Random Scary Halloween Prophecies!

Want to be scared not just today, but for the rest of your life? Here are a couple of handy random scary prophecy generators...

Wow, I had hoped for a less ignominious fate...

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Italians spooked by Halloween (seriously!)

Italians don't naturally celebrate Halloween. But it's getting there...

Still, Italy can have a scary side... Check out:

Want treats (dolcetti) instead of tricks (scherzetti)? Even without Halloween, there are a number of traditional Italian sweets for this time of year!


UPDATED (Nov. 1): Two fourteen year-old boys shot by an elderly man near Turin while they were trick-or-treating yesterday undergo surgery today... [more in Italian]

Plus, the "official" Halloween in Italy site: halloween.it

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Halloween: What does it all mean?

Happy Halloween!! But what does it all mean??

"Halloween is a mid-18th century Scottish shortening of Allhallow-even, the 'Eve of All Saints,' which was the last night of October. Hallowmas as the name for All-Saints Day is first attested in 1389. The Christian calendar day Halloween corresponds to the last night of the year in the old Celtic calendar, where it was Old Year's Night, a night for witches. Thus it is another example of a pagan holiday given a cursory baptism during the Dark Ages conversions and sent on its way."
More Fun with Halloween Etymologies!

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Countdown to Halloween:
The Collectable "Village of Horror"!

"Well, if you won't come up to see my etchings, perhaps you'd like to see my VILLAGE OF HORROR!"

(from planettom)


Countdown to Halloween:
Cartoon Characters' Skeletons

Weird... funny...

(My favorite might be the Schmoo, or maybe Hello Kitty...)

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Getting Ready for the Great Pumpkin!

A veritable plethora (aiiieee!) of pumpkin links, all to get you ready for tomorrow's All Hallows Eve...

UPDATED (Nov. 1): Plus, virtual pumpkin carving! (from Metafilter)

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Baptist buys Papal Ford for $690,000!

Yay, ecumenicalism! :-)

John Paul II's Ford Sells for $690,000 - Yahoo! News

Countdown to Halloween:
Artistic Monsterpieces!

Fantastic photoshopping contest where you stick monsters into fine art!

"Frankenstein Meets DaVinci" on Worth1000.com!

(from Boing Boing)

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"Mother Goose Rocks!"

"U2" doing "Head and Shoulders"

Video's silly, but the song may be some of "U2"'s best stuff in years... ;-)

(from Metafilter)

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Boing Boing: "TV commercial of 250,000 superballs let loose in San Francisco!"

Of admittedly questionable utility, but it is lovely photography! :-)

In July, Cory wrote about 10,000 250,000 superballs being released at once down a hilly street in San Francisco. Here's the resulting TV commercial. Very soothing..."

(from Boing Boing)

World Leaders Sing ABBA!

"World leaders sing Abba, featuring George W. Bush singing 'The Winner Takes It All,' [and] Bill Gates with 'Money, Money'..."

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"Look to this day for it is life. In its brief course lie all the realities and truths of existence, the joy of growth, the glory of action, the splendor of beauty... Today, well lived, makes every yesterday a memory of happiness and every tomorrow a vision of hope. Look well, therefore, to this day..."
- Ancient Sanskrit Proverb


"How Einstein managed his inbox "

How Einstein managed his inbox - LiveScience - MSNBC.com: "Study suggests modern e-mail habits similar to older, letter-writing ones..."

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It's been a bad week for…
Personal Responsibility

"Bad Week For… Personal responsibility, after a Romanian man filed a lawsuit against God for screwing up his life. The suit alleges that the man was promised a good life in return for “various goods and prayers,” and that the 20-year sentence he’s currently serving in a Romanian jail represents a clear breach of contract."

(from The Week e-Newsletter, October 21)


"Hunting for fake words in the dictionary"

Ever heard of "Lillian Virginia Mountweazel"?

There's a reason for that...

"So when word leaked out that the recently published second edition of the New Oxford American Dictionary contains a made-up word that starts with the letter “e,” an independent investigator set himself the task of sifting through NOAD’s thirty-one hundred and twenty-eight “e” entries in search of the phony. The investigator first removed from contention any word that was easily recognized or that appears in Webster’s Third New International; the remaining three hundred and sixty words were then vetted with a battery of references. Six potential Mountweazels emerged. They were..." [more from the New Yorker]

(from Boing Boing)

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Maine Fall Foliage Clip Art

Well, the leaves are past peak here... but that doesn't mean we have to give up on all that Fall Folliage fun! Based on actual collected leaves, here's your very own Maine Fall Foliage Clip Art! Enjoy!!

