Rome From Start to Finish – Monday Map

Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day

I’ll Say!

Monday Map – The History of Rome

A special birthday edition features an animated map that explores the entire history of Rome, from its earliest days as a kingdom, through the massive expansion during the Roman Republic, and on through Roman Empire, which split in two for its final tumultuous years.

Please expect to want to hit Pause and stop to look at certain moments of the timeline in detail!

I never grow tired of history or maps, and love it when they come together so very well.

Birthday Weekend – Part 3 – Comfort Food

So I go out to blow a bit of birthday money on some comfort food,

Since I am sick and all

I am proud of my restraint

I was going to get a pumpkin pie. All that vitamin A, you know.
But then I thought of ginger snaps, which would go well with tea.
And then I thought maybe some chocolate pudding, which I have not had in memory.
But then I saw the mini red velvet cupcakes, so I got those.
And the gingersnaps and the organic chocolate pudding.
I only got half a pumpkin pie.

Birthday Weekend – Part 2 – A Feast and a Plague

My annual Birthday Dinner took place at Congee Village

As it has for some 15 years

 It is always a good sign when an upscale Chinese restaurant is so crowded you can barely squeeze through the lobby and bar, and your party includes the only non-Chinese in sight.

While ordering, I asked if they had any fried pumpkin. He said, “No.” And then he said they have only one pumpkin dish, a rice casserole cooked in a pumpkin, but it takes 45 minutes. So we said, “No.”
After we were all stuffed until we could barely move, the pumpkin casserole arrived.
Missed were some of the longtime regulars, who had to cancel due to illness or traveling. But that allowed me to offer a seat for some favorite alternates, even if only one could make it on such short notice.
And everyone enjoyed themselves with much good cheer.
Except my roommate who arrived looking like death warmed over and clearly sailing into some sort of cold or flu virus.
He should have been home in bed, but both of my roommates are moving out to greener pastures and he wanted to tough it out for my sake and make the best of it.
Little did I know that the headache I had all that day wasn’t from the ham-fisted barber mentioned in my previous post. And just about the time I was heading to bed after midnight I felt the tight, painful cough starting deep in my chest.
I awoke before dawn with the severe chills and complete body aches, and spent Saturday shivering under many layers of clothes and covers, with a heating pad between my knees, begging for the sleep that the spiny headache would not allow.
But, a little after 10 PM it suddenly broke apart and was gone.
It was exactly like a severe 24 hour stomach bug, except for no stomach issues – thankfully. I’ve never experienced anything like it.
And now it has turned into a basic head and chest cold. But since the hurricane phase has passed, it will probably just be annoying while it runs its course.
It knocked down my household like dominoes. That one roommate was hit Friday evening, I was hit Saturday morning, and now my other roommate is sailing into the worst of it on Sunday. But at least she knows it only lasts one day, before becoming “a cold.”
The weirdest part is how food or drink with remotely any bitterness, like coffee or chocolate, tastes super bitter! Very weird.
But then no food is appealing. We have collectively gone through a LOT of eggs and orange juice, but not much else.
I still feel sick and tired, but compared to yesterday, that is ok with me.
Birthday feast pumpkin casserole Congee Village
“It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!”

Birthday Weekend Part 1 – Haircut from Hell

My birthday is Monday.

And that means I get a whole weekend.

Birthday Weekend Part 1

Well… Here’s how my birthday weekend started.

