Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Diana Was Already At Work,

by the time I had written the blog, completed my exercises and eaten breakfast,


also Mr. Tony called, which was great news, we had a chat on one of the few times I could hear him properly, my Link or what ever it is normally makes the volume so low, but today it was fine, he is well, and sends everyone his best wishes, in the afternoon I took the car shopping, firstly to Lidl for some boxes of wine and bottles of spiced rum, next stop to Waitrose, lucky in both stores no queues of panic buyers, straight in and out for bottles of sherry and Cinzano Bianco, and some food,

after my evening meal and a couple of quiz shows, it was feet up for Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, we had watched the film before, way back in 2013, here is what I wrote then, "the title says it all, the film explores the secret life of the America's greatest president, Abraham Lincoln and the untold story that shaped the nation, the president discovers blood-thirsty vampires are planning to take over the United States, Lincoln makes it his mission to eliminate them, becoming history's greatest hunter of the undead, who said history was boring? as an aside here are 5 facts about Abraham Lincoln from The History channel that you may not know about him, for myself the one facts of the five that I was not aware of was that he did not believe blacks should have the same rights as whites as he proclaimed in 1858”, just before10.00 Diana called, off to the bus stop to pick her up, then feet up for one from New Tricks and the penultimate episode of The Terror, which just keeps getting better and better, with the end of that we were then off to bed.


As A Kid,

back in the 1950s,


there was a popular song that we used to sing, Yes, We Have No Bananas, the above recording by Sam Lanin,

and this one by Billy Jones, here are the lyrics,

There’s a fruit store on our street,
it's run by a Greek.
And he keeps good things to eat
But you should hear him speak!
When you ask him anything, he never answers "no".
He just "yes"es you to death, and as he takes your dough
He tells you
"Yes, we have no bananas
We have-a no bananas today.
We've string beans, and onions
Cabbages, and scallions,
And all sorts of fruit and say
We have an old fashioned to-mah-to
A Long Island po-tah-to
But yes, we have no bananas.
We have no bananas today."
Business got so good for him that he wrote home today,
"Send me Pete and Nick and Jim; I need help right away."
When he got them in the store, there was fun, you bet.
Someone asked for "sparrow grass" and then the whole quartet
All answered
"Yes, we have no bananas
We have-a…

so why the song? 

apparently one-hundred years ago, if you lived in Europe or North America, you likely would’ve been peeling a variety known as the “Gros Michel.” Slightly flatter than our present-day bananas (the Cavendish), it was beloved for its thick skin and sweet taste. It was first taken by French naturalist Nicolas Baudin to the island of Martinique in the early 1800s, and soon it was being cultivated en mass in Central America. They thrived until the 1920s, when a little fungus called Panama disease” started to wreak havoc. Hence, the 1922 record that I remember form the 1950s,

fortunately, a new banana variety that wasn’t susceptible to Fusarium replaced Gros Michel: the Cavendish banana. Cavendish quickly made a name for itself. Today, it accounts for 47% of bananas grown worldwide, and 99% of all bananas exported worldwide. Remember, all of these are genetically identical!

now, Cavendish, of course, has some weaknesses of its own. It is susceptible to another widespread fungus, called Black Sigatoka. In addition, farmers largely cultivate bananas in monoculture (i.e. one crop cultivated on the same plot year after year). This makes regular pesticide use a necessity: plantations need to be sprayed up to 50 times in one season!

history is repeating itself, with one major problem. There is no new variety that could replace Cavendish, as was the case with Gros Michel before. If we don’t find a solution, we, as consumers, will soon have to take notice of this threat, too, there are, in fact, over a thousand banana varieties worldwide. But they do not have the exact characteristics consumers, growers and companies are looking for in bananas. They might not taste as good, be susceptible to TR4 or other diseases, be difficult to transport over long distances or yield less, for the full run down here is the full article, all banana photographs from our day at one of the local growers fairs when we were in Thailand, reading the article it might be worth re-recording Yes, We have no bananas!


