Automatic Updates from New Blog

Hey, everyone! I’ve got some great news–I’ve finally figured out a way to give you guys access automatically to all of the posts showing up on the new Bythepathlesstraveled blog!

I know that it’s a pain to head on over there for new posts. But now, fear not! This is how it works:

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So click on the cog and you’ll see the five most recent posts from the new bythepathlesstraveled blog. Woohoo! In the cog there’s also the option to subscribe, and you can also view the archives if you don’t feel like scrolling all the way down. The magnifying glass is a search bar too, so feel free to search for a post if you are looking for something specific. 

I’m trying to make things a lot easier for you guys if I can, so if you have any suggestions, PLEASE let me know.

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So basically, I’m going to attempt to shortlink to some of my major post categories. Once you’re at the first post, you can use the navigation arrows on the vertical red bar to the left of the page to keep reading through chronologically. (Don’t worry, the arrows will be there!) :D

To check out my China Series, click here:

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To check out my Europe/Hungary Series, click here:

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To check out my Flagship Niagara Series, click here:

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To check out my Things You Thought You Knew Series, click here:

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To check out my Japan Series, click here:

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*IMPORTANT!* MOVING BLOGS — FINAL POST HERE!

Hello, everyone! First of all, don’t panic. I’m not going to stop blogging! But this blog is too full for me to continue here, so I’m packing up and moving to another blog. This new blog, which is still in its baby stages, can be found here: http://0bythepathlesstraveled0.wordpress.com/

If you’re too lazy to paste that, click HERE to go to the new blog.

I’m still bythepathlesstraveled, and I’ll still be blogging. In fact, you may want to stay tuned for the next few months as I post stories of my travels in China learning acupuncture and all sorts of fun stuff. This blog that you’re on now, well…it’s going to go static. That means that I changed the theme, and it won’t be updated any more. The posts that are on here will stay, but any new posts will be put on the new blog at the link above. Sound good?

Hope this news isn’t too confusing. I knew it would have to happen at some point, and now the time’s finally here. So please bookmark the new address and keep up to date with that one instead!

What To Expect in the Next Few Weeks

Hello, all! I wanted to shoot out a quick post about what you can expect from this blog now that this semester’s blog series is over. 

First of all, if you haven’t seen my finale video from my other blog, PenguinPoweredPiano, PLEASE check it out. It took me months to record and edit. It is my recreation of ThePianoGuys’ “Five Guys One Piano — What Makes You Beautiful.” Five guys playing one piano. Like, playing the strings on the piano…and the keys…and the lid…and everything. It’s pretty awesome. You can find my version HERE, and the link to the original is there as well.

Next, the itinerary. Dec. 10 – January 7 will be pretty much a dead zone around here, as I’ll be taking a break and getting some final preparations done. However, starting January 8, the fun will (probably) start up again — big time! From January 8 – January 27, I’ll be in China studying traditional Chinese medicine and immersing myself in the language and culture, as I am so prone to do whenever I get the chance. 

The positive? China. The negative? May not have internet access. So hypothetically things get exciting in January. For you guys? Maybe, maybe not. Depends on if I can actually upload anything. But if I can’t (which I anticipate), don’t fear. In that case, the China series will become my spring semester blog series (mixed in with some other cool stuffs, of course).

So yeah, stick around and see what happens. After China (and now that my thesis is done, woohoo!), I’ll be chilling around in spring semester doing some fun things, then it’s off to Japan (again)! And that, my friends…THAT will be a long blog series. I’ll be there for 4 months.

Anyway, enjoy your day, have a good Christmas, solstice, Kwanzaa, New Year (oriental or western), or whatever holiday you so choose to celebrate.

Here’s a picture of a confused penguin.

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See ya!

Things You Thought You Knew #13: Did Pirates Have Workman’s Comp?

What You Thought You Knew: Pirates were lawless sailors who buried treasure and used it on women, alcohol, and other pleasures.