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"Get not your friends by bare compliments, but by giving them sensible tokens of your love."

"A true jedi, bust a move, must, hmm?"

(from memepool)

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"Ya damne righte!": Shaft lyrics in Chaucerian English

"Translating the lyrics from the Shaft theme into Chaucerian English isn't just cool -- it's practically what the Internet was invented for!"

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Think you've seen a website for everything?

How about...

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Wax on Wax HOFF

Northern Europeans are fascinated with David Hasselhoff.
Join the mania!
(You know you've always wanted to...)

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"Friendship needs no words - it is solitude delivered from the anguish of loneliness."

-Dag Hammarskjold


Halloween Hitchcock Week on TCM (plus edit your own "Psycho" Shower Scene!)

Can't get enough Hitch? Try this out for fun... Psycho Studio - Edit your own Shower Scene!

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Dress Kevin

Kevin is a sartorially challenged operations manager living in Hoboken, New Jersey. Not long ago, he experienced a stunning epiphany: 'I figured, why don't I let other people pick what I wear, since it'll leave out a lot of the guesswork.' So now you get to log on to Kevin's web site and vote for what clothes he's going to put on for any given occasion: a cocktail party, a run after work, Monday Night Football, etc. Sadly, many of Kevin's voters don't seem to have our hero's best interests in mind -- look at what he wore to ShopRite the other night. Yes, this is all incredibly dorky, but Kevin has big plans for the web site, and may wind up scoring some free clothes in the process. So way to go Kevin! Oh, and Kev? Lose the brown-and-green polo shirt."

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"The Italian who saw the Wild West"

No, not Sergio Leone... :-)

"(ANSA) - Bergamo, October 26 - An unsung Italian explorer of the American West is to be celebrated in his native city. Costantino Beltrami, an adventurer who found the source of the Mississippi and roved the West when buffalo herds still covered the Great Plains, is the focus of an exhibition here that highlights his experiences among the Sioux."

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"I haven't been everywhere, but it's on my list."
-Susan Sontag



"I happen to have an excellent memory, and every evening after we had finished eating, we would... make tea. Pointing to the heaps of books and histories, we would guess on which line of which page in which chapter of which book a certain passage could be found. Success in guessing determined who got to drink his or her tea first. Whenever I got it right, I would raise the teacup, laughing so hard that the tea would spill in my lap, and I would get up, not having been able to drink any of it at all. I would have been glad to grow old in such a world."


Was or not was Shakespeare?

"New book claims to identify the ‘real’ Shakespeare"
"If one went into the parlor of the average family during the 19th century, they would most likely find two books in common: the Bible and a bound volume of Shakespeare’s works. Over the centuries, numerous individuals have called into question the authorship of both works, but the debate over Shakespeare’s plays continues to rage on with a seemingly unending stream of pundits who claim to have the last word on the subject. The latest volley in this imbroglio reached the public this week with the release of a new book by Brenda James and William Rubinstein titled “The Truth Will Out: Unmasking the Real Shakespeare”. In their work, James and Rubinstein contend that the ‘real’ Bard was Sir Henry Neville, who was a distant relative of Shakespeare and a well-educated bonne home. James began looking into the potential connections between Shakespeare and Neville several years ago, and was intrigued with what she believes is a code on the dedication page of Shakespeare’s sonnets. To her eye, the code revealed the name Henry Neville, and she continued her investigation in this manner. While critical reviews of the work are still forthcoming, some have already voiced their skepticism. One such retort came from Professor Jonathan Bates of Warwick University who stated 'There’s not a shred of evidence in support of the argument; it’s full of errors. There’s no reason to doubt that Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare.'

The first link will lead visitors to an article from the Chicago Sun-Times that discusses this new book and its provocative claims. The second link will take visitors to a fine piece from The Times’ Richard Woods, who reports on the debate about the authorship of these works and also on some of the latest works on the Bard. The third link will take users to the homepage of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, where visitors can learn more about Shakespeare’s life and about such important queries as “What did Shakespeare look like?”. The fourth link will whisk users away to the very lovely homepage of the Royal Shakespeare Company, which features information about their current productions and some fine educational resources that address teaching Shakespeare’s plays in the classroom. The fifth link leads to a joint review of two recent books on Shakespeare from Professor William E. Cain, writing for the Boston Globe. The final link leads to an impassioned editorial piece from the British playwright Mark Ravenhill in this Monday’s Guardian on the importance of engaging the rich material inplays that may be considered ‘old-hat’."