I Am Sure We Have All Seen An Artists Pallet,

but I am sure not many of us will have seen one as old as this,


a painter's palette inscribed with the name of Amenhotep III, ca. 1390-1352 BCE all photographs The Metropolitan Museum of Art [Public Domain], 

made out of a single piece of ivory, this artist's tool includes six oval paint wells that still contain cakes of blue, green, brown, yellow, red, and black pigments. At one end of the palette is also an inscription of the pharaoh Amenhotep III (ca. 1401-1353 BCE) in hieroglyphics as well as the epithet “beloved of Re.” Amenhotep III's reign was one of the most prosperous periods of ancient Egypt and filled with achievements in art and culture,

the fascinating thing about the pallet is that the colours give historians an insight at how colours were depicted in those times, Jenny Hill writes in Ancient Egypt Online, iwn—color—can also be translated as “disposition,” “character,” “complexion” or “nature.” She delves into the specifics of each of the six basic colours, to see the rest of the article and a description of each colour, have a look here, to visit The Metropolitan Museum of Art, have a look at  these, Website | Facebook | Instagram,  just 6 colours to mix and choose from, a bit different to the boxes of artists  paints I see today, some with almost hundreds of tubes or blocks of paints and pencils, I guess more is not always better.


I Often See Buildings,

that are famous Internationally,



but there are so many that are well known locally, but never make it to the International stage, like these, Roma Palaces in Huedin, Transylvania, Romania,

Arquitectura libre is a long-term project that focuses primarily on the architecture of remittances; the fantastical houses being built in Mexico, India and Romania. Found via Present & Correct, you can discover the growing collection of photos by Adam Wiseman, and what an amazing collection of different buildings and styles.


Tuesday, 19 January 2021

Diana Was Already At Work,

as I made my way out of the park,


I hopped the bank would now be open as it stated on Friday as it was closed, in the distance a number of walkers making their way towards me to go for a walk in the park,

in a strange way it was good news, as I got of off the bus, a huge queue waiting to go into the bank, so it was open, I decided to time my visit as I joined the queue, I was on my way home in exactly 40 minuets, all of the staff were new to me, enquiring about the closure I was told that all 5 of the permeant staff had gone down with Covid-19 and were quarantining, hence all new faces, the staff had been brought in from other branches, arriving home after giving the aquarium a clean and pottering about the flat, 

I watched The Untouchables, an enjoyable movie following the fall of Al Capone who always thought he was untouchable, after my evening meal I decided to watch,

  The Ballad of Buster Scruggs again! this is the review I gave it the last time I watched it, 'you get 6 stories for the price of one, each story with an ending that was not in the least expected, a real gem of a find and here is the official trailer',

 'if you have not watched it, give it a try, I can almost guarantee you will never guess the ending of each of 6 stories in the film, until it happens!' such fun to watch again, I followed that with a couple of Midsomer Murders, just after midnight Diana called, I meet her at the bus stop, we walked home where it was feet up for a coffee,

 and the start of the last of three discs from The Terror, we have both really enjoyed this series so much, with the end of that episode we were then off to bed.


If You Liked 25 or 6 To 4,

the song recorded by,


the group Chicago, you may like this rendition of it by a Korean zither player, Luna Lee, she is a master of the instrument known as a gayageum, the piece gets off to a slow start, but soon moves up in tempo, what a fascinating instrument, to see more of her in action have a look at this page from loudersound.com, if you do not remember the original from its 1970 release,
 

here it is, crickey released in 1970, it just seems like a few years ago!


