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The Heads of Easter Island

image of easter islands heads


The famous heads on Easter Island that you’re familiar with from many documentaries and feature films are actually called Moai heads or Rapa Nui heads. They were first discovered by Europeans who landed there in 1722, but their history is far older than that. 

The Moai heads are thought to date back around 1500 years to a time when the area was ruled by clans and spiritual chiefs. These heads are thought to be the stone busts of deified ancestors of the Rapa Nui people.

The main quarry for these heads is the Rano Raraku area where around half of them are still standing. The rest have been transported around Easter Island and set on stone platforms called “Ahu.” The statues have overly large heads that account for three-eights of the statue’s total size. 

These statues were first carved around 1500 years ago by Polynesian settlers who came to the Island. They are thought to represent the deceased ancestors of these people, ones who had a particular influence or significant wealth. The size of the statue on the Ahu is often indicative of this. 

For some time the movement of the statues remained a mystery. Researchers couldn’t understand how such massive structures were transported across the island by primitive people. It is now believed that wooden sledges and ropes were used which would have required 50 to 150 people. 

The statues continue to be the subject of speculation and debate as no certain answers have emerged for their purpose and symbolism. Despite this, or perhaps due to it, the statues continues to be extensively studied for answers and visited by tourists for their impressive size and beauty. 


Image – “statue on Easter Island or Rapa Nui in the southeastern Pacific” by Aliaksei, licensed for Interesting Everything by Splashlime via adobe stock. 

What You Need to Know About The Great Wall of China

Photograph of the Great Wall of China at Sunset
Great Wall of China at Sunset

Undoubtedly one of the greatest wonders of the world, The Great Wall of China is a world famous structure that winds like a dragon’s tail approximately 5,500 miles across the heart of China. It passes through a stunningly diverse range of scenery, meandering from East to West through rugged mountains, lush grasslands and desert corridors, before eventually terminating in the city of Dandong near the North Korean border. The Great Wall attracts over 10 million visitors each year, and comes entwined with a wealth of undiscovered history and tradition, much of which we will never know. If you’re considering visiting the wall or are just curious about its rich heritage, here are a few things that may interest you.

It’s over 2,000 years old

The origins of The Great Wall date back as early at the 7th Century BC, where small individual walls began to be constructed across China as individual states endeavoured to mark their territory. These individual walls were made of varying materials including earth, stone and wood, before eventually being joined together to create what we now know as The Great Wall. Many of the original structures still survive today; walk just a short stretch of the wall, and you’ll quickly discover just how varied in composition it really is.

It was originally constructed as a defence against warring states

It is thought that The Great Wall began during the Warring States Period of Ancient China, where states began to build walls as a defence against enemies invading from the North. Individual walls were constructed in the ancient states of Chu, Zhao, Qi, Yan, Wei and Qin, but when the state of Qin eventually unified China in 221BC under the Qin Dynasty, the Emperor ordered for the wall to be connected as a representation of this unity. The wall was then extended further as a defence against potential invaders, and thus, The Great Wall was formed.

It was built by convicts and thieves

When Emperor Qin demanded that The Great Wall be created, there was little doubt that he would need an extensive workforce to get the job done. But who in their right mind would put themselves forward for such a colossal task? As volunteers were found to be few and far between, Qin used the tools he had at his disposal: convicts, prisoners of war, soldiers, and forcibly recruited peasants. It is thought many escaped and fled into the Northern territories of China, and many died on the job thanks to the oppressive working conditions and lack of food.

It’s partly underwater

Believe it or not, there is a section of The Great Wall that is submerged in water. In 1981, the Chinese Government flooded an area where The Great Wall stands in Tian Jin, in an attempt to combat water shortages in the area. There is now a section that is plunged up to 35 metres deep in water which, for those who are that way inclined, can be accessed by scuba diving!

Conversely, the highest point of The Great Wall is at Heita Mountain, Beijing, where it clambers up to a staggering 5,033 feet above sea level.

