Friday, July 25, 2014

A Tree Bigger Than The Average Wal-Mart

Hey there! Glad you could make it today. Pour yourself a perky mugful of coffee and nudge a virtual muffin onto your plate! Say...I am sure you have heard the expression, "Can't see the forest for the trees!" Well, here is a variation...

It may sound hard to believe, but the world's widest tree, located near Kolkata, India, is bigger than the average Wal-Mart.

The gigantic Banyan tree may look like a forest from far away, but it's actually comprised of a myriad of aerial roots that cover 3.5 square acres of land, which equals roughly 156,000 square feet , or 14,400 square meters.


Compare that to data from the most recent unit count and square footage report from Wal-Mart, which says that the average store size (that's not a Supercenter) is just under 105,000 square feet or 9,750 square meters.


The Great Banyan Tree’s canopy is made up of 3,511 aerial prop roots that connect to the earth,  which make them look like individual trees, according to the Times of India. T he tree made it into "The Guinness Book of World Records” as the world's widest tree, and has even been featured on stamps in India.


Visitors can see it at the Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Indian Botanic Garden in Shibpur, Kolkata , and walk around the .2-mile-long road built around the tree’s circumference (the Great Banyan Tree has continued to expand beyond the road, creating a sort of tunnel).


Scientists are surprised that the tree is still alive. In 1884 and again in 1886, cyclones hit the Great Banyan Tree, breaking it open and exposing its main trunk to a fungal attack. In 1925, the main trunk (at that time measuring over 50 feet wide) was decaying and had to be removed.


Yet even without its trunk, the tree survives — and flourishes — to this day.


The aerial roots are supported by other roots connecting to the ground, causing this singular banyan tree to look more like a forest.


Holy Doodle, eh! That is one humongous tree! Glad I'm not the one in charge of pruning!

See ya, eh!'

Bob

PS: Okay...okay...here's another funny coffee sign...

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Radio show to teach taxi drivers English

Well, there you are! I was starting to get worried that you might have gotten lost and wandered off the face of the Earth or something. Anyway you are here now so fill your mug and tease your palate with a delicious no-fat virtual treat. Y'know, Bangkok (my favourite city!) has about 10,000 taxi drivers and finally, after all these years, someone has decided that they should perhaps learn to speak some English...

The Labour Ministry, FM 91 and Sukhothaithammathirat Open University will launch an English-learning pogramme for taxi drivers to better prepare them for the Asean Economic Community. 

Nakhon Silpa-archa, head of the ministry's Skill Development Department, said the radio program will be broadcast on traffic-and-safety station three times daily. Sukhothaithammathirat instructors will teach the lessons.

Taxi drivers and other listeners will be taught how to use simple sentences to communicate with foreign tourists, such travel routes, tourist spots, fares and others items.Mr Nakhon said the programme is slated to begin in August and last three months.

Sukhothaithammathirat Open University is also drawing up an English-training programme for taxi drivers at Suvarnabhumi airport.  The Skill Development Department will ask for space from the airport for the class.

The training programme will be held on different periods for taxi drivers to attend at their convenience.

Mr Nakhon said the Skill Development Department aims to develop English skill for taxi drivers in preparing for the entry into the AEC, to provide better services for foreign tourists, boost their income and promote the country's tourism.

Bangkok? What about right here at home, eh? We need the same English training for many of our taxi drivers!

See ya, eh!

Bob


PS: Seems people liked my funny coffee sign yesterday. Glad to hear it! Here's another for you...
 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Sign of our Stressful Times

Hi Ya! How's it going, eh? Getting any...beach time, that is! Perfect weather for it. Sometimes it is good (read...necessary) to kick back, chill out and sip a delicious cup, mug or whatever of coffee. Well, these days they come in all kinds of flavours. Tims has its Ice Cap, McD has Ice Coffee. 

In fact, Tims has ice coffee for $1 all summer including a flavour shot. I've tried the cream caramel (didn't think much of that) and the hazelnut...better. Not sure I'd like the raspberry so perhaps next time I'll tempt my palate with the vanilla bean. Hey, for a buck five (including tax) that 's not a bad deal.

