Sabadell Barcelona, the second largest city in the south of the comarca (county) of the Vallès Occidental in Catalonia, Spain is on the River Ripoll, 12 miles (20 km) north of Barcelona.
Sabadell and its archrival, Terrassa, in the east-central region of Catalonia, are co-capitals of the comarca of Vallès Occidental. These two cities pioneered the Industrial Revolution in Catalonia with their textile mills.
In the mid 19th century, nicknamed the “Catalan Manchester“, Sabadell became the most important wool city in Spain. Now, Sabadell is basically a commercial and industrial city with no significant agricultural activities.
On December 31, 1881, a group of 127 businessmen and traders from Sabadell Barcelona founded Banco de Sabadell, for financing local industries and providing them with raw materials (wool and coal) under more favourable terms and conditions.
In 1907, Banco Sabadell wound up the non-banking businesses to focus its activities on entirely on commercial banking.
In 1965, Banco Sabadell started its territorial expansion, slowly and steadily spreading to the nearby towns. In 1975, it started to expand beyond Catalonia by opening a branch in Madrid.
Now, Banco de Sabadell is the fifth-largest Spanish banking group with its headquarters in Sabadell includes several banks, brands, subsidiaries and associated banks specialises in serving SMEs (Small or Medium Enterprises) and affluent individuals interested in international trade.
In 1978, Banco Sabadell expanded internationally by opening its first branch abroad in the heart of the City of London in the United Kingdom.
Banco Sabadell with its extensive commercial and operational experience and having an in-depth knowledge of the features of the Indian financial system started operating in New Delhi, India in 1994.
In 2012, on the 130th anniversary of its founding, Banco Sabadell launched a campaign called “Som Sabadell” (We are Sabadell) to pay homage to its founding city.
For culminating the campaign, Banco Sabadell arranged a scintillating flash mob with 100 people from the Orquestra Simfonica del Vallès, Cor Lieder Camera, Cor Amics de l’Òpera and Coral Belles Arts choirs.
It rained through the night in Chennai, Tamilnadu, India. The incessant rains that plagued us for the past three weeks did not seem to abate.
At 7.11 am, while I was still in bed my boarding and classmate Sunderaraj Kagoo, former Managing Partner of Star Brand Sweets, Colombo, had given me a call. I was not able to call him back since my cell’s battery had run down.
There was no way to charge my cell because we had no electricity supply.
Of all the rainy days that started in mid-November, 2015, today it rained heavily and forcefully.
Since the cable TV line was completely out and my 100 MB internet connection was dead, there was no way to know what was happening around us. We were not able to go out of our house to shop for essentials due to the torrent.
My second daughter Subodhra living in Palayamkottai, 620 km away from Chennai, phoned my wife. She said it did not rain there in Tirunelveli. She inquired how we were faring since she saw several news channels on TV covering the floods in Chennai. She said that Velachery, about 5 km from our house was flooded and that boats were being deployed to evacuate the marooned from their flooded houses to safety. My wife assured her that we were safe.
At 6:45 pm electricity came on.
At 6:48 pm my cousin Lawrence rang up inquired whether we were safe. He assured us that his house safe. I could hear children shouting and music in the background and immediately knew that the first birthday of his second grandson Tom Philip was being celebrated. I blessed the child over the phone and told Lawrence that even if they had invited us for the birthday party we would not have made it.
At 7:00 pm my wife, daughter Sujatha and I ran to the house on the first floor of the flat opposite our house to attend the first birthday party of a year-old toddler.
At 7:30 pm while the party was on, the electric power was cut off and we had the birthday dinner by candle light.
We returned home at 8:00 pm.
It poured heavily.
At 9:00 pm since we had no electricity, TV broadcast nor the internet, I tried to call my daughter Subodhra at Palayamkottai to know about the situation in Chennai that she would have seen on TV . Alas, to our bad luck the Vodafone network was out of service.
At 9:20 pm remembering the phone call from Sunderaraj Kagoo, I tried his number, but I was not able to get through. Then I noticed that my service provider Aircel too was out of service.
Since there was no electricity, we were not able to turn on the electric mosquito repellers and had to sleep at the mercy of the swarming mosquitoes.
After the inundation of the arterial Grand Southern Trunk (GST) Road south and north of Tambaram, all roads leading to Tambaram submerged at various stretches making Tambaram inaccessible to the rest of the city and for those heading towards Chennai city from Chengalpattu.
December 2, 2015:
It rained heavily in the morning.
I saw a few strangers in our neighbour Lokanayaki’s house. She told me that they were her relatives from nearby Pallikaranai and flood waters had entered their house up to their neck and so had come to her house for shelter.
Around 4:00 pm the rain ceased and there was only a pleasant drizzle. I took this opportunity to venture out on my two-wheeler to buy essential foods and medicines.
All the ATMs in our neighbourhood were out of service.
I went to one of the local medical shops. The proprietor was there and I asked him whether the card machine worked. The proprietor reluctantly said no. Then he asked how much my purchase would amount to. When I said more than ₹500, he said he would try to accommodate me since the backup battery had almost died out. He then took my order which amounted to ₹580 and switched on the card reader which came to life after a bit of coaxing. I thanked him for obliging and left the shop with the medicines.
The main road between Velachery and Tambaram is flooded in many places with hidden potholes lurking under the muddy waters. So, buses are not plying. I am not able to travel on my two-wheeler more than 100 metres either way from Pallikarani Oil Mill Stop.
I took the risk and waded through deep waters on my vehicle for about a kilometre and finally saw eggs stored on plastic trays at a shop. I bought a dozen eggs for ₹6 each.
