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Goodbye Year 2016

iPhoneOgraphy – 31 Dec 2016 (Day 366/366)

A year is the orbital period of the Earth moving in its orbit around the Sun. Due to the Earth’s axial tilt, the course of a year sees the passing of the seasons, marked by changes in weather, the hours of daylight, and, consequently, vegetation and soil fertility. In temperate and sub polar regions around the globe, four seasons are generally recognized: spring, summer, autumn and winter. In tropical and subtropical regions several geographical sectors do not present defined seasons; but in the seasonal tropics, the annual wet and dry seasons are recognized and tracked.

A calendar year is an approximation of the number of days of the Earth’s orbital period as counted in a given calendar. The Gregorian, or modern, calendar, presents its calendar year to be either a common year of 365 days or a leap year of 366 days, as do the Julian calendars; see below. For the Gregorian calendar the average length of the calendar year (the mean year) across the complete leap cycle of 400 years is 365.2425 days. The ISO standard ISO 80000-3, Annex C, supports the symbol “a” (for Latin annus) to represent a year of either 365 or 366 days. In English, the abbreviations “y” and “yr” are commonly used.

In astronomy, the Julian year is a unit of time; it is defined as 365.25 days of exactly 86400 seconds (SI base unit), totalling exactly 31557600 seconds in the Julian astronomical year.

The word “year” is also used for periods loosely associated with, but not identical to, the calendar or astronomical year, such as the seasonal year, the fiscal year, the academic year, etc. Similarly, “year” can mean the orbital period of any planet: for example, a Martian year or a Venusian year are examples of the time a planet takes to transit one complete orbit. The term can also be used in reference to any long period or cycle, such as the Great Year.

Is a very great year of 2016, and it past very fast. This is my last post of my iphoneography366. Finally completed this project and I would like to take this opportunity to say “THANK YOU” for those like and great comment which give me a very big encouragement. Last but not least I would like to wish you all “HAPPY NEW YEAR” and have a great year.

Shot & Edited using iPhone 6+

What Are You Looking At…?

iPhoneOgraphy – 30 Dec 2016 (Day 365/366)

Owls are birds from the order Strigiformes, which includes about 200 species of mostly solitary and nocturnal birds of prey typified by an upright stance, a large, broad head, binocular vision, binaural hearing, sharp talons, and feathers adapted for silent flight. Exceptions include the diurnal northern hawk-owl and the gregarious burrowing owl.

Owls hunt mostly small mammals, insects, and other birds, although a few species specialize in hunting fish. They are found in all regions of the Earth except Antarctica and some remote islands.

Owls are divided into two families: the true owls or typical owls, the Strigidae; and the barn-owls, the Tytonidae.

Owls possess large, forward – facing eyes and ear – holes, a hawk – like beak, a flat face, and usually a conspicuous circle of feathers, a facial disc, around each eye. The feathers making up this disc can be adjusted to sharply focus sounds from varying distances onto the owls’ asymmetrically placed ear cavities. Most birds of prey have eyes on the sides of their heads, but the stereoscopic nature of the owl’s forward-facing eyes permits the greater sense of depth perception necessary for low-light hunting. Although owls have binocular vision, their large eyes are fixed in their sockets – as are those of most other birds – so they must turn their entire heads to change views. As owls are farsighted, they are unable to clearly see anything within a few centimeters of their eyes. Caught prey can be felt by owls with the use of filoplumes – hairlike feathers on the beak and feet that act as “feelers”. Their far vision, particularly in low light, is exceptionally good.

Owls can rotate their heads and necks as much as 270°. Owls have 14 neck vertebrae compared to seven in humans, which makes their necks more flexible. They also have adaptations to their circulatory systems, permitting rotation without cutting off blood to the brain: the foramina in their vertebrae through which the vertebral arteries pass are about 10 times the diameter of the artery, instead of about the same size as the artery as in humans; the vertebral arteries enter the cervical vertebrae higher than in other birds, giving the vessels some slack, and the carotid arteries unite in a very large anastomosis or junction, the largest of any bird’s, preventing blood supply from being cut off while they rotate their necks. Other anastomoses between the carotid and vertebral arteries support this effect.