However, I saw a sign recently that is a great reflection of what has to be the ultimate coffee for today's fretful times. See what you think. If you like the idea, I'll bring in a virtual potful, okay...

 Now that's what I'm talking about!

See ya, eh!

Bob


PS: Nong and I had a great time exploring Montreal's world renowned Botanical Gardens yesterday. The $18.50 admission ($17.50 for us seniors) is worth every penny. I tried out my new Sony Cybershot, taking almost 100 pictures. I loved the Chinese Garden area. If you want to see my pics, let me know. I loaded them on Dropbox. If you don't have Dropbox, you can download it free and then make your photo files shareable with people you want to let see your pics. Let me know and I'll send you the file folder name and add your name to my list of recipients. 


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Homeless Man Loses Benefits After Doing Good Deed

Bonjour, eh! How's it going today? Pour yourself a mug of java and grab a virtual treat while I tell you a little story of something that happened south of the Canada/US border...

Offers of support have been pouring in from around the nation for a formerly homeless New Jersey man whose good deed proved costly.

James Brady of Hackensack was notified recently that his government benefits were being suspended after he failed to report as income the $850 he had found on a sidewalk and turned over to police.

Brady, who was homeless when he found the money on a sidewalk in April after leaving a local homeless shelter, turned the cash over to police. He was allowed to keep it six months later after no one claimed it during a mandated waiting period.

But the Hackensack Human Services Department denied him General Assistance and Medicaid benefits through Dec. 31 because he failed to report the cash as new income. The director of human services said the agency was just following the rules.

The 59 year-old Brady is a former photographer and market data analyst who has suffered from depression since losing his job a decade ago, according to The Record of Woodland Park .

Brady told The Record that he hadn't realized he was required to report the money. Formerly homeless, he had recently found housing and was seeing a therapist and a psychiatrist and taking medication, but was unsure he'd be able to afford continuing care after his benefits were cut off.
The newspaper says offers of support for Brady have been pouring in from readers.

Bergen County's United Way has also set up an account specifically for Brady through its Compassion Fund.

The chapter's head, Tom Toronto, told the newspaper that the offers of help stem from a feeling that Brady did a good deed when it would have been easier not to.

"Here's a fellow who behaved admirably, who clearly could have used the money himself, but he showed a tremendous amount of pride and honesty," Toronto said.

Mindful that cash assistance could affect Brady's benefits going forward, Toronto said The United Way planned to work with Brady to develop a program of goods and services tailored to his needs.

Sometimes folks who 'apply the rules' need to learn to apply a little compassion as well.

See ya, eh!

Bob

PS: We're off to the Botanical Gardens shortly.Staying in "'Auberge Royal Versailles right across from the Metro (subway) and the huge Place Versailles shopping Mall. As we were walking around the mall yesterday afternoon, Nong commented, "I feel like I'm in a foreign country!" You have to go a long way before you hear any English spoken. It appears to be about 99% French, which is not surprising. Wait till we get to Quebec City...if we go tomorrow!

Monday, July 21, 2014

China Embraces Enlightenment

Ni hao! A gracious good day to you. Trust you're doing well...? Me? Thanks for asking. About as well as can be expected, I reckon. Y'know, for all China's blustering, there are some interesting things happening there. Here's one of them...

The next World Fellowship of Buddhists conference in Baoji will highlight the growing influence of the faith. Baoji was said to be among the first cities to embrace Buddhism when the religion was introduced to China, before it spread to and flourished in other parts of the giant country and its neighbours.
China probably has the largest number of Buddhists in the world, yet so little is known about the practice of Buddhism in the world’s most populous country. That is about to change as China seizes the opportunity to show the world how vigorous it has been in its bid to promote freedom of religion when it hosts the 27th general conference of the World Fellowship  of Buddhists between Oct 16 and 19.


It is the first time China has hosted a WFB meeting, which will be held at the city of Baoji in western Shaanxi province. The opening and closing ceremonies will be organized at the Famen Temple, also in Shaanxi. Delegates from Thailand, a founding member of the WFB, will be able to broaden their horizons, share their experiences with Buddhists from other countries, and gain knowledge and draw inspiration from China to improve Buddhism back home. China has more than 300 million Buddhism followers, with more than 20,000 Buddhist temples and about 200,000 monks.



