Friday, August 1, 2014

The Double Tree of Casorzo

Hi there! I hope you are doing spectacularly well today. The fact that you are here augers well. I see by the empty over-sized coffee mug in your hand that you are ready for some additional perkiness so fill 'er up! Grab a virtual megamuffin as well, why don't'cha? Say...here's a rather unusual tree for you ...

Located between the towns of Grana and Casorzo in Piemonte, Italy, is a very unique tree – well, they’re actually two trees, one growing on top of the other. 

Locally known as ‘Bialbero de Casorzo’ or the ‘double tree of Casorzo’, this natural oddity consists of a cherry tree growing on top of a mulberry tree.

No one really knows how the cherry tree managed to take root and survive in such a bizarre position. Locals believe that a bird might have dropped a cherry seed on top of the mulberry tree, which then grew its roots through the hollow trunk to reach the soil below.

Many trees root above ground using 'air roots' (No...it is not a basketball sneaker!) and take their nourishment directly from the air so that is another possibility. Most aerial roots directly absorb the moisture from fog or humid air.Consider the banyan tree and the mangrove...pictures follow:
 


So there you go! Today, I'm going to 'root' as well...for the Toronto Blue Jays as they take on the Houston Astros again tonight!

See ya, eh!

Bob

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Diamond-Studded Handbag Costs $180,000, Has 1,000-Year Guarantee

Hey! How are you doing today! Glad to see you! Remember the Beatles song "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds"? Perhaps that should now be "Lucy in the CyberSky with Diamonds". More on that in just a sec. I see you hurrying over towards the coffeepot. Good idea! Fill your mug and moosh a virtual treat onto your plate, too. Now where was I??? Ah, yes, diamonds...

British designer Christopher Shellis has created an unbelievably expensive women’s clutch bag – it costs a whopping $180,000 and it’s so small that it can hardly hold more than a cell phone. The tiny bag measures 7 inches by 5 inches, but it’s surprisingly heavy at half-a-kilogram, thanks to all the bling piled on to it.

All that weight is attributed to the 345 diamonds that are studded on the 18-carat gold bag. It took Shellis and his team of dedicated goldsmiths and diamond setters over 100 hours to create the bag. “The inspiration and design was drawn from the Buckingham Palace gates,” Shellis explained.

“Like the palace gates, it conveys its own very regal presence. It would not look out of place among the collection of jewels in the Tower of London itself. It could easily be worn by any royal princess.”

A 1000 year guarantee? Do they know something we don't? Ah, well, maybe when we win the lottery...

See ya, eh!

Bob
 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Basil: If it didn't exist, you'd have to invent it



Well a fragrant good day to you! How the heck are you? Feeling peppy today? A mug of coffee and a virtual muffon or pastry will add to your peppiness. Say, do you like basil (and no...I don't mean John Cleese's character in Fawlty Towers).

[Note:I liberated the following article (pared down about half) from the online Bangkok Post!]
 

Chillies, onions and garlic. Without them Thai food couldn’t exist. They are the Oscar-winning actors of our national cuisine. Bai kaprao, or holy basil, is a front-rank supporting cast player that turns up in innumerable important roles. If it were to disappear, Thai dishes with aggressive, spicy flavours would go along with it. But before discussing the roles that basil plays in the Thai kitchen, let’s take a look at the question of where it came from.

There is no clear evidence showing when basil arrived in Thailand. All we know is that it quickly became popular throughout Asia because of its medicinal properties and its virtues as a culinary herb. Look at the vitamins and minerals you get!


Basil, chopped, fresh
0.50 cup
(21.20 grams)
Calories: 5
GI: very low

NutrientDRI/DV

 vitamin K97.7%

 manganese12%

 copper8.8%

 vitamin A6.2%


 calcium3.7%

 iron3.7%

 folate3.6%

 magnesium3.3%

 omega-3 fats2.9% 


At spots in the forest where the sun shines through and the ground is not dense with vegetation, basil grows in with the grass.  It has a bushy appearance and the leaves are small and very light green. Villagers call it kaprao pa, or wild basil, and value it as a medicinal herb good for cooking. When they go into the forest to hunt they take along rice, chillies and salt as provisions and find whatever meat they can. The tastiness of the food they prepare there owes a lot to wild basil.

