Saturday, December 31, 2011

Wish You A Wonderful 2012!

Hope all of you are enjoying 2012 New Year celebrations!

Watch this video of Sydney Harbour fireworks heralding the New Year 2012. I like it very much, because as usual it is one of the best New Year fireworks!

Wishing you all, your families and friends a great year ahead, full of happiness, and a peaceful world around all of us,


Sunday, December 25, 2011

Dog scootering woman

iditarod training by ashleigh290
iditarod training, a photo by ashleigh290 on Flickr.

Dog scootering, a sport in which one or more dogs pull a kick scooter on which a person rides, is similar to riding dogsleds. The specially trained dogs, trained for dog scootering, also wear harnesses similar to the ones used for sled dogs.

The dog scooters, often called kick bikes, are un-motorized, with mountain-bike-style tires and brakes, and some may have front shock absorbers to absorb bumps and shocks.

As the sport became more popular better harnesses have been developed to take pressure off the dogs’ back. Though many dog breeds can be used as the scooter pullers, the preference seems to be for dog breeds such as Huskies, Great Danes, Pit Bulls and Schnauzers.

Training the dogs to pull the scooters and for better coordination by the rider are essential for this sport. The dogs have to be slowly trained to attained maximum fitness and to avoid injuries to their paws. Initially, too much of pressure on the dogs’ paws can make them bleed. So, special care has to be taken while training them with dog scootering.

Russian girl rides an ostrich in Vietnam

The photo above shows a Russian girl riding an ostrich in Vietnam, though such scenes are usually seen in African countries, especially in Southern Africa. As not much of photos or literature on such rides are found on the tourist literature or websites of these countries, it has to be presumed that the tourism potential of Ostrich Rides are not fully used in those countries.

In some countries, especially in African countries, people use Ostriches for racing, more or less similar to racing on horseback, though such scenes may not be seen in other places. Ostriches are also used to pull carriages by using specially made reins and other accessories.

The Ostrich Farm', established in Jacksonville, Florida, United States in 1892 became one of the topmost tourist attractions there. Also, ostrich races are a prominent feature of the annual 'Ostrich Festival’ of Chandler, Arizona, though ostrich races are reported to have been conducted at locations such as Canterbury Park (Minnesota), Ellis Park (Kentucky), Prairie Meadows (Iowa), and Virginia City (Nevada).

Ostriches, the largest living species of birds that lay the largest eggs of any living bird, have the ability to run at speeds of about 70 kilometers per hour (43 miles per hour), which is also the fastest land speed for any bird.

As a matter of self-protection, ostriches consider humans as their predators. As soon as they sense human presence, they run away to safety, and if they are cornered they turn back and attack humans. Their legs are quite powerful and they can rip apart the bowels or kill fully-grown humans with a single blow.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Jyoti Amge, the world’s shortest living woman

Jyoti Amge, 18 years, (born on 16 December 1993), a student from Nagpur, India, who is only 62.8 cm tall (just over two feet, i.e., 24.7 in height), has been confirmed as the world's shortest living woman by Guinness World Records, reports from various sources said. She has been awarded the title on her 18th birthday on Friday at Nagpur.

According to the Limca Book of Records, she already held the title as the world’s smallest woman. In 2009, she was the world's shortest teenager with a height of only 61.95 cm.

The previous title holder was Bridgette Jordan, a 22-year-old college student and cheerleader from Sandoval, Illinois, United States, who with the height of 2ft 3 inches beat the previous record holder Elif Kocaman (2ft 4.5 inches) of Kadirli, Turkey. Bridgette Jordan is 7 cm taller than Jyoti Amge, whose restricted growth in height is because of achondroplasia, a growth anomaly or what is commonly called dwarfism, and she is not expected become taller further.

According to Guinness Book of Records, Pauline Musters (born Pauline Bennett, 26 February 1876 - March 1, 1895) of The Netherlands, with a height of only 23 inches (58 cm) is the shortest woman ever recorded.

Weighing only 11 pounds weight, Jyoti Amge dreams of becoming an actress and she is reportedly expected to act in two Bollywood movies shortly.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Pigs’ feet with rice from Chinatown during Chinese New Year

Photo: A plate of pigs’ feet with rice and salad served in Chinatown, Singapore, during the Chinese New Year.

This photo shows a person eating a dish of pigs feet served with rice and salads in a restaurant in Chinatown, Singapore, during the Chinese New Year last year.

Pork has been eaten in many countries as meat from times dating back to 5000 BC, possibly from the times when pigs were domesticated for the first time from wild boars in China, the near east and the far east. From there, the habit of consuming pigs in several forms, such as hams (including Italian prosciutto), bacon, gammon or pancetta and as an ingredient in sausages, spread to the rest of the world. However, people of some religious faiths hate or prohibit the consumption of pigs’ meat and pork cuisines as their religions do not permit the consumption of pig meat and consider it as a sin.

