Seth Meyers and Papa Duck

Seth Meyers is is an American comedian, writer, actor, and television host. He hosts Late Night with Seth Meyers, a late-night talk show that airs on NBC. Prior to that, he was a head writer for NBC’s Saturday Night Live (2001–2014) and hosted the show’s news parody segment, Weekend Update.  Like John Oliver, Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel and others, he helps us find comic relief in the day-to-day dramas that inhabit the current administration in our federal government (ie., the government led by he-who-shall-remain-nameless-for-today).

This clip is more than a week old, from February 7th, but is still funny, still relevant, and well worth the eleven minutes it takes to watch the whole thing.  If you are like me, you really, really need a good reason to chuckle, so … give it a watch, okay?  The bonus is really the part toward the end, where Papa Duck (Phil Robertson) of Duck Dynasty was interviewed on Fox regarding his views on healthcare!

Saturday Surprise … A Sad Story And A Small Journey

Good morning, friends, and welcome to the …weekend-2It’s been a long and ugly week, hasn’t it?  I saw the sunshine for all of 7 minutes on … I think it was Wednesday, or perhaps Tuesday.  Haven’t seen it since.  Perhaps I scared it off when I started shrieking, “BRIGHT LIGHT … BRIGHT LIGHT!!!”

I have to tell you a sad story that crossed my path this week.  No couple gets along all the time, but most couples who truly love each other manage to work through their problems.  It seems that if a couple stays together for, say 30-40 years, they aren’t likely to split for any reason other than death.  But the couple I’m going to tell you about today are the exception.  They were together, as best anybody can figure, for around 90 years, and yet their relationship dissolved.

Both Bibi and Poldi were born in Switzerland in 1897 and became a couple during the Roaring Twenties.  They later relocated to Austria in the 1970s.  They shared a love of many of the same things, such as tomatoes.  They seemed to have everything going for them until suddenly they began having troubles.  Just a little spat, but unusual for them.  After all, this was a couple that had made it through the Great Depression, two World Wars, and the millennium. Surely one little spat wouldn’t do them in.

They tried counseling, and eventually a temporary separation, with Poldi moving into his own bachelor’s pad after Bibi bit him one day in 2011, drawing blood!  But the counseling didn’t work, and the ‘trial’ separation became a permanent one.  Today, they live in side-by-side matched condos, but rarely even see each other.matched-condosDid I mention that Bibi and Poldi are Galápagos tortoises?

Bibi-Poldi

The spat that dissolved a 90-year love affair

Bibi and Poldi reside at the Reptilienzoo Happ in Klagenfurt, Austria.  It is a sad story, but also a fascinating one, and I encourage you to read the entire story at Atlas Obscura!

Poldi-seeking-Bibi

Poldi is looking for Bibi

Bibi-tomato

Bibi loves her tomatoes!

Now that I’ve broken your hearts, let’s hop aboard the Filomobile for a quick jaunt, for there are a couple of things I really want to show you!


kelpies-1Welcome to Helix park, in Falkirk, in Scotland, and these two impressive statues are the Kelpies, sculptures that form a gateway at the eastern entrance to the Forth and Clyde canal, and the new canal extension built as part of The Helix land transformation project.

According to sculptor Andy Scott:

“The original concept of mythical water horses was a valid starting point for the artistic development of the structures. took that concept and moved with it towards a more equine and contemporary response, shifting from any mythological references towards a socio-historical monument intended to celebrate the horse’s role in industry and agriculture as well as the obvious association with the canals as tow horses.”kelpies-2kelpies-3

Pretty impressive, don’t you think?


While we’re on this side of the big pond, let’s hop over to Belgium and visit La Balade des Gnomes.  What, you ask, is that?  Well, it is a bed-and-breakfast, but a rather unique one, for it has ten themed rooms, no two alike.  Let’s take a look, shall we?Trojan-horse-exteriorThis is the exterior of the most famous suite, a stand-alone, two-story building in the shape of a Trojan Horse. The Trojan Horse suite has its own motorized drawbridge entrance.

trojan-horse-entrance

The horse’s head is a room that can be moved around by levers inside. The whole building gives the feeling of being within a mythical, medieval, wooden, post-apocalyptic mobile home. There’s also a jacuzzi tub, as an added bonus.

Other rooms include the Macquarie Island room where your bed is a boat which appears to float on real water and there is a real beach with real sand in your room. The suites are filled with wooden toadstools, starry skies (glowing on your ceiling) and crooked windows.