(The Scout Report, 22 October 2005)

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"As of October 2005, Technorati is now tracking 19.6 Million weblogs. The total number of weblogs tracked continues to double about every 5 months. The blogosphere is now over 30 times as big as it was 3 years ago, with no signs of letup in growth. About 70,000 new weblogs are created every day. Between 700,000 and 1.3 million posts are made each day." (State of the Blogosphere, October 2005)

UPDATE (Oct. 26): It's not even the end of October, and Technorati has just cataloged its 20 millionth blog! In addition, there's now a cute little gadget "using Technorati's API which computes and displays your blog's worth using a link to dollar ratio. It seems The Presurfer is worth $ 172,184.70...." As you can see at the bottom right, MMC is worth, um, slightly less. :-)



"I have never found a human friend to whom I would dare tell all I know; the human heart is too small to bear it."


Final Maine Fall Foliage Update

October 19, 2005
Maine Foliage Report
Maine Department of Conservation

"Foliage Color Still Spectacular in Southern, Coastal Maine"

AUGUSTA, Maine - Foliage is at or near peak color throughout southernand coastal Maine according to the Department of Conservation's (DOC) final fall foliage report for 2005. With partly sunny and dry weather predicted this weekend for most of the southern half of the state, it should be the perfect time for a final trip to see Maine's fall beauty. Forest and park rangers are reporting peak leaf color, ranging from 85to 100 percent, in the foliage tracking zones covering the entire Maine coastline from Kittery to Eastport. Salt marshes and protected bays surrounded by colorful foliage are particularly picturesque this time of year. Many coastal towns offer waterside walking paths, scenic hiking trails in nature preserves and state parks, and biking trails for those who choose to be active while viewing the vibrant leaves. Peak color is also covering the Kennebec River region including the cities of Augusta and Waterville, and the Penobscot River region surrounding the city of Bangor. A drive north along Route 201 from Topsham to Augusta and on to Waterville reveals spectacular foliage set amongst lush green fields, lakes and the Kennebec River. Visitors don't have to trek to the forest to see Maine's attractive foliage. Two Lights State Park in Cape Elizabeth, near Portland; and Peacock Beach State Park in Richmond, south of Augusta, are two places where people can enjoy the color of the leaves without traveling deep into the woods. Those who prefer to be closer to nature can take the short hike up the summit trail at Bradbury Mountain State Park or tackle the trails on Mt. Battie or Mt. Megunticook at Camden Hills State Park.

For updated reports and information, call the Maine foliage hotline at 1-888-MAINE-45. Maine's Department of Conservation releases weekly foliage reports each year during foliage season (mid-September through mid-October). ForestRangers assess the amount of color change and leaf drop when they are onassignment in the field. These reports represent the official word on foliage conditions in the state of Maine and are provided to the public and media.Visit
www.MaineFoliage.com for more information about Maine foliage including photos, trip planning tips, kids' pages, and more!"


Mmm... fried!
(Any hidden health benefits here?)

"The hunt for new foods to fry is on! We begin our tour of the fried wonders of the world in Graceland, where you can still order one of Elvis Presley's favorite dishes: fried pickles. Next, in Thailand, crunchy fried insects should set you slavering. But if they don't, move on to the battered Mars bar of Scotland. And we can't forget you armchair travelers. Some goodies, like deep-fried Twinkies and Snickers, are still as close as the county fair. Sure, oily Oreos have caught on in Indonesia, but you don't have to trot the globe to sate your fried cravings. You can find many delicacies at the State Fair of Texas, including cheesecake, ice cream, cheese curds, and alligator. Yee-haw!"

(from Yahoo!)

Suggested Sites:

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Newsflash: Italian Scientists Have Proven the Powers of Pizza!

Italian Scientists Have Proven That Pizza Sauce Decreases Risk of Cancer!