The smallest owl – weighing as little as 31 g (1 oz) and measuring some 13.5 cm (5 in) – is the elf owl (Micrathene whitneyi). Around the same diminutive length, although slightly heavier, are the lesser known long-whiskered owlet (Xenoglaux loweryi) and Tamaulipas pygmy owl (Glaucidium sanchezi). The largest owl by length is the great grey owl (Strix nebulosa), which measures around 70 cm (28 in) on average and can attain a length of 84 cm (33 in). However, the heaviest (and largest winged) owls are two similarly sized eagle owls; the Eurasian eagle-owl (Bubo bubo) and Blakiston’s fish owl (B. blakistoni). These two species, which are on average about 2.53 cm (1.00 in) shorter in length than the great grey, can both attain a wingspan of 2 m (6.6 ft) and a weight of 4.5 kg (10 lb) in the largest females.

Different species of owls produce different sounds; this distribution of calls aids owls in finding mates or announcing their presence to potential competitors, and also aids ornithologists and birders in locating these birds and distinguishing species. As noted above, their facial discs help owls to funnel the sound of prey to their ears. In many species, these discs are placed asymmetrically, for better directional location.

Owl plumage is generally cryptic, although several species have facial and head markings, including face masks, ear tufts, and brightly colored irises. These markings are generally more common in species inhabiting open habitats, and are thought to be used in signaling with other owls in low-light conditions.

Sexual dimorphism is a physical difference between males and females of a species. Reverse sexual dimorphism, when females are larger than males, has been observed across multiple owl species. The degree of size dimorphism varies across multiple populations and species, and is measured through various traits, such as wing span and body mass. Overall, female owls tend to be slightly larger than males. The exact explanation for this development in owls is unknown. However, several theories explain the development of sexual dimorphism in owls.

One theory suggests that selection has led males to be smaller because it allows them to be efficient foragers. The ability to obtain more food is advantageous during breeding season. In some species, female owls stay at their nest with their eggs while it is the responsibility of the male to bring back food to the nest. However, if food is scarce, the male first feeds himself before feeding the female. Small birds, which are agile, are an important source of food for owls. Male burrowing owls have been observed to have longer wing chords than females, despite being smaller than females. Furthermore, owls have been observed to be roughly the same size as their prey. This has also been observed in other predatory birds, which suggests that owls with smaller bodies and long wing chords have been selected for because of the increased agility and speed that allows them to catch their prey.

Another popular theory suggests that females have not been selected to be smaller like male owls because of their sexual roles. In many species, female owls may not leave the nest. Therefore, females may have a larger mass to allow them to go for a longer period of time without starving. For example, one hypothesized sexual role is that larger females are more capable of dismembering prey and feeding it to their young, hence female owls are larger than their male counterparts.

A different theory suggests that the size difference between male and females is due to sexual selection: since large females can choose their mate and may violently reject a male’s sexual advances, smaller male owls that have the ability to escape unreceptive females are more likely to have been selected.

Shot & Edited using iPhone 6+

Speak Softly Please…

iPhoneOgraphy – 29 Dec 2016 (Day 364/366)

A loudspeaker (or loud-speaker or speaker) is an electroacoustic transducer; which converts an electrical audio signal into a corresponding sound. The most widely used type of speaker in the 2010s is the dynamic speaker, invented in 1925 by Edward W. Kellogg and Chester W. Rice. The dynamic speaker operates on the same basic principle as a dynamic microphone, but in reverse, to produce sound from an electrical signal. When an alternating current electrical audio signal is applied to its voice coil, a coil of wire suspended in a circular gap between the poles of a permanent magnet, the coil is forced to move rapidly back and forth due to Faraday’s law of induction, which causes a diaphragm (usually conically shaped) attached to the coil to move back and forth, pushing on the air to create sound waves. Besides this most common method, there are several alternative technologies that can be used to convert an electrical signal into sound. The sound source (e.g., a sound recording or a microphone) must be amplified or strengthened with an audio power amplifier before the signal is sent to the speaker.

Speakers are typically housed in a speaker enclosure or speaker cabinet which is often a rectangular or square box made of wood or sometimes plastic. The enclosure’s materials and design, which may include using a bass reflex port, play an important role in the quality of the sound. Where high fidelity reproduction of sound is required, multiple loudspeaker transducers are often mounted in the same enclosure, each reproducing a part of the audible frequency range. In this case the individual speakers are referred to as “drivers” and the entire unit is called a loudspeaker. Drivers made for reproducing high audio frequencies are called tweeters, those for middle frequencies are called mid-range drivers, and those for low frequencies are called woofers. Smaller loudspeakers are found in devices such as radios, televisions, portable audio players, computers, and electronic musical instruments. Larger loudspeaker systems are used for music, sound reinforcement in theaters and concerts, and in public address systems.

