Friday, January 29, 2010

Future Archaeology Digs on the Moon?

Apollo 11's journey home involved the transport of moon rocks and soil samples. In order to make room for the weight of these objects, the crew was forced to abandon a veritable treasure trove of space goodies from cameras, space boots, armrests, and even bags of human waste. There are a growing amount of sites around the world awarded some type of protection so that history does not become, well, history. But until now, this protection has been limited to this planet. That may be about to change, for California is to be the first state to register the items from Trinity Base as as official State Historical Resource. Can archaeological digs in space be a part of our future? Once can only hope.

Read the full article in the Los Angeles Times here.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Pregnancy Myths Around the World

With the sheer number of friends and co-workers that are turning up pregnant, I thought I would take a look at pregnancy myths and advise from around the world. Here are some of the more flavorful words of wisdom:

* Many Japanese women are told not to look at fire while pregnant, or their child will be born with a birthmark

* A tip of a rainbow upon your house foretells the impending birth of a baby boy

* If you're Portuguese, you may be advised to eat cucumbers if you want a boy, and an apple if you want a girl. The trick is in the shape of the food.

* But if you're Spanish, don't eat cucumbers, or you could give your child a healthy dose of "the wind"

* In Ancient Egypt, most women delivered their babies by kneeling or squatting on the ground

* In many African cultures, you don't want anyone rubbing your stomach, it's akin to someone trying to steal your baby

* Australian aborigines believed that if you stood under mistletoe, a child's spirit would drop into you and you would become pregnant

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Tempest Rising by Nicole Peeler

With the plethora of vampires, werewolves and witches taking over the urban fantasy market, I was once again happy to see a heroine of a different sort - a selkie. Selkies are primarily found in Irish and Scottish lore and are often depicted as women who shed their seal skins to become human, if only for enough time to find a human mate before returning to the sea.

Jane True is the product of one of these unions, and as such has never had an easy time living in her little podunk town where everyone knows everything about everybody. What she doesn't realize, is that the supernatural are all around her in the form of the usual vampires and shapeshifters, but also gnomes, and other spirits not often visited in the paranormal realm. Following Jane's story as she learns her true identity, and that of her other townsfolk is lighthearted and fun, especially due to Jane's frequent internal ramblings about her libido and her common sense. And of course, there's Ryu, the strong, sexy vampiric hero whose darkness juxtaposes Jane's lightness quite easily. Ryu is Jane's tourguide through the supernatural, and between him and Jane's steadfast friend Anyan, Jane will undoubtedly have many decisions to make in future books in the series.

If you're fond of the Sookie Stackhouse series, and looking for something to distract you until the next book in the series, this is a definite must read.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Trip Report: Oxford's Christ Church

It feels a bit like a castle walking through the buildings of Christ Church, yellowing stone walls, uneven pavement, and drafty halls. But it's actually a thriving college, full of student life and activity. For eight pounds, I decided to take a closer look at Christ Church, one of Oxford's most well known colleges, and its largest, and home to the creative mind of pen-named writer Lewis Carroll. Portions of the well-known Harry Pottery movies have been filmed here as well.

Many parts of the college are off-limits to visitors in order to keep the students hassle-free, however, the parts that visitors are able to access are a treat in and of themselves. Stickin
g to the tour route, which is marked as well as described in your pamphlet, the first place you visit is The Hall, where students continue to eat today. Castle life springs to mind with long wooden tables and benches stretching out before you and large stained glass masterpieces letting in a rainbow of color. The lighting fixtures above are candle-laden iron monstrosities which only add to the charm. The walls are bedecked with the Who's Who of Christ Church, including a portrait of Elizabeth I and Henry VIII. One of the windows has the characters from "Alice in Wonderland" dancing across the bottom, and a small door set in the wall in the front of the hall set the stage for the white rabbit's escape.

Other places you visit on your tour include Christ Church Cathedral, much of which is
built in late Norman style. This was originally the priory of St. Frideswide, the patron saint of Oxford. Her shrine still stands here today, and in the past, it was a major pilgrimage site. The stained glass windows here are stunning, and at its center is a rose window that makes you catch your breath. Within the Cathedral are numerous tombs which are worth a look for their eloquent language and carvings alone.

Leaving the Cathedral, there are several beautiful photo opportunities of the different quads, perfectly cut grass and cobble-stoned pathways before you. The largest quad comes complete with a Hermes statue about to take flight. On the way out, don't miss the tree hanging over the wall. It was here that the dean's daughter's cat played, the cat which eventually became the Cheshire Cat from "Alice in Wonderland". And after leaving Christ Church's beautiful grounds, you may even join him in a toothy grin.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Trip Report: Bath's Vegetarian Pub "The Porter"

Billed as Bath's only vegetarian pub, The Porter has a lot to offer. First, it's not far from the main tourist attractions (in fact, it's on the way to the Circus and Royal Crescent). Second, it's easy to spot. Third, it has lunch specials for only five quid which include a drink. But it's the charm and the delicious food of this place that made my husband and I eat here twice on our visit.

The Porter has your typical pub fare: sandwiches, toasties, pies, jacket potatoes and chips galore. For lunch I tried the cheese and chutney toastie with a side of chips. Simple and delicious, the toastie came with a spot of salad and cole slaw, a nice creamy accompaniment. I tried the golden hare, one of the local brews on tap and found it light and refreshing. For dinner, I opted for my first welsh rarebit, vegetarian style. The Porter's rarebit is served on perfectly warmed naan bread with a hint of curry. With a plate of chips with freshly shredded cheese and a half pint of cider, I was a happy woman. My husband tried out the mushroom pie. Although the filling was a bit too mushy for my taste, the pie itself was a flaky delight. It came served with hand mashed potatoes. He taste tested the four cheese pizza for dinner, and this came Italian style, thin-crust with generous portions of cheese.

The Porter also has live music, open mic nights and stand-up comedy on Sundays in their cellar, all of which are free. Sadly we weren't around long enough to partake, but if I ever visit Bath again, I'm going back and you'll see me in the cellar, cider in hand.

See the menu and learn more about The Porter here.