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"speak worthily of trifling things and simply of grand things"


Newsflash: "World's Most Elusive Rat Dead After 18-Week Chase"

World's Most Elusive Rat Dead After 18-Week Chase (from Yahoo! News)

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"Horton Hears a Heart"

"Horton Hears a Heart is a pitch-perfect mashup of Dr Seuss's Horton Hears a Who and Edgar Allan Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart, two of my very favorite poems."
(from Boing Boing)

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"Sometimes the things that may or may not be true are the things a man needs to believe in the most. That people are basically good; that honor, courage, and virtue mean everything; that power and money, money and power mean nothing; that good always triumphs over evil; and I want you to remember this, that love... true love never dies. You remember that, boy. You remember that. Doesn't matter if it's true or not. You see, a man should believe in those things, because those are the things worth believing in."

-Uncle Hub's "what every boy needs know before becoming a man" speech, from the movie "Secondhand Lions"


List Lunedi', Part 2: "The 50 most notable science fiction films"!

From the brand-new Rough Guide to Sci-Fi Movies...

"The Canon: The 50 most notable science fiction films in the history of cinema. Each of the selections represents some important aspect of the Science Fiction film experience, and the films in the Canon range from the obvious (Star Wars) to the somewhat obscure (The Damned), and in time from 1902 (La Voyage Dans la Lune) to 2004 (The Incredibles)."

And the winners (in alphabetical order, but still guaranteed to spark debate!) are...

[*drumroll please!*]

(from Boing Boing)

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List Lunedi', Part 1: "100 Most Important Art Works of the 20th Century"

In the name of alliteration (lunedi' = "Monday" in Italian), here are some recent lists from the web... Enjoy!!

100 Most Important Art Works of the 20th Century

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"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read."
- Groucho Marx
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Newsflash - "Mobile Phones: Italy the 2nd country in the World"

This newsflash is not all that surprising for anybody who's visited the Bel Paese!

"Italy is officially the 2nd country (the 1st in Europe) in the World, behind Hong-Kong in terms of mobile-phones concentration (109.42 phones every 100 inhabitants)..." [more from
SpaghettiTech: A mouthful of technology]

Keep in mind that, statistically, that's even including infants, which means that plenty of people have more than one cellphone, if you can believe that!!


Dateline: Metro Atlanta - Bear vs. Birdfeeder

Check out these wonderful photos of a smarter-than-your-average bear!

Not to mention these fun comments from Metafilter...

"Although many people find it difficult to believe, an animal as large and powerful as black bear is readily attracted to bird feeders as a source of food. Black bears are for the most part vegetarians, and bird seed, even in minute quantities is a highly desirable food for them. In many cases, it is the food of choice and will be sought out over other natural foods."

"The even crazier thing about these pictures (oddly, these are friends of friends pics) is that this is in metro Atlanta - Dunwoody for those of you from down here. Surprising to know that we have bears this close in to the city..."

"So what we need is one of those birdfeeders that spin around and fling the bears off." :-)

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"You can always tell a real friend: when you've made a fool of yourself he doesn't feel you've done a permanent job."

-Laurence J. Peter


"Caravaggio show opens amid polemics"

Caravaggio (c. 1573 - 1610) is one of my all-time favorite painters!

Far from painting Jesus and the saints in the more usual elegant, noble settings, he realized that their ministries took place in pretty gritty surroundings... and since he frequented those places rather a lot himself, he was incomparable at reproducing their ambience and the personages in them (as you can see above in "
The Calling of Saint Matthew," when Jesus recruits the tax collector right in the middle of his rather sketchy work to become his disciple... The painting's in the Church of San Luigi dei Francesi in Rome, together with a large number of his works which are scattered throughout the city, and the minute details are breathtaking in person!)

For the first time in years, Italy's hosting a major exhibition on this marvelous artist... but only 15 of the paintings are going to be by Caravaggio himself, as two major (Italian) collections have refused to loan their masterpieces to the exhibit! (For more...
ANSA.it - Caravaggio show opens amid polemics)

Can't afford to make it to Milan? Want to see more than 15 Caravaggios? Why, you can see Caravaggio's complete works (nearly 100 images!)
here!! Enjoy!!

And be sure to check out the details!! :-)

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"For a long time it seemed to me that life was about to begin - real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life. This perspective has helped me to see there is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way. So treasure every moment you have and remember that time waits for no one. Happiness is a journey, not a destination."
-Fr. Alfred D'Souza


"New 'Botticelli Code' unveiled"

Know what this renaissance painting "means"?

That's okay... neither does anybody else, really!
(That's at least half its fun!!)

