Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Feng shui and Chinese cooking

Originally uploaded by fwebber.
Notes . . .
* Feng shui is the traditional rules of placement of buildings & streets, or houses and furniture and doors, or placement of desk and chair, etc, in order to maximize a person's power and ability to get rich.
* Middle Kingdom - the ancient Chinese name for China.
* Cathay - the ancient European name for China.
* Great Wall - 4000 miles, 300 years, barrier between Chinese and Mongols and Manchurians. Prevented horse-mounted soldiers from raiding the region.
* Chinese cooking - the most varied on earth., another alternative to diskettes

Want to send a large photo of Chris Mazen, winner of the recent Class of 2009 Talent Show, to a classmate? Want to send an entire powerpoint project - with photos and text - to yourself at home? is resource that I discovered this week. It enables us to send large files - up to 1 gb - to ourselves from, say the library or a friend's house, to our house or teacher's emal address.

Here are the directions as presented on the site:
"Choose who you want to send a file to. It can be anyone with an email address. You can specify multiple email addresses separated by commas.

Select a file to send. You can send photos, audio, documents or anything else. Your file will be stored by YouSendIt without ever filling up your recipient's mailbox.

Click on the Send button. YouSendIt will automatically email your recipient a link to your file stored on our server. Your file will be deleted after 7 days or 25 downloads, whichever occurs first.

No passwords to share, no software to install, no accounts to create, and no full mailboxes. Start sending now!"

zhang yimou, esteemed Chinese director

In 2000 Zhang Yimou promoted his award-winning film Not One Less across Europe and America. In this interview with Time magazine, he discussed the way he directed the movie's amateur actors. Zhang Yimou interview.

See for a Zhang Yimou biography. His most recent movie is House of Flying Daggers.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Shanghai Night

Shanghai Night
Originally uploaded by WayneMethod.
China research projects are being bumped out of the library by a mistake in scheduling; sorry! You will have to do them on your own time as homework.

China presentations -
1) Six images with brief notes atop the the photos.
2) Separate page of notes to be used in speaking to the class.
3) One comparison - check the topic with me, please.
4) Three sources. No portals.
5) May be presented as powerpoint or on paper.
6) 20 pts.
7) Presentations due Tues, Dec 6.

* Emperor Shi Huang Di
* Gunpowder & printing
* Abacus & silk
* Buried army at Xi'an
* Confucius
* Imperial City, Beijing
* Mao Zedong & the communist revolution
* Chinese immigrants in US history
* Yangtze & yellow River valleys
* Tibet and the Himalayas
* Taiwan
* Silk Road
* Buddhism
* Temple & palace architecture
* Acupuncture
* Shanghai
* Hong Kong

* swastika, ancient Chinese symbol of good luck
* Ni hau!
* Middle Kingdom - ancient Chinese name for China.

* Korea (N & S), japan, Russia, Mongolia, India, Vietnam, Taiwan
* Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong

CMHS 09: first semester exam schedule

Mon, Dec 9: 3rd hour and 4th hour exams.
Tues, Dec 20: 1st and 5th hour exams.
Wed, Dec 21: 2nd and 6th period exams.

The first test session each day is 8:45 to 10:30.
The second exam runs from 10:45 to 12:30. Students are then dismissed. They may go to lunch and then to busses or they may go home.

Caddo school board policy requires teachers to count exams scores as 20% of the semester grade. That can be difficult for many students! A guide to the exam will be forthcoming Dec 12.

Report cards will be issued Fri, Jan 13, 2006. Students return to school Th, Jan 5.

Dust storm in the Gobi Desert by zargag / Independent work topics for Geo

First, let me say that a good student should enjoy and feel confident at choosing relevant comparison topics.

When you have an idea, drop me a note in the classroom or an email telling me your topic. I'll respond with my approval and guidelines.

For those who continue to depend on me, here are a few more topics:

Research & compare
* Imperial City, Beijing to the palace at Versailles, France.
* Palace guard dog types of China and the Panda.
* Popular arts of China vs. those of Japan (sushi v. shrimp fried rice, anime v. feng shui).

Monday, November 28, 2005

First Outer Court, Forbidden City, Beijing, adjacent to vast Tiananmen Square

This photo illustrates the first of three huge courtyards between the entrance of the city and the inner section, where the emperor and his concubines resided.

Struggle of the titans:
from the late 1940's, the end of WWII, the clash was bwteen the US and the USSR. It resulted in the Cold War. Your grandparents and parents learned that our foe was Russia.

