Saturday Surprise — A Hodgepodge!

I was pondering what to make the theme of this week’s Saturday Surprise, and I really wanted to do a new ‘unique critters’ post, but it seems that I’ve done most of them in previous posts.  I thought about just reprising one of the previous posts because I’m in the mood for critters!  But, that’s a cop out, and so I pushed on in my quest.  And what I have settled on is rather a hodgepodge of this, that, ‘n the other.


Here’s a bit of history that you may not have known …

Notorious Pirate/Pirate hunter Benjamin Hornigold once attacked a ship just to steal all of the crew member’s hats. His men had gotten drunk and lost their hats during a party the night before and decided to board a ship to get replacements.  According to one of the ship’s passengers …

pirate.png“They did us no further injury than the taking most of our hats from us, having got drunk the night before, as they told us, and toss’d theirs overboard.”


July 10th was National Kitten Day … I can’t believe I missed that one!!!  I get a nightly email that tells me what the national days for the next day are, and I almost always at least give it a cursory glance.  But, there have been a few nights of late that I was not in the mood for humour (imagine that!) and just deleted the email, sight unseen.  Apparently the night of July 9th was one such night.

We have 4 litter boxes, one in the upstairs hallway, two in the entry hall downstairs, and one behind the couch specifically for Miss Izzie.  But, I found this as I was trolling about this evening …litter-box-table.jpgIt’s a hidden cat box enclosures from a company called Merry Products:

The easy-to-assemble end table is made to house your cat’s litter box, allowing your pet to access its toilet out of sight. It also reduces the amount of litter that sprays out of the box when your cat sprints away after it poops, making for a cleaner experience for everyone. Not to mention the fact that you can use the shelf and top space as a regular end table.

I dunno … I think I might not be too happy having my coffee right above the litter box.  Still, kind of a cool idea.  Oh, and it’s only $61!

And on the topic of National Kitten Day, here is a really heartwarming video about a kitten who started life on the skids, but … well, just watch!

And in honour of a belated National Kitten Day …cat-eclipse

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Cat-puns...


I found this video earlier this evening, of a man feeding watermelon to a group of turtles.  It may not sound that exciting, but I found it fascinating!  Take a look …


This one gave me a chuckle …tiny-car-meets-squirrel.pngAnd … I know that Jolly Monday and Saturday Surprise are supposed to be entirely free of politics, but … well, I just couldn’t resist this one …

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Well, I told you it was a hodge-podge of this, that, and really nuthin’ much, but … such as it is, I hope something made you smile.  Now get on with the weekend!  Have a fun and safe one, my friends!

Letting The Mind Off The Leash …

I decided just to let my mind off the leash to ramble wherever it wishes this afternoon …

mind-bounce                          mind-2


Until today, we did not live on lakefront property …20190618_151141.jpgIt has rained almost constantly since Friday night, and this is the result.  This used to just be grass, but now I’m wishing I hadn’t given away my fishing rod ‘n reel several years ago!  For a time, the flowers were enjoying the rain, but now I hear their wee voices saying, “Enough already!!!”  Anybody have a small boat we can borrow, just in case?


I remember as a small child overhearing somebody say to my mother, “We lost our mom today”, and I remember wondering why they weren’t out looking for her if she was lost.  Why is it that some people find it so hard to say, “he died”?  It isn’t a difficult word … four letters, one syllable … died.  But instead people say someone “passed” … huh?  No, they didn’t pass … they died.  Or worse yet, is when they say the person “went home”.  No!  She died.  Period.  Call a spade a spade, because finding cutesy little ways of saying ‘he died’ isn’t going to bring him back to life, and it’s confusing as hell to children and those adults like myself who take words quite literally.


Having recently hit the big 6-8, a few friends have told me that 68 is “the new 40”, and one even told me that 80 is the new 40.  I don’t believe them, of course, for I know what being 68 feels like, and I can still remember what being 40 felt like … and believe me, 68 ain’t no 40.  But it made me start thinking … what is the average life expectancy in the U.S. now, and how does it compare to other nations?  It’s plenty old … 78 … but it doesn’t rank in the top ten, and doesn’t even make the top 50!  Surprised?

