Friday, November 25, 2011

50 Words For Snow

There is a widespread linguistic myth that the Eskimo have 50 plus words for snow. That would make sense, but it depends on how you define a word, and what Eskimo tribe you single out. In the meantime, to satisfy one's linguistic yearnings, there are hundreds of documented Sami words for snow. Who are the Sami? The Sami are the indigenous people of Arctic Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. Not surprisingly, they also have hundreds of words for reindeer. 
These are some of the terms that describe the condition and layers of snow:
 1. čahki “hard lump of snow... hard snowball”
2. geardni “thin crust of snow”
3. gaska-geardi “layer of crust”
4. gaska-skárta “hard layer of crust”
5. goahpálat “the kind of snow-storm in which the snow falls thickly and sticks to things”
6. guoldu “cloud of snow which blows up from the ground when there is a hard frost without very much wind”
7. luotkku “loose snow”
8. moarri “brittle crust of snow, thin frozen surface of snow
9. njáhcu “thaw”
10. ruokŋa “thin hard crust of ice on snow”
11. seaŋaš “granular snow at the bottom of the layer of snow”
12. skárta “thin (more or less ice-like) layer of snow frozen on to the ground”
13. skáva “very thin layer of frozen snow”
14. skávvi “crust of ice on snow, formed in the evening after the sun has thawed the top of
the snow during the day”
15. soavli “very wet, slushy snow, snow-slush”
16. skoavdi “empty space between snow and the ground”
17. vahca “loose snow (especially new snow on the top of a layer of older snow or on a road
with snow on it)”

The following describe conditions of travel through snow:
18. bearta “heavy going because the ground is bare (without snow) in many places”
19. bohkolat “deep snow of varying depth; small (steep) snow-drift on road
20. časttas “hard snowdrift (smaller than skálvi)”
21. čearga “snowdrift which is so hard that it bears”
22. činus “firm, even snow (but not firm enough to bear)”
23. dobádat “sticky snow, heavy wet snow”
24. fáska “snow blown together by the wind
25. gálja “very slippery going, frozen, slippery surface”
26. girrat “heavy (of the going in frosty weather)
27. joavggahat “place where the snow lies particularly deep after a fall of snow”
28. lavki “slippery going: ice covered with loose, dry snow with no foothold”
29. moarri “the kind of going, surface, when the frozen snow or crust of ice breaks and cuts
the legs of horses or reindeer”
30. muovllahat “place where people or animals have ploughed through or plunged along in
deep snow or a soft bog”
31. njeađgga “’ground drift’ (drifting snow which gets blown up from the ground)
which covers roads or tracks.”
32. oavlluš “depression, hollow, with slushy snow in it, on land or on ice”
33. oppas “untouched, untrodden, covering of snow
34. rodda “hard going (too little snow)”
35. sievlla “the state of things when the spring snow is so soft that one sinks in it”
36. skálvi “big (high, steep and usually hard) snow-drift”
37. skoarádat “the kind of going in which one hears a grating noise as the
kjerris, sleigh, ski passes over a rough surface”
38. spoatna “hard, firm, snow to drive on (when there is little snow)”
39. veađahat “place where snow has been blown away; (nearly) bare patch

Words for Tracks in Snow
40. čiegar “snow-field which has been trampled and dug up by reindeer (or sheep in
autumn) feeding there”
41. čilvi “ice-covered area where reindeer have been grazing in mild weather”
42. doalli “winter road or track covered by snow but still distinguishable”
43. doavdnji “snow of such a depth that skis or a sleigh will not come in contact with the ground
44. fieski “area where a grazing herd of reindeer has been 
45. jođáhat “tracks in the snow left by a migrating reindeer herd”
46. jolas “tracks made in the snow by reindeer, dogs or wolves which have gone in a row”
47. láhttu “ski-track”
48. loanjis “tracks of the whole herd of reindeer”
49. márahat “large, beaten winter-track”
50. rádnu “tracks of a hare (where the hare has gone frequently to and fro)”

Monday, November 21, 2011

Politics Mixes With Fine Art

I was intrigued by some of the meme images circling around the blogosphere lately of the pepper spray wielding police officer. What bizarreness can be created with PhotoShop! Some of my most beloved paintings!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Signature Strengths

I took this survey on the Authentic Happiness website.The pink areas are my signature strengths. Areas of weakness for me are spirituality, leadership skills, optimism, and self-control and self-regulation. I think lately I have improved in some weak areas, namely the capacity to love and be loved, expressing gratitude, cultivating kindness and generosity, and self-control and regulation. I'm not sure what one is to do with this survey. Do you mainly engage in activities that capitalize your strengths? Or do you also work on your weaknesses? 