But in the early 1990's, 2 things changed:
* the USSR collapsed and Russians abandoned communism.
* the Chinese abandoned the communistic Controlled Economy. To be sure, they kept the Totalitarian aspect of communism (example: "One family, one child.").

The result? China's economic freedom has boosted the economy enormously. Their income growth has far surpassed the Russians.'

Thus, today it is the US vs. China. And the new era is often called China's century.

Place these cities in order of population rank:
Hong Kong
Beijing (Peking)

What is it about the location of Beijing that makes it an unlikely capital?

Comparison between the palace in the Forbidden City and the White House?

"Ni hau!" is the most widely-spoken greeting in the world. Is it Mandarin Chinese (northern) or cantonese Chinese (southern)? Mandarin.

Mandarin also indicates things of high quality (mandarin oranges) or a family of power and achievement (the Bush and Kennedy families would be American mandarins).

Western stereotypes about Asians:
inscrutable (scrutiny) - cannot tell what they're thinking.

japanese currency: yen
Chinese currency: yuan.

Infanticide and the dowry: in India and China girl infants are not highly valued - they represent a large future expense in the dowry system.

NY Times article: background to Kids Out of Control

Originally uploaded by Joshb60796.
From the middle of a NYTImes story ("Kids Gone Wild," Judith Warner, Nov 27) on young people and their parents:

Parenting today is also largely about training children to compete - in school and on the soccer field - and the kinds of attributes they need to be competitive are precisely those that help break down society's civility.

Parents who want their children to succeed more than anything, Dr. Kindlon said, teach them to value and prioritize achievement above all else - including other people.

"We're insane about achievement," he said. "Schoolwork is up 50 percent since 1981, and we're so obsessed with our kids getting into the right school, getting the right grades, we let a lot of things slide. Kids don't do chores at home anymore because there isn't time."

And other adults, even those who should have authority, are afraid to get involved. "Nobody feels entitled to discipline other people's kids anymore," Dr. Kindlon said. "They don't feel they have the right if they see a kid doing something wrong to step in."

Educators feel helpless, too: Nearly 8 in 10 teachers, according to the 2004 Public Agenda report, said their students were quick to remind them that they had rights or that their parents could sue if they were too harshly disciplined. More than half said they ended up being soft on discipline "because they can't count on parents or schools to support them."

And that, Dr. Rosenfeld said, strikes at the heart of the problem. "Parents are out of control," he said. "We always want to blame the kids, but if there's something wrong with their incivility, it's the way their parents model for them."

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Wei Minzhi in Zhang Yimou's movie Not One Less

From the Sony Classic Pictures site for the movie Not One Less:
Teacher Gao of the Shuiquan Primary School has to be away from school for a month to tend to his ailing mother. The mayor of the village finds a substitute teacher, Wei Minzhi, to take over the class for Teacher Gao. Seeing that Wei Minzhi is only 13 years old, Teacher Gao protests to the mayor that such a young girl will not be able to teach students who are her own age or slightly younger. The mayor replies that finding anyone in that rural area who is willing to take the job is no mean feat, and that at the least she can keep an eye on things while Teacher Gao is away.
Teacher Gao’s class had 40 students at the beginning of the school year, but increasing attrition has brought that number down to 28. Teacher Gao admonishes Wei Minzhi that she must not allow even one more student to drop out while he’s gone and promises her an extra 10 yuan in pay if she succeeds.

Wei faithfully calls the roster every day and then sets the students to copying lessons from the blackboard. She is not overly concerned about whether the students actually learn anything as long as they stay put; she ends up spending most of each day sitting guard outside the classroom door.

Ten-year-old student Zhang Huike is a bright but naughty boy who often tries Wei’s patience as she works to keep a semblance of order amongst the children. His family is in serious financial debt, however, and when he fails to appear in class one morning, Wei discovers he has been forced to go to the city to find work.

With Teacher Gao’s words still firmly in her mind but only a vague idea of where the boy might be, Wei Minzhi sets off on her own to the big city to try to find Zhang Huike and bring him back.

Flash drive for presentations, for transfer of info from classroom to library to home to friend's computer

They're on sale everywhere. This one is 19.99 at Target, no rebates needed. The space, 128 mb, will be more than adequate for keeping files on numerous projects.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Forbidden City inside the Imperial City, Beijing / gugong

Research and compare the wars pursued by the men in the White House as opposed to those inside the Forbidden City, Beijing. Or compare the size and complexity of these power centers. I believe the two palaces have much in common!

