30 December 2021

We are now fourteen years old

December 22 birthdays:
1858 – Giacomo Puccini
1862 – Connie Mack
1901 – Andre Kostelanetz
1912 – Lady Bird Johnson
1937 – Charlotte Lamb
1945 – Diane Sawyer
1949 – Maurice and Robin Gibb
1962 – Ralph Fiennes

A few days late because after all, who remembers their 14th birthday?

"Sun Children" trailer

I watched this 2020 movie last night (via library DVD) and was quite impressed.  Generally when a movie features a cast of teenagers I shy away, but in this case the lead role was extremely well performed (earning Rouhallah Zamani a Marcello Mastroianni award at the Venice International Film Festival).  The Wikipedia summary is concise and accurate:
12-year-old Ali and his three friends do small jobs and petty crimes to survive and support their families. In a timely turn of events, Ali is entrusted to find a hidden underground treasure. However, in order to gain access to the tunnel where the treasure is buried, Ali and his gang have first to enroll at the near Sun School, a charitable institution that tries to educate street kids and child laborers.
This is not a Disney-style Goonies adventure with a happy ending.  Instead it offers a stark view of how children - especially orphans and immigrants - are exploited (sort of Oliver Twist in Tehran).  The movie scores 95% on Rotten Tomatoes, and is in my view well worth viewing.

Geologic map of South America

I hope the embedded image will embiggify twice with two clicks, because it is an impressive map.  The colorations are for the types of features noted in the right lower legend.  And we all understand that the vertical scale is exaggerated, but the result is truly awesome.

One of my cousins who works in Peru is going to try to find out from the Geologic Society of America if this map is commercially available.   If any readers know,  please leave a comment.  A tip of the hat to reader Kolo Jezdec, who has posted a link to a source for this map in the Comments section

I don't know whether I'll be impeached or deported

 The first threatening message was left on my phone last week:
"... leave your work aside so that we can discuss regarding the seized packages and take necessary actions on the case initiated in your name.  If we don't hear from your end, then we will be forced to initiate impeachment processes.  Press 1 to get connected to an officer."
Several days later a different variation was recorded by my phone:
"... leave your work aside so that we can discuss regarding the seized packages and take necessary actions on the case initiated in your name.  If we don't hear from your end, then we will be forced to take litigation action against you.  Please press 1 to talk to an immigration officer."
Our home phone does have a robocall blocker installed, but these calls spoof local origins, including once the university medical center.  Yes, I understand what this is, but it's worse than Rachel From Card Services.  I don't know what ensues with a callback, but the threat seems to verge on extortion.  

And I do understand that these calls are originated by someone in Bangladesh or Turkmenistan or Vladivostok, but I don't believe there's "nothing that can be done about them."  In a society that can routinely sequence the entire human genome, there has to be a way to stop this endless bullshit, because some vulnerable people are being financially hurt by these assholes.

28 December 2021

New-Year's greetings from TYWKIWDBI

"Hoping for the best for everything in 2022!" - Delagar

"Seasons Greetings from Professor Batty at Flippism is the Key"

"2021 - Reminding us why nostalgia is great!" 
- Greetings from The Slide Guy.

"Wishing all readers a wonderful upcoming year" - Skeetmotis

"Wishing all a good year to come!  Peace and grace to all!" - Bardiac

"Wishing you all the best year ever in 2022! 
We can hope, can't we?" - Miss Cellania

"Happy New Year, Seasons Greetings and Happy Chanukah from London.  I hope this will cheer everyone as we head back into Omicron gloom" - Tilla

"A positive message from ~2022 BCE 
from The Earth Mother and BobTheScientist"

"Happy xMas everybody, & a MERRY Gnu Year!" - Dutch

"Good Yule, and a sincere wish for a normalish 2022!"
(I'm the guy on the bottom of the pic) - Nataraj Hauser

"Look for beauty and you'll find it.  Peace." - Revashane

"Season’s Greetings. May your skies be filled with wonderful clouds and your sunsets bright and long." Jabo

"Greetings from Jerry and Kathy of Dallas, Texas"

"Finding hope in the small triumphs of the natural world"
 - Minnesotastan

25 December 2021

Christmas 1946

My first Christmas was in Arlington, Virginia.  My father was finishing his tour of duty as a Navy lieutenant, and mom was in forced retirement from American Airlines stewardess life (because of marriage and pregnancy).  Looks like I got a teddy bear and mom got a vacuum cleaner from my ever-pragmatic father.  And of course I had not the vaguest idea what would be ahead of me in the next 75 years...