The U.S. ranks 53rd in the list of life expectancies, at 78.7 years, falling behind the Nordic countries (no surprise there) and almost every country in Europe and the UK.  We also rank lower than much of Asia, such as Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, and South Korea.  We even have a lower life expectancy than Puerto Rico. Why?  According to the British Journal of Medicine (BMJ), the answer is summed up in one word:  despair.

According to the report …

“In 1960, Americans had the highest life expectancy, 2.4 years higher than the average for countries in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). But the US started losing ground in the 1980s. US life expectancy fell below the OECD average in 1998, plateaued in 2012, and is now 1.5 years lower than the OECD average.

We are seeing an alarming increase in deaths from substance abuse and despair.”

If the substance abuse and despair were bad before, can you imagine what they will be like by the end of 2020?


And since after that, you need a laugh or two … heeeeere’s Jimmy!!!

Saturday Surprise — Happy Father’s Day

It’s Saturday, folks!!!  The WEEKEND is finally here!  For me, it’s a quiet weekend.  Chris is in Chicago for a band competition, so it’s just me and Miss Goose.  Yesterday … we did nothing useful.  We both went for a walk, she took out the trash, I tidied the kitchen, and we snacked on whatever is residing in the fridge that isn’t covered in green fuzz.  Who knows what today will bring?  I definitely have to at least do a load or two of laundry, but beyond that … probably not much!  Sunday is Father’s Day, so before I forget, I want to wish all you dads out there a very Happy Father’s Day!!!

And thus ends another Saturday Surprise!  Have a great weekend, my friends!weekend

Saturday Surprise — Under, And Other Fun Stuff

Hello friends and welcome to theweekend

I went in search of fun things last night, and I found just a few that I think you might like.


Under …

First, I found the world’s largest underwater restaurant.  Now, I’m not sure how I’d feel about being underwater for that long … I never thought I would do well on a submarine, but this place is rather cool.

Under-2Under is the world’s largest underwater restaurant with a total seating capacity for 100 guests, it’s the first of its kind in Europe, and it also functions as a research center for marine life. The Snøhetta-designed dining experience only started operating on March 20th, but people are already adding it to their Norway destination lists. Under-3Half-sunken into the sea, the building’s 34-meter long monolithic form breaks the surface of the water to rest directly on the seabed five meters below. With the thick concrete walls lying against the craggy shoreline, the structure is built to withstand pressure and shock from the rugged sea conditions.Under-1Like a sunken periscope, the restaurant’s massive window offers a view of the seabed as it changes throughout the seasons and varying weather conditions.The restaurant seats 35-40 dinner guests every night, in a dining room protected by half a meter-thick concrete walls.Under-4Its culinary focus is to create a fine dining experience based on high quality, locally-sourced produce, with a special emphasis on sustainable wildlife capture.  Now, I may have mentioned before that I do not have a very adventurous palate, and frankly don’t think I would be brave enough to try any of these …

Um … do you think I could just order a …

pb-j-sammie

For more, be sure to visit their website.


Hand-held …

There is a pedestrian bridge outside Da Nang in Vietnam that made me do a double take when I first saw the picture. golden-bridge-1Known as the Golden Bridge, it stands 1,400 meters above sea level above the Ba Na hills, offering majestic panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.  It appears that it is being held aloft by two giant stone hands.golden-bridge-2

The design for the footbridge came from a company called TA Landscape Architecture, and while the hands look like they are carved from stone, they are actually not.

“We designed the skeleton of the hands and covered them with steel meshes. Then we finished with fiberglass and added the theming on it. The entire construction of the bridge took about a year.”

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Pretty cool, eh?


Inspiring ‘toon …

I came across this cartoon in my travels last night, and while it may not fit in with the ‘fun’ theme of today’s post, I liked it … liked the message.inspiring-comic


SPRING!!!

And lastly, before you head out for a weekend filled with fun (and likely the first mowing of the year), I bring you Simon’s Cat and a Guide to Spring!


Now, go forth and have a great weekend, my friends! 

Still More Snarky Snippets …

Having awakened this morning with a growing sense of angst, I decided it must be time for some snarky snippets …


It’s a late April Fool’s joke, right?

I am amused by an OpEd headline in The Washington Post yesterday …

Trump’s Plan For Peace Will Be Bold.  Here’s How It Can Succeed.