It’s shrinking every day

Due to both environmental and human factors, The Great Wall is shrinking on a daily basis. Whilst natural erosion is gradually wearing away the bricks and mud that form the wall, the majority of the damage is caused by humans vandalising and even stealing parts of the wall. There are large areas of the wall that have become almost unrecognisable, particularly those located in North-western sections such as Ningxia and Gansu. Stealing isn’t clever at the best of times; particularly when you are stealing from the largest historical monument in the world!

Visiting the Great Wall

Very few people walk the entirety of the Wall, largely due to the sheer difficulty that such a challenge provides. Many of the visitors to the Wall access it directly from the main tourist hubs, usually by a coach trip or group excursion. For the more adventurous traveller, it is common to use a car to cherry-pick the greatest features along the Wall, from areas such as Honcibao and Qidun to Motianling and Huashijian. There are also helicopter excursions over the wall, but they certainly don’t come cheap. Our personal highlights include the watchtowers of Jinpai and Xusi, the wooden city gate at Deshengbao, and the huge fort at Yanmenguan Pass, the site of many battles during the Ming Dynasty. The Great Wall is as diverse as it is magnificent – enjoy your trip!

London Bridge the Thames Crossing and Arizona Curiosity

Painting - View of London Bridge by Claude de Jongh
View of London Bridge by Claude de Jongh (1605/1606–1663) – “Google Art Project” – Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons
In 1831 a father and son team both of whom were named John Rennie constructed the original modern London Bridge. This replaced the medieval crossing that had been used for some 600 years. However, as magnificent as the bridge was, it would not be able to withstand the continuous increase of modern traffic and by 1962 the City of London made the decision to sell the famous bridge. The bridge was then replaced by the current structure spanning the Thames, opening in 1973.
Photograph of the painting "The Demolition of Old London Bridge"
“The Demolition of Old London Bridge, 1832, Guildhall Gallery, London” by Stephencdickson – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Surprisingly, the 19th century bridge was sold to an individual and not a business, however the new owner Robert P McCulloch was the chairman of a extremely profitable oil production company. As well as being the founder of Lake Havasu City, Arizona, a prestige retirement complex built on the east shore of the beautiful lake. It is said that London bridge was brought and then rebuilt at Lake Havasu City with the idea that it would serve as a tourist attraction that could potentially bring buyers looking for a retirement home to the area.
Photograph of the New London Bridge crossing the Thames in the 19th century
“London Bridge by Cornell University Library – Flickr: London Bridge from the A. D. White Architectural Photographs collection, Cornell University Library, Accession Number: 15/5/3090.01026.. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons
Each brick used on the 1831 London bridge had to be separately removed and then shipped, a process that would have been both costly and time consuming. A year later in 1968 when the last brick had been shipped, the work to rebuild the bridge at Lake Havasu City began. The very first stone was relayed at it’s new location by Sir Gilbert Inglefield.
photograph of Tower Bridge in London, UK.
London’s Tower Bridge, often confused for London Bridge. Image adapted from the original by Francois Philipp, flickr user frans16611.
For years an urban legend has circulated that McCulloch had purchased London Bridge believing it was in fact London’s Tower Bridge, and only discovered the mistake when stonework began arriving in the United States. This however is untrue, although many people around the word still make this innocent mistake today. The reconstruction of the bridge was not done over a river or lake, but was built on dry land and later a canal was dredged and flooded under the bridge to create a large island in Lake Havasu. To rebuild London Bridge in Arizona took over three years and the project was finally finished at the end of 1971.
photograph of London Bridge in Arizona.
London Bridge Lake Havasu City in Arizona by flickr user gee01
Luckily for Robert P McCulloch his plan worked, and potential buyers started to visit the area and take interest in the new retirement properties for sale. Over the years the area has seen a sharp rise in new development, and all because of the visitors that came to see London bridge in Arizona. The story of the 1831 London Bridge is a truly amazing one, and unique in every way.

