LONELY PLANET: Travel guide’s top destinations for 2017

This time last year, renowned travel and adventure guide Lonely Planet published a list of recommendations for travellers in 2017, for top countries and regions that the adventurous globetrotter just had to check out. Lonely Planet got together with people in the know, and spoke with numerous publishers, travel authors and members of its travelling subscriber community. It then compiled their recommendations in the magazine ‘Best In Travel’, listing the ten best cities, regions and countries the energetic and fun-loving trip junkie must visit for this year. Yes, 2017 is only good for three months more, but these destinations are planning to stick around for much longer, and are perfect for your 2018 travel plans.

 

COUNTRIES:

Canada – The land of the maple leaf, ice hockey and scrummy Tim Horton’s doughnuts made the number one slot in Lonely Planet’s guide. According to the guide, Canada’s rise to the top was helped by the election of its prime minister Justin Trudeau, whose arrival in Ottawa heralded a wave of national optimism. Other factors cited included the favourable exchange rate for Canadian dollars and the festivities the country is organising to celebrate 150 years of confederation which created Canada as a single political entity.

Colombia – after decades as a no-go zone due to an ongoing civil war, Colombia recently saw the signing of peace treaties between the government and far-left jungle rebels, and finally after 50 years of conflict, things are looking up for this undiscovered South American locale. This hope and the country’s outstanding natural beauty, vibrant culture and friendly people means Colombia takes the runner-up prize.

The top 10 countries – 

  1. Canada
  2. Colombia
  3. Finland
  4. Dominica
  5. Nepal
  6. Bermuda
  7. Mongolia
  8. Oman
  9. Myanmar
  10. Ethiopia

CITIES:

In first place for the best cities to visit in 2017, is the picturesque southern French city of Bordeaux. Lonely Planeters rated Bordeaux for its fine gastronomy, and no surprises, its vineyards and wine-making. After Cape Town in South Africa in second place, Los Angeles in the US came third, for its cultural, gastronomic and commercial diversity. Neighbouring Mexico’s Merida appears in fourth position, buoyed by its nomination as American City of Culture 2017, and its food culture.

The top 10 cities – 

  1. Bordeaux, France
  2. Cape Town, South Africa
  3. Los Angeles, USA
  4. Mérida, Mexico
  5. Ohrid, Macedonia
  6. Pistoia, Italy
  7. Seoul, South Korea
  8. Lisbon, Portugal
  9. Moscow, Russia
  10. Portland, USA

REGIONS:

Latin America has done favourably well in the most rated regions by Lonely Planet. Leading the pack is the Peruvian region of Choquequirao (Apurimac Valley), which was lauded by travellers for its unique opportunities to immerse oneself in the local Inca culture. Latin America is also represented at sixth place, with Chile’s Aysén in southern Patagonia, home to breathtaking glacial waterfalls fuelled by the snow-capped mountains of the Andes. The water in Aysén is said to be so fresh and cool, it imparts a unique flavour to the local beer.

The top 10 regions – 

  1. Choquequirao, Peru
  2. Taranaki, New Zealand
  3. Azores Islands, Portugal
  4. North Wales, United Kingdom
  5. South Australia
  6. Aysén, Chile
  7. Tuamotu Archipelago, French Polynesia
  8. Georgia Coast, USA
  9. Perak, Malaysia
  10. Ring of Skellig, Ireland

Best in Travel also showcases the top 10 value-for-money destinations globally as well as rankings of places to experience in Asia, Europe and the United States, as well exploring 2017’s newest travel trends.

You can see Lonely Planet’s recommendations at lonelyplanet.com/best-in-travel

DISCLAIMER: Lonely Planet has not endorsed or commissioned this article. This feature is based on a Spanish-language article from a third party.