This one is the Legend of the Trolls room …

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Legend-of-trolls-bedroom

Personally, I don’t think I would enjoy spending a night here, but I thought it would be fun to see!b-b-1

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Um … thanks, but no, I really don’t think I could sleep with those … things … above my head!  The price isn’t bad as these things go, although it is out of my budget … 134 €, or about $151 USD.


Well, folks, I know it was a short jaunt this week, but it’s getting late and we all have things we need to do this weekend, so we better be getting back.  I do hope you enjoyed the little trip, and we’ll take a longer journey soon … perhaps even next week!

Have a fun and happy weekend … by the way, Happy Family Day to my Canadian friends and enjoy your long weekend!

Valentine’s Day Cards of Yore …

Valentine-MaxineToday is February 14th, otherwise known as Valentine’s Day.  In modern culture it is a day for romance, for flowers, cards, candy hearts and chocolates.   Even this ol’ hag awoke to a lovely card in my inbox this morning that started my day with a smile.  But throughout history, Valentine’s cards have sometimes taken a dark turn …

In the mid-1400s, Charles Valois, the Duke of Orleans, penned a Valentine poem for his wife. Considered to be one of the earliest Valentine’s poems, Valois’s missive is far from an ardent declaration of marital passion. Instead, the sombre wording reveals a 21-year-old who is already ‘sick of love’.

I am already sick of love,
My very gentle Valentine,
Since for me you were born too soon,
And I for you was born too late.
God forgives him who has estranged
Me from you for the whole year.
I am already sick of love,
My very gentle Valentine.

Why such a bleak tone on a day intended to celebrate love? The circumstances in which the verse was penned may shed some light on Charles’s sense of desperation. Having already lost one wife, Valois was still only 15 when he married 11-year-old Bonne D’Armagnac in 1410. Their time together was short-lived: Charles was captured by the English at the battle of Agincourt in 1415 and held captive for 25 years. The above verse was penned during a period of imprisonment in the Tower of London. Alone in a cell, having outlived one wife and been involuntarily separated from another, Valois’s solemnity might be excused.

The unfortunate pair were never reunited: Bonne had died by the time her husband was released. This fascinating letter is held in the manuscript collections at the British Library, though sadly there is no record of any reply.

While it was common practice to exchange letters and love tokens in February, the first ‘cards’ were not sent until the late 18th century. Lack of technology meant that early cards were handmade, with lovers decorating paper with flowers and romantic symbols. Pamphlets were available designed to assist those who struggled to express themselves. The Young Man’s Valentine Writer, published in 1797, offered a selection of poems that could be copied out and sent to the beloved.

In Britain, the oldest surviving Valentines card is thought to date from 1790. The recipient had to work to discover their valentine: the card was a puzzle that had to be unfolded in a particular way in order to reveal delicate illustrations and the verse hidden within. Known as a ‘puzzle purse’, this unusual example is among a collection of 800 Valentines held in the archives of the Postal Museum’s archives.

puzzle purse.png

A ‘puzzle purse’, a popular type of card from the Georgian period that had to be unfolded in a particular way to reveal the hidden verse within. 

The sending of cards became more common during the Victorian era, with the development of new printing techniques and reductions in the cost of paper. Handmade efforts, often featuring lace paperwork, flowers and love knots, continued to exist while mass-produced cards flooded the market.

I think I might be a little offput to receive this handmade Valentine containing a taxidermy canary …Stuffed-canary-Valentine

Then there were the ‘Vinegar Valentines’: cards designed to point out faults in the recipient and demonstrate the sender’s desire not to claim their love. Although the nature of the card often lent itself to its immediate destruction, sufficient numbers survive to suggest that Vinegar Valentines were not gender specific.

vinegar-valentine

An 1870s “vinegar Valentine”, the sender Repelled by his “glitter”, the sender rejects the snakelike gentleman, preferring to remain alone than live a “bitter” life in his company.

Some cards offered women the opportunity to comment anonymously on personal appearance, with scathing words and demeaning sketches. Others, commenting on the recipient’s habits, reflect societal concerns of the day.

Valentine's Card

The text at the bottom reads: “The kiss of the bottle is your heart’s delight,/ And fuddled you reel home to bed every night,/ What care you for damsels, no matter how fair!/ Apart from your liquor, you’ve no love to spare.”