How to survive a zombie invasion

Zombie look a like, be on your guard for real Zombies, a lot of them support West Ham. Image by Flickr user rodolpho.reis
Zombie look-a-like, be on your guard for real Zombies, a lot of them support West Ham. Image by Flickr user rodolpho.reis

To survive a zombie invasion, the very first tool in your arsenal will be to think quick, very quick. Do a rapid SWOT analysis. No, that’s not a police SWAT team, but a business tool used by the suits for years. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats.

Let’s take your typical zombie invasion situation. You came home with you’re best and only mate last night, slightly pissed from 8 or 9 pints, and you wake up on the sofa (couch for the yanks). Why you couldn’t have gone to bed and tided up the rubbish heap of a living room you have now become semi-conscious in who knows. We digress, your in your abode; you’re only wearing your underwear, a bad hangover, vindaloo breath, and those crappy little eye masks you get in economy on a transatlantic flight.

You hear pandemonium from the street outside. You pull back the curtain; it’s yellow and pointless. All you can see outside is death, murder, kill amongst random people, some of your neighbours, and the nutty bag lady that patrols the neighbourhood. Your neighbours who have all aged, rotted and dressed surprisingly smarter over night, all be it disheveled by pinking shears, dirt and channel 4, are all now closing in on you.

Now lets analysis this situation:

SWOT Strengths

  1. This is a new situation as you have not been invaded by zombies before, and it suits your ADHD need for continual new input from your environment.
  2. You’re not alone; that would be scary.
  3. Your in your own theatre of operations, it’s your turf and you know where everything is. Except the TV remote, that could be sinister, but as we are focusing on strengths that’s not a concern right now.
  4. Surprisingly, considering the amount you drink, your fit for a suburban coach potato, and your mate is really fat. Benefit here! He can take the flack if it gets sticky as you can run faster. Probably best not to mention this in the briefing your about to have when you find which non-bedroom utility room he has collapsed in.

SWOT Weaknesses

  1. Confrontation is not your thing, hence no girlfriend, or boyfriend for that matter. Zombie invasions involve a lot of confrontations; you’re going to need to man up and fast, or at least after you finish the stale onion bhaji.
  2. You have no weapons of mass destruction; they never existed except in Tony Blair’s mind, but who’s focusing on reality right now.
  3. You’re surrounded by Zombies, and the TV is stuck on Daytime. Harry Carry is not an option; your mother is coming for tea.
  4. Your boss will not except another, “There were leaves on the line, and no spaces left on the busses!” excuse for being late as you stupidly used them all up in the summer. Bad Timing!

Tony Blair speaking at the International Zombie Convention - Image adapted from Flickr user World Economic Forum under creative conman’s licence
Tony Blair speaking at the International Zombie Convention – Image adapted from Flickr user World Economic Forum under creative conman’s licence

SWOT Opportunities

  1. This could be the time to get a lot of people off you’re back. Just invite them round and use their bodies as cannon fodder for the zombies that are now trying to figure out how to get through your garden gate. This is because you have been standing in the window naked drawing a lot of attention whilst you thought about Strengths, Weaknesses and having a piss.
  2. There are no zombies in the back garden that leads to the garage and an alleyway. There’s a scooter with sidecar in the garage that’s been there since 1942 when your granddad brought the house that surprisingly your parents let you live in while they moved to Scotland. Shame you live in Carlisle, as that gives them an excuse to come around all the time, but we digress again.
  3. You have tickets to see the Grateful Dead at Wembley, surely the Zombies could be bribed with them. Slight downside, the tickets, were your parents, and the stub is missing, not to mention that Jerry Garcia is, well dead! Sill since these Zombies look a bit dim, they might fall for it.
  4. It’s a work day, and the end of the world. You can call your boss and tell him he is a complete and utter Wan@£$@$@ because he’ll probably be dead by dinnertime and there won’t be a job to go back to anyway. If you’re stuck on overcrowded public transport reading this on the way to work and there has not been a Zombie invasion, hard luck old boy, but keep your chin up, there might be a zombie invasion tomorrow and at least by reading this post you will be prepared. Well maybe prepared, but probably when you get home tonight and veg out you’l forget all about our little chat today and then it will be too late. Stick a note with bullet points on the fridge when you get home, that will help!