On my way back home the engine of my two-wheeler stopped. I cranked the fuel tap to reserve and retraced my route. I found more than 50 people waiting in a queue to fill their motorcycles and cars at the petrol bunk. Finally, after waiting for about 30 minutes my turn came and after filling the tank with petrol and oil for ₹200, I returned home around 5:30 pm.
At 6:30 pm it was dark. I ventured out on my two-wheeler to buy a pair of batteries for my LCD torch. Almost all the shops were closed. Finally, I saw an electrical shop where an oil lamp lit the inside dimly. Luckily the batteries were available and I hurried home.
In the evening we heard that Chennai was officially declared a disaster area.
December 3, 2015:
Rains continued to plague Chennai.
Around 11:00 am we saw an army helicopter crossing far away from our house.
Around 1:30 pm we received electricity. We were able to see TV programmes.
We were made aware that the Chief Minister of Tamilnadu viewed the damages wrought by the incessant rains from the comfort of a helicopter. We also came to know that the Prime Minister who had come all the way from New Delhi too viewed the damages travelling on a separate helicopter.
At 6:30 pm some of our neighbours hurried towards the main road. My wife told me that the ATMs were working. I too took my debit card and ran to the main road. We were all disappointed for one ATM displayed the “Sorry. No money!” sign and the other two ATMs had shuttered down. It was a rumour.
Around 7:00 pm the electric supply was cut off and we were once again in the dark.
Around 7:30 pm my nephew Raphael Leo came home by motorbike to our house to inquire whether we and his mother-in-law who lives about 200 metres away from our house were safe. My son Subas Raj in Ellicott City, MD, USA had contacted him on WhatsApp and had asked him to check on us.
Though relief efforts were well underway across some of the flooded areas in Chennai, the lack of any coordinated relief response forced thousands of its residents to evacuate their houses on their own.
December 4, 2015:
From 5:00 am we had no rain and the sun shone through thick clouds. We were happy and thought the rains had finally ceased. With a letup in rainfall, floodwaters gradually began to recede in some areas in Chennai though 40 percent of the city remained submerged. Safe food and drinking water was in short supply.
Still no cell phone service. And there is no internet.
The electric supply comes in spurts. TV works intermittently even when electricity is available.
The internet was available from 1:45 pm today.
At 2:30 pm ominous dark clouds started gathering and it started to rain heavily.
Around 6:30 pm I saw the heart-wrenching news on TV channels about the loss of 18 patients who had died at the MIOT International Hospital in Manapakkam, Chennai, due to overflowing of flood waters from Adyar river that breached the hospital’s walls, damaging equipment in its path.
Two TV channels showed AIADMK Tamilnadu State Ministers Natham Viswanathan, Gokula Indra, and Selur Raju being chased away by the public when they visited the Chief Minister’s R.K. Nagar electorate. They had come to the CM’s electorate to meet the people in lieu of their head. The ministers arrived in a cortege of 18 cars, and without getting down from their vehicles, the ministers spoke to the people. This infuriated the people. They asked the ministers to get down from their vehicles and get their feet wet as they did. After an argument, the ministers with the protection and cordoning by the police escaped the fury of the mass.
Then we came across the shameful news that in some areas in Chennai the AIADMK hooligans are abrogating the work done by the charitable people and NGOs in Chennai by sticking stickers of JJ on the food parcels brought by them for distribution. If they could not help at least they should not steal the credits that are due to the helping people with their hard earned money and organizations who do not belong to their party. Instead, these shameless ruffians could have volunteered to work in the flood affected areas instead of stealing efforts made by others; or they could have pressured their higher-ups from the lowly municipal councilors to the Chief Minister to distribute free food from their “Amma Canteens” and distribute free “Amma Water” Bottles.
There seems to be a voltage drop and the electricity might be cut off at any moment.
For now, my family and I are safe. Please see the TV news channels for the overall situation now prevailing in Chennai.
The “Island In The Sun” is the title song of the 1957 movie bearing the same name. It was written by Irving Burgie and sung by Harry Belafonte.
Oh island in the sun
Willed to me by my father’s hand
All my days I will sing in praise
Of your forest waters, your shining sand
As morning breaks, the Heaven on high
I lift my heavy load to the sky
Sun comes down with a burning glow
Mingles my sweat with the earth below
Oh island in the sun
Willed to me by my father’s hand
All my days I will sing in praise
Of your forest waters, your shining sand
I see woman on bended knee
Cutting cane for her family
I see man at the waterside
Casting nets at the surging tide
Though this song addresses the island of Jamaica, it is equally applicable to Sri Lanka the pearl of the Indian Ocean and nature’s treasure chest.
The island paradise, formerly known as Ceylon until 1972, is in the northern Indian Ocean off the southeast coast of the Indian subcontinent in South Asia. Sri Lanka has maritime borders with India to the northwest and the Maldives to the southwest. It is one of the most delightful destinations in the world to visit.
Sri Lanka is the home to one of the oldest civilizations in the world. Though the island’s documented history spans over 2,550 years, evidence shows that it had prehistoric human settlements dating back to at least 125,000 years. Its history boasts of planned cities, magnificent palaces, temples, and monasteries, expansive reservoirs, green forests and gardens, monuments and works of art.
Sri Lanka due to its geographic location and endowed with natural harbours has been the cynosure of strategic importance from the time of the ancient Silk Road through to World War II.
Today, Sri Lanka is a republic and a unitary state governed by a presidential system. The capital, Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, is a suburb of Colombo, Sri Lanka’s largest city.
Sri Lanka is home to many races speaking diverse languages, and following different religious faiths. It is the land of the Sinhalese, Sri Lankan Tamils, Indian Tamils, Moors, Burghers, Malays, Kaffirs and the aboriginal Veddas.
