Saturday, May 25, 2019
I recently came across an article listing 10 lies that we all hear (and say) on a daily basis…things you don't necessarily think of as lies. These are usually considered as slight exaggerations, an attempt to be polite rather than confrontational, or merely being nice rather than hurt someone's feelings. But no matter how you rationalize it, they are still lies.
1) "Everything's great."
It's the usual response in a restaurant when your server asks how everything is, a brush-off even though the soup is too salty. And the possible consequences of this insignificant little lie? The chef never finds out he's heavy-handed with the seasonings, people stop coming to his restaurant, and you end up with the same too-salty soup everyone else was also reluctant to mention. You might be doing the chef a favor if you tell your server—politely—that something is off.
2) "I'm fine."
Reality check for men: No woman who says this to you is actually fine. Something's wrong and you need a strategy to figure out how to fix it. Most of the time it's as easy as asking her how she really feels.
3) "I love your new haircut."
People usually compliment anything that catches their eye as new or different—no matter how ugly it may be or how much they don't like it. If your significant other has a different opinion on your new hair style—or jacket, or shoes—than your chipper coworker, trust your significant other's take. The I get so many compliments on this defense doesn't hold up.
4) "No thanks, I've got it."
Guys, in particular, feel guilty accepting assistance from others, especially from a woman—even if they could really use it. If you have to ask, "Can I give you a hand with that?" you should already be helping—not offering to lend a hand.
5) "I couldn't find time to look at that today."
It doesn't matter if your boss said that, a client, or someone else, rest assured that you're being bluffed. If you need the feedback right away but fear you might irritate your boss or client with repeated requests, you'll need to come up with a new way to present your need.
6) "It's so great to see you."
Is it really great? Your wife's or husband's friend from college looks to be in a huge hurry, and you don't really know the person that well. This is a polite lie that really means, "I want to stop talking to you now." Offer a quick smile then you can both get on with your day.
7) "That's interesting."
People throw out this meaningless phrase so often it's become more of a cliché or silence-filler than a lie. Instead, consider what you actually think before speaking, and come up with a more insightful adjective (and "That's stupid!" doesn't count).
8) "Your email ended up in my spam folder."
Of all the emails you've successfully sent this person and it's this one that mysteriously ended up in the spam folder? No need to call this person out on it. Recognize this deception for what it is and figure out a better way to grab this person's attention next time.
9) "I just saw your text."
Your friends have no problem lying about being busy when they're actually looking at other things or surfing the net. But when they actually have a lot on their plates, they become reluctant about admitting it (sometimes for fear that it sounds like a flimsy excuse). This text message is their polite way of saying, "I was too busy to answer you right away."
Admit it: Even you toss out apologies as readily as you would a losing lottery ticket. At least 95 percent of the time you tell someone you're sorry when you really mean, "That's too bad." Don't apologize unless there's something you need to apologize for and you mean it.
Saturday, May 18, 2019
The last Monday in May, this year falling on May 27, is Memorial Day in the United States—a holiday honoring the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War but didn't become an official federal holiday until 1971.
In addition to being a day observed by many Americans visiting cemeteries or memorials, holding family gatherings, and participating in patriotic parades, it's also considered the unofficial start of the summer season and vacation time.
The Civil War claimed more lives than any conflict in U.S. history. This required the establishment of the country's first national cemeteries. In the late 1860s, Americans in various small towns and large cities held springtime tributes to fallen soldiers by decorating their graves with flowers. On May 5, 1868, General John A. Logan proclaimed May 30 as Decoration Day, the date chosen because it was not the anniversary of any particular battle.
On the first Decoration Day, General Logan made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery where 5,000 participants decorated the graves of 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried there.
Decoration Day originally honored only those lost while fighting in the Civil War. But by the time the U.S. became involved in World War I, the holiday evolved to commemorate American military personnel who died in all wars.
The name Decoration Day gradually changed over to Memorial Day during the ensuing years, but continued to be observed on May 30. In 1968, one hundred years after General Logan made his Decoration Day proclamation, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act which established Memorial Day as the last Monday in May in order to create a three-day weekend for federal employees. This law also declared Memorial Day to be a federal holiday. The change went into effect in 1971.
In addition to nationwide parades and the decorating of graves and monuments, Memorial Day has come to hold a second distinction. It is also a time of many family gatherings which include backyard BBQs and picnics. With an official date of the last Monday in May, the holiday is considered the unofficial start of summer and the beginning of the vacation travel season in the Northern Hemisphere with the Labor Day holiday on the first Monday of September signaling the unofficial end of the summer season.
Many recreational boaters launch their boats on lakes and rivers over the Memorial Day weekend for the first outing of the summer. Tourist attractions gear up for the summer vacationers. And a sure sign of the start of the summer season, all across the country gasoline prices usually go up in preparation of increased need!
Saturday, May 11, 2019
Last week's blog showed 6 lands that were believed to be real at the time but later proven to be myths. This week, it's 5 cities that were believed to be myths but later proven to be real.
