Friday, December 30, 2011

Women's Haircuts during the course of history!

This video comes to us from Russia, which shows the women's haircuts during the course of history until our modern times. It is interesting to see how haircuts have changed, but also how we now perceive the haircuts from past eras. 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The most expensive tea

An Yanshi has recently launched an ambitious business plan, after attending a seminar where he learned that animals absorb only 30% of the foods they eat, while the remaining 70% is excreted in the feces. The Chinese calligraphy teacher is now interested in pandas, who eat bamboo leaves, a plant which contains many anticancer agents. 

Mr. Yanshi, therefore decided to use the feces from the panda as the sole natural fertilizer in the plantations of green tea, enhancing the beneficial effects of the tea for the human health, by providing anti-cancer properties to the final product. 

He still does not know what taste this new tea will have, however he is certain that it will be expensive. It is believed that this new tea will cost nearly $35.000 for merely 500 grams of tea. At this point we can only hope that it does have a good taste and smell. (This also reminds me of a previous post, in regards to the most expensive coffee.)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Rio Antirio Bridge

This educational documentary by National Geographic about the Rio Antirio Bridge is a great example of what a small country like Greece is capable of achieving, changing the geography of the region, i.e. Southern Greece. It only took five years to complete, being ready for the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.  

This bridge has entered the record books, being the longest multi span cable stayed bridge in the world. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Casa Batllo

Casa Batllo is a great building designed by Antoni Gaudi. From the outside the façade of Casa Batllo looks like it has been made from bones and skulls; however the truth is that the skulls are balconies and the bones are supporting pillars.   

Gaudi used colours and shapes found in marine life as inspiration for his creativity in this building. 

The building was designed for Josep Battlo, a wealthy aristocrat as an upmarket home. He lived in the lower two floors with his family whilst renting the upper apartments.

The local name for the building is Casa dels ossos (House of Bones). The building looks very remarkable, which can only be identified as Modernism or Art Nouveau. 

 It is evident that Gaudi's objectives in regards to this fabulous building was to avoid straight lines completely. Much of the façade is decorated with a mosaic made of broken ceramic tiles. The roof is arched and was likened to the back of a dragon or dinosaur.  

A belief about the building is that the rounded feature to the left of centre, terminating at the top in a turrent and cross represents the lance of Saint George, who is the patron saint of Catalonia, which has been plunged into the back of the dragon. 

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Archaeological site of Sounio, Attica

At the end of the Sounion peninsula, the southern point of Attica, the Athenians built sanctuaries in honour of two of their important deities, i.e. Athena and Poseidon. The sanctuary of Poseidon lies within a fort that protected the coast of Attica. 

 The temple, of white marble from Agrileza, was erected in the middle of the 5th century B.C., on the sheer, south-eastern side of the peninsula, above a previous temple, built in the late 6th century B.C. which was destroyed before it was completed, during the Persian invasion of 480 century B.C. 

Before the construction of the temples, marble kouros statues stood on this site, which were unfortunately destroyed by the Persians. The peripheral Doric temple had 6 x 13 columns. Above the epistyle of the pronaos was a frieze with a relief decoration, work of Cycladic craftsmen, which continued around all four sides. The subjects depicted were drawn from the legends of the Battle of the Centaurs and Lapiths, in the Battle of the Giants and Gods, and the Labours of Theseus.

The sanctuary of Athena was built on the lower hill to the north of the sanctuary of Poseidon, near an earlier precinct of roughly circular shape that was dedicated to a male deity. Two temples were dedicated to Athena, a small rectangular Doric temple of the early 6th. century B.C., which was destroyed by the Persians, and a later, larger Ionic temple with an altar on the south side. 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Winter Wonderland

Winter Wonderland in London is one of the greatest attractions during Christmas, visited by thousands of tourists and Londoners. It is situated in Hyde Park, in the centre of the English capital.
Winter Wonderland has everything which reminds us of the Christmas festivities, i.e. shops, an ice-rink, a circus, a fun park, restaurants and food shops (including those that sell the traditional German sausage, mulled wine and fruit covered in chocolate). 
If you haven' t visited it yet then do, or if one year you are in London from the end of November until the beginning of January, then it is an experience you can't miss. However it is advisable to wear warm clothing! Merry Christmas! 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Ancient myths and stories regarding the moon!

A Sudanese tradition, from the Silouk tribe, states that in the ancient times people use to visit the moon by a certain steep road; however they later got tired and stopped climbing it. 
Certain Indian manuscripts state that the Greek gods fought against the inhabitants of the moon and its allies. Greek philosophers knew a great deal about the moon. Socrates described it as being a great hollow sphere, where in its core seas, land and people inhabited it, just like on planet earth. Plutarch and Diogenes Laertius explain what God Orpheus, the son of Apollo, believed about the moon; "the moon has mountains, towns and homes, the surface is similar to that of the earth's and is inhabited by godly beings". Orpheus was aware of the lunar calendar of 12 months and the lunar phases. He talked about the rotation of earth around the sun, the different zones of our planet, the moon eclipses, the solstices, equinoxes, the movements of the planets. He believed that the moon inhabitants moved from one planet to the next.