The island has a rich Buddhist heritage spanning from the time of the Indian Emperor Ashoka Maurya (304–232 BC) of the Maurya Dynasty who ruled almost all the Indian subcontinent from circa 269 to 232 BCE. The first known Buddhist writings of Sri Lanka, the Pāli Canon dates back to the Fourth Buddhist Council in 29 BCE.
The island is one of the most beautiful and delightful destinations in the world for tourists to visit. Its historical planned cities, magnificent palaces, temples, dagobas, monasteries, monuments, sculptures and other works of art, expansive artificial reservoirs, green gardens, etc., illustrate the characteristic rich history of its ancient rulers.
Here is a video titled “Heritage of Sri Lanka” produced by The Ministry of National Heritage Sri Lanka, which I enjoyed viewing and I hope you too will be delighted to view it as well.
Three years ago, when Hurricane Sandy, unofficially known as the “Superstorm Sandy”, devastated the United States in October 2012, I was in Ellicott City in Maryland.
Hurricane Sandy was the second-costliest hurricane in the history of the United States. It was the deadliest and most destructive hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season. It all began on October 22, 2012.
A Timeline of Hurricane Sandy’s Path of Destruction
Monday, October 22, 2012
Developing in the southern Caribbean Sea off the coast of Nicaragua as a tropical easterly wave causing areas of cloudiness and thunderstorms, The depression strengthened and six hours later becomes Tropical Storm Sandy, with maximum winds of about 40 mph. It moved slowly northward toward the Greater Antilles and gradually intensified.
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
On October 24, Sandy became a Category 1 hurricane, moved northward across the Caribbean and made landfall near Kingston, Jamaica with winds of 80 mph.
Although Hurricane Sandy’s eye does not cross the Dominican Republic and Haiti to its east, the storm dumped more than 20 inches of rain on Hispaniola. More than 50 people died in flooding and mudslides in Haiti.
A few hours later, it re-emerged into the Caribbean Sea and strengthened into a Category 2 hurricane. Off the coast of the Northeastern United States, the storm became the largest Atlantic hurricane on record as measured by diameter, with winds spanning 1,100 miles (1,800 km).
Thursday, October 25, 2012
Sandy strengthened as it moved from Jamaica to Cuba and made landfall in the historic city of Santiago de Cuba with winds of about 110 mph as a Category 3 hurricane.
Friday, October 26, 2012
Sandy caused more devastation as it crossed the Bahamas and made a slight turn to the north-northwest.
Saturday, October 27, 2012
Sandy moved away from the Bahamas and made a turn to the northeast off the coast of Florida. Sandy weakened for a brief period of time to a tropical depression and then restrengthened to a Category 1 hurricane.
Sunday, October 28, 2012
Sandy continued moving northeast on a track parallel to the coasts of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. As it approached latitude 35 degrees north off the coast of North Carolina, the hurricane’s eye stayed well offshore. Even then, the storm still a Category 1 hurricane with peak winds of about 80 mph sent powerful tsunami-like waves onto North Carolina’s Outer Banks washing out some places in NC Highway 12.
Due to an unusual configuration of converging weather factors meteorologists warned that the storm as it churns northward would likely morph into a powerful, hybrid super-storm.
A high-pressure cold front to Sandy’s north forced the storm to turn to the northwest toward major cities such as Baltimore, Washington, Philadelphia and New York. And the meteorologists expected that in conjunctions with the effects of the full moon Sandy’s storm surge to be 11 to 12 feet in some places and a little higher as it made landfall.
Sandy expanded into a huge storm covering about 1,000 miles with strong winds.
Monday, October 29, 2012
At 12:30 pm, Sandy made its expected sharp turn. It curved west-northwest (the “left turn” or “left hook”) and then moved ashore near Brigantine, New Jersey, just to the northeast of Atlantic City, as a post-tropical cyclone with hurricane-force winds. The storm also has started interacting with other weather systems, gaining energy in the process. The storm dumped heavy snow in the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina.
During the afternoon, Sandy brought high winds and drenching rains from Washington, D.C. northward, toppling trees and power lines and cutting off electrical power for millions of people. The storm eventually affected more than 50 million people on the Eastern Seaboard.
At 8 pm, Sandy’s center came ashore near Atlantic City, New Jersey. The storm was no longer considered a hurricane, but was classified as a post-tropical Nor’easter. But the storm’s unusual path from the southeast made its storm surge much worse in New Jersey and New York.
A high storm surge, a coastal flood or tsunami-like phenomenon of rising water occurred in New York City with a high tide of 14 ft (4.2 m), a new record for a storm surge in the harbor, flooding streets, tunnels and subway lines and cutting power in and around the city. The surge tops the sea wall at The Battery Park in Lower Manhattan and floods parts of the city’s subway system. The surge also floods the Hugh Carey Tunnel, which links Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn.
The wind, rain and flooding from the huge storm pounded New Jersey and New York throughout the night and through three cycles of high tides and low tides.
Staten Island also was hit very hard by the storm. The Seattle Times later reported that towns such as Oakwood Beach, Midland Beach, South Beach and Tottenville — which lost many residents who were police and firefighters during the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 — were among the hardest-hit communities.
When I look back, I remember posting several times on Facebook on 29th and 30th October 2012 about Hurricane Sandy to benefit my friends and readers in the United States and to assure my kith and Kin in India that my family was safe:
7:00 amEDT: From the Carolinas to Maine, Hurricane Sandy will affect 50 million people.
Hurricane Sandy is churning off the East Coast and is expected to join up with two other weather systems to create a huge and problematic storm affecting 50 million people. Here’s a snapshot of what is happening or expected, state by state.
