How did so many cat pictures get on the internet?

July 25, 2012 · Posted in Humor · Comment 

Everybody looks at pictures of kittens or puppies on the net from time to time. It’s a natural thing to wonder: where did funny pics come from, anyway? Who made the first humorous photo? As it so happens, while we are not completely positive, we believe it was about 550 years ago.

It was common to sketch folks as part of a work of art back in the day of Leonardo Da Vinci. As time passed, people started blowing out of proportion certain characteristics of these sketches. This was first observed in “A Captain of Pope Urban VIII”, which exaggerated selected qualities of a religious official to create emotional effect.

As Da Vinci passed and others took over, they continued along these lines of caricature, particularly in the Mediterranean. These caricatures weren’t considered an art form, but rather just a kind of knick-knack, or curiosity. Folks accumulated caricatures much like people might collect forks, plates, or ceramic pigs nowadays. It wasn’t regarded as a “serious” type of art.

In Germany during the Protestant Reformation, the idea of using sketches with exaggerated features for political impact really took off. This period had the printing press, which permitted mass distribution, but folks were still mostly totally illiterate. So pictures, especially funny pictures, became a way of delivering an emotional impact to a sizeable crowd.

Over the following few centuries, funny images remained mostly political in nature. After all, illiteracy remained common and the most natural means of distributing images was the newspaper. Benjamin Franklin made famous use of the funny political cartoon in the 1700s as a way of explaining events and persuading and informing the common man.

In the mid-to-late 1800s, political caricatures and sketches developed into funny cartoons. In Britain, Punch Magazine took the idea of satirical images and decided that you could take the politics out and create something with much larger appeal. Founded on an initial investment of just 25 pounds in the early 1840s, Punch magazine went on to have hundreds of thousands of readers by the 1940s.

During this time period the idea of Sunday comics shot to popularity, which were in color and extended the one-panel concept into a multi-panel short story with a “punch” line. The comic “Yellow Kid” began in a popular newspaper in New York in the mid 1890s. The comic was so well known and produced so many sales that rival newspapers began duplicating the personalities it used. There was an intense circulation war over comics which demonstrated to everybody just how big of a business funny pictures were. These brawls over the “Yellow Kid” spawned the term “Yellow Journalism.”

From these funny and sometimes serious comics came entire books consisting of them, the comic book (now referred to as graphic novel). Humorous images and hilarious captions were everywhere, and folks like Gary Larson made millions with his Far Side comics. As the internet became the normal way of receiving media, everybody got into the action. Publishing truly became free. A trend that existed from the early 1900s, taking pictures of pets, was combined with people’s own self-composed funny captions. Such images could be created in seconds and circulated to tens of millions without any charge to the publisher.

From Leonardo Da Vinci sketching some church guy through the circulation wars of the 20th century and the talking cows of Gary Larson, the history of funny images is full of people trying to connect emotionally with other people in the simplest and most powerful way they could.

If you’d like to discover or just enjoy more funny pictures, check out the author’s caption of the day blog or diary about the definition of funny pictures.

The Single Most Important Piece of Advice for Public Speakers

July 25, 2012 · Posted in Communication · Comment 

As I assist a variety of communicators, many aspects of improved speaking are discussed. We go over the subject matter on which they should focus. We talk about the most compelling manner in which they could move about the stage. We even consider how wardrobe plays into the mix.

However, I find that I repeatedly return to one suggestion that I believe overshadows in importance all of these others. It is so important, in fact, that I believe that, even if someone ignores all of my other advice, they can nonetheless be quite effective if they heed this one piece of advice.

The recommendation I speak of is to skillfully employ within their delivery stories.

Take a moment to ponder this question: Is there another means of interchange that more deeply affects us than story? What other method can evoke responses stronger than those brought about as a result of story? The answer is very few and, by looking at human history, we can understand why.

We must remember that, for most of human history, there was no very simple way to write things down. People had to mentally recall all of their family’s or tribe’s important information. One of the main ways they accomplished this daunting feat was by encoding the information within and then telling, over and over again, stories. Thus, in many cultures, the talented storyteller became a very important and well respected individual.

Information processing capacity has expanded exponentially since our ancestors walked the planet. Today, a child can store more information on a tiny mobile phone than they ever had access to in their entire lives. Storage of important information in stories has been replaced by its storage in bits and bytes. Nonetheless, the biology of our brains remains almost identical to what it was in those olden times when story reigned supreme. In other words, we retain storytelling and story appreciating machines in our heads. And therein lies the opportunity for communicators of all stripes.

There are certain features that make a story more likely to intrigue your audience so that they will remember your speech for months or years to come. You should be sure that your stories involve some of them. The list includes:

*An opening that builds curiosity – The beginning of a great story may set up a premise that leaves the listener wondering what is going to happen

*A character that the audience relates to or cares about – The story may revolve around or include people (or even animals or other entities) that the listeners identify with or feel concern about

*A theme – Have a central idea that the story keeps coming back to and allude to it several times as you tell it

*A suprising or touching conclusion – Stories are much more memorable when they either take us in unexpected directions or engage our emotions strongly in how they turn out

How much story should you use in your speech? The answer depends on a variety of factors. There are times when the answer is a great deal and times when the answer is not very much. How many stories should you share in a speech? Sometimes one and sometimes several. Each case is different. But what is consistent is that presentations that wisely include storytelling hit home with the people who hear them.

Mr. Sartelli, in his writings, explains to the public why public speaking is important and gives suggestions on http://tinyurl.com/cmwb8ho.

Porsche 356, the First Automobile by Porsche

July 24, 2012 · Posted in Cars · Comment 

Although Porsche 64 was engineered ahead of Porsche 356, the latter is regarded by a lot as the first-ever Porsche since it was the first model promoted by the extending corporation. Test automobile models of what was to transform into 356 had been demonstrated to German autodealers. After pre-orders attained the fixed threshold, it marked the launching of the Porsche 356 manufacturing in 1948 Gmund, Austria. It was the 1st Porsche’s car introduced after World War II. The 356 had a flat-four motor that could yield 50 horsepower and can run a major speed of 99 miles per hour.

Porsche’s Icon, 911

The automobiles made by Porsche from the very start offer extraordinary characteristics such as air-cooled rear-engine configurations. These cars grew to be flourishing and popular on motor racing as a result of their signature designs. In 1964, another automobile was released, displaying an air-cooled rear engine in addition to a six-cylinder “boxer” engine. It was the PORSCHE 911, by far the most distinguished Porsche automobile that stayed famous and continues to be traded currently in the international market. Porsche 911 became the company’s trademark automobile, a legendary one labeling the Porsche brand.

Advent of Porsche 911 identified the starting point of the company’s development towards the international automotive market. The model was a slam on the race-track, and when it comes to car sales. The team that crafted 911 was led by Ferdinand Alexander Porsche, the oldest son of Ferry Porsche. Changes and improvements were introduced for every generation. But each and every model of Porsche 911 carries the identical primary designing cues as well as the standard mechanical ideas from the original car. Alongside 911, Porsche has developed some other profitable sports cars just like the Cayenne, Boxster, Cayman, as well as the Panamera.

Porsche 911 versions presently stayed to be one of the top and most glamorous sports cars about the world. They’re marketed in quite high prices, around $80,000 to $245,000 and perhaps in higher rates within the next few years. As of 2011, Porsche 911 GT2RS stands out as the most amazing and most glamorous Porsche you may pay for having a running expense of $245,000. The automobile is a collaboration of the coolest attributes of the Cayman, Boxster along with the convertible versions of Panamera.