King William's College general knowledge paper 2021

The annual "Christmas quiz" is now available as a pdf.  If anyone has suggestions regarding the following questions, I'd appreciate seeing your suggestions in the Comments.

3.10 "what moves off diagonally from his place next to tour?"  Is it the bishop ["fool'] in chess? - but its position is not immediately next to the "tour" [rook, castle].

4.6 "who justified going to bed at 9.45pm by claiming that he hadn't been to sleep for over a year?" - SOLVED

8.1 "for what was there a reason?"  (must involve a nut)

9.3 "where did Mary sit to watch her love's returning?" (on the Scottish borders) - SOLVED

11.5 "who was the Abbess who accommodated Brigid and her guardian in the Castilian convent?" (presumably an "aunt") - SOLVED

13.1 "could also be porcine?" Maybe Pigalle?- SOLVED

13.10 "has an equivalent in E14?" Perhaps Cité?

14.5 "who denounced the hanging of a felon as murder and was sent away to run the family seat in the Borders?"  Their name should be "Archibald", "Archie" etc.- SOLVED

23 December 2021

For those who love quizzes...

The Royal Statistical Society has just posted their fiendishly difficult annual Christmas quiz.

Sample question:

"Identify the eight items below, each of which contains a deliberate error. What special name connects them, and which words appearing in #2/#7/#8 are often regarded as the origin of the name (loosely speaking, in the case of #7)?

Finally, continuing the theme of #2, which four of the individuals (taken in order) reveal another much-loved ground-dwelling creature with a distinctive morning cry?"

#5 is pretty easy (the error is that H4 should be R5).  I'm still working on the others.

Feel free to offer answers in the Comments.

Addendum:  #7 is by the another Evelyn (the A3 should be B5).  This might open up the floodgates for the other phrases.  I'll let someone else do them while I move on to a different puzzle.

A remarkable self-portrait

Sarah Biffen (1784 – 2 October 1850), also known as Biffin, Beffin, or by her married name Mrs E.M. Wright, was a Victorian English painter born with no arms and only vestigial legs. She was 94 cm (37 in) tall... Despite her handicap she learned to read, and to write and paint using her mouth. She was apprenticed to a man named Dukes who exhibited her as an attraction throughout England. In the St. Bartholomew's Fair of 1808, she came to the attention of George Douglas, the Earl of Morton who then went on to sponsor her to receive lessons from a Royal Academy of Arts painter, William Craig. The Society of Arts awarded her a medal in 1821 for a historical miniature and the Royal Academy accepted her paintings.
The top self-portrait is presumably from early in her career.  The one below appears to be the product of a more experienced artist.

"Muscular Christianity" explained

When two members of Congress recently shared images of their well-armed families gathered in front of Christmas trees, many assumed it was merely an act of provocation, a loaded gesture designed to exasperate opponents and excite supporters...

No matter their intended effect, the photos represent a tradition far older than our current penchant for political trolling — one that, like it or not, is part of widely held interpretations of the upcoming holiday and the beliefs of many who observe it. That is the tradition of Muscular Christianity...

For more than a century, American Protestantism has been shaped by the movement known as Muscular Christianity, which arose to combat expressions of the faith that critics of the time claimed had become bookish, soft, sedentary and — as they judged it then — excessively feminine. Popular publications such as 1912’s “The Masculine Power of Christ; or, Christ Measured as a Man” argued that Jesus was “distinctly manly and virile,” and it was the task of the Christian to be so as well...