See a lead on the White House research in the following post.


Originally uploaded by trudeau.
Here's the Washington Post's map of the center of the world's electrobiologic power post. Bet this map has been studied thoroughly by the demented terrorists of this world. Aha: the Cabinet Room!

See more at the; it is considered one of America's great news sources.
Be sure to

Friday, November 18, 2005

$100 hand-crank laptop for the globe's impoverished children from MIT

November 17, 2005
Cheap Laptops Are Planned for Kids

Filed at 9:48 p.m. ET

TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) -- A cheap laptop boasting wireless network access and a hand-crank to provide electricity are expected to start shipping in February or March to help extend technology to school-aged children worldwide.

The machines are to sell for $100, slightly less than its cost. The aim is to have governments or donors buy them and give full ownership to the children.

''These robust, versatile machines will enable children to become more active in their own learning,'' U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan told reporters.

Annan and more than 16,000 people from 176 countries were attending the three-day U.N. World Summit on the Information Society, in its second day Thursday.

Although discussions about persisting U.S. control over the Internet's addressing system have consumed much of summit, its original aim was to find ways to extend communications technologies to the world's poorest -- through projects like the $100 laptop.

MIT Media Lab chairman Nicholas Negroponte, who unveiled the textbook-sized laptop on Wednesday, said he expects to sell 1 million of them to Brazil, Thailand, Egypt and Nigeria.

Negroponte did not say who would build the machine, which will cost $110 to make, but at least five are considering bids to do so. He said a commercial version may be available at a higher price to subsidize machines provided to children.

The laptop will run on an open-source operating system, such as Linux, which is generally cheaper than proprietary systems such as Microsoft Corp.'s Windows, said Negroponte.

The devices will be lime green in color, with a yellow hand crank, to make them appealing to children and to fend off potential thieves.

Also at the summit, Microsoft unveiled a new network of learning centers in Tunisia to train people to be teachers in technology. Jean-Phillippe Courtois, president of Microsoft International, said the company would replicate the centers elsewhere as part of its outreach efforts.

Addressing delegates on Thursday, Pakistani diplomat Masood Khan said increasing access to communications can help improve relations between regions and religions.

''Information is not just an economic tool,'' Kahn told delegates in the main hall. ''We need its infinite power to combat the rising tide of prejudice and hatred.''

Students wrote brief essays in class that attempted to analyze the impact of this new tool. What advantages does a portable computer offer in a 3rd world setting? What frustrations are sure to bug the impoverished users?


Independent work:
2 assignments allowable this week. Only one per week subsequently. Email me at

Thursday, November 17, 2005

The holidays: iBooks, flash drives, trips to Dallas, Houston and DC

My Mac
Originally uploaded by Rafael Fischmann.
My holiday wish list for students and their parents & grandparents:

* stocking stuffers: flash drive(s). My students have enormous trouble with diskettes. Flash drives are useful in almost every class.
* the big one: a laptop. I'm encouraging my students to bring their laptops to school and to use them during geography class. It's a pricey item but worth every penny, I believe. Go halves on the cost?
* fun for everyone: trips to Dallas, Houston, or DC.

Independent work, whether essay or powerpoint ...
* Exploring the West Wing of the White House. 3 sources.
* Research and compare Wash, DC, to the Forbidden City and Beijing, the Eastern center of power. Or compare DC to Rome, city of marble monuments and temples.
* Mapping the Goblet of Fire. What Irish and English locations inspired the world's most successful author, JK Rowling?
* Use the animation matrix at to make a light-hearted report.

* tete a tete: person-to-person; literally, head to head. From the French.

Happy holidays!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The national mall and US Capitol

More Mall
Originally uploaded by Moryma.
Based on our World Book article . . .
1. The Smithsonian Institution: how many museums along the mall are affiliated with the Smithsonian?
2. Who was james Smithson?
3. What bodies of water are confluent (flow together with ...) with the Potomac?
4. In what 3 ways are the states of Virginia and Louisiana alike?
industry? population? ethnic population? transportation? terrain? culture?
5. Manssas and Appamatox? What is their significance?
6. Who chose the site of Washington, DC?
7. List 2 notable domed buildings in Virginia.
8. What prominent element of Egyptian culture is apparent in Wash, DC?
9. Name the president who wheel-chir borne late in his unusually long series of terms in office. There is a monument to him alongside the national mall.
10. What was the length of the Vietnam conflict, acc to the World Book article?
11. What part of the capitol is called the rotunda?
12. What serious error was made by Pres. Nixon following a break-in at the Watergate condo complex in 1972?
13. George washington inherited a plantation. The name of his home and farm was Mt __. Thomas Jefferson also built a plantation house that became famous. It is called __.
14. The tobacco trade made this Potomac River town a thriving port before the nearby Washington, DC, was founded.

