Acrophobia: Fear of Heights.


Myself

By T. V. Antony Raj

 

Acrophobia (from the Greek: ákron, meaning “peak, summit, edge” and phóbos, “fear”) is an extreme or irrational fear of heights.

Most people, including me, have a natural fear of heights. This fear is known as “the fear of falling“, and those who have a “head for heights” have no such fear.

Here is another video of the humorus swimming pool scene from the episode “The Curse of Mr Bean”  wherein Mr Bean (Rowan Atkinson)  elucidates the fear of falling from a high place.

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The fear of falling

Researchers have found that not only humans even in many mammals, including domesticated animals and pets the fear of heights is an instinct. Experiments with visual cliffs have shown human infants and toddlers, as well as animals of various ages, are reluctant in stepping on a glass floor with a view of a few meters of clear fall-space below it.

Though an inborn cautiousness about heights is helpful for survival, an extreme fear of heights can inhibit the activities of everyday life, such as climbing a ladder, walking up a flight of stairs or even standing on a chair for a while.

Here is a video that illustrates the “fear of falling”.

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Head for heights

Head for heights is particularly necessary for those who climb mountains and hike on mountainous terrain, steeplejack craftsmen who scale buildings, chimneys and church steeples to carry out repairs or maintenance, mechanics who scale mobile and TV transmitting towers, etc.

In the following video, tower climber Kevin Schmidt ascends to the very top of the now inactive KDLT TV analog broadcast 475 metres (1558.4 feet) tall antenna near Salem, South Dakota, United States. I would suggest watching the video at 1080 HD in full screen to feel the experience.

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Are Dogs Colour-blind?


Myself . 

By T. V. Antony Raj
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(Source: ScienceDaily.com)

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Question: Are Dogs colour-blind?

Answer: No, dogs are not completely colour blind. They have a dichromatic colour perception and so perceive a limited colour range when compared to the colour spectrum we humans see.

The dogs see more than just black, white, and grey. Most humans have three different colour sensitive cone cells in their retina (red, green and blue) while dogs have only two (yellow and blue). So, instead of perceiving the intensity of three colours like us, red, green and blue, the dogs perceive the intensity of only two colours: blue and yellow, similar to colour blindness in humans. So, basically, the canine colour field consists mostly of yellows, blues, and violets.

This does not mean that dogs can’t see green or red objects. While blue and yellow are the easiest for them to see, they perceive the intensity of red as different levels of grey.

Many think that dogs may be slightly near-sighted and have a visual acuity (contrast) of much less detail than we humans do and so objects at a distance may appear blurry to them. Studies show that most dogs have an eyesight equivalent from 20/50 to 20/75.  Due to of their ability to visually discriminate motion, they have been known to recognize their owners even at 800-900 meters distance. However, it is widely accepted that dogs do see better at night which is certainly an advantage and one that helps dogs a great deal.

The following video is a rough simulation of what a dog sees with its eyes.

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Now, if you begin to feel sad for your pet dogs, just remember that the dogs have an incredible sense of smell that basically lets it “perceive and sense” the world in different scents.

In the following video, the dog though green-blind perceives the intensity of the green traffic signal as a level of grey and makes us wonder whether the dogs can see all colours.

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Las Posadas – A Novenario of the Latinos


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Myself . 

By T. V. Antony Raj
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Chimayo Las Posadas (Photo - Mark Nohl)

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The festival of Las Posadas celebrated chiefly in Mexico, Guatemala and parts of the Southwestern United States has its origins in Spain. Observing Las Posadas has been a tradition in Mexico for 400 years.

The Spanish phrase “Las Posadas” means  “accommodations”, “The Inns”, or “lodgings”.

This traditional nine-day festival re-enacts the cold and difficult journey of María and José from Nazareth to Bethlehem and their search for a room at the lodgings in Bethlehem.

Even though the roots of this celebration are in Catholicism even Protestant Latinos follow the tradition.

The festivities of Las Posadas start in full swing on December 16th and ends on December 24th. These nine days are, in fact, a novenario – nine days of religious observance signifying the nine-month pregnancy of María carrying Jesús in her womb.