Say WHAT???  Peace?  Trump?  Those two words do not even belong in the same sentence!  The writer, Michael Singh, implies that Trump even has a ‘plan’ for peace between Israel and Palestine.  First off, he doesn’t, for planning is something that is beyond Trump’s comprehension.  He operates on ‘mood of the moment’, not well thought out plans.  Secondly, he has already proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that he doesn’t understand the Middle East at all.

But the part that really made me laugh was the simple word:  peace.  Trump has divided his own nation so severely that I don’t foresee a reconciliation at any point in the future and am more inclined to think this nation will ultimately become two … or more.  Antagonism, bullying and battle, not peace, is Trump’s forte.  Mr. Singh apparently drank a bit too much of that Kool Aid.


Caught in the act …

tucker-carlsonTucker Carlson, who I consider one of the most bombastic fools of the 21st century, had his 15 minutes in the spotlight last week.  Turns out he’s always been an idiot, as evidenced by some decade-old radio recordings unearthed by Media Matters for America.  A few samples …

  • He claimed Iraqis don’t “behave like human beings” and said he had “zero sympathy” for Iraqis or their culture during a May 2006 discussion of the Iraq War on the popular radio show. “A culture where people just don’t use toilet paper or forks,” Carlson said—adding that Iraqis should “just shut the f*** up and obey” the U.S. because “they can’t govern themselves.”
  • He said immigrants should have “something to offer”—like being “hot” or “really smart.” “But people to come over and pick lettuce, I mean, I’m not saying that’s an undignified… but on the other hand, is that—are those people who are going to build, you know, a stronger country 20 years from now?”
  • “My — here’s my point: If a guy wants to be polygamist, that’s kind of his business.”
  • “A teacher who molested a 13-year-old took pressure off the victim’s female classmates because they wouldn’t have to sleep with him.”
  • “If you’re talking to a feminist, and she’s given you, ‘Well, men really need to be more sensitive,’ no, actually, men don’t need to be more sensitive. You just need to be quiet and kind of do what you’re told.”

If that last one didn’t make your blood boil …

Now, lest you think that ol’ Tucker (who names their kid ‘Tucker’, anyway?) was ashamed and apologetic … think again!

“Rather than express the usual ritual contrition, how about this: I’m on television every weeknight live for an hour. If you want to know what I think, you can watch. Anyone who disagrees with my views is welcome to come on and explain why.”

What a guy, eh?


Oranges???

I have long said that Trump is functionally illiterate.  The ‘man’ cannot seem to so much as string a simple sentence together that makes any sense.  He talks rather like the mobsters in the old mob movies, if you ask me.  This week, he has gone out of his way to prove my point.

The ‘oranges’ of the investigation?  Obviously, he was trying to say ‘origins’, but failed miserably.  Origins isn’t really that difficult to say, now is it?  Perhaps he hadn’t had his lunch yet and food was on his brain.  Or perhaps … just a thought … he really doesn’t know any better!dumb trumpWhile I’m in the Trump-mocking mode, what about his claim … repeated claim … that his father was born in Germany? While declaring his love for Germany, Trump said he’s proud that his father was born in the country. “Born in a very wonderful place in Germany, so I have a great feeling for Germany,” Trump said. Fred Trump was born in the Bronx.

A lie by any other name is still a lie.  He’s told so many of them that he genuinely seems not to know where truth stops and lies begin.


That’s it – blame the democrats …

Good ol’ Sarah Huckabee Sanders, one of Trump’s most loyal boot-lickers.  I used to think Sarah was at least capable of coherent thought, but she has worked hard to disabuse me of that notion.  Perhaps it is something in the air surrounding Trump that causes brain damage.Sarah.jpgYesterday, at an impromptu gathering on the White House lawn, Sarah was asked by a reporter by what statute, by what authority Trump felt it was within his power to shut down the Mexico-U.S. border as he has threatened.  Her response?

“Democrats are leaving us absolutely no choice at this point.”

Positively brilliant answer, Sarah … now go on back inside and colour some more pretty pictures.


Okay, I feel better now that I got all that off my chest!  Carry on, friends, and have a great rest-of-the-day!