The latest theory:

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"A true friend never gets in your way unless you happen to be going down."
-Arnold H. Glasow

"Marvelous Crooning Child"

"The Marvelous Crooning Child": "Sure, he's creative with the lyrics. And, yes, his severe haircut and penetratingly hostile gaze are a tad depressing. And, okay, he's totally tone-deaf. But his rousing version of 'I Fought the Law' is more punk rock than the original, and he doesn't shy away from a cover of The Boss's 'Born in the U.S.A.'"

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"Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, 'I will try again tomorrow.'"

- Mary Anne Radmacher


"How Italians talk with their hands"

Kind reader Eliana sent me a fabulous link on "How Italians talk with their hands"!

It's from
Eurocosm, which is (among other things) a language-teaching website, so all of the descriptions of these quintessential Italian gestures are actually in Italian, but the videos of them being performed by "Antonella" are a hoot, whether or not you can read the language!!

As a public service, I thought I'd also give you a quick index of the gestures' videos here... (Of course, some of these can't possibly be adequately translated into English, but in those cases I give at least a rough approximation!) Enjoy!!

  1. "What the heck do you want?!"
  2. "Mmm... good!"
  3. "You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours."
  4. "To steal..."
  5. "You steal!"
  6. "Somebody's lining his pocket."
  7. "What's that supposed to mean?!"
  8. "Me... you... him... us."
  9. Bloopers
  10. "Oh, no!"
  11. "Alexander?" (Implied: "He's a hottie!")
  12. "Sweet!" or "Great!"
  13. "What a bore!"
  14. "Enough!"
  15. "Okay, listen to me."
  16. "P-U!"
  17. "Just listen a little to this!"
  18. "Would you listen to this?"
  19. "Darn it!"
  20. "I'm going to kick your butt." (sort of... pretty vulgar!)
  21. "Idiot!"
  22. "I forgot!"
  23. "What's its name...?"
  24. "Please!"
  25. "Don't get me started."
  26. "And how!" (One of my all-time favorite Italian sounds and gestures!)
  27. "He's out of his head."
  28. An Italian equivalent of "flipping somebody off" (very offensive!)
  29. "Scaredy-cat!" (actually closer to "need to change your pants?")
  30. "Cut to the chase!"
  31. "I told you not to do that!"
  32. "Cut it out."
  33. "He's been drinking."
  34. "What do you say we go for a spin?"
  35. "It's not like we're all idiots!"
  36. "Those two... are like this."
  37. "See you back here."
  38. "Gross!"
  39. "Yes, in fact!"
  40. "See you later."
  41. "So, I'll explain..."
  42. "I wouldn't know..."
  43. "Without a doubt!"
  44. "Come, come!"
  45. "And so?"
  46. "Don't do that!"
  47. "What fault is it of mine?"
  48. "You're cruising for a bruising!"
  49. "I felt something special..."
  50. Wonderful!
  51. "What a pain in the neck!"
  52. "Oh, mamma mia!"
  53. "I've got it!" (like a great idea...)
  54. "Beats me!" (My other favorite Italian sound & gesture!!)
  55. "Perfect!"
  56. "Give me a break!"
  57. "Sneaky!"
  58. "You give me indigestion!"
  59. "Huh?"
  60. "It's sold out."
  61. "It's clear."
  62. "What the heck do you want from me?"
  63. "Do I have to change trains?"
  64. To ward off bad luck.
  65. "First... second... third."
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This Weekend: Educators' Discount @ Borders!!


Maine Fall Foliage Update

October 12, 2005 Maine Foliage Report
Maine Department of Conservation

Foliage Vibrant In Central and Western Maine and Spreading South

AUGUSTA, Maine - "Parts of Maine are aglow with fall color and now is prime time for leaf-peeping in Maine's mid-section according to the Department of Conservation's (DOC) fifth fall foliage report of 2005.

Forest and park rangers are reporting peak leaf conditions, with between 85 and 100 percent of trees cloaked in color, from the western town of Jackman east toward the coastal city of Calais. Color continues to be at its peak around Moosehead Lake and Greenville and spreads south to the towns of Carrabassett Valley, Rangeley, Rumford and Bethel.

With the air turning crisp, now is the perfect time to get outdoors and explore Maine's foliage by foot. Jon Metcalf, a park ranger at Rangeley Lake State Park in the picturesque western mountains and lakes region, reports colors are still vivid in the western mountains and in the state park. The park gate is closed, but leaf peepers can still park outside the gates and walk into the park. Try taking a hike at one of the region's many public parks including: Mt. Blue State Park in Weld overlooking Webb Lake and offering an extensive system of hiking and mountain biking trails; the 36,000-acre Bigelow Preserve just east of Stratton and featuring seven summits the highest of which is 4,100 feet; or Grafton Notch State Park between Newry and Upton, which showcases a cave, spectacular water falls and miles of hiking trails.

