I’d go the whole wild world

Recently one morning on Facebook they had one of those quizzes where they listed about 50 places and then asked how many you had been to and people were saying 11, 15 etc and I don’t pay much attention to these because they then tailor ads to you based on your answers and I feel they know enough about me as it is.  But it did get me wondering, so I added up the places mentioned and I had been to 30 of them which I didn’t think was that bad (I didn’t put this answer down however).  This of course led me to wonder how many places I haven’t been to and would like to go which eventually led to me trying to figure out how many countries and continents there were in the world.  I’m sure your day starts the same way, right?

You don’t have to google this as I will provide the necessary facts.

There are seven continents:  North America, South America, Asia, Australia, Europe, Africa and Antartica though there is debate on whether Europe and Asia should be listed as one (Eurasia) as it is one large land mass.  There are also proponents of Oceania and New Zealand (Zelandia) but generally speaking just the seven.  Naturally, I was curious to see how many countries there were and unexpectedly opened a can of worms here!

For instance, my husband is from Scotland and they have been trying to become independent for centuries, the same applies to Ireland but they are not really countries but part of the U.K.  Taiwan, Tibet and Kosovo are similarly independent but tied to a sovereign country and not recognized by the UN – Greenland is not a country but a part of Denmark – who knew?  Geography is fascinating for me now but when I was in school I used to think what’s the point of studying this when I likely won’t ever leave Canada.  How wrong I was!

Below is a list of other places that lots of people consider countries but all belong to an actual sovereign member state.

  • Hong Kong (rightly or wrongly, China)
  • Macau (China)
  • Tibet (China)
  • Northern Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales (the UK)
  • French Guiana (France)
  • Puerto Rica (US)
  • Lots of the Caribbean (BVI, Guadelope, Aruba, USVI, Cayman Islands, Turks and Caicos, Anguilla, Saint Martin and more)
  • Reunion Island (France)
  • French Polynesia (France)
  • American Samoa (US)
  • Canary Islands (Spain)
  • Madeira (Portugal)
  • Faroe Islands (part of Denmark)
  • Gibraltar (part of the UK)
  • Greenland (part of Denmark)
  • The Arctic (belongs partly to Norway, Denmark, Canada, the US and Russia)
  • The Falklands (part of the UK)
  • French Polynesia (part of France)
  • Guam (US)
  • Tahiti (French Polynesia, and therefore France. Same for Bora Bora!)

To keep things simple though, you can generally say there are about 200 countries (including territories) in the world depending upon your source of information.

According to the UN there are 195 but the chart below shows other governing bodies with different criteria.   To see full explanations please click on link below
Countries in the World

 

How Many Countries Are There in the World?

After pondering on this for awhile, I realized I haven’t really been anywhere in the larger scheme of things but I intend to keep on travelling as long as I’m able and discovering the beauty, culture and peoples of other places different from myself in order to gain a better understanding of them and me.  If you are lucky in life you never stop growing or being curious.  As much as I may dislike change ( I prefer being comfortable and safe), it is ultimately more rewarding to take risks and embrace change.  I think that now I would get far better grades in Geography than I did in school.  To those who love travel – Happy Trails!  Good luck on working your way through this list!

Truisms regarding Fluffy!

Sleeman at Christmas Rose Street     Today I have been contemplating the nature of cats.  I would like to point out some obvious truisms that you didn’t really think about when you went out and purchased or adopted one of these adorable creatures of the feline persuasion.

The first is…you may think what your cat is saying is meow but in truth they are saying “NOW”.  They don’t mean in a minute when they want your attention, they have no idea what patience is; for them, it is right here, right now and when you finally do bring them their saucer of milk or treat or whatever which took all of 1/20th of a second to get for them they have this look of “what took you so long” and proceed to stare at the milk like they have never seen anything like it, before partaking – each and every day!

When you lay down for a nap, which I do almost every day to rejuvenate myself and carry on for the rest of the day and you call them to come up and have a nap with you they will wait until about ten minutes before you have to get up to come up and cuddle on your shoulder and settle down into this sleeping little angel that you now have to quietly extract yourself from so you don’t wake them up when they could have been sleeping with you the whole time.  In some instances, they will get there first and you have to find an area where they are not stretched out to park yourself so as not to encroach on their territory.  Regardless of whether you have a double bed or a king bed they will take up 3/4’s of it and you will be lucky to get 1/4.

