April 27, 2020

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Everybody’s Talking

Walking backwards: Medi Bastoni, an Indonesian man from Dono, a small village in East Java, was so passionate about a cause that he walked backwards for over 700 kilometres (430 mi.). Bastoni was raising awareness about rainforest preservation. His backwards walk took him to his country’s capital of Jakarta, where he planned to meet with President Joko Widodo.  What he wanted from the President was simple: a symbolic seed for a tree,  which he would then plant near his village. Bastoni outfitted himself with a backpack full of supplies and a frame that held a rear-view mirror so he could see where he was going.

Petal Power: A building in Venezuela can open and close like a flower. The Flor de Venezuela is also known as the Flor de Hanover because it was built for Expo 2000 in Hanover, Germany. The architect, Fruto Vivas, wanted the building to reflect flowers, so he designed a building that has 16 enormous petals attached to a central stem. Using a hydraulic system, the petals can open and close, which is not only visually appealing but also convenient if it rains. Once the Expo was over, the building was moved, piece-by-piece, to  Barquisimeto in the western part of the country. 

Quiet park: Vancouver, British Columbia, on Canada’s west coast, is home to  Stanley Park, which covers an area of about 400 hectares (1,000 acres).  Cyclists and walkers love pedalling on 27 kilometres (16.7 mi.) of trails that wind through and around the park. Stanley Park includes a variety of vegetation, including centuries-old red cedars, towering Douglas firs, and Pacific dogwoods, making it a quiet forest retreat in the middle of a big city.  Walkers and cyclists who stick to the peripheral trail can watch float planes come and go on Vancouver Harbour and enjoy views of the surrounding mountains.

Iconic sculpture: The red phone booth is an iconic sight in London, England,  and there is a sculpture to recognize this symbol of English heritage. Called  “Out of Order,” it was made by Scottish sculptor David Mach and installed in  1989 on Old London Road. “Out of Order” consists of 12 red phone booths that look like they have fallen into each other. Some viewers think that it symbolizes the death of the phone booth in this age of mobile phones, but the sculpture was installed before the use of those devices were as common as they are today. The sculpture is a great backdrop for tourists snapping selfies!

Quoteable Quotes

“The real problem is not whether machines think, but whether men do.”
—B.F. Skinner
“I wish that every human life might be pure transparent freedom.”
—Simone de Beauvoir

Trivia

1. Who said, “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration”?

Thomas Edison

2. If you are a narcissist, are you egocentric or absent-minded?

Egocentric

3. What is the longest bony fish on Earth?

Giant Oarfish

4. Name the daughters of former U.S. President and Mrs. Barack Obama.

Malia and Sasha

5. How many hours does it take for a chicken to produce an egg?

24-36 hours

Games

Did You Know?

Turtle tracks: Raine Island, located in the Great Barrier Reef, is a nesting ground for green sea turtles. More than 15,000 female turtles at one time may attempt to lay their eggs on the short stretch of beach during nesting season.

Peanut butter: A small fruit that grows in South America is called peanut butter fruit. This orange or red fruit looks a bit like a grape tomato but smells like its name. When ripe, even its consistency is like that of peanut butter.

Prolific writer: Canadian author Margaret Atwood wrote The Handmaid’s Tale that has been made into a successful TV series. The novel was originally published in 1985. A sequel called The Testaments was published in 2019.

Name-calling: In South Korea, a common family name is “Kim,” which means  “gold.” In fact, about 10 million people have that name – about 20 per cent of the country. Other extremely common Korean family names are “Lee” and  “Park.”

Footprints on the Moon: In 1969, American astronauts Neil Armstrong and  Buzz Aldrin were the first humans to set foot on the Moon. Since then, 12 more astronauts have had the privilege of walking on this satellite of Earth.

On the Lighter Side

  • Don’t you hate it when someone answers their own questions? I do.
  • Knock! Knock!
    Who’s there?
    Control freak. OK, now you say, “Control freak who?”
  • What belongs to you, but everyone else uses it? Your name.
  • Yesterday I got my tie stuck in the fax machine. Next thing I knew, I was in Los Angeles.
  • Nature abhors a vacuum, but not as much as a cat does.

