Happy New Year!






Which zodiac sign are you?





The carvings with Chinese Zodiac on the ceiling of the gate to Kushida Shrine in Fukuoka
Jakub Hałun
from


Your animal's compatibility chart

You'll first have to find what sign (animal of the zodiac) corresponds to your birthday. There are 12.








2017 - Year of the Rooster


The Rooster's Personality: Observant, Hardworking...

People born in a year of the Rooster are very observant. Hardworking, resourceful, courageous and talented, Roosters are very confident about themselves.
Roosters are always active, amusing and popular among the crowd. Roosters are talkative, outspoken, frank, open, honest, and loyal individuals. They like to be the center of attention and always appear attractive and beautiful.



Roosters are happiest when they are surrounded by others, whether at a party or just a social gathering. They enjoy the spotlight and will exhibit their charm at any occasion.
Roosters expect others to listen to them while they speak, and can become agitated if others don't. Vain and boastful, Roosters like to brag about themselves and their accomplishments.  Their continually seeking the unwavering attention of others annoys people around them at times.

Good Health for "Roosters" --People born in a year of the Rooster are typically healthy people. They are active and enjoy sports such as hiking and swimming. Roosters don't get sick very often because they tend to fight illness well. Even when they do become ill, they feel better quickly. Roosters are a little sensitive, and they feel stressed and moody at times. 
Chúc Mừng Năm Mới! = 
Happy New Year's!

Caiman and butterflies



While traveling through the Amazon to study reptile and amphibian diversity with the Herpetology Division at the University of Michigan, photographer Mark Cowan happened upon a strange sight: a caiman whose head was nearly covered in butterflies. The phenomenon itself isn’t particularly unusual, salt is critical to the survival of many creatures like butterflies and bees who sometimes drink tears from reptiles in regions where the mineral is scarce.
mymodernmet


Normalcy





Note left by hubby




Carrie Fischer/ Star Wars tribute

from Rolling Stone>

Such is the power of Carrie Fisher that she can bring down the house without even actually appearing on screen. The final line of this year's  bleak, unique stand-alone "Star Wars story" emerges from the computer-constructed mouth of a young Princess Leia – a single word that the underlines importance of what countless Rebels have died to have delivered to her. Compared to the film's CGI Tarkin, this Leia simulacrum is on screen for just seconds. But her monosyllabic summation of the film's message carries nearly 40 years of audience affection for the character who utters it. It's as if we the viewers have been catapulted to a galaxy, far, far away and a long time ago, when hope was in seemingly boundless supply.




Killing Jabba ('Return of the Jedi')


Yes, the golden metal bikini usually gets all the press in this sequence – as Rolling Stone's own Return of the Jedi cover made clear at the time, Fisher wore it well. But action speaks louder than compulsory attire, and Leia's coup de grâce here was to grab the chains that held her captive and strangle the slug-like dirtbag who held her captive. "This bounty hunter is my kind of scum – fearless and inventive," Jabba said when Leia first broke into his palace disguised as a mercenary. Buddy, you didn't know the half of it.


Karma:


Brought to the Death Star's bridge for an audience with its commander Grand Moff Tarkin, she insults one of the galaxy's most powerful people ("I recognized your foul stench when I was brought on board") without breaking either a sweat or her aristocratic Middle Atlantic accent. But when the Imperial bigwig announces his plan to blow up her home planet, the unfeeling facade disappears like a disabled deflector shield. "No," she stammers, "Alderaan is peaceful, we have no weapons, you couldn't possibly – !" She may be a monarch-turned-insurrectionist, but in that moment she sounds like anyone stuck in the terrified bargaining stage of a personal disaster in the making. The negotiation, shall we say, does not end well.


Impact
The Death Star superlaser strikes Alderaan's planetary shield (click to enlarge)
Shield Flare
Alderaan's planetary shield attempts to disperse the staggering energy of the superlaser blast (click to enlarge)
Shield Continuing to Flare
Amazingly, Alderaan's planetary shield has delayed the planet's destruction for 0.13 seconds (click to enlarge)
Explosion
The planetary shield is gone, and the planet is destroyed (click to enlarge)
Expansion
The planet's mass can be seen hurtling away at great speed (click to enlarge)


...Leia takes charge, blasting their way to freedom via one of the space station's garbage chutes. But after that close call, she's elbowing Solo out of the leadership position and busting the balls of a Wookiee ("Will someone get this big walking carpet out of my way?"). The lady has no time for amateur hour, and neither does Fisher, who commands the screen like an actor far older than her mere 19 years at the time. And she's doing it all in an immaculate white dress with cinnamon rolls for hair. A star (warrior) is born.