High color (less than 70 percent color change) coats a large band of central Maine, stretching from Fryeburg and the Sebago Lake area up through Auburn, Augusta and Bangor. Filled with rolling farmland flanked by multihued trees, this part of Maine is ideal for experiencing Maine's autumn harvest, with plenty of farm stands selling freshly collected apples, or orchards and pumpkin patches that allow you to try your hand at the harvest and pick your own.

Southern and mid-coast Maine trees are on the verge of exploding with rich color. From Kittery up the Atlantic Ocean to Machias, the leaves are at less than 50 percent color change and less than 30 percent of the leaves have fallen, meaning that foliage season is far from over and there is still much more leaf-peeping to be done.

Updated reports and information can also be obtained by calling the Maine foliage hotline at (888) MAINE-45. To learn more about fall activities and events or about traveling to Maine, log on to www.visitmaine.com. Visit www.MaineFoliage.com for more information about Maine foliage including photos, trip planning tips, kids' pages, and more!"



"The world is not respectable; it is mortal, tormented, confused, deluded forever; but it is shot through with beauty, with love, with glints of courage and laughter; and in these, the spirit blooms."
-George Santayana


Separated at birth? ;-)

Ming the Merciless,
Supreme Emperor
of the planet Mongo

---> My very good friend,
Dr. Dale J. Brooker,
Associate Professor of Criminal Justice

Snappy dresser <--------------------------------------> Snappy dresser.
Wears capes. <----------------------------------------------> Wears academic regalia.
Has destroyed billions. <-> Studies the death penalty. (Coincidence?)
Archnemesis: Flash Gordon <------------------------> Archnemesis: ??

Newsflash: "Italy Bugged to Stop Using Some Train Cars"

I'm appalled... (maybe even a little "ticked off"!)

"After angry protests about bedbugs and ticks, Italy‘s state railways said Saturday it is pulling 508 train cars out of circulation..." (
More from "Italy Bugged to Stop Using Some Train Cars")

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"Believe nothing merely because you have been told it. Do not believe what your teacher tells you merely out of respect for the teacher. But whatsoever, after due examination and analysis, you find to be kind, conducive to the good, the benefit, the welfare of all beings -- that doctrine believe and cling to, and take it as your guide."
- Buddha


Before Wallace & Gromit, there was "Creature Comforts"!

I saw this wonderful short from the same folks who bring us "Wallace & Gromit," about wild animals stuck in an English zoo, years ago when it first came out and I've remembered it fondly ever since! Enjoy!

AtomFilms: "Creature Comforts"

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Newsflash: "John Paul II to be beatified 'soon'"

ANSA.it - John Paul II to be beatified 'soon'


What I'm planning for my eventual midlife crisis...

Don't worry! This is not my own "43 Things," but just one...

Here's an inspiring article on the Trans-Siberian Railway:

"It covers seven time zones. It spans the world's largest continent and chugs deeply into yet another. It is 5,786 miles long, end to end... The Trans-Siberian Railway is one of the most extraordinary adventures in the travel world, in any world. An engineering accomplishment to rival the Pyramids or the Panama and Suez canals, it covers the entire Asian continent, to the wide-eyed wonder of visitors and local travelers alike. And it runs on time. We rode these incredible rails for 5,563 miles - the equivalent of taking the train from Bar Harbor, Maine, to Honolulu, with 430 miles to spare - and finished three minutes ahead of schedule. Amazing!" [much more]

(from The Week Magazine, Oct. 14)


Newsflash: Tiepolo Fresco Discovered in Venice!

"Venice, October 10 - Art restorers have uncovered a painting by Tiepolo that has been hidden for more than a century inside a Venice church. The fresco called Faith was discovered in the Church of Santa Maria Maddalena beneath a layer of plaster on a lunette..." [more from ANSA.it - Hidden Tiepolo found in Venice]

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"What kind of banana are you?" Quiz

A silly public service for my many banana-loving colleagues, who perpetually inspire the following (highly-intellectual) debate... :-)

"What kind of banana are you?"

"You Are A Brown Banana!"

