The Suitcase Lady

Zebras

May 7, 2019, 9:58 pm

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What do you visualize if I say “zebra crossing”? My first impression at hearing this term was of a herd of zebras crossing a road. That, however, was incorrect. A zebra crossing is the name given a pedestrian crossing of painted white stripes on the roadway. We’ve all walked on them thousands of times.

Recently there has been an ingenious, eye-popping twist given to the traditional zebra crossing: it’s gone 3D. Credit goes to two women artists in India, and I’m guessing more than a few road engineers wish they had come up with this clever idea.

Saumya Pandya Thakkar and her daughter Shakuntala Pandyaand painted a 3D illusion of a roadblock on a highway in Ahmedabadas  in response to the alarming number of road accidents and fatalities in India. From a distance, their tromp l’oeil artwork appears to rise out of the street like roadblocks. However, the illusion begins to fade when the driver comes closer, an important factor so drivers won’t suddenly slam on their brakes.

Optical illusion zebra crossings are now being tried in London, Iceland,  New Zealand and China. Initial findings are that the tricky artwork is helping to make crossings safer for pedestrians. Drivers may get a benefit as well. Large “roadblocks” looming out of the approaching pavement tend to wake up tired or inattentive motorists.

Check out these variations of hybrid zebras.

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Rich

April 30, 2019, 8:35 am

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My husband and I are news junkies and frequently exchange tidbits of information that we think will be of interest to one another. The other day my guy remarked that poor Mrs. Bezos really got a bad divorce settlement only ending up with $36 billion dollars. I replied that I thought this should cover her bills and what exactly did he find lacking in their agreement?

His reply was that Mr. Bezos, the world’s richest person, got 75% of all their jointly owned Amazon stock plus sole voting power. In addition, Mrs. Bezos handed over all her interest in The Washington Post and Blue Origin, Jeff’s space flight company. Shabby, I admit, but the settlement made MacKenzie Bezos the 3rd richest woman in the world. Her shoe money is intact.

After this exchange, we both wondered out loud who were the two women that outrank  Mrs. Amazon in wealth. The oracle was consulted and the ladies are:

1.Frances Bettencourt Meyers – L’Oreal cosmetics heiress

She is a stellar example of where makeup will get a girl.

2. Alice Walton – Walmart heiress

Art lover that I am, I cannot bring myself to visit her art museum, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art,  where the masterpieces were bought with the money saved by paying minimum wages and giving no benefits to the employees.

The 4th richest woman, whose wealth is almost equal to Mrs. Bezos’, is Jacqueline Mars. Have you guessed what made her fortune? Candy bars. Her grandfather started what is now the world’s largest candy company.

The fact that a small handful of people on the planet have more individual wealth than many entire countries is surreal. But there is a lot of surreal stuff going on these days. Since money increasingly rules as Democracy fails, you might be interested in knowing who is running things at the moment. Check out the Bloomberg Billionaire’s Index. It is published daily to reflect the day’s stock market changes.

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Jordi

April 23, 2019, 9:37 pm

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I am ecstatic. Hopeless romantic that I am, I have recently discovered another Valentine’s Day to celebrate. And this holiday combines romance with books and roses…..what could possibly be better? Even the setting is wondrous, as it takes place in Barcelona.

St. Jordi’s Day is the name of the event which is celebrated on April 23, the day of  St. Jordi’s death in 303 A.D. The Catalan name for St. George is Sant Jordi, and he is the patron saint of Catalonia. Legend has it that the good Saint slew a dragon to save a princess and then plucked a red rose for the princess from a rose bush that magically sprouted from where the dragon’s blood had spilled. The holiday is also known as El Dia de la Rosa (Rose Day) and El Dia los Amantes (Lover’s Day).

World Book Day is also celebrated in Barcelona simultaneously with the St. Jordi’s Day festivities.  This juxtaposition came about as both William Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes also died on April 23.

Las Ramblas, the famous Main Street in Barcelona, turns into a sea of stalls selling books and roses on the holiday. Many of the stalls sell flowers and books to support charities, and the city council has a program that distributes roses to the elderly, as love isn’t only for the young.

The order of the day is for men to give a red rose to their lady and the women to reciprocate with a book. The red roses are decorated with a sprig of wheat and a tiny Catalonia flag which is four red stripes on a gold background. An amazing 7 million roses are sold on this most romantic of days.

And, of course, no holiday is celebrated without food. So along with the romance, roses and books, the Catalonians eat cake, special St. Jordi Day cakes.

 

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Peachy

April 16, 2019, 10:17 pm

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Have you ever been in Atlanta? If not, consider visiting some April when this hilly, heavily planted city displays its best (in the words of a native) “swagger”. Flamboyant flowers are everywhere; dogwoods, azaleas, camellias and redbuds to name but a few. A visit to this floral Mecca will not disappoint.

BUT……be careful as you navigate around Atlanta. These folks (and I do love them) are masters of the southern gotcha. With a polite courteous smile, they will tell you that something is located on Peachtree Street. What they don’t tell you is that 71 streets in Atlanta are named Peachtree. There are lanes, roads, boulevards, ways, wests, olds, lanes and the list goes on and on.

The worst gotcha is that big downtown Peachtree Street that has another Peachtree Street running parallel to it just two blocks west. And, of course, with 71 different Peachtrees, they are constantly crisscrossing each other. Finding yourself on the corner of Peachtree and Peachtree is a distinct possibility.

Historians agree that the first Peachtree was an Indian Trail that stretched from Fort Daniel in Northeast Georgia to a place called Standing Pitch Tree by the Creek Indians. Some historians claim that over time the settlers morphed “pitch tree” into “peachtree”, thus making all those Peachtree streets a misnomer. It is a fact that there are more streets named Peachtree than actual peach trees in the city of Atlanta.

And, finally, even though Georgia does grow succulent peaches and sports a large peach on their license plates, California is America’s top peach producing state. Georgia comes in third after South Carolina. However, Georgia is the leader in the production of another fruit, and I would not have guessed this one…….it’s blueberries.

I doubt that all those Peachtree Streets will be renamed Blueberry Lanes. The Georgians are just having too much fun being peachy.

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Tengu

April 9, 2019, 9:04 pm

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Tengu is a hugely popular supernatural creature in Japan. He is said to live deep in mountain forests, have the ability to fly, create storms, stir up trouble and indulge his wicked sense of humor. Tengu’s most distinctive feature is his long nose of which he is exceedingly proud.

These wily characters are known for their arrogance. In fact, the Japanese phrase, “Tengu ni Naru” (becoming a tengu) is used to describe a conceited person.

Whenever anything strange or mysterious occurs, the Japanese attribute it to Tengu. He is especially blamed when a person suddenly disappears. Children are warned to be good or be carried off to the mountains by Tengu. In other words, he’s a beloved trickster and a scapegoat.

However, I recently read about the tables being turned and a trick being played on Tengu. The culprit was snow. Here are the details.

A giant head of Tengu in Kyoto has a nose that is 7.5 feet long. It is an extremely popular attraction at the Kurama-deri Temple. But a rare, heavy snowfall in Kyoto caused his nose to break off completely. The folks in Kyoto responded to his injury immediately.

First, he was given emergency first aid, a large bandaid. Then, a sign was put up next to him saying, “Under medical treatment”. Two months later his shiny new nose was completed and he is back to making mischief.

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