' Captured by Rosetta Spacecraft.  Strange, echoed clopping sound produced by "oscillations in the magnetic field in the comet's environment,"

In the Wall Street Journal Taming the Wild Tuna  Farming tuna has never been successful until now. 

With a decades long global consumption boom depleting natural fish populations of all kinds, demand is increasingly being met by farm-grown seafood. In 2012, farmed fish accounted for a record 42.2% of global output, compared with 13.4% in 1990 and 25.7% in 2000. A full 56% of global shrimp consumption now comes from farms, mostly in Southeast Asia and China. Oysters are started in hatcheries and then seeded in ocean beds. Atlantic salmon farming, which only started in earnest in the mid-1980s, now accounts for 99% of world-wide production—so much so that it has drawn criticism for polluting local water systems and spreading diseases to wild fish.

Until recently, the Pacific bluefin tuna defied this sort of domestication. The bluefin can weigh as much as 900 pounds and barrels through the seas at up to 30 miles an hour. Over a month, it may roam thousands of miles of the Pacific. The massive creature is also moody, easily disturbed by light, noise or subtle changes in the water temperature. It hurtles through the water in a straight line, making it prone to fatal collisions in captivity.

A case of 'murder for lobster'  The bizarre fishermen's feud that has allegedly left one man dead and three arrested

Toshiba’s high-tech grow rooms are churning out lettuce that never needs washing
Why plant lettuce in a clean room? The obvious answer: Because it’s clean. Everything is tightly controlled, including air pressure, temperature, lighting, bacteria, and dust. The result is a crop that doesn’t need pesticides, doesn’t have bugs, and doesn’t need washing.

LISTEN: Man records crickets, discovers angels and humans singing to God

Composer Jim Wilson has recorded the sound of crickets and then slowed down the recording, revealing something so amazing. The crickets sound like they are singing the most angelic chorus in perfect harmony. Though it sounds like human voices, everything you hear in the recording is the crickets themselves.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:35 PM | Permalink

November 1, 2014

Weekend Miscellany 3

Genocidal Napoleon was as barbaric as Hitler, historian claims

The Number That Explains Hong Kong’s Upheaval by David Feith
Off-color and packed with meaning, ‘689’ is a guide to the city’s present and future.

How an Oil Engineer Developed Autotune

Amazing Timelapse: Braces Straightening Teeth

10 Japanese Travel Tips for Visiting America

The Chemistry of the Colors of Blood.  There are four, red, blue, green and purple

Where trophy deer are bred to grow hyperreal racks.  Antler Farm 

“It’s not healthy for some of these deer to be carrying rocking chairs on top of their head,….experienced hunters say it’s easy to see that some of these deer have trouble keeping their heads up, with all the weight they’re carrying.

Wonderful Photographs from Mexico's Day of the Dead in Atlas Obscura

In Mexico, Day of Dead is more of a spiritual and religious festival,…the focus is on the altars and the millions, if not billions, of marigolds used to decorate them. The scent of the flowers is said to lure back the dead to visit Earth for this annual reunion with the living.

 Mexico Dayofdead
Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:31 PM | Permalink

October 11, 2014

Weekend Miscellany 2

The Secret Pot-Growing Operations in America's Cornfields

Once a corn field is planted and herbicide applied, many farmers don’t return to a given field until harvest time. The biotechnological and labor-saving innovations that have reduced costs for corn farmers mean that literally no one walks into the average corn field during the growing season. Which presents a major opportunity for marijuana growers.
Piggybacking on the incredible technological investments required to create so much corn, marijuana growers reap orders of magnitude more revenue per acre. This fact is not lost on individual farmers, but is virtually undetectable in national conversations about the profits and pitfalls of industrial corn agriculture.

"I love John the Baptist’s definition of the word politics – “poly means many, tics are bloodsucking parasites.” from Tim Walker's 5 star review of The Man Jesus by Simon Callow now on the London stage. "Funny, knowing and profoundly sad".