SOURCES:

HEM News Agency, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/halfeatenmind

Tweet Hispano, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/TweetHispano

“Los mejores destinos turísticos para viajar en 2017 según ‘Lonely Planet’ ” – GrandesMedios.com/Grandes Medios (26 October 2016) https://www.grandesmedios.com/mejores-destinos-turisticos-2017/

“Best in Travel 2017” – Lonely Planet http://www.lonelyplanet.com/best-in-travel

IMAGE CREDIT:

“Free photo: Luggage, Holiday, Travel, Summer – Free Image on Pixabay – 1149289” – stux, Pixabay (29 December 2015) https://pixabay.com/en/luggage-holiday-travel-summer-sea-1149289/

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SCIENCE EXPERIMENT: Making plasma in the microwave

 

A cool science experiment you can carry out at home in your kitchen for next to nothing in cost, and a chance to see plasma in action. Plasma is a state of material that is rarely encountered naturally on Earth but is a core component of stars.

The plasma is generated by a combination of combustion and the microwave’s electric fields. Electrons are pushed back and forth, colliding with air molecules. It is these collisions that science says causes the formation of a ‘plasmoid’ which being hotter that the surrounding air, causes it to rise up to the top.

This experiment is quite easy to set up and uses things like jars and matches that you can find around the house. Be warned however, that you should do your research beforehand, as the plasma experiment can go wrong if not set up properly. Also it’s best not to use your flatmate’s expensive microwave just in case.

SOURCES:

Vijay Shah { विजय }, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/VShah1984

Elle Eff, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/Elle_Eff247

Science GIFs, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/Learn_Things

Chemical Reactions, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/ChemistryReacts

“Make a ball of plasma in a microwave” – Amie, Wonder How To Science Experiments/WonderHowTo, Inc (6 September 2008) https://science.wonderhowto.com/how-to/make-ball-plasma-microwave-194331/

“Q & A: Plasma from a flame in the Microwave” – Tom, Ask the Van/Department of Physics – University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (22 October 2007) https://van.physics.illinois.edu/qa/listing.php?id=819

VIJAY’S VIRASAT: Restaurant with a familiar name

Those of you who have been following this blog since the earliest days will now that the editor/blogger/journalist (i.e. me) who runs the blog is named Vijay. Those who know me in real life also know of my reputation as a bit of a foodie. So the next bit will be quite interesting.

I live in Ilford, just east of the big smoke in the United Kingdom they like to call London, and within a 5 or so mile radius from my home are three establishments involved in the food industry that bare my name. First, there’s Vijay’s Chawalla, a Gujarati vegetarian restaurant located in Green Street, Upton Park. I was fortunate enough to visit the Chawalla many eons ago and their fare is amazing and sumptuous. Jumping back to Ilford again, you can take a trip down the High Road to Seven Kings, where you can buy all your kitchen staples at Vijay’s General Store, situated on the Green Lane. Now before you all start thinking I’ve turned into some kind of Richard Branson figure, buying up stores and restaurants, living it up on a yacht moored in Monaco, and giving Tesco et al. nightmares in the boardroom, I do not own the above mentioned establishments. I’m just lucky enough to have the same first name. And of course, my family and friends use the resto names as good ammunition to tease me with.

 

Recently a new Indian restaurant has joined the Vijay’s club. With the catchy and alliterated desi name of Vijay’s Virasat, this eaterie found its forever home in Horns Road, Ilford, not far from the junction of the A12 motorway (Eastern Avenue) and Ley Street, just north of where HEM News Agency’s HQ is based. The area around the junction is a shopping and eating out paradise, home to many high street stores, homeware vendors and other restaurants such as Mirage and Restaurant Oasis. This part of the Newbury Park district lies slap-bang between two residential areas, so guaranteeing a healthy footfall from a business perspective.

Vijay’s Virasat  was brought to you by the Vijay behind the aforementioned Chawalla, and a Indian sweet shop called, not surprisingly, Vijay’s Sweet Mart. For three decades, my very astute namesake has been bringing vegetarian Indian food to the denizens of east London, and with Virasat, this is their first foray into the curry-and-poppadom sort of Indian cuisine most people in the UK are familiar with.

The restaurant, which unlike the other businesses in the Vijay’s portfolio offers non-veg in addition to veg, is a modern celebration of the culinary crossing over and intermingling of British and Indian cultures that took place during the days of the Empire, as well as the influences on Indian cooking from Central Asia, Portugal and the lands of Arabia. After many centuries of this cultural mixing in the kitchens of south Asia, it has culminated in the menu of Vijay’s Virasat, with its Mughal and regional influences, with a little East African food thrown in for the British Asians who came from there.