The Mountain

A few days ago, I came upon a poem.  Typically, I pass right on by most poetry, for unless it’s very short, like a limerick, I rarely understand it.  In college, poetry thoroughly defeated me, even the simplest of them.  But, for some reason this one caught my eye and I read it … once, then again. And I thought, “BINGO!”  This is how I sometimes feel, as if I simply can’t do what needs to be done.  However, being a stubborn wench I typically give myself a good ‘talking to’ and get on with the business at hand.  But this poem struck a chord, and its message is, I think, beautifully and yet simply conveyed.  The poem, titled The Mountain, is by Laura Ding-Edwards of Herefordshire in the United Kingdom.  Since I enjoyed it, I thought perhaps you might also …

The Mountain

The Mountain

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.

jingle-2

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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War of the Worlds …

It was 80 years ago today that Orson Welles literally sent the nation into a panic with his hour-long radio broadcast, War of the Worlds.  According to History.com

Orson WellesOrson Welles was only 23 years old when his Mercury Theater company decided to update H.G. Wells’ 19th-century science fiction novel War of the Worlds for national radio. Despite his age, Welles had been in radio for several years, most notably as the voice of “The Shadow” in the hit mystery program of the same name. “War of the Worlds” was not planned as a radio hoax, and Welles had little idea of the havoc it would cause.

The show began on Sunday, October 30, at 8 p.m. A voice announced: “The Columbia Broadcasting System and its affiliated stations present Orson Welles and the Mercury Theater on the air in ‘War of the Worlds’ by H.G. Wells.”

Sunday evening in 1938 was prime-time in the golden age of radio, and millions of Americans had their radios turned on. But most of these Americans were listening to ventriloquist Edgar Bergen and his dummy “Charlie McCarthy” on NBC and only turned to CBS at 8:12 p.m. after the comedy sketch ended and a little-known singer went on. By then, the story of the Martian invasion was well underway.

Welles introduced his radio play with a spoken introduction, followed by an announcer reading a weather report. Then, seemingly abandoning the storyline, the announcer took listeners to “the Meridian Room in the Hotel Park Plaza in downtown New York, where you will be entertained by the music of Ramon Raquello and his orchestra.” Putrid dance music played for some time, and then the scare began. An announcer broke in to report that “Professor Farrell of the Mount Jenning Observatory” had detected explosions on the planet Mars. Then the dance music came back on, followed by another interruption in which listeners were informed that a large meteor had crashed into a farmer’s field in Grovers Mills, New Jersey.

Soon, an announcer was at the crash site describing a Martian emerging from a large metallic cylinder. “Good heavens,” he declared, “something’s wriggling out of the shadow like a gray snake. Now here’s another and another one and another one. They look like tentacles to me … I can see the thing’s body now. It’s large, large as a bear. It glistens like wet leather. But that face, it… it … ladies and gentlemen, it’s indescribable. I can hardly force myself to keep looking at it, it’s so awful. The eyes are black and gleam like a serpent. The mouth is kind of V-shaped with saliva dripping from its rimless lips that seem to quiver and pulsate.”

The Martians mounted walking war machines and fired “heat-ray” weapons at the puny humans gathered around the crash site. They annihilated a force of 7,000 National Guardsman, and after being attacked by artillery and bombers the Martians released a poisonous gas into the air. Soon “Martian cylinders” landed in Chicago and St. Louis. The radio play was extremely realistic, with Welles employing sophisticated sound effects and his actors doing an excellent job portraying terrified announcers and other characters. An announcer reported that widespread panic had broken out in the vicinity of the landing sites, with thousands desperately trying to flee. In fact, that was not far from the truth.

war of the worlds-3Perhaps as many as a million radio listeners believed that a real Martian invasion was underway. Panic broke out across the country. In New Jersey, terrified civilians jammed highways seeking to escape the alien marauders. People begged police for gas masks to save them from the toxic gas and asked electric companies to turn off the power so that the Martians wouldn’t see their lights. One woman ran into an Indianapolis church where evening services were being held and yelled, “New York has been destroyed! It’s the end of the world! Go home and prepare to die!”

When news of the real-life panic leaked into the CBS studio, Welles went on the air as himself to remind listeners that it was just fiction. There were rumors that the show caused suicides, but none were ever confirmed.

The Federal Communications Commission investigated the program but found no law was broken. Networks did agree to be more cautious in their programming in the future. Orson Welles feared that the controversy generated by “War of the Worlds” would ruin his career. In fact, the publicity helped land him a contract with a Hollywood studio, and in 1941 he directed, wrote, produced, and starred in Citizen Kane—a movie that many have called the greatest American film ever made.

Today, we don’t have Orson Welles to bring us a scare … instead we have Donald Trump.