The storm lashed barrier islands off North Carolina and rendered several homes and businesses nearly inaccessible. About 90 miles off the coast, a tall ship carrying 17 people was in distress; the Coast Guard was monitoring.
The number of power outages increased quickly in a state where utilities’ response to past weather-related failures has become a political issue. Connecticut Light & Power says hundreds of customers are without power. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy asked a task force to ensure fuel suppliers are fully stocked. Many residents along Long Island Sound heeded warnings and evacuated.
Hundreds of people fled to shelters as the rough surf pounded the coast. Water covered some roads.
Snow is expected in mountainous areas.
Officials predict coastal flooding and beach erosion, and utility crews have been brought in from Canada to handle anticipated power failures.
Baltimore is opening six shelters; several city intersections are closed because of flooding threats. Early voting, which began Saturday and was to run through Thursday, was canceled for Monday.
Utilities brought in crews from as far away as Texas and the Midwest to cope with anticipated power failures. Most schools and colleges have canceled classes. The Boston transit authority said it would continue to operate as long it was safe.
Gov. John Lynch put 100 National Guard soldiers on active duty to help with preparations. Two shelters are being set up, and some schools have closed.
Sandy’s center is expected to make landfall in New Jersey late Monday. By daybreak, more than 5,000 homes and businesses were without electricity. Thousands of people evacuated low-lying areas, and many inland towns hit by flooding from storm Irene last year issued evacuation orders.
Many residents left low-lying flood evacuation zones, and the subway system shut down Sunday night. A storm surge of 11 feet is possible, the highest of all coastal areas being hit by Sandy. The New York Stock Exchange and other U.S. financial markets shut down for at least the day. Thousands of flights were canceled at the city’s major airports.
Residents of low-lying areas and along Lake Erie were told to watch for flooding; utilities are anticipating high winds that could blow down trees and poles. Snow is forecast in some areas.
Many schools closed. Philadelphia shut down its mass transit system, and hundreds of flights were canceled at the city’s airport. Dozens of people took shelter at evacuation centers. Thousands of members of the National Guard have been told to be ready for deployment.
Several communities have ordered mandatory evacuations and many schools closed for the day. Big waves are expected to cause flooding along Narragansett Bay, which bisects the state. Authorities told people to be prepared for long periods without power.
Snow is expected in higher elevations, where a freeze warning has been issued. High winds are expected in many areas.
About 2,000 customers lacked power, and a utility said as many as 1 million could ultimately lose electricity. Many residents of Chincoteague Island, popular with tourists, shrugged off the idea of evacuation.
Gov. Peter Shumlin declared a state of emergency to provide access to National Guard troops in a state still recovering from the devastating effects of the remnants of Hurricane Irene. Culverts and storm drainage basins in some spots have been cleared of debris.
The capital area’s transit system shut down rail service for the first time since 2003, and the Smithsonian Institution closed for the day.
As much as 2 to 3 feet of snow were forecast in mountainous areas, and flooding was possible in some areas. Several shelters were put on standby, and power crews were mobilized to handle potential failures.
3:30 pm EDT:
Here in Ellicott City, Maryland, the wind speed is 41 mph NW. Not menacing at the moment.
3:40 pm EDT:
Landfall for Sandy within 3 hours time near Atlantic City, New Jersey shore with a wind speed of 90 mph in the center. The system moves at 18 mph.
8:40 pm EDT: In Ellicott City, Maryland, the wind speed has risen to 49 mph WNW.
8:54 pm EDT: Sandy landfall in Cape May, New Jersey around 8 pm.
9:00 pm EDT:
Battery Park in New York City is now inundated with 11.87 feet high. Water might enter NYC subway. Trains and buses won’t run on Tuesday (tomorrow).
9:30 pm EDT:
Waters from Hudson river has breached the Manhattan Broadwalk. Battery Park in New York City is now inundated with 13.7 feet high. MTA confirms that the subways are flooded.
1.5 million homes experience power outages in many states. In Maryland, 195,000 homes are without electric power. We have still not been hit by a power cut.
9:45 pm EDT:
Power surges, outages and flashes being experienced in the New York City area. Everything is dark over there. Manhattan is in darkness as well as the Statue of Liberty.
10:47 pm EDT:
All bridges were closed for traffic. Chesapeake Bay Bridge that connects Baltimore-DC area with the northern parts of Maryland such as Kent Island too was closed for traffic around 4 pm.
Sandy is still on its way towards us playing havoc with everything in its path.
Sandy had its landfall in Cape May, New Jersey around 8 pm. Ellicott City, MD is about 210 miles from the landfall area. The system is moving around 20 to 25 mph and I expect it to come here on Tuesday (tomorrow) morning around 6 am EDT.
Tuesday , October 30, 2012
2:10 am EDT: Hurricane Sandy plays havoc: Widespread Power outages have occurred in all the north-eastern and eastern states. In Maryland, 391,005 homes are experiencing power cut.
2:15 am EDT: Sandy is 10 miles southwest of Philadephia, PA.
10:50 am EDT: Sandy has passed us. We did not incur any damages. We did not lose any power.
I thank all of you for praying for us.
However, my heart bleeds for those who have suffered and are undergoing hardships due to the havoc created by this “Frankenstorm” called SANDY.
11:00 am EDT: Sandy: The loss to properties has been assessed between 10 and 20 billion dollars.
11:30 am EDT:
Sandy slammed New Jersey last night and early morning today. At least 16 deaths reported. Massive flooding, high winds, and widespread power outages hit the East Coast as Sandy moves inland.
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Hurricane Sandy dissipated over western Pennsylvania, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued its final advisory on the storm: “multiple centers of circulation in association with the remnants of Sandy can be found across the lower Great Lakes.”