You get the standard things and dishes you would find in a Indian restaurant, such as a tandoor (clay oven) for making naans and chicken dishes and the usual curries, rice, rotis, snacks etc etc. There are two different types of starters available, with a choice of vegetable, chicken, lamb and seafood mains to tantalise your tastebuds.

Some unusual and different menu highlights include the ‘Chicken Lollipop’ (chicken drumsticks deep-fried in a Chinese batter and then tossed in a hot garlic sauce), the ‘Chicken 1965’, which is not a dodgy electro music outfit but “spicy fried chicken tempered with curry leaves, mustard seeds and chillies”, Konkani fish masala, chilli and garlic flavoured naans and matka kulfi, a type of ice cream.

Thankfully for my reputation, Vijay’s Virasat has largely been a hit with London’s spoilt-for-choice diners, with the restaurant achieving a rating of 4.7 out of five stars on Facebook, but hey that’s how us Vijays roll!!

I have not yet had a chance to sample the dishes and the ‘rapturous experience’ of dining at the Virasat, and it certainly looks good. When I get round to it, I’ll tell you all about it.

 

SOURCES/IMAGE CREDIT:

Vijay’s Virasat, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/vijaysvirasat/

Vijay’s Virasat http://vijaysvirasat.com/ 

“About Us” – Vijay’s Virasat http://vijaysvirasat.com/#about-us

“Menu” – Vijay’s Virasat http://vijaysvirasat.com/#our-menus

“Reviews” – Vijay’s Virasat, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/pg/vijaysvirasat/reviews/

 

IT CAME FROM UNDER THE BRIDGE: The different species of social media trolls

If you are a regular on the social media scene or frequent forums for subjects such as video games and politics, you may have already encountered a particularly troublesome type of internet user. They like to speak in CAPITAL LETTERS, throw around %^&£” insults and generally behave a nuisance and rile everyone else up. Having a mature, informed and adult conversation with these users is wishful thinking. Make way for the troll. Named for the grotesque monsters living under bridges in Three Billy Goats Gruff and other fairy tales of olde, the internet troll is not likely to eat you but will definitely chew up your self-confidence and online experience if they decide you are next on the menu.

 

In recent years, the act of trolling has become more noticed in the news headlines as social media becomes entrenched in our daily lives. A quick perusal of the comments under any popular YouTube video, for example, will expose you to more swear words and put-downs than any dictionary could ever teach. Filled with verbal bile and hiding behind a (nearly) anonymous screen, internet trolls have become more and more brazen, even targeting famous celebrities, politicians and others in the public eye with vitriol, degrading words and even death threats. Many trolls engage in cyber bullying, usually targeted against the young, which can be just as vicious as bullying in Real Life, but with the more damaging impact that the hurtful words and memes can spread far beyond school or college gates and appear in front of millions of eyes globally.

As the world increasingly is more connected online, trolls have emerged from the darkness in greater numbers, and policymakers are now beginning to sit up and take notice of the problems they cause. In the U.K. several trolls have already fallen foul of the law after engaging in malicious online communications with people they did not like the look of. Legal guidelines have been contemplated that will make extreme trolling punishable by up to two years imprisonment.

Informational website Basic Infos has studied the phenomenon of the internet troll with an almost scientific approach, dividing them into ‘species’ based on their activities. Below are the different types of troll that you need to steer clear of when on the web.

Grammar Corrector Troll: The online grammar Nazi, these trolls are relatively harmless, but can be infuriatingly pedantic. They will call you out on typos in your comments. Some may actually be angels in disguise, simply helping you to improve your spelling, punctuation or factual knowledge, and mean no ill will. The more hellbent ones of this species however, will mock you and often question your intelligence or education, especially in debates or discussions of controversial topics. However even spelling bee champions can fall foul of autocorrect, so the grammar corrector troll may turn out to be a hypocrite.

Headline Reading Troll: These trolls frequent news sites. They generally have low attention spans and will spend more time writing an acerbic comment that actually reading the article they are commenting on. As they have only read as far as the headline, they will start typing up controversy and saying things without knowing the full story. For example, trolls who insult all British Pakistanis based on an article about child sexual attacks where the perpetrator was non-Asian.

