Hot, muggy weather returned to my realm this past weekend, and with it came an abundance of wildlife.
Yesterday, while spending the day with Daughter No. 4, we caught four turtles, one rat snake, one glass lizard, wildflowers galore, and, the highlight of the day, a baby turkey, or poult.
(Of course, we rang up a big fat zero on the day’s stated goal: catching fish.)
Now, no offense to aficionados of turtles, snakes or glass lizards, but catching the baby turkey was definitely the highlight.
While driving in a rural part of a rural county toward mid-afternoon we spied a hen on the side of the road. My daughter also caught sight of several youngsters, so I stopped the car and set off into the underbrush while she grabbed the camera.
The hen immediately began clucking and trotting in large circles around me, trying to draw me away from her babies. My daughter began taking pictures every time the hen ventured near her while I crouched in the brush stock still, trying to catch sight or sound of the youngsters.
It has been said that we in Western society have at our fingertips access to the most powerful technology ever devised – and that we use it largely for viewing cat photos and getting sports updates.
Well, that’s not 100 percent correct. The same amazing technology that allows some to zip cat pictures to friends and family via email, cell phone or some other hi-tech means can also be used to send embarrassing photos of people and cats, thereby doing society a service by helping identify potential serial killers, the utterly deranged or good old-fashioned oddballs.
The delightfully titled website I Don’t Need Anger Management, You Just Need to Shut Up has compiled an array of photos titled “The Absolute Worst Pictures of Men and Cats.”
After perusing the 18 images that were selected, I can’t say that I disagree with any of the choices.
I would add that it’s readily apparent why some men are unable to find women to marry, or even date.
A couple of caveats: I have nothing against cats. I actually like cats; my family had several while I was growing up and we got along famously.
One hundred years ago this fall philosopher and Nobel Prize-winning writer Albert Camus was born in French Algeria.
Although best known today for his work The Stranger, Camus wrote several important books, was involved in the French Resistance during World War II and was an active human rights proponent.
The second-youngest recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature, after Rudyard Kipling, Camus died in car crash in January 1960 at age 46, less than three years after winning the award.
One of Camus’ masterpieces is The Plague, a 1947 novel set in the Algerian city of Oran.
In Camus’ work, an outbreak of bubonic plague sweeps the coastal community, which is sealed off as a health measure, trapping hundreds of thousands for months as the death toll steadily mounts.
The Plague ponders the vagaries of fate and the conflict between man’s innate tendency to seek inherent value and meaning in life, even when none may exist.
The Getty Museum of Los Angeles has enlarged its Rembrandt collection by adding a famous self-portrait of one of the key figures of the Dutch Golden Age.
Rembrandt Laughing, seen above, is a small oil-on-copper work probably done around 1628. It came onto the art market in 2007 after spending centuries as part of private collections.
“Painted when Rembrandt was a young, newly independent artist, possibly the third self-portrait of his career, Rembrandt Laughing exemplifies his signature spirited, confident handling of paint and natural ability to convey emotion,” Scott Schaefer, senior curator of paintings at the Getty Museum, said. “It is a measure of the artist’s consummate skill that the dynamism of his pose and the act of laughing translates into a painting of tremendous visual impact, far exceeding its modest dimensions.”
Rembrandt Laughing was originally believed to be the work of a contemporary of the noted Dutch artist. It had belonged to an English family for approximately 100 years before they decided to sell it in 2007.
An initial valuation of $3,100 skyrocketed when researchers confirmed that the 8 3/4-inch x 6 5/8-inch work was an actual Rembrandt, and the painting sold for $4.5 million later that year.
What the 34.65-carat pink diamond known as “Princie” lacks in elegant nomenclature it makes up for with decidedly upscale value.
The diamond, first discovered about 300 years ago in the Golconda mines in southern India, was auctioned by Chrisitie’s in New York for $39.3 million earlier this month.