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April 20, 2020

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Everybody’s Talking

Lonely house: An interesting place in Iceland is called the Prídrangaviti Lighthouse. With a name that means “three rock pillars,” it was built in 1939 on top of a slim rock outcrop that sits six miles off the country’s southern coast, near the Westman Islands. The red-roofed lighthouse is on the largest of four such rock pillars protruding from the sea. To build it, construction workers first had to build a road to the cliff, and then had to climb to the top of the cliff with the materials. Today, maintenance workers get there via helicopter. No one lives in this lighthouse, as it is so remote and isolated

Vulture madness: It’s not uncommon to hear about cases in which pigeons, crows, or gulls take over a place in large numbers, but vultures? That’s what happened in a neighbourhood in West Palm Beach, Florida (U.S.). Apparently, someone started feeding the vultures, an act that served to attract other vultures to come to the free buffet. Unfortunately, a committee of vultures makes quite a mess, and homeowners ended up with pecked vehicles, torn screens, and invaded swimming pools. Even fake owls and loud music have failed to scare the birds away.

Blue-eyed sisters: A couple from Reading, England, own two “American Type” Russian Blue cats. Named Xafi and Auri, this pair of sisters has attracted a lot of attention on social media because of their interesting blue-green eyes. The feline breed is quite gentle and intelligent, and these two love to pose for the camera. Their owners say that Xafi and Auri get along really well, loving to cuddle with each other. To get photos, the owners use treats and toys, but say the best pictures emerge when the cats are just being themselves and are acting naturally

Alpine adventure: With the Matterhorn in full view, the mountain town of Zermatt is a scenic place to visit in Switzerland. In the winter, it is known for its great skiing and other snow sports, such as skating and curling. In other seasons, mountain biking, rock climbing, and hiking on mountain trails keep adventurous people busy. Those who aren’t athletic can go on the Matterhorn glacier ride, a cable car ride that offers views of the glacier landscape. After the day’s activities, a visitor can dine at one of the many top-class restaurants that line the streets of the town.

Quoteable Quotes

“Oh world, I cannot hold thee close enough.”
—Edna St. Vincent Millay

“It takes little talent so see clearly what lies under one’s nose, a good deal of it to know in which direction to point that organ.”
—W.H. Auden

Trivia

1. A female deer is called a doe or a stag?

A Doe

2. The first name of golfer Tiger Woods is Elbridge, Eldon, or Eldrick?

Eldrick

3. On which continent will you find the Gobi Desert?

Central Asia

4. What is Krill?

Small Crustaceans

5. France celebrates Bastille Day in June, July, or August??

July

Games

Coming Soon

Did You Know?

Italian terminology: In Italy, salumi is a general term that means cured meats. Salami, on the other hand, is a specific type of cured meat that falls under the umbrella term of salumi. Other examples of salumi are prosciutto and pancetta.

Decorated: Native to Papua New Guinea and Australia, male bowerbirds attract females by building a “bower” out of sticks. Then the males decorate the bower with colourful objects, such as red berries, feathers, and flower petals.

Worked with wood: American actor Patrick Swayze, who died in 2009, was famous for roles in such movies as Dirty Dancing (1988) and Ghost (1990). Before he became famous, he owned a carpentry business with his wife Lisa.

Wax paint: Some artists use the encaustic technique in their creations. For this technique, hot melted wax that has been coloured with pigment is applied to a surface. The artist must work quickly, before the wax hardens.

New nation: The newest country in the world is South Sudan in the central part of Africa. It became independent on July 9, 2011. It was originally part of Sudan.

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On the Lighter Side

If the customer is always right, then why isn’t everything free?

What kind of coat is always wet when you put it on? A coat of paint.

Penguin: “Have you seen my brother?”
Passerby: “I don’t know. What does he look like?”

A customer called a rental store to ask about rectangular tables and was told they had six-foot and eight-foot tables. Customer’s response: “What’s the difference?”

You know you’re texting too much when you try to text, but you’re on a landline.