Meme Master Troll: This variety tends to be more creative, and employ the viral nature of memes to push forth their twisted opinions. Some of this species who possess a slightly higher IQ and some dexterity will even cook up their own derisory memes. They let these memes do the talking for them and are literal believers in the expression ‘a picture tells a thousand insults’. While offensive at times, some meme masters can be quite hilarious and they have the advantage of adding a bit of pictorial spice to otherwise serious debates.

ITK Troll: To give it its full scientific name, the ‘I Too Know’ troll is smarter than other species, with sometimes encyclopaedic knowledge, or as the Americans say, a ‘smartass’. Unlike other semi-intellectuals however, the ITK troll uses their advanced knowledge of politics, culture, sports or cat pictures to harass and put down other users, especially those considered newbies. These trolls are the online equivalent of that smug smart guy at work or the pub who is a know-it-all and is not afraid to let everyone know it.

Clap Back Troll: These trolls will appear if you make a comment that is the perfect answer or adds weight to a conversation. They will sarcastically agree with you or put you down. The rarest of the species of troll.

Certified Abuser Troll: This species is further subdivided into two sub-species. One of which is in a position of power, i.e. an admin for a Facebook page, but uses their place of authority to pee off other commentators and pick on others while they get high off their clearly abused power. The other breed consists of individuals who will go to extreme lengths to dig up your external links, profiles or older comments and use them to publicly humiliate, attack or counter-argue you with. Basically being beaten with your own e-shoes.

 

Everywhere Troll: Like their microscopic cousin, the dust mite, the everywhere troll is found literally, everywhere.They comment so frequently that they almost become minor celebrities in their little online worlds. Trolling is a full-time career for them, and their experience makes them one of the most dangerous species of troll. The everywhere troll can often be found doing their 9-5 across a range of social media. Despite their dedication to their hobby, most everywhere trolls are unemployed or unemployable, which gives them plenty of free time to go cause some trouble.

Researcher Troll: Another of the more intellectual groupings of troll, the researcher is a whizz at Google, Bing and company. They will claim your comment is wrong, inaccurate or downright stupid and will trawl the web, returning within a few minutes or hours with a link or image aiming to disprove you. Like the Grammar Corrector troll, this species can be beneficial and can teach you a few things but the more malicious specimens will use their new-found facts to crap all over you in front of other participants. Like the ITK troll, the researchers tend to be more intelligent than the average troll, but still an annoyance.

Capital Letter-Loving Troll: LIKES TO TALK LIKE THIS. They may be a victim of a broken Caps Lock key, but more likely, this heavily opinionated variant feels the need to SHOUT their comment or opinion so everyone can feed their insatiable need to be NOTICED. Tend to be quite argumentative and thinks they know everything. Keep calm and ignore. My own addition to this list.

Cyberbully: My second addition to this list, the cyberbully is the breed that would be on the Dangerous Dogs List if you could keep trolls as pets. By far the most pathetic, lowdown and twisted of the various troll species, the cyberbully’s activities make the deeds of all other trolls pale into insignificance in comparison. This troll, sadly a common species, will insult you, demean you, degrade you into the ground and even leave their laptop and make a physical appearance if pushed far enough. These trolls are the ones who are headline gold for news editors. These pointless individuals have caused the most damage to the web experience. Unlike most trolls, which you can safely ignore, the cyberbully needs to be fumigated with a phone call to your local police service or cyberbullying hotline.

Remember folks, trolls are energised by the oxygen of publicity, and if you don’t feed the troll, it will go find some other bridge to play under. Most trolls just want an audience and to provoke a response from you, and most will eventually get the chop once the website owner closes their account or permabans their sorry behinds. If the troll takes it too far, you have witnesses and proof to report them. Don’t get trolled, Rick roll them back. The report link is your best friend. When encountering whichever species of troll behaving badly, the best thing is to ignore them, as it is the perfect troll repellent.