Johann Philipp Reis installed an electric loudspeaker in his telephone in 1861; it was capable of reproducing clear tones, but also could reproduce muffled speech after a few revisions. Alexander Graham Bell patented his first electric loudspeaker (capable of reproducing intelligible speech) as part of his telephone in 1876, which was followed in 1877 by an improved version from Ernst Siemens. During this time, Thomas Edison was issued a British patent for a system using compressed air as an amplifying mechanism for his early cylinder phonographs, but he ultimately settled for the familiar metal horn driven by a membrane attached to the stylus. In 1898, Horace Short patented a design for a loudspeaker driven by compressed air; he then sold the rights to Charles Parsons, who was issued several additional British patents before 1910. A few companies, including the Victor Talking Machine Company and Pathé, produced record players using compressed-air loudspeakers. However, these designs were significantly limited by their poor sound quality and their inability to reproduce sound at low volume. Variants of the system were used for public address applications, and more recently, other variations have been used to test space-equipment resistance to the very loud sound and vibration levels that the launching of rockets produces.

The first experimental moving-coil (also called dynamic) loudspeaker was invented by Oliver Lodge in 1898. The first practical moving-coil loudspeakers were manufactured by Danish engineer Peter L. Jensen and Edwin Pridham in 1915, in Napa, California. Like previous loudspeakers these used horns to amplify the sound produced by a small diaphragm. Jensen was denied patents. Being unsuccessful in selling their product to telephone companies, in 1915 they changed their target market to radios and public address systems, and named their product Magnavox. Jensen was, for years after the invention of the loudspeaker, a part owner of The Magnavox Company.

The moving-coil principle commonly used today in speakers was patented in 1924 by Chester W. Rice and Edward W. Kellogg. The key difference between previous attempts and the patent by Rice and Kellogg is the adjustment of mechanical parameters so that the fundamental resonance of the moving system is below the frequency where the cone’s radiation impedance becomes uniform. About this same period, Walter H. Schottky invented the first ribbon loudspeaker together with Dr. Erwin Gerlach.

These first loudspeakers used electromagnets, because large, powerful permanent magnets were generally not available at a reasonable price. The coil of an electromagnet, called a field coil, was energized by current through a second pair of connections to the driver. This winding usually served a dual role, acting also as a choke coil, filtering the power supply of the amplifier that the loudspeaker was connected to. AC ripple in the current was attenuated by the action of passing through the choke coil. However, AC line frequencies tended to modulate the audio signal going to the voice coil and added to the audible hum. In 1930 Jensen introduced the first commercial fixed-magnet loudspeaker; however, the large, heavy iron magnets of the day were impractical and field-coil speakers remained predominant until the widespread availability of lightweight Alnico magnets after World War II.

In the 1930s, loudspeaker manufacturers began to combine two and three bandpasses’ worth of drivers in order to increase frequency response and sound pressure level. In 1937, the first film industry-standard loudspeaker system, “The Shearer Horn System for Theatres” (a two-way system), was introduced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. It used four 15″ low-frequency drivers, a crossover network set for 375 Hz, and a single multi-cellular horn with two compression drivers providing the high frequencies. John Kenneth Hilliard, James Bullough Lansing, and Douglas Shearer all played roles in creating the system. At the 1939 New York World’s Fair, a very large two-way public address system was mounted on a tower at Flushing Meadows. The eight 27″ low-frequency drivers were designed by Rudy Bozak in his role as chief engineer for Cinaudagraph. High-frequency drivers were likely made by Western Electric.

Altec Lansing introduced the 604, which became their most famous coaxial Duplex driver, in 1943. It incorporated a high-frequency horn that sent sound through the middle of a 15-inch woofer for near-point-source performance. Altec’s “Voice of the Theatre” loudspeaker system arrived in the marketplace in 1945, offering better coherence and clarity at the high output levels necessary in movie theaters. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences immediately began testing its sonic characteristics; they made it the film house industry standard in 1955.

In 1954, Edgar Villchur developed the acoustic suspension principle of loudspeaker design in Cambridge, Massachusetts. This allowed for better bass response than previously from drivers mounted in smaller cabinets which was important during the transition to stereo recording and reproduction. He and his partner Henry Kloss formed the Acoustic Research company to manufacture and market speaker systems using this principle. Subsequently, continuous developments in enclosure design and materials led to significant audible improvements. The most notable improvements to date in modern dynamic drivers, and the loudspeakers that employ them, are improvements in cone materials, the introduction of higher-temperature adhesives, improved permanent magnet materials, improved measurement techniques, computer-aided design, and finite element analysis. At low frequencies, the application of electrical network theory to the acoustic performance allowed by various enclosure designs (initially by Thiele, and later by Small) has been very important at the design level.