VIA Survey of Character Strengths

Here are your scores on the VIA Survey of Character Strengths. For how to interpret and use your scores, see the book Authentic Happiness. The ranking of the strengths reflects your overall ratings of yourself on the 24 strengths in the survey, how much of each strength you possess. Your top five, especially those marked as Signature Strengths, are the ones to pay attention to and find ways to use more often.

Your Top Strength

Love of learning
You love learning new things, whether in a class or on your own. You have always loved school, reading, and museums-anywhere and everywhere there is an opportunity to learn.

Your Second Strength

Fairness, equity, and justice
Treating all people fairly is one of your abiding principles. You do not let your personal feelings bias your decisions about other people. You give everyone a chance.

Your Third Strength

Honesty, authenticity, and genuineness
You are an honest person, not only by speaking the truth but by living your life in a genuine and authentic way. You are down to earth and without pretense; you are a "real" person.

Your Fourth Strength

Curiosity and interest in the world
You are curious about everything. You are always asking questions, and you find all subjects and topics fascinating. You like exploration and discovery.

Your Fifth Strength

Appreciation of beauty and excellence
You notice and appreciate beauty, excellence, and/or skilled performance in all domains of life, from nature to art to mathematics to science to everyday experience.


Creativity, ingenuity, and originality
Thinking of new ways to do things is a crucial part of who you are. You are never content with doing something the conventional way if a better way is possible.


Humor and playfulness
You like to laugh and tease. Bringing smiles to other people is important to you. You try to see the light side of all situations.


Industry, diligence, and perseverance
You work hard to finish what you start. No matter the project, you "get it out the door" in timely fashion. You do not get distracted when you work, and you take satisfaction in completing tasks.


Judgment, critical thinking, and open-mindedness
Thinking things through and examining them from all sides are important aspects of who you are. You do not jump to conclusions, and you rely only on solid evidence to make your decisions. You are able to change your mind.


Social intelligence
You are aware of the motives and feelings of other people. You know what to do to fit in to different social situations, and you know what to do to put others at ease.


Capacity to love and be loved
You value close relations with others, in particular those in which sharing and caring are reciprocated. The people to whom you feel most close are the same people who feel most close to you.


Perspective (wisdom)
Although you may not think of yourself as wise, your friends hold this view of you. They value your perspective on matters and turn to you for advice. You have a way of looking at the world that makes sense to others and to yourself.


Caution, prudence, and discretion
You are a careful person, and your choices are consistently prudent ones. You do not say or do things that you might later regret.


Citizenship, teamwork, and loyalty
You excel as a member of a group. You are a loyal and dedicated teammate, you always do your share, and you work hard for the success of your group.


Forgiveness and mercy
You forgive those who have done you wrong. You always give people a second chance. Your guiding principle is mercy and not revenge.


Kindness and generosity
You are kind and generous to others, and you are never too busy to do a favor. You enjoy doing good deeds for others, even if you do not know them well.


Modesty and humility
You do not seek the spotlight, preferring to let your accomplishments speak for themselves. You do not regard yourself as special, and others recognize and value your modesty.


You are aware of the good things that happen to you, and you never take them for granted. Your friends and family members know that you are a grateful person because you always take the time to express your thanks.


You excel at the tasks of leadership: encouraging a group to get things done and preserving harmony within the group by making everyone feel included. You do a good job organizing activities and seeing that they happen.


Zest, enthusiasm, and energy
Regardless of what you do, you approach it with excitement and energy. You never do anything halfway or halfheartedly. For you, life is an adventure.


Bravery and valor
You are a courageous person who does not shrink from threat, challenge, difficulty, or pain. You speak up for what is right even if there is opposition. You act on your convictions.


Self-control and self-regulation
You self-consciously regulate what you feel and what you do. You are a disciplined person. You are in control of your appetites and your emotions, not vice versa.


Hope, optimism, and future-mindedness
You expect the best in the future, and you work to achieve it. You believe that the future is something that you can control.


Spirituality, sense of purpose, and faith
You have strong and coherent beliefs about the higher purpose and meaning of the universe. You know where you fit in the larger scheme. Your beliefs shape your actions and are a source of comfort to you.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Long Lost Da Vinci?

A portrait of Jesus Christ entitled "Salvador Mundi," or "Savior of the World" will be on display at the National Gallery in London from November 2011 until February 2012. Most art scholars have agreed that the portrait is a restored and rediscovered Da Vinci. The painting does have a provenance which can be documented. I do find the history somewhat confusing, though, since there were also many copies of the masterpiece by others throughout history. Also the painting changed hands many times in 500 years. 