The era of Song dynasty (宋朝) that succeeded the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period in Chinese history began in 960 and continued until 1279. There are two distinct periods in the Song dynasty – Northern and Southern.
During the Northern Song (北宋) period from 960 to 1127, the dynasty controlled most of China proper with the northern city of Bianjing (now Kaifeng) as its capital.
During the Southern Song (南宋) period from 1127 to 1279, the Song dynasty lost control of northern China in the Jin–Song Wars to the Jurchen Jin dynasty.
The Song dynasty was the first in world history to issue national bank notes or true paper money, the first Chinese regime to establish a permanent navy, and the first to use gunpowder. It was during the Song dynasty that the Chinese found the true north using a compass.
The Qing Ming Shang He Tu (simplified Chinese: 清明上河图; traditional Chinese: 清明上河圖) or “Along the River During the Qingming Festival” is a scroll painting created by the famous Chinese painter Zhang Zeduan (1085 – 1145) alias Zheng Dao who lived during the transitional period from the Northern Song to the Southern Song and was instrumental in the early history of the Chinese landscape art style known as shan shui.
This painting considered the most renowned work among all Chinese paintings dubbed as “China’s Mona Lisa” has a theme of the worldly commotion and the festive spirit during the celebration of the Qingming Festival. It encapsulates the landscape of the capital, Bianjing, today’s Kaifeng and the life of its people.
This scroll painting is 9.76 inches (24.8 cm) in height and 17.35 feet (5.287 metres) long. It depicts the bustling and lively life and beautiful natural scenery on both sides of the river that meanders through Kaifeng, the capital of the Northern Song Dynasty during the Qingming Festival. The two main portions in the painting are the countryside and the market in the densely populated city. It has more than 170 trees, 30 buildings, 814 humans, 8 sedan chairs, over 60 horses and other animals, 20 vehicles, and 28 boats.
The painting reveals the lifestyle of all levels of the society from rich to poor in successive scenes and offers glimpses of the architecture and clothing of the Song period.
For centuries, the scroll painting was a pride of the personal imperial collections of the Chinese emperors.
The original Song dynasty painting “Along the River During the Qingming Festival” was a favorite of Puyi (February 7, 1906 – October 17, 1967), also known as Henry Pu Yi, the last Emperor of China and the twelfth and final ruler of the Qing dynasty. At the end of the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1945, he took it along with him when he left Beijing. It was then re-purchased and kept at the Palace Museum in the Forbidden City.
The following video describes how the original “Along the River During the Qingming Festival” painting showcased the best of life in the Song Dynasty – one of the golden ages of China.
Remakes of the painting
Revered as a work of art, the scroll painting “Along the River During the Qingming Festival” inspired the creation of several works of art during subsequent dynasties. Court artists made re-interpretive versions of the painting by reviving and updating the style of the original. Even though each of these later paintings follow the composition and the original theme, they differ in details and painting techniques.
The Yuan version
During the Yuan dynasty (1271–1368), Zhao Mengfu (1254–1322) made a remarkable remake of the original,
The Ming version
Another notable remake painted during the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) is 22 feet (6.7 metres) long and is longer than the original Song version.
Based on contemporary fashions and customs the Ming version replaced the scenery from the Song dynasty to that of the Ming dynasty with the costumes worn by the people updated and the styles of vehicles (boats and carts) changed.
In the original Song painting, the crew of an oncoming boat have not yet fully lowered their sails and are in danger of crashing into wooden the bridge.
In the Ming version, a stone bridge with a taller arch replaced the Song wooden bridge, and men ashore guide the boat under the bridge by pulling ropes tied to it.
The Qing version
On January 15, 1737, the Qianlong Emperor received a present of a version painted by five Qing dynasty court painters (Chen Mu, Sun Hu, Jin Kun, Dai Hong and Cheng Zhidao). This Qing remake is much larger – 36 feet (11 metres) long and 1 ft 1.68 inches (35 cm) high – and has over 4,000 people in it.
While in the original Song version, the leftmost side contains images of the busy city, the leftmost third of this Qing version depicts life within the palace, with buildings and people appearing refined and elegant. Most people within the castle are women along with some well-dressed officials.
In April 1742, a poem composed by the Qianlong Emperor was added to the rightmost end of the Qing remake. The poem reads as follows:
蜀錦裝金壁 – A wall of gold has been mounted on Shu brocade.
吳工聚碎金 – Craftsmen from Wu collect spare change
謳歌萬井富 – To pay tribute to the abundance of a myriad of families.
城闕九重深 – The watchtowers of the city rise to great heights.
盛事誠觀止 – The bustling scene is truly impressive.
遺踪借探尋 – It is a chance to explore vestiges of bygone days.
當時誇豫大 – At that time, people marveled at the size of Yu,
此日歎徽欽 – And now, we lament the fates of Hui and Qin.
In 1949, the National Palace Museum in Taipei received the Qing version along with many other artifacts.
Over the centuries, many affluent Chinese treasured the original Qingming scroll. Eventually, it returned to public ownership.
The original Song dynasty painting now kept at the Palace Museum in the Forbidden City and the Qing version in the Taipei Palace Museum, are both considered national treasures and are exhibited every few years for brief periods.
The following video with narration in Chinese shows the different versions of the remakes of the “Along the River During the Qingming Festival” but uses the Ming version to explain the life of the Chinese then, in the near past, and now.
From May 1 to October 31, 2010, China hosted Expo 2010, a major World Expo, officially known as the Expo 2010 Shanghai China in the tradition of international fairs and expositions.