1. 11
2. English scientist who funded the Smithsonian; he never visited the US.
3. Chesapeake Bay, James River.
4. Tourism very important, both Southern states, ports on the coast.
5. Civil War sites: beginning and end of the war, 1861 - 1865.
6. Washington himself with French engineer Charles L'Enfant.
7. US Capitol, Monticello.
9. FDR
10. "1957 - 1975," some 18 years.
11. Rotundra, or round, is the circular room under the dome.
12. Nixon lied and told the public he had no knowledge of the Watergate burglars. Almost 2 years later the public learned of his untruth and the many other lies he told to conceal the first one. Nixon rresigned rather than face impeachment.
13. Mt. Vernon, Monticello.
14. Georgetown, Va.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Clyde Edgerton, author of award-winning novels of life in the American South speaks at CMHS PAC Th, Nov 17, 6:30 pm

Clyde Edgerton is the nationally-known author brought to visit CMHS this year by the Mary Jane Malone Lecture Series. He will speak to students Thur at midday.

Thursday night his talk in the PAC will be free and open to the public.

Washington, DC, and historic Virginia

Originally uploaded by johnduprejr.
Students are prepping themselves to sketch a map of "Marble Wasington."
* Potomac R.
* national mall
* Washington Monument obelisk
* Smithsonian Institution: National Air & Space Museum
* Lincoln Memorial
* US Capitol
* Supreme Court
* Library of Congress
* Kennedy center
* Georgetown
* White House (1600 Penn. Ave)

Also, a sketch of Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and DC. Along with Chesapeake Bay and Delaware bay.

Virginia's importance in history and tourism-

* Jamestown, first European settlement / Capt John Smith & Pocahontas.
* Colonial Williamsburg, a living museum / 18th century city.
* Appalachian Mts. / Appalachian Trail.
* Monticello, home of Thomas Jefferson (see it on a nickel).
* Manassas (Bull Run), site of early major battle in the US Civil War (1861-1865).
* Appomattox Courthouse, site of surrender betweeen Gen. Lee and Gen. Grant, US Civil War.

* Pall mall: 17th century game similar to croquet, with mallet and ball and hoop. Played on an alley called the mall.
* Annapolis, Md, home of the US Naval Academy.
* bayou: Choctaw word.
* totpography and elevation explain why La's streams are all slow-moving: there are no mountains to push the water.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Political power and granite glory: Washington, DC, around the national mall

Originally uploaded by trudeau.
The site of this center of compromise and diplomacy was a swamp. Originally there was Georgetown and Alexandria, ports on the Potomac. The swamp was drained, but the neighborhood called Foggy Bottom remains, as does the Tidal Basin overflow reservoir.

Now you have a new and greener definition of "mall," yes?

This week we will continue to examine the 10-page Wash, DC, handout I edited from World Book's article.

Thursday there will be a hand-sketched map quiz on "Marble Washington," the area of marble-sheathed government buildings and museums.

Research and comparison as independent work:
comparing the world-wide impact of NYC vs. Wash, DC.


Bayou, from the Choctaw language, means a slow-moving stream. Why do Louisiana's streams mostly flow so slowly? Answer with elevation and topography in mind.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

GWB and Texas: Midland, Houston, Austin

Phantom Regiment
Originally uploaded by kamoriaha.
Texas, home to GWB:

Midland is a West Texas town whose size is directly related to the oil wells in the otherwise barren vicinity. Midland has a population made of locals, roughnecks, geologists and MBA's. Midland was GWB's childhood home.

Five reasons that Houston is important to Shreveport students and parents:
1) Major city only 4 hours' drive.
2) Rice University and the museum district: Museum of Fine Arts, Contemporary Arts Museum, Children;'s Museum, Holocaust Museum, Museum of Natural History, Museum of Natural Science all within a few blocks of Hermann Park, where you will also find Hermann Park Zoo.
3) Ethnic communities and restaurants: Chinese, Vietnamese, Latino, Caribbean, Middle Eastern.
4) Some of the best bargains in America on shopping, hotels, books and records (Half Price Books chain).
5) NASA Space Center at Clear Lake, on I-45; also, it's halfway to historic Galveston.

