Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Bits and Pieces On A Cold Winter's Day

    We're having another blizzard around here... more than 8 inches of the white stuff, and still falling. Fortunately, the power's still on, and we don't have to go anywhere today. That's good, since I'm pretty sure our road hasn't been plowed. (It finally happened about 5 p.m.) 
    It got so bad, one of CDOT's snowplows ended upside-down in the river off the road up Boulder Canyon. (Thanks, Boulder's Daily Camera, for mentioning it.)

So here are some bits and pieces I randomly wandered across, including updates on stories I've mentioned before. Enjoy...

Want to make an impression at that holiday party? How about a tie that glows...briefly? 

It's easy to make, activates with a UV flashlight, and the effect is only temporary. Which will lead people to wonder, 'Did I really see that?' (No reason why it wouldn't work on party gowns, too.)

Remember the Nazi treasure train that's supposed to be underground somewhere in Poland? Well, scientists have found...nothing. "The tunnel may be there," said Professor Madaj, one of the investigators. "But the train is not."  Really -- go figure.

Elf Yourself is back! I couldn't get it to work completely -- only Daughter's bf Keith's face would transfer to an elf. So the girlies get a 'bye' this year. (Which I'm sure they'll be pleased about.) You should try it though -- click here.

Teresa Giudice is out of the slammer in eight days. Surely I can't be the only one who follows the adventures of this flashy reality star and her husband...who were never quite the brilliant successes they wanted us to think they were. She's been in jail for fraud this year; husband Joe will take her place after Christmas. (Their poor kids...I hope they don't think this is normal behavior. Sadly, they probably do.) 

The Lady of Guadalupe festival has been happening in Mexico. As the story goes, a "beautiful maiden" appeared to a Mexican peasant named Juan Diego in 1531 on the Hill of Tepeyac (eventually a suburb of Mexico City). She identified herself as the Virgin Mary, and spoke to him in his native Nahuatll (Aztec) language. She asked to have a church built at the site, in her honor.
    The Powers That Be didn't believe this simple peasant's story, and asked for proof. During a later sighting, Mary told Juan to pick the Castilian roses on the hilltop (obviously out of season), put them in his cloak, and take them to the archbishop. When he opened the cloak, the Virgin's image was printed on the inside. (See below.)

The image of the Lady, from Juan Diego's original tilma -- Wikipedia

Why was this especially important to Mexicans? Because this image of the Virgin is directly connected with Mexican/Indian culture -- and one of the very few that depicts her with darker skin. She is celebrated with long Catholic festivals in early December. We got to experience the Puerto Vallarta version, complete with flowers, parades and kids in peasant costumes, doing a special group dance before they trudged up to the hill to the waiting cathedral. (Everyone, us clueless Americans excepted, sang along with the music playing.) The bellringers were banging away like crazy, and priests at the entrance sprinkled everyone with incense from a swinging brass censor as they went in.

    Another group of dancers wore elaborate Aztec-inspired headdresses. Same thing -- the group dance, then up to the cathedral. This went on for hours the day we watched -- and we missed the height of the festival, which was last Saturday, Dec. 12.

    Photos and videos will come when the Brick downloads them. Meanwhile, here's something from Youtube -- from the same PV street we were watching on:

And Puerto Vallarta's cathedral (yes, named for her). Hear the bells banging away? This was taken from the top of the cathedral steps, looking down. (We were at the bottom of the street, in the Gawking Corner.) Notice the man in the cream poncho, sprinkling people with incense.

Amazing -- and lots of fun.

Finally, from the Department of 'It Couldn't Happen,' comes this true story:

      Earlier this year, Daughter #2 bought a collection of books. She wanted one of the books especially, but it was rare and higher-priced by itself. Instead, she bought the group -- not only was it cheaper, but she figured she could sell off the other books to recoup her expense.
     The box arrived. She was thumbing through 'her' book and noticed a newspaper clipping -- cool, someone else shared her interest in this subject! Then she noticed another piece of paper:
      A twenty-dollar bill.
     And another.
     And so on.

All told, there were six twenties in the book: $120 cash! Did the books come from an estate? An eccentric collector? Who knows.
     But it more than paid for what she spent on the collection. And no, there wasn't any more money in the others. (She checked.) Ironically, the cash was in the one volume she really wanted.
     I've never found money in books I've purchased -- but I did find a c.1900 William McKinley campaign ribbon, obviously used as a bookmark, in one. Which goes to show you:

You never know what you're going to find (and learn) in books.


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