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What You Didn’t Know: Pirates get a bit of a bad rap, especially with the Pirates of the Caribbean series reinforcing some of the stereotypes about buried treasure and unpredictable alliances. Sure, the goal of a pirate is, after all, to pillage (steal things), usually from merchant ships, especially those carrying silk or spices that could be sold at a high price.

However, it’s not fair to assume that pirates didn’t look after each other; most (respected) pirate ships had a constitution that included workman’s comp for sailors who lost limbs in battle. In fact, the treatise was usually very detailed, and the most frequent money allotments went like this:

Loss of a right arm: 600 pieces

Left arm: 500

Right leg: 500

Left leg: 400

Eye: 100

Finger: 100

Some ships even paid for the replacement of a wooden peg leg, since good ones were more expensive (but worth it). Captains and crew were especially likely to help in the purchase of a new one if the old one was lost in defense of the ship (for example, during an enemy boarding attempt that was thwarted).

Now You Know: that workman’s comp dates back even to pirates.

Things You Thought You Knew #12: How to Survive Falling Out of an Airplane

What You Thought You Knew: If you fall out of an airplane when it’s at cruising altitude (around 35,000 feet), there’s no way you’ll survive.

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What You Didn’t Know: While I wouldn’t use the word “many” to describe the number of people who have survived falls from airplanes, they do exist, and they’re probably a bit more numerous than you’d think.

The fact that people survive, though, is not the primary goal of this post. It is, after all, about “things you thought you knew” — so let’s address some things you probably thought are good for you if you’re falling from such a height.

Myth #1: Try to land in the water, since it will give out and break your fall.

Yeah, no. Scientists have shown that, if you’re coming from above roughly 1,000 feet, water is no better than concrete. Falling less than that (maybe a few stories)? Definitely find some water if you can. But at the velocity you’ll be going after a fall from a plane, water may actually be more dangerous than landing on concrete — at least with concrete, when you get knocked out from the impact you won’t drown.

If anything, you want to try to aim for sloped hills that you’ll roll down afterward, soft things like snow, swamps, hay, or bushes (or trees, if you deem the landscape so not-good-for-falling-people that the risk of being impaled outweighs the rest), or even aluminum/tin roofs or glass buildings and cars. All are better than the good ol’ ground.

Myth #2: Land on your feet, no matter what.

While it is best to land on the balls of your feet (with your knees bent) if at all possible, there are some situations where trying to do so would put you in more danger. If it will take a contortion to get you feet-down and you run the risk of landing on your side or in some sort of “incomplete” flip-over to your feet, the next best option, if you can believe it, is to land on your face.

Make no mistake — your “face” is not the same as your “head.” DON’T land on your head (especially the back of your head). It’s for this reason that you should lace your fingers together behind your head with your elbows facing forward during impact. But your face has a lot of extra cartilage and bones that can help to absorb the shock before it reaches your brain. You’re not going to come out looking like Natalie Portman, but you might just live.

That being said, do try not to land on your face at all. Feet, please.

Myth #3: I’ll have a lot of time to steer myself to a good place to land.

Well, yes and no. Yes, if you fall from cruising altitude, you’ll have around 2 or 2.5 minutes of free-falling. But you won’t be conscious for all of it. There’s not much oxygen up there, so you’ll be knocked out for about a minute of your total falling time. Still, one minute remaining is plenty to give you time to look around and think, so don’t panic.

It’s possible to steer yourself while in the air, and put your body into an arch to slow yourself down as much as possible.

Myth #4: I should try to get as far away from debris as possible while falling.

While it’s true that any debris (such as from a broken plane wing) could be dangerous, if you can in any way get hold of a piece of plane, DO IT. People who hit the ground while attached to a piece of debris have a significantly higher chance of survival than those who don’t (31 survivors to 13). These people are often called “wreckage riders.”