An archeologist from the Research Center of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts rediscovered the lost Mayan city of Lagunita. He identified a Mayan doorway, the remains of massive buildings, plazas, ball courts, a pyramid and three altars that date back to 711 AD.
The above picture was taken on Oct. 28, 2013 and released by Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH). The ruins belonging to the ancient Maya city called Lagunita stand out in the jungle on a remote location in the southern state of Campeche, Mexico. Archaeologists in Mexico first stumbled upon this site in the 1970s and it was rediscovered in 2013.
In the year 373 BC, a giant earthquake hit off the coast of Greece, which created a giant tsunami that swallowed the ancient city of Helike. Then, in 2001 a team finally rediscovered Helike, digging up coins, pottery and ruins. The reason it took them so long to find it? They were looking under water, but it was actually under dirt. The water had long ago dried up.
The famous city of Troy was once believed to be a mythical place, a location, one that never existed in real life. The place that gave us Helen of Troy (the face that launched a thousand ships) and the Trojan Horse. But in 1870, Heinrich Schliemann followed clues laid out in Homer's ILIAD and found the ruins of the fabled city in Turkey, thus moving Troy from myth to reality.
I read a book about Schliemann's discovery of Troy and then by coincidence a few months later the university's art museum hosted an exhibition of photographs taken at his archeological dig.
Many believe this city, underwater off the coast of southern Laconia in Peloponnese, Greece, is the real life Atlantis. This 5,000-year-old lost city was found in 1967 and is thought to have been submerged for about 3,000 years, giving it an impressive lifetime of 2,000 years. Archeologists found roads, buildings, courtyards and pottery.
5. Machu Picchu
Maybe the greatest of the lost cities sits on top of a mountain in Peru. It wasn't rediscovered until 1911, mostly because of its remote location. People are always digging for lost cities, looking under the oceans or trekking through the jungle. No one thinks to look up to the high mountain tops.
Saturday, May 4, 2019
This week's blog is about six lands at one time believed to be real but since have been proven to be no more than myths.
Ancient travelers (and by ancient I mean many centuries ago) told stories of mysterious places located in the unexplored reaches of the world—fabled cities, phantom islands, and exotic civilizations. Even though these lands were usually dismissed as myths and legends, a few of them found their way onto world maps and helped inspire some of history’s most important journeys of discovery. From a fabled Christian empire in Asia to a supposed lost kingdom in Canada, find out more about six of the most influential lands that never were.
A subject of fascination for ancient explorers, romantic poets and Nazi occultists. Thule was an elusive territory believed to be located in the frozen north Atlantic near Scandinavia. Its legend dates back to the 4th century B.C. when the Greek journeyman Pytheas claimed to have travelled to an icy island beyond Scotland where the sun rarely set and land, sea and air combined into a bewildering, jelly-like mass.
Many of Pytheas’ contemporaries doubted his claims, but that didn't stop distant Thule from lingering in the European imagination. It eventually became synonymous with the northernmost place in the known world. Explorers and researchers variously identified it as Norway, Iceland and the Shetland Islands, and it served a recurring theme in poetry and myth. The island is perhaps most famous for its connection to the Thule Society, a post-World War I occult organization in Germany that considered Thule the ancestral home of the Aryan race. The Munich-based group counted many future Nazis among its members, including Rudolf Hess, who later served as Deputy Führer of Germany under Adolf Hitler.
2) The Kingdom of Prester John
For more than 500 years, Europeans believed a Christian king ruled over a vast empire somewhere in the wilds of either Africa, India or the Far East. Talk of this mythical land first surfaced in 1165 after the Byzantine and Holy Roman emperors received a letter—most likely a European forgery—from a monarch calling himself Prester John. The mysterious king claimed to serve as supreme ruler of the three Indies and all its 72 kingdoms. He described his realm as a utopia rich in gold, populated by exotic races of giants and horned men. Perhaps most important of all, Prester John and his subjects were Christians—even the name Prester meant Priest.
Despite the fact that a Papal mission to find Prester John’s court disappeared without a trace, the myth of his kingdom took hold among Europeans. Crusading Christians rejoiced in the idea that a devout ruler might come to their aid in the struggle against Islam during the Crusades, and when Genghis Khan’s Mongol hordes conquered parts of Persia in the early 1200s, many mistakenly credited Prester John’s forces with the attack. The kingdom later became a subject of fascination for travelers and explorers. Marco Polo provided a questionable account of encountering its remnants in Northern China. Vasco da Gama and other Portuguese mariners searched for it in Africa and India. While explorers eventually discovered a Christian civilization in Ethiopia, it lacked the grandeur and the gold Europeans had come to associate with Prester John’s realm. By the 17th century, the legend had faded, and the famed empire was dropped from most maps.