Shot & Edited using iPhone 6+

Abandoned Retiring Bus

iPhoneOgraphy – 28 Dec 2016 (Day 363/366)

A bus (archaically also omnibus, multibus, motorbus, autobus) is a road vehicle designed to carry many passengers. Buses can have a capacity as high as 300 passengers. The most common type of bus is the single-decker rigid bus, with larger loads carried by double-decker and articulated buses, and smaller loads carried by midi buses and minibuses; coaches are used for longer-distance services. Many types of buses, such as city transit buses and inter-city coaches, charge a fare. Other types, such as elementary or secondary school buses or shuttle buses within a post-secondary education campus do not charge a fare. In many jurisdictions, bus drivers require a special licence above and beyond a regular driver’s license.

Buses may be used for scheduled bus transport, scheduled coach transport, school transport, private hire, or tourism; promotional buses may be used for political campaigns and others are privately operated for a wide range of purposes, including rock and pop band tour vehicles.

Horse-drawn buses were used from the 1820s, followed by steam buses in the 1830s, and electric trolley buses in 1882. The first internal combustion engine buses, or motor buses, were used in 1895.

Recently, interest has been growing in hybrid electric buses, fuel cell buses, and electric buses, as well as ones powered by compressed natural gas or biodiesel. As of the 2010s, bus manufacturing is increasingly globalized, with the same designs appearing around the world.

Bus is a clipped form of the Latin word omnibus. The first horse-drawn omnibus service was started by a businessman named Stanislas Baudry in the French city of Nantes in 1823. The first vehicles stopped in front of the shop of a hatter named Omnés, which had a large sign reading “Omnes Omnibus”, a pun on the Latin-sounding name of that hatter; omnes means “all” and omnibus means (among other things) “for all” in Latin. Nantes citizens soon gave the nickname omnibus to the vehicle. The omnibus in Nantes was a success and Baudry moved to Paris and launched the first omnibus service there in April, 1828. A similar service was introduced in London in 1829.

Most public or private buses and coaches, once they have reached the end of their service with one or more operators, are sent to the wrecking yard for breaking up for scrap and spare parts. Some buses, while not economical to keep running as service buses, are often converted in some way for use by the operator, or another user, for purposes other than revenue earning transport. Much like old cars and trucks, buses often pass through a dealership where they can be bought for a price or at auction.

Bus operators will often find it economical to convert retired buses to use as permanent training buses for driver training, rather than taking a regular service bus out of use. Some large operators also converted retired buses into tow bus vehicles, to act as tow trucks. With the outsourcing of maintenance staff and facilities, the increase in company health and safety regulations, and the increasing curb weights of buses, many operators now contract their towing needs to a professional vehicle recovery company.

Some retired buses have been converted to static or mobile cafés, often using historic buses as a tourist attraction. Food is also provided from a catering bus, in which a bus is converted into a mobile canteen and break room. These are commonly seen at external filming locations to feed the cast and crew, and at other large events to feed staff. Another use is as an emergency vehicle, such as high-capacity ambulance bus or mobile command center.

Some organisations adapt and operate play buses or learning buses to provide a playground or learning environments to children who might not have access to proper play areas. An ex-London Route-master bus has been converted to a mobile theatre and catwalk fashion show.

Some buses meet a destructive end by being entered in banger races or at demolition derby. A larger number of old retired buses have also been converted into mobile holiday homes and campers.

Rather than being scrapped or converted for other uses, sometimes retired buses are saved for preservation. This can be done by individuals, volunteer preservation groups or charitable trusts, museums, or sometimes by the operators themselves as part of a heritage fleet. These buses often need to undergo a degree of vehicle restoration to restore them to their original condition, and will have their livery and other details such as internal notices and roll signs restored to be authentic to a specific time in the bus’s actual history. Some buses that undergo preservation are rescued from a state of great disrepair, but others enter preservation with very little wrong with them. As with other historic vehicles, many preserved buses either in a working or static state form part of the collections of transport museums. Working buses will often be exhibited at rallies and events, and they are also used as charter buses. While many preserved buses are quite old or even vintage, in some cases relatively new examples of a bus type can enter restoration. In-service examples are still in use by other operators. This often happens when a change in design or operating practice, such as the switch to one person operation or low floor technology, renders some buses redundant while still relatively new.

Shot & Edited using iPhone 6+

The Leather Wallet

iPhoneOgraphy – 27 Dec 2016 (Day 362/366)

A wallet, pouch or billfold, is a small, flat case that is used to carry such personal items as cash, credit cards, and identification documents (driver’s license, identification card, club card, etc.), photographs, gift cards, business cards and other paper or laminated cards. Wallets are generally made of leather or fabrics, and they are usually pocket-sized but not always foldable.