We Have Never Been To America,

but if we did visit there are so many places we would like to see,


amongst them the United States Capitol Building, naturally we would take the guided tour, and if possible revisit at our own time and pace to take a more thorough look at the interior, in any event one thing we would be doing is counting the number of miniature doors that we can find there, I guess most Americans that have visited know all about what lies behind the doors, but for everyone else there is a tragic story to be told, the story and photographs from www.aoc.gov,

'The correct explanation for their existence begins with a fire on Christmas Eve 1851. At that time the Library of Congress was housed in the Capitol Building. That morning as John Jones, a guard, was walking on the Capitol Grounds he noticed a flicker through the Library windows. Jones had no key to the room, so he was forced to break the door down. Once inside, he discovered a small fire. Water was not readily available in the building, so Jones had to run downstairs to find some. By the time he returned, the fire had spread throughout the two-story Library. Seven fire stations responded to the alarms. Firefighters worked all day and night and into Christmas morning to extinguish the flames.

The fire devastated the Library's collection: thirty-five thousand volumes were destroyed. Approximately two-thirds of the books purchased from Thomas Jefferson were gone. Manuscripts, maps and other artwork had been consumed by the fire, which was later determined to have been caused by a spark from the fireplace in the room below the Library. During the investigation, Jones testified that the fire could have been easily extinguished had there been water nearby. The fear of future fires motivated Congress to fund a critically needed reliable water supply for Washington, D.C.Captain Montgomery C. Meigs of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was assigned by the War Department to manage the project. Meigs had a remarkable career. He helped build many D.C. landmarks, including Arlington National Cemetery, the Capitol Building extension and the modern Dome of the Capitol Building. Arguably his most significant engineering achievement was the Washington Aqueduct. The elaborate system brought fresh water from the Potomac River at Great Falls into the federal city and into the pipes hidden behind the Capitol's small doors. These small doors and the water sources they housed, are found in several places in the Capitol Building, they were multipurpose. They stood ready to provide water to prevent any future fire from spreading, but they also ensured the mud tracked in from Washington's dirt streets and footpaths could be easily cleaned from the Capitol's floors. That is why the doors stand only about 30 inches tall: they conceal low, shallow closets where workers filled pails of water to mop the floors.' 

all we now have to do to add some fun when we visit, is count how many miniature doors we can find, unless someone already has a list of where in the building and how many there exactly are?



It Seemed Implausible At The Time,

swimmers in the Sahara desert,


back in 1933 Hungarian explorer László Almásy explored the Sahara desert in Egypt and Libya, trying to find a legendary oasis called Zerzura, and he thought he had found it, a cave in Egypt's Gilf Kebir mountains had paintings of people on the walls, photograph Roland Unger/Wikimedia Commons, the figures are estimated to be 8,000 years old. They appear to be swimming, but that was impossible in the Sahara Desert! in his book The Unknown Sahara, he postulates that the swimming scenes are real depictions of life at the time of painting, suggesting that there had been a climatic change from temperate to desert, at that time it was a radical new theory that sounded so dubious that his publisher felt compelled to add several footnotes in the book to make it clear that they did not share this opinion, since that time, scientists have uncovered more evidence that the Sahara was once rather humid, and had forests and lakes that would have been fine for swimming, the cave is now known as the Cave of Swimmers, which you can read about at Amusing Planet, as an aside if the name László Almásy sounds familiar, it is because you may have read or watched a film about him, The English Patient, a remarkable real life character to say the least.


Monday, 18 January 2021

Where Does The Time Go?

it is Sunday already!


'Cheers!',

for our lunch a starter of a lamb kebab,

time to tuck in,

in case you had not noticed the beard is coming on well,

for our main course the last of the Christmas turkey, with gravy for Diana,

sans for myself,

eyes down and tuck in, and nice it was too, 

Diana had bought some tulips on her way home from work yesterday,

they looked nice over the roses,

no I am not having 40!  I was actually miles away as I was listening to Enrico Caruso performing Il sogno,


here it is,  

it was one of the pieces performed in one of my favourite films, Fitzcarraldo, which we featured in a post in December last year,

for our dessert, apple pie with custard,

delicious! 

we spent the afternoon watching Twister's Revenge,  fun, dumb, fun, dumb, in any order you like! in the evening it was feet up for a couple from Colombo, 

followed by Stardust, great story and special effects, and it always makes us laugh even though we know it is coming, when the captain played by Robert De Niro is found out to be a Whoopsie! with the end of that one more of the excellent series The Terror if you click on to the link there is a very good description of the real events and TV series, and with the end of that episode we were off to bed.