According to some myths numerous figures from ancient Greece visited or travelled around the moon, including God Dionysus, Hercules and many more. Apollo's sister, Artemis (Diana) was once Queen of the moon. Pythagoras, according to one story, believed that the moon was inhabited by Godly beings, similar to the humans. He even claimed that the day is 15 hours longer on the moon. The godly beings on the moon are taller than the humans, blonde and very beautiful. All of Pythagoras' knowledge derives from  these beings, with whom he came into constant contact. In 1950 in a Mayan temple in Mexico researchers found a map of the Far Side of the Moon, which proved quite accurate, compared with the first official mappings brought by the space program (7.10.1959).   

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Lights or Winter Lights?

As every year, London is celebrating Christmas with countless Christmas lights. They of course can be found in Oxford Street and in other shopping areas of the British capital. However are we permitted to call them Christmas lights or the modern, secular and neutral title, i.e. Winter Lights. 

This has been a debated issue for years now, whether we should rename Christmas lights, Christmas parties and Christmas celebrations to Winter lights, Winter parties and Winter celebrations. This change, unfortunately, has prevailed in the U.K. (which officially is a Christian country) in order to not offend religious minorities. However at the same time the majority is expected to accept all of the celebrations of other religions, without of course changing their names and terminology. Then why should this be the case with Christmas, one of the biggest Christian celebrations? 

It is a fact that non-Christians also celebrate Christmas, for social reasons, and consumerism has overtaken the spiritual factor of this celebration, nevertheless this does not explain or verify why British society should stop naming them Christmas lights by keeping the awful and wrong term "Winter lights". British society should retain its culture and beliefs, without changing in order for minorities to not feel offended. But why should they feel offended? Maybe Christians should change their name too? A question for the future is how far will these changes go in order to not offend minorities. It seems that Britain will change in order to tolerate everyone else, except itself.  

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Thistle Chapel, Edinburgh

The Thistle Chapel is located in St. Gile's Cathedral, The High Kirk of Edinburgh. The Chapel was designed by Robert Lorimer and was finalised in 1911. It contains stalls for the 16 knights, the Sovereign's stall and two Royal stalls. A wealth of detail is evident within the small chapel, emphasising the Scottish style and peculiarities, for example angels playing bagpipes and the Scottish flag is located all around.  

The chapel is a rectangle of 3 bays, with a polygonal eastern apse and a stone vault encrusted with a rich pattern of ribs and carved bosses. 

Along the sides of the chapel are the knights' stalls; the richest one of course being the one reserved for the Sovereign's stall at the west end of the chapel. 

The Thistle Chapel was inspired by the Order of the Thistle, which is Scotland's great order of chivalry. Membership within this group is considered to be one of Scotland's highest honours. The Order is traditionally given to Scots or people of Sottish ancestry, who have given distinguished service. 

The Order of the Thistle has existed since the Middle Ages, however the current order was created in 1687 by King James VII of Scotland (King James II of England). 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Central Park

Central Park is the first landscaped public park in the U.S. Central Park is a recreational and culture space, as well as an oxygenating green area in the middle of the most towering city in the world.

This was achieved due to the ambition various New Yorkers had, after visiting London and Paris, where parks were one of the attractions. This was seen as the city's comparable facility with European cities in order to establish its international reputation.

Central Park would offer their own families an attractive setting for carriage rides and provide the working class with a healthy alternative to the saloon. 

1853 is when the state legislature authorised the City of New York to use the power of eminent domain to acquire 11% of the land of Manhattan. 

In 1857 the city organised a competition for the design of this new park, which would rival the great parks of London and Paris. The chosen plan was that designed by Frederic Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, featuring an English style landscape with several lakes and hills. Winding pedestrian roads were separated from main roads and the huge number of trees ensured the city's buildings were not visible from within the park. 

Central Park currently  a key destination of New York, attracting millions of visitors each year. It is an easily identifiable location, which is constantly found in Hollywood films. It also attracts New Yorkers who wish to play baseball, football and other sport. It is, however, a romantic place, where cafes and restaurants are located.  

The best day to visit Central Park is undoubtedly Sunday, where the visitor can enjoy street acts, music, countless people walking and many baseball teams playing.

It is amazing how this park is in the centre of New York, a cosmopolitan, tall and busy city. Once entering Central Park it is easy to forget that your still in the City of New York.