The author loves cars and has a site dedicated to Porsche cars and its history. Check out this article to learn how the famous sports car, Porsche started. Or visit this website for additional historical facts, dates and videos about Porsche.

The Origins of Contemporary Vehicle

July 21, 2012 · Posted in Cars · Comment 

Economical steam engines were developed in the later part of the 1600′s, then after a century, the very first steam powered vehicles came. One of the ancient automobiles was crafted by Joseph Cugnot and engineered by M. Berzin in 1769. This was the first ever automobile documented in history but it wasn’t as elegant and alluring as the modern vehicles we come across and ride on today. This was driven by a steam engine which made it large, intense and heavy as 3 tons. This particular car runs a restricted speed of three km an hour. The vehicles of yesterday were actually suited to be called “cars” in those days considering that they were not merely created for shipping passengers from road to road. They were designed to drag number of automobiles with heavy baggage and passengers.

The automotive business has gone through a lot of developments ever since the very 1st steam powered automobiles were built. One more essential stage in the evolution of automobiles was the innovation of the gas-driven internal combustion engine in 1876 by Nicolas August Otto. The engine made use of the “Otto cycle” and processes of compression, combustion and exhaustion of gas. Despite the fact that the invention of gas motor engine was obviously a crucial aspect in the development of cars, this had a single huge downside. The engine must have to be mounted to a gas supply for refueling. Because of this, the petrol engine was introduced by Gottlieb Daimler in 1885, and so, the earliest modern day vehicle came to be. The engine functioned on liquid fuels which had been readily available as well as transportable. It was the turning point in the beginnings and development of automobiles that paved the way to an entirely new era, the Contemporary Car Period.

Subsequently, automobiles turned out to be a more secure and more convenient means of transportation. The automobiles born within this period had been very likely the modern-day automobiles we come across at the moment on your roads.

The Modern Car Period

The Contemporary car era stands out as the 25-year time period prior to the existing year. The automobiles produced in this era were actually the result of various trial and error approaches. There were a great deal of improvements in the automobile’s engine and the layout resulting from society’s increasing criteria and platform sharing. An extra existing aspect of today’s automobile industry was the creation of fuel-efficient cars. The development of contemporary automobiles had been a product of different imaginative brains of several inventors.

The author is passionate with cars and has a site all about modern cars and how they all started. Check out this article to know about Modern Cars’ History, Or visit this blog for additional names, fact and videos about modern automobiles.

FORD History

July 20, 2012 · Posted in Cars · Comment 

It had been in 1899, when Henry Ford very first entered the automobile production company, founding the Detroit Automobile Company. After 1 year, it has been renamed as Henry Ford Company. Then after only three years since it had been established, the corporation didn’t prosper that compelled its owner, Henry Ford to depart the company in March 1902 with the legal rights on his name.

This dismal event forced him to go along with his spouse and children to his father’s house. The name of the corporation was changed to Cadillac. This was Henry Ford’s subsequent challenge into the car assembly industry with the help of two inventors, John and Horace Dodge, who spent $28,000 for the corporation. Ford designated Henry M. Leland to do the operations of Cadillac and he continued venturing into automotive manufacturing.

A brand new Company was Founded: Ford Motor Co.

Henry Ford, as well as an acquaintance coal dealer, Alexander Y. Malcomson, shouldered the establishment of the new automobile manufacturing company. The partnership was very profitable although they had suffered a few monetary problems. They designed an automobile and started out obtaining materials. Within the 1st year this sold 1,708 vehicles. In February 1903, as a result of some financial challenges, Malcomsom asked financial support from his uncle John S. Gray who was the chief executive of the German-American Savings Bank. Malcomson proposed integrating “Ford and Malcomson” and convinced Gray to join the company to entice new business men. Business acquaintances came along to make investments for the company by the strength of Gray’s name. And so in June 16, 1903, the Ford Motor Corporation was formally founded, with 12 shareholders maintaining entirely 1000 shares.

In that same year, Ford’s initial car assembly was the Model A, run by an under the floor engine at the price tag of $850. During its first few years, the corporation successfully distributed 1,708 automobiles. The business persisted to focus on their purpose – to design a legendary model that will make a great difference and transform the world forever. And that is no other than the Model T or Tin Lizzie. In 1908, Ford at last unveiled to the public this renowned model T and it absolutely transformed the world. Henry Ford’s intention to produce a less costly vehicle, one which all people can buy, has eventually turned into a reality. Ever since then, vehicles became toys for everybody, not just for the wealthy. Ford Corporation managed to prosper and gained lots of accomplishments like the output of its five-millionth Model T and the purchase of Lincoln Motor Car Corporation.

The author loves writing about cars and has a website all about cars as well as their history. Visit this article and discover the history of Ford’s automotive company or check out this site for more infos about Ford.

Aztec History

July 16, 2012 · Posted in Education · Comment 

The Aztec Men and women

The Aztec Tribe was composed of nomadic people, and multiple ethnic groups that spoke the Nahuatl Dialect and dominated the vast portions of Central Mexico in the year 14th to 16th centuries. Men and women coming from Aztlan (the Mexicas) traveled Central Mexico and assembled alliances with the real residents of Texcoco and Tlacopan, both major areas of Tenochtitlan. Tenochtitlan is renowned today as Mexico City. This triple Alliance later on became a giant civilization with a wealthy tradition, complicated religious beliefs and a great political dominion on the valley of Mexico and many areas of Mesoamerica.

Archaeological evidences demonstrated that the Aztec people had tremendously impressive accomplishments in terms of architecture and art. Spanish clergymen and educated Aztecs had documented the culture and history of Aztecs by means of written records, indigenous bark paper codices were also found as archaeological evidence, and eyewitness tales coming from Spanish conquistadors.

Customs of the Aztec

The principal dialect spoken by Aztec people was called N’ahuatl. Their own alphabet system is image writing by which they draw symbols and imagery associated with nouns. These images were connected with each other to make sentences, to create their experiences and keep records. Aztec image system was tough to master. The system was mainly carried out by priests and scribes who had been the only people suitable for recognizing the illustrations.

The Aztec people were passionate with composing poems and they possessed books known as codices. The aztec books or codices tend to be in the shape of lengthy pieces of paper that were folded up like an accordion, covered by a piece of wood at the two ends. Images and signs were crafted on the two sides of the papers and can be read from both top to bottom and left to right.

Pertaining to Art, The Aztec people were inclined to stone carving, painting pictograms, ceramics as well as designing head dresses from feathers. Sculptures were crafted by stone workers using wood, rock and bones. Pictures had been drawn by scribes and also priests and then they made use of vegetables, insects, shells, minerals and oils to shade them. Pots had been crafted and colored by the bare hands of Aztec potters, and headdresses had been intricately designed from tropical birds through feather workers.

The author is fond of sharing stories in the past. He has a website all about the Aztecs. Click this article to learn about Aztec people and their culture. Or visit this blog for more stories about the Aztecs.

Why Collect Ancient Coins

July 6, 2012 · Posted in Hobbies · Comment 

If you ever wondered what Emperors like Julius Caesar, Nero, Diocletian, and Constantine looked like consider picking up an Ancient Roman coin. If you can find a coin of a good grade you should be able to make out the portrait of an Emperor on the front of a Roman coin.