If You Are A Fan Of Game Of Thrones,

you will no doubt remember the dire wolves,


fearsome creatures, that grew up to 6 feet long, well they did actually exist, above two grey wolves (lower left) confront a pack of dire wolves over a bison carcass in southwestern North America 15,000 years ago, (Illustration by Mauricio Anton / UCLA), they were real dogs that grew up to six feet long in order to hunt the megafauna of North America tens of thousands of years ago, quite a few of their remains were preserved in the La Brea tar pits, dire wolves were identified as a species in the 1850s, but now DNA analysis tells us more about them. For example, they weren't really wolves, which I must admit I found surprising, after sequencing five genomes from dire wolf fossils between 50,000 and 13,000 years old, the researchers found that the animals belonged to a much older lineage of dogs. Dire wolves, it now appeared, had evolved in the Americas and had no close kinship with the grey wolves from Eurasia; the last time grey wolves and dire wolves shared a common ancestor was about 5.7 million years ago. The strong resemblance between the two, the researchers say, is a case of convergent evolution, whereby different species develop similar adaptations—or even appearances—thanks to a similar way of life. Sometimes such convergence is only rough, such as both birds and bats evolving wings despite their differing anatomy. In the case of dire and grey wolves, lives of chasing large herbivores to catch some meat on the hoof resulted in two different canid lineages independently producing wolf like forms, the DNA study is causing scientists to rethink how and why dire wolves went extinct, and how they should be classified, you can read more about these monster that were at one time real live dogs at Scientific American, another case of seeing a monster in a movie, that was not a figment of a writers imagination.

 

Although Made Some Time Ago,

I have only just seen this most impressive world beating video,


it features master bubble blower Chang Yu-Te (China) in Taoyuan, Taiwan, China, on 20 September 2020 the Guinness World Record was for blowing the most soap bubbles blown inside one larger bubble was broken when Chang Yu-Te broke the record with an amazing 783 bubbles, I remember as a kid we used to by bubble blowing tubes of liquid soap, if we actually blew just one bubble it was an achievement, by comparison Chang Yu-Te makes it look so easy!


We Have Featured,

bonsai tress so often on our blog,


from real ones in these previous posts,

to plastic ones like this one from LEGO, and now for a new take on bonsai,

edible ones! image credits SoraNews24,

that you can make yourself,

the Okashi de Tsukuru Bonsai (“Making a Bonsai Out of Candy”) is simple enough that anyone can make it, and requires no special tools beyond a mug, spoon, and toothpick,

the kit comes with three moulding trays, chocolate candies, “leaf powder,” and a “pot” to put your finished tree in,

you can buy kits on Amazon, although I am not sure if they ship, to the UK, you can also purchase a six-kit bundle through Amazon Japan here, edible bonsai, who would have thought it!


Sunday, 17 January 2021

Diana Had A Long Day Today,

after dropping her off at the bus stop I arrived hone just after 06.00AM,


it was just getting light, as usual I had a quiet day, just reading and watching television,

in the evening my meal,

for my starter I had the same as yesterday, smoked salmon with potato salad and coleslaw,

for my main course beef stroganoff with long grain and wild rice in a cream sauce with paprika and French brandy,

'Cheers!',

strawberries and a jam cream roll for dessert, just before 9.00 in the evening Diana called, back to the bus stop and home where it was feet up for a couple from,

 The Terror, the sets are just so good the attention detail superb, with the end of two episodes we were then off to bed.