“We believe in muscular Christianity,” one advocate of this form of the faith said in 1860. “We believe that the minister of muscle will fight a more valiant and stronger battle with the passions and prejudices of men … and that saints’ bodies as well as sinners’ are none the worse for an hour at the dumb bells or weights.”

A somewhat more macho approach found particularly fertile ground in the expanding United States, where it meshed with myths of the frontier yielding to self-reliance and Manifest Destiny. Theodore Roosevelt was among its most prominent proponents. In 1903, the year he took a tour of 25 Western states, he declared, “I do not want to see Christianity professed only by weaklings; I want to see it a moving spirit among men of strength.”..

More than 40 percent of White evangelicals own firearms, far outpacing other religious groups and the general population, according to a Pew Research Center study. In a sense, American evangelical culture is a significant part of American gun culture, and vice versa. Neither would be the same without the other. Their entwined influence can be seen in scriptural arguments for bringing firearms to church, as well as on hoodies extolling the trinity of “God, Guns and Trump” worn at the assault on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6...

Long implicit in evangelical understandings of scripture and tradition, the connection between God and guns has lately been finding more visible expression. On Dec. 25, Christians around the world will remember the birth of an infant often called the Prince of Peace. Some will also celebrate a man they’re certain would know how to handle an AR-15, and in this they see no contradiction.
More details at the Washington Post.   Comments closed.

A lynx.............................. and her litter

Comments at the via are mostly about the snowshoe-like feet of the kittens.

Addendum:  A tip of the blogging cap to MissCellania, who found details about the encounter at Alaska's News Source.

"Straw hat smashing orgy"

Explained at Amusing Planet.

Evidence of a Grinch - solved

There is a woods behind my house.  Just for fun I decided to decorate one of the balsam firs with strings of solar-powered Christmas lights.  "For the critters."

It was quite pleasant in the dark nights of midwinter to look out the window and see a solitary tree deep in the woods all aglow with lights.

Then one of the strings went dark.  Later a second one as well.  I decided the snowpack had covered the solar collectors, but there was no way I was going to slog through the snow to correct a problem that would just recur.  So I waited for the snowmelt.

Imagine my surprise when I got out there in March to see a strand of lights severed (top photo).  Quite a clean cut, really, so that for a moment I wondered if some Grinchy human had taken a dislike to the display.  But then I found another strand, where the wires were twisted, and the cut was not as clean as a wire-cutter or scissors would accomplish:

So my suspicions pivoted to the local rodents.  We have lots of chipmunks and grey squirrels, the latter the more active species in wintertime. 

But it wasn't until I got started with my proper garden cleanup in April that I found beneath the leaf litter under the tree a bunch of bulbs that had been individually severed from the strings:

I'm a little puzzled.  I understand that urban rats are infamous for chewing through electrical cords and ducts in apartment and office buildings, and that this activity is attributed to their need to gnaw something with their ever-growing teeth.  I'm not sure if the same principle would apply here, or is it possible that the chewing is being done to extract some mineral/salt etc from the plastic-coated wiring??  The bulb bases don't appear to be gnawed, so that would suggest that the metal wire was the goal rather than the plastic.

I wonder whether any reader has had similar experience with Christmas lights or security lights.  All comments welcome.

Addendum:  I posted this in the summer of 2020, and received several helpful comments from readers, one of which was confirmed today when I spotted a report in the StarTribune about squirrels devastating Christmas light displays:
The downtown park's resident rodents have developed a taste for the holiday lights that once twinkled in Mears' canopy of trees. Or, more accurately, the corn sugar-based plastic that insulates the wires.

Dinosaur eggs being smuggled out of China

The photo at the via was not accompanied by any details.  A Google search yielded potentially relevant stories from 2015 and 2004.

21 December 2021

A "mouse" in an old violin

From the discussion thread at the via:

"Fritz" lives inside a ~130 year old "Hopf" violin awaiting restoration at the workshop of Noel Sweetman in New Zealand.

Photographed by OP using a Lumix S1R and a specially modified Laowa Probe Lens designed specifically to fit into the end pin block of violins.