Michael J Totten on The Walking Dead in an Age of Anxiety

The Walking Dead is a morality tale that disdains easy answers. How does a civilized person behave in a world where civilization has collapsed? Decency is still possible, the show instructs us, but ruthlessness is needed as well. “It’s ugly,” Carol says when explaining this to a child, “and it’s scary and it does change you, but that’s how we get to be here.”
The fascination with the zombie apocalypse, I believe, is a cultural reflection of the new age of anxiety that opened on 9/11, with its fear of social collapse. As Penn State professor Peter Dendle puts it, the zombie is a “barometer of social anxiety”—and we’re plenty anxious.
A zombie invasion is simply a metaphor for any situation in which the government cannot protect its citizens.”

The Gaelic Stars of YouTube Irish-language covers of popular English songs.  All by students of Coláiste Lurgan, an Irish-Gaelic-immersion summer school, with a musical, energetic, social approach to learning Irish, an endangered language, but now a mandatory part of a school's curriculum.

What a beautiful language Irish is. Here Stiofán Ó Fearail  sings "Wake Me Up"

Have you ever seen students so engaged or having so much fun learning language?

Google Chairman, Eric Schmidt, "We're Going to End Up Breaking the Internet" unless governments reform their surveillance practices.

NPR: Firestone Did What Governments Have Not: Stopped Ebola In Its Tracks

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:30 AM | Permalink

October 4, 2014

Weekend Miscellany 1

From the Art of Manliness, How to Gird Up Your Loins, an illustrated guide.

Deep Into Green by Michael Gorra, a review of Green: The History of a Color by Michel Pastoureau in the New York Review of Books

 Van Eyck Wedding Green
Jan Van Eyck: The Arnolfini Wedding, circa 1435

Trained as a medievalist, Pastoureau argues that the history of color is an “altogether more vast” subject than the history of painting, and this book’s concerns range from Latin etymologies to the green neon crosses that hang outside modern French pharmacies.
Pastoureau writes many pages further on, that trash cans are often green, a bit of sympathetic magic against decay, for “green cleans, green refreshes, green purifies.” It means health, and it did so long before it became the name of a political party, “no longer so much a color as an ideology.” Yet growth implies change, change betokens instability, and green is in fact “an uncertain color,” ambiguous and at times even forked in its significance.

Those pharmacy signs suggest illness as much as health, and green has often functioned as the color of poison and disease; think of the pustular figures on the Isenheim Altarpiece, and even of that work’s dead Christ. We speak of certain greens as sickly in a way that has no parallel in talking of blue or red or black, and for that there might be a reason in the very chemistry of the color itself.

In the Renaissance the color’s chemical instability made it seem “false” and even treacherous, a “deceptive color, simultaneously appealing and disappointing.” As such, it became associated with games of chance or hazard; think of the green baize with which tables for cards or craps or pool are covered even now. The color here carries a symbolic charge that is inseparable from its use—gambling means green. It connotes luck, the ups and downs of a player’s fortunes, and it also suggests avarice.

The death of the first star in the Universe: Incredible image could shed new light on how solar systems formed

Researchers say the death throes of these early stars were unique as they exploded as supernovae and burned completely, leaving no black hole behind, but instead spewing out chemical elements into space that eventually formed our Universe.


Two Blind Sisters See for the First Time  YouTube link

Sonia and Anita, two sisters living in India, have been blind since birth, but a simple eye operation makes it possible for them to see their mom for the first time. The nonprofit organization 20/20/20 provides free operations to these sisters--as well as thousands of other people in developing countries. These procedures empower people in impoverished communities to create better futures. In this short film, Blue Chalk Media shares the sisters’ poignant story and captures their initial experiences after the bandages come off.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:15 AM | Permalink

September 28, 2014

Weekend Miscellany

O Magnum Mysterium:" The Persistence of Sacred Beauty

After many years of ignorant acceptance of one gruesome and ugly step downward in art after another that I witnessed when I wandered around in New York's overheated and overhyped art scene, I came to the reluctant conclusion that most contemporary art was garbage, that it had no soul, and that deep down… it was shallow….

For at the core of all the objects that form the mountain of crap that is palmed off as "art," there is simply and plainly, nothing at all. Nothing felt, nothing sensed, nothing learned, and nothing believed in. As such it is without soul. And nothing that lacks soul can survive death, especially the death of a culture and our present state …

Which is why it is so reviving to come across Lauridsen's citing of the magic and mystery of a painting that inspires music from his soul across more than three and a half centuries. It reminds us that art that is true, that art that comes from belief and the soul, will survive and will continue to expand the soul of man despite all the forces that may array themselves against "the good, the beautiful and whether or not something is true."
In discussing the origin of his chorale composition, "O Magnum Mysterium," in the early 1990s, Lauridsen cites as his primary inspiration a painting done in 1633, more than three and a half centuries before The painting is Francisco de Zurbarán's "Still Life With Lemons, Oranges and a Rose."