The Roman Empire covered a large area and time period making it one of the most diverse empires to have existed. With this great diversity in culture and art comes a large diversity of coins minted during this era.

Because so many Roman coins were minted during the Roman Empire you will never run out of coins to collect from different dynasty’s depicting different Roman Emperors.

Due to the vast number of Ancient Roman coins minted they are much more common than people realize making the supply greater than the demand. This means that many Ancient Roman coins actually fetch significantly less at auction than many old coins minted not so long ago.

An added benefit to collecting Roman coins is that there are fewer counterfeits. This is because they tend to be more numerous and therefore cheaper than other coins. It is therefore a waste of time for fraudsters to create counterfeit Roman coins when they are usually not worth much to begin with.

Where to Buy Ancient Roman Coins

If digging around in the ground for Ancient coins doesn’t appeal to you should consider buying from a reputable dealer. There are many reputable coin dealers and sellers both offline and online.

A good coin dealer is one that is known amongst his peers. If a coin dealer is not respected amongst other coin dealers or is unknown he is probably not going to make a good choice.

To find a reputable dealer it can be a good idea to check the American Numismatic Association’s dealer directory as they have a list has a code of ethics and a large membership of coin dealers. Another great resource is the professional Numismatist’s guild directory.

Coin dealers can also be found at coin shows or coin clubs, in the yellow pages or from local dealers. It is best to find dealers that specialize in selling Ancient coins as they will know more about these coins and are less likely to be bullion sellers.

Finding an Honest Coin Dealer Online

While online dealers are harder to verify there are still many reliable online websites that specialize in selling Ancient coins. Also many of the dealers on eBay are professionals who sell both online and offline.

If you plan to buy coins from eBay check the seller’s history, feedback and rating. If the seller has a long history of selling Ancient Roman coins with good feedback then there is no reason not to trust that dealer.

Buying Ancient Roman Coins on eBay

While you should try and go for quality rather than quantity when buying on eBay it is best not to purchase the very expensive bullion coins, particularly if they originate from Eastern Europe as these are more likely to be fake or over-valued.

Remember that spotting fakes and overvalued coins comes with experience and you are bound to make mistakes along the way. You should concentrate on the cheaper coins that involve less risk before you decide to collect the more profitable expensive coins.

If you would like more information about Roman coin collecting and where to find authentic Roman coinage check out http://www.genuineromancoinsforsale.com . Also check out http://www.genuineromancoinsforsale.com/roman-coins-for-sale-from-genuine-sellers/ to learn more about the different types of Roman coinage and the various denominations.

Understanding how to leverage remote workers

July 5, 2012 · Posted in Accounting · Comment 

Smaller businesses today are not at all like they were even 15 years back. Not only is building a small business a complex undertaking, it’s also continually changing. Back in the day you used to place postings in the local newspaper when you needed help, today if you want the most bang for your buck you’ll be searching online, sometimes for folks living in distant countries. The movement towards using folks you find on the internet means you should know about how to locate, manage, and keep an eye on these people.

Outsourced or remote workers break out into about four different categories: BPO, KPO, Technology Services, and Virtual Assistants. Let’s take a look at them.

BPO, or Business Process Outsourcing, is where you have a defined and quantifiable business process and would like to have somebody else do it, like gathering sales leads, replying to inquiries, answering the phone, and so forth. If you’ve checked out business books like the E-Myth, you understand that your most important job as a small company owner is to construct a system that operates on its own. You don’t want to be constantly needed. This means for a large number of your processes you’ll want to write detailed guidelines and standardize them. BPO allows you to take these directions and give them to to people you have selected from around the globe so they can do them.

Knowledge Process Outsourcing, or KPO, is when you trust your overseas helpers to think for you, performing research, analysis, working on their own, and so on. Dealing with anybody over the phone or internet is very difficult as it is. Knowledge Process Outsourcing is often particularly tough. Typically the guideline is that nobody cares about your business as much as you care. Asking people to think for you is very challenging. This is common in some industries, however.

Technology Services Outsourcing, or TSO, is where international helpers help do a lot of technology-related tasks for you like managing internet servers or corporate services. The majority of small businesses won’t require this type of work, but it doesn’t hurt to be familiar with them.

Virtual Assistants are the service you may very well use the most of as a small company. They can blend all of the above kinds of work depending on what you ask for. As long as they work well, they’re just like having a “girl friday” at your beck and call; handling calendars, gathering data, answering the phone. You can find a highly-trained person on the internet to help you out with administrative duties for a substantial savings off locating somebody nearby.

While for larger project work you need to decide on a company to work with, there are plenty of sites for finding 1 or 2 workers at one time. Some popular ones are www.99designs.com (for design work), www.agentsolo.com (for professional services), www.contractedwork.com (general contracting work), www.elance.com (the leading site for finding and hiring on-demand workers), and www.guru.com.

Managing remote workers is a book in itself, but below are a few tips.

- Record every little thing. Obscure verbal instructions or not-thought-through ideas will not get what you need done – Expect failure. You must hire more than once or twice to get the hang of it – Get feedback from them in a couple of hours, not weekly. Little tiny steps to begin with – Some types of work will never work with somebody not at the office – Forget about humor. It’s almost impossible to do well remotely – Use email and Instant Messaging every day – Provide an introduction to why this task is critical and exactly how it works – Supply an upper limit or cap to how long you believe it should take and don’t pay if it runs past that

Using international helpers, whether virtual assistants or outsourcing companies, is a brand-new way of looking at your business. It will demand lots of learning and patience, but it can compensate you with a more effective organization and smoother progress. For many sectors, it’s also the sole way forward.

Interested in optimizing and growing your small business? Take a look at the writer’s article on writing your first paycheck stub and his blog on all things paychecks and paperwork.

A glimpse at Lego and its great history

July 1, 2012 · Posted in Hobbies · Comment 

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From cars to bridges, from old sailing vessels to Super Star Destroyers, there is a brand close to our childhood hearts that we all adore really, and that’s Lego.

All of it began 1934, when the Danish born Ole Kirk Christiansen began the Lego Group in his workshop. He was a carpenter during the time, but he contributed a solid passion for toys and invention. Influenced by innovation fascination, quality and (of course) innovation, young Ole made a chancy investment in 1947 and bought costly modern equipments which found him effectively develop his very first plastic injected items.

That opened opportunities in 1949, and the Lego Group had its second significant breakthrough, it innovated a story in its own right, their very own ‘Automatic Binding Bricks.’ Even though partially different from the favorite Lego blocks of today, this progression at the time made way for what has become the modern Lego.

The Lego group continued its developments on the Automatic Binding Bricks, and in 1964, the organization officially listed the LEGO name as a trademark. At the time, vibrant plastic blocks with definitely building options turned out to be an important design creativity. It had been a clever system that fostered creativity, and Lego overall represented quality in the toys market that saw it master a brand new marketplace for plastic toys which dominated the wooden toys industry (which at that time saw great demands for).

Throughout the 1960s, LEGO had become a worldwide brand, with its products being purchased and liked by many families, and by the 1970s, LEGO goods were sold in more than 42 countries around the globe. LEGO also opened a theme park in Denmark which pulled in over half a million tourists in its first year, and advancing to the 1970s, LEGO would have extended into deep categories, offering different types of building toys for young kids, pre-schoolers and also adult enthusiasts. Its onwards success was extended by the organization into the 80′s and 90′s with expansions into video gaming, education, mail order catalogues, the start of the official Lego site and the company’s own experiential retail stores across the globe.