 

SWOT Threats

  1. Zombies, lots of bloody Zombies, and they haven’t brushed their teeth. The atmosphere smells like that time you woke up on top of a mirror and tried to snog yourself with kebab breath! No? Just me then.
  2. You’re naked, and all this Zombie related stuff has given you brewers droop. Your open for ridicule by Zombie, Not good! Also, you seem to have forgotten that your wearing underpants. Paranoid or what!
  3. Your best mate is incredibly clumsy and on a good day is a health hazard, the stress of all these zombies is going to make that worse, a lot worse.
  4. The usual routine of going to the off licence, if you still have one of those in your town, has been disrupted a bit and you may have to face the day without a hair of the dog.
  5. Your parents are coming round for tea, this is probably on par with the Zombie threat.

Time for a plan

OK, so SWOT done, time to either Plan or Panic. Personally I’m a big fan of panicking, you forget you have a hangover, it uses up a lot of calories, let’s face it you drink a lot. You must be practicing this panicking thing as you’re hallucinating there’s Zombies about and your standing naked in the window. Plus you have yellow curtains. Panicking is looking pretty good right now.

There is strength in numbers, go wake up the best mate!

Two is always better than 1, not just because it’s a bigger number, but because there are generally more things you can do with the number 2. Shit as he may be, he is your best mate, and as it turns out is a big fan of Zombie movies. Turns out you are also a big fan too, all be it by proxy. It’s just that your ADHD, vindaloo eating, beer drinking, and sofa potatoing has conditioned your brain to ignore your surroundings so that you forgot all the DVDs you have watched have turned you into an urban expert on the marauding creatures outside.

The Plan

  1. You need to get dressed – It’s cold outside, and we have already covered the embarrassing bit you were getting paranoid about a few minutes ago, yer, it takes a long time to reach self actualisation when you get up from the couch!
  2. You need to get from the living room to the garage, the Zombies are now laughing at your manhood. This has yielded a small bonus as they’re distracted from going through the front door, which as per usual after a night out you have left wide open.
  3. From the garage you need to ignore the old scooter and sidecar, as 1 you don’t know how to ride a scooter, your not a mod, and 2 your mate is too fat to get in the sidecar.
  4. You need to brainstorm all you know about how to kill zombies with your mate. Your mate is called Dave by the way. He was named after the TV channel. It’s like the whole Westward Ho! book thing. Google it!
  5. Using the brainstorming results you and Dave came up with, gather up as many utilitarian household items that you have identified as Zombie ending real world apps as possible and make your get away. P.S. you have a garage, it’s a safe bet there’s a bunch of uncharged power tools that only ever came out the box once lying about collecting dust. These may not help, but we are working on your manhood here. Anything will do, you’re not Bruce Willis yet!
  6. Stop off at Waitrose to stock up on food, yes Waitrose, with the middle classes all riding the latest Hoxtonian Zombie tribe thing to show they have meaning, the staff will be reducing all the really expensive items to next to nothing as they have no customers, and there high staff to punter ratio needs to be maintained for their jobs and yearly bonus. Yanks and Canucks take note, Waitrose is one of those supermarkets people with too much disposable income like to be seen in, but don’t like it when they bring out a basic’s range that means their cleaner also shops there. Obviously you Antipedeans don’t need an explanation as you’re all over here on working holidays anyways.

As you make your getaway, killing all your neighbours and avoiding the bag lady, she is good for the closing anecdote, make sure to note how luckily you are to be living in a world where you can keep your SAS survival handbook downloaded on your iPhone.