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April 13, 2020

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Everybody’s Talking

Happy landings: Saint Barthélemy, nicknamed St. Bart’s, in the Leeward  Islands of the northeastern Caribbean Sea, is home to a challenging airport.  Pilots intending to land at the Gustaf III Airport require special training and  certification. That’s because there is a big hill at one end of the short runway  and a beach at the other, along with considerable air turbulence. Big jets don’t land on the 650-metre (2,133-ft.) runway, but the airport is heavily used by  smaller planes. Pilots do not receive takeoff and landing clearance from air  traffic controllers. Rather, they use the Automatic Flight Information Service  to obtain information.

Long ride: Canadian Chris Bruckner took on a huge challenge. He cycled all the way across Canada. Starting on the west coast in the city of Vancouver, he made it to the city of Halifax on the east coast, a distance of over 5,700 kilometres (3,500 mi.). A paramedic who trained hard for the trek, Bruckner made the distance in 13 days, three hours and 49 minutes, possibly breaking the record. The race was a time trial in which a cyclist tries to cover the distance as quickly as possible. Bruckner, who had a team keeping track of his time, used the race to raise money for the Canadian Mental Health Association.

Doll crazy: A couple from Krasnoyarsk, Russia, are known worldwide for their  ability to create realistic dolls. Anastasiya and Sergey Lutsenko are trained  artists who use their talents to give their dolls amazingly realistic details, such  as freckles and elaborate hairstyles. Each unique, handmade creation can take  weeks or even months to complete. Both trained in classical art, the  couple researched to find the best materials to use. Doll collectors love the  results of the Lutsenkos’ work so much that they pay thousands to acquire  one of their masterpieces.

Sitting sport: An unusual sport is played in the Netherlands called Paalzitten,  or pole sitting. It is as it sounds: competitors sit on top of poles to see who will last the longest before getting bored, tired, or numb. The long poles are outfitted with a seat and a backrest, and they are placed in water, which  reduces injury if someone accidentally falls off. Competitors are allowed to take bathroom breaks every now and then. The history of Paalzitten is unknown, but it is thought to have started in the Dutch province of Friesland.  Today, it is more of a tourist attraction than a sport.

Quoteable Quotes

“No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible.”
—Stanislaw Jerzy Lee

“The traveler who has once been from home is wiser than he who has never left his own doorstep.”
—Margaret Mead

Trivia

1. What type of grated cheese is traditionally sprinkled over spaghetti?

Parmesan

2. Acrophobia is the fear of what?

Heights

3. An eagle has claws or talons?

Talons

4. The penholder grip is used in which sport?

Table Tennis

5. One of several dances performed in grass skirts is what?

The Hula

Did You Know?

Outside in: A hotel called Sister City in New York City (U.S.) uses compositions  by experimental musician Julianna Barwick in its lobby. The music sounds like noises taking place in the outside environment, such as raindrops and pigeon  coos.

Spicy spot: Grenada is known as the “spice island” of the Caribbean because of its plantations of nutmeg, cinnamon, mace, and other spices. Tourists can  visit nutmeg processing stations.

Greek treat: Grape leaves wrapped around rice with herbs are called dolmades, a Greek appetizer. Cabbage leaves can also be used and other ingredients, such as ground pork, can be added to the filling.

Musical life: Jessie Reyez is a singer-songwriter from Toronto, Ontario  (Canada). Her family’s roots are in Colombia. Reyez won a 2018 Juno Award for Breakthrough Artist of the Year and is becoming known for her rhythm- and-blues and hip-hop-infused music.

Annoying twitch: Occasionally, people find that their eyelid is twitching. Often  harmless, this twitching is called blepharospasm and can be associated with fatigue or stress.

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On the Lighter Side

Anyone who thinks “talk is cheap” obviously didn’t pay my last mobile phone  bill!

I own the world’s worst thesaurus. Not only is it awful, it’s awful.
Instead of saying, “And here’s your receipt,” cashiers should say, “Will you  throw this away for me?”

I opened the office refrigerator to get my lunch. Instead of my dessert, I found  this note: “I owe you one banana cream. Sorry, it was an emergency.”

A is the sister of B. B is the brother of C. C is the father of D. How is D related to A? Answer: A is D’s aunt.