With the theme “Buddhism: Public Benefit and Charity”, this year’s WFB conference in China is expected to broaden the appeal of Buddhism to the world. Zhan Lin, deputy secretary-general of the Buddhist Association of China (BAC), said the theme of this year’s meeting had been devised to confirm that Buddhism is a religion of peace and compassion.


Lord Buddha’s teachings are intended to end people’s sufferings, bring them inner peace, and enlighten the world. “Buddhist teachings offer an approach to ending suffering within ourselves and teach people how to show compassion towards others and help those who are in distress and helpless,” Mr Lin said. 



We can sure use some of that, huh!


See ya, eh!

Bob



PS: Nong and I are off to "La Grande Ville de Montreal" later this morning with plans to spend all day tomorrow at Montreal's huge...and I mean huge... Botanical Gardens. Will let you know all about it later in the week. Meanwhile, I expect to keep the press churning out my daily blog as long as I can connect to a Wi-Fi hotspot somewhere.


See ya, eh!

Bob

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Japanese Shrine Dedicated to Curing Hemorrhoids

Well, hi there! Great to see you. Help yourself to a nice refreshing cup of Japanese green tea and a virtual treat. Bring them over to the table here and sit down... unless, of course, it is painful to do so. Speaking of which...

Weird shrines are not uncommon in Japan. There is Karube Shrine, where people go to worship breasts, and the Shinto shrines where they bury broken needles in tofu. Another weird place is the Kunigami Shrine, in Tochigi Prefecture, that allegedly prevents and cures hemorrhoids.

So how does a shrine manage to cure a painful medical condition? Well, my guess is as good as yours. From what I read, according to an ancient tradition, people who wash their backsides at a nearby river and eat egg offerings are completely cured of hemorrhoids.

In modern times though, people have stopped washing their butts in public. Instead, they simply point their posterior at a smooth, shiny, egg-shaped butt washing stone placed at the center of the shrine and recite a special chant. This can, apparently, cure people of hemorrhoids. For those who are healthy, it can prevent their occurrence for life.

‘Kisai’ is the annual festival held at Kunigami Shrine, when people arrive in throngs to receive a cure for the painful condition. The centuries-old festival was discontinued in 1988, but then it was revived a couple of years ago, owing to a sudden surge of hemorrhoids among the Japanese.

This year’s festival saw at least 70 people in attendance – each of them bowed reverentially and then pointed their posterior at the “butt washing stone”. The amusing experience ensured that everyone had a fun time, and they probably forgot all about their ailing behinds at least for a day...provided they remain standing.

That and Preparation H will do it! Say, do you know that Prep H is also used extensively to reduce 'bags under the eyes'? I kid you not!

See ya, eh!

Bob
 


Saturday, July 19, 2014

McDonald’s Restaurants Becoming Popular Wedding Venues in Hong Kong

Hi ya! Thanks for clicking by today. Got your order ready! One large coffee to go and a virtual muffin, right? So, how are you doing anyway? In harmony with the flow of the universe? Great! Say...what do you think of McDonald's? Well listen to this...

More and more young couples in Hong Kong are turning to McDonald’s fast-food restaurants to fit their shoestring wedding budgets. With prices starting as low as $350 per wedding, the place is pretty much a steal – the deal includes the venue, decorations, audio equipment, food, gifts and invitations. The dream wedding has only one drawback – years later, couples will have to tell their kids that they got married at McDonald’s.

Surprisingly, not many couples are bothered by this. The demand for McDonald’s weddings is growing in Hong Kong – the wedding party program that was started in three locations in 2011, has now been extended to 15 branches. And, believe it or not, it’s not just about the money, there’s a sentimental value associated with getting hitched at McDonald’s.

I'm sure dads who have to foot the bill for extravagant weddings would be happy to hear about this less expensive alternative. Not sure about their daughters though, eh.

Do you want fries with your wedding?

See ya, eh!

Bob

Friday, July 18, 2014

Dad's Desert Trek To Make Daughter A Princess

A royally good day to you along with thanks for spiralling down out of cyberspace for your usual mug of coffee and virtual treat! In honour of the occasion, the treats are bejewelled today.  Do you remember... a long time ago, Walt Disney said, "If you don't have a dream, you can never have a dream come true." Well listen to this...