SOURCES:

HEM News Agency, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/halfeatenmind

Ramat Lami‏, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/Ramat_Lami

“SEE THE DIFFERENT KIND OF TROLLS YOU FIND ON SOCIAL MEDIA THESE DAYS” – Basic Infos/BasicInfosNG [ GAE Enterprise Ltd.] https://www.basicinfos.com/trolls-you-find-on-social-media/

IMAGE CREDITS:

“Troll” – Doug Wildman, Flickr (4 May 2006) https://www.flickr.com/photos/34585748@N00/321902708

“File:Man uses laptop (1).jpg” – Bill Branson & National Cancer Institute, Wikimedia Commons (June 2004) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Man_uses_laptop_(1).jpg

SULLEE J: Reborn [Video] ft. Beast 1333

 

Baltimore’s Sullee Justice features artist Beast 1333 of the Temple of Hip Hop organisation and UK’s DJ Trickalome on the second single “Reborn” produced by Dansonn beats off his upcoming album. This track was made in the hopes of reviving listeners from the darkest thoughts and deepest of pains. From the increasing rate of suicide our world is facing and the lack of support people receive in the times of need, music like this is appreciated. This song not only will help you feel better, but hopefully gives you an alternative outlook and saves you from yourself. We all have had moments where we have felt like nothing else matters and why do we even need to exist anymore. We ask ourselves, would it make a difference if we were here any longer? This song speaks to you! This song tells you why you’re important and why you matter and why you must belong. Listen and “Be Reborn”.

 

iTunes: http://itunes.apple.com/album/id1262221104?ls=1&app=itunes

@Beast1333
@SulleeJ85
@Trickalome

SOURCES:

Sullee J Management.

A TOWN NAMED ROTTENEGG: Monarch Airlines encourages people to visit unfairly named locations

London – VIJAY SHAH via SWNS digital

You are probably right now in the midst of booking your summer break to somewhere in Europe. Perhaps it is somewhere well-known, cultural, fun and touristy. Some place like Barcelona, London, Venice, Valletta or even Belgrade. However, maybe you want to sample a different, new and off-the-beaten-track destination this time round. How about Hell, in Norway, Piles in Spain, or God forbid, the simple hamlet of Twatt in the Orkney Islands, off Scotland. While visiting destinations with giggle-inducing names might give Instagram bragging rights to some teens, most families would baulk at the idea of visiting a place name that sounds like an intimate body part. Step forward, flight company Monarch, has launched a campaign as part of their ‘Year of Nice’ to encourage people to get over their misgivings and give places like Windpassing (there are four of them in Austria’s Niederoesterreich region) a chance, as they are often locales with beautiful scenery and attractions to discover.

One in six British holidaymakers would be put off going to a place if it had an unsavoury name. Yet they are missing out on some truly unique places. Why not take a seat in Piles, in Spain’s sunny Valencia region, not too far from the Costas of the Catalan coast and the arty metropolis of Barcelona. Despite it’s name’s awkward resemblance to a painful condition, Piles is very comfortable, with its own clean and flat beach. Also in Spain, you can head over to Andalusia and visit the traditional town of El Moron, a decision that will not make you look like an idiot. Ironically, El Moron has produced one of Spain’s most eminent archaeologists, so it is clearly not a town of tanned hicks.

For staycations closer to home, try the hamlet of Nasty in Hertfordshire, an hour’s or so drive from London. This picturesque and quintessentially English cluster of twenty or so buildings is anything but nasty, and many Londoners have in fact moved there to take advantage of the fresh rural air and bucolic countryside, even if they are reluctant to tell their friends in the big city where exactly they have upped sticks too.

For more oddly-named villages and towns to inspire you, take a look at the video below, featuring presenter Laura Hamilton.

 

SOURCES/VIDEO CREDIT:

SWNS digital/72Point http://www.swnsdigital.com/

 

AKTSIZNAYA MARKA: The online tax stamps collection of Andrey Vasiunin

If you live in a European, African, Asian or South American country, and are a smoker or know smokers, you may have noticed fancy little labels stuck onto the cigarette boxes or other tobacco products you encounter. Attached like a stamp on an envelope but with the ornate designs and security features of paper money, these little slips of intricacy are neither truly stamps or banknotes.