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April 6, 2020

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Everybody’s Talking

Old TVs: The gifts given by a prankster in Henrico County, Virginia (U.S.), were  largely unwanted by the recipients. The prankster wore a blue jumpsuit and a  mask that looked like an old television set. In the middle of the night, he visited  the porches of about 50 homeowners, dropping an outdated TV set on  each one. Police were called but, because no harm was done, they decided  not to pursue the TV-toting gift giver. Also, based on the images caught on  cameras on some of the properties, the cops weren’t sure if there had been  one or more perpetrators. The TVs were collected for recycling.

Place of beauty: Adventure holidays might be great for some people, but  others may want to skip the excitement and instead just relax. One place to do  just that is Seven Sisters on the southern coast of England where visitors  can take in the beauty of land meeting sea. At Seven Sisters, white chalk cliffs  topped  with lush grass meet the blue English Channel. The name comes  from  the seven hilltops that comprise the cliffs. Visitors to the area can take a  walk on a path that goes along the seven hills, then can stop for a snack in the  tranquil village of Birling Gap. 

Swiss travelers: A family from Switzerland has chosen to live their lives as  nomads. For almost a decade, Xavier and Celine Pasche have traveled the  world on their bicycles, pulling a chariot to carry gear and their two girls, Nayla  and Fibie. The girls were born during their travels, which have included Japan,  Malaysia, New Zealand, Alaska (U.S.), and more. They live in a tent and cook for  themselves. They finance their travels by contributing writing and  photographs to a Swiss newspaper and by giving talks. For the Pasche family,  living simply while traveling is a way of life, and they have found much  kindness from people everywhere.

Art from junk: A young artist from the small town of Mfuwe, Zambia, is  attracting attention for his ability to turn scrap metal into works of art. In order  to attend secondary school, Frederick Phiri had to find odd jobs, which  included making wire sculptures of animals that he sold to tourists. Eventually,  Phiri apprenticed with Moses Mbewe, a welder, who taught him how to do  intricate work. Mbewe recognized the young man’s talent and encouraged him  to make creative pieces using bike chains, keys, and other scrap metal.  Phiri creates abstract animals, such as chameleons and elephants, and is  making a name for himself.

Quoteable Quotes

“It is completely unimportant. That is why it is so interesting.”
—Agatha Christie

“Technology…the knack of so arranging the world that we don’t have to  experience it.”
—Max Frisch

Trivia

1. The country of Myanmar was formerly called what?

Burma

2. In general, what does the Latin “quid pro quo” mean?

“something for something”

3. Name the twins of the musical pop group The Bee Gees.

Maurice & Robin Gibb

4. What vegetable is prominent in eggs florentine?

Spinach

5. Which planet in our solar system is closest to the Sun?

Mercury

Did You Know?

Forest of stone: Hua’ao Island, in the East China Sea off the coast of Zhejiang  province, looks like a stone forest (Shilin in Chinese). That’s because its coast  has thousands of eroded basalt columns formed from the lava of ancient volcanoes.

Lots of music: The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival takes place  annually in Indio, California (U.S.). It started in 1999, but it is now so big that it is  held over two weekends.

See Canada: The Great Trail is a 24,000-kilometre (15,000-mi.) recreational  route across the vast country of Canada, from the Atlantic to the Pacific  Oceans. Travelers can find places to hike, cycle, paddle, and cross-country ski.

Wind song: An unusual musical sculpture on a hill near the town of Burnley, England, is called the Singing Ringing Tree. This 3-metre (9.8-ft.) tall structure  is made of steel pipes that “sing” in the wind.

Good spread: Eggplant is the main ingredient in baba ghanoush, a spread  popular in eastern Mediterranean cuisine. The dish includes sesame seeds,  olive oil, lemon, and garlic. Other ingredients, such as olives and peppers, can  be added.

On the Lighter Side

Patient: “Doctor, I get heartburn every time I eat birthday cake.”
Doctor: “Next time, take off the candles.”

What can you hold in your right hand, but never in your left hand? Answer: Your left hand.

The trouble with jogging is that by the time you realize you’re not in shape for it, it’s too far to walk back.

An extensive government study has revealed that the leading cause of cancer in laboratory rats is scientists.

What do you always get on your birthday? Another year older!

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