A man has trekked across the Egyptian desert to claim a small piece of land in an attempt to fulfil his daughter's wish to be a princess.

Jeremiah Heaton, who lives in Virginia, said he wanted to make good on a promise made months ago to his seven-year-old daughter, Emily.


"While playing one day she stopped and posed a question, 'Daddy, will I ever be a real princess?'" he wrote on his Facebook page.

"The only answer I could give my sweet little girl was 'Yes, of course you will be a princess one day'."

After researching online, he discovered that a patch of African land between Egypt and Sudan is unclaimed due to decades-old disputes between the two nations.

The area, 2,071 sq km (800 sq miles), is called Bir Tawil. It is a mountainous region where nobody lives.

Mr Heaton, who tried unsuccessfully to win a seat in Congress in 2012, was given permission by Egyptian authorities and travelled to the area in June to plant a flag there and named it the Kingdom of North Sudan.

"I travelled 14 hours through the open desert to reach Bir Tawil," said Mr Heaton, who planted the flag on June 16.

The flag, a golden seal against a blue backdrop, was designed by his children to represent the family.

Experts point out that just planting a flag is not enough to claim ownership of a territory, and Mr Heaton said he would seek formal recognition for the Kingdom of North Sudan.

When he came back, Mr Heaton's daughter asked her family to call her Princess Emily.

Mr Heaton lives in Abingdon, South Virginia. He and his wife Kelly have three children.

See ya, eh!

Bob

I can see it now...The Glorious and Exultant Kingdom of Bob. My flag will be a steaming mug of coffee on a cappuccino field. Aristocratic titles will be offered. The line up / queue forms on the right. As to exactly where this magnificent kingdom will be... as well, that is privileged information at the moment.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Confederate South Still Lives, in Brazil

Olá, amigo! How's life treating you today? Bet you're primed for a refreshingly delicious mug of coffee and a virtual treat, huh? I thought so. Sip and munch away while I review a little history with you...

The Americana municipality, in São Paulo, Brazil, is home to a very unique subculture – the Confederados. The members of this culture are the descendants of 10,000 Confederate refugees who chose to leave the United States after they lost the American Civil War. 

Today, the Confederados make up 10 percent of Americana’s population; they’ve managed to preserve the unique culture and traditions belonging to the Confederate South of the 19th century.

When the war ended in 1865, many former Confederates were unwilling to live under the rule of the Union. They were unhappy with the destruction of their pre-war lifestyle that included slavery. So when Emperor Dom Pedro II of Brazil sent recruiters to the Southern States of Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia, South Carolina and Texas to pick up experienced cotton farmers, many disgruntled Southerners jumped at the opportunity.
Slavery was still in existence in Brazil at the time, which greatly attracted the Southerners. Combined with their humiliating defeat at the hands of the Union, many felt that moving out of America was the only option available to them. Dom Pedro, who wanted to encourage the cultivation of cotton, made an offer they could not refuse – he offered them a package of tax breaks and grants, as well as a section of the Brazilian forest that they could call home. 

It was more than they could ever ask for – a chance to start over and create a new community with Southern values.

The South shall rise again y'all. Want a taco and chitlins, senhor?

See ya, eh!

Bob

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Lonely Japanese Teen Turns Shower Head into Creepy Girlfriend

Hey there! Thanks for dropping in today. You're just in time for a mug of arabica juice to get you nice and perky for the day. Don't forget to grab a virtual treat to munch on. Say... here's a Do-It-Yourself project for you... in case you're looking for one, that is. Careful though, it might scare the crap out of any guests who happen to be using your restroom...

Most DIY projects are fun and interesting, but here’s one that’s downright disturbing – a lonely Japanese kid converted his shower head into a doll that he now claims is his girlfriend. He recently posted step-by-step pictures of his project on the popular Chinese social networking website Weibo, where they went viral almost instantly.

To create his bizarre mannequin-girlfriend, 19-year-old Kiyuu Oikawa first taped a human mask onto his shower head. He then attached a balloon-stuffed piece of lingerie for the body and made stringy arms out of packing tape and wire. He painted the face pink, threw on a wig, and his girlfriend was pretty much ready.

