Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Great Wall of China - Underwater

Three hours north of Beijing lies a very different part of the Great Wall of China - a part that is underwater. Mathieu Meur, the expedition photographer, and a team of divers, managed to capture photos of this section of the wall, despite technical difficulties. The wall begins 13 meters below the surface and extends down to 35 meters, with uncomfortable temperatures and murky water to boot. For more on their dive, as well as to see one of the photos they captured, visit's website here.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Ninjas Vs. Muggers

One of my favorite hobbies and lifetime pursuits is karate and kobudo, two Okinawan styles of martial arts. After practicing for eight years now, I am always delighted to hear stories of how martial arts can be applied in the real world. Leave it to's Weird section to regale me with a story of how a few students at a Ninja dojo in Sydney dissuaded some muggers from their task at hand. Great job to those students!

Read the story here.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Colosseum Collapse

Thankfully no tourists are allowed in the Colosseum just before dawn. Last Sunday, a chunk of mortar came falling down, buckling the netting whose job it was to protect the tourists below. Sadly this is not the first time this has happened in Rome (or in many other places in the world). Parts of Nero's Palace and the Palatine have also crumbled, and Rome is scrambling for the dollars to be able to fix these monuments before someone is seriously injured, or killed. In light of Sunday's collapse, a $8.4 million emergency restoration plan has been put in place.

"This ambitious project, set to begin later this month, again includes a much-needed exterior cleaning and replacement of key support structures - including new metal bands that hold some of the marble in place. Stone archways will be reinforced and safety netting under the fragile ancient ceilings will be updated. The area around the Colosseum will also be cordoned off, and pedestrian traffic near the monument will be restricted in case of further collapse during the work. In 2000, the city of Rome installed a gladiator exhibit on the second tier, complete with elevator and gift shop. Now, the museum and elevator will likely be removed, and parts of the ancient ampitheater will be permanently closed to the public. Plans to open the third tier and the subterranean tunnel system to attract even more visitors were also in the works before last Sunday's collapse. Those areas will likely now never be accessible to the public."

Read the entire article on here.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Virginia's Living Museum

One of a zoo's primary purposes upon their creation was to show a world of fantastical creatures from abroad so that pampered nobles never had to leave their homes. Despite the fact that zoos are now visited more by the general public than the elite, that main purpose has remained much the same. But what about the flora and fauna in your own backyard? With the trend towards expansionism, more animals flock to unusual locations causing the only time you see them when they are sadly laid out on the highway after their unfortunate demise.

That's where places such as the Virginia Living Museum come in. Located in Newport News, this museum focuses solely on the flora and fauna of Virginia. All of the animals were/are injured or bred in captivity and unable to live on their own in the wild. Separate areas inside the building are devoted to Virginia's multi-faceted eco-systems, specializing in trees and the aquatic side, including a veritable load of turtles. Outside is an extensive boardwalk/nature trail where you find yourself looking down upon sleeping foxes, climbing up rocks to view river otters at play, and wandering through marshy waters to view pelicans in the aviary as well as turtles who have made the greater museum area their home. If you've always wanted to touch one of these furry creatures from the wild in a safe manner, you might have that opportunity as well. Volunteers routinely take some of the critters out to be introduced to the public, and there's nothing as infectious as a swarm of schoolchildren clamoring that they've just touched their first skunk.

When you pay the entrance fee, you support these animals, these programs, and numerous conservation efforts. Now that's a place I don't mind paying to get into.

Visit the museum's website here.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Month of May

Most people in the Western Hemisphere associate the month of May with flowers, springtime, longer days, and general happiness. The most commonly held belief is that May takes its name from Maia, the Roman goddess of springtime, growth and increase. In pagan lore, it is the month of the sacred marriage of the Goddess and God, and in Christian, John, describes it as the month where light triumphs over darkness. But did you know that May was also considered a very unlucky month, or that it is associated with cows? The Mystical World Wide Web put together an impressive array of May lore, from pagan to Christian roots, to its association with the zodiac.

Learn something new about the month of May here.