Some of the regions where pigs meat/ pork is consumed as one of the most commonly used food items include China, Korea and Southeast Asian countries, European countries and the Americas.

The dish shown above seems to belong to one of the dishes of Pickled Pigs Feet, often associated with the cuisine of the African American soul food, dishes found in the southern United States and typically it resembles dishes of the Irish cuisine and Korean cuisine.

As the first step, pigs' feet are salted and smoked as is done in the case of any other pork cuts like bacon and hams. In some countries like Korea, China, etc., it may even be dried and preserved or sold in stores as a delicacy, though it is also commonly preserved using food preservation methods like home canning of pickled vegetables using hot vinegar brine.

Pig’s feet are noted for their high saturated fat and protein content. But some seasoned chefs in good restaurants and hotels remove the excess fat while preparing the dish.

The typical pigs feet dish shown above, is of Singapore cuisine, and slightly different from Jokbal, the Korean dish made of pigs' feet cooked with spices, herbs and soy sauce and, the Irish dish Crubeens (or Crúibíní in Irish) prepared from boiled pigs' feet.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Guaíra Falls (Salto das Sete Quedas do Guaíra)

Guaíra Falls (Salto das Sete Quedas do Guaíra)

Photo Credit: Mario Cesar Mendonca Gomes (Brazil)

Thirty years ago, on 27 October 1982, the world’s largest waterfall, Guaíra Falls, submerged under a manmade lake constructed along the Brazil-Paraguay border. The waterfall simply disappeared forever under the reservoir of the Itaipu hydroelectric project dam, the first phase of which was completed in 1982. It took only 14 days to submerge the gigantic waterfall, as it was during the rainy season when the water level of the Paraná River, across which the dam was built, rose very high.

On 17 January 1982, while the construction of the Itaipu Dam was progressing, and when just a few months were left for the life of the falls, a flood of tourists flocked there to catch the last glimpses of the falls and to say goodbye. Unfortunately for them, some of the tourists stood on a badly maintained suspension footbridge over the Paraná River gorge, which afforded a spectacular view of the waterfalls. Under the weight of the unusually high number of visitors, suddenly the bridge collapsed killing 80 people.

Similar to the fate of the Guaíra Falls, now there are reports of construction of another huge dam, Belo Monte Dam, in north Brazil across the Xingu River (also called Rio Xingu), a 1,230-mile (1979 km) long tributary of the Amazon River. Several protests have been reported for years against the project by environmentalists and indigenous people, including the Caiapo indigenous men, against the construction of the dam. There are fears that the dam would displace thousands of indigenous people, damage the environment, and affect local fish stocks. The rare catfish, Hypancistrus zebra, is just one of a number of species found only in the area that would be affected by the planned dam. Construction was stopped last month on when Judge Carlos Castro Martins stopped all work that would affect with the natural flow of the Rio Xingu. It may be noted that in June 2011, the Brazilian government environment agency cleared the construction, dismissing concerns raised by environmentalists and indigenous groups of people who argue that the dam will harm the Amazon forests, the world's largest tropical rainforests, and displace several thousands of people. According to projections, the 11,000-megawatt hydroelectric project dam would be the third biggest in the world, after the Three Gorges in China and Itaipu Dam.

The former Guaíra Falls, also known as Salto das Sete Quedas do Guaíra (Portuguese) and Saltos del Guairá (Spanish), were a series of waterfalls, consisting of 18 falls clustered in seven groups, on the Upper Paraná River along the Brazil-Paraguay border.

With a maximum drop of about 375 feet (114 meters), they were not the world’s tallest falls but they were the largest waterfalls in terms of volume of water flow. While published figures of water flow vary from 470,000 cubic feet (13,000 m3)/s to 1,750,000 cubic feet (50,000 m3)/s, Guaíra Falls’ flow rate was among the largest volume of falling water of any waterfalls on the planet.

The Guaíra Falls were formed when the Paraná River, after crossing the red sandstone Mbaracayú Mountains (Maracaju Mountains), forced through a very narrow gorge between canyon walls and reduced in width sharply from 1,250 feet (381 meters) to 200 feet (61 meters). It was so powerful that the roar of the falls was audible from a distance of 20 miles (32 km).

Now ranked as the world's second largest hydroelectric project dam after the Three Gorges in China, the artificial lake created by the Itaipu Dam, jointly run by Brazil and Paraguay, covered an area of 521 sq miles (1,350 sq km).

About 10,000 families living on the Paraná River basin were displaced when construction of the dam began and the Guaíra Falls National Park had to be liquidated. And the Brazilian government later blasted off the rock face of the submerged Guaíra Falls with dynamites to remove obstacles for navigation in the artificial lake.