According to Kiyuu, a quick shower with his girlfriend is a great way to start the day. 

Yeah well.... soon he'll start talking to her, eh. In fact, he probably is already. Then she'll start complaining about being hung out to dry and he'll end up getting another girlfriend. Maybe it'll be a real one next time. We wish him luck.

See ya, eh!

Bob


 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Bottles, Circumcision, Plastic Bags, Happy Meals and the Unclothed

Hello there! It's a treat to see you. It really is. Thanks for spiraling down out of cyberspace for a peek at today's blog, a fresh mug of coffee and a virtual doughnut, pastry or muffin. Why the heck not, eh! Everyone deserves a break and a little sweetness in their life, right? Here's a job that would entail a lot of debate, I am sure...

San Francisco's activist Board of Supervisors, among the boldest in the USA to rid their cities of obnoxious goods and services, added disposable plastic water bottles to the list in March (to join circumcision, plastic shopping bags and nutrition- challenged "Happy Meals" that contain toys). 

The water bottle vote was unanimous (covering distribution on city-controlled property), compared to the cliff-hanging 2012 vote (6-5), in which the board finally decided to ban unclothed people from the streets (mostly men, of course), where until then some freely wandered downtown sidewalks stark naked. [San Jose Mercury News, 3-5-2014] 

Holly doodle! Can't even walk around downtown starkers anymore! What is this world coming to? Don't suppose someone would get far there if s/he was wearing nothing butt plastic bottles, either, huh?

See ya, eh!

Bob

Monday, July 14, 2014

World’s First Public Toilet for Dogs

Hey! Hey! Glad you have a few minutes to stop by today. It gets lonely here sitting watching cyberspace and hoping someone will spiral down for a quick read and looksee. Coffee's fresh and so are the virtual treats so help yourself while I bend your ear with news of a much needed facility that WE NEED HERE. I am sure you will agree!

A small town in Spain has come up with a new way of dealing with dog waste – a canine public toilet. Located along a busy thoroughfare in El Vendrell, northeastern Spain, the stainless steel contraption consists of two sections placed side by side – a doggy potty and a doggy urinal.

The potty is a raised steel platform with a covered hole. Dog owners need to lift the lid for their pets to defecate, and later press a handle to flush. Jets of water are released, which carry the excrement through underground pipes into the sewer system. Right next to the potty is the urinal – also a raised platform with small holes over which dogs can squat. 

The public toilet is the brainchild of dog-lover Enric Girona, who has spent over ten years observing and photographing dogs. Through his work, he recognized the need for a toilet for dogs, so he set about creating one himself. “Over the years, I’ve seen that if you train and raise dogs well, these animals can be just like humans,” he explained.

Girona invented several variants of the toilet, modifying each one as he learned more and more about dog behavior. The present version of the urinal, for example, doesn’t clean itself perfectly when flushing, because dogs need to pick the odor so they are lured to the toilet. He also had the location in mind while designing these toilets, so they’d naturally blend into surroundings like parks and other public places. “You can’t have something that clashes with the setting,” he pointed out. “The design was done with the concept of being attractive.”

How that, my friend, is progress! 

See ya, eh!

Bob

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Mexican Mayor Marries Crocodile!

Well, hi there! How the heck are you today? Doing well, I hope and setting up for a 'caffo' day...where you learn something new and imbibe a little caffeine along the way. So without further ado, fill your mug and nudge a virtual treat onto your plate. Say, I don't much like crocodiles, do you? Well, listen to this...

The mayor of a Mexican fishing town has married a crocodile in an elaborate ceremony where the bride wore white and guests danced with the reptile.

The reptile is a princess, according to local tradition, and it is hoped the nuptials will boost catches of fish, shrimp and other seafood along the Pacific coast.

Before the ceremony, the wedding party walked with the crocodile bride through the southern Mexican town of San Pedro Huamelula.

"It's my wish to marry the young princess," mayor Joel Vasquez Rojas said as the pair tied the knot.

He then danced with his new wife in his arms before guests joined in.

One local resident explained the importance of the ritual.

