Saturday, March 28, 2015

9 Thoughts To Ponder

These were sent to me in a email from a friend.  As she said, they are funnier when you're older and have one foot on that banana peel.

9)  Life is sexually transmitted.

8)  Good health is merely the slowest possible rate at which one can die.

7)  Give someone a fish and you feed that person for a day.  Teach someone to use the internet and that person won't bother you for weeks.

6)  Some people are like a Slinky…not really good for anything, but you still can't help but smile when you shove them down the stairs.

5)  Health nuts are going to feel stupid some day, lying in hospitals dying of nothing.

4)  All of us could take a lesson from the weather.  It pays no attention to criticism.

3)  Why does a slight tax increase cost you $200 and a substantial tax cut saves you $30?

2)  In the 1960s people took acid to make the world weird.  Now the world is weird and people take Prozac to make it normal.

And the number 1 thought:
Life is like a jar of jalapeno peppers—what you do today might burn your bottom tomorrow.

And as someone recently said: "Don't worry about old age.  It doesn't last long."

Saturday, March 21, 2015

10 Things You May Not Know About Vikings

So…you think you know all about the Vikings?  Those seafaring Scandinavians who raided and settled coastal sites in the British Isles and beyond between the 9th and 11th centuries?  You've watched the movies and television shows, have been exposed to the caricatures and stereotypes.  But I'll bet there's a lot about the Vikings that you don't know.

1)  Vikings Didn't Wear Horned Helmets
Forget all those Viking warrior costumes you've seen in those movies, television shows, and pictures seen with the characters wearing those elaborate horned helmets.  Descriptions from the Viking age don't mention it and the only authentic Viking helmet ever discovered is horn-free.  This concept seems to have originated with painters in the 19th century, possibly inspired by ancient Norse and Germanic priests who wore horned helmets for ceremonial purposes long before the Viking Age.

2)  Vikings Were Known For Their Excellent Hygiene
What with all that boat rowing and decapitating their enemies, the logical assumption would be that Viking men must have stunk.  However, excavations of Viking sites have revealed tweezers, razors, combs and ear cleaners made from animal bones and antlers.  Vikings also bathed at least once a week, much more often than other Europeans of that time period.

3)  Vikings Used A Unique Liquid To Start Fires
The Vikings collected a fungus called touchwood from tree bark and boiled it for several days in urine then pounded it into a substance similar to felt.  The sodium nitrate in urine allowed the material to smolder instead of burn.  This gave the Vikings the availability of taking the fire with them on the go.

4)  Vikings Buried Their Dead In Boats
The Viking's boats were very important to them so it was a great honor to be buried in one.  It was believed that the vessels that served them well in life would see them safely to their final destination.

5)  Vikings Were Active In The Slave Trade
Many Vikings became rich through human trafficking.  They captured and enslaved women and young men while rampaging through Anglo-Saxon, Celtic and Slavic settlements then sold them in giant slave markets in Europe and the Middle East.

6)  Viking Women Enjoyed Some Basic Rights
Viking girls married at age 12 and took care of the household while their husbands sailed off on adventures.  However, they had more freedom than other women of their era.  They could inherit property, request a divorce and reclaim their dowries if their marriage ended.

7)  Viking Men Spent Most Of Their Time Farming
Most Viking men swung scythes rather than swords.  True, some were callous pirates who only left their boats long enough to burn villages but most planted crops and raised cattle, goats, pigs and sheep on their small farms.

8)  Vikings Skied For Fun
Scandinavians developed primitive skis approximately 6000 years ago.  By the Viking age, Norsemen regarded skiing as an efficient way to get around and a popular recreation activity.  They even worshiped Ullr, the god of skiing.

9)  Viking Men Preferred Being Blond
Brunette Vikings, usually men, used strong soap with a high lye content to bleach their hair and in some regions also their beards.  These treatments also helped with a health and hygiene problem—head lice.

10)  Vikings Were Never Part Of A Unified Group
They probably didn't even call themselves Vikings.  The term simply referred to all Scandinavians who took part in overseas expeditions.  During the Viking Age, the land that is now Denmark, Norway and Sweden was a patchwork of tribes that often fought against each other…when they weren't busy creating havoc on foreign shores.

I still erroneously visualize the Vikings with those horned helmets.  It's an image that I grew up with and can't seem to shake.  :)

Saturday, March 14, 2015

What Your Sleeping Position Says About You

Ah…yet another survey of a bunch of people somewhere.  :)  This one is about your sleeping position.

According to a survey of 1,000 people in Great Britain, the position you choose to sleep in can reveal a lot about your personality.

You sleep in a fetal position? That says you're potentially shy and sensitive.

How about a log sleeper (lying on your side as straight as a stick…or log)? You are likely social and fun. One of the good time people.

If you sleep with your legs slightly bent and your arms tucked under the pillow, you are a 'yearner'. Often suspicious, always have a plan, always up to something.