Fritz and his home aren't just one photo, but a blend of 47 images, focus stacked to create a sharp image from front to back. This sharpness is what gives the illusion that the space is large, we're used to seeing macro images with a shallow depth of field. 
And this:
That ball of hair is affectionately known to violinists as a “violin mouse”. Even after cleaning many will ask for the mouse to be returned to the instrument for luck.

J. K. Rowling confronts "cancel culture"

As reported by the BBC:
Two US Quidditch leagues are to change their names in order to "distance" themselves from Harry Potter author JK Rowling, following a trans row...

The joint statement from USQ and MLQ said they hoped the name change would help them to "continue to distance themselves from the works of JK Rowling", who they say "has increasingly come under scrutiny for her anti-trans positions in recent years."

"Our sport has developed a reputation as one of the most progressive sports in the world on gender equality and inclusivity, in part thanks to its gender maximum rule, which stipulates that a team may not have more than four players of the same gender on the field at a time," the statement continued...

Rowling initially sparked controversy in June 2020 for posting tweets which took issue with the phrase "people who menstruate" - she objected to the avoidance of the use of the word "women".

The author was also criticised by some for disputing the idea that male and female sexes do not exist.

"If sex isn't real, there's no same-sex attraction. If sex isn't real, the lived reality of women globally is erased. I know and love trans people, but erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives," she tweeted.

In a lengthy follow-up blog, she wrote her interest in trans issues stemmed from being a survivor of abuse and having concerns around single-sex spaces.

She has continued to speak out. Last week, Rowling shared a news article about an MP who had branded as "absurdity" the idea of police saying they will record rapes by offenders with male genitalia as being committed by a woman if the attacker "identifies as a female"...

Rowling's comments were applauded by some but criticised by others, and many high-profile people associated with her have distanced themselves from her comments about trans issues.
The Wikipedia page on cancel culture is relevant background material:
Cancel culture or call-out culture is a modern form of ostracism in which someone is thrust out of social or professional circles – whether it be online, on social media, or in person. Those subject to this ostracism are said to have been "cancelled".  The expression "cancel culture" has mostly negative connotations and is used in debates on free speech and censorship.

Addendum:  A tip of the blogging cap to reader Lones Smith for providing this link with details of the controversy

The truly remarkable "Ames window" illusion

I've posted the abbreviated version of this video; be sure to stick with it to the end to see the full effect.  A longer version of the video is here; it includes instructions on how to make the window at home.

17 December 2021

Wheelchair and commode (1740)

Very little information about the chair at the ArtefactPorn subreddit post except that it was "made for Holy Roman Empress Elisabeth Christine of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, 1740."  Her Wikipedia entry suggests that the wheelchair might have been made necessary by physician-induced obesity:
The marriage of Elisabeth Christine was dominated by the pressure upon her to give birth to a male heir. This she later fulfilled when she gave birth to a male heir named Archduke Leopold John in 1716. However, at age 7 months the infant Leopold died. She reportedly found the situation very stressing and was tormented by the loss of confidence in Charles VI that this caused.  Three years after her marriage, court doctors prescribed large doses of liquor to make her more fertile, which gave her face a permanent blush. During her 1725 pregnancy, Charles unsuccessfully had her bedchamber decorated with erotic images of male beauty so as to make her expected baby male by stimulating her fantasy. After this, the court doctors prescribed a rich diet to increase her fertility, which made her so fat that she became unable to walk, experienced breathing problems, insomnia and dropsy and had to be lowered into her chairs by a specially constructed machine.
Addendum:  Reader Andrea P found the website of the Möbelmuseum (furniture museum) in Vienna where this wheelchair is located.  A quick search of the "Baroque and Rococo" section yielded this photo of the companion commode:

Yes, Virginia, there IS a millipede

As children we all learned that there was no such thing as a true MILLIpede, because none of them actually had the requisite thousand legs.  The previous standing record-holder was a California species with up to 750 legs.  This one found deep underground in Australia has 1350 legs.
Among the earliest animals to breathe atmospheric oxygen and with some extinct species that grew to two meters in length, millipedes have lived on this planet for more than 400 million years... the millipede order Polyzoniida includes ca. 70 species with a distribution on all continents except Antarctica. Some of its members exhibit parental care of eggs, others ooze chemical defenses containing alkaloids that are sequestered by poison frogs, and some species roll into a ball for protection. Hatchlings emerge from the egg with four pairs of legs, and continuously add segments during development for an indeterminate period of time, even after adulthood...