They are in fact cigarette and tobacco tax stamps, a method of collecting taxes by governments. While most countries and territories levy tax on goods such as tobacco and alcohol – the so-called ‘sin taxes’ due to the health implications of using these products – only some issue these special stamps which are attached to the packets by manufacturers in their factories. They are a really elaborate way of saying “Yes, I paid up the tax on my products”. Tax stamps also help tax officials and consumers distinguish the real deal from counterfeit, and often very dangerous, tobacco products. The stamps also act as a quality seal, positioned on the packaging in such a way that opening the box or pouch breaks apart the stamp, so a whole, undamaged stamp means a fresh and non-tampered pack of 20.

 

Most tax stamps are issued by national governments, who usually delegate the task of printing millions of stamps to their finance ministries or tax boards, depending on the administration. According to Professional Security Magazine Online, more than 140 billion tobacco and alcohol stamps are produced annually by more than 150 different national and state agencies. As tax agencies tackle an increasing tobacco smuggling and counterfeiting industry and the resulting need to safeguard tax revenues, they have made their stamps more and more complex, including hard-to-forge features such as holograms, machine-readable elements, UV and infra-red printing, complicated patterns and other security features. These attempts to thwart Ben and his cross-Channel smuggling band of chums flogging cheap ciggies at the local pub have had the added effect of making tax stamps more attractive as a collector’s item

Tax stamps have been around since the 19th century, but most people pay little attention to them. Nevertheless a community of collectors have grown around the humble and official-looking stickers, also known as banderoles or excise stamps. While nowhere near as popular as its cousin, postage stamp collecting, many have come to appreciate the hobby and of course, the beauty and collectible nature of these items. Indeed, early 20th century tax stamps from the United States’ Internal Revenue government body and 19th century European issues can fetch more than £5,000 on auction sites among dedicated hobbyists and investors in collectibles.

Andrey Vasiunin, a resident of Russia’s capital Moscow and the guitar and keyboard player of doom metal band Armaga, is probably the closest thing to a celebrity in the tax stamp collecting universe. A Korolev-born father of one who graduated in economics from the G.V. Plekhanov REA educational institute, Vasiunin caught the ‘collecting bug’ early on in his childhood, gathering up collections of badges, toys and wrappers in his school days. He even built up a fine dossier of the phrase “I love you” in various languages. Then in 2001, while lounging around on a fine and warm July summer’s day in his garden, smoking a cigarette, Vasiunin noticed the tax stamp perched nonchalantly on his smokes. His curiosity piqued, he admired the colourful patterns of the stamp’s design and became hooked. He peeled off the stamp and tucked it into his wallet.

It was this chance counter with a Russian ‘aktsiznaya marka’ or excise stamp, that would be the first step in Andrey Vasiunin’s ascendancy to become one of the leading lights of the hobby. He undertook a trip to the Czech Republic, where he encountered a different breed of tax stamp. Further intrigued, Vasiunin filched the Czech versions too, straight into his wallet. He then chanced upon Italian and French examples affixed to the pages of a friend’s notebook. Soon word of Vasiunin’s new and unorthodox hobby began to circulate among his friends, and tax stamps from across the globe started filling up his wallet. His addiction to tax stamps became so insatiable that he spent a day at a customs depot, going through cigarette packets being shipped in from the rest of Europe and removing their stamps for his collection.

As the Internet became established in Vasiunin’s home country, he decided to embrace the new technology, placing his stamp collection online for the world to see. In 2005, he created a website, akciza.narod.ru. Written bilingually in Russian and English and featuring scanned images of his prized specimens, Vasiunin’s one-stop tax stamp gallery on the Information Superhighway became the world’s first and currently only one of two such websites dedicated to tax stamps for tobacco and alcohol. Within a period of seven years, Vasiunin acquired nearly 600 stamps and cigarette seals from a hundred countries, many donated by good friends and fellow hobbyists who he met online.

