Facts About Lightning – Be Wary on 4th July

Lightning strikes every second

I think it is safe to say that virtually all of us have at one time or another marvelled at the awesome vision of a lightning storm. Our psyche is wooed by a combination of a giant magician’s show and the force of nature. It is estimated that, every second around the world, there are between 50 and 100 lightning strikes.

Lighting Bolt & Tornado

From a few more or less credible sources, I thought I would provide some interesting facts on lightning. According to a National Geographic article in 2004, “[t]he odds of becoming a lightning victim in the U.S. in any one year is 1 in 700,000. The odds of being struck in your lifetime is 1 in 3,000.” And, for 10% of those struck by lightning, the impact is fatal. For 70%, the impact causes serious long term damage. So, the question is how to avoid it, especially in the summer months when the number of lightning deaths peaks (because people are outdoors)? In fact, the 4th July holiday in the US is a particularly vulnerable date as far as lightning accidents is concerned.

Granny’s Tales

Wearing rubber soled shoes won’t help protect you. Standing under a tree is the worst idea you can have. Followed closely after by swimming in a pool: water is a great conductor of electricity and your head becomes the lightning rod. And, once you are inside, get off the phone at home during lightning storms. As the Nat Geo articles writes, “[p]hone use is the leading cause of indoor lightning injuries in the United States.” Unfortunately, typing on the computer is not advised either as, regardless of any surge protector, you are better off unplugging and turning off electronic equipment.

From Stormwise, I pulled this statement: ” Most lightning strikes average 2 to 3 miles long and carry a current of 10,000 Amps at 100 million Volts.”

I have extracted another couple of “facts” that I found of note from the post carrying this photo:

  • “…lightning is capable of generating a temperature of twenty seven thousand degrees Fahrenheit and travel twenty thousand miles per second.”
  • “The most powerful lightning strike ever recorded in the United States struck the Cathedral of Learning of the University of Pittsburgh on July 31, 1947. The bolt discharged approximately three hundred forty five thousand (345,000) amps. This was enough current to light six hundred thousand (600,000) 60W light bulbs for the duration of the flash which is only thirty five millionths of a second.” Of course, that is not a very long time.

Red LightningAnd, to finish, the most spectacular lightning storm I ever saw was during a rainless thunder storm in barren and arid land on the road going from Antalya to Isparta (Turkey). The lightning was an extremely vivid red. There is apparently a form of “red” lightning called “Red Sprite lightning” which, according to stormwise, “is a newly-discovered type of lightning that zaps between the 40 mile span between the tops of severe storm clouds to the lower ionosphere “D” layer. Red Sprite Lightning looks like a giant “blood-red”colored jellyfish having light-blue tentacles. Red Sprite Lightning creates extremely powerful radio emissions from 1000 Hz through VHF.” If that is what we saw in Turkey, then it was awfully impressive. P.S. The lightning was fully red (the photo here is not mine, nor is it truly red lightning).

Cats in a Cradle – Kittens sleeping any which way.

If you like cats, you ought to love this post. It is, as the title of the blog suggests, cute overload. The title of this particular post is “Powered by Ambien” which I find a little tragic (=prescribed happiness?). Otherwise, the shots are priceless. The photographs apparently all come from the internet (see about us), so I have blithely borrowed a couple of them for you as a taster. The following three shots are of cats in the various important parts of life.

Family Time. The Postprandial Slumber
Family Time: Cats sleeping train in Postprandial Slumber

Cuddling up with Friends.
Cuddling up with friends: Cat sleeping on Dog

The power [cat] nap at Work
Cat sleeping on Computer

Here’s to the cats with nine lives and seven sleeps. Enjoy.

Perpetuum Jazzile Africa from Slovenia: Nature meets Music Storm

Nature meets Music.

Here is a wonderful example of creativity, where a Slovenian chorus has created a superlative, supranatural segue into a wonderfully uplifting song, entitled Africa. The choir is called Perpetuum Jazzile, “Slovenia’s only jazz choir, conducted by Tomaž Kozlevčar who is also its art director. It thrills its audience with a colourful programme, extraordinary singing and unique joy.”

