Monday, January 24, 2005

Formula for Worst Day of the Year

Dr. Cliff Arnall, specialist in seasonal disorders at the University of Cardiff, Wales, created a formula that takes into account numerous feelings to devise peoples' lowest point -- which according to his calculations is today!

The equation is broken down into seven variables: (W) weather, (D) debt, (d) monthly salary, (T) time since Christmas, (Q) time since failed quit attempt, (M) low motivational levels and (NA) the need to take action.

Arnall found that, while days technically get longer after Dec. 21, cyclonic weather systems take hold in January, bringing low, dark clouds to Britain. Meanwhile, the majority of people break their healthy resolutions six to seven days into the new year, and even the hangers-on have fallen off the wagon, torn off the nicotine patches and eaten the fridge empty by the third week. Any residual dregs of holiday cheer and family fun have kicked the bucket by Jan. 24.

“Following the initial thrill of New Year's celebrations and changing over a new leaf, reality starts to sink in,” Arnall said. “The realization coincides with the dark clouds rolling in and the obligation to pay off Christmas credit card bills.”
Read the full story.

[Source: MSNBC News 1.24.05, Illustration: d_orlando]

Saturday, January 22, 2005


I was just emailed a whole slew of these amazing photos of hands painted to resemble animals. This elephant and eagle hands blew me away. It's fluff, but after all the recent crazy weather and news, it's welcome airiness.

Here's a link that exhibits a few more.

[Thanks to Karen of Venice]
[painting and photo credits: unknown]

Thursday, January 20, 2005

No more sushi for me

Evil eye... this carp seemingly has a human face / AFP

Fish discovered with human face

If you found this fish staring up at you from a pond, you might do a double take.

For the carp's face displays some extraordinarily human features.

Sinister eyes seem to peer out from the head and a broad nose tapers down to the mouth. But, in fact, the nose is just a marking on the carp's skin as are the "eyes" in front of its real eyes.

The features belong to two 19-year-old female carp in a pond in Chongju, Korea. And the patterns could make the pair very valuable.

Rare markings or colourings on fish are considered a good omen in many Asian countries, Professor Brendan McAndrew, of the Institute of Aquaculture at Stirling University, said.

"Those in the carp industry will go through millions of young fish for good patterns and only find a few."

[From correspondents in London - January 14, 2005 - The Daily Telegraph]
[Via All The Grey In Between - Story source:]

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Merry Last Day of Christmas

[Adoration of the Magi, Abraham Bloemaert, 1624]

The Three Kings have arrived bearing gifts on this last day of Christmas, the Epiphany.

In Italy, today also marks the appearance of La Befana, the friendly Christmas witch. According to legend, she was an old woman sweeping her front steps when the Three Kings came by and asked for directions to Bethlehem (odd since they were guided by the Star). They asked La Befana to join them, but she refused, telling them she was busy with housework, and didn't follow them. Regretting her decision, she tried to catch up with them, but the Christmas Star was gone, and ever since, for all eternity she roams the world looking for the Gesu bambino- the Baby Jesus.

[Illustration from Italian Christmas card, artist unknown]

La Befana leaves gifts for good children on January 5, the night before Epiphany, hoping to find the Holy Child. The bad kids get the proverbial lumps of coal - which, when you think about it, is not a bad gift for cold Winter nights!

Happy Epiphany!

Monday, January 03, 2005

Surfin' Tsunami

This has to be one of the most amazing survival stories to come out of the Asian tsunami disaster:

Briton Surfs Tsunami, Survives
Dec 31, 10:41 AM (ET)

Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka (Reuters) - British surfer Martin Markwell had always dreamed of catching that perfect wave -- but when it finally came along, it was a nightmare.

Markwell was paddling on his surfboard Sunday off the popular Hikkaduwa beach resort on Sri Lanka's palm-fringed southern coast when he was swept up by a tsunami wave and sent crashing over a white sand beach and into a hotel restaurant.

"It was really terrible because I was surfing, I was really surfing on a wave I wasn't supposed to be on," he told Reuters.

"As an experienced surfer, when I saw the wave come I realized something was wrong, but I couldn't escape because my surfboard was tied to my ankle."

His wife Vicki and son Jake looked on in horror from a hotel balcony as he crashed toward the shore. Miraculously, he stayed atop his board until he reached the hotel, jumped off and waded to safety as the ocean rolled back to feed a much larger tsunami wave on its way.

The family regrouped and ran inland into jungle to safety just minutes before a giant tsunami wave 30 feet high crashed into Sri Lanka's coast, killing more than 28,500 people.
[Illustration credit: Carol Bennett Prints]

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Postcards from Los Angeles: The New Year Zone

There is a dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a freeway as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle road between cloud-filled sky and shadowy ground, between holiday and holy day, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the day-off of imagination. It is Los Angeles during the New Year Zone.

-- with apologies to Rod Serling

[The 210 freeway, Eagle Rock near Pasadena, CA 1.01.05, photo: d_orlando]

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