Please take an award and link back to either http://www.haveabanana.net/banana/ OR http://ultimategalleries.haveabanana.net!
"You've never cared about what other people think of you and are satisfied to just be yourself. Though many dreams may have passed you by, you are willing to wait patiently until that special moment when you come into your own. Though you may not be everyone's favorite, there are plenty of people who think you are sweeter than those who spend endless time ensuring they look picture perfect. After all, bananas are bananas no matter what color their skin."
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"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away."


"Origins & Common Usage of British Swear-words"

Some of the best stories in the history of language are ironically (but perhaps not surprisingly!) about the words that many people are the most reluctant to use...

From the
BBC: "The Origins and Common Usage of British Swear-words"

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What's the hidden meaning of your name?

"Discover the hidden meaning in your name. Type your name in a box and then click 'Submit.'"

Like the Lord : Hebrew

"Having confidence in yourself and integrity you have your emotions under control and are rarely ruffled. You have a quiet and reflective manner and are responsive to the needs of others giving you the ability to be a mediator. You are extremely successful in the material world being organised, financially astute and pursuing realistic goals. Your caring attitude and compassion certainly makes you a loved individual."

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Quote of the day...

“One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life. The word is love.”

—Sophocles, quoted in the Tryon, N.C., Daily Bulletin

(From The Week Magazine, Oct. 7)


Gaga over Google Earth! (No bull!!)

Since the recent release of Google Earth, tons of fun tweaks have come out, like the Google Earth Guest Map I use, for example! The "Google Maps Mania" blog tracks the latest tweaks or "mashups": Google Maps' uses for anything from travel and transportation to current events and crime reporting...

Plan to join the running of the bulls next summer in Spain, but want to avoid all that extra discomfort and inconvenience of being trampled or impaled? Take the bull by the horns early to see the most dangerous spots along the track where injuries occurred this past year!

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"What's Your Funky Inner Hair Color?" Quiz

Your Hair Should Be Blue

Wild, brilliant, and out of control.
You're a risk taker with an eye to the future.

Newsflash: Umberto Eco sets Foucault's Pendulum in motion...

ANSA.it - News in English - Eco sets Pendulum in motion

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Departures: Ideas for an elegant, private (but not necessarily typical...) trip to Venice

departures.com Black Book: Venice

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Tales of a tenth planet...

====== In The News ====
10th “planet” discovery creates excitement and debate

The newly discovered “planet” 2003 UB313, otherwise known as Xena, now has a companion in the solar system. Originally spotted in 2003, Xena was not officially announced until July of 2005. On the heels of the publication ofXena’s existence, comes the revelation that Xena has a moon, named Gabrielle. The names Xena and Gabrielle are only temporary, used by some astronomers because they are simpler to remember than names such as 2003 UB313. To decide the official name, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) must first decide if Xena is in fact a planet, then they will decide if the discoverers’ proposed name will be used. The astronomers who discovered both Xena and Gabrielle cannot reveal their proposed name, so until then the nicknames will have to suffice. Xena was found in the Kuiper Belt, which is a huge region of icy planetary bodies that orbit beyond Neptune in the distant region of the solar system. The discovery of this new planet and its moon has reignited the debate about what properties an object must possess in order to be classed as a planet. Prior to this newest discovery, Pluto’s status as a planet was already in question by some astronomers. But while Pluto rests on 100 years of history as a planet, newly discovered bodies are not so easily defined. Until the IAU can agree on a definition of a planet, Pluto will continue to hang on tenuously to itsstatus as one of nine planets, and its mnemonic device, My Very Excellent Mother Just Sent Us Nine Pizzas, will remain as well. While the public awaits the final definition of what constitutes a planet, both school children and adults alike can rest easy and will not yet have to ponder what else our excellent mother will send us. The first link takes users to the announcement of the discovery of Xena in August made in the Yale Daily News. The second link takes the user to an article from the BBC further discussing the planetary debate. The third link is a BBC article that includes this week’s announcement about Xena’s moon. For further knowledge about the astronomers and telescope involved with these two discoveries, among others, the fourth link will take the user to their website. The fifth and sixth link will take the user directly to the discovering astronomers’ website for the announcements about the new moon, Xena, and information on the progress of the IAU. If you are interested in the IAU, the seventh link will take you to their website. And finally the last link will take you to a website dedicated to providing moreinformation on the Kuiper Belt and the icy bodies that make up this far region of our solar system.

(from The Scout Report 11/40 [October 7, 2005])