In the provinces, every household will have a kitchen garden where staples such as chillies, aubergines, limes, kaffir limes, galangal and lemongrass are grown. Two more plants that can never be left out are the two commonest types of basil, kaprao and horapa. Chillies and basil in Thai cooking are like friends that tend to stick together in the dishes they season. Thais distinguish between different kinds of spicy heat. The hotness of chillies is sharper, and that of seasonings such as black pepper and basil is closer to thermal heat. Chillies contribute their kind of heat and basil give a different kind of warmth.


Bai kaprao is an important ingredient in many kinds of foods. In the basic version of the spicy curry made without coconut cream called kaeng pa, it gives the dish its special kind of heat. Pad prik bai kaprao dishes are stir-fries made with meat, chillies and bai kaprao. The first step in preparation is to chop the meat. It is a hard and fast rule that these dishes can only be made with chopped meat, which may be fish, frog, eel or any other kind with an appropriate taste and texture.



Southerners like to add it to pad pet pla duk (a spicy catfish stir-fry) and khua kling (a fiery stir-fry made with minced meat). In the North it is cooked into the soup-like vegetable curry called kaeng khae or eaten raw with larb khua (another minced meat dish). In Isan it is an ingredient in another vegetable soup-like dish, kaeng awm, or is eaten raw.

In those parts of the Central region where it is called kaprao khwai, which literally means “water buffalo basil”, many believe that it gets its name from its tendency to flourish in the soft, porous soil near water buffalo pens where it is nourished by the animals’ manure. (That's good to know, eh! Adds flavour!)


Pad bai kaprao are made to order — fast food dishes all Thais know well. Thai restaurants almost always offer pad bai kaprao over rice topped with a fried egg. You can find it on every street in every town and city nationwide. Many people call it ahan sin khit (a no-brainer dish) because when they go into a food shop and don’t know what to order, or are in a part of the country where they are not familiar with the local cuisine, they order it automatically, without thinking. It’s easy, and anyone can make it.

We love basil and use it regularly in our Thai cooking. In fact, we have a herb pot on the balcony in which the basil (unfortunately not Thai basil) is flourishing. Hey, do you like pesto? Basil is one of the main ingredients.

See ya, eh!

Bob 


Mind you, I do enjoy the reruns of Fawlty Towers with the other Basil.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Japanese Botanical Artist Launches His Bonsai into Space

Hi ya! How're you doing today? In harmony with the flow of the universe, are we? Help yourself to a steamingly refreshing mug of coffee and a virtual doughnut, why don't'cha! Thanks for dropping down out of cyberspace. Say...you didn't run into any Bonsai trees on your way down, did you?

Japanese botanical artist Makoto Azuma’s flower arrangements are, quite literally, out of this world. His beautiful plants were recently launched into outer space as a part of his latest project, ‘Exobiotonica’. The launch took place on July 15 at the Nevada Black Rock Desert, with the help of Sacramento-based independent space program, JP Aerospace.

“I wanted to see the movement and beauty of plants and flowers suspended in space,” said Azuma, who is well known in Japan for his extravagant performances involving flowers. There was this one time when he stomped on hundreds of flowers during a musical performance. Once, he stuffed flowers into glass jars and filled them with water-like sardines. 

He has also created office chairs and Hello Kitty dolls entirely covered in green grass.

Check out some of the bonsai trees Nong and I saw last week at the Montreal Botanical Garden. In the one featuring yours truly, I am a mere 72 compared to the tree which is 90 years old!








See ya, eh!

Bob

Monday, July 28, 2014

The New Normal

Yo! How's it going? Thanks for spiralling down from cyberspace for a perky mug of coffee and a virtual treat. You didn't run into any drones up there, did you? Listen to this...

Since high-rise residents value their privacy, Lisa Pleiss of Seattle said she was frightened on June 22 when she saw a drone hovering outside her 26th-floor window: 

"You don't expect to be walking around indecent in your apartment and then have this thing potentially recording you." 

According to police, the drone was legal -- helping a developer photograph downtown Seattle -- but would not have been if the camera had been pointed at Pleiss' window. 

(Drones are becoming so widespread that, for instance, the University of South Florida library owns several, for student check-out on certain research projects.) [Los Angeles Times, 6-25-2014]

Remember, I did a 'Drone Delivery' post a while back? Yup! Some places are delivering dry cleaning, pizza, submarine sandwiches, etc. What's next? I could drone on, but...

See ya, eh!