 Francisco De Zurbarán - Still-Life With Lemons, Oranges And Rose - Wga26062

Listen to the beauty of Lauridsen's "O Magnum Mysterium," here.

Art of Manliness Love Is All You Need: Insights from the Longest Longitudinal Study on Men Ever Conducted

In Reason, David Harsanyi contemplates  The Countercultural Appeal of 19 Kids and Counting

Considering what we see on TV, it's basically transgressive. A place where homeschooling is treated as a reasonable way to educate your children, where kids talk about "honoring" their parents rather than demanding things from them, and where older kids start successful small businesses without a traditional college education.
19 Kids and Counting is basically the most earnest show I've ever watched. And while almost any mainstream show I grew up watching saw social conservatives through a political prism—irrational and hopeless—the Duggars' charitable spirit allows people to see the manifestation of religious ideals in real-time. Or so this apostate imagines. In any event, it's almost impossible to not be charmed.
By any measure, their lives should rub my secular sensibilities the wrong way, and the austerity of their beliefs are still somewhat off-putting. But whether you believe the family's lifestyle is optimal or not—and I don't—you can learn from them. What will most impress any parent is the boundless patience Jim Bob and Michelle have towards their many children. They handle situations with calmness and purpose, focusing on preparing capable adults, but also good people. Which all sounds terribly boring, but it's not. I never imagined that I would ever find myself asking the question "What would Jim Bob do?" … But, well, there it is.

Now, I certainly don't want to be a Duggar, but I have to confess that I want to be more like a Duggar than I am right now. Or maybe I just need a break from all the cynicism. So what?

Why Germans pay cash for almost everything

But the real point isn’t that Germans love cash. It’s that—for the same historical reasons—they loathe debt. (Armchair anthropologists have also long noted that German word for debt—Schulden—comes from the word for guilt, Schuld.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:34 PM | Permalink

July 20, 2014


It's a French advertisement and the most charming video of the week.

I always wondered how so many articles got written.  This Robot Has Written More Wikipedia Articles Than Anyone Alive

You might think writing 10,000 articles per day would be impossible. But not for a Swede named Sverker Johansson. He created a computer program that has written a total of 2.7 million articles, making Johansson the most prolific author, by far, on the "internet's encyclopedia." His contributions account for 8.5 percent of the articles on Wikipedia, the Wall Street Journal reports.

A Dollar Saved in Your 20s is Equal to Ten Dollars Saved in Your 50s

Restaurant Watches Old Surveillance And Shares Shocking Results On Craigslist

We are a popular restaurant for both locals and tourists alike. Having been in business for many years, we noticed that although the number of customers we serve on a daily basis is almost the same today as it was 10 years ago, the service just seems super slow even though we added more staff and cut back on the menu items.

Fantasy and the Buffered Self
  in The New Atlantis

"Might it not be possible to experience the benefits, while avoiding the costs, of both the porous and the buffered self? I want to argue here that it is precisely this desire that accounts for the rise to cultural prominence, in late modernity, of the artistic genre of fantasy. Fantasy — in books, films, television shows, and indeed in all imaginable media — is an instrument by which the late modern self strives to avail itself of the unpredictable excitements of the porous self while retaining its protective buffers. Fantasy, in most of its recent forms, may best be understood as a technologically enabled, and therefore safe, simulacrum of the pre-modern porous self, "  Charles Taylor
the achievement of a safely buffered personhood — closed off from both the divine and the demonic — is soon enough accompanied by a deeply felt change in the very cosmos. As C. S. Lewis notes in The Discarded Image (1964), the medieval person who found himself “looking up at a world lighted, warmed, and resonant with music” gives way to the modern person who perceives only emptiness and silence.
Might it not be possible to experience the benefits, while avoiding the costs, of both the porous and the buffered self? I want to argue here that it is precisely this desire that accounts for the rise to cultural prominence, in late modernity, of the artistic genre of fantasy. Fantasy — in books, films, television shows, and indeed in all imaginable media — is an instrument by which the late modern self strives to avail itself of the unpredictable excitements of the porous self while retaining its protective buffers.

