Monday, December 11, 2017

Is Christmas Uncommon?

The website has a lot of gift ideas for Christmas.  It is full of interesting things.  What about Yoga Joes, Choose Your Dog Breed Socks, Bubble Wrap Calendar, Interstellar Puzzles, Yard Dice, Super Magnetic Putty, Bards Dispense Profanity Game, Crimson Heart Umbrella,  and Emergency Clown Nose. Here are some of the trending most popular:

A City Map Glass
Created by Brian Johnson Location Massachusetts
Take a mental stroll through familiar streets with this rocks glass, etched with your city's distinct grid.

“I hope my glasses serve as conversation pieces and fun ways to bring people together.”
By day, Boston-based designer Brian Johnson creates high-performance composite products for the medical and military industries. By night, his passion for creating modern, functional home goods takes over. He enjoys working with simple, sustainable materials in striking ways and applying novel approaches to everyday objects. With eco-friendly manufacturing in mind, he selects recyclable and repurposed materials whenever possible and makes every effort to source materials and services locally through other small businesses in the United States.
Avocado Huggers - Set of 2
This silicone cup embraces half an avocado to keep the cut fruit fresh longer.

Michelle Ivankovic and Adrienne McNicholas first met 15 years ago working together on fun and fashionable products for the home. Michelle's talents as an industrial designer and Adrienne's marketing and strategy skills were a great mix. Each project polished their teamwork and built their friendship. "Our mission is to design and create tools that make it easy to get the most enjoyment and nutrition possible from the groceries our customers buy and reduce the amount of food that gets wasted in the home," they say.

Personalized Library Card Pillow
Check out these pillows personalized with your family's details in a playful homage to a classic library card. With your family name as title and parents' names as authors, children become the borrowers with their birthdays as check-out dates. Fun home decor accents for librarians, teachers, and book lovers, they'll quietly add color to any couch or bed. 

Rebecca Rodriguez's background reflects her love of both academics and artistry. She has a B.A. from Yale University in American Art & Material Culture, and a Master’s Degree in American Material Culture (think Antiques Roadshow). She started a small business creating mindful and playful homewares infused with school-days nostalgia. She firmly believes that everyday life can be made better by creating playful and beautiful spaces in which to live and work.

We're looking at the amazing bark of a pine tree at the Denver Botanical Garden.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Jerusalem the Golden

Jerusalem the Golden is a Lutheran hymn, written in the mid 1800's.  The tune comes to my mind whenever Jerusalem is mentioned.  It has been in the news this past week.  I realized that Marshall McLuhan's global village is here and now.  Jerusalem is the centre of global village attention.

I know little about the actual city.  I find out it is one of the oldest cities in the world, named Urusalima on Mesopotamian tablets - 2400 BCE.  It is a holy city in Judaism, Christianity and Islam.  King David and King Solomon, his son, ruled there.  It is the site of Abraham's sacrifice. Jesus was crucified there. Muhammad made his Night Journey there.  It is the home of many sites of seminal religious importance.  A tiny area within the larger Jerusalem, the Old City is a World Heritage Site also one considered in Danger by UNESCO. 

It isn't the oldest city in the world to be continuously inhabited.  It has the special nexus of religions that distinguishes it and makes for a continuing source of contention and attention.

Which city is the oldest? Damascus, Syria is the oldest with evidence of habitation dating back at least 11,000 years. Jericho, West Bank is the second oldest with fortifications unearthed dating back to 6800 BC - they confirm it is the earliest known walled city. Aleppo is the third oldest and the most devastated by the recent four-year battle. We get to Athens, Greece, the fourth oldest.  It has been continuously inhabited for at least 7,000 years.  The Acropolis was built in the 5th century BCE. Remember the Thracians his grade school history?  They settled Plovdiv, Bulgaria - it was a major city for the Romans - and is the sixth oldest.  Byblos is the seventh - and the English word for "bible" is derived from this ancient town's name.

Jerusalem is listed as the 10th oldest.  There are two cities outside of the mideast and Europe that are on the ancient list - Luoyang, China and Varanasi, India.

Our pictures show a little of our Christmas tradition of decorating the tree. What will be at the top of your Christmas tree this year? We see some of the creative displays at the Grimsby Fantasy of Trees this year.  

Friday, December 8, 2017

On the Street Where You Live

We will all be travelling/driving a little more around Christmas time.  Shopping increases; there are more visits with friends; the family Christmas dinner brings people together from different areas.

I was driving in my little town of 30,000 people and came across the corner of Ontario and Adelaide Streets - made me think of Toronto as it has that intersection.  Street names can follow us in our travels.  We moved from Toronto's Sunnylea area to Grimsby's Sunnylea Crescent. In Toronto we lived in The Kingsway - we can drive on Kingsway Crescent in Grimsby. There is the intersection of Victoria and Front Street in Niagara-on-the-Lake, like in Toronto.  
There is a Yonge Street on the escarpment, but sadly no Yonge and Bloor intersection.