A 3D animated, viewer-interactive digital version of the original “Along the River During the Qingming Festival” titled “River of Wisdom“, screened for three months was the primary exhibit at the China Pavilion. This elaborate computer animated mural about 30 times the size of the original scroll had moving characters and objects that made the painting come to life. It presented the scene in a four-minute day to night cycles. Those who reserved in advance had to queue up to two hours to see the 3D animated version.
After the Expo, the digital version was on display at the AsiaWorld–Expo in Hong Kong from November 9 to 29, 2010; at the Macau Dome in Macau from March 25 to April 14, 2011; and at the Expo Dome in Taipei, Taiwan from July 1 to September 4, 2011.
From December 7, 2011, to February 6, 2012, a digital reproduction was exhibited at the Singapore Expo titled “A Moving Masterpiece: The Song Dynasty As Living Art“.
“To become a true global citizen, one must abandon all notions of ‘otherness’ and instead embrace ‘togetherness’.“
― Suzy Kassem (American writer, film director, philosopher, author, and poet of Egyptian heritage.)
Internet technology helps us stay connected with people living anywhere around the world, but the ability to speak face-to-face with ease has declined and, in fact, is dysfunctional severing kinship and physical interaction with those around us.
Now, with mobiles, people have replaced lively phone calls by texting mnemonic-like nonsensical internet slang words with little substance oblivious to what is happening around them. This indeed is an alarming trend.
This video shows how some simple actions can provide the impetus to bring about the joy in togetherness.
“Forget what you have heard about Jesus if it doesn’t begin and end with love.” – Davis Phelps
David Norris Phelps, an American Christian music vocalist, songwriter and vocal arranger, is best known for singing tenor in the Gaither Vocal Band (GVB), an American southern gospel vocal group, named after its founder and leader Bill Gaither.
The GVB emerged in the early 1980s recording contemporary Christian music. Later it became known for its southern gospel. Bill Gaither leads the group with passion and his genuine desire to bring meaning to the music which the group sings.
The lineup of the GVB changes often. Besides Bill Gaither, singers with the longest tenure in the band include Michael English (1985–94, 2009–13), Mark Lowry (1988–2001, 2009–13), Guy Penrod (1995–2008), David Phelps (1997-2004, 2009-present) and Wes Hampton (2005-present).
As of February 2014, the lineup consists of Bill Gaither, David Phelps, Wes Hampton, Adam Crabb, and Todd Suttles.
All the members of GVB are all talented artists and are authentic men of faith. Known worldwide for their vocal power, innovative harmonies, they are instruments of God to carry the message of hope, grace and redemption.
Today, with over 30 years of history, the GVB, has an award-winning legacy of excellence for the harmony of those male voices: vocals, baritone, bass, and tenor.
David Phelps started his professional career at GVB in 1996. He remained at GVB as a tenor for eight years from 1996 to 2004. In 2004, he left the group to realize the biggest dream of his life: to develop his solo career. In early 2009, after recording seven albums, he returned to the GVB.
In 2002, Gaither Homecoming Video featured David Phelps in God Bless America, which featured his solo “End of the Beginning“.
A top reviewer declared: “You can’t go wrong with a Phelps piece!!”
End Of The Beginning
Words & music by David Phelps
I was taking a trip on a plane the other day, just wishin’ that I could get out.
When the man next to me saw the book in my hand and asked me what it was about.
So I settled back in my seat. “A best-seller,” I said, “a hist’ry and a myst’ry in one.”
Then I opened up the book and began to read from Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John…
He was born of a virgin one holy night in the little town of Bethlehem.
Angels gathered ’round Him underneath the star singing praises to the great I AM.
He walked on the water, healed The lame, and made the blind to see again.
And for the first time here on earth we learned that God could be a friend.
And though He never, ever did a single thing wrong, the angry crowd chose Him.
And then He walked down the road and died on the cross and that was the end…of the beginning.”
“That’s not a new book, that’s a Bible,” he said, “And I’ve heard it all before.
I’ve tried religion, it’s shame and guilt, and I don’t need it anymore.
It’s superstation, made-up tales, just to help the weak to survive.”
“Let me read it again,” I said, “But listen closely. This is gonna change your life.”
“He was born of a virgin one holy night in the little town of Bethlehem.
Angels gathered ’round Him underneath the star singing praises to the great I AM.
He walked on the water, healed the lame, and made the blind to see again.
And for the first time here on earth we learned that God could be a friend.
And though He never, ever did a single thing wrong, the angry crowd chose Him. And then He walked down the road and died on the cross and that was the end…of the beginning.”
“The end of the beginning?” he said with a smile. “What more
could there be? He’s dead. You said they hung Him, put nails in
His hands and a crown of thorns on His head.” I said, “I’ll read it
again, but this time there’s more.
And I believe that this is true: His death wasn’t the end but the beginning of life that’s completed in you.
Don’t you see, He did all this for you…”
“He was born of a virgin one holy night in the little town of Bethlehem. All the angels singing praises to the great I AM.
He walked on the water, healed the lame, and made the blind to see.
And for the first time here on earth, did you know that God could be a friend?
And though He never, ever did a single thing wrong, He was the one the crowd chose.
And then He walked and He died, but three days later, three days later, three days later…
He rose! Three days later He rose!
You see, He came, He lived, and He died, but that was the end of the beginning.
The family Saturniidae, known as saturniids, include the largest species of moths. They belong to the order Lepidoptera, with an estimated 2,300 described species worldwide. The saturniids include such Lepidoptera as the Atlas moth (Attacus atlas), the polyphemus moth (Antheraea polyphemus) also known as the giant Silkmoth, the imperial moth (Eacles imperialis), and the regal moth (Citheronia regalis) also called the royal walnut moth.