Catfish Hypancistrus zebra from Xingu River

Catfish Hypancistrus zebra from Xingu River by susanne.lajcsak, on Flickr

The picture shows a juvenile Hypancistrus zebra, a rare catfish of the family Loricariidae, found only in the Big Bend area of the Xingu River, a tributary of the Amazon River. The species gets its species name zebra from its black and white stripes, resembling the coloration of a zebra. It is a very popular aquarium fish and it used to be caught and exported from Brazil in great numbers, before the Brazilian government banned the export of all species of Hypancistrus including H. zebra in 1998. However, now it is threatened by the construction of the Belo Monte Dam across the Xingu River, a tributary of the Amazon Rover, which will dry up all its known habitats and breeding ecosystems.

Monday, October 24, 2011

A young woman at Bryant Park

About this photo the American photographer Ed Yourdon writes, “The young woman here is beautiful, and I love the reflection of the keyboard in her sunglasses ... but I gotta tell ya: the combination of grass and green-glow on the back of her laptop is out of this world…”

This is just one of a set of photos has “identified as being the 300 ‘most interesting’ among the 22,000+ ‘public’ photos” in the collection of Ed Yourdon. I have come across his great collection of photo while looking for public domain photos or photos that allow republishing under creative commons or similar licenses.

However, though I am not a professional photographer, I do love good photography, as much as paintings, sculptures, etc. So, I view good photos as if I am looking at old-master paintings or modern art. From that perspective, I can only say that this gifted photographer’s work is just wonderful.

Click on the above photo and go to Ed Yourdon’s photo collection to view some great photos out of 22750 pictures posted on Flickr as on Oct 25, 2011.

Pumpkin carvings of Ray Villafane

With Halloween fast approaching, the American artist and sculptor Ray Villafane has taken the tradition of pumpkin carving to new heights of bizarre art. Watch the video here for a slide show of some of his most interesting pumpkin carvings.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Turkey 7.2-magnitude earthquake kills over 200 people

A 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck Turkey killing at least 200 people, mostly in the town of Ercis, where hundreds of buildings collapsed, and injuring thousands and many more trapped under the rubble and collapsed concrete structures. Reports say the death toll can be much more as many more people are trapped inside collapsed buildings.

Cries of panic, horror and sorrow filled the air, while people were running for cover as entire apartments and office buildings collapsed to the ground. The survivors were the first to start the rescue work, some digging the rubble looking for relatives and neighbors, and even some people were trying to reach the trapped people using their bare hands to move the rubble, desperately hoping to rescue the trapped people.

The devastating earthquake shook the Van province of eastern Turkey on Sunday, affecting a large geographical area, such as Ağrı, Batman, Bingöl, Bitlis, Diyarbakır, Erzurum, Iğdır, Mardin, Muş, Şanlıurfa, Siirt, Şırnak and Tunceli.

According to the US Geological Survey, the powerful earthquake with its epicenter 16km north-east of Van province of eastern Turkey struck at 13:41 (10:41 GMT) at a depth of 20km (12.4 miles).

Many buildings including houses, offices and other structures collapsed to the ground in Van and the neighboring provinces, and the tremors shook and cracked buildings and other structures in the city of Chaldoran in the neighboring Iran and Yerevan, the capital of Armenia.

Rescue operations continue throughout the region, while the area was hit by numerous aftershocks. The rescue workers are yet to reach many outlying villages.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Women wearing Gomesi at a wedding in Kampala, Uganda

Ugandan Women in Gomesi
The Women, a photo by sarahemcc on Flickr.

The Gomesi (or Busuuti), a colorful long dress made of silk, cotton or linen fabric, is the national costume of women in Uganda. According to historians, Christian missionaries who owned and ran schools in Uganda hired Indian tailors to design the dress for schoolgirls. The first such Gomesi dresses were made for schoolgirls in Gayaza, Uganda, in the 1940s.

An ethnic group native to Buganda, the Baganda (or the Ganda/ Muganda), were the first African people to wear this dress. It is now worn as traditional dress by other ethnic peoples also in Uganda.

The Gomesi is a floor-length dress made of brightly colored cloth, and usually has a square neckline and puffed sleeves. Gomesis are usually made of cotton or linen. A Gomesi made of silk is very expensive (the traditional Ugandan clothing used to be made from bark cloth). For stitching a Gomesi about six meters of cloth is required.

Though the Gomesi can be worn for any occasion and it is the daily dress in rural areas, people of cities wear it on special occasions such as funerals and weddings. It is mandatory for all female members of the groom's family to wear Gomesi during the wedding introduction ceremony known as the Kwanjula.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011