Valentine's Card

“Pray do you ever mend your clothes/ Or comb your hair? Well, I suppose/ You’ve got no time, for people, say,/ You’re reading novels all the day.”

The Valentine card traveled across the Atlantic during the 19th century, but printed cards were often too expensive for the average American. Things changed dramatically in 1913, when the Hall Brothers produced their first Valentine card. Becoming Hallmark cards in 1928, the company is now considered a key player in the commercialization of Valentine’s Day with more than 1,400 varieties of card now in circulation.

Despite popular belief, not all 20th-century cards featured the romantic symbolism we see today. Some cards employed fruit or animals to suggest lewd intentions, and others were used as marketing opportunities by Walt Disney and McDonald’s.

Not all cards were so benign. Overtly racist cards depicted cannibals preparing their loved ones for the pot, claiming to be “all a stew for you”, while others played with cowboy imagery to suggest the recipient’s capture.  And then there was the truly macabre …valentine-card-skunk

I hope you all have a fun Valentine’s Day!  To all my friends, I wish you a …Happy Valentine's Day

What’s A Week Without Snarky Snippets?

Someday perhaps I will go an entire week without feeling a need to impart my snarky snippets, but today is not that day.


In dispute of science …

We’ve all seen and heard the climate change deniers … those who, regardless of background or education, claim that they know more than all the highly-educated scientists who have studied the environment and climate for years, some for decades.  But here’s a new one … a germ denier!

Fox News host Pete Hegseth has said on air that he has not washed his hands for 10 years because “germs are not a real thing”.

Say What???  Has this dude never caught a cold?

“My 2019 resolution is to say things on-air that I say off-air. I don’t think I’ve washed my hands for 10 years. I inoculate myself. Germs are not a real thing. I can’t see them; therefore, they’re not real.”

If you ever had doubts that Fox News does not hire the brightest in the field, here is your proof.  Hegseth later said that he meant it as a joke, but personally … I’m not so sure.

“We’re on a show and we have fun and we banter and I’m like, eh, you know, maybe I haven’t washed my hands for 10 years. My half-hearted commentary to the point is, we live in a society where people walk around with bottles of Purell in their pockets, and they sanitize 19,000 times a day as if that’s going to save their life. I take care of myself and all that, but I don’t obsess over everything all the time.”

This explains, maybe, why Hegseth works for Fox instead of CNN.


Oh yeah … alternative facts … how could I forget?

You’ll remember how Trump and his minions attempted to say that the crowd at his inauguration was “the biggest ever”?  Turned out it was a significantly smaller crowd than Obama had at his inauguration in 2008, but Trump never gave up the lie.  Well, last night he held a pep rally in El Paso, Texas, designed to stir up enthusiasm for his ridiculous border wall, and once again he inflated his crowd size.

Trump told the crowd gathered to watch him speak in the El Paso County Coliseum that so many people wanted to be there that the El Paso Fire Department found a way to cram 10,000 people inside the Coliseum, which typically has a capacity of only 6,500. The El Paso Fire Department, however, told Zahira Torres, an editor for the El Paso Times that the arena holds 6,500 people and that’s exactly how many were permitted to enter.

Trump also had to downplay Beto O’Rourke’s competing rally …

“A young man who’s got very little going for himself, except he’s got a great first name, he is, he has challenged us. So we have, let’s say, 35,000 people tonight — and he has 200 people, 300 people, not too good. In fact, what I would do is I would say that may be the end of his presidential bid. But he did challenge us.”

Beto-rally.jpgPolice estimated that Beto’s rally was attended by between 10,000-15,000 people.


The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree …

I don’t know why Trump’s older sons, Don, Jr. and Eric, are given a platform to speak, for neither are particularly intelligent, neither are charismatic, neither hold a position within our government, and thus they are irrelevant.  But speak they do, and like their father, neither are particularly well-spoken. Trump-jr.But that didn’t stop Trump’s eldest, Don, Jr., from speaking at the aforementioned rally in El Paso last night.

“I love seeing some young conservatives, ‘cuz I know it’s not easy.  Keep up that fight, bring it to your schools. You don’t have to be indoctrinated by these loser teachers that are trying to sell you on socialism from birth. You don’t have to do it.”

I repeat … Say WHAT???  Needless to say, Don’s comment did not go over well with teachers who, while not in the audience because they were out teaching socialism to these poor little kiddos, nonetheless heard about the comment.  If it’s possible, I think Junior is even dumber than Senior!