 

Everything you ever wanted to know about the River Danube

The River Danube is undoubtedly one of the most famous stretches of water in the entire world. For centuries, people of all cultures have marveled at the sheer size and strength of this European tributary, and indeed, much tourism has occurred because of it. This is why I’m taking the time out today to write a short article detailing some of the most interesting facts about the river and the locations it runs through – hopefully you’ll find the information as compelling as I do.

River Danube
River Danube – Adapted for the original work by Flickr user lyng883

Second Largest River In Europe

Starting as many smaller streams in the Black Forest of Germany, this waterway soon becomes one before flowing through no less than four different major capital cities and eventually emptying into the vast openness of the Black Sea. It’s total length is somewhere around 2800 km, which is beaten only by the Volga in Russia.

Flows Through The Borders Of 10 Countries

Though the river only actually reaches 4 major capital cities, at one point or another it travels through 10 European countries. These are Germany, Slovakia, Austria, Serbia, Hungary, Croatia, Moldova, Bulgaria, Romania, and Ukraine. The capitals reached are Budapest, Vienna, Belgrade and Bratislava.

Provides Drinking Water To Millions

Yes, that’s right, over 10,000,000 people living in the European countries surrounding the Danube get their drinking water directly from the river. Obviously this is cleaned before being pumped through pipes and into the homes of the general population, but still, providing for that many people is startlingly impressive.

Home Of River Cruises For Over 100 Years

Starting in the 19th century, river cruises along the Danube have been incredibly popular with tourists wanting to experience the true atmosphere of European culture. These days, anyone wishing to take a short break and visit some of the most extraordinary sights can do so for very little cost (I’m sure you’ve all seen the adverts on TV)

Gave Hungary’s Capital City Its Nickname

Although the river cuts through 10 different countries, around ⅓ of it is contained within Hungary, which is why many people refer to the capital city of Budapest as the Queen of the Danube. Here you’ll find stunning architecture, all within a naked-eye view of the waterway.

Has The Largest Delta In The World

The area where the Danube flows into the sea (the delta) is accepted as being the largest on earth, and many experts claim it’s actually still growing. Best estimates suggest this area currently supports over 5500 different species of wildlife, which is why animal and plant enthusiasts come from all corners of the globe to witness the untouched reserve.

Home Of The Longest Bike Trail In Europe

People who enjoy cycling will be glad to know the river actually has a track running along the vast majority of its length, meaning anyone is free to travel the distance at their own leisure. Also, there are many different camp sites along the route so anyone with the inclination could take a very cheap holiday if they were willing to compromise on luxuries and move via pedal power.

So there you have it, that was everything you need to know about one of the most awe-inspiring rivers on the planet. Now all you need to decide is when you’re going to check it out for yourself.

Have a fabulous time!

 

Everything you need to know about the Vasari Corridor

If you haven’t heard of the mysterious Vasari Corridor; it’s one of the most interesting and exciting places in all of Florence. It’s actually a secret passageway that isn’t so secret anymore; 1km long, elevated, and enclosed. It connects the Palazzo Vecchio and Palazzo Pitti, crossing over Florence’s river Arno. Interested? Read on for everything you need to know about the curious Vasari Corridor:

vasari-corridor
The Vasari Corridor crossing the river Arno in Florence – Image by Flickr user collectmoments

The corridor was built by a man called Giorgio Vasari, who was an architect for the court of the Medici family. Around the same time, the Medici family had just purchased a large villa on the bank of the Arno river (Pitti Palace), while enjoying the title of the Dukes of Florence. This family lived in the Pitti Palace, while their “office” if you will, was the Palazzo Vecchio. The family’s wish was to move between their house and “office” without facing any dangers, and free to look upon their subjects without being spotted. If you would like to learn more about the Medici family, a book called The Rise and Fall of the House of the Medici by Christopher Hibbert is highly recommended.

Taking just 5 months to build in 1565, the Vasari Corridor was ready just in time for the wedding of the son of the Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici and Joanna of Austria. To walk through the Vasari Corridor, you’d pass through the halls of the Uffizi gallery, cut through the Arno river, pass over the goldsmith’s shop located on Ponte Vecchio, cross the gardens of Palazzo Guicciardini, and then make your way out at the Boboli gardens.