Surface climatic conditions fluctuated considerably across hundreds of millennia, but underground conditions probably remained comparatively stable. Troglophilic species often represent ancient vestiges of formerly widespread lineages that now persist in subterranean refugia.
Lots more information in the Nature source article.


Photo explained at Historically Sound.

Surviving a tornado in a bathtub

Jada Madden... her fiancé and youngest child, an 8-month-old daughter, were home when a tornado hit their neighborhood."As soon as we hit the tub, everything was gone. 

"We were at the back of the house, that's where the bathtub was at, and we ended up in the street." Madden grabbed her daughter and wrapped a pillow around her. They all three hunkered down to brace for impact. Seconds later, their house was gone. Their cars were across the street in their neighbor's yard. Their bathtub was in the middle of the road, with the shower wall on top of them..."
The pic is of a presumably similar tub from Paul Douglas' incomparable weather blog.  Text and more of the story at KAIT TV (Arkansas).

Drought in Kenya

Six dead emaciated giraffes who perished in the mud at a drying water hole.  Story at The Guardian

Darwin Award candidates

From reports of deaths that have resulted from attempted pranks and stunts on social media since 2018:

Collided with an oncoming car while playing a game of chicken

Fell sixty stories after doing pull-ups off the edge of a skyscraper

Got shot while blindfolded and pretending to be a hostage in a staged kidnapping

Got shot in the chest at close range while attempting to demonstrate that an encyclopedia was bulletproof

Got shot in the parking lot of a trampoline park after running toward a group of strangers with a butcher knife
Several more examples at the Harper's Magazine source.  Info re the Darwin Awards.

14 December 2021

Victorian era leather and velvet boots

From the Twitter thread for the Bata Shoe Museum.  Obviously handmade and bespoke, described as "Swedish or German, c1890s."

Series I Savings Bonds now yield over 7%

As reported by Bloomberg:
Individuals can now get a whopping 7.12% direct from the U.S. government.

That’s the new rate for Series I savings bonds bought from the U.S. Department of Treasury from now through April 2022 -- the second highest ever offered.  

The interest rate on the Series I bond is set twice a year based on recent changes to the the consumer price index for all urban consumers, so November’s pricing is based on the change from March to September.
Note the standard caveats:
The interest rate is guaranteed for the first six months and after that will rise or fall depending on inflation. You have to hold onto your investment for at least a year, and if you exit before five years, you’ll lose three months of interest

The maximum investment is $15,000 per calendar year, they aren’t tradeable, and purchases are limited to U.S. citizens, residents and employees. 
The interest received is not taxable by state and local governments.

Savings bonds are not obtainable via brokerage firms or banks, AFAIK; they can be purchased from the federal government without an intermediary at TreasuryDirect.

Addendum 2022:
A Morningstar article ("Run, don't walk, for I Bonds") updates the information (and enthusiastically recommends this investment.

I'm not that hungry

Channeling "Squid Game" in South Dakota

Ten teachers were selected for a Dash for Cash giveaway at a junior hockey league game on Saturday night in Sioux Falls, S.D., enticed by the opportunity to make extra money for classroom improvements.

At the signal, the educators got down on their knees and frantically scooped up as much currency as they could. They stuffed the bills into their shirts as the crowd murmured.

The giveaway — organized by the Sioux Falls Stampede of the United States Hockey League, in conjunction with CU Mortgage Direct, a local lending company — was swiftly and widely criticized as being demeaning to teachers...