The Truth About Shaving Cream  "Shaving cream is a racket"

10 Items You Should Always Buy Generic

In National Geographic:  Who Were the Ancient Bog Mummies? Surprising New Clues

 Tollund Man

Tollund Man, who was hanged with a leather cord and cast into a Danish bog, is housed at Denmark's Silkeborg Museum.  Radiocarbon dating of Tollund Man indicated that he died in approximately 375-210 BCE

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:59 AM | Permalink

July 7, 2014

A Miscellany of Links

Pakistan Has More Than Two Million Slaves

There are an estimated 30 million slaves in the world today, more than at any other time in history. In case you missed it, earlier this month Real Clear World ran a profile of what slave labor looks like in Pakistan today. There are 1.8 million “debt laborers” in the country, and 2.2 million slaves over all (only India and China have more). The debt laborers are kept under the thumb of landlords who sell them back and forth and cook up ways of keeping them in bondage:…."The actual thing that is keeping people in bondage is the manipulation of the records. The “hari” is illiterate and uneducated and doesn’t know how to keep the records.

The Jihadi Menace Gets Real Walter Russell Mead

ISIS is bigger, badder, richer, and better organized than any jihadi threat the United States has faced thus far. Its rise represents a foreign policy disaster of the first order.

VDH:  The Federal Octopus - Federal agencies now exist not for the public good but for their employees’ benefit and Obama’s agenda.

The Dark Knight of the Soul  For some, meditation has become more curse than cure. Willoughby Britton wants to know why.

Diplomad  Collapse Part 1

The concepts of human rights, democracy, liberty, and free enterprise; the great scientific, engineering, and medical inventions and discoveries; the great explorations of the globe; the magnificent literature and art; these are overwhelmingly the products of white males--many of them Jewish, most of them Christian. In the past few decades we have seen a backlash against that, a movement that instead of calling on all to emulate these white male achievements, calls upon these achievements to be ridiculed, denigrated, and destroyed. That is the core of the issue in America and in Europe and around the world. The haters, the race-obsessed thugs are now in charge.

We see the results of this at home with the opening of our borders to a hostile invasion and most notably abroad as our power and influence are undermined from Washington DC.

Cloward-Piven Everywhere  And barely time to think.

Most People Think Alzheimer's Is a Normal Part of Aging  It's important not to think of the disease that way.

A complete list of things caused by global warming at the warmlist

A complete list of all the things that are considered racism Everything is racism

Educating America

Making the Case for a Course on American Masterpieces

How The Trans-Agenda Seeks To Redefine Everyone
The transgender movement has strong totalitarian overtones that Americans don’t fully understand.

See the Parthenon in color, the way the ancient Greeks did.      Panels from the Parthenon temple, which were once daubed in bright hues, have been ‘restored’ to their original condition via the use of 3D digital images.

 Parthenon In Color

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:55 PM | Permalink

June 19, 2014


Vintage postcards of New York City from the Boston Public Library.

 Vintage New-York-Postcard

One of my very favorite writers Bill Bryson is absolutely right when he says the great failure in education is a lack of excitement

Throughout the talk, Bryson demonstrated, through personal experience, how excitement in a subject can propel continued learning, and how embracing curiosity – a trait that he argues is “undervalued” – can stimulate this initial excitement…..

So how do you keep that curiosity alive in children; an apt question put to Bryson by one teacher in the Q&A session at the end of the lecture, which Bryson – boldly, in my opinion – agreed to take part in.
“I suppose the main thing,” he laughs, “is to do your very best to be interesting. But also to remind kids – as I was trying to do with my talk – that even the most obvious things, if you stop and think about them, are amazing."