The master speaks … will Trump listen?

Fox News’ Sean Hannity had as much to do with causing that last shutdown that lasted 35 days as any, save perhaps radical bimbo Ann Coulter.  Today, Sean rides again!

Bipartisan negotiators in Congress have been working day and night to come up with a deal that would be acceptable to both parties, as well as Trump, and avert another shutdown starting at midnight on Friday.  A tentative agreement has been reached, but Sean is not happy …

“On this so-called compromise, I’m getting details. 1.3 billion and not even a wall or barrier… Any Republican that supports this garbage compromise, you will have to explain.”

hannity-trumpGarbage compromise?  Sean Hannity, the lowest of low in the broadcast world, should be largely irrelevant.  Instead, the so-called president actually listens to Sean more than he listens to his experienced, educated advisors (Sean is a college drop-out with zero experience in lawmaking or government), and therein lies the danger.  Will Trump take Sean’s words to heart?  Is it possible that, rather than sign the bipartisan bill, Trump will allow the government to shut down once again on the advice of a media personality?

As of this writing, it is reported that Trump claims he is “not happy” with the deal and that if the government is shut down again, it is all the “fault of democrats”.  Yeah, right, Donnie.


And now, I return you to your regularly scheduled programming!

A Jolly Cold Monday …

Good Monday morning, friends!  Come on in … don’t worry about tracking snow in … Jolly will sweep it up in a minute.  Did you all have a wonderful weekend?  Mine?  Oh, well, since it stayed well below freezing all weekend, and since I’m still doing battle with a respiratory ‘thing’, I stayed in all weekend, but I did get to spend some time reading and sleeping, so that was nice.  I’ve simply got to get some energy back this week, for as you can see, we still have Christmas lights and decorations up in the living room.  I managed to ‘un-decorate’ the rest of the house, but the living room is still pretty Christmas-y.  I gave some thought to just leaving them up, since we’re already a month-and-a-half through the year, but no … they must come down this week!

Grab a snack and a cup of java or tea, and let’s see if we can find something to help us start the week out with a smile, shall we?

juice boxtea-2coffee-many-cups


Coca-Cola is rolling out a new flavour for the first time in over a decade.  I don’t drink soft drinks more than three or four times a year, but I’m likely to try this one … Orange-Vanilla. orange-vanilla-cokeThe company also considered raspberry, and lemon-ginger, but after a test run of the orange-vanilla in Canada proved successful, they chose that.  Said a company spokesperson …

“We wanted to bring back positive memories of carefree summer days. That’s why we leaned into the orange-vanilla flavor combination — which is reminiscent of the creamy orange popsicles we grew up loving, but in a classically Coke way.”

It will be in stores on Monday, February 25th, so mark your calendars!  And if you try it, let me know what you think.


Perhaps I’m old-fashioned, but … I find the concept of online dating services to be just a bit creepy.  First, it seems to me an act of desperation.  Second, I’m leery of strangers, especially in this day and age.  But even with that said, this next story is just about beyond weird in my opinion.

Samsung has rolled out a new ‘dating app’ with a unique twist.  Instead of seeing a picture of the person they are trying to hook you up with, you see a picture of the inside of their refrigerator!  According to Samsung’s website

refrigerdaterDating where the inside is all that counts

Refrigerdating is a service that helps you to find love based on the content of your fridge. By uploading an image of your food, you can get in contact with others who have realized that you are what you eat!

Thanks, but no thanks.  And anyway, if I uploaded a picture of the inside of my fridge, anybody with an ounce of sense would run in the other direction very quickly!


You’ve all heard the expression, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way”?  Well, David Aguilar, who is studying bioengineering at Barcelona’s International University of Catalonia, proves that to be true.  Born with only one arm, David combined his love of building with Lego blocks and his need for a second arm, and … well, watch him show you what he has done …

Pretty awesome problem-solving skills, wouldn’t you say!  I love the “can-do” attitude!


I came across a few funny meme’s on a friend’s Facebook page and decided to snag them to share with you this morning …

funny-meme

sign-1

spider-meme


By the way … before I forget!  Thursday is Valentine’s Day, so if there’s someone special in your heart, don’t forget to send a card, or just call and say, “Hey … I love you!”  You don’t have to spend a lot of money on flowers or jewelry … a card will mean just as much.Valentines


And finally … what’s not to love about these adorable Red Pandas?


jollyI hope you’ve found something to bring a smile to your face this morning, and that you’ll share those smiles with those who need them most.  Keep safe & warm, and have a great week, my friends!  Love ‘n hugs from Filosofa & Jolly!

