Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Thought for the Day

Paper Art

I was going to leave OPW today but Graham E sent me an email that I will share:

Hi Mr O,

Here is a link to a husband and wife who produce amazing paper sculptures.

Patty and Allen Eckman share a passion for art and design. Since 1988, the duo have perfected the process of cast paper sculpture, in which they create intricate three-dimensional casts. Based in South Dakota, Patty and Allen say they find inspiration for their art in the landscape, the wildlife, and the history of their surroundings. In particular, many of their sculptures feature Native American culture, an interest that stems from Allen’s Cherokee ancestry.

Thanks Graham

Some more notes about the Eckmans and some more pics of their paper pieces . . .

Cast-paper sculpture is not the same as papier-mâché.  Although artists have worked with the basic medium since the 1950s, the Eckmans invented and trademarked their own process—the Eckman Method—in which they mix acid-free paper pulp, then sculpt and detail each piece. The finished product is stark white. “I really love white for fine art,” Allen says. “I think light and shadow really articulate the form and texture and detail in our sculpture and really show it off.” 


Some other examples of amazing paper art (I have added one of my one, see if you can work out which one) . . .

Cutouts from black paper by Joe Bagley

Okay, did you work it out?  For those still puzzled, it is the cat face, third from the bottom.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Quote for the Day

An Aesop's Fable: The Man and the Wooden God

The Man and the Wooden God

A poor Man, who longed to get rich, used to pray day and night for wealth, to a Wooden Idol which he had in his house. Notwithstanding all his prayers, instead of becoming richer, he got poorer. Out of all patience with his Idol, he one day took it by the legs, and dashed it to pieces upon the floor. Hundreds of gold pieces, which had been hidden in the body, flew about the room. Transported at the sight, he exclaimed, “How have I wasted my time in worshipping a graceless deity, who yields to force what he would not grant to prayers!”


Most people, clergy as well as laity, accommodate their religion to their profit, and judge that to be the best church where there is most to be obtained.


Whilst reading the above story, I was reminded of a past post, one from 2014:

Inspirational quote for the day:

Remember the 1989 flick with Charlie Sheen, Major League?

There is a character in there named Pedro Cerrano, a voodoo-practising Cuban refugee baseball player. All season Pedro has trouble with curve balls, which his opponents know and which they use to strike him out. All season Pedro prays to his idol, Jobu, for help, but the strike outs continue. 

Another team member encourages Pedro to instead pray to Jesus Christ for help in dealing with curve balls.  That team member is so dedicated to Jesus, and so hostile to Jobu, that he even urinates on Jobu when Pedro is absent.

During the final big game as Pedro goes to bat, knowing that his batting can either lose the game or help win it, he addresses Jobu: 

“I'm pissed off now, Jobu. 
Look, I go to you. I stick up for you. You don't help me.  
Now I say 'Fuck you, Jobu,' I do it myself.”

And he does.

There's a lot of messages and deeper meanings in the above words and actions.

See it by clicking on:

Monday, September 16, 2019

Thought for the Day

OPW continued: Steep Streets


Byter Graham E (aka Mr Trivia, who hosts our weekly trivi nights) sent me an email (actually, he sent me a plethora, which, to recycle a joke from last Friday, means a lot) with a reference to competing steep streets. Thanks, Graham, “bargain” (it means a great deal).  😊


Graham’s email:

Hi Mr O,

Recently I asked a question about the steepest street in the world, I believed it was Baldwin Street, in the city of Dunedin, in southern New Zealand.

I saw it when I was there in 2018, at 350 metres long, it reaches a maximum slope of 1:2.86 or 19 degrees! The street is so steep that it's surface had to be laid with concrete instead of asphalt otherwise on a warm day the tar would flow down the slope!

But, as usual, someone knew better !

And it turned out they were right . . .

On July 16, 2019, a meandering street in north-west Wales was confirmed as the steepest in the world. Ffordd Pen Llech in the historic town of Harlech – better known for its castle and rousing song, Men of Harlech – has been judged steeper than Baldwin Street in Dunedin. Residents have long campaigned for the title and are planning a huge party to celebrate the accolade. It has been established that the street has a gradient of 37.5% at its steepest point, compared with Baldwin’s Street mere 35%

dyna sut mae'r cwci yn baglu


Some comments and additional information from moi:

-     According to google translate, the above phrase translates into English as “That’s the way the cookie stumbles.”