Scholars have long known that Da Vinci was commissioned by Louis XII of France in 1506 to paint a portrait of Jesus. The painting was believed to be completed in 1513. For most of the years "Salvador Mundi" has been in the hands of royals, most notably Charles I of England, in 1649. Eventually, an American in New York acquired the painting in the 20th century. The last time the painting sold was in 1958, and it sold for 100 dollars. At the time it was attributed to Da Vinci's student Giovanni Boltraffio, and was quite damaged. 

After restoration and authentication, the value is now estimated as 200 million.

To me, it is a very haunting portrait, typical of Da Vinci. It reminds me of the Mona Lisa, and seems to bear the stamp of the master's style. Yet many others would have wanted to copy Da Vinci. 

How exciting if it is a Da Vinci! I'd see it in London if I had the chance. 

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Zion National Park, Day Two

The second day at Zion was our big hike to Angel's Landing. Ashley, Laurie and I got up at 5:30 for an early breakfast with our hiking team and guide Charles. Everybody had met the night before, but I had retired early so I was new to everyone except Ashley and Laurie. We gathered our gear, retrieved our sandwiches and delicious snacks, and then took the shuttle to the park. 

When we first got out at the base of the trail, it was still dark, and rather cold. I had on a winter hat, and fleece gloves. We set out at a quick pace on fairly flat ground. Charles was an excellent guide, though, in my opinion, and moved along but stopped frequently enough for me. Pretty soon we started climbing a series of switchbacks. We got a good view of the valley below, as the sun began to rise. Awesome. 

The Angel's Landing trail is similar to the Observation trail, in that you end up after climbing a bit in a chasm or canyon, that's flat but cooler and rocky. At the Angel's trail, it's called Refrigerator Canyon. I'm sure in the summer it's a welcome reprieve. 

The next part of the trail involves climbing a series of short but steep switchbacks called the wiggles to Scout's Lookout. Before you get to Scout's Lookout, you have to 'squiggle the wiggles." Scout's Lookout is a large flat area at the base of Angel's Landing. We rested here and hung some of our packs and gear in the trees. We left our trusted hiking poles behind, because Angel's Landing is so steep they're useless. Also, you frequently have to use both feet and both hands to hold on. 

Our Team of Fearless Hikers
I was nervous but excited. The adrenaline was definitely pumping, which helped a lot to pay attention. You have to become somewhat Zen as you're climbing Angel's Landing, and watch every step carefully. I found it helpful to not look around as I was climbing. It's disorienting and scary, as the drop on both sides is thousands of feet. When there was the opportunity to rest at a landing, that's when you realized how high up you were. The views were simply spectacular.

It's a steep and long climb, but we took our time. Several times I thought we had made it to the top, only to discover in the distance another enormous jutting rock cliff waiting to be scaled. When you look at what you are about to climb, you can't believe you can do it.

High on Life
At the top we rested and ate. The air was so clean, the view so stunningly beautiful, and my body felt so good, I'm pretty sure I was high on being alive.

I was appropriately worried about the descent. Going down Angel's Landing can be more treacherous than going up. As my coach said: "Ascending is optional, descending is required." But it was easier than I expected, and seemed quick. When I got back to Scout's Lookout, I couldn't believe I had done it!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Evolution Quiz

Origin of Species quiz

I found this quiz on I got 80%.  Try your hand or paw at it mates.

It's 150 years since Charles Darwin first published On the Origin of Species. But can your evolutionary knowledge survive our quiz?

1. A more complete title of Darwin's book was On the Origin of Species by Means of…

2. Darwin wasn't the first scientist to come up with a theory of evolution. Which scientific predecessor of Darwin argued that an organism can pass on beneficial characteristics it acquires during its lifetime to its offspring?

3. While studying variation among related species on different islands in the Galapagos, Darwin struck the core of what would become his theory of evolution. Which of the following animals was crucial to Darwin's discovery?

4. Which of the following Australian cities did Darwin NOT visit when he came to Australia in 1836 during his voyage on the HMS Beagle?

5. Which iconic Australian animal did Darwin describe as being like a European water rat?

6. In a scientific context what does the term 'survival of the fittest' mean?

7. After 20 years of research, why did Darwin rush to publicise his theory of natural selection in 1858?

8. Which missing part of Darwin's theory of evolution did Gregor Mendel explain with his experiments crossbreeding pea plants?

9. On the Origin of the Species includes a drawing of Darwin's 'tree of life', a metaphor to explain the evolutionary relationships between different species. What do scientists now say Darwin got wrong in his tree of life?

10. Which of the following could NOT be considered an example of evolution?