"As young people, this means a lot," said Eduardo Zarate. "It's the greatest treasure our ancestors have left us."

Members of the local council pay for the wedding festivities, which include dancing and fireworks.

Those who do not pay face a fine.

Whoa! Wait a minute...if the mayor marries a crocodile, can he also marry a human? Would that be bigamy? Don't get me started on the process of consumating said reptilian marriage either. 

With all due respect to pagan customs, I think the whole thing is a croc!

See ya, eh!

Bob 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

World’s Fastest Talking Woman

Hi there! Thanks for clicking by today. Trust you are well...? Well or not, a refreshing mug of coffee and a virtual treat should go down nicely. Say...do you talk fast? Here's a lady who's setting speed records with her vocal chords...

‘Motor mouth’ Fran Capo is a fast talker – the woman can churn out over 600 words a minute, or 11 words per second! At such high speeds, you might not always be able to understand what she’s saying. I just watched a video of her telling the story of The Three Little Pigs in 15 seconds flat, and I was totally lost.

But comprehensibility is obviously not what she’s aiming for when she’s trying to break a record. 

The ‘Fast Talker Extraordinaire’ holds the Guinness World Record for being the fastest female talker in the world – she actually broke this record twice. She was also featured in the Ripley’s Believe it or Not – Planet Eccentric Book and in the Book of Alternative Records.

A native of New York, Fran has always been a fast talker. “Ever since I was a kid, I started doing it,” she said. “I didn’t say, ‘One day I’m going to grow up and be a fast talker,’ you know.” She started her career as a stand-up comic and sort of stumbled into breaking records along the way.

Fran is a stand-up New York comic, motivational speaker, 18 time author, spokesperson, TV host, comedy producer and 6 time world record holder most known as the Guinness Book of World Records fastest talking female clocked at 603.32 wpm. Want to listen to Fran talking? Visit her mile-a-minute-mouth website: http://francapo.com/

See ya, eh!

Bob

Friday, July 11, 2014

Messing With Your Mind

Hi ya! How's it going? Got a clear mind? Good. Help yourself to a mug of java and a virtual treat while I mess with your mind a little. Thanks to cousin Robin in England for sending me most of these illustrations. Not surprisingly, I have always been an Escher fan. I added the last illustration.


Maurits Cornelis Escher created unique and fascinating works of art that explore and exhibit a wide range of mathematical ideas.
He was born in Leeuwarden, Holland in 1898, and when he was in school his family planned for him to follow his father’s career of architecture. However, poor grades and an aptitude for drawing and design eventually led him to a career in the graphic arts, specializing in woodcuts, mezzotints, and lithographs.

His work went almost unnoticed until the 1950’s, but by 1956 he had given his first important exhibition, was written up in Time magazine, and acquired a world-wide reputation. Among his greatest admirers were mathematicians, who recognized in his work an extraordinary visualization of mathematical principles. This was the more remarkable in that Escher had no formal mathematics training beyond secondary school.


His work eventually appeared not only in printed form, but as commissioned or imitative sculptures on public buildings, as decorations on everything from neckties to mousepads, and in software written to automate the reproduction and manipulation of tesselations. Reproductions of his work remain in strong demand, and he has inspired thousands of other artists to pursue mathematical themes in their own work. He is of course also much imitated.

As his work developed he drew great inspiration from the mathematical ideas he read about, often working directly from structures in plane and projective geometry, and eventually capturing the essence of non-Euclidean geometries, as we will see below. He was also fascinated with paradox and “impossible” figures, and used an idea of Roger Penrose’s to develop many intriguing works of art. Thus, for the student of mathematics, Escher’s work encompasses two broad areas: the geometry of space, and what we may call the logic of space.

Here are some Escher creations to mess with your mind...

 

 

3. Is the door open to inside or outside? 

4. Round or square?

5. How many, 3 or 4?


7. Rare construction. Seems to me I built something like that once by mistake!

8. The center beam disappears, look from left to right. 

9.    2 or 3?

10. Waterfall...is the water falling?

Want to see more M C Escher art? Follow this link:

http://platonicrealms.com/minitexts/Mathematical-Art-Of-M-C-Escher/

Your mind may never be the same!

See ya, eh!

Bob