They like order just like a sergeant in the army likes discipline in their troops.  They have trained us very well to be of service to their each and every need.  Who else gets a daily massage every morning when they first get up.  My husband has a massage once a month to get the kinks out, our cat – every day and not just once a day either.   Sometimes once from each of us and then again from me in the afternoon.  Is it any wonder when sleeping they snore contentedly.

No matter what elaborate cat toy or furniture you buy for them, they will prefer the box it came out of.  Sometimes if I leave the kitchen cabinet door open, I will find the cat asleep on top of the linens and that cat bed you bought sits in the basement downstairs gathering dust.

Smokey's Gloria SwansonWhen you hear your cat gagging and rush over to pick her up to put her on the concrete or wooden floor she will hack her hairball or dinner on the carpet where it is not as easily cleaned up as if she planned it all along and then look at you with those big, innocent eyes as if she’s done nothing wrong.

And still you love them because when they want to they love you too!

The art of Nick Park and Peter Lord

Chicken runAardman Animations was co-founded in 1972 by David Sproxton and Peter Lord in Bristol, England and are famous worldwide for their Wallace and Gromit features.  Nick Park who joined them won Aardman Animations first Oscar with “Creature Comforts”. Until Chicken Run, the focus of Aardman Animations had been animated shorts and TV commercials. Three of Aardman’s animated shorts have won Academy Awards for “Best Animated Short.” This includes “Creature Comforts (above),” “The Wrong Trousers,” and “A Close Shave.”

In Chicken Run a total of 534 puppets were made with 16 Gingers (heroine) and 12 Rockys (hero). Each puppet costs around £3,000 to make.

Chicken Run took 3 1/2 years to complete and the research into the film included a visit to a chicken farm in Yorkshire.  In case you don’t remember Chicken Run which came out in 2000 it is loosely based on “The Great Escape” – you know the movie where prisoners of war in Germany are digging all these tunnels and Steve McQueen is flying around on a motorcycle.

Chicken Run is an animation film wherein the characters are painstakingly created out of clay and filmed in a stop motion sequence where they take a shot, move the arm or change the expression and then take another shot of film.  It is something that I would never have the patience for but I certainly admire the talent and the process involved.

In Chicken Run, audiences will notice that nearly every chicken wears some sort of scarf or necklace. While this method served well to help identify each chicken, it served a more important purpose of hiding the seams from where the heads of the chickens detach. Each chicken had up to 60 different beaks to properly recreate vowel and consonant sounds for realistic talking. Like the chickens, the humans had a series of detachable mouths to properly recreate speech patterns. Forty animators worked on the film to bring the chickens to life and the process is highly time consuming.  Consider that one second of film requires 24 frames.  Aardman had to shoot one frame at a time with the chickens being animated in each frame for seamless transition of movement….so, for just ten seconds of film, Aardman had to worry about 240 individual frames.  One minute of film is 1,440 frames long.  They also had to be diligent about lighting, synchronization, speed, camera control, shadows, etc.  One scene could take weeks to accomplish.

And that my friends is where the art comes in because as a member of the audience you are not even aware of all this work – you are caught up in the action, the characters and the story being told just like any Bruce Willis Die Hard, Transformer, Iron Man movies – ONLY WITH CHICKENS.

Trivia note:  Mrs. Tweedy, the ‘villainous’ of the piece was based on Alan Rickman’s villain in Die Hard apparently.

If you have never seen it, I highly recommend you stream it, rent it, buy it, borrow it, whatever you like and watch it.  If you love animated movies like I do you will thoroughly enjoy it though you might have a little problem with the accents but then that’s why you have subtitles!

 

 

The essence of Life and the oldest health and beauty secret in the world

Just as we need to be able to breathe to survive; we need water!  This elixir of good health is our body’s most important nutrient.  We could live for weeks without food but only four or five days without water.  Water is involved in every bodily process, carrying nutrients, flushing out waste, and keeping body temperature on an even keel.  Drinking the right amount of water is also essential for healthy-looking skin, as it prevents it from drying out.  And best of all, water doesn’t have a single calorie!

Whether it bubbles up from the earth, trickles down a mountainside, or gushes from a tap, water is preventative medicine, the major treatment for colds and sore throats, and an analgesic.  Internally and externally, hot and cold – even icy; water is healthy stuff.

Spanish conquistador Juan Ponce de Leon is renowned for his purported pursuit of the fountain of youth which many thought a magical water source supposedly capable of reversing the aging process and curing sickness.  Tales of sacred, restorative waters existed well before his birth however.