Review of Le Bamboche Gastronomic Restaurant in Paris

Bamboche Restaurant in Paris 75006
Le Bamboche Restaurant in the heart of the 7th arrondissement, Paris

Aside from being open on Sunday evenings, Le Bambouche is a singularly good and gastronomic spot in Paris. In fact, run by Serge Arce & Philippe Fabert, Le Bamboche is open EVERY day, rather rare for a non-Bistro type restaurant. For a Sunday night delight, I highly recommend trying here.

With a robust and diverse menu, as well as a fabulous Burgundy wine selection, the service and cadre at Le Bamboche were wonderful. And, for the record, the service (at least with our charming host, Serge Arce) is perfectly bilingual — although I note that the site is not totally translated, you will find enough information!

Bamboche Restaurant Paris InteriorI ordered the pan-sautéed Dublin Bay prawns with hibiscus, garden peas, elder blossom jelly and truffle terrine, gilt-head bream marinated with sesame seeds (“Langoustine juste poêlée à l’hibuscus, petit verre de petits pois, truffe”). For the main course, I took the slices of lamb (Aveyron) with citrus honey-flavoured sauce, polenta with Parmesan cheese, spring vegetables (“Tronçons d’agneau d’Aveyran, miellé d’agrume bergamote, polenta au vieux parmesan printanière de légumes”). To round out the meal, I delighted in the Savarin au Rhum (an adaptation of a Baba au Rhum).

For wine, we delighted in a Clos des Santenots de Volnay (Appellation Volnay 1er cru contrôlée)

Location: 15, rue de Babylone, 75007, +33 (0)1 45490-1440. Email: lebamboche AT aol.com.
Bamboche on Google Maps

Love to laugh – Why we should all be doing more of it!

I love to laugh!

Don’t we all? Trouble is, as we grow older, the opportunities to belly ache, hoot and laugh out loud seem to diminish. It is said that kids on average will laugh 80 – 100 times in a day. Little children can laugh up to 400 times in a day. From Sixwise, in an article that discusses how to reduce stress (always necessary), there is a section on the benefits of laughing.

“By the time we reach adulthood, we laugh only 5-6 times per day. You only need to watch children to appreciate the relationship between humor and enjoying life. Children will laugh at anything! If you ask them, ‘what’s so funny,’ they may say something like, ‘he looked at me!’ says Barbara Bartlein, R.N., M.S.W., a motivational speaker and consultant.” [BTW I also particularly like tip #15: To drive courteously. Isn’t there enough stress without having obnxious, selfish and dangerous drivers on the road?]

Calvin & Hobbes LaughterThere are apparently many purported health benefits to laughing, including helping to heal cancer & depression. From Nurses Together, laughter apparently also “lowers your blood pressure and heart rate, improves lung capacity, massages internal organs, increases memory and alertness, reduces pain, improves digestion, and lowers the stress hormones, cortisol and adrenalin.” And, here is a recent study (April 17 2009) as reported by Health on the Net (HON), saying that laughter increases good cholesterol and reduces the risk of heart attacks for diabetics. Bascially, laughter would seem to be the panacea for many ailments; maybe we should all be prescribed tickets to see hilarious theatre?

One of the downfalls of smiling and laughter is the creasing of the face (evidently not appreciated if you have had plastic surgery, for example). The wrinkles that mark time on our faces also carry the history of how much we may have spent laughing and smiling as opposed to frowning and smirking. I would be easily led to believe that those who know how to laugh liberally tend to have a more positive outlook on life. On another level, for those whose humour involves self-derision, there is an equally appreciable sense of humility. Different from comedians who have the knack of helping us laugh, I am just more likely to gravitate toward those who are given to laugh, without shame. BTW, did you ever stop to consider if having a sense of humour refers more to the ability to make people laugh or the ability to laugh oneself? In effect, a sense of humour is about both per dictionary.com: “The trait of appreciating (and being able to express) the humorous…” In either case, it is a wonder you never see “own a sense of humour” on the CV.

So, in an effort to increase those smile wrinkles, to bring a smile to your face, and even encourage you to laugh, not just now as you watch, but every hour of ever day, here below is a five point bulletin designed to set your course straight and wiggly.

First, the classic from Mary Poppins, written By the Sherman Brothers (1964).

2/ Ok, Mary Poppins doesn’t make you laugh necessarily, but it sets the stage for a good smile. Now to do some laughing. Here is 1″40 of sheer enjoyment.