Throughout the 1990′s, the business had taken some tactical developments that significantly enhanced dividends. In 1999, Lego develop their products and services and began using registered brands to topic. Star Wars, their first registered debut was an enormous success for the company. Since then, Lego has partnered closely with popular brands that could see Spongebob Legos, Batman Legos, Harry Potter Legos, Indiana Jones Legos, Spiderman Legos, Toy Story Legos, and a lot more arrived at life.

Currently, LEGO stands as a brand that shows quality and intrinsic characteristics. It has stood in the toys marketplace as a leader and innovator since its trademark formation in 1964. Even now these days, you will find few kids toys offering such a unique experience – that being the capacity to create and assemble, to learn and educate, within an endless variety of stories and categorizations, all in an enjoyable building system of its own like no other.

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Kings college, Cambridge is the most famous of the 31 colleges of Cambridge University

June 26, 2012 · Posted in Education · Comment 

World famous Cambridge would almost certainly not be so if it were not for the world famous and esteemed Cambridge University. The university itself is formed of 31 individual colleges, the renown of some of these eclipsing that of the university itself. Located all around the city but for the most part concentrated within the city centre and the area around the river Cam, the Cambridge colleges are as much of an attraction for potential students as they are for visitors to the city.

For clarity I would like to just make an important clarification at this point. Whereas in some parts of the world the words college and university might be interchangeable in Cambridge they are not. There are 31 colleges and together these all form part of Cambridge University.

King Henry VI set up Kings college in 1441 as a private university for the pupils from his other famous college – Eton. Kings is one of the largest Cambridge colleges.

Kings college students gained a reputation over the years for not being terribly well educated. This was a consequence of having gone through an education system that put no emphasis on teaching them or testing their knowledge. The students who started at Eton school and went on to Kings were never required to sit examinations and had little incentive to focus on their learning choosing instead to concentrate on more noble activities such as hunting. Unfortunately for modern day students this is no longer true.

Over the years Kings college has evolved into a central attraction for tourists who come to stroll around the hallowed halls, soak up the centuries of history and gaze upon the wonder of the fantastic chapel.

Construction of the chapel at Kings college took just under 100 years to reach completion. King Henry VI was long dead by the time it was finished and it was his grandson, the infamous King Henry VIII who finally saw it completed.

Kings college chapel is truly a superb spectacle to witness in person, no matter what time of day or night you happen to see it. The sheer scale of it is towering and it’s easy to see why it has become such a famous building.

Kings college chapel is an iconic building thanks to its many splendid features and incredible Gothic style design. The chapel boasts stained glass windows that are valued at millions of pounds. During the World War two all of the glass was taken out of the windows, a process that took months to complete. However, putting it back took much longer – almost half a decade!

The Christmas Eve service that takes place at the chapel is broadcast to millions of listeners around the globe (as “A Festival of Nine Lessons”).

The choir at Kings was started by King Henry VI himself to make sure that the students would always be thankful for the ‘divine grace of the Almighty.’ To this day the choir is still sung by students and it provides a sense of history and occasion as well as being an additional draw for the tourists. Scholarship students learning at the college form a part of the team of choristers however all students can join.

Visiting Kings college library gives you access to interesting facts related to the college. You can also uncover a exciting list of achievements that Kings has garnered during its 550 years of history.

Open to Visitors at certain times, the library contains many thousands of books and an equivalent number of CDs and DVDs, with volumes on virtually every topic and field of study. Why not pay a visit and devote some time looking at some of the most valuable manuscripts that are almost as old as the college itself?

It’s advisable to check the opening times prior to visiting as the library is closed to tourists during exam times.

A trip to the city of Cambridge absolutely has to include time spent at Kings college. I have barely done it justice here and you would always regret missing out if you didn’t see it.

Want to know more about Cambridge University? Did you know you can find out more about it by going on a Cambridge punting tour

Chichen Itza’s Most Breathtaking Sights

June 17, 2012 · Posted in Travel · Comment 

Chichen Itza is one of the most famous Mayan cities, and for good reason. For many hundreds of years after its founding around 600 AD, it was an epicenter of Mayan culture, religion, and power. During its peak period, the city supported an unusually diverse population, which in part accounts for the myriad architectural styles drawn upon to construct the large number of ancient structures still visible within its boundaries. Building this city was truly an enormous undertaking, especially for a pre-modern culture; today, just the task of viewing their creation is so overwhelming that a map and compass are essential tools. This guide will help you get a bead on some of the most visually and historically magnificent buildings at Chichen Itza, so that you can more effectively plan an excursion that will leave you awe-struck and breathless at the skill and creativity of the city’s inhabitants ” and not just because you’ve been walking in circles all day!

Though there are seven ball courts at Chichen Itza, where the ancient Maya held their tlatchtli matches, one court in particular dwarfs them all. At the northwest corner of the city, the Great Ball Court measures over 150 meters in length, with huge audience stands and ornately carved goal hoops set high above the playing field. Though the exact rules of the games hosted here have been lost to history, the size and scale of the Great Court leads archaeologists to believe that only the most famed and skilled athletes were able to compete there ” and records show that human sacrifice was a penalty suffered by at least some of the losers.

The Warrior Temple

Built in the form of an enormous stepped pyramid, the Templo de los Guerreros (Temple of the Warriors) takes its name from the rows of statues depicting fierce combatants that flank and front the structure. The Temple was actually constructed around another, earlier temple called the Temple of Chac Mool; a Chac Mool statue, featuring a reclining human with a sideways-looking head, rests atop the pyramid, and is thought to have been used as a platform for ritual sacrifices. The Temple is currently undergoing restoration, which prevents visitors from climbing its stairs, but not from appreciating its grandeur.

El Caracol

Meaning “The Snail” in Spanish, El Caracol is a circular building set upon a large square platform, and is named for the spiral staircase contained within its dome. Building such structures out of stone takes a significant mastery of architecture and materials, and displays the Mayans genius and proficiency for building. More than that, it puts the Mayan predilection for science front and center; the shape and the placement of its doors and windows leads archaeologists to speculate that this was used as an astronomical observatory, specifically designed to align with the movements of the heavens (such as the pat of Venus across the night sky), and as such is one of the first known in the western hemisphere and one the earliest that still exists today.

The Balanckanche Caverns

Close by to the city proper is the entryway to a particularly ancient network of caves, known as the Caves of Balanckanche. They are one of Chichn Itz’s most incredible features, in part because of their size and shape, but mostly due to the wealth of artifacts contained within. Hundreds of statues, idols, carvings, pottery, and other items litter the cave floors, spanning nearly the entire history of Mayan civilization from the Pre-Classic times until well after the Spanish invasion of the Yucatn. Most of the artifacts have not been removed, but rather studied while in the same position as when first discovered, in order to afford visitors to the caverns a unique glimpse of a one-of-a-kind archaeological find unspoiled by later human activity. The layout of the caves is also extremely significant. Consisting of a central column made of limestone, which branches out into an unmistakable series of limb-like patterns, the overall structure of the caves looks like nothing so much as an enormous tree ” important because the World-Tree is one of the central concepts of Mayan mythology and religion.