In a statement posted on the team’s website on Monday afternoon, the Stampede and CU Mortgage Direct apologized and said that they would give an additional $500 to each of the teachers who competed in the event and to the 21 educators who were not selected. In total, they pledged to contribute an additional $15,500 to area teachers.

“Although our intent was to provide a positive and fun experience for teachers, we can see how it appears to be degrading and insulting towards the participating teachers and the teaching profession as a whole,” the statement said. “We deeply regret and apologize to all teachers for any embarrassment this may have caused.”

Reynold F. Nesiba, a Democratic state senator from Sioux Falls and a professor at Augustana University, said on Monday that while the organizers of the giveaway were “well intended,” the event was ill-conceived.

“It just seems insulting and absurd to have teachers doing an event like this to raise a few hundred dollars for their classrooms,” Mr. Nesiba said. “It also seems disrespectful to the teachers. What other profession would be asked to fund-raise this way?”
The story continues at The New York Times.

Behold the power of a tornado

Morning-after drone footage from Mayfield, Kentucky.  Click the fullscreen icon for full effect.  

German coronavirus neologisms

babyelefant, n.Unit of measurement for appropriate social distancing

ellenbogengruss, n. A touching of elbows in greeting

fussgruss, n. A touching of feet in greeting

geisterküche, n. Ghost kitchen; a restaurant without eat-in dining

hamsteritis, n. A compulsion to hoard supplies such as toilet paper

kuschelkontakt, n. Cuddle contact; a person within one’s quarantine bubble

maskomat, n. A machine that dispenses masks

nacktnase, n. Naked nose; a person whose mask only covers their mouth

niesscham, n. The torment one feels when needing to sneeze in public

pandemiezirkus, n. Stressful living conditions during the pandemic

spuckwand, n. Spit wall; a barrier to prevent the exchange of air particles

todesküsschen, n. Little kiss of death, a reference to the risk of coronavirus transmission via traditional cheek-kiss greetings

Selections from a longer list at Harper's Magazine.

"We put the hospital in hospitality"

"Our location will make your Uber driver ask "Are you sure about that?"

11 December 2021

My first letter to Santa

My recent post about early television sets (scroll down) prompted me to search my files for photos of our family's early sets.  None of them showed a "TV light" on top (just rabbit ears), but I did run across this early letter to Santa, annotated by my mother.

The letter was written on the back of my father's business stationery (he was a traveling salesman who incorporated himself under the rather grandiose company name "Continental Marketing Corporation.")  The little envelope was franked with a 1950 Christmas seal.

That would have been I think our first year in Minnesota, where we moved after my father finished his wartime Navy work in Washington, D.C., where I was born.  Our new Minnesota home was in Edina, which was in the 1950s a prototypical post-war modest-income suburb of Minneapolis with dirt roads and small houses.  This was the back yard during the Christmas season:

When I got old enough to skate, the area between the house and the trellis would be flooded by my father with a garden hose to make a skating rink.  By that age I was post-polio and had weak ankles, so my mother sacrificed one of the dining room chairs to give me support while skating:

(This photo taken at a neighborhood pond).  

Posted for family, but I thought TYWKIWDBI readers might enjoy the read.  The Christmas season is a good time for reflecting back on past years, so I'll probably post additional memorabilia in the weeks ahead.

10 December 2021

Unusual water tower

Said to be in Poland, though I have not been able to confirm that with a reverse image search.  Identified by reader Wayne as the Wroclaw Water Tower.
Built 1904-1905 beside Wiśniowa Avenue and Sudecka Street junction, the tower supplied water to the residents of the southern districts of Wrocław for many years. The tower is 63 meters high. It was equipped with an electric lift from the very beginning... Two sculptors, Taschner and Bednorz, decorated the lower part of the building with bas-reliefs in sandstone, representing fantastic creatures reminiscent of medieval bestiaries.

Did early TV sets have "lights on the top"?

This past week I read Bobbie Ann Mason's The Burden of the Feast and was puzzled by this statement: 
"The restaurant also had a television set, which sat in a corner with a “television light” on top—a prism of soft colors which supposedly kept people from ruining their eyes on TV waves." 
The story is set in the summer of 1954. I am old enough to remember television sets of that era, and don't remember any having special lights on top of the cabinet, but I trust the accuracy of her memory and interpretation. 