-    The NZ Baldwin Street is just under 350 metres (1,150 ft) long and has an average slope of slightly more than 1:5. Its lower parts are only moderately steep but at its maximum, about 70 metres (230 ft) from the top,[3] the slope of Baldwin Street is about 1:2.86 (19° or 35%). That is, for every 2.86 metres (9.4 ft) travelled horizontally, the elevation changes by 1 metre (3.3 ft).

-        From Wikipedia: 
The [New Zealand] street is the venue for an annual event in Dunedin, the Baldwin Street Gutbuster. Every summer since 1988 this exercise in fitness and balance involves athletes running from the base of the street to the top and back down again. The event attracts several hundred competitors annually and the race record is 1:56. In March 2001, a 19-year-old University of Otago student was killed when she and another student attempted to travel down the street inside a wheelie bin. The bin collided with a parked trailer, killing her instantly, and causing serious head injuries for the other student. Since 2002, a further charity event has been held annually in July, which involves the rolling of over 30,000 Jaffas (spherical confectionery-coated chocolate confectionery). Each Jaffa is sponsored by one person, with prizes to the winner and funds raised going to charity. This event follows a tradition started in 1998, when 2,000 tennis balls were released in a sponsored event raising money for Habitat for Humanity. 
-     How do you determine the winner of 3 races, each with 25,000 Jaffas rolling down a steep street?  Answer: they’re funneled into a chute and the Keeper of the Nail inserts a nail to close it off after the first 5 go through each time. 

The 2016 event

Keeper of the Nail, Kylie Ruwhiu-Karawana,

Also dubbed as The Running of the Balls, the Jaffas are labelled with the cumbers of their owners to enable determination of winnners.

-      Upon the Welsh street taking Number 1 position, Otago Chamber of Commerce chief executive Dougal McGowan remarked that it could lead to a drop in visitor numbers to Baldwin Street but would be a "blessing in disguise for some residents fed up with crowds of visitors, trampled gardens and bad driving decisions on the street." Mayor of Dunedin Dave Cull said that the Dunedin City Council could consider altering the signage wording from the world's steepest street to the southern hemisphere's steepest street.

-    Jaffas were developed in 1931 in Oz by Sweetacres.  They were advertised as great fun to roll down cinema aisles in the days before carpeted aisles, resulting in the clack-clack-clack sound as they made their way to the bottom.  Here is an ad showing the fun with litlle regard to OHS:

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Quote for the Day

OPW continued: Origins


Today’s contribution comes from Charlie Z, who sent me the following article just over a year ago. My apologies in not posting it earlier, Chezza, the fact is that I had forgotten that you had sent it to me. 

Charlie’s item is about origins of expressions. I am posting it without researching its accuracy. 

Also, being an item with US origins, there is a lot of local US material. 


This List Is “Out of Left Field” 

New York Times, Sports, August 2, 2018 

Victor Mather 

Your third-grade phys ed teacher used them all the time. Your neighbor does, too. Even your teenage daughter pulls them out every once in a while. 

We’re talking about sports idioms, those everyday phrases ingrained in our lexicon, handed down from generation to generation. We use these terms all the time, without really knowing where they came from. Some of their origins are pretty clear: front-runner, on the ropes, the ball is in your court. But there are many others whose provenances are not so apparent. 

I decided to do some digging and found myself down a real rabbit hole (not a sports idiom) of interesting origins. I hope you enjoy them! 

“Hat in the Ring” 

Back in the days when boxing was a quasi-legal, rough-and-tumble affair, fighters and even spectators who had an interest in getting into a bout would signal it by tossing in a hat. It’s mostly used now in the rough-and-tumble field of politics to announce that one is running for office. 

Its first use, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, came in The London Times in 1804, in its literal sense: “Belcher first threw his hat into the ring, over the heads of the spectators.” 

“Wild-Goose Chase” 

Yes, it’s from a sport. No, not from one involving geese. In the 17th century, it was quite the thing to set one horse off on a ramble and require the trailing horses, set off at intervals, to follow it as accurately as possible. It was known as a wild-goose chase. Soon the term became used for any hopeless quest. 