In 2008, Andrey Vasiunin switched web service providers and unveiled a new and heavily upgraded site “Tax Stamps Collection of Vasiunin Andrey” with a more detailed look, customised header graphics and a bigger selection of images drawn from his collection, which now numbers more than 2,000 examples. With its distinctive vintage appearance and interactive gallery of Vasiunin’s collection, scanned in great detail and sorted by geographical region, countries and territories, the site has become a detailed window into this unknown hobby. According to Flag Counter, his e-collection has received more than 9,000 visits from over 6,000 visitors representing 175 countries. The highlight of the ‘Tax Stamps Collection’ is definitely its gallery, with stamps arranged as if though in a high-quality album, like the heavy-duty pricey ones you can find in stamp collector’s hobby outlets. Each image enlarges when clicked on, allowing you to appreciate the full beauty and detail of each of Vasiunin’s stamps. The issues for each territory are arranged in chronological order from oldest to newest. Fellow collectors can also arrange to swap and sell stamps to Andrey, with the website maintaining a guestbook for collectors to introduce themselves and interact with Andrey.

More recently, Vasiunin has branched out into social media, opening a Facebook version of his hit site – www.facebook.com/TaxStamps – where he showcases the latest additions to his collection. The Facebook page has already accrued a small community of nearly 200 fellow collectors.

You can visit Andrey Vasiunin’s site at www.tax-stamps.com

SOURCES/IMAGE CREDITS:

“TAX STAMPS” – Andrey Vasiunin http://www.akciza.narod.ru/index2.html

“About Me” – Andrey Vasiunin, Tax Stamps Collection of Vasiunin Andrey http://www.tax-stamps.com/about

“Collection” – Andrey Vasiunin, Tax Stamps Collection of Vasiunin Andrey http://www.tax-stamps.com/collection

Andrey Vasiunin’s Facebook profile.

Cigarette tax stamps collection, Andrey Vasiunin, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/TaxStamps/

Flag Counter http://flagcounter.com/

“Track and trace” – Professional Security Magazine Online (10 July 2017) http://www.professionalsecurity.co.uk/news/interviews/track-and-trace/

“Armaga” – Spirit of Metal http://www.spirit-of-metal.com/groupe-groupe-Armaga-l-en.html

RELOCATION, RELOCATION, RELOCATION: HEM News Agency moves office

This May Bank Holiday Monday, HEM News Agency writes to our beloved fans and readers from a new home office in Ilford, only a short walking distance from the town centre, after four years in the Plaistow area of east London.

For those of you not familiar with Ilford, it is a suburban district which sits just to the east of London. Traditionally part of Essex, Ilford is today considered an outer stretch of Greater London. Home to hundreds of homes, offices and shops (including the great Ilford Exchange shopping centre), the area is becoming increasingly popular with people looking to escape the rising house prices and rents of London itself, and some have described it as ‘upcoming’. Ilford is very hectic, but also relaxed at the same time. It is an ethnically diverse area and I have also family around here, many of them established here for years.

 

 

I arrived here on Saturday, 27th May 2017, after seven hours’ packing and cleaning, hiring an estate car to take me and all my belongings. For a month before, after my landlord served notice on me to leave, I was frantically searching for another room to rent (and base my blogs from too) and had to deal with a lot of timewasters. Finally a week ago, I got in touch with an estate agent in Seven Kings, Ilford, who showed me the property. I was satisfied with the room, and duly handed over the monies, including their eye-wateringly steep agency fees.

As mentioned before, I had been previously living and blogging from a houseshare in south Plaistow, close to Barking Road, and a stone’s throw from Canning Town and the border with Tower Hamlets borough. The landlord, who lived in the property with us, one day wanted a ‘quick chat’ with me, and that’s when he dropped the bombshell. For the day job, he worked as a solicitor with his own firm, and after he took over the firm in its entirety, suddenly found himself with boxes and boxes of case files relating to the law firm’s clients filling up his office. As a result, he proceeded to punch a hole through the ceiling to create an access point to the house loft, leaving my room covered in dust.

Back to the conversation, he told me that he wanted to stop renting out the house to lodgers, and that he needed my room first to convert into storage space for those files. He also planned to move his daughter and grandchildren into the house too. Once the smoke from the bomb cleared, I realised my time was up. It was my signal to exit stage right.

Here in Ilford, the Bank Holiday break has given me a chance to more or less familiarise myself with my new room, house and housemates. Not everything is perfect or ideal, but this is the nature of flatsharing. I am impressed with the room though, and am adapting quickly to the rhythm of this place.