While the saturniids are lightweights compared to other insects, they can grow to some impressive sizes. The adult saturniids are large in size, with their heavy bodies covered in hairlike scales and lobed wings. The hind wings overlap the forewings, giving the effect of an unbroken wing surface. They have small heads with reduced mouth parts. Some species are often colored bright, which may mislead first-time observers to refer to them as butterflies. Female are larger and weigh more than the males. In general, the males have a larger, broader antennae.
Today, I came across the above video of an Atlas moth, found in the tropical and subtropical forests of Southeast Asia and the Malay archipelago.
Atlas moths have large wingspans about 10 inches across (25cm). A record specimen of the tropical Atlas moth from Java measured 10.3 inches (262 mm), with a surface area of 62 square inches (400 square cm).
While skimming the internet, I came across the following lines in Chinese:
Bùzhī héshí chuāng biān fēi lái zhè zhī bùsùzhīkè zhǎnkāi de chìbǎng xiàng shì shuāng tóu shé xǐhuān de rén huòxǔ juédé tā hěn měi cóngxiǎo jiù duì é lèi jìng’éryuǎnzhī dì zìjǐ què zhǐ gǎn mī zhuó yǎnjīng bù gǎn zhèngshì ne – shétóu é, sānyì
I do not know when the window flew only uninvited guest Spread wings like a two-headed snake Like people may think it is beautiful I grew up on the moths themselves at arm’s length But only dared to squint afraid to face it
– Snakeheads moth, Sanyi
Though the name Atlas moths derived from either the Titan of Greek mythology for their gigantic size or their map-like wing patterns seems appropriate, the Chinese name 蛇頭蛾 (shétóué) meaning “snakeheads moth” is more pertinent in referring to the outer tips of the spread wings that look like a two-headed snake.
Though the name Atlas moths derived from either the Titan of Greek mythology for their gigantic size or their map-like wing patterns seems appropriate, the Chinese name 蛇頭蛾 (shétóué) meaning “snakeheads moth” is more pertinent in referring to the outer tips of the wings that look like the head of a snake.
Life Cycle of the Atlas moth
The Atlas moths are wobbly fliers. After emerging from the cocoon, the female does not stray far from her discarded cocoon. She seeks a perch conducive for the air currents to carry the strong pheromones released by her. The male Atlas moths sensing the pheromones with the chemoreceptors located on their large feathery antennae home in on the sexually passive female.
After mating, the female Atlas moth lays many spherical eggs about 2.5 mm in diameter on the undersides of leaves.
About two weeks later, dusty-green caterpillars adorned with fleshy spines along their backs covered in a waxy white substance hatch from the eggs.
The caterpillars feed voraciously on the foliage of certain citrus trees. Alternative recorded foodplants include leaves of apple, ash, cherry, lilac, plum, willows, and other evergreen trees.
On reaching a length of about 4.5 inches (115 mm), the caterpillars pupate within a papery cocoon interwoven into desiccated leaves. The adult moths emerge after about four weeks.
Imago – the adult stage
After spending about a month in their cocoons, Atlas Moths emerge as beautiful, sexually mature winged creatures. Unfortunately, this imago stage is short-lived and the moths die within a week or two after spreading their wings.
The following video shows in detail the development of the Atlas Moths: the hatched larvae from eggs, the various stages of the caterpillar, molting, pupating, and the emergence of the adult Atlas moth.
The cocoons of the Atlas Moths serve as purses in Taiwan.
Some sericulturists in India cultivate Atlas moths for their silk. Unlike the silk produced by the Silkworm moth (Bombyx mori), the brown, wool-like silk secretes as broken strands from the cocoons of the Atlas moth. This silk known as fagara silk seems to have greater durability.
Grownups can sometimes be so thick, it is not easy to explain some facts to them.
In this video, this little girl Olivia Kendall (played by Raven-Symoné) is having a hard time trying to explain to the doctor for women (Bill Cosby) how babies are born.
This is How Babies are Born!
Doctor: And this is my office
Olivia: What do you do?
Doctor: I am a doctor for women.
Olivia: What do you do with them?
Doctor: I deliver their babies.
Doctor: When the woman has the baby inside of her, then I go in and I take it out.
Olivia: No you don’t. Everybody knows that the stork brings the baby.
Doctor: Who, who told you that?
Olivia: My daddy.
Doctor: Okay. Well, the stork puts the baby inside of the mother… and then I go in and I take it out.
Olivia: Ah, aah. The stork brings the baby to the hospital, drops it in the bassinet.
Doctor: So you’re saying that the baby is not inside the mummy? Then why is it that the mother gets real big?
Olivia: Because she eats a lot of food.
Doctor: Now let me get this straight. You say that the stork carries over, puts the baby in the bassinet, and the mother is real big because she eats a lot of food?
Olivia: You got it!
Doctor: I see. Well, then why is it that the mother has to go to the hospital?
Olivia: The stork brings the baby to the hospital, drops it in the bassinet. The mummy goes to the hospital and gets it.
Doctor: If the stork does all that, why doesn’t the stork just bring it to the mummy’s house?
Olivia: Because it’s too far. His wings will get tired.
Doctor: Where does the stork get the babies from?
Doctor: Okay. There is a zillion skillion babies in Heaven. How does the stork know what baby goes with what mother?
Olivia: They are in a line. You know, like you go to the baker and get a number.
Doctor: Why when I put my hand on the mother I can feel things moving all around?
Olivia: That’s not a baby.
Doctor: What is it?
Doctor: Well, thank you for explaining it to me.
Olivia: You’re welcome, but you still didn’t tell me what you do.
Doctor: I’m in charge of gas.