And Shakespeare’s Mercutio used it as well, in reference to a duel of wits with Romeo: “Nay if our wits run the wild goose chase, I am done.” 

“Throw in the Towel” 

In boxing, a fighter’s cornerman throwing a towel into the ring has traditionally been a sign of surrender, quitting or giving up. But in earlier times, it was a sponge that was hurled, and “chuck up the sponge” was the more common phrase. 

A 1911 article in The New York Times about a fight in the Bronx used both terms: “His seconds threw a towel in the ring announcing defeat at the beginning of the fifth round” and “Johnson’s seconds threw up the sponge for their man and saved him a further beating.” 

(The spectators were not happy with the towel or sponge’s appearance, The Times reported. “For a few moments it looked serious for the second, who was finally enabled to escape the angry fight followers by getting out of a side door of the clubhouse.”) 

Also from boxing: down for the count, saved by the bell, take it on the chin and below the belt. 

“Out of Left Field” 

Why is left field the spot where kooky ideas come from? Why not right or center? Well, no one is really too sure. 

In 1961, William Safire devoted a Times column to the topic putting forth numerous ideas, including that left field was often deeper than right in early baseball stadiums, that weaker fielders were put in left and that left fielders tended to play farther back. 

A more colorful explanation is that behind the left-field wall at the Cubs’ West Side Grounds, in use from 1893 to 1915, was a mental hospital whose patients could sometimes be heard making bizarre remarks during the game. 

“Hands Down” 

It was an easy decision, not close at all, requiring no effort, but why is that “hands down”? It sounds like it might be from a card game, but it actually comes from horse racing. When a jockey has a race in the bag, he can relax his hold on the reins and stop urging the horse so hard. 

The Times wrote about Watson’s win in the first running of the Jerome Stakes in 1866: “Although he gave it a semblance of a race, he quitted them whe he liked and won hands down in 1:48. (The Jerome is still being run at Aqueduct, by the way, with Kelso, Housebuster and Fusaichi Pegasus among its winners.) 

We’re getting an awful lot of terms from baseball, horse racing and boxing. These were the three most popular sports in the United States in the first part of the 20th century. And they required a big vocabulary. 

“Wheelhouse, Strong Suit and Forte” 

Something about a person’s strongest interest or ability seems to attract sports terms. 

Wheelhouse comes from baseball: the area in which a batter feels most comfortable hitting the ball. Strong suit is from card games. And forte? Believe it or not, it’s a fencing term. The forte is the stronger part of a sword blade. 

“Across the Board” 

People didn’t start using this term to mean “generally or “all inclusively” until the 1940s. But its use in horse racing predated that by 50 years. You can bet on a horse to win, place (second) or show (third). But if you make all three bets, in equal amounts, you are said to be taking the horse “across the board.” Early bookmakers would post odds on a sign or a board. 

Another one from horse racing: Down to the wire. At one time, a wire was strung across the finish line at racetracks. 

“There’s the Rub” 

More Shakespearean sport: When Hamlet says “To sleep — perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub!” by rub, he meant difficulty. The term comes from lawn bowling, of all sports. 

The “rub” is an unevenness in the playing surface that can cause the ball to slow or alter course. 

“The Whole Nine Yards” 

You need 10 yards to get a first down, so why the odd number to express going all the way? It turns out that while this sure sounds like a term from sports, it’s not. The Oxford England Dictionary reports that it comes from a 19th century comic story told in Indiana and Kentucky. 

In 1855, The New Albany Daily Ledger of Indiana spun the tale, ending with the punch line: “I told her to get just enough to make three shirts; instead of making three, she has put the whole nine yards into one shirt!” 

(They loved that gag back in the day.) 

You want to go the whole nine yards on this term? The Times had two whole articles on the subject in 2013, raising a host of other possibilities as well. 

“The Big Apple” 

In the 19th century, people with a lot of certainty about something might have said that they were willing to “bet a big apple” on it. Perhaps that helped extend the use to horse racing, and New York’s racing circuit, the most prominent in the country, came to be known by the term. 

“The Big Apple,” The Morning Telegraph wrote in 1924. “The dream of every lad that ever threw a leg over a thoroughbred and the goal of all horsemen. There’s only one Big Apple. That’s New York.” 