The word “wallet” has been in use since the late 14th century to refer to a bag or a knapsack for carrying articles. The word may derive from Proto-Germanic. The ancient Greek word kibisis, said to describe the sack carried by the god Hermes and the sack in which the mythical hero Perseus carried the severed head of the monster Medusa, has been typically translated as “wallet”. Usage of the term “wallet” in its modern meaning of “flat case for carrying paper currency” in American English dates to 1834 but this meaning was one of many in the 19th century and early 20th century.

The classicist A. Y. Campbell set out to answer the question, “What…in ancient literature, are the uses of a wallet?” He deduced, as a Theocritean scholar, that “the wallet was the poor man’s portable larder; or, poverty apart, it was a thing that you stocked with provisions.” He found that sometimes a man may be eating out of it directly but the most characteristic references allude to its being “replenished as a store”, not in the manner of a lunch basket but more as a survival pack.

Wallets were developed after the introduction of paper currency to the West in the 1600s. (The first paper currency was introduced in the New World by the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1690.) Prior to the introduction of paper currency, coin purses (usually simple drawstring leather pouches) were used for storing coins. Early wallets were made primarily of cow or horse leather and included a small pouch for printed calling cards.

In recounting the life of the Elizabethan merchant, John Frampton, Lawrence C. Wroth describes the merchant as, “a young English-man of twenty-five years, decently dressed, …, wearing a sword, and carrying fixed to his belt something he called a ‘bowgett’ (or budget), that is, a leathern pouch or wallet in which he carried his cash, his book of accounts, and small articles of daily necessity”.

In addition to money or currency, a wallet would also be used for carrying dried meat, victuals, “treasures”, and “things not to be exposed”. Wallets originally were used by early Industrial Americans. It was considered “semi-civilized” in 19th century America to carry one’s wallet on one’s belt. Ironically, at this time, carrying goods or a wallet in one’s pocket was considered uncivilized and uncommon.

In Spain, a wallet was a case for smoking paraphernalia: “Every man would carry a small sheaf of white paper in addition to a small leather wallet which would contain a flint and steel along with a small quantity of so-called yesca, being a dried vegetable fibre which a spark would instantly ignite.”

The modern bi-fold wallet with multiple “card slots” became standardized in the early 1950s with the introduction of the first credit cards. Some innovations include the introduction of the velcro-closure wallet in the 1970s. Pocket-sized wallets remain extremely popular to this day.

Shot & Edited using iPhone 6+

Yummy Chili Crab

iPhoneOgraphy – 26 Dec 2016 (Day 361/366)

Crabs are decapod crustaceans of the infraorder Brachyura, which typically have a very short projecting “tail” (abdomen), usually entirely hidden under the thorax. They live in all the world’s oceans, in fresh water, and on land, are generally covered with a thick exoskeleton and have a single pair of claws. Many other animals with similar names – such as hermit crabs, king crabs, porcelain crabs, horseshoe crabs, and crab lice – are not true crabs.

Crabs are generally covered with a thick exoskeleton, composed primarily of calcium carbonate, and armed with a single pair of chelae (claws). Crabs are found in all of the world’s oceans, while many crabs live in fresh water and on land, particularly in tropical regions. Crabs vary in size from the pea crab, a few millimetres wide, to the Japanese spider crab, with a leg span of up to 4 metres (13 ft).

About 850 species of crab are freshwater, terrestrial or semi-terrestrial species; they are found throughout the world’s tropical and semi-tropical regions. They were previously thought to be a monophyletic group, but are now believed to represent at least two distinct lineages, one in the Old World and one in the New World.

The earliest unambiguous crab fossils date from the Jurassic, although Carboniferous Imocaris, known only from its carapace, may be a primitive crab. The radiation of crabs in the Cretaceous and afterward may be linked either to the break-up of Gondwana or to the concurrent radiation of bony fish, crabs’ main predators.

Crabs often show marked sexual dimorphism. Males often have larger claws, a tendency which is particularly pronounced in the fiddler crabs of the genus Uca (Ocypodidae). In fiddler crabs, males have one claw which is greatly enlarged and which is used for communication, particularly for attracting a mate. Another conspicuous difference is the form of the pleon (abdomen); in most male crabs, this is narrow and triangular in form, while females have a broader, rounded abdomen. This is because female crabs brood fertilised eggs on their pleopods.