Bob

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Dog Travels Miles Every Night to Feed Her Animal Friends

Well, hey there! How are you doing today? Getting ready for the dog days of summer? August is just around the corner. Fill your mug and nudge a virtual megamuffin onto your plate while I tell you about one dog's nightly journey...

Dogs are amazing creatures and Lilica, a Brazilian stray, is a perfect example of that. She lives in a junkyard, hangs out with a motley crew, and she makes sure her friends never go hungry. Every night, Lilica walks four miles in the dark, braving the rush hour traffic, just to bring food back to the other animals in her ‘family’ – a dog, a cat, a few chickens and a mule.

Lilica was abandoned at a junkyard in San Carlos, Brazil, when she was just a puppy. Neile Vaina Antonio, the junkyard caretaker, took her in and cared for her. As she grew, she became friends with all the other animals in the junkyard. It appears that they offer each other warmth, companionship and solidarity.

Three years ago, Lilica was pregnant and had eight puppies. As her responsibilities grew, she knew she had to find a way to provide food for her cubs, as there was little to be found at the junkyard. That’s when she started going out at night, walking for miles, in search of scraps. During one of her nightly travels, Lilica was lucky enough to meet dog-lover Lucia, who took pity on her.

 Lucia, a teacher by profession said she noticed Lilica roaming the streets and realized the poor dog was looking for food. “She walked and sniffed the garbage bins – that called my attention,” Lucia said. “I thought she was homeless because she was searching for food. It was then that I offered her some food.”
 
“One day, she stopped eating, grabbed the open food bag and ran away with it. And the food was dropping from the bag along the way. Then, the following day when she finished eating I tied the bag. And she took it. From there on, that’s how we do it. I tie the bag and she carries it.”

One day, Lucia followed Lilica, and discovered why she took the bag every night. It turns out that she was carrying the food back to the junkyard. “In the beginning, she brought food to her puppies, but in time she began bringing food for the other animals here in the junkyard as well,” said Neile. “Her attitude is different, the look of her eyes is different.”

The puppies were eventually adopted but Lilica didn’t stop. For the past three years, she has been walking the four-mile distance from the junkyard to Lucia’s home every night. Lucia follows her daily routine as well – she leaves home precisely at 9pm and waits for Lilica at an empty lot nearby. The dog arrives promptly to eat and collect her take away.

“I don’t travel, I don’t go to places and stay for too long because of her,” said Lucia. Because I know she relies on me, so it’s a commitment that I have with her, and a commitment she has with me too ‘cause she comes every day.”

“We as human beings barely share things with others,” Neile said . “But an animal sharing things with other animals is a lesson for us.”

Yes, indeed!

See ya, eh!

Bob

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Siblings Who Can Only Walk on All Fours

Merhaba! (Hello in Turkish). Hey...I have to keep you on your toes. Fill your mug with some freshly roasted and brewed arabica and coax a virtual treat onto your plate while I tell you about some brothers and sisters who are always on their toes...and their hands.

Walking on all fours might be fun for some, but for the members of one Turkish family, it’s the only way to move around. Five siblings of the 19-member Ulas family, from Hatay Province, suffer from a rare disability – they lack the balance and stability required to stand up straight, forcing them to move on all four limbs. 

The family was discovered in 2005 – 14 of them appeared to be completely normal, while five suffered a quadrupedal gait. Scientists have been baffled by the condition ever since.

The Ulas siblings were featured in a BBC documentary film, The Family That Walks On All Fours, in 2006. The film revealed that of the five siblings, two sisters and a brother have only walked on all fours since birth. 

Another brother and sister sometimes manage to walk upright. “It’s amazing as an example of a strange, strange aberration of human development,” said Professor Nicholas Humphrey, who visited the family twice during the documentary. “But their interest is how they can live in the modern world.”

Living in the modern world with a quadrupedal gait is no easy task. The siblings are often ridiculed for their disorder, and the family tries their best to protect them. 

The sisters remain indoors most of the time, spending their time crocheting. One of the brothers, on the other hand, is more adventurous – he travels to the local village and interacts with other people.

I will not stoop (oops, bad choice of words there!) to talking about former times of leaving dispenseries of liquid libations in a similar state. Suffice it to say that I am surprised that modern medicine has not been able to offer any curative surgery. Of course, cost could be a factor, too.

See ya, eh!

Bob

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