Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Earth Day and other Minor Secular Observances

I got to thinking about Earth Day.  There is a long list of "minor secular observances" in Wikipedia. Earth Day is one of these, along with yesterday's World Book Day.  Between now and May 1st which is May Day, we get celebrations and observances such as International Jazz Day, Instituted by the UN.  

I thought I would find some fun jokes on May Day, but they turn out to be in keeping with the fertility theme of the day.  Instead, we catch up with the celebration of National Book Day:
Q: What do you get when you throw a lot of books into the ocean?
A: A title wave.
Q: Why was the math book always worried?
A: Because it had so many problems.
Yesterday a book fell on my head...
Well, I only have my shelf to blame!

I have been reading a book about anti-gravity...
I just cannot put it down!

Q: Why did the Romanian stop reading for the night?
A: To give his Bucharest!

Here's the upcoming meet and greet this Sunday in Hamilton on Dundurn St. S.

Earth Day and More

It was Earth Day this week and tonight I will be at our local coffee shop and the topic is bird friendly coffee.  The coffee roaster will talk about making coffee growing more sustainable for birds. 

In Latin America, coffee is heavily sprayed and fertilized with synthetic fertilizers.  Sprawling massive fields stretch out for miles. While this created high coffee yields it was also devastated the environment and wildlife.  Returning to organic methods and going coffee in concert with a rainforest canopy have resulted in beans with a deeper and richer flavour.  

And how does my Grimsby garden relate to coffee growing? The answer is simple:  many of the birds who live in Latin America in the winter are migratory, so live here in the summer.  These include orioles, tanagers, and warblers. What about hummingbirds? The Indigo bunting? 

The Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center in Washington, D.C has identified ecologically sustainable farming methods that provide a welcome habitat for birds. They developed certification standards for making bird-friendly coffee.  One can differentiate between shade-grown, organic, fair-trade and bird-friendly.

So back to our gardens in Grimsby where the hummingbirds, Baltimore Orioles and small warblers made their home in summer.  Our job is to grow native trees and plants, so that they have the insects to feed their young.  

Here's the handout on what trees and flowers to grow here in Ontario, along with sources of information.
I've been watching for this little flower to bloom in my garden.  It's Bloodroot and will bloom for only a day.

Please consider coming to the meet and greet this Sunday in Hamilton - the address is corrected from an earlier invitation - it is on Dundurn St. S.

Monday, April 22, 2019

If It Jiggles

That was Arnold Schwarzenegger.  He said:  "It's simple.  If it jiggles, it's fat"

After the Easter meals and chocolates I wonder about this question. Why does fat jiggle? While I don't have the answer from my searching this morning, I find out a few thing.  Muscle jiggles too, but it is heavier nd more dense.  And then there is the distinction between different kinds of fat.  It appears that not all fat does jiggle.  There are different ways in which our bodies store fat.  There is soft fat and hard fat. 

1. Subcutaneous - This is the soft fat that is squishy and jiggly. It is held underneath the skin. This subcutaneous fat is what we see as rolls or as dimpled cellulite. It has mind of its own and you cannot flex it or suck it in. You cannot hold your breath and have a double chin tighten or a flabby arm feel firm. This fat is the ugly stuff that is shunned by society.

2. Visceral - It sits deep inside the abdominal cavity and it surrounds the vital organs. It has greater access to the blood supply than soft fat because of its location within the abdomen.  Clearly it is the more dangerous fat.

What about the fat jiggling machines?  This is a vibrating slimming  belt  that is supposed to jiggle the fat away.  A recent article says they have these benefits: strengthening bone density in postmenopausal women, improved muscle strength in elderly adults, and improved balance in elderly adults.  They don't help with weight loss, muscle toning or muscle sculpting.  I could check out my local Y to see if it has a machine.  These are now in gyms as an added bonus for strengthening exercises.

Here's our floral thought for the week.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

This Week's Hostage Expression

U.S. Attorney General William Barr's Mueller Report press conference drew a lot of attention.  Why?  Because of the expression on Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein's face.  It is known as the hostage expression.  Something that came to my mind was that this might be an actual state of mind as a result of having worked with the Trump administration.

Here's Rod Rosenstein before:

Here he is at the press conference:
Don't pictures tell a story!  He's not the first to stand behind Trump with the "hostage expression"  - New Jersey Governor Chris Christie did the same on Super Tuesday in 2016 and then went on The Tonight Show to "explain it."  I wonder who might be next.

We approach Easter Sunday with its religious and secular traditions. Supposedly the Germans brought the Easter bunny to America in 1the 1700s with German immigrants in Pennsylvania.  The tradition was an egg-laying hare.  The evolution since then:  This year's White House Easter Egg Roll is on April 22nd.  There were 18,000 eggs in last year's event.

Two of our water abstracts from the National Art Gallery in Ottawa.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Easter Relics in the News

The perfect Easter Story timing:  The Crown of Thorns in residence at Notre Dame has been saved.  There are many press stories showing this beautifully gilded artifact - the "supposed and purported" original crown, considered priceless.  

The origins of the crown can be traced to texts dating back to about AD 530 that claim the crown was on show in the "Basilica of Mount Zion" — a hill in Jerusalem just outside the walls of the Old City — where it was believed to have been venerated for some time. 

Move on to the 1500's, with so many relics and so much veneration that  John Calvin, key figure in the Protestant Reformation published his Treatise on Relics in 1543.  He argued the veneration of relics had become idolatry. He pointed out there was no mention of the keeping of the relics of Christ or anyone else in the earliest church writings. The opposite was the case - a deliberate avoidance of these as they were considered idolatry.  

So on to more current authorities.  Professor Euan Cameron writes:

"Then there was the problem that so many relics existed in multiple versions across Europe:  one saint might have up to four full bodies dispersed in various places, besides body parts dispersed here and there."
And what about the relic itself - what is the  authenticity of the plant.  The speculation is that the original band of reeds ws held together by a thorny vine.  Wikipedia says that the bush the thorns came from is Ziziphus spina-christi, more popularly, the jujube tree.  The thorns were removed from the crown and kept in separate reliquaries.  The oldest known Ziziphus is located south of Jerusalem and is estimated to be about 2000 years old, just about the right age to be the 'very tree'. So it too is venerated.

This is a mere snippet of the long story of the Crown of Thorns.  Tomorrow we'll visit the current Easter story:  Where it's all about the bunny and not about the lamb.

Isn't this a beautiful display at the Niagara Falls Greenhouses?  This picture was taken a few years ago.