Crabs are prepared and eaten as a dish in several different ways all over the world. Some species are eaten whole, including the shell, such as soft-shell crab; with other species, just the claws and/or legs are eaten. The latter is particularly common for larger crabs, such as the snow crab. Mostly in East Asian cultures, the roe of the female crab is also eaten, which usually appears orange or yellow in fertile crabs.

In some regions, spices improve the culinary experience. In Southeast Asia and Indosphere, masala crab and chili crab are examples of heavily spiced dishes. In the Chesapeake Bay region, blue crab is often eaten with Old Bay Seasoning. Alaskan king crab or snow crab legs are usually simply boiled and served with garlic or lemon butter.

For the British dish Cromer crab, the crab meat is extracted and placed inside the hard shell. One American way to prepare crab meat is by extracting it and adding a flour mix, creating a crab cake. Crabs are also used in bisque, a global dish of French origin.

Imitation crab, made from minced fish products that are crafted to resemble crab meat, is disdained throughout the culinary industry as an unacceptably low-quality substitute for real crab. This does not hinder its popularity in Japan (where it originated) and in home cooking, where cost is often a chief concern.

Shot & Edited using iPhone 6+

The Birth Of Jesus Christ

iPhoneOgraphy – 25 Dec 2016 (Day 360/366)

Christmas or Christmas Day (Old English: Crīstesmæsse, meaning “Christ’s Mass”) is an annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, observed most commonly on December 25 as a religious and cultural celebration among billions of people around the world. A feast central to the Christian liturgical year, it is prepared for by the season of Advent or the Nativity Fast and initiates the season of Christmastide, which historically in the West lasts twelve days and culminates on Twelfth Night; in some traditions, Christmastide includes an Octave. The traditional Christmas narrative, the Nativity of Jesus, delineated in the New Testament says that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, in accordance with messianic prophecies; when Joseph and Mary arrived in the city, the inn had no room and so they were offered a stable where the Christ Child was soon born, with angels proclaiming this news to shepherds who then disseminated the message furthermore. Christmas Day is a public holiday in many of the world’s nations, is celebrated religiously by the vast majority of Christians, as well as culturally by a number of non-Christian people, and is an integral part of the holiday season, while some Christian groups reject the celebration. In several countries, celebrating Christmas Eve on December 24 has the main focus rather than December 25, with gift-giving and sharing a traditional meal with the family.

Although the month and date of Jesus’ birth are unknown, by the early-to-mid 4th century the Western Christian Church had placed Christmas on December 25, a date which was later adopted in the East. Today, most Christians celebrate on December 25 in the Gregorian calendar, which has been adopted almost universally in the civil calendars used in countries throughout the world. However, some Eastern Christian Churches celebrate Christmas on the December 25 of the older Julian calendar, which currently corresponds to January 7 in the Gregorian calendar, the day after the Western Christian Church celebrates the Epiphany. This is not a disagreement over the date of Christmas as such, but rather a preference of which calendar should be used to determine the day that is December 25. In the Council of Tours of 567, the Church, with its desire to be universal, “declared the twelve days between Christmas and Epiphany to be one unified festal cycle”, thus giving significance to both the Western and Eastern dates of Christmas. Moreover, for Christians, the belief that God came into the world in the form of man to atone for the sins of humanity, rather than the exact birth date, is considered to be the primary purpose in celebrating Christmas.

Although it is not known why December 25 became a date of celebration, there are several factors that may have influenced the choice. December 25 was the date the Romans marked as the winter solstice, and Jesus was identified with the Sun based on an Old Testament verse. The date is exactly nine months following Annunciation, when the conception of Jesus is celebrated. Finally, the Romans had a series of pagan festivals near the end of the year, so Christmas may have been scheduled at this time to appropriate, or compete with, one or more of these festivals.

The celebratory customs associated in various countries with Christmas have a mix of pre-Christian, Christian, and secular themes and origins. Popular modern customs of the holiday include gift giving, completing an Advent calendar or Advent wreath, Christmas music and caroling, lighting a Chris-tingle, an exchange of Christmas cards, church services, a special meal, and the display of various Christmas decorations, including Christmas trees, Christmas lights, nativity scenes, garlands, wreaths, mistletoe, and holly. In addition, several closely related and often interchangeable figures, known as Santa Claus, Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas, and Christkind, are associated with bringing gifts to children during the Christmas season and have their own body of traditions and lore. Because gift-giving and many other aspects of the Christmas festival involve heightened economic activity, the holiday has become a significant event and a key sales period for retailers and businesses. The economic impact of Christmas has grown steadily over the past few centuries in many regions of the world.