He practices what he preaches.  I've read many of his books and have been captivated by how interesting he makes everything.  A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail:  A classic and laugh-out-loud funny.  In a Sunburned Country:  "Every time Bill Bryson walks out the door, memorable travel literature threatens to break out"  His guide to Australia is a "deliciously funny, fact-filled, and adventurous performance by a writer who combines humor, wonder, and unflagging curiosity."    A Short History of Nearly Everything : "Sometimes profound, sometimes funny, and always supremely clear and entertaining adventure in the realms of human knowledge, as only Bill Bryson can render it. Science has never been more involving or entertaining."    At Home: A Short History of Private Life: "Bryson has one of the liveliest, most inquisitive minds on the planet, and his sheer prose fluency makes At Home one of the most entertaining books ever written about private life"

22 Masterful Body Paintings That Disguise Humans As Animals

 Humans Disquised As Animals

James Henry writes Big Bills: How Western central bankers and Treasury Secretaries cater to illicit drug syndicates, money-launderers, racketeers, and kleptocrats.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:30 PM | Permalink

June 18, 2014

Miscellany of links

Why I am very wary of the Internet of Things  The Nightmare on Connected Home Street  in Wired.

If you don't get Why Benghazi Matters, Bill Whittle explains in 10 minutes.

At Demilked 17 Flowers Masterfully Disguised As Something Else


Meet the 11-year-old inventor of the 'unbreakable cup'

When Parkinson's caused her grandfather to spill his drinks, Lily Born decided to do something about it. So she came up with the revolutionary 3-legged Kangaroo Cup and raised money via Kickstarter.
 Kangaroo Cup Proto

Flight of the tiny robo-fly: World's smallest drone weighs less than a gram and navigates using light-sensitive 'eyes'

 RoboflyThe Robo-fly has a carbon fibre body weighing 106mg - a fraction of a gram; Its pair of flapping wings is powered by electronic ‘muscles’ and it balances thanks to a pyramid shaped light sensor on top of its ‘head .  The drone is powered and controlled through a lightweight tether wire and can perform the agile maneuvres of the ubiquitous insects. The robofly could be used in search and rescue operations, to squeeze through collapsed rubble, monitor environmental conditions, and pollinate crops

Now they tell us Don't wash raw chicken, health experts warn

Washing chicken can spread a type of bacteria around the kitchen through the splashing of water droplets which causes food poisoning

A better way to cut cake revealed by London mathematician who explains it all in a YouTube video

The method involves cutting parallel lines rather than wedges.  This allows the cake to be sealed with icing around it, keeping it fresh

Want whiter teeth? Munch on dark chocolate, cheese and strawberries, says leading dentist

Dr Harold Katz says dark chocolate helps harden the enamel surface of teeth.  He says green tea contains tannins which stop bacteria sticking to teeth.  And, he says strawberries contain malic acid which removes stains. Cheese, he says, makes the mouth less acidic so tooth erosion is reduced.

Can music lessons as a child boost your brainpower for life? Researchers find young musicians develop better problem solving skills

Could boost calls for more music training in schools and help the elderly or those with ADHD.  The research team  defined musically trained children as having played an instrument for at least two years.

The controlled study using functional MRI brain imaging was undertaken by researchers at Boston Children's Hospital.
'Since executive functioning is a strong predictor of academic achievement, even more than IQ, we think our findings have strong educational implications,' said Nadine Gaab, who led the research.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:00 PM | Permalink

October 15, 2013

Miscellany: Elephants, receipts, Roman Bathhouse, cell phones and Louis C.K.

Why do stores give receipts? Mostly so employees can't steal.

Elephants Know What It Means to Point to Something, No Training Required.  Smarter than apes.

They also love brides.  A bride's big day became even more memorable when an elephant invaded the wedding ceremony and put her head in its mouth.

After the Australian woman tied the knot in the Thai resort of Phuket, she walked up to the exotic uninvited guest.
But when she was a few feet away, the three-year-old Indian elephant wrapped its trunk around her and pulled her towards its mouth.


And it did not do the bride - who had travelled from Melbourne for her wedding - any damage other than a dose of bad breath, as the elephant soon let her go.

A Roman Bathhouse Still in Use after 2,000 Years

 Roman-Bathhouse In Algeria

Single males between the ages of 18 and 55 only change their sheets an average of four times a year.

Women, on average, change their sheets every week.

How often do you check your phone? The average person does it 110 times a DAY

People look at their phones the most between peak hours of 5pm and 8pm.  During these hours, 75% of users are actively using their devices
Average number of times a user checks their phone is nine times an hour.  This increases to once every six seconds for 'highest frequency users'

Why Louis C.K. won't give his daughters cellphones

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:41 AM | Permalink