Or, if you're a soldier sleeper (lay flat on your back), you are likely quiet, reserved, and not very gregarious.

If you sleep in a freefall position (just like it sounds, face down on the bed with arms and legs splayed)—this type of person is always loud at the party and wants to be the center of attention. Some people might try to avoid this person.

The starfish sleep position is like a reverse freefall position with arms straight out and one knee up. This sleep position means you are a giver, a listener, everyone wants to be your friend, you put others needs before your own.

Do any of these positions match your personality type? If so, is it the position you sleep in?

Saturday, March 7, 2015

7 Bizarre Predictions That Actually Came True

Prophecy…making predictions…seeing into the future—the province of charlatan fortune tellers or a reality to be taken seriously? And those predictions that do turn out to be true—lucky guesses or someone who has the gift?

Michel de Nostredame, better known today as Nostradamus, is probably the most famous prognosticator of all time. He lived in 16th century France and in 1555 published a book of his predictions written as quatrains (a poem or stanza using 4 lines). He seemed to write in some sort of code, not saying exactly what he meant. This has allowed people down through the ages to attach interpretations of his predictions to all kinds of happenings and always after-the-fact rather than prior to the event [after all, prediction relates to something that has not yet happened].

Here are 4 of his predictions that, many centuries later, were applied to specific historical events. And after these, I have 3 more bizarre predictions that actually came true.

PROPHECY:  "The blood of the just will be demanded of London, Burnt by the fire in the year 66."
EVENT:  1666 is the year of the Great Fire of London. It is estimated to have burned the homes of 70,000 of the city's 80,000 inhabitants. Yet there were few deaths reported.

PROPHECY:  "From the enslaved people, songs, chants and demands. The princes and lords are held captive in prisons: In the future by such headless idiots. These will be taken as divine utterances…before the war comes the great wall will fall. The king will be executed; his death, coming too soon, will be lamented. [The guards] will swim in blood. Near the River Seine the soil will be bloodied."
EVENT:  The French Revolution, a bloody rebellion in 1789, resulted in aristocrats and royalty being arrested and beheaded. The Bastille (a great walled fortress) was demolished and LouisXVI was executed in 1793.

PROPHECY:  "From the depths of the West of Europe a young child will be born of poor people. He who by his tongue will seduce a great troop; his fame will increase towards the realm of the East."
EVENT:  The person referred to in this prophecy is invariably taken to be Adolph Hitler, chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945 and the person responsible for World War II and the Holocaust.

PROPHECY:  "Volcanic fire from the centre of the earth will cause trembling around the new city: Two great rocks will make war for a long time. Then Arethusa will redden a new river…"
EVENT:  Dedicated Nostradamus followers interpret this prophecy as being a prediction of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center. These avid believers in Nostradamus' predictive powers claim 'centre of the earth' as the trade center and 'new city' as New York and the 'two great rocks' as either the WTC towers or the religions of Christianity and Islam.

PROPHECY:  Spanish conquistadors in Mexico.
EVENT:  The power of prophecy definitely worked in favor of the Spanish. In 1519 Hernan Cortes was sent to conquer and claim Mexico for the Spanish crown. Luckily for Cortes, his arrival coincided with the Mayan calendar that said a man-god named Quetzalcoatl was due to return in order to reclaim the city of Tenochtitlan. The Aztecs believed Cortes was that god—a mistake that aided Cortes in capturing Mexico with relative ease.

PROPHECY:  Lincoln's assassination.
EVENT:  Three days before his death, Lincoln had an eerily prophetic nightmare. To quote his words about this experience, "There seemed to be a death-like stillness about me. Then I heard subdued sobs, as if a number of people were weeping. I thought I left my bed and wandered downstairs. There the silence was broken by the same pitiful sobbing, but things so mysterious and so shocking, I kept on until I arrived at the East Room, which I entered. There I met with a sickening surprise. Before me was a catafalque, on which rested a corpse wrapped in funeral vestments. Around it were stationed soldiers who were acting as guards; and there was a throng of people, gazing mournfully upon the corpse, whose face was covered, others weeping pitifully. 'Who is dead in the White House?' I demanded of one of the soldiers. 'The President,' was his answer; 'He was killed by an assassin.' Then came a loud burst of grief from the crowd, which woke me from my dream."

PROPHECY:  Kennedy's assassination.
EVENT:  The morning of November 22, 1963, Jackie Kennedy saw a full-page ad in the Dallas Morning News. It unnerved her…more for its appearance than its content. The ad accused Kennedy of being a communist sympathizer. The part that concerned her was the black border around the ad which she thought resembled a death notice. JFK tried to calm her by saying if someone wanted to shoot him from a window with a rifle that no one could stop it so there wasn't any reason to worry about it. The fact that Kennedy made such a comment on the day he was assassinated is coincidence enough but his mention of the precise method of his death is truly bizarre.