Saturday’s Snarky Snippets

When I wake on Saturday morning to no less than 12 “breaking news” updates on my phone, you know I’m going to be in snarky-mode.  So, here goes …

Another hat in the ring …

Elizabeth-WarrenElizabeth Warren announced her entry into the 2020 presidential campaign this morning.  While I respect Ms. Warren’s political views, believe she is as well-qualified as any, and while a year ago I would have considered her as my choice, I have to wonder at her decision today.  Given the very public controversy that she stirred over her Native American heritage, or lack thereof, she doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell of winning the democratic nomination, much less the presidency.  Frankly, I don’t relish the thought of listening to Trump and his faithful followers shrieking “Pocahontas” for the next 21 months! The more candidates who throw their hats into the ring, the more it dilutes the party unity, and that unity is going to be essential to winning an election next year.  I wish Ms. Warren had put country before ego.


He’s baaaaaaack …

roger-stoneLong time ago, July 2016, to be exact, I awarded Trump’s buddy Roger Stone (and his wife) my coveted Idiot of the Week award, and to this day he is still proving worthy of the title.  Stone, who has undoubtedly committed as many crimes as most any man alive, was arrested on January 25th, and indicted by Robert Mueller’s team on seven counts, including obstruction of an official proceeding, witness tampering, and making false statements.  You might think that would take some of the wind out of his sails, that he might ‘sit down and shut up’, right?  But no, this is Roger Stone who, like his buddy Trump, thinks he can do as he pleases and will never suffer the consequences.

Instead of silence, Stone went on a media blitz in a series of television interviews and Instagram posts, decrying the unfairness of his arrest, etc., etc., etc.  Judge Amy Berman Jackson, along with Robert Mueller, is considering placing a gag order on Stone, stopping him from publicly discussing his case.  In the Judge’s words …

“The upshot of treating the pretrial proceedings in this case like a book tour could be that we end up with a much larger percent of the jury pool that’s been tainted by pretrial publicity than we have now, and that’s what it’s my job to balance here.”

Stone’s attorneys argue against it.  On what grounds, you ask?  Because a) Stone doesn’t even have a Twitter account (he was kicked off Twitter more than a year ago for a series of expletive-laden posts aimed at CNN anchors), and b) Kim Kardashian has more followers than Stone.  Is there logic here?  I’m failing to see it.


More bad news …

Dr. Sean Conley, Trump’s physician …

“While the reports and recommendations are being finalized, I am happy to announce the President of the United States is in very good health and I anticipate he will remain so for the duration of his Presidency, and beyond.”


Will any be left standing?

A week or so ago, I read a column by George Will in The Washington Post that posited the most viable candidate in the large field of democrats seeking to unseat Donald Trump was Amy Klobuchar.

Amy-KlobucharHis points made sense, as Will’s points most always do, and I had added her to my list of potentials.  Then today comes the news that Ms. Klobuchar has a history of mistreating her staff.  It is even said it caused such concerns that in 2015, then-Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid spoke to her privately and told her to change her behavior, though Reid neither confirms nor denies.  Sigh.  Another one bites the dust.  It becomes apparent to me that there will be early and multiple attempts to discredit any and every democrat who plans to run in 2020.  Somebody, republicans and/or Russians, has already begun a concerted campaign to sling as much mud, to dig up as much dirt as possible on every candidate who appears to present a challenge to Trump.  It is gonna be ugly, folks.  I have to wonder if there will be any whose past won’t come back to haunt them over the next 21 months.  Shoot me now.


And on that note, I leave you to enjoy the rest of your weekend.Weekend

Kind Of A Jolly Monday …

Happy Monday morning, my friends.  I’ve been a bit under the weather for a few days now, so I’m afraid I didn’t do any baking, but had Jolly run out in the Filomobile for some donuts … I hope you’ll forgive me.donuts-1donuts-2


Last week we had some of the coldest temperatures I can remember.  But then, I can’t remember why I went into the kitchen.  Still … it must have been pretty darn cold for this …pic-1

Or how ‘bout this one … Cowgirls and their horses in the Midwest?pic-2

And this …pic-6

And then yesterday, after a morning low of -6° on Wednesday, we had temps of 50°!  Needless to say, when 6” to 8” of snow melts that quickly, it has nowhere to go, so then you get flood warnings.  But no … nothing unusual about all this, is there now?