A good followup act is here with this little kid that has a funny, deep laugh. Just being around carefree babies is enough to bring smiles to all in proximity (although the parent may at times gain immunity!)

3/ Try this laughter yoga video, hosted by John Cleese. You can find out if and where Laughter Yoga clubs are near you at LaughterYoga.org. We had one dinner party where we began the dinner by all laughing for 10 minutes. Made for a super energy for the rest of the meal.

4/ I invite you to pop over to watch a short video podcast from ABC, broadcasting a report by the BBC, about the contagiousness of laughter. Watching a few babies giggling is bound to break out a smile. Visit here.

5/ And, fifth, I am glad to report that there is an official Global Belly Laughter day which happens to be my son’s birthday: January 24th. May every day be January 24th.

To close out this post on laughter, here is a wonderful Laughing and Smiling Oath:

The Laughing Oath
I do solemnly swear from this day forward
To grease my giggling gears each day
And to wear a grin on my face for no reason at all!
I promise to tap my funny bone often,
With children, family, friends, colleagues and clients,
And to laugh at least fifteen times per day.
I believe that frequent belly laughter
Cures terminal tightness, cerebral stiffness,
And hardening of the attitudes,
And that HA HA often leads to AHA!
Therefore, I vow, from this day forth,
To brighten the day of everyone I meet,
And to laugh long and prosper.
The Laughing Classroom
by Diana Loomans and Karen Kolberg

Have a GREAT and LAUGH-FILLED day!

Starlings Swarm – Fabulous aerobatics displays

At around dusk, from November through March, in various parts of the UK (and in other parts of the world too where they exist, such as west USA…), starlings will congregate in mass and provide natural entertainment in the form of a seemingly choreographed dance of the flight.  I have selected a couple of videos below.  The first comes with valuable commentary and the whirring sound of the birds.  The birds fly in numbers that are estimated at up to half a million.  The aerobatics are startling and apparently there is no outright leader, nor ever an accident.  The first is entitled Starlings at Otmoor, the RSPB reserve near Oxford.

If you can’t get enough of these swarming starlings, this second video is set entirely to music and is quite pleasurable, if the quality of the film is a tad less good.  The music and the viewing make for a calming moment.

Finally, you can click here to view a third video on YouTube.  Provided by the Westmorland Gazette in the Lake District of England, they have chosen not allow the film to be embedded.

Roland Garros French Open 2009 Winners – A Career Grand Slam signed Federer

Roger Federer Winning Roland Garros 2009
Roger Federer pulls off the Career Grand Slam

French Open 2009 Men’s Title
Roger Federer (#2) rolled over Robin Soderling (#23) in 3 sets, 6-2, 7-6 (1), 6-4, the ninth time in a row that Federer has beaten the surprising finalist. The young Swede had been the giant killer for four rounds in a row, but folded against history, horrid weather conditions and a hat-bearing intruder.

Roger Federer Winning Roland Garros French Open 2009Federer’s win is a triumph overdue in many respects, but the overwhelming tears as he dropped to his knees upon winning, showed the pent up emotion. In the six matches leading up to the Final, Federer had pulled off two five-set victories, battling back from being down 2 sets to 1 against the Argentine, Juan Martin Del Potro (5th seed), in the semi-finals [3-6,7-6(2),2-6,6-1,6-4], and in the fourth round, from 2 sets to 0 down against the unseeded German, Tommy Haas. [6-7(4),5-7,6-4,6-0,6-2]. On top of that, Federer also had to see off two popular French players, Paul Matthieu (4 sets) in the third round and Gael Monfils (3 sets) in the semi-finals. With this win, Federer finally earns his record-tying 14th Grand Slam and closes out the last of Slam titles that hitherto had eluded him because of his Roland Garros nemesis, Rafa Nadal who had been eliminated by Soderling. In so doing, Federer becomes the sixth ever career Grand Slammer. Kudos. Proof that the title was a draining experience, he pulled out of the Wimbledon warm-up grass court tournament in Halle, Germany.

French Open 2009 Women’s Title
An all-Russian affair, Svetlana Kuznetsova (#7) outnerved Dinara Safina (#1), to claim her second ever Grand Slam title and first French Open title, 6-4, 6-2. It was an ugly game, loaded with unforced errors and not that much fun to watch. Kuznetsova has won two titles this year, and now has 11 overall. For Safina, it is the third Grand Slam final she has lost, victim of fragile nerves.