Shot & Edited using iPhone 6+

The Day Before Christmas

iPhoneOgraphy – 24 Dec 2016 (Day 359/366)

Christmas Eve is the evening or entire day preceding Christmas Day, the festival commemorating the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. Christmas Day is observed around the world, and Christmas Eve is widely observed as a full or partial holiday in anticipation of Christmas Day. Together, both days are considered one of the most culturally significant celebrations in Christendom and Western society.

Christmas celebrations in the denominations of Western Christianity have long begun on the night of the 24th, due in part to the Christian liturgical day starting at sunset, a practice inherited from Jewish tradition and based on the story of Creation in the Book of Genesis: “And there was evening, and there was morning – the first day.” Many churches still ring their church bells and hold prayers in the evening; for example, the Nordic Lutheran churches. Since tradition holds that Jesus was born at night (based in Luke 2:6-8), Midnight Mass is celebrated on Christmas Eve, traditionally at midnight, in commemoration of his birth. The idea of Jesus being born at night is reflected in the fact that Christmas Eve is referred to as Heilige Nacht (Holy Night) in German, Nochebuena (the Good Night) in Spanish and similarly in other expressions of Christmas spirituality, such as the song “Silent Night, Holy Night”.

Many other varying cultural traditions and experiences are also associated with Christmas Eve around the world, including the gathering of family and friends, the singing of Christmas carols, the illumination and enjoyment of Christmas lights, trees, and other decorations, the wrapping, exchange and opening of gifts, and general preparation for Christmas Day. Legendary Christmas gift-bearing figures including Santa Claus, Father Christmas, Christkind, and Saint Nicholas are also often said to depart for their annual journey to deliver presents to children around the world on Christmas Eve, although until the Protestant introduction of Christkind in 16th-century Europe, such figures were said to instead deliver presents on the eve of Saint Nicholas’ feast day (December 6).

During the Reformation in 16th- and 17th-century Europe, many Protestants changed the gift bringer to the Christ Child or Christkindl, and the date of giving gifts changed from December 6 to Christmas Eve. It is the night when Santa Claus makes his rounds delivering gifts to good children. Many trace the custom of giving gifts to the Magi who brought gifts for the Christ child in the manger.

In the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Croatia and Hungary, where Saint Nicholas (sv. Mikuláš/szent Mikulás) gives his sweet gifts on December 6, the Christmas gift-giver is the Child Jesus (Ježíšek in Czech, Jézuska in Hungarian, Ježiško in Slovak and Isusek in Croatian).

In most parts of Austria, Germany, Poland, Czech Republic and Switzerland, presents are traditionally exchanged on the evening of December 24. Children are commonly told that presents were brought either by the Christkind (German for Christ child), or by the Weihnachtsmann. Both leave the gifts, but are in most families not seen doing so. In Germany, the gifts are also brought on 6 December by “the Nikolaus” with his helper Knecht Ruprecht.

In Finland, Joulupukki, in Norway Julenissen and in Sweden Jultomten, personally meets children and gives presents in the evening of Christmas Eve.

In Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Colombia, Denmark, Estonia, the Faroe Islands, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Slovakia, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Quebec, Romania, Uruguay, Sweden, Switzerland and the Czech Republic, Christmas presents are opened mostly on the evening of the 24th – this is also the tradition among the British Royal Family, due to their mainly German ancestry – while in Italy, the United States, the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, English Canada, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia, this occurs mostly on the morning of Christmas Day.

In other Latin American countries, people stay awake until midnight, when they open the presents.

In Spain, gifts are traditionally opened on the morning of January 6, Epiphany day (“Día de Los Tres Reyes Magos”), though in some other countries, like Argentina and Uruguay, people receive presents both around Christmas and on the morning of Epiphany day.

In Belgium and the Netherlands Saint Nicholas or Sinterklaas and his companion Zwarte Piet deliver presents to children and adults alike on the evening of December 5, the eve of his nameday. On December 24 they go to church or watch the late-night mass on TV, or have a meal.

Shot & Edited using iPhone 6+

Losing All The Leaves

iPhoneOgraphy – 23 Dec 2016 (Day 358/366)

Deciduous means “falling off at maturity” ” or “tending to fall off”, and it is typically used in order to refer to trees or shrubs that lose their leaves seasonally (most commonly during autumn) and to the shedding of other plant structures such as petals after flowering or fruit when ripe. In a more general sense, deciduous means “the dropping of a part that is no longer needed” or “falling away after its purpose is finished”. In plants it is the result of natural processes. “Deciduous” has a similar meaning when referring to animal parts, such as deciduous antlers in deer or deciduous teeth, also known as baby teeth, in some mammals (including humans).