I had to laugh at this one yesterday …

Husband ‘calls police on own wife after she refuses to split bill for Chinese’

It happened in Sydney, Australia, where an unnamed man, apparently balked at having to foot the dinner bill, called “000”, Australia’s equivalent of the U.S.’ 911, or the UK’s 999.  The police arrived and reminded the man that the emergency number is for actual emergencies.chinese food“Police are unsure of who eventually paid for the remainder of the succulent Chinese meal,” North Shore Police Area Command said in a statement.

I wonder if he had egg … foo yung … on his face?


And speaking of husbands … how about this one …

Adam-Hemsley-lemur

Adam Hemsley feeding lemur.  Look at that tail!!!  (The lemur’s, not Adam’s)

The Hemsley Conservation Centre, located southeast of London, is a small zoo & conservation center started by Adam Hemsley in 2015.  They are said to have several animals you don’t see everyday, and if you check out the Centre’s website  you’ll see they have some very positive reviews and adorable pictures.

Meerkats

Precious little meerkats … I would take one for a Valentine’s Day present if anybody felt so inclined.  Though I’m not sure how they would fare with the Sig Six

For Valentine’s Day, they are offering a real deal … for a small donation of about $2, they will name a cockroach after your ex-husband!  Names will appear on the roach board next to the zoo’s cockroach enclosure. Money raised through the endeavor will go toward future zoo projects.

cockroach“For those that don’t quite require revenge, there’s another way to make you feel better about getting back at your ex this Valentine’s Day,” said the zoo in a statement about the program.

Participants will receive a certificate that reads, “I’ve named a cockroach at the Hemsley Conservation Centre in the not so loving memory of my worthless ex!”  A bit harsh?  Perhaps, but I’ve known a few who deserved it. The certificate also grants the holder half-price entry into the zoo!


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I told you a few days ago that I am trying to make note of what the ‘National Day of ______’ is this year, right?  Partly that is because our friend Ellen goaded me a few times, saying, “I can’t believe you missed National _________ Day”.  Well, today marks a newly designated day, National Hemp Day!  Mark it on your calendars, folks!  It also happens to be National Football Hangover Day (I’m assuming this has something to do with last night’s Super Bowl which yours truly did NOT watch!  And it is National Thank-A-Mail-Carrier Day, as well as National Homemade Soup Day!  And finally, it is National Create A Vacuum Day, and I have no idea what that means!

I do apologize for the shorter-than-usual Jolly Monday, but how ‘bout a cute animal video to finish off the morning?


jollyHave a great week, folks, keep safe & warm, and please share those gorgeous smiles I see you wearing.  Love ‘n hugs from Filosofa and Jolly!

Saturday Surprise — Snow Monsters and Jingle Trucks!!!

Hello friends, and welcome to Saturday Surprise.  I had hoped we could travel this week, but it has been frigid here all week, and I have managed to contract a bit of a chest cold, so I’m afraid we’re stuck indoors today.  But … I found some really cool things to show you anyway!

This first one I thought worked well with the theme of this week’s Polar Vortex …


Snow Monsters

High against the slopes of Mount Zaō, in central Japan, the cold, moisture-laden winds from Siberia slams into creating a natural wonder that brings thousands of tourists every winter from all over Japan. The tiny water droplets that the strong wind carries freezes against Mount Zaō’s pine trees and their branches forming icicles. These icicles grow nearly horizontal, owing to the strong winds, over which falling snow settles creating towering, grotesque white figures that the Japanese call “snow monsters” or juhyo.

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A specific combination of strong winds, low temperatures and snowfall on evergreen conifer trees is required for snow monsters to form. Juhyo forms at a few other places in Japan, but Mount Zaō is the most accessible.

juhyo-night

A phenomenon similar to juhyo is observed in Finland at the Riisitunturi National Park. The Finnish call it “tykky”.

