THE NEW YEAR THAT IS UPON US
Here we are today at the end of another year. This is the final Interesting Stuff and the final post overall for the year of 2016, which passes into history tonight.
My first inclination was to collect information we will need to pursue our resistance next year. We have a lot of serious work to do in 2017 and need to keep ourselves well educated and up to date.
But then I had a second thought, a better one I think: How about some items that please or amuse me for a variety of reasons - nothing too serious; just a group of things I like that you might enjoy too.
Before we begin, however, here is a thought to keep in mind during all of 2017: It is possible to live in terrible, even frightening political times and still delight in the pleasures great and small of day-to-day life.
Happy New Year, my friends.
240 GREEN LIGHTS
When I first moved to New York City in the late 1960s, my husband and I lived in Riverdale, just beyond the northern tip of Manhattan, and he hosted an all night talk show at a radio station in midtown.
Sometimes, when I would need the car first thing in the morning, I would drive him to his job late in the evening and on my way home, in an almost empty city, I would play a game with myself: how many green lights could I get through on Park Avenue without being stopped by a red one.
The best I ever did was nine in a row.
Noah Forman, the YouTube page tells us, is now a New York City ride-share driver who previously drove a yellow cab. In this video, he attempts a record run at hitting consecutive green lights while driving in Manhattan.
He gets an estimated 240 of them. The video is, in its own way and unrelated to the game, quite mesmerizing. Take a look.
PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE YEAR
Many publications publish the best-phofos-of-the-year at during this final week. The New York Times is no exception and they posted some stunning news photographs that together tell a pretty good story of the 2016.
In January, the seat for Justice Antonin Scalia was draped in black at the Supreme Court after his death on 13 February. (Stephen Crowley/The New York Times)
In April, after nearly a year under the brutal control of Islamic State forces, the city’s celebrated ancient ruins sustained significant, irreparable damage. (Bryan Denton for The New York Times)
In August. Can anyone forget this now-iconimc Omran Daqneesh, age 5, who was rescued after an airstrike. (Mahmoud Raslan/Aleppo Media Center)
You can see many more of the news photographs at The Times.
DR. HEIMLICH DEAD AT AGE 96
More than 20 years ago, maybe even 30, in a restaurant, a friend saved me from a choking death with the famed Heimlich maneuver. By now there are thousands of stories like mine, maybe millions. Surely we all know how to do it:
Earlier this month, Henry Judah Heimlich died at age 96. The New York Times explained in graphic terms how important his maneuver is:
”In the 1970s, choking on food or foreign objects like toys was the sixth-leading cause of accidental death in America: some 4,000 fatalities annually, many of them children.
“A blocked windpipe often left a victim unable to breathe or talk, gesturing wildly to communicate distress that mimicked a heart attack. In four minutes, an oxygen-starved brain begins to suffer irreversible damage. Death follows shortly thereafter.”
Not many of us get to make such an important contribution to the wellbeing of humankind. Hail Dr. Heimlich and godspeed.
You can read the full obituary here.
THE WORLD'S LONGEST TUNNEL JUST OPENED
In the Alps – 35.5 miles which translates to 57 kilometers. It is called the Botthard Base Tunnel. Here's the story:
THE ART OF ROCK BALANCING
This is from the Weather Channel and it is lovely. As it explained:
”In the placid creeks of Boulder, Colorado, you may find alien-looking stacks of rocks, seemingly defying gravity in their precarious carriage. These cairns could be the work of Michael Grab, a Yoda-like master of the art of rock balancing.
“Grab isn’t alone in his craft—a growing global community of like-minded artists are mastering rock balancing with a zen-like discipline that will surely boggle the mind.”
ICE SKATING IN THE STREETS OF MONTREAL
On Boxing Day last Monday, Montreal was hit with a freezing rain that left behind layers of ice coveriing the streets.
One of TGB's Canadian readers, doctafil, who blogs at Jive Chalkin', emailed links to some videos showing how people took good advantage of the rare street freeze.
(Be patient – this is an amateur video and there is a black gap beginning at 12 seconds that lasts until about 30 seconds. It's a nice video and worth the wait.)
THE SNOWFLAKE PHYSICIST
Dr. Kenneth Libbrecht was a consultant on the wildly successful movie, Frozen. He is also a physicist at CalTech who studies that most ephemeral of nature's beauty – snowflakes.
POLAR BEAR CUBS PLAYING IN THE SNOW
I no longer read beyond the headlines of stories about the ravages to nature of climate change. If I did, I would never stop weeping. Maybe I'll write about that here one day.
What I cannot avoid, however, are the oft-repeated photographs of polar bears stranded this winter with no snow in their ranges. They will die in this circumstance.
Here is something wonderful for us to keep in our mental library about these magnificent creatures:
”In March of 2010, nature photographer Thomas D. Mangelsen traveled to Hudson Bay in northern Manitoba to photograph polar bears and their young emerging from their winter dens. Watch as these tiny, months-old cubs play and wrestle while their mother keeps a close eye on them from the den.”
There is more video at Mengelsen's YouTube page.
WINTER: TONIGHT: SUNSET
The Writers Almanac website tells us that poet David Budbill
”...has lived on a remote mountain in norther Vermont for more than three decades writing poems, reading Chinese classics, tending to his garden and, of course, working on his website.”
Budbill's work has been read by Garrison Keillor on The Writers Almanac more than any other poet. TGB Reader Tom Delmore sent this one. Winter: Tonight: Sunset. which you can also listen to it at the website.
Tonight at sunset walking on the snowy road,
my shoes crunching on the frozen gravel, first
through the woods, then out into the open fields
past a couple of trailers and some pickup trucks, I stop
and look at the sky. Suddenly: orange, red, pink, blue,
green, purple, yellow, gray, all at once and everywhere.
I pause in this moment at the beginning of my old age
and I say a prayer of gratitude for getting to this evening
a prayer for being here, today, now, alive
in this life, in this evening, under this sky.
(This poem is from David Budbill's 2005 collection, While We've Still Got Feet.) His website it here.
Interesting Stuff is a weekly listing of short takes and links to web items that have caught my attention; some related to aging and some not, some useful and others just for fun.
You are all encouraged to submit items for inclusion. Just click “Contact” at the top of any Time Goes By page to send them. I'm sorry that I won't have time to acknowledge receipt and there is no guarantee of publication. But when I do include them, you will be credited and I will link to your blog IF you include the name of the blog and its URL.