 A Google search yielded nothing because of all the other "television" clutter in links and photos, so I'm turning to the readership here for possible insight.

Addendum: Reader Rocky says his family's television was a Sylvania Halolight; I found a photo of one at the Museum of the Moving Image:

Reader Smurfswacker also had one in his family:
Yes, indeedy, there were special TV lights. My aunt and uncle had one atop their set. That was circa 1959, and I believe the practice was old-fashioned by then. Theirs was a small (under a foot tall), dim lamp with a cylindrical shade that rotated, probably powered by heated air rising from the lamp. There was a mountain scene printed on the shade and as the cylinder rotated it made a waterfall appear to flow.
And an anonymous reader found this collection of images of "TV lamps."  Looks like prime material for embedding in the next linkdump.  :-)

Ficus microcarpa

It looks like a creation of Dr. Seuss, but this is a real tree:
Ficus microcarpa, also known as Chinese banyan, Malayan banyan, Indian laurel, curtain fig, or gajumaru is a tree in the fig family Moraceae. It is native in a range from China through tropical Asia and the Caroline Islands to Australia...

The largest known specimen is Auntie Sarah's Banyan at the Menehune Botanical Gardens near Nawiliwili, Kauai, Hawai'i which is 110.0 feet (33.53 meters) in height, 250 feet (76.2 meters) in crown spread, and having over one thousand aerial trunks.
The one in this photo from the via looks suspiciously like a bonsai specimen photographed to appear larger.  Interesting nevertheless.

Planning a collective greeting card for 2022

I first tried this in December of 2009 as a Christmas card, then revived the concept in 2017 and again in 2018 as a New Year's endeavor, which is what it will be this year.

Here are the instructions on how to participate:

1) In the comment section of THIS post, give me a LINK to a photo (or a bit of artwork or other image) that you have in your blog, or in your Flickr photostream or in some other online storage site that I can access. I'd prefer that you not email me the photo - just give the link and I'll go there and copy/paste it.* (but see addendum)

The picture can be of you, or your family, or your computer, or your cat, or whatever - it doesn't matter.  It should belong to you (not a commercial image with copyright issues).

2) With the photo link send a brief (~25 words) greeting, directed to the other readers and visitors.  This is to be a greeting to other readers, not a comment to me or about TYWKIWDBI.

3) Sign with the avatar name you use in commenting here, or in your blog, or your real name if you wish. This is not a venue to be used to say "Hi from anon."  I recognize that a number of readers here prefer to leave comments anonymously - which is fine - but this greeting card is for identifiable people.

Note - as various trolls have realized, for TYWKIWDBI I am the "autocrat at the breakfast table" and reserve absolute right to control the content.  For this venture I may edit comments for length and trim pictures if they are too big.  I may limit the number of entries if there are too many, and I will absolutely vaporize anything that hints of spam or might be offensive to other readers.

And it doesn't need to be "Christmasy" - this will be posted after Christmas as a New Year's greeting, so it can celebrate the end of the past year or express hope about the one to come.  But mostly it's just to say "hi" to other readers whose names you have seen in the comments.

*Addendum: I realize that not everyone has online places to store photos, so once again I will let you email me a photo/text/name if you have no other option.  You can send it to the blog's address: retag4726(at)mypacks.net.  But please send smallish pix (compress them with JPEG if needed).  I don't want to have ten people send 5 MB photos and thus have my emailbox overfull so that I can't conduct my regular life.  Thanks.  

I'm looking forward to seeing what arrives.  This was last year's collective greeting.

Transverse nasal creases

One of the classic physical signs of allergic rhinitis, here depicted in a 6-year-old girl.  Brief discussion at the New England Journal of Medicine

Thousands of happy people

I love sports, but I don't usually feature sports videos in TYWKIWDBI, partly because there are so many of them and they are easy to find elsewhere.