In botany and horticulture, deciduous plants, including trees, shrubs and herbaceous perennials, are those that lose all of their leaves for part of the year. This process is called abscission. In some cases leaf loss coincides with winter – namely in temperate or polar climates. In other parts of the world, including tropical, subtropical, and arid regions, plants lose their leaves during the dry season or other seasons, depending on variations in rainfall.

The converse of deciduous is coniferous, where foliage is shed on a different schedule from deciduous trees, therefore appearing to remain green year round. Plants that are intermediate may be called semi-deciduous; they lose old foliage as new growth begins. Other plants are semi-evergreen and lose their leaves before the next growing season, retaining some during winter or dry periods. Some trees, including a few species of oak, have desiccated leaves that remain on the tree through winter; these dry persistent leaves are called marcescent leaves and are dropped in the spring as new growth begins.

Many deciduous plants flower during the period when they are leafless, as this increases the effectiveness of pollination. The absence of leaves improves wind transmission of pollen for wind-pollinated plants and increases the visibility of the flowers to insects in insect-pollinated plants. This strategy is not without risks, as the flowers can be damaged by frost or, in dry season regions, result in water stress on the plant. Nevertheless, there is much less branch and trunk breakage from glaze ice storms when leafless, and plants can reduce water loss due to the reduction in availability of liquid water during cold winter days.

Leaf drop or abscission involves complex physiological signals and changes within plants. The process of photosynthesis steadily degrades the supply of chlorophylls in foliage; plants normally replenish chlorophylls during the summer months. When autumn arrives and the days are shorter or when plants are drought-stressed, deciduous trees decrease chlorophyll pigment production, allowing other pigments present in the leaf to become apparent, resulting in non-green colored foliage. The brightest leaf colors are produced when days grow short and nights are cool, but remain above freezing. These other pigments include carotenoids that are yellow, brown, and orange. Anthocyanin pigments produce red and purple colors, though they are not always present in the leaves. Rather, they are produced in the foliage in late summer, when sugars are trapped in the leaves after the process of abscission begins. Parts of the world that have showy displays of bright autumn colors are limited to locations where days become short and nights are cool. In other parts of the world, the leaves of deciduous trees simply fall off without turning the bright colors produced from the accumulation of anthocyanin pigments.

Plants with deciduous foliage have advantages and disadvantages compared to plants with evergreen foliage. Since deciduous plants lose their leaves to conserve water or to better survive winter weather conditions, they must regrow new foliage during the next suitable growing season; this uses resources which evergreens do not need to expend. Evergreens suffer greater water loss during the winter and they also can experience greater predation pressure, especially when small. Losing leaves in winter may reduce damage from insects; repairing leaves and keeping them functional may be more costly than just losing and regrowing them. Removing leaves also reduces cavitation which can damage xylem vessels in plants. This then allows deciduous plants to have xylem vessels with larger diameters and therefore a greater rate of transpiration (and hence CO2 uptake as this occurs when stomata are open) during the summer growth period.

The deciduous characteristic has developed repeatedly among woody plants. Trees include maple, many oaks and nothofagus, elm, aspen,and birch, among others, as well as a number of coniferous genera, such as larch and Metasequoia. Deciduous shrubs include honeysuckle, viburnum, and many others. Most temperate woody vines are also deciduous, including grapes, poison ivy, Virginia creeper, wisteria, etc. The characteristic is useful in plant identification; for instance in parts of Southern California and the American Southeast, deciduous and evergreen oak species may grow side by side.

Periods of leaf fall often coincide with seasons: winter in the case of cool-climate plants or the dry-season in the case of tropical plants, however there are no deciduous species among tree-like monocotyledonous plants, e.g. Palms, yuccas, and dracaenas.

Shot & Edited using iPhone 6+

Nobody Was Waiting

iPhoneOgraphy – 22 Dec 2016 (Day 357/366)

A bench is a long seat on which several people may sit at the same time. Benches are typically made of wood, but may also be made of metal, stone, or synthetic materials. Many benches have arm and back rests; some have no back rest and can be sat on from either side. In American public areas, benches are often donated by persons or associations, which may then be indicated on it, e.g. by a small plaque. Benches are used both outdoors and indoors.

Wood benches are a very high maintenance option because they need to be regularly treated with an insect repellent or coated with polyurethane or similar coating to maximize the life of the material. They are typically found along walking trails and state parks, while high-quality wood products like teak, redwood and mahogany are commonly found in residential furniture lines, resorts and restaurant settings. Other common lumber furnishing materials include oak and southern yellow pine.

Shot & Edited using iPhone 6+

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