Friday morning

I decided to splurge on a haircut, declaring it the last one I would pay for, as they have gotten up to $35 dollars in my neighborhood, which comes out to about $1 per hair. And I have decided to buy some of these new-tech cut-your-own-hair clippers.
I went to my barber and he wasn’t there. Instead there was a new fella, around 60, classic native Brooklynite accent, playing the most appalling sappy Autotune with a drum machine teenage love song channel, with constant variations on “I miss you.” or “Our love will last forever.”
I say, “Take the number 3 blade and just do it evenly all over.”
He takes these enormous, ancient clippers, puts on a long hard plastic cow catcher of several prongs, and proceeds to stab it into the center of my forehead with a thunk, before sliding it up over the top of my head.
He then repeats this technique so many times they begin to get a big red spot at the point of impact, just without a large vein runs up.
Never have I had a rougher, gruffer experience in a barber’s chair!
Not liking conflict, I decided to let him keep assaulting me, thinking it wouldn’t last much longer, and half expecting my roommate to pop out with a Candid Camera crew.
And then it was time for the smaller clippers and the more delicate work. This he performed with the blade that should’ve been changed six months ago. Have you ever tried to shave with a razor blade that so old it feels chunky, or like it has sharp, pointy teeth?
Well, this blade seemed to have a long single claw sticking out of it, which dug into my scalp over and over and over. I was truly wincing when he got behind my ears and he didn’t seem to notice.
Finally it was all done. He then took what looked like an oversized old-fashioned shaving brush with large nylon bristles that was full of talc. And he used it to pummel me again and again. I was surprised to not see those large bumps rise from the top of my head like a Bugs Bunny cartoon.
The amazing thing is how proud he was of his work, and clearly thought I should be too. He even pointed out how he specifically didn’t make it even overall, as I had requested, for some sort of aesthetic artistry I didn’t quite understand.
Once I got home, my roommate came in and said, “Nice haircut. Oh wait. They did do a very good job did they?”
That’s was putting it mildly.
I may have to fork out for one more haircut just so this isn’t the last one.
But wait there’s more… (To be continued.)


Talking Heads

Live from Rome, 1980, Talking Heads featuring Adrian Belew

Hypnotic, Exhilarating, and Far Too Long Ago

Talking Heads had been together for five years at the time this concert film was shot. There is as much time between this performance and today as between this performance and the Attack on Pearl Harbor.

The band’s sneak attack on conventional popular music ultimately changed the musical world order, as ripples of the post-Punk revolution were felt ever afterwards. It could be said this was Talking Heads at their peak, just before they took a hiatus and returned as a slicker, well-established music industry entity that appears in Johnathan Demme’s cinematic release Stop Making Sense.

By this time, the core members of the band were supplemented with many more human components that gelled into one of the most original and influential contemporary concert acts of their time. This included the exuberant anarchy of guitarist Adrian Belew, whose compelling fretboard antics continued to be imitated by other Talking Heads guitarists (and elsewhere) after he moved on to other musical horizons.

Happy 70th Birthday to Jerry Harrison!


Presidents Day – Monday Map

Presidents Day Map of all the birthplaces

Our Presidents of the United States

The entire bunch were born in but 21 of our 50 States

Fun Facts from the Washington Post

* Ohio is the birthplace of seven presidents, second only to Virginia’s eight. But, Ohio hasn’t elected a president since Warren Harding in 1920. And Harding didn’t even last a full term, dying in 1923. (Random Warren Harding factoid: His size 14 shoes were the largest of any president.)

* Texas’ two native-born presidents may not be who you think they are. Neither George H.W. Bush (Massachusetts) nor George W. Bush (Connecticut) were born in the Lone Star State. The two? Lyndon Johnson and Dwight Eisenhower. (Eisenhower was born in Denison, Texas.)

* Vermont is the smallest state with the biggest presidential punch as the birthplace of both Chester Arthur and Calvin Coolidge.

* California has produced only a single president — and it was Republican Richard Nixon.

The map is sadly out of date.

James Dean Wilson Brings Famous Faces to Life

“Mona Lisa had the Highway Blues, you can tell by the way she smiles.”

Delightful as they are awesome, visual artist James Dean Wilson seemingly breathes three-dimensional life into these two-dimensional masterpieces, if for a few brief, breathtaking moments.

These marvelous video manipulations renew the humanity in iconic works of art, considered masterpieces specifically because of the humanity captured by the painters and sculptor who created them in the first place.

James Dean Wilson has also brought to life portraits of Elizabeth I and her father Henry VIII, in addition to other subjects.

Check out his YouTube channel HERE

And his Facebook page HERE