But... when a team predicted to be in the bottom half of its league loses four out of five games, then comes back to upset the #1 team in the country with a buzzer-beater, that's worth a post, if for no other reason than to watch thousands of people go crazy happy.  Where else than the world of sports can you see happy people nowadays?

06 December 2021

Divertimento #190

This linkfest empties twelve folders of bookmarked gifs accumulated over the past six months.  
Let me know if you find any faulty links.

Bricklayer finishing a pattern
1975: Australia begins broadcasting television in color
Any readers here old enough to remember flying toasters?
The world's tallest elephant toothpaste volcano (explained at the link)
Low-life thieves steal bonsai trees
A credit card skimmer on a gas station pump
Legos can be formed into a bending structure
Colourized day on a French beach, 1928
Colourized film of an English street, 1901
People don't notice a model is "wearing" only body paint
"Grappler" deployed by police to stop vehicles
Stowing baggage on an airplane
People respond to an armored truck spilling cash on a highway
Too bad the whole world doesn't operate as smoothly as this baggage carousel

Horses shy away from stripes on the ground
Cormorant harvesting (?remora) from a whale shark
A "glass octopus" from the depths of the Pacific Ocean
Octopus using two tentacles to walk on the seafloor.
There could be an octopus in your room right now and you wouldn't know
Catching piranhas
Marine flatworm vs crab (flatworm wins)
Bumblebees returning home with pollen
Seahorse giving birth
You can't outrun a grizzly bear
Bird nest woven into leaf
Respiratory system of a Brazilian Skipper caterpillar
Seagull steals a sandwich from a store
Water buffalo quite at home in the water
12-year old boy stays calm while being stalked by bear (full video lower on page)
"Fast food" (scallops)
Young leopard has had an encounter with a porcupine
Spice rack in an Australian grocery store
Liquid rabbit
Leucochloridium, a parasitic worm that invades a snail's eyestalks, where it pulsates to imitate a caterpillar. The worm then mind-controls its host out into the open for hungry birds to pluck its eyes out.
Horse on a beach looks awesome
Orca uses fish as bait to catch a bird
"Rolling swarm" of caterpillars moves faster than the individuals do
"Leaf sheep" (slugs) are capable of photosynthesis

Nature and Science
Water ice that bends without breaking
Air currents next to a lane of traffic
Hydrodynamic principle illustrated
Rainy day in Alabama
Beach at Rainbow Island, Iran
Wildebeest crossing a river (no predators in this clip)
Sodalite (from the U.P.) reacts to black light
Archimedes' screw used to lift water
"Snow globe eye" from calcium deposits in the vitreous
Liquefaction of the ground during an earthquake
Carl Sagan explains how Eratosthenes calculated the size of the earth

Impressive or clever
Bending wood in a workshop by steaming it first
IIRC, this was labeled the world's largest firework
Yet another gif of a laser cleaning rust from metal.  There is a subreddit about this.
Examples of video editing
Clearing snow from a roof.  Looks easier than my roof rake.
Dakota fire pit (concise explanation of the technology here) (hat tip to reader Crowboy)
"Magic trick" illustrated
Folding the pages of a book (apparently a type of origami)
Ruler for cutting tiles to fit irregular spaces
Clever way to parcel out feed for cattle
A small quadcopter "personal aircraft"
Wall of ice in Antarctica

Sports and athleticism
The incomparable Michael Jordan
Parkour on a breakwater made of dolosse
Gymnast demonstrating floor skills
Toddler boxing (1933)

Fails and wtf
Red wine cistern leaks at a Sicilian winery
Trapped in a vehicle during urban flooding
Pilot ejects from jet just seconds before crash
London "moped gangs" targeting bicyclists
Los Angeles traffic jam

Humorous or cheerful
Family fun with swinging water balloons
Border collie wants statue to play Frisbee
Excellent prank to pull on a child
Armadillo goes spherical
Elephants react to their favorite caretaker (unmute) (and note the earflapping)

The embedded images are portraits of Czech centenarians by photographer Jan Langer.
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