French Open 2009 Men’s Doubles: Lukas Dlouhy (Czech Republic) and Leander Paes (India) (seeded #3) fought back to win 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 over the unseeded Wesley Moodie (RSA) and Dick Norman (Belgian), who had themselves knocked off the Bryan Brothers coming back from losing the first set to 0, then winning the second set in a tie break.

French Open 2009 Women’s Doubles: Anabel Medina Garrigues-Virginia Ruano Pascual, Spain defeated Victoria Azarenka (BLR) and Elena Vesnina (Rus) in a fairly one-sideed 6–1, 6–1.
French Open 2009 Mixed Doubles: Liezel Huber-Bob Bryan, both US, overcame Vania King (US) and Marcelo Melo (Brazil) in a gargantuan battle: 5–7, 7–6(5), 10–7.

Did you ever consider…

Below is a collection of random thoughts. Some are my own, others come from various emails in circulation. Scroll down and peruse. And if you feel so inclined, add to the fray!

Have you ever considered why it is that we write Anno Domini (A.D.) in Latin for the “modern era” and when it comes to the “olden times“, we write the term Before Christ (B.C.) in plain old English.

Can you cry or sweat under water?

Shouldn’t the O in XO (kiss & hug) be related to the O that is love in tennis scoring?

Why do you have to ‘put your two cents in’… but it’s only a ‘penny for your thoughts’? Where’s that extra penny going to?

If money doesn’t grow on trees then why do banks have branches?
Chiffre Number 7 Seven

What did the number 7 ever do that it needed to be crossed (in mainland Europe)? If it’s because the number one has a pedastal, then what’s so great about number 1?

How important does a person have to be before they are considered assassinated instead of just murdered?

How is that if a murderer gets life, a mass murderer gets multiple life sentences, but a person who kills millions of people just gets house arrest (Pol Pot)?

Why are you IN a movie, but you’re ON TV?

Why is ‘bra’ singular and ‘panties’ plural?

Why do toasters always have a setting that burns the toast to a horrible crisp, which no decent human being would eat?

If electricity comes from electrons, does morality come from morons?

Did you ever notice that when you blow in a dog’s face, he gets mad at you, but when you take him for a car ride, he sticks his head out the window?

… sent you photos on Tagged spam – Delete it immediately

sent you photos on Tagged
There is a pernicious email spam that has recently been created in which your friend’s email has been taken over. You are sent a mail from your friend and it looks very authentic. Because it has hacked your friend’s mail, it always get through the spam filters. I can only imagine how this spam will work effectively on unwitting children. It comes with an “unsubscribe” button, some phoney address on the bottom saying to “block all mails from Tagged, Inc.” and numerous other opportunities to click, each treacherous. This email should be immediately deleted. Do not open it! It is apparently some porn site — and, like some STD, is hard to get rid of. My advice is then to send under separate cover a mail to that friend to advise them of the problem as they may not even be aware. If ever you get the same from me, do let me know!

There is a social site called Tagged, which claims to have 70 million users. This spam trick is particularly deceitful and nasty. I am all the less likely to sign up for Tagged. You can find out more here on snopes.

Check with your children’s inbox mail!! And do use this post to spread the news (you can tweet it with the handy button below).

Parking Meter Cards in Paris – Way to recycle?

Another Idea for the Environment:
Eco-Conscious Parking Cards

Parking Machine in ParisI have long enjoyed the card machines that you use in Paris to pay for your street parking. Originally, you used coins to pay, then they introduced the prepaid cards (e.g. 10€ or 30€ option). Naturally, it took some getting used to because you had to know to buy the prepaid card from the tabac.
Now, most machines only accept the prepaid cards (or a system called Moneo where you top up a bank card for instant payment). Now, the thing that has come to irk me is the waste inherent in these cards.

Once the card’s credit is used up, there is no way to re-use (top up) or recycle it. My suggestion for the collection would be to add a little compartment on the side of the machines in which to deposit the used cards. Afterwards, I have no idea if there is truly a way to recuperate and/or reconfigure the cards. But, at least there seems like there would be an easy gesture to gather the used cards. Anyone know of any organization that could figure out how to make a business out of this opportunity?
Herewith some tips on parking in Paris, courtesy of parisinfo.com.