Relax in the calm blue Caribbean without ever leaving home.  The sea offers health and beauty benefits:  Saltwater causes the lymph glands to excrete toxins, cleansing the skin, and seaweed is a natural defoliant, smoothing away any roughness.

To simulate this in your bath, combine 1/4 cup each sea salt, dried seaweed (available in Asian markets), Epsom salts and baking soda, and pour into a clean dry container.  Makes enough for four baths.  Simply pour 1/4 cup of the mixture into the tub as the water is running.  20 minutes is the ideal soaking time – any longer will dry your skin.

SOME FACTS ON WATER


  1. Roughly 70 percent of an adult’s body is made up of water.
  2. Somewhere between 70 and 75 percent of the earth’s surface is covered with water.
  3. Of all the water on the earth, humans can use only about three tenths of a percent of this water. Such usable water is found in groundwater aquifers, rivers, and freshwater lakes.
  4. The average person in the United States uses anywhere from 80-100 gallons of water per day. Flushing the toilet actually takes up the largest amount of this water.
  5. Water leads to increased energy levels. The most common cause of daytime fatigue is actually mild dehydration.
  6. Drinking adequate amounts of water can decrease the risk of certain types of cancers, including colon cancer, bladder cancer, and breast cancer. For a majority of sufferers, drinking water can significantly reduce joint and/or back pain.
  7. Most people around the world have access to clean drinking water but it is a major problem in poorer areas of the world. Water pollution and low quality water can lead to dangerous bacteria, disease and viruses such as E coli and Cryptosporidium.
  8. The word water usually refers to water in its liquid state. The solid state of water is known as ice while the gas state of water is known as steam or water vapor.
  9. Since the average faucet releases 2 gallons of water per minute, you can save up to four gallons of water every morning by turning off the tap while you brush your teeth.
  10. In developing nations women and girls are primarily responsible for collecting water; on average, 25 percent of their day is spent on this task. Collectively, South African women and children walk a daily distance equivalent to 16 trips to the moon and back to fetch water.
  11. Just 33% of what the world spends on bottled water every year would pay to provide clean water for the 780 million without it.
  12. Want to help preserve and sustain drinking water – stop buying bottled water!  Yes, I know it is convenient – but filtered water from your tap is just as good and doesn’t contribute to the plastic garbage problem in the world.

    Water sports, water filtration plants, hydro-electric waterfalls, saltwater, fresh water, water to beer, bath water, drinking water, water bombs, ice rinks, steam rooms, pools, rain, glaciers, puddles, lakes and streams, irrigation, mud, etc. etc. …water is essential to human existence and nature.  Let’s respect and protect it!

    Personally, I am not particularly looking for the fountain of youth but rather the secret of turning water into wine!


Road Rage – not so much

I have come to realize while driving my car today that I just don’t have the energy for road rage anymore.  Now, once upon a time, I was up there with the Rock (Dwayne Johnson), Jason Statham and that English granny who whacked the hood of this guy’s car with her brolly because he honked at her for crossing the road too slowly and his airbag went off.

I was the one who refused to let you edge into the designated lane as clearly marked 1/2 mile back just because you didn’t feel you should have to wait with the rest of us poor schmucks when you whizzed on past us – yes, I’m talking to you BMW and Lexus drivers – your time is so much more important than the rest of us.  You are the same people that don’t bother to turn on your indicator light to signal a lane change on the freeway, you just do it and we are supposed to psychically know that was your intention.

However, today I didn’t get the least bit perturbed when a guy who was in the left hand advance green lane decided he was going to veer to the right and go straight through the lights for whatever reason I could not discern.  I merely sighed with relief that no one hit him and caused me to be delayed.  At one point in time, I would have at the very least given him the finger.  I’m not sure if this new calm will last or whether it’s because I’m not in a hurry anymore to get where I’m going so I drive in a much more relaxed state of being, not that I do yoga or anything while behind the wheel – I find I do have to pay attention to what is going on around me, and I have performed a few scary maneuvers in my past my own self… but not purposefully…no-body’s perfect!

Perhaps I am maturing finally as there was a time when people pulled bone-head moves on the road that I wished fervently that I had a machine gun installed on the front of my car so that I could blow the tires out and watch the twit try and control the car as it headed toward the guardrail – now we’ll see how well you drive, my friend!  Those were mere fantasies played out in my head, I don’t think I would have carried anything like that out but it is probably a good thing that we don’t carry guns in Canada.

For the present moment you are safe out there on the road doing the stupid crap you do because I am zenned out; unfortunately I’m not sure how long it will last.

1931 Cadillac Fleetwood