The Vasari Corridor was even featured in Dan Brown’s hit novel Inferno; used by a professor and a Dr to escape soldiers. Nowadays, you can take tours yourself through this mystical corridor, a definite must if you’re visiting Florence! You can see unique portraits inside the corridor which actually seem to give you a little peek into the minds of the artists. Eerily quiet inside the corridor, it’s comparable to Dr Who’s Tardis; much bigger on the inside than you would expect. Straight off, you’ll notice other pieces of Florence’s history, such as the artwork damaged by the mafia bomb set off under the gallery in 1993. The bomb killed 5 people, and the damaged works of art were later pieced back together to serve as a reminder to visitors. You should take your camera with you to get some memorable shots, however, you can’t take pictures of the artwork from inside the corridor – only from outside of the windows.

You’ll end your tour in the Palazzo Pitti’s garden, located next to something called the “Grotto of Moses”, where in the summer various jazz shows are held. This is a beautiful and perfect place to finish your tour; you might even feel like a Medici for a minute!

The Vasari Corridor is a truly unique place and a great experience to get under your belt – it’s highly recommended that you add a visit to your bucket list of things to do!

John F Kennedy – Charismatic US President

I was overwhelmed often by then US President John F. Kennedy for his charismatic leadership and his eternal love for peace. As the 35th President of the United States, he served from 1961 until his assassination in 1963. Though he was from a politically prominent Irish-American Kennedy family, he was so down to earth and considered an icon of American liberalism. His bravery and heroism well reflected during World War II by rescuing a fellow sailor in the South Pacific.

John - F - Kennedy
John F Kennedy – image by Flickr user U.S. Embassy New Delhi

He was elected as the US President in 1960, in one of the closest elections in history after he served in his home state of Massachusetts as both a member of the House of Representatives and Senate.

His inaugural address on Friday, January 20, 1961 to the Americans and to the world was a fascinating and heart-touching one. The events, just before the inaugural address are rolling into mind.

Heavy snow fell the night before the inauguration, but thoughts about canceling the plans were overruled.

The election of 1960 had been close, and the Democratic Senator from Massachusetts was eager to gather support for his agenda. He attended Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Georgetown that morning before joining President Eisenhower to travel to the Capitol.

The Congress had extended the East Front, and the inaugural platform spanned the new addition. The Chief Justice Earl Warren administered the oath of office.

President John F. Kennedy addressed the audience where the Vice President Johnson, the Speaker, the Chief Justice, President Eisenhower, Vice President Nixon, President Truman, reverend clergy and others were gathered.

His statement in his eloquent voice that “we observe today not a victory of party, but a celebration of freedom, symbolizing an end, as well as a beginning, signifying renewal, as well as change. For I have sworn before you and Almighty God the same solemn oath our forebears prescribed nearly a century and three quarters ago” was so heart touching forever.

He was continuing, “We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans, born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.”

“Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”

“To those peoples in the huts and villages across the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves, for whatever period is required not because the Communists may be doing it, not because we seek their votes, but because it is right. If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.”

“To that world assembly of sovereign states, the United Nations, our last best hope in an age where the instruments of war have far outpaced the instruments of peace, we renew our pledge of support to prevent it from becoming merely a forum for invective to strengthen its shield of the new and the weak and to enlarge the area in which its writ may run.”

“Finally, to those nations who would make themselves our adversary, we offer not a pledge but a request: that both sides begin anew the quest for peace, before the dark powers of destruction unleashed by science engulf all humanity in planned or accidental self-destruction.”

“We dare not tempt them with weakness. For only when our arms are sufficient beyond doubt can we be certain beyond doubt that they will never be employed.”

“But neither can two great and powerful groups of nations take comfort from our present course both sides overburdened by the cost of modern weapons, both rightly alarmed by the steady spread of the deadly atom, yet both racing to alter that uncertain balance of terror that stays the hand of mankind’s final war.”

