Lesson #48: The Universe in Perspective

A good friend of mine who is not as geeky as I am, but clearly thinks highly enough of me to stay friends with me despite our living very far apart, sent me this link today.*

I am geeking out.

*The music is a bit annoying. I couldn’t find a mute button, so I ended up muting the speakers on my computer.


Lesson #47: An Island in a Lake on an Island in a Lake on an Island

Got that? Good.

Vulcan Point is a very small island that sits in the small Crater Lake which is on Taal (or Crater depending on what you read) Island which itself sits in Taal Lake, which is a lake on the Philippine Island of Luzon. Taal Island is actually a volcano, the centre of which has been filled in with water, but the volcano remains active.*

This is about the coolest slideshow if you like random nature stuff. I was pretty entertained. But I’m a geek, so take that last statement for what it is.

*To read more about Taal Island, Crater Lake and Vulcan point, see here.

Lesson #46: The Sea

This page has a lot of awesome facts about the sea including that the average piece of seawater freezes at -19 degrees Celsius. And that Australia “owns” the most amount of ocean. And that Mount Everest is more than a mile shorter than the deepest point in the ocean (called the Challenger Deep). And that the heart of a blue whale is the size of a Volkswagon. (!)

The fact that the Grand Banks are closed to fishing, however, is not quite true. True, the cod and flounder fisheries were halted with the 1992 moratorium, but there are other species, including shellfish, that are still being fished (and in some cases, thriving) up there.

So if you’re interested on reading up on the salinity, fishing rights, volcanic activity and assorted other facts, that’s the place to go.

Lesson #45: The Russian Embassy

The other day, I was watching a wholly ridiculous show that airs on FOX in which stuff blows up and people die. Which is normally awesome. I’m a big fan of Burn Notice, which is also a wholly ridiculous show in which stuff blows up (a lot) and people die (often) because it’s awesome.* Also because I love Bruce Campbell. But this show? Less awesome.

I’m going somewhere with this, I promise.

So tonight, I’m talking to one of my best friends from the most recent state I called home and I could not get over how in this episode the characters were supposedly at a party at the Russian Embassy. Now, I have nothing against embassy parties. Or the Russians for that matter. I do have a problem with the fact that the building they were using looked absolutely NOTHING like the Russian Embassy in DC. The Russian Embassy in DC is a giant Soviet looking white block. It is *not* a neo-classical mansion.** This annoyed me what is probably a disproportionate amount, but really, FOX? It’s not like the building is hidden. And it’s not like there aren’t millions of people who actually know what it looks like. It’s not even poor research, it’s a complete lack of effort.***

Anyway, I swear I’m going somewhere with this.

So this conversation with my friend in the undisclosed state ended with me looking into how many Russian Embassies there are in the world.  Oh yes, you got all that backstory to find out a single number.

The number? 154.

I couldn’t find an actual list, so I had to go to the website for the Russian Embassies and count (and alphabetize) them myself. I hope you appreciate that. And, should you be wondering, here are the countries in which they are located:

Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Benin, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovena, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, the Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, the Congo, Costa Rica, Cote d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Denmark, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Latvia, Lebanon, Libya, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, North Korea, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, the Seychelles, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, the Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, the Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United States, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe and representations in Gaza and the Vatican, which I guess count.

*Despite the fact that I would sooner believe that Bruce Campbell’s character and the male lead had a thing for each other than I do that the male and female leads have a thing for each other.

**Mostly, I know this because I have a picture of me standing in front of it from when an old college roommate of mine quite literally lived around the corner from it. And, up until I moved to a European capital and quite literally lived around the corner from the Russian Embassy myself, I thought that was about the coolest thing ever. In fact, I own a t-shirt that says “I heart the Russian Embassy.” Yes, I have an inexplicable affinity for the Russian Embassies. What of it?

***I hate poor research. It makes me crazy. It is why people think Wagner (or Mozart) wrote Carmina Burana. Yes, I’m still bitter about that, what of it?

Lesson #44: Chansons de Geste

If you’re wondering how I got to this topic, I came by way of Wagner (or Mozart)’s composition of ‘O Fortuna’ from Carmina Burana.*

Anyway, a few steps later, I ended up looking into the chansons de geste. The chansons de geste are medieval (11th-13th centuries) French epic poems forming the base of the Charlemagne legend and are typical in their composition in that they narrate stories of heroic adventure and great deeds.** The most famous of these is The Song of Roland, but there are more than 80 in total.***

*Seriously. I actually read today that either Wagner (wrong) or Mozart (VERY wrong) composed Orff’s masterpiece. My soul cries.

**Like epics from pretty much everywhere in the western world beginning with one of my very favourite pieces of literature, Homer’s Iliad and including such heroes as Grettir the Strong (Iceland — Sagas of the Icelanders), Cu Chulainn (Ireland — The Ulster Cycle) and Väinämöinen (Finland — Kalevala).

***If you read French, descriptions for all of the chansons de geste can be found here.

Lesson #43: My Dream Job Exists

Not only does it exist, but there’s a vacancy in a city I would love to live in.

Hyper-awareness of grammar and syntax and a propensity for correcting such mistakes? Check. Sports content? Check. 3-5 years of experience performing similar tasks? Check. Seconds I considered applying before sending my resume and cover letter? About three.

I am perfect for this job and it is perfect for me.

Screw learning anything else today (I did…about Don Quixote), that beats everything hands down.