So, snag some debris, aim for a snowy hilltop, and enjoy your few minutes of contemplating the essence of life as you fall to your (probably still quite likely) death. But keep a good attitude — of the people who have survived, almost all claim that their “never give up” attitude helped them to think calmly and clearly. And they’re still alive — that says something.

Now You Know: what to do in case you fall out of an airplane.

Things You Thought You Knew #11: Is Immortality Possible?

What You Thought You Knew: All living things die.

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What You Didn’t Know: From a purely biological perspective (we’re not going to touch on religion today), it seems that for some, life need not end at all. Nor does it need to be restricted to the confines of time as we understand it.

The nature of space and light is at the heart of how humanity can cheat time (but perhaps not death after all). Light is not bound by time. Therefore, if a human were to accelerate to the speed of light, he would not be aging while the things around him continued to. This, however, applies only to the concept of time. It seems to me that his body would still physically age and die, but the concept of time (his actual calendar age) would cease for as long as he remained moving at the speed of light (as per the Theory of Relativity’s Lorentz equations).

Unfortunately, theoretical immortality isn’t enough for most people. And that’s why people are inferior to jellyfish.

Yes, that’s right. What humankind has been trying to achieve for centuries, jellyfish get right from birth. The Turritopsis Dohrnii, otherwise affectionately (and appropriately) known as “The Immortal Jellyfish,” does not seem to die. In fact, it grows in reverse. This is why Turris are also known as the “Benjamin Buttons of the Sea.”

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As the Turri ages to the point that it is time to die, it scoops itself together into a little ball, jiggles its cells around a bit (to turn them into different cells, in much the way that stem cells work), then continues on its way. This process of change reverts the jellyfish back to its early life stages. Think of it as a chicken turning back into an egg and then hatching again. As far as humans have studied, this process can be performed an indefinite number of times.

For all those years, people were looking for magic gems, elixirs, the fountain of youth….They should have been looking for jellyfish.

Now You Know: that some living things might just live forever.

Things You Thought You Knew #10: Are Black Cats Bad Luck?

What You Thought You Knew: A black cat crossing your path could cause bad luck.

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What You Didn’t Know: Whether you’re superstitious or not, the fact remains that many people believe that black cats cause bad luck. It’s why they’re popular Halloween symbols and why they’re the least adopted animals at rescue shelters. But it seems like the whole superstition may be a little overplayed.

In ancient Egypt, black cats were seen not only as acceptable but even as praiseworthy, so harming one was considered an extremely serious offense (of the same degree as, say, murder). The Japanese consider black cats to be good luck, and even in Europe and early America where the bulk of black cat myths existed, sailors still believed that a black cat on the docks boded well for their voyage. In fact, a black cat on the ship was extremely good luck, especially if it approached you on deck. If you threw it overboard…well, you might as well have been tying your own noose, they say.

But I’m not really interested in the superstitions about how witches can turn into black cats at night (the prevalent opinion especially during the times surrounding the Salem Witch Trials). So instead, I wanted something more factual. In what percent of people does the presence of a black cat immediately precede “bad luck” (negative consequences)?

As it turns out, bad “luck” happens to the best of us, and the kitties don’t have anything to do with it. In a statistical analysis of black cat encounters immediately prior to a coin toss, each person tested did report a slight drop in favorable outcomes (choosing the correct side), but the average success/failure rate was still within that person’s normal range, as proven by prior testing.

To ensure that the study wasn’t too biased, the participants were then also exposed to WHITE cats (thought to bring good luck) crossing their paths. Again, the average success/failure rate changed, but it still remained within the person’s average. It is interesting to note, however, that the black cat made the rate go down slightly and the white cat granted success for the first few throws after its appearance. In both cases, averages returned to normal quickly.

It seems, then, that the cats had nothing to do with the averages, which would have been fluctuating anyway, regardless of whether or not cats walked in front of the participants.

Now You Know: That there is no statistical proof that black cats cause negative outcomes.