Light Show Extravaganza

You should be aware that if you purchase a daytime ticket to visit Chichen Itza, you’re also allowed to stay or return to the site after sundown, when a spectacular light and sound show takes place near the giant pyramid El Castillo, featuring laser strobe displays and a heart-pounding musical score. With a duration of about an hour, the colorful and entrancing show is narrated in Spanish, but you can obtain headsets which provide the soundtrack in a variety of other languages.

The Descent of Kukulcan

Occurring in late March, the Spring Equinox is a special time for Chichen Itza, and its passing is marked by a three-day festival of singing, dancing, music, and theater. The high point of the Spring festival is the so-called “Descent of Kukulcan” which happens at the El Castillo pyramid. During the late afternoon, you can see a series of triangular shadows appear on the western face of the pyramid (caused by the sun shining over the northwest corner); the shadows then appear to actually crawl down the side of El Castillo in a manner quite reminiscent of a large snake. Though no archaeologists have been able to confirm this was the intention of the builders, given that the pyramid itself was built in tribute of the feathered serpent god Kukulcan, many believe that the ingenious and astronomically-inclined Maya designed the structure to create this phenomenon on an especially significant day of the year.

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Magna Carta: An Unintended Birth To Basic Rights

June 14, 2012 · Posted in Education · Comment 

If you love to observe history with your own eyes and get the opportunity you may now view one of the few surviving copies of the Magna Carta in the National Archives in Washington, DC. It is one of merely 4 surviving copies from the 1297 issuance. I have been able to personally view the document and it was a very powerful experience to say the least. There are very few documents in history that carry such weight and significance for the free world. However, it had not been initially created for that intention.

When King John added his royal seal on the initial Articles of the Barons in 1215 he could have never predicted the effect this document would have on future generations across the globe. After some modifications to the original articles it would end up being referred to as Magna Carta. This remarkable document, consented to only as a last effort in avoiding a civil war and one he never intended to abide by, would inadvertently introduce the concept of fundamental rights for every individual to the world.

The document was in no way meant to supply commoners with such rights. The barons who drew it up had only the protection of their own rights and property in mind. In fact only 10 weeks after the document was signed it was nullified and war occurred anyway, however in time Magna Carta would far exceed its initial intent and come to represent and solidify the concept that rights for every person ought to be so protected.

The principle enduring ideas that would echo throughout the coming centuries are these:

-To no one will We sell, to no one will We deny or delay, right or justice-

-No freeman shall be taken, imprisoned, disseised, outlawed, banished, or in any way destroyed, nor will We proceed against or prosecute him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers and by the law of the land-

Interestingly, it was the use of a particular word in the above clause, the word freeman as opposed to the use of a term of nobility such as baron or lord, that would be the reason Magna Carta, in time, would come to be interpreted to apply to all free persons, whether noble or common.

Even though the document had little effect in 1215, it was its reissuing in the future and the adoption of its principles and application to all people that would help protect basic rights for all Englishman and give rise to the concept that no person, not even the monarch, is higher than the law. Building upon this idea, it was the Magna Carta to which the American colonists looked when later demanding their equal rights as British citizens, and eventually these rights would find their way into the founding documents of the United States.

The 1297 copy of the Magna Carta is on long-term loan to the Archives by its owner David Rubenstein. As you enter the rotunda it’s the very first document you see just before getting to the Declaration and the Constitution. It is a fitting location for this glorious piece of history since it did, in many ways, give clearness and precedent to the protections and liberties we enjoy to this day.

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History of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

June 14, 2012 · Posted in Middle East · Comment 

What’s the origin of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? This is a complicated question that goes millenia. To a lot of Westerners the Mideast appears utterly confusing. Palestinians wish to bomb Israelis that force them at the end of a gun to reside restricted parts of the country that Jewish people lived in during Roman times but vacated for a couple millenia. Arabs are furious concerning this scenario and want Israel “wiped off the map,” or perhaps sidelined because of the United Nations. And nearly all the planet’s politicians see fit to talk on this argument, despite the fact that it’s regarding a slice of land as big as New Jersey. Most people understand Israel to be the very center stage of the Old Testmanet and they recognize that there is certainly some kind of link between Israel of 4,000 years back and now. However, just what the modern nation has that resembles those who walked through the Red Sea to follow a Charlton Heston look-alike which could call insects and frogs at his will is anyone’s guess.

Historical Israel mostly ceased to exist following its destruction by Rome, therefore we shall look at the modern-day Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Following the defeat of the Ottoman Empire, the advent of British control of Palestine in 1917 designated the 1st time ever since the Crusades in 1191 which a non-Muslim power operated Jerusalem. Since they administered it for the next thirty years, several British politicians observed the movement of Jews to Palestine and supported the Zionist movement. They reinforced the development of a Jewish center, but with a significant warning – they didn’t desire to skimp on the meaningful and material well-being of the Non-Jewish occupants there. The way they were expected to make this happen was anyone’s guess. It has been anybody’s idea the past ninety years within the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The main impetus of British diplomatic support for Israel was the 1917 Balfour Declaration, in which British Foreign Secretary named Lord Balfour declared to the Jewish population of Britain his government’s assistance in the production of a Jewish national homeland in Palestine. In 1920 Britain developed and administered a country made from Ottoman Syria, a portion of which contained Palestine (today’s Israel). It was known as the British Mandate for Palestine, and the League of Nations agreed that Britain supervise the location until it could actually function like a soverign region. This illustrates why the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is deeply complicated. It is deemed an existential battle between a couple of groups that has lasted between 60 and 4thousand years (depending on how we define such groups). Numerous attempts of peace regarding the two sides failed, though these were backed as well as negotiated by U.S. presidents going back to Harry Truman. On the other hand, the conflict is exceptionally clear to understand. It depends upon one particular problem: territory.

Both Palestinians and Jews think modern-day physical Israel to be justifiably theirs and each declare history for their decider. Each group records their suggested rights on their familial connection with Abraham; religious Jews declare that they are the descendants of Isaac, Abraham’s selected heir. Meanwhile, observant Muslims declare that Abraham’s oldest child Ishmael was the true inheritor of Abraham’s property and property; at least it was the case that Palestinians gave to the United Nations to take back the properties and territory from which they had been evicted right after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.

When hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled their houses within the 1940s and 50s, many Middle Eastern states were fearful that their undesirable situation could turn out to be deadly. So in the time of the 1960s the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) ended up being established within Egypt. The PLO came to be to be a political aid apparatus for Palestinians to aid them for their supreme aim of totally eliminating Israel, a goal that has been expressly written within the initial PLO charter. Though Yasser Arafat promised that the statement would be eliminated right after the 1993 Peace Agreement, it stays even now like a flag stating the established animosity Palestinians feel towards the creation of the Israeli nation, further entrenching the Israeli-Palestinian conflict directly into the two nations’ minds.

In reaction towards the extensive expulsions which have occurred, Palestinians declare a “right of return,” meaning that first-generation refugees in addition to their descendents have a right to the house and property they or their ancestors deserted or were compelled to abandon through the 1948 Israeli declaration of independence along with the 1967 Six Day War. As a symbol of this emotion, many Palestinian individuals keep a key to their families’ house in token of the hope to eventually return and get back what they think is truly their own. And also to this moving feeling many Jews would likely immediately react with equal conviction that their exact goal in coming to the region several years ago was to claim what had been rightfully theirs for thousands of years.

As we can see, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has existed for centuries. As a result it isn’t going to be solved quickly.

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Did Corts Absolutely Fool the Aztecs into Considering He Was Their God?