Soon all of New York had picked up the name.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Thought for the Day

OPW continued: They Walk Among Us and They Breed


Today’s contribution is from Michael J, who sent links to the items below. Those items illustrate the truth of a statement attributed to Albert Einstein but unlikely to have been said by him: 

Thanks, Michael.


My daughter and I went through the McDonald's driveway window and I gave the cashier a $5 bill. 
Our total was $4.25, so I also handed her 25c. 
She said, 'you ...gave me too much money.' 
I said, 'Yes I know, but this way you can just give me a dollar coin back.' 
She sighed and went to get the manager who asked me to repeat my request. 
I did so, and he handed me back the 25c, and said 'We're sorry but we don’t do that kind of thing.' 
The cashier then proceeded to give me back 75 cents in change. 
Do not confuse the people at MacD's. 

We had to have the garage door repaired. 
The repairman told us that one of our problems was that we did not have a 'large' enough motor on the opener. 
I thought for a minute, and said that we had the largest one made at that time, a 1/2 horsepower. 
He shook his head and said, 'You need a 1/4 horsepower.' 
I responded that 1/2 was larger than 1/4 and he said, 'NOOO, it's not. Four is larger than two.' 
We haven't used that repairman since... 

I live in a semi rural area. 
We recently had a new neighbor call the local city council office to request the removal of the DEAR CROSSING sign on our road. 
The reason: 'Too many dears are being hit by cars out here! I don't think this is a good place for them to be crossing anymore.' 

My daughter went to a Mexican fast food and ordered a taco. 
She asked the person behind the counter for 'minimal lettuce.' 
He said he was sorry, but they only had iceberg lettuce. 

I was at the airport, checking in at the gate when an airport employee asked, 
'Has anyone put anything in your baggage without your knowledge?' 
To which I replied, 'If it was without my knowledge, how would I know?' 
He smiled knowingly and nodded, 'That's why we ask.' 

The pedestrian light on the corner beeps when it's safe to cross the street. 
I was crossing with an 'intellectually challenged' co-worker of mine. 
She asked if I knew what the beeper was for. 
I explained that it signals blind people when the light is red. 
Appalled, she responded, 'what on earth are blind people doing driving?!' 
She is a government employee..... 

When my husband and I arrived at a car dealership to pick up our car after a service, we were told the keys had been locked in it. 
We went to the service department and found a mechanic working feverishly to unlock the driver’s side door. 
As I watched from the passenger side, I instinctively tried the door handle and discovered that it was unlocked. 
‘Hey,' I announced to the technician, 'its open!' 
His reply, 'I know. I already did that side. 


Thomas Cook Holidays listing some of their UK genuine complaints. 

"I think it should be explained in the brochure that the local store in Indian villages does not sell proper biscuits like custard creams or ginger nuts." 

"It's lazy of the local shopkeepers to close in the afternoons. I often needed to buy things during 'siesta' time -- this should be banned." 

"On my holiday to Goa in India , I was disgusted to find that almost every restaurant served curry. I don't like spicy food at all." 

"We booked an excursion to a water park but no-one told us we had to bring our swimming costumes and towels." 

"The beach was too sandy." 

"We found the sand was not like the sand in the brochure. Your brochure shows the sand as yellow but it was white." 

"Topless sunbathing on the beach should be banned. The holiday was ruined as my husband spent all day looking at other women." 

"No-one told us there would be fish in the sea. The children were startled." 

"There was no egg-slicer in the apartment." 

"We went on holiday to Spain and had a problem with the taxi drivers as they were all Spanish." 

"The roads were uneven.." 

"It took us nine hours to fly home from Jamaica to England . It took the Americans only three hours to get home." 

"I compared the size of our one-bedroom apartment to our friends' three-bedroom apartment and ours was significantly smaller." 

"The brochure stated: 'No hairdressers at the accommodation'. We're trainee hairdressers -- will we be OK staying there?" 

"There are too many Spanish people. The receptionist speaks Spanish. The food is Spanish. Too many foreigners now live abroad." 

"We had to queue outside with no air-conditioning." 

"It is your duty as a tour operator to advise us of noisy or unruly guests before we travel." 

"I was bitten by a mosquito. No-one said they could bite." 

"My fiancé and I booked a twin-bedded room but we were placed in a double-bedded room. We now hold you responsible for the fact that I find myself pregnant. This would not have happened if you had put us in the room that we booked."