So I went in search of the authoritative guide to the most common street names in Canada.  The article is at website.   This website's mission is to tell compelling and unusual stories about Canada through maps, interactive charts and other interesting visualizations, so I encourage you to read the story on street names.

I am familiar with street names in Ontario.  However, the article notes: "there are 7,204 kilometers between Victoria and St. John's Newfoundland, and 4,529 Kilometres between Alert, Nunavut in the north and Windsor, Ontario in the south".  So my Ontario experience is limited - every Ontario town has an Ontario Street.

The most popular/common street name:  Second. That turns out to be the most popular street name in America as well.  Numerical street names are six of the top ten street names.  The Canadian distinction?  Maple!

Statistics Canada's Road Network Files for 2015 were the data source for the analysis - and the popular categories of street names were: numbers, nature, people, royalty, and other.

Why isn't First the most common street name?  They tell us it is because Second Street will often come after whatever serves as a city's primary thoroughfare.  Front Street  and Main Street are common for the primary street.

What's the distinction of 50th Avenue and 50th Street - it originated in Alberta and serves as the midpoint of many urban municipalities in the province.  It was a popular and easy navigation system in earlier times. 

"It comes as little surprise that names of royal descent appear on the list before those of famous Canadians. Victoria (501), King (479) and Queen (371) are more common than any historic Canadian, a testament to our enduring if not complicated ties to the British monarchy. After all, Queen Victoria has 501 streets named after her and a federal holiday to boot, while Canada’s first Prime Minister, John A. MacDonald, didn’t even make it onto the list".

Sometimes we worry over our complicated world - perhaps we can insert some simple pleasures - street names would qualify in my books.

Our pictures today feature nature and man - the back of a tropical leaf and the back of a transport truck.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

What is perigee-syzygy?

The Supermoon was seen two days ago.  There were beautiful pictures of it.  It was a big moon in the sky here.

The term used for this is perigee syzygy.  This term seems a bit weird and crazy.  It is a technical term originating from the Greek words sun and to yoke:
"The technical term for a Supermoon is perigee-syzygy of the Earth-Moon-Sun system. In astronomy, the term syzygy refers to the straight-line configuration of three celestial bodies.
When the Moon is close to the lunar nodes of its path during syzygy, it causes a total solar eclipse or a total lunar eclipse."

You can find out about the Antumbra, the Penumbra and the Umbra at - great words too.  

I expected to do a searching and find all kinds of crazy products and websites.  It turns out to not be the case - there is  Perigee Syzygy - a Mountain Town Brew - it's a double style beer.  And there's some 'moonstone' jewellery.  

Our next two super moons will be January 1st and January 31st. So for the next one, most astronomers suggest watching the supermoon right after sunset and into moonrise, and minutes before the next sunrise as well.

If you want to see wonderful pictures of super moons - here's the article.  

My abstract comes from a picture of a lemon with the Flaming Pear Flood Filter applied. 

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

New this Christmas!

New This Christmas!

Is there something new this Christmas?  We who are older seem to have seen everything Christmas. So what could be new this year? It's right in front of us:  this is a Trump Christmas!

What's different about a Trump Christmas?
By Tara McKelvey BBC White House Reporter
"It was a warm day at the White House with the scent of roses in the air and it hardly felt like Christmas. 
Yet the holiday season was in full swing - a week earlier than many of his predecessors chose to begin. 
Trump likes to do things differently, though. 
In that spirit, here are five ways that his Christmas is unique."
1. It started before Thanksgiving
This year the tree arrived early - three days before Thanksgiving - apparently because of the president's travel plans. 

2. No more 'Happy Holidays'
During the presidential campaign, Trump would tell his supporters that people would soon be saying "Merry Christmas" again, instead of "happy holidays", which he has derided as politically correct.

3. A special present for the people 
It's not the kind of gift you'll find under the tree. Tax cuts don't come covered in wrapping paper. The president has described his proposed tax cuts as "a great, big, beautiful Christmas present" for Americans.
4. No pet photos
He's the first president in more than a century without a pet - so no cute pictures of a first dog, marking another departure from tradition. 
5. 'Bah, humbug' for the media
Under previous administrations, the president held a press conference in the briefing room in December. Trump's not likely to do that. 
One administration aide told me that she thinks it's beneath him to appear in the briefing room. Instead the president talks to reporters on the south lawn, in the Oval Office or on Air Force One, places where he seems to feel comfortable.
Besides that, he's invited a smaller number of reporters to the White House to celebrate the holidays. 
The party invitations have gone out, but a CNN spokesperson said they weren't going to attend because of "the president's continued attacks on freedom of the press and CNN".
That suits people who work for the president just fine.

Our picture today comes from the Buffalo Garden Walk this year - it is here to distract us from our Trump Christmas - a festive Flamingo display in one front garden.