June 9, 2012 · Posted in Travel · Comment 

God of the Morning Star

The Aztecs wrote many stories about the god Quetzalcoatl. One legend describes his death by self-immolation; after drunkenly seducing a virgin priestess, he became wracked with guilt, and set his own body alight. The only part of the god that did not burn to ash was his heart, which ascended to the heavens to become the morning star.

Though popular culture holds that the Aztecs prophesied Quetzalcoatl’s return, an event which would lead a revolution of human consciousness and the dawn of an age of global peace, there is actually scant evidence that those who worshiped the feathered serpent god ever actually held this belief. Primary sources deciphered by archaeologists do not suggests that the Aztecs ever believed Quetzalcoatl would return; in fact, the claim only appears in later texts written by their conquerors, the Spanish.

A Problem of Sources

The supposed prophecy may in fact have been invented by the man responsible for the downfall of the Aztecs :the Conquistador Hernn Corts . In his reports to the court at Milan, the conquering Spaniard did his best to degrade the Aztecs, emphasizing his impression of their childlike naivete and ignorance. It would not be surprising, then, if Corts had been unable to resist painting himself not just as a victorious warrior, but as a divine figure, and embellished or invented a tale of being received by King Montezuma II a god returned to the mortal plain, instead of simply a strange-looking fellow human being.

Fifty years later, the Florentine Codex, an ethnographic research text written by a Spanish friar who visited Mesoamerica, repeated the speculation in grander and more certain language, which became largely responsible for its propagation in the sphere of popular thought. The following passage is attributed to the Aztec ruler: “You have graciously come on earth, approached your water, your high place of Mexico; you have come down to your mat, your throne, which I have briefly kept for you, I who used to keep it for you.” Certainly, this is deferential language, especially coming from the ruler of a mighty civilization, but the accuracy of these words is by no means universally accepted. Montezuma was further credited with commenting that the Conquistadors had “known pain [and] weariness,” and invited them to “come on earth, take your rest, enter into your palace, rest your limbs; may our lords come on earth.”

Whether it was hubris, an error of translation, or a simple misreading of kindness shown to the strange and unknown force which had suddenly appeared on their land, the ultimate source of this mistake may be lost to history. However, mistake it appears to have been; on the face of it, one would not expect a true believe in the return of a divine host to be concerned with an immortal being knowing pain or needing to rest weary limbs. Whatever their intentions, by the time the Aztecs had divined the Spaniards’ thirst for land and treasure, it was too late; their empire had been doomed from the first cannon shot, and the great city of Tenochtitlan fell before the might of Spanish steel and gunpowder.

Though he reaped the worldly benefits of his conquests, in his lifetime, the fame and power that Corts sought most proved eventually elusive. His riches could not compensate for the Spanish monarchy’s progressive disinterest and alienation of Corts , the fact of which left him bitter and resentful to the end. By the time the rumor of his reception as a living god reached their height, the man himself had passed from history, dying of an internal illness in 1547.

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Find Out Chichn Itz’s Sacred Cenote Well of Sacrifice

June 6, 2012 · Posted in Travel · Comment 

One of the most important Maya cities ever constructed, Chichn Itz was a center of culture, power, diversity, and religious practice for much of their civilization’s reign over the Yucatn peninsula. Established around 600 AD and active through the majority of Mayan history through the early Post-Classic period, its diverse population and fascinating architecture stood as a testament to Mayan ingenuity and capability. Within its area of influence, however, the practice of human sacrifice thrived for at least a part of the city’s lifespan. On the northern edges of Chichn Itz lies a cenote, which is a round depression left by the collapse of an underground cave’s roof that often then fills with water. This cenote, called the Sacred Cenote (or Cenote Sagrando in Spanish) was used exclusively to send untold numbers of sacrificial victims to their deaths.

The Yucatn peninsula consists mainly of limestone rock, which means that above-ground watercourses such as rivers and streams run in short supply. A civilization as expansive as the Mayans needed a prodigious amount of fresh water for irrigation, drinking, bathing, and the like, and so relied on the abundance of these cenotes to support the building of their numerous and enormous cities. The Cenote Sagrando is a prime example of the type found throughout the Yucatn, being unusually large and pure, and perfectly suited to provide the city with fresh water for a multitude of purposes ” except that its use was strictly reserved for ritual sacrifices. Histories culled from Mayan sources, as well as the writings and journals of Spanish clergy like Bishop Landa, have indicated to archaeologists that a hidden chamber was most likely located within the boundaries of Chichn Itz, where the intended victims were kept confined until the appointed time of their demise.

Those who met their end in these bloody rituals were often slaves or captives of war, or young and presumably virgin girls, but records show that the pool of victims could easily have included any common citizen of Chichn Itz. The Cenote Sagrando was connected to the city interior by a raised and paved walkway measuring almost 300 meters. The cenote itself is 60 meters wide and nearly 27 meters deep. Human sacrifices were lead to the edge of the well, then pushed over the sheer walls headfirst, landing in the water below with intense destructive force.

Scientists have been attempting to recover artifacts from the bottom of the well since the early 1900s. In the beginning, methods were generally crude, utilizing steel buckets and claws to dredge the floor, which didn’t contribute positively to the structural integrity of the well. Modern research methods are gentler, and archaeologists take care to repair the damage caused by earlier expeditions while they sift for new objects, including the use of scuba gear to manually examine the contents in situ. The purity of the cenote’s water is one of its most striking features; materials normally apt to decay in a short time, like wood, can last for centuries and are regularly recovered, along with gold, jade, incense, weapons, pottery, tools, statues, and human bones. From this wide collection of recovered objects, we can deduce that the Mayan nobility (and perhaps regular citizens as well) took up the practice of offering valuables to the gods by tossing them into the cenote in addition to sacrificial captives. Many of the items bear the marks of intentional damage, which is thought to have been a method of symbolically ‘killing’ the items so that they could find their way to their intended recipients in Xibalba.

According to Mayan belief, the pathway to Xibalba, the land of the dead, could be reached via the Sacred Cenote, through other entrances to underground cave systems, or by competition in Tlatchtli, the ancient Mesoamerican Ball Game famously played on the Great Court at Chichn Itz. In the Mayan tongue, the Sacred Cenote was known as Chen Kul ” literally, the Well of the Gods. The sacrifices at the Cenote Sagrando were chiefly to Chac, the Mayan god of rain, meant to ask for relief from droughts or for a good year of plentiful rain and rich harvests. A Spanish report written in the late 16th century gives a harrowing (if somewhat dubious) account of the origins and progression of a sacrificial event.

The report claims that the site of Chichn Itz was named for a Mayan named Ah Kin Itz (Ah Kin being a traditional honorific for priests of high rank; the name Chichn Itz actually translates to “At the Mouth of the Well of Itz”). It was the custom, the report says, for the nobility of the region to undergo a 60-day fast, during which they avoided eye contact with all other people, including the wives and servants who brought them what little food intake they were allowed during this period.

When the fast had been completed, these nobles took a personal hand in selecting and administering the sacrifice, by leading a procession to the cenote and then actually throwing the victims (usually young women) into the void themselves. They would direct the women to make, as they fell, all necessary prayers for a fruitful and prosperous year, so that their request might be received in the underworld. If the gods were pleased with the nobles and their offering, the report holds that at least one woman would be spared, alive but dazed floating in the waters of the cenote. Once extracted and revived with incense, she would tell the assembled of her meeting with the lords of Xibalba. If the nobles had done something to anger the gods, however, none of the victims would return from the portal, and the city would be condemned to a difficult year full of trials and misfortune.