William Henry “Bill” Cosby Jr. (born July 12, 1937) is an American stand-up comedian, actor, author, and activist. Cosby’s start in stand-up comedy began at the hungry i, originally a nightclub in North Beach, San Francisco. It was followed by a starring role in the 1960s television show I Spy. Beginning in the 1980s, Cosby produced and starred in The Cosby Show, a television sitcom, which aired from 1984 to 1992. It was rated as the number one show in America for five years, 1984 through 1989. The sitcom highlighted the experiences and growth of an affluent African-American family.
Raven-Symoné Christina Pearman (born December 10, 1985) is an American actress, comedian, model, singer, songwriter, dancer, television producer and a talk-show host. She first appeared on television in 1989 on The Cosby Show as Olivia Kendall.
In early December 2014, I wrote a six-part series of articles titled “To Bathe, or Not to Bathe“. Then, I was not aware of the existence of R. David Whitlock, a chemical engineer and a graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) who had not showered in the past 12 years.
Whitlock claims that he has not taken a shower in over 12 years because soap and bath gels affect and deplete the natural balance of the skin microbiome.
Justin Sonnenburg, a microbiologist at Stanford, regards the human body as “an elaborate vessel optimized for the growth and spread of our microbial inhabitants.”
According to Published research for every one human gene, there are 100 associated genes within our microbiome. And so, more than 100 trillion microorganisms live in and on our body. They live in our mouths, tongues, guts, mucosal surfaces and on the surface of our skin.
These microbes perform various beneficial functions relevant to supporting life. They help to digest food, prevent disease-causing pathogens from invading the body, and synthesize essential nutrients and vitamins.
Changes in the microbiome can trigger changes in human cellular activities, resulting in disease or contribute to its progression.
Ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB)
In the late 1990s, when David Whitlock went on a date with a young woman, she asked him why her horse liked to roll in the dirt.
Unable to answer her, Whitlock read books on biology. He gathered soil samples and grew bacteria in his basement. After reading hundreds of papers, he concluded that it must be important for the horses to roll in the dirt.
He learned that sweat of the horse is abrasive to its skin and causes equine acne that starts as a small, oily black plugs in the skin and may develop into red, itchy inflamed bumps.
He found ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) in the soil. He realized that ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) in the soil must be helping the horse to clean itself by converting urea and ammonia found in sweat into nitrite and nitric oxide.
Nitrite fights most bad bacteria while nitric oxide has anti-inflammatory properties.
In the following video, Dr. Larry Weiss, MD, a Key Member and Chief Medical Officer of AOBiome LLC talks about AOB.
From his study of the behavior of the horses, Whitlock concluded that useful bacteria once colonized on human skins too, and with the advent of knowledge in Chemistry and modern hygiene, humans eradicated them by sterilizing their bodies with soaps, lotions, and antiseptics, leaving our skin more susceptible to challenge.
Whitlock believed that by restoring the appropriate AOB levels, a range of human health conditions could be impacted.
In 2000, to test his hypothesis, Whitlock began adding AOB to water and dousing himself daily. He avoided using soaps because they kill the microbes. For the past 12 years, Whitlock did not shower. He found that the bacteria kept him clean and odor-free. His skin looks fresh, and he smells nice.
Though Dave Whitlock does not shower, he takes an occasional sponge bath to clean off the accumulated grime on his skin.
On August 10, 2001, Dave Whitlock presented his application papers for obtaining a patent for compositions, including ammonia oxidizing bacteria to increase production of nitric oxide and nitric oxide precursors and methods of using same. He obtained the patent US7820420 for same on October 26, 2010.
A method of enhancing health through the generation in close proximity of a surface of a subject, nitric oxide and nitric oxide precursors using bacteria adapted to oxidize ammonia and urea derived from perspiration is described. Local and systemic effects are described including a reduction in vascular disease, enhancement of sexual function, improved skin health, and reduced transmission of sexually transmitted diseases.
NitroCell BioSciences LLC
In 2012, Dave Whitlock co-founded NitroCell BioSciences LLC as a pharmaceutical company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The company focused on getting U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for bacteria-based prescription therapies for acne, eczema, rosacea, wound healing, and more.
In March 2013, NitroCell BioSciences LLC changed its name to AOBiome, LLC.
Now, AOBiome, LLC develops skin products based on ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB). The company’s products are used to restore the natural balance of skin microbes that have been lost due to modern living practices, including the use of soaps and shampoos. It also develops AO+ Refreshing Cosmetic Mist, a cosmetic product to improve the look and feel of skin.
According to Jasmina Aganovic, an MIT graduate and AOBiome’s general manager for consumer products, as humans, we need to reconnect with our environment. “We’ve confused clean with sterile. … We’ve taken the dirt out of our lives. We don’t spend as much time outdoors as we used to — even as little children.”
So, AOBiome, LLC has created and launched “Mother Dirt” to add a little dirt back into our lives. AOBiome is the first cosmetics company to market a product that contains live bacteria. The company claims their products do not cause illness, even if ingested.
The Mother Dirt products set themselves apart from all other scientific skincare items that have flooded the market in recent times.
The Mother Dirt AO+ mist specifically contains live ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) that’s sprayed on the skin twice a day. It has no odor and feels like water. There’s aMother Dirt shampoo and cleanser that doesn’t contain bacteria, but Jasmina Aganovic says it won’t interfere with it either.
Though Dave Whitlock still doesn’t shower, he uses Mother Dirt every day and hopes the rest of the world will join him. He said: “I would like a billion people a day to use this.”
Aobiome officials believe in the health benefits of these live bacteria. They are not making any scientific claims right now, but they will soon begin clinical trials on inflammatory skin conditions like acne.