Riisitunturi National Park is situated in the southern part of Finnish Lapland near Posio, in Finland. The park covers an area of 77 square kilometers and represents the fell and hill landscapes in Koillismaa, characterized by colourful hanging bogs. Being part of the large taiga forest zone on the northern edge of Eurasian continent, the park is covered, for the most part, with candle-like spruces and thick moss. The air gets relatively more humid as one goes up, and during winter the moisture condensates on the trees, turning them into “tykky” – the Finnish word for the accumulation of hard snow and frost on trees. The mountain tops, although just 400 metres above the sea level, experience low cloud cover and mist, combined with moderate winds, so the ice and snow stick to the trees and a thick layer accumulates during winter, especially during the months when the sun is low in the sky. Most trees cannot bear the immense weight of the snow, and bend over into sharp curls. Some trees break down.tykky-1tykky-2tykky-3tykky-4


Those were all really interesting and unique, but let’s take a look at something that doesn’t involve snow for a few minutes, shall we?

Jingle Trucks

A typical Pakistani truck driver spends more time with his truck than he does with his wife. Which explains why he wants his 10-ton six-wheeler to look like a new bride.

These trucks plying across Pakistan’s national highways and the neighboring country of Afghanistan are distinctively ostentatious. The entire trucks, from top to bottom, are a riot of colors. Lavishly painted panels containing a mosaic of birds, flowers, landscapes, saints, and actresses in hyper-saturated color palette adorn the exterior, while plastic flowers, draped beads, mirrors, ribbons and velvet grace the interior. The cabin is crowned by a custom built wooden prow wrapped in more kitschy artwork, while a string of metal bells dangle from the chassis all round the periphery. When the truck is in motion, these bells clang against each other like a new bride’s ghungroo. This is where the nickname “jingle trucks” come from—coined by US troops deployed in Afghanistan.jingle-1.jpgAnd it isn’t just trucks alone. Passenger buses, water tankers, transport vans, rickshaws, and even vendors’ pushcarts are psychedelically decorated with eye-popping colors. It’s like a rolling folk art, “a national gallery without walls, a free-form, kaleidoscopic exhibition in perpetual motion,” as Richard Covington puts it.

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The tradition of decorating trucks began sometime in the 1920s with the introduction of the long-distance Bedfords—a British-built truck with rounded cab and seven-feet high paneled sides that was to become the country’s most prestigious and dependable truck for more than half a century. Originally trucks were painted with each company’s logo so that illiterate people could recognize who owned the trucks. Gradually, these logos became more fanciful, flamboyant and competitive. By the 1950s, stylized murals and frescoes had begun to replace them. It was only in the 1960s, as the country’s economy boomed, the decorations became increasingly sophisticated to reflect the growing wealth of the drivers and the rise of a new urban class.

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It isn’t unheard of for a driver to spend the equivalent of a year’s worth, or more, of profits on truck decorations. According to a 2005 article, a basic painting and body job costs a minimum of $2500, equivalent to two years of the average truck driver’s salary. Some spend upwards of $10,000 outfitting their rigs.

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Truck painting is also a big business. In Karachi city alone, more than 50,000 people are engaged in this unregulated yet lucrative industry. Family-run workshops comprising of apprentices and highly trained artisans, and small shops selling all manners of outlandish ornaments and accessories crowd around truck yards.

Over the years, however, the business has changed. Now instead of meticulously hand painting each truck, mass produced stickers and adornments are used.

“Truck decoration is not stagnating; it is dead,” laments R M Naeem, an assistant professor at the National College of Arts, Lahore. “This is because truck painters treat their work as a source of livelihood. They do not have the time or the luxury to innovate; they repeat the same old patterns, images and icons over and over again.”

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Well, folks … it is the weekend, and I’m sure you have a million things you want to do.  I have certainly enjoyed spending a bit of the morning with you.  Keep safe and warm, and enjoy your weekend!

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More Snarky Snippets

The headline catches my eye …

Fox News: The Arrest Of Roger Stone Was Worse Than Benghazi

I ponder … dig through my dusty memory bank.  As I recall, there were a number of fatalities during the attack on the American diplomatic compound and the CIA annex, four of them U.S. citizens. And I seem to remember 11 non-fatal injuries, again four of them U.S. citizens, the rest Libyan.  So … were people killed when FBI agents pounded on Mr. Stone’s door, yelling, “Open up … FBI!”?  Who died?  I hadn’t heard that there were deaths and injuries, had you? fox-stone-raid

I read the article …thearticleI really liked both of the comments. Look, Fox people, Roger Stone is far from an innocent citizen peacefully minding his own business.  He is into the Trump-Russia scandal so deep that I’m surprised he can still breathe.  Stone has been a piece of trash for decades.  For once, he got a taste of what he deserves.  Enough said. Grow up and knock off with the Benghazi comparison, for there simply isn’t one.