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Alexis Arguello: Remembering A Champion

May 26, 2012 · Posted in Entertainment · Comment 

Alexis Arguello, one of the greatest boxers to ever compete , was found dead in his Managua, Nicaragua home in early July of an apparent suicide. He was 57 years old. Arguello was found with a gunshot wound to his chest, but his high political stature in the country meant that an investigation would be forthcoming to verify that it was indeed self inflected. Arguello was the mayor of Nicaragua’s capital city at the time of his death.

Arguello is best known to fight fans for his epic battle in’82 with Aaron The Hawk Pryor when he moved up in weight after dominating at lighter weight classes. Though Arguello would lose via knockout (amid some controversy due to an apparent mystery drink offered to Pryor by his trainer Panama Lewis) it was a thrilling toe to toe battle that even the most knowledgeable boxing experts remember fondly to this day. Promoter Bob Arum offered these thoughts on Pryor/Arguello:

“It was a brutal, brutal fight. That was something I will never, ever forget as long as I live. That was one of the most memorable fights I ever did.”

While the first Pryor fight may have brought him the most mainstream notoriety, boxing cognoscenti are aware that Arguello is arguably the best lightweight and junior lightweight in the history of the sport. Arguello never lost a fight at-0 pounds and would end his career with an astounding 82-8 record with 65 knockouts and championships in three different weight classes. At the time, he was only the sixth man in boxing history to hold title belts at three different weights.

Ironically, Arguellos career didn’t get off to a good start and he lost his debut in’68 via first round TKO. He won his next three fights, before losing again via unanimous decision to another lower tier foe in his native country. After that, he seldom lost again and would go on to be respected as one of the best pound for pound fighters of his day. He was at his best against his toughest adversaries including Ray Mancini, Bobby Chacon and Ruben Olivares. Bob Arum remembered him not only as a great fighter, but as a great man:

“Not only was he one of the greatest fighters I’ve ever seen, he was the most intelligent fighter. He was a ring tactician. Every move was thought out. And he was a wonderful, wonderful person.”

The articulate, intelligent Arguello was also a quote machine on the fight game and how champions should conduct themselves. Here, he speaks of his attitude toward his opponents:

“Of course after the fight you want to make sure that you’re okay and so is the other guy, its a brotherhood in there, so you want to make sure everyone is okay after the war is over.”

Arguello didn’t fight for his first title until he’d had 58 fights, and would frequently admonish boxers who didn’t show the same respect for the sport or their status as champion:

“When you won that title you should know now that you are representing a whole country or nation with your actions and you are now in a glass house or under a microscope and you better be ready to make your people proud.”

Most importantly, Arguello loved boxing and sought to protect it from those who would undermine its greatness:

“I respect boxing because it has given me so much and thats why I will never allow anyone to mistreat the sport of boxing if I can help it.”

While the modest Arguello would never say it himself, that was for from a one sided debt and he contributed more than his fair share to the sport of boxing with his grace, intelligence, talent and toughness.

Ross Everett is a freelance writer and respected authority on Pay Per Head. His writing has appeared on a variety of sports sites including sportsbooks and Price per head sites.

The History Of Horse Racing At Del Mar

May 26, 2012 · Posted in Entertainment · Comment 

Southern California’s Del Mar Racetrack has been is often overshadowed by East Coast venues like Churchill Downs and Belmont Park. The reality is that the 72 year old track has a history to rival their better known counterparts that includes the greatest horses and jockeys in the sport, as well as a healthy dose of show biz glitz. Operated by the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club and located 20 miles North of San Diego, its perhaps most famous for its iconic slogan: “Where The Surf Meets the Turf.”

The Del Mar Race Track was founded in the late’30′s by a group of business and show biz elite, including Bing Crosby, Oliver Hardy and Jimmy Durante. During much of the pre WW II era, horse racing ran a close second to baseball in mainstream popularity, so these racing enthusiasts were clearly at the right place at the right time in terms of market forces.

Additionally, the star power involved with the project also provided a trendy cachet that the tonier race courses back East lacked. Bing Crosby himself greeted patrons at the gate on opening day, and during the late’30s and early’40s it became a place to be seen for Hollywood A-listers and those who aspired for celebrity. In addition to known gambling enthusiasts like W.C. Fields, Edgar Bergen and Red Skelton, the Del Mar patrons during that time also included some of the top female stars of the era including Ava Gardner, Paulette Goddard and Dorothy Lamour.

Del Mar was the site of the’38 match race between Seabiscuit and Ligaroti. Seabiscut won the $25,000 winner take all challenge by a nose, and this race set Del Mar betting and attendance records and remains one of the most famous races in history. The racing at Del Mar continued to flourish until the start of WWII, when the track went ‘dark’ for racing.

After the war, Del Mar reopened with a bang. Following the surrender of Japan, President Harry S. Truman declared a national holiday for August 15,’45 and on that day Del Mar attracted over 20,000 fans through its gates who wagered what at the time was a record $958,476. The postwar prosperity was also a boon to Del Mar, which also benefitted from the Santa Fe Railroads daily Racetrack Special that brought bettors down from Los Angeles to enjoy a day at the track. During the latter part of the decade a new crop of Hollywood glitterati would flock to Del Mar, including Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, Mickey Rooney and Jimmy Durante. Durante would become such a regular that the turf course at Del Mar would later be renamed in his honor.

The annual race meet at Del Mar remains a highlight of the summer to this day. Del Mar remains one of the top tracks in the country, and have recently upgraded their facility with a state of the art grandstand and was one of the first tracks to install a new synthetic racing surface.

Ross Everett is a widely published freelance sports writer and noted authority on Pay Per Head. His writing has appeared on a variety of sports sites including sports news and Price per head sites.

Knowing What The Mayans Eat

May 26, 2012 · Posted in Food and Drinks · Comment 

Maize, or corn when referred to by its common name, was one of the foundations of early Mesoamerican culture. Both the impressive pyramids of the Maya and the expansive cities of the Aztecs were sustained largely by this important foodstuff, and in fact both civilizations may have been among the first peoples to implement widespread irrigation and maize farming. Additional archaeological evidence suggests that cultures which preceded the Maya, Aztec, and Olmec may have themselves experimented with the use of corn and corn seed as a valuable agricultural plant; such evidence points to human domestication of the maize crop as early as 5,000 BC.

The act of carving out farming plots from the dense jungle habitats surrounding their encampments was one of the signature developments that allowed both Maya and Aztec cultures to flourish. From archaeological evidence, we know that the two cultures planted and consumed corn with different kinds of beans and tubers, or manioc, and added wild game to their dishes to round out their nutritional intake and maintain an acceptable level of protein. Strangely, though, little information is available on the beverage preferences of these early cultures. The size and complexity of Maya and Aztec cities makes it unlikely that simply collecting rainwater could have provided a sufficient amount of liquid to sustain such sizable populations.

Corn as both Food and Beverage

Less well-popularized was the Maya affinity for corn and bean-based drinks. Probably resembling sweetened soymilk in texture and taste, the ancient Maya mashed both maze and beans and liquified them, drinking the concoction as a beverage alternative to water when washing down their meals. We know that the Maya had a bit of a sweet tooth, so we can imagine that sugar or other natural sweeteners were probably added to make the mixture more palatable.