Long before Europeans ever stepped foot in the New World, explorers searched for the island of Hy-Brasil, an ethereal land said to exist off the west coast of Ireland. The story of Hy-Brasil most likely comes from Celtic legend—its name means Isle of the Blest in Gaelic—but its precise origins are unclear. Hy-Brasil first appeared on maps in the 14th century, usually in the form of a small, circular island with a narrow strait splitting it in two. Many mariners accepted it as a real place until as recently as the 1800s, and it became popular as the basis for myths and folktales. Some legends described the island as a lost paradise. Others claimed that it was perpetually obscured by a dense curtain of mist and fog, only becoming visible to the naked eye every seven years. [which sounds as if it might have been the genesis of the Lerner & Lowe musical Brigadoon about a village in Scotland that appeared out of the mist every one hundred years]
Despite its somewhat whimsical reputation, Hy-Brasil was widely sought after by Britain-based explorers in the 15th century. The navigator John Cabot launched several expeditions in an attempt to find it. It's suggested that he had hoped to locate it during his famous journey to the coast of Newfoundland in 1497. Documents from Cabot’s time claim that previous explorers had already reached Hy-Brasil, leading some researchers to argue that these unnamed mariners may have inadvertently traveled all the way to the Americas prior to Christopher Columbus.
4) El Dorado
Beginning in the 16th century, European explorers and conquistadors were intrigued by tales of a mythical city of gold located in the unexplored reaches of South America. The city had its origin in accounts of El Dorado (The Gilded One), a native king who powdered his body with gold dust and tossed jewels and gold into a sacred lake as part of a coronation rite. Stories of the gilded king eventually led to rumors of a golden city of untold wealth and splendor. Adventurers spent many years—and countless lives—in a futile search for its riches.
One of the most famous El Dorado expeditions came in 1617, when the English explorer Sir Walter Raleigh traveled up the Orinoco River on a quest to find it in what is now Venezuela. They didn't find any trace of the gilded city, and King James I later executed Raleigh after he disobeyed an order to avoid fighting with the Spanish. El Dorado continued to drive exploration and colonial violence until the early 1800s, when scientists Alexander von Humboldt and Aimé Bonpland branded the city a myth after undertaking a research expedition to Latin America.
El Dorado wasn’t the only gilded city supposedly tucked away in the New World. European explorers also hunted for the Seven Cities of Cibola, a mythical group of gold-rich settlements said to be located somewhere in what are now Mexico and the American Southwest. The most famous search for the Seven Cities came in the 16th century, when the Spanish conquistador Francisco Vasquez de Coronado scoured the Great Plains of the U.S. in search of a city of riches called Quivira.
5) St. Brendan’s Island
St. Brendan’s Island was a mysterious manifestation of Paradise once thought to be hidden somewhere in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. The myth of the phantom island dates back to the Navigation Brendani, or Voyage of Brendan, a 1,200-year-old Irish legend about the seafaring monk St. Brendan the Navigator. As the story goes, Brendan led a crew of pious sailors on a 6th century voyage in search of the famed Promised Land of the Saints. The journey on the open sea describes attacks by fireball-wielding giants and run-ins with talking birds. According to the tale, Brendan and his men landed on a mist-covered island filled with delicious fruit and sparkling gems. The grateful crew are said to have spent 40 days exploring the island before returning to Ireland.
Although there is no historical proof of St. Brendan’s voyage, the legend became so popular during medieval times that St. Brendan’s Island found its way onto many maps of the Atlantic. Early cartographers placed it near Ireland, but in later years it migrated to the coasts of North Africa, the Canary Islands and finally the Azores. Sailors often claimed to have caught fleeting glimpses of the mystical isle during the Age of Discovery, and it’s likely that even Christopher Columbus believed in its existence. Its legend eventually faded after multiple search expeditions failed to track it down. By the 18th century, the famed Promised Land of the Saints had been removed from most navigational charts.
6) The Kingdom of Saguenay
The story of the mirage-like Kingdom of Saguenay dates to the 1530s, when French explorer Jacques Cartier made his second journey to Canada in search of gold and a northwest passage to Asia. While traveling along the St. Lawrence River at what is modern day Quebec, Cartier’s Iroquois guides began to whisper tales of Saguenay, a vast kingdom that lay to the north. According to a chief named Donnacona, the mysterious realm was rich in spices, furs and precious metals and populated by blond, bearded men with pale skin. The stories eventually transitioned into the realm of the absurd when the natives claimed the region was also home to races of one-legged people and whole tribes possessing no anus. Cartier became intrigued by the prospect of plundering the riches of Saguenay. He brought Donnacona back to France, where the Iroquois chief continued to spread tales of a lost kingdom.
Legends about Saguenay haunted French explorers in North America for years, but treasure hunters never found any trace of the mythical land. Most historians now dismiss it as a myth, but some argue the natives may have been referring to copper deposits in the Canadian northwest. Others have suggested that the Indian tales could have been inspired by a centuries old Norse outpost left over from Viking voyages to North America.
Fortunately, today we have Google Earth to confirm or deny such rumors of mythical places. :)