Now, remember I cautioned you yesterday that while we are watching that giant Trump-a-ganza of a circus complete with clowns and elephants, there are things going on that we should be aware of?  Well, here is one of those things …

Trump plan to reclassify nuclear waste alarms environmental groups

The Trump administration wants to reclassify some radioactive waste left from the production of nuclear weapons to lower its threat level and make disposal cheaper and easier. The proposal by the U.S. Department of Energy would lower the status of some high-level radioactive waste in several places around the nation, including the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state — the most contaminated nuclear site in the country. Reclassifying the material to low-level could save the agency billions of dollars and decades of work by essentially leaving the material in the ground, critics say. – Associated Press, 10 December 2018

hanfordsiteFacilities which would be affected include the country’s most highly contaminated: the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state, which takes up an area half the size of Rhode Island. Opened in 1943, the site produced the plutonium for the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan in 1945, according to its website. The production of nuclear materials carried on until 1987, leaving behind waste that threatened the local environment, prompting the state and federal authorities — including the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) — to pledge in 1987 to clean up the site, without success.

Other facilities mentioned in the plans are the Savannah River Plant, South Carolina and the Idaho National Laboratory, according to the Associated Press.  Oh … and speaking of the Savannah River site …

US secretly shipped plutonium from South Carolina to Nevada

WTF???  According to the AP report …

The U.S. Department of Energy revealed on Wednesday that it secretly shipped weapons-grade plutonium from South Carolina to a nuclear security site in Nevada months ago despite the state’s protests.

The Justice Department notified a federal judge in Reno that the government trucked in the radioactive material to store at the site 70 miles (113 kilometers) north of Las Vegas before Nevada first asked a court to block the move in November.

Department lawyers said in a nine-page filing that the previously classified information about the shipment from South Carolina can be disclosed now because enough time has passed to protect national security. They didn’t specify when the one-half metric ton of plutonium was transferred.

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak said he’s “beyond outraged by this completely unacceptable deception.” He announced at a hastily called news conference in Carson City late Wednesday the state is now seeking another court order to block any more shipments of plutonium as it pursues “any and all legal remedies,” including contempt of court orders against the federal government.

Secretary of Energy … Rick Perry … the same Rick Perry who, back in 2017, said that increased use of fossil fuels will lead to a reduction in sexual assaults.  Save a buck at the potential cost of ours and future generations lives.  What could possibly go wrong?


Here we go again …

Last week, the Trump administration announced it will allow a ministry in South Carolina that only works with heterosexual Christian families to participate in a federally funded foster care program.

That means Miracle Hill Ministries can receive federal funding to participate in the program while discriminating against non-Christians, as well as the LGBT community.

WTF???  When did it become okay for a religious organization to receive federal funds?  And when did it become okay to discriminate???

The organization was in violation of a regulation issued by the Obama administration that states organizations receiving funds from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) can’t discriminate on the basis of religion or sexual orientation.

But Trump’s HHS, under Secretary Alex Azar, issued an exemption for the ministry to participate in the program, writing that to force it out would be a violation of its religious freedom.  No, no it would not be a violation at all of its religious freedom, but it is a violation of the concept of separation of church and state to allow this bigoted religious organization to collect federal funding.  Period.  What is so damn hard to understand about that concept?


From the ‘You’ve Got To Be Kidding?’ Annals …

You remember Sebastian Gorka, right?  He served briefly as an ‘advisor’ to Trump in 2017, until his connections to an anti-Semitic group in Hungary became known.  He’s never quite gone away though, and is now a contributor to Fox News.  His latest …gorka-rbg

First of all, Gorky, Ruth Bader Ginsburg does NOT ‘have to’ attend the State of the Union address.  If you will look back to last year, she did not attend the State of the Union address then, for she was in Rhode Island for a late-morning “fireside chat” at Roger Williams University’s law school before speaking at a temple in Providence later that evening.  There is no ‘requirement’ that anybody attend!  And second of all, YOU cannot even spell her name right!

But there’s even more.  Remember that fringe group, Q-Anon?  They have put forth the conspiracy theory that RBG is hiding a secret illness, or she is dead.  FOR PETE’S SAKE — do these fools have nothing better to do than sit around and think up fairy tales???  Couldn’t they, perhaps, do something useful to contribute to this world?


Well, now that I’ve got all that out of my system, I’m going to bed.  G’day, my friends!