“So let us begin anew remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.”

“Let both sides explore what problems unite us instead of belaboring those problems which divide us.”

“Let both sides, for the first time, formulate serious and precise proposals for the inspection and control of arms and bring the absolute power to destroy other nations under the absolute control of all nations.”

“Let both sides seek to invoke the wonders of science instead of its terrors. Together let us explore the stars, conquer the deserts, eradicate disease, tap the ocean depths, and encourage the arts and commerce.”

“Let both sides unite to heed in all corners of the earth the command of Isaiah to ‘undo the heavy burdens … and to let the oppressed go free.”

“And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you ask what you can do for your country.”

“Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.”

The US President who came out with his inaugural address not only for his fellow Americans but for the entire world and faced the major crisis during his presidency, the Bay of Pigs invasion, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the building of the Berlin Wall, the Space Race, early events of the Vietnam War and the American Civil Rights Movement and tried his best to resolve those crisis, was finally assassinated on November 22, 1963 by Lee Harvey Oswald untimely before he put a lasting end to those crisis.

Kennedy’s assassination has left in America and around the world, a traumatic impact for centuries to remember for the world leader who thought for peace and harmony globally.

By: Rajkumar Kanagasingam

Ischemic Heart Disease

Ischemia, the root cause of Ischemic Heart Disease, is a condition in which the blood flow (and thus oxygen) is restricted to a part of the body. Cardiac ischemia is the name for lack of blood flow and oxygen to the heart muscle. Cardiac ischemia happens when an artery becomes narrowed or blocked for a short time, preventing oxygen-rich blood from reaching the heart.

 

ischemic heart disease - The human heart - Image by Flickr user: Carolina Biological Supply Company
ischemic heart disease – The human heart – Image by Flickr user: Carolina Biological Supply Company

 

What is ischemic heart disease?

It is the term given to heart problems caused by narrowed heart arteries. When arteries are narrowed, less blood and oxygen reach the heart muscle. This is also called coronary artery disease (CAD) and coronary heart disease. This can ultimately lead to heart attack. Ischemia often causes chest pain or discomfort known as angina pectoris.

Angina pectoris, is more commonly known as angina. This is a chest pain due to ischemma of the heart muscle. The term Angina pectoris comes from the Latin for angina (“infection of the throat”), also derived from Greek “ἀγχόνη ankhonē” or “strangling”, and again from the Latin, “pectus” or “chest”. Angina pectoris translates to “a strangling feeling in the chest”.

silent ischemia

People who experience ischemia without the pain of angina pectoris, have a heart condition known as silent ischemia. They may have a heart attack with no prior warning. People with angina also may have undiagnosed episodes of silent ischemia. One diagnostic tool used today is to perform a 24-hour portable electrocardiogram where the person’s heart under investigation is monitored for a period of time to detect attacks of ischema.

Silent ischemia may also disturb the heart’s rhythm. Abnormal rhythms such as ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation may interfere with the heart’s pumping ability and can even cause fainting or sudden cardiac death. If ischemia is severe or lasts too long, it can cause a heart attack (myocardial infarction) and can lead to heart tissue death. In most cases, a temporary blood shortage to the heart causes the pain of angina pectoris.

Silent ischemia has no symptoms. Researchers have found that if you have episodes of noticeable chest pain, you may also have episodes of silent ischemia.

Want to know more about Ischemic Heart Disease?

The Britsh Heart Foundation provides information on your Heart Health and is an excellent source of additional reading on all heart related heath problems.