The diamond drew just two bidders, with action starting at $20 million and continuing for only two minutes, according to Bloomberg.
The winning bid came from Francois Curiel, international head of jewelry at Christie’s and president of Christie’s Asia, bidding on behalf of an anonymous client.
“The gem is considered one of the four most celebrated pink diamonds in the world,” according to Bloomberg. “It was first recorded in the holdings of the Nizam, or monarch, of Hyderabad, India, according to Christie’s.”
It was last sold in 1960, for nearly $71,000 during a London auction.
In addition to tens of thousands of lives, the ongoing civil war in Syria has now claimed the minaret of one of the world’s most picturesque mosques.
The 145-foot-high minaret of the Umayyad Mosque in the city of Aleppo, dating back to 1090, was destroyed Wednesday during fighting between the Syrian army and rebel forces.
The mosque, also known as the Great Mosque, was founded by the Umayyad Caliphate in 715 on the site of a Byzantine church. It had to be rebuilt after being damaged by a fire in 1159, and again following the Mongol invasion in 1260, according to the BBC.
However, the minaret was oldest surviving part of the structure.
In addition, other parts of the mosque complex – much of which date from the 1200s – have been badly damaged by gunfire and artillery shells.
A handful of wooden synagogues, among the last vestiges of Lithuania’s thriving pre-World War II Jewish culture, are crumbling because of a lack of money and support.
Lithuania has barely more than a dozen wooden synagogues remaining, dating between the late 19th century and the 1930s.
They are unused today and falling apart, victims in part of abuse and neglect during the Soviet era.
“Their state of disrepair struck me,” said Gilles Vuillard, a Lithuania-based French artist who has depicted them in his work over the past few years. “Most often people didn’t even know where they were located anymore, yet they are witness to a unique cultural heritage.”
Lithuania’s pre-war Jewish population was approximately 210,000. Of that, an estimated 195,000, or more than 90 percent, were murdered by the Nazis following their invasion of the Baltics in June 1941.
Most of the small number who survived the Holocaust moved to Israel after the war.
Most Jews in Lithuania today arrived after 1945 and have little to no historical connection to the wooden synagogues.
The Canadian penny is showing it’s not going down without a fight.
Nearly two months after the Royal Canadian Mint stopped distributing the one-cent piece, the coin continues to circulate, causing some confusion north of the border.
That’s because when government officials announced the mint would end the penny’s run after more than 150 years, many people thought the cent would no longer be used.
But that’s not quite the case, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.
“Businesses don’t have to turn over the pennies they collect to the bank and they can decide if they want to keep using Canada’s smallest currency, even though it’s not being produced,” the CBC reported.
Pennies still remain legal tender in Canada, it added.
A research team led by underwater archaeologists from the South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology began searching this week for a revenue cutter that exploded in Charleston Harbor 200 years ago.
The US Revenue Cutter Gallatin came ashore on April 1, 1813, in Charleston, where its crew took on supplies and prepared for their next mission. Apparently, a spark reached the ship’s powder store because shortly after 11 a.m., the Gallatin was blown apart.
Despite the devastating impact of the explosion, which killed three crew members and seriously injured five others, researchers believe there’s a chance relics from the vessel may still be recoverable after two centuries, according to the Charleston Post and Courier.
“Personal effects or artifacts that represent the state of South Carolina’s coastal defenses might ‘give a glimpse of the War of 1812 through the actual archaeological record,’” Jim Spirek, an underwater archaeologist at the S.C. Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology, told the newspaper.
Spirek, however, is cautious. After 200 years, during which the city’s waterfront has been greatly altered, the odds of finding the cutter seem daunting.
“The initial plan calls for dragging a side-scan sonar device behind a boat while looking for sunken ‘anomalies’ in the muck,” the Post and Courier reported. “If something of curiosity is found, for example, a collection of ballast stones, divers would go into the water for a closer look. The ship’s cannons were reported to have been recovered shortly after the disaster, so they aren’t on the menu.”