Here are some of her best quotes (via Rolling Stone) 

"Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi – you're my only hope" 

On why Star Wars worked"Movies are dreams! And they work on you subliminally. You can play Leia as capable, independent, sensible, a soldier, a fighter, a woman in control – control being, of course, a lesser word than master. But you can portray a woman who's a master and get through all the female prejudice if you have her travel in time, if you add a magical quality, if you're dealing in fairy-tale terms." via Rolling Stone


On her Hollywood families"Who's more famous than Debbie [Reynolds] and Eddie [Fisher]? 
C-3PO and Darth Vader." via Rolling Stone


On her natural demeanor"I act like someone in a bomb shelter trying to raise everyone's spirits." via The Princess Diarist


On her famous friends"Hi I'm Mrs. Han Solo, and I'm an alcoholic. I'm an alcoholic because George Lucas ruined my life." via George Lucas's Lifetime Achievement Award at the American Film Institute


On what made Star Wars such a hit"Movies were meant to stay on the screen, flat and large and colorful, gathering you up into their sweep of story, carrying you rollicking along to the end, then releasing you back into your unchanged life. But this movie (Star Wars) misbehaved. It leaked out of the theater, poured off the screen, affected a lot of people so deeply that they required endless talismans and artifacts to stay connected to it." viaThe Princess Diarist

On what kept her sane"I don't think I was ever suicidal, and that's probably because of drugs." via Rolling Stone

On finding happiness
"Sometimes you can only find Heaven by slowly backing away from Hell." via Wishful Drinking


On discussing her affair with Harrison Ford in her autobiography, The Princess Diarist"I don't think it's that revealing, or it's certainly not offensive. It's not unkind about him. It's flattering. I mean, the way people are reacting to it is funny to me. I'd do him at 73." via Fresh Air



On her religion"You know how they say that religion is the opiate of the masses? Well, I took masses of opiates religiously." via Wishful Drinking

On her aspirations"I am hoping to get the centerfold in Psychology Today." via WebMD

On how she got cast in Star Wars
"I slept with some nerd. I hope it was George [Lucas] ... I took too many drugs to remember." via Vanity Fair

Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds

Tragic end for 2016 - Carrie's mom Debbie Reynolds, perhaps stressed by her daughter's death the day before, succumbed to death herself.

 Carrie Fischer as baby w/ dad Eddie Fischer & D. Reynolds


Remember the Fallen from 2016

Click to enlarge



Good quick rough guide to the media landscape:

We are living in a time where we have more information available to each of us than ever before in history. However, we are not all proficient at distinguishing between good information and bad information. This is true for liberal, moderate, and conservative people. I submit that these two circumstances are highly related to why our country is so politically polarized at the moment.

Why is it that I can have such different views on the same subject or topic as someone else who lives in the same country? Take the polarizing example of people’s opinions on Hillary. Why do I think she is qualified and inspiring but others think she is literally evil incarnate? I don’t know her personally. And neither do you. We must both admit that our opinions of her are informed by the news sources we read and believe. And news sources vary widely in what they report.  From  author & chart designer Vanessa Otero


CLICK ON IMAGE TO VIEW FULL SIZE


Mickey mouse plant

Ochna integerrima, popularly called the Vietnamese mickey-mouse plant (hoa mai, hoàng mai, is a tree species (sometimes shrub)
 The yellow flowers of this plant make it very popular in South Vietnam, where the plant is purchased during Lunar New Year.

In 2017, the Lunar New Year's falls on Jan. 28, 2017




Creepy / bizarre Victorian Christmas cards

from





If jovial froggies
a sking would go;
They had asked their mamma,
but she'd sternly said, "No!)
And they all came to grief in a beautiful row
There's a sweet Christmas moral for one not too slow!
Just go!














This one is perfectly sweet until you read the poem and realize you've been plunged into an HP Lovecraft Christmas.


"The night is dark, and my messenger moth...."
This one is perfectly sweet until you read the poem and realize you've been plunged into an HP Lovecraft Christmas.

Why are there dead birds on so many Victorian Christmas Cards?

from  Hyperallergenic

To understand why you might send a friend or family member this morbid missive, we must mentally journey back to the 19th century. And no, it was not madness from the arsenic laced wallpaper or tightly cinched corsets. According to Rebecca Baumann at Indiana University, the cards were particularly prominent in 1880s Britain. With the popularity of mourning rituals and posthumous portraits, death was visually present in daily life.
"May yours be a Joyful Christmas."

The image of a dead bird in the snow is similar to the popular “Babe in the Woods” motif of children who are in their mortal sleep in the forest, and may have likewise been a call to empathy for the less fortunate. John Grossman, author of Christmas Curiosities - the cards were “bound to elicit Victorian sympathy and may reference common stories of poor children freezing to death at Christmas.” It’s worth noting that these cards also have imagery akin to the depictions of the 18th-century English rhyme “Who Killed Cock Robin,” that includes the funeral of the slain bird.
"A Loving Christmas Greeting."

However, it wasn’t necessarily such a tempus fugit symbol. Hunter Oatman-Stanford at Collectors Weekly noted that the birds are often robins and wrens, and that “killing a wren or robin was once a good-luck ritual performed in late December.” Specifically, the Irish St. Stephen’s Day on December 26 is known as “Wren Day,” with a traditional hunt of the bird (albeit now a fake one on a pole, although that wasn’t always the case).  So receiving a card with the little prone bird, feet curled in rigor mortis, could be meant to wish nothing more than good cheer on the new year.