Chocolate for the Crown

Chocolate was a treat favored by the Mayan royal elite; they loved to consume what they considered a rare delicacy in both solid and liquid form. One can imagine that the same methods of preparation that went into inventing hot chocolate probably aided Mayan culinary specialists in developing a sweet corn-or-bean based elixir.

Befriending the Bee

Although cocoa beans flourished the territory controlled by the Maya, sugar was something of a rarity, a problem which didn’t lessen the Maya desire for sweet foods. In order to turn that corn & bean mush into a sweet treat, they had to obtain sugar in the form of honey – and to do that meant inventing the now widely-practiced art of beekeeping, yet another ‘first’ to add to the list of accolades and accomplishments for this fascinating culture.

These ancient beekeepers used the honey gleaned from their beehives to sweeten a variety of drinks, first boiling the maize for sanitary reasons, and then straining it before mashing it into a liquid paste. This process ensured that no leaves, insects, or uncooked seeds would be left in the product. After straining, the mix would go back into a pot of boiling water to be thinned to a drinkable consistency. Honey would then be added to the pot, in conjunction with constant stirring to make sure it distributed evenly throughout the solution.

As honey was a common ingredient used in Maya cooking, one might be tempted to consider what kind of confection first introduced them to the wonders of sweetening all sorts of foodstuffs. Was it a pot of prepared sweet tea with some maize accidentally boiled into the mix? Whatever it was, the cultivation of both bees and corn stand as tributes to the unparalleled ingenuity of the Maya. Two thousand years before the first Egyptian bowed down before the Sun-god, Mesoamericans were toiling away on their maize farms, building the seeds of one of history’s greatest and most mysterious empires.

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What The Maya Ate: Yesterday vs. Today

May 20, 2012 · Posted in Food and Drinks · Comment 

Although maize was an ordinary food for the Maya, their delicacy was varied and remarkably extensive. They consumed several types of food, among them fish as well as other ocean creatures, wild plants, and their own crops. They were also outstanding hunters and also foragers, even though their innovative agricultural methods provided the staple foods upon which their entire diet was primarily based.

The key crops grown by the Maya were maize, squash, beans, and also chili peppers. The initial three were utilized through the entire Americas and referred to as ?Three Sisters? since they complimented one another both in taste and also nutrients. Several different kinds of maize were grown, however it was a fine crop that could not support the larger developments, thus it is considered that maybe manioc was utilized in its place when maize was scarce. Some other crops integrated papaya, avocado’s, tomatoes, pumpkin, pineapple, and also sweet potato. Several herbs and spices were as well grown and employed in their cooking. This included avocado leaf, white cinnamon, vanilla, and also allspice. Many of these were employed to generate special dishes although some were utilized in day to day cooking. Wild onions and salt were also commonly used in the cooking.

Maize must be pretreated through nixtamalization. This was a process where the maize was soaked and then cooked in an alkaline solution. This makes the maize release niacin which assists to be able to prevent pellagra and also protein deficiency. Right after the maize had been effectively taken care of, it then can be ground and employed in many different dishes.

Hunters provided a lot of the meat, even though it is considered that dogs and also turkeys may have been domesticated at the same time. They often times hunted turtles, armadillo, deer, peccary, and also iguanas. Those people living near along the coast furthermore supplemented their diet with maritime resources, such as lobster, shrimp, fish, as well as other shellfish.

Although several of the dishes which the ancients once used have gone away, the descendants of the Maya still cook using the same ingredients. Maize is still frequently used in their cooking, along with beans, squash, lots of the same meats, and a lot of other different plants and animals which were once employed by the ancients. They even can farm with some of the same methods handed down over the generations.

Several widely used recipes which might be employed nowadays utilize the similar ingredients that were employed by the Maya over one thousand years ago. Honey-Vanilla Fruit Compote, for example, makes use of native fruits. Hot chocolate, which tasted completely different from our modern drink, once was reserved only for the nobles yet are these days offered to everyone. Tamales were also popular in Mayan times, however the recipe appears to have changed somewhat as time passes.

Regardless if the recipe is ancient or modern, the descendants of the Maya keep making delicious meals. Given that they employ exactly the same ingredients, it offers a little look into the diets and daily eating of this proud and noble individuals who carry on to captivate us. Taking in a meal cooked by these people in these days makes you travel back in history, to when the stone cities were growing; it is a true taste of history!

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What Are The Beliefs And Religion Of The Maya?

May 19, 2012 · Posted in Travel · Comment 

Until now, the religion of the Maya is not known , simply because the conquistadors of Spain eliminated as much of the “heathen” culture as they can prior to trying to win over the folks to Catholicism. Then again, much has actually been discovered their faith as archeologists find out about things including age old books, pottery with text or paintings on them, mural paintings, carvings, and also other various treasures which are left untouched.

Because of these items, we currently know a little with what these folks believed, who they worshiped, and how they carried out their spiritual ceremonies.

Religion Of The Maya

The religion of the Maya is remarkably complicated, with a spider web of beliefs, worshiped beings as well as ceremonies. The majority of cities furthermore worshiped their own specific heroes, deities, as well as forefathers, not unlike the European Catholics as well as their saints. The priests are made as instruments in carrying out their spiritual rites and communicating to spirits and deities. With a huge belief in nature, mythology, and also the afterlife, the Mayan belief system is certainly among the most complicated religions in both ancient as well as present times.

The Gods and priests

The Mayans worshiped a number of groups of figures: the forefathers, heroes (a special group from the forefathers which carried out very good deeds throughout their life), deities, animal persons (animals which act as humans as well as serve the deities), spooks (ghosts), demons, bush spirits, goblins (thought to be produced by the priests to help the farmers), dwarfs, as well as hunchbacks. Each and every group was worshiped as well as looked after via traditions, retelling of tales, sacrifices, along with other spiritual ceremonies. They also assign rivers, mountains, caves to specific deities or ancestors. Other different forms of worship incorporated purification (confession, bloodletting and fasting), prayer, pilgrimages, as well as remarkable performances.

The structure of the Priesthood was wide-ranging, yet is not well recognized. Nearly all of what is identified was figured out by the one-sided perspective of the Spanish which conquered them. We do understand that lots of the different deities had their own priesthood, and that each level of the hierarchy had their own duties and also responsibilities. Many even held a title, like oracle, astrologer, or being in control of sacrificing humans. Priests were also research workers, professionals of arithmetic and astronomy. They were the people for the most part in charge of studying the heavens and also writing the charts. This led the right way to astrology and all the other sciences of fortune reading.

What Are Their Offerings And Sacrifices

Both offerings and sacrifices portrayed a tremendous role to keep the deities and several other worldly creatures content. There are various forms of offering, nonetheless they were also accurate, with highly accurate numbers, quantity, quality, preparations, and also arrangement of things. Nearly all ceremonial rites entail the sprinking of blookd, which, on the other hand, means sacrifices. Turkeys were specifically used, but in certain instances, many other animals, such as fish, deer and dogs were also used, while exceptional occasions required a human. Bloodletting by the priests along with royal family seemed to be fairly common. Though fantasized in horror films, cannibalism during these rituals was exceedingly rare.

There is so far more to discover with regards to their religion, yet, archeologists are still finding new facts. Certainly we will never know to what extent their beliefs get to. What exactly is known is that their entire lives targeted around what they believed plus who they worshiped.

The original article is from The Architectural Gifts of the Maya. Read more on Mayan History.

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