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December 2, 2020

Play-Doh was originally a wallpaper cleaner

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Who knew?

From reddit: "Play-Doh, first manufactured in Cincinnati in the 1930s, was originally a wallpaper cleaner meant to get soot off the wall when coal was the leading home heating fuel; at the time, you couldn't get wallpaper wet."

You could look it up.

December 2, 2020 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Apple Wi-Fi calling is a bug, not a feature

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Not Now.

In fact, Not Ever.

Every day the dialogue window above appears on one or more of my Apple devices; up to now I've always clicked "Turn On" even though I'm really not sure what benefit it offers me.

But then I got to thinking: maybe Wi-Fi calling is related to the cacophony that ensues — laptop, iPads, Apple Watches all making various phone ringing sounds — when someone calls, while my iPhone remains silent.

It's making me crazy.

A phone is for phone calls and all that other apparatus is for everything else.

From now on I'm gonna channel Nancy Reagan and just say "No" when that box pops up.

Just for laughs, I Googled this subject and a zillion results came back, of which the one below 

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is representative.

December 2, 2020 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

'The Nutcracker'

"The Russian State Ballet and Opera House presents 'The Nutcracker' ballet performed by National Opera and Ballet Theatre of Mari El."

Free, the way we like it.

The reason I posted this is because I just read in my daily paper that the Charlottesville Ballet will be streaming its performance of 'The Nutcracker,' with replays allowed for seven days after the actual performance.

What made my brain explode is that they're charging $45.50 — plus a processing fee — per household to watch it.

Huh?

Why would anyone in their right mind pay any amount of money, much less around $50, to watch this local company when you've got 'The Nutcracker' on YouTube, featuring a world-class company and orchestra, for free 24/7/365?

But perhaps you don't want any part of that Russian stuff: no worries, I got you covered.

How about the New York City Ballet performance of 'The Nutcracker' (below).

Does that work for you?

Free, the way we like it.

December 2, 2020 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)

'Sistine Chapel' of the Amazon

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From the Guardian:

Tens of Thousands of Ice Age Paintings Discovered in Remote Amazon Forest

One of the world's largest collections of prehistoric rock art has been discovered in the Amazonian rainforest.

Hailed as "the Sistine Chapel of the ancients," archaeologists have found tens of thousands of paintings of animals and humans created up to 12,500 years ago across cliff faces that stretch across nearly eight miles in Colombia.

Their date is based partly on their depictions of now-extinct ice age animals, such as the mastodon, a prehistoric relative of the elephant that hasn't roamed South America for at least 12,000 years.

There are also images of the palaeolama, an extinct camelid, as well as giant sloths and ice age horses.

These animals were all seen and painted by some of the very first humans ever to reach what is now the Amazon.

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Their pictures give a glimpse into a lost, ancient civilization.

Such is the sheer scale of paintings that they will take generations to study.

The discovery was made last year, but has been kept secret until now as it was filmed for a major Channel 4 series to be screened in December: Jungle Mystery: Lost Kingdoms of the Amazon.

The site is in the Serranía de la Lindosa where, along with the Chiribiquete National Park, other rock art had been found.

The documentary's presenter, Ella Al-Shamahi, an archaeologist and explorer, told the Observer: "The new site is so new, they haven't even given it a name yet."

She spoke of the excitement of seeing "breathtaking" images that were created thousands of years ago.

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The discovery was made by a British-Colombian team, funded by the European Research Council.

Its leader is José Iriarte, professor of archaeology at Exeter University and a leading expert on the Amazon and pre-Columbian history.

He said: "When you're there, your emotions flow....We're talking about several tens of thousands of paintings. It's going to take generations to record them.... Every turn you make, it's a new wall of paintings.

"We started seeing animals that are now extinct. The pictures are so natural and so well made that we have few doubts that you're looking at a horse, for example. The ice-age horse had a wild, heavy face. It's so detailed, we can even see the horse hair. It's fascinating."

The images include fish, turtles, lizards and birds, as well as people dancing and holding hands, among other scenes.

One figure wears a mask resembling a bird with a beak.

The site is so remote that, after a two-hour drive from San José del Guaviare, a team of archaeologists and film-makers trekked on foot for around four hours.

They somehow avoided the region’s most dangerous inhabitants.

"Caimans are everywhere, and we did keep our wits about us with snakes," Al-Shamahi said, recalling an enormous bushmaster — "the deadliest snake in the Americas with an 80% mortality rate" — that blocked their jungle path.

They had been delayed getting back, and it was already pitch black.

They had no choice but to walk past it, knowing that, if they were attacked, there was little chance of getting to a hospital.

"You're in the middle of nowhere," she said. But it was "100%" worth it to see the paintings, she added.

As the documentary notes, Colombia is a land torn apart after 50 years of civil war that raged between Farc guerrillas and the Colombian government, now with an uneasy truce in place.

The territory where the paintings have been discovered was completely off limits until recently and still involves careful negotiation to enter safely.

Al-Shamahi said: "When we entered Farc territory, it was exactly as a few of us have been screaming about for a long time. Exploration is not over. Scientific discovery is not over but the big discoveries now are going to be found in places that are disputed or hostile."

The paintings vary in size.

There are numerous handprints and many of the images are on that scale, be they geometric shapes, animals or humans.

Others are much larger.

Al-Shamahi was struck by how high up many of them are: "I'm 5 ft 10 in and I would be breaking my neck looking up. How were they scaling those walls?"

Some of the paintings are so high they can only be viewed with drones.

Iriarte believes that the answer lies in depictions of wooden towers among the paintings, including figures appearing to bungee jump from them.

He added: "These paintings have a reddish terracotta color. We also found pieces of ochre that they scraped to make them."

Speculating on whether the paintings had a sacred or other purpose, he said: "It's interesting to see that many of these large animals appear surrounded by small men with their arms raised, almost worshipping these animals."

Observing that the imagery includes trees and hallucinogenic plants, he added: "For Amazonian people, non-humans like animals and plants have souls, and they communicate and engage with people in cooperative or hostile ways through the rituals and shamanic practices that we see depicted in the rock art."

Al-Shamahi added: "One of the most fascinating things was seeing ice age megafauna because that's a marker of time. I don't think people realise that the Amazon has shifted in the way it looks. It hasn't always been this rainforest. When you look at a horse or mastodon in these paintings, of course they weren't going to live in a forest. They're too big. Not only are they giving clues about when they were painted by some of the earliest people — that in itself is just mind-boggling — but they are also giving clues about what this very spot might have looked like: more savannah-like."

Iriarte suspects that there are many more paintings to be found: "We're just scratching the surface."

The team will be back as soon as Covid-19 allows.

December 2, 2020 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Magnetic Paper Towel Holder

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From the website:

Keep paper towels close at hand with a storage solution that won't occupy precious countertop or under-cabinet space.

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It adheres to any ferrous metal, maximizing kitchen space.

Doubles as towel holder.

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Features and Details:

• Steel

• 11.6" x 3.1" x 3.1"

• Weight: 0.9 pounds without roll

• Designed in Japan; Ships from California

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$18 (Jumbo 12-roll pack of paper towels included with orders from Atlanta's southern suburbs. Please specify: Bounty or Scott.).

December 2, 2020 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

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