* incumbent
* gubernatorial
* sims and difs: Bush & Clinton
* Titling: add a snappy title to everything you do for this class. Then add an explanatory subtitle.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

How does a fellow with no money - from a poor state - become president?

Comparing George Walker Bush to a another recent world leader, William Jefferson Clinton, students took notes from a Clinton bio found at

Students also sketched and analyzed the resources of Arkansas by using their atlas.

* Ouachita Mts. and the Ozarks
* Miss R. and Red R.
* the Miss. delta - starting point of blues music.
* Little Rock, Hot Springs and Hope: all assoc w Clinton.

* trust fund / "trust fund baby"
* MBA - Masters of Business Administration
* charisma - enormous personal charm
* What part of the Monica Lewinsky affair led to Clinton's impeachment?
* incumbent - person who is currently in political office.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Independent research and writing topics

Originally uploaded by Pantalon.
Research and compare . . .
a) Yale U. and the U of Texas.
b) Lawrence of Arabia and Osama bin Laden
c) History of Texas and the history of Connecticut

The demographics and economics of Texas and Connecticut, 2 of America's most powerful states

Split the sky
Originally uploaded by portseye.
Understanding regional power and resources and how they shape the US means studying the states with the greatest role in the background of George W Bush, president.

Those states are Texas and Connecticut.

Please find the statistics we used in class at

Presidential briefing:
The 5 pt. activity was to pool resources in a group to write a recommendation to the president on where he should retire.
* use
* thesis composed of 3 reasons / 3 graphs / 3 statistics justifying those reasons.
* 2 reasons representing the anithesis / alternative.
* teacher's recommendation that retired presidents generally want to maximize their fortunes - making the several million $ per year that they could not make when confined to a president's salary of $400,000 per annum.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Apple iBook for Xmas for student or parent/student

Oh yeah
Originally uploaded by BLin22.
The 12" iBook that I plug in at the back of C4 each day makes my life as a teacher much more efficient. And recently several students have asked about it. What does it cost? Where do you get them?

Please see the Apple Store. Additionally, BestBuy is an Apple dealer.

The price of the basic iBook is $999. Teachers and university students get an educational discount
which brings the total to $949.

Apples are not as cheap as PC's. Based on having owned several Apples I can say they are
* stable (the one year-old Dell PC in my classroom is always crashing; the eMac has been purring without a hiccup for 3 years).
* elegant in interface and software design.

Today it is no problem to "cross platforms." I run Microsoft Word and Powerpoint in my Apples to ensure that my stuff works on both computer types.

More questions? I'll be happy to answer them. I also know several Apple experts in the neighborhood.

If you're looking for a lower cost Apple, there's an intriguing alternative in the little desktop model called the Mac Mini. You connect your own keyboard, mouse and monitor (PC-types OK) to the space-saving Mac Mini module.

My #1 educational tool recommendation for CMHS students would be an upgraded computer. Number 2 would be a high-speed 'net connection. I've had good luck with

Happy holidays.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Bush bio project due Th, Nov 10

Originally uploaded by Il Primo Uomo.
Students typically know little about George walker Bush. This bio project will help students analyze movement across the US in terms of the development of political power.

* Why did GWB begin his business life in Texas?
* Why is Florida considered a pivotal state in his political life?

Include the following:
* Build the timeline around a map of the US. Most events will be sited in TX and Wash. Use connecting lines in linking brief biographical notes - about 12 items - to various locations.
* 3 illustrations (only one a photo of the pres).
* 3 sources (no portals!).
* 15 pts.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Eid al Fitr is somewhat like a Muslim Christmas with food, clothes, visiting and gifts

Eid al Fitr is the feast that marks the end of the Muslim month of fasting called Ramadan. Gifts! New clothes! Visiting! Feasting!

"Eid kum mubarak" is Arabic for Happy Eid!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Wailing Wall: Jews and Arabs in Jerusalem

Wailing Wall
Originally uploaded by gabork.
Israeli Jew:
Zionism, the movement to secure the Jewish home land. Jews returned to Palestine from across the world, purchased the land from Arabs and created a nation that is a haven for Jews: Israel. Est. 1947.
Palestinian Arabs:
Believe the Jews unfairly pushed them off their ancient lands. They demand an equitable sharing of the land or, in the case of extremists, want the Jews to be pushed into the sea and the land of Palestine returned to Arab control.