Summer Evening Wheatfield with Setting sun Vincent van Gogh

The painting Summer Evening Wheatfield with Setting Sun is one of Vincent van Gogh’s many Wheat Fields works. He painted it in 1888, with previous paintings reflecting the nature’s natural cycle of life he found engrained in the subject matter. van Gogh’s earlier Wheatfields work had progressed from the drab wheat sheaves depicted in his 1885 to the colorful and dramatic scene captured by his increasing talent below. Vincent, had as a young man pursued a religious calling in Isleworth, England, and found wheatfields a metaphor for man’s cycle of life as they are labored by man harnessing nature though the seasonal cycle for a productive end.
Summer Evening Wheatfield
Summer evening wheatfield with setting sun by Vincent van Gogh in 1888
On Display The painting can be seen on display at the Kunstmuseum in Winterthur, switzerland. The Original in an oil on canvas measuring 188 x 231cm. Vincent Willem Van Gogh Born: March 30, 1853 in Zundert, The Netherlands. Died: July 29, 1890 in Auvers-sur-Oise, France. Artistic Style: Post-Impressionism.  

The Tree Frog: An amphibian climber of colour, poison and intrigue

red-eyed-tree-frog
Red Eyed Tree Frog

Tree frogs are one of the most fascinating and beautifully colored creatures in the world. They live in many different climates throughout the world and are typically found in tall trees or other plant life. Tree frogs are classified by their ability to climb due to the suction cups on each of their feet. Miraculously, a majority of these frogs are classified as unthreatened and have surprisingly high population numbers. However, this is not always the case.

Red Eyed Tree Frog

These wonderfully colored amphibians are known to spend nearly their entire lifespan without ever touching the ground except for mating. These frogs are not poisonous and depend on a special behavior to protect themselves. Their brilliantly colored red eyes and stripped blue sides obviously do not help to camouflage them, but during daylight they remain completely still, tuck in their legs, and close their eyes so that potential predators will not notice them against the green foliage they call home. They are found in tropical forests in Central America and Southern Mexico.

Japanese Tree Frog
Japanese Tree Frog – Image by Flickr user Autan

Japanese Tree Frog

This species of tree frog is common throughout Japan, Korea, and China. In fact, the species can be found as far North as Mongolia and Russia. These frogs can often be found in rice paddies hiding amongst the foliage. They also enjoy broadleaf forests in areas near creeks and streams and ponds. This is a very hardy and adaptable creature and will sometimes be found living quite contently in large cities, provided a reliable water source is nearby.

Pacific Tree Frog
Pacific Tree Frog – image by Flickr user aehack

Pacific Tree Frog

This frog from the Western coast of The United States comes in a variety of colors, including reds, greens, browns, tan, cream, and black. However, most are greenish or brownish because they aid in camouflaging them from predators. They are excellent jumpers and climbers due to their long legs and the sticky pads on their feet. This frog is perfectly happy both at sea level and in high altitudes, sometimes as much as 10,000 feet.

Poison Dart Frog - image by Flickr user MoleSon²
Poison Dart Frog – image by Flickr user MoleSon²

Poison Dart Frogs

These frogs display some of the most vibrant and impressive colors of any frog species. Although this is visually appealing to humans, it serves as a warning to predators. The indigenous peoples living in close proximity to these lovely creatures know the lethality of their poisonous alkali secretions and use them on their darts, hence the name, poison dart frog. However, only some of the roughly 151 species of poison dart frogs can be considered tree frogs. Many are ground dwellers and some do not stray far from ponds or streams. They are found in Central and South America, namely Brazil, and are usually diurnal, meaning they are awake during the day. Due to deforestation and destruction of the Amazon rainforest, these frogs are considered an endangered species.

Emerald Glass Frog

This truly beautiful species of tree frog is found predominantly in Costa Rica, but also in Panama, Columbia, and Ecuador. Glass frogs are typically very small and this species generally does not exceed 31 millimeters. They get their name from their translucent bellies. The digestive track and other internal organs can be easily seen through the skin. Despite their tiny delicate bodies, these frogs are highly territorial and have been known to fight each other in wrestling matches that can last a long time. When mating, the males will call to attract a female from a perch high above a stream or river. The female will join the male at his perch to mate and will lay eggs hanging above the stream. Once the eggs hatch about two weeks later, they fall into the stream as tadpoles.

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