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A red Poinsettia (Photo - André Karwath)
A red Poinsettia (Photo – André Karwath)

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Devotees enact Las Posadas by carrying a doll or a statue representing the Christ Child and images of José and María riding a burro. The doll is left at the chosen home and picked up on the next night when the processional begins again. This continues for eight nights.

In certain areas, individuals play the part of María and José, with the expectant mother riding a real burro with attendant angels and shepherds; or the devotees would carry images of the holy family and the saints; followed by musicians, with the entire procession singing Posadas. Children may carry poinsettia flowers.

Holding candle lanterns the procession ambles through the streets of the community, stopping at previously selected residences, singing a Posada such as Para Posada (Asking for a place to stay). At each residence, the innkeeper responds to José’s query by singing a song.

Spanish

English

Afuera:
En
nombre del cielo
Os pido posada
Pues no puede andar
Mi esposa amada
Outside
Joseph asks:
In the name of heaven
I request you grant us shelter
Given that she cannot walk
She is my beloved wife
Adentro:
Aquí no es mesón

Sigan adelante
Yo no puedo abrir
No sea algún tunante
 Inside
“Probable” host answers:
This is not an Inn
Please continue ahead
I cannot open
You may be a robber
Afuera:
No seas
inhumano
Tennos caridad
Que el Rey de los cielos
Te lo premiará
Outside
Joseph replies:
Do not be inhuman
have mercy on us
Since the King of heavens
will reward you for that
Adentro:
Ya
se pueden ir
Y no molestar
porque si me enfado
Os voy a apalear
Inside
Still “probable” host answers:
You can already go away
and do not bother
because if I get upset
I will beat you up
Afuera:
Venimos
rendidos
Desde Nazaret
Yo soy carpintero
De nombre José
Outside
Joseph insists:
We come exhausted
From Nazareth
I am a carpenter
named Joseph
Adentro:
No me
importa el nombre
Déjenme dormir
Porque ya les digo
Que no hemos de abrir
Inside
Still unconvinced host replies:
I don’t care about your name
Let me go to sleep
Because, as I said
We shall not open
Afuera:
Posada te pide

Amado casero
Por sólo una noche
La reina del cielo
Outside
Joseph expects reasoning:
She asks you shelter
Dear innkeeper
for just one night
She, the queen of heaven
Adentro:
Pues si es
una reina
Quien lo solicita
¿Cómo es que de noche
Anda tan solita?
Inside
The almost convinced host asks:
So, if it’s a queen
who’s asking for it,
how is it that at night
she travels so alone?
Afuera:
Mi
esposa es María
Es reina del cielo
madre va a ser
Del divino verbo
Outside
Joseph answers:
My wife is Mary
She’s the Heavenly Queen
And she’ll be mother
Of the divine word
Adentro:
¿Eres tú José?

¿Tu esposa es María?
Entren peregrinos
No los conocía
Inside
Convinced host finally offers shelter:
Are you Joseph?
Is your wife Mary?
Come in, pilgrims
I did not know you
Afuera:
Dios 
pague, señores
Vuestra caridad
Y que os colme el cielo
De felicidad
Outside
Joseph gratefully says:
May God reward, sirs
for your charity
And may heaven heap you
With happiness
Adentro:
Dichosa la casa

Que alberga este día
A la virgen pura
La hermosa María
Inside
Host replies:
Joyful be the house
That this day hosts
The pure virgin
The beautiful Mary

 

The innkeeper after recognizing María and José allows them and the group of guests to enter their home.

All sing together:

Spanish

English

¡Entren santos peregrinos!
¡Reciban éste rincón!
Que aunque es pobre la morada
¡Se las doy de corazón!
¡Cantemos con alegría!
¡Todos al considerar!
¡Que Jesús, José y María
nos vinieron hoy a honrar!
Come in, holy pilgrims!
Receive this corner!
Because even though the place is poor
I offer it to you from my heart!
Let’s sing with joy!
Everyone at the thought!
That Jesus, Joseph and Mary
Came today to honour us!

 

Once inside, all kneel around the Nativity crib to pray the Rosary. The hosts provide refreshments.

The final location of the sojourn, most likely, would be a church where the devotees would sing villancicos at the end of each night’s journey.

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