Both sides have their radical, violent groups as well as moderates.

Israel: democratic government.
Arab nations: dictatorships, theocracies (run by the religious leaders) and monarchies (Saudi Arabia).

Mesa in the desert near the Dead Sea where in 70 AD the Jewish army laid seige to a group of Jewish warriors. Rather than capitulate to Roman slavery, torture and death, the zealous Jews decided to commit mass suicide. 400 died.

Sketch of the Mediterranean, the principal reason for the wealth and vigor of Israel and its neighbors. * Symbols: olives, olive oil, lemons, basil & thyme.

Viva el Dia de Los Muertos.
The calacas in the ofrendas says "Mucha comida!" (Much food!)
* On the atlas indentify Acapulco, Mexico City, Cancun and Isla Cozumel.

Speaking of mass suicides . . .
The cult led by Rev. Jim Jones in San Francisco in 1978 was called the People's Temple. The charismatic leader exploited hundreds of vulnerable people as he adopted the style of a Christian minister. When complaints about his abuses of cult members rose, he bought a commune in Guyana, South America. When the authorities from California came to inspect the Guyana operation, Jones went off the deep end. He called for a mass suicide. Some 914 people died from the cyanide-laced drink he encouraged them to consume.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Persian Rugs: one of the primary arts of the Mid East

a stunning Tabriz
Originally uploaded by Vanita.
Oriental rugs may be expensive, but they are beautiful and long-lasting.

The rug's design patterns express the Islamic-SW Asian art of the arabesque. In a vine-like or geometric pattern the rug's design entrances viewers.

* Hand-tied knots and hand-dyed wools are hallmarks of the best rugs.
* The men who direct the women and children who are tying the knots at the loom have memorized the order of colors that will result in the traditional patterns.
* Persia / Iran is the nation with the highest claim to quality and tradition in this realm. But these rugs are produced throughout Asia.

Sailing on the highest & lowest lakes on earth takes us to Israel and Peru

me on a Laser 2
Originally uploaded by ndrwfgg.
Sailing is becoming a lost art - especially in a city away from the coast. Lake sailing is less comfortable than coastal sailing but is a pleasure nonetheless.

Tacking is what students must know about the ancient form of transportation. Tacking means zig-zagging so that the boat can sail "into the wind" or "against the wind."

Knowledge of the airfoil and wind speed and pressure is also helpful background in understanding sailing and history.

To learn sailing, get a book, get a friend with a sailboat. Go out on Cross Lake and learn by doing it.

The lowest body of water on earth: the Dead Sea, Israel. One of the highest is Lake Titicaca, in the Andes Mts. Titicaca lies on the border between Peru and Bolivia.

Dia de los Muertos, Nov 1 & 2: Day of the Dead in Mexico

Originally uploaded by Sazerac.
While most Christians celebrate All Saints and All Souls Days on Nov 1 and 2, the Catholics of Mexico have created a variation on the end-of-summer ritual. Their Dia de los Muertos includes partying with food, drink, flowers, candles and lights in their cemetaries.

Mexicans have blended elements of Aztec ritual with the Catholic to produce an artful, happy holiday.

The ofrenda (offering) seen above is an altar created to honor a beloved deceased. The person's photo is surrounded by flowers, candles, food and symbols of their lives.

* Calacas are skeletons (varying in size from minute to life-size) created to satirize our mortality.
* Much candy in the shape of skulls and bones is consumed.
* Many people visit Mexico during Dia de los Muertos to enjoy the art and philosophy of the people of Mexico.

Land Rover: vehicular exploration and geographical studies

Land Rover
Originally uploaded by ALYASY.
While you know the Land Rover as an expensive surburban SUV, I know it as the vehicle of choice for explorers of tough terrain. In the post-WWII era the Rover was used across the roadless territory of Mongolia, Arabia, the safari lands of Kenya and other such primitive regions.

The Land Rover was the prototype for the SUV. I think Toyota made the first successful urban product based on the boxy, high-sitting 4WD vehicle. Did the US company Jeep play a part in the evolution of the SUV?

Did the world's explorers use the Land Rover because it was the absolute best in rugged terrain or because it was sold across the British Empire?

Are you aware that the SUV is responsible for much of the profit being enjoyed by US auto companies such as Ford and GM? Acc to the NY Times the SUV is much more profitable than a sedan. What happens when the cost of oil goes so high that the SUV loses favor in the market?