As the Half-Eaten Mind Blog, this site began life in another houseshare in Stratford five years ago. Since then, I have moved twice. Moving and hunting around for places to call home is very stressful I can tell you, but until I can save enough for a deposit for my own home, this is my reality. Renting rarely provides stability. I plan to stay here in Ilford another year or two, then possibly look to progressing to a rented studio apartment, or maybe try for a mortgage, depending on my situation then.

New location, same great articles.

IMAGE CREDIT:

“File:Ilford station signage 2015 01.JPG” – Sunil060902, Wikimedia Commons (13 June 2015) is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.> https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ilford_station_signage_2015_01.JPG

A MEAL FOR EIGHT (LEGS): How spiders catch their food

Our planet is home to around 35,000-50,000 species of spider (the estimates vary), the vast majority of which spin webs made out of silk generated inside the spider’s body. As any arachnid expert will tell you, spiders weave their silky masterpieces primarily as a means of obtaining food. With strands stronger than the equivalent thickness of steel, spider webs are covered with sticky substances that ensnare their prey, trapping flies and even birds and snakes, ready for the web’s resident to deliver its venomous coup de grâce.

When an insect flying about and minding its own business collides with a web, which is often designed to be invisible until it is too late, the impact creates vibrations that alert the spider. Spiders have extra sensitive hairs on their legs, which are attuned to pick up the slightest movement coming from the web’s fabric.

However, arachnologists have not yet figured out how exactly the spider interprets the movement signals when its equivalent of a pizza delivery happens. In 2016, a team of scientists from the American state of Oregon decided to try and solve this puzzle by creating a web of their own.

Using nylon from parachutes, the team built a web that replicated a traditional ‘spoke’ layout, popularly associated with spiders. The strands of yarn were arranged radially and were held taut by a specially constructed machine with an aluminium frame, alongside an attachment resembling a spider placed centrally, as can be seen with garden spiders and orb weavers.

 

 

The vibrations caused by insects were reproduced with the help of a subwoofer-type speaker, and the spiral of the web was emulated with elastic cords. Ross Hatton, a member of the research team at Oregon State University, told GrandesMedios.com, the source of this story, of how realistic they made the web experiment, explaining that they used two different types of nylon rope, just as spiders use two different types of silk.

The artificial spider in the middle was calibrated to pick up vibrations from the speaker, even the slightest ones. As Hatton explained: “We started with the hypothesis that if you moved one of the radial lines slightly, the arachnid perceived that one moved more than the others,

“We also speculated, that the spider would go towards the line that undergoes a variation in its movement”

In other words, Hatton and his team expected the spider in real life to gravitate towards the line of silk from which the most movement was travelling from. However the result of the experiment was quite different from the team’s original hypothesis.

Far from being a simple case of only a single strand of the web notifying that it caught dinner, the team discovered that the cobweb gave off a complex pattern of vibrations, with some sections of the web being more sensitive than others. According to Hatton, at different frequencies of sound from the speaker, different web strands and layouts did not vibrate at all. Different parts and strands of the web vibrated only at certain frequencies and remained unresponsive at others.

These different frequencies of vibration are believed to help the spider identify what type of prey had crashed into its web, and perhaps also help it distinguish between live prey and inedible objects such as leaf fragments and debris. The study, which redrew the way people thought about how arachnids predate, was presented at the American Physical Society conference recently.

SOURCES:

Vijay Shah { विजय }, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/VShah1984

Tecnología GM, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/TecnologiaGM

“Cómo perciben las arañas a las víctimas que caen en su red” – GrandesMedios.com/Grandes Medios (6 April 2016) https://www.grandesmedios.com/asi-detectan-las-aranas-a-sus-victimas/

IMAGE CREDIT:

“Spider and web” – Dwight Sipler, Flickr (23 September 2009) https://www.flickr.com/photos/62528187@N00/3948508109/in/photolist-71V8U2-9ReV6c-aqKQGv-dpdK7M-5roAqX-5roEwn-5roBTv-DV9Eq-mYCVp-6Hu2Eb-5tj1DG-9oBvU-jG4wh-8JZa3e-a9A2a9-8WDwtQ-afhCqA-8yN4WL-5vSbKd-e2eBjU-aj8tGX-6QTWyn-4VgnTS-4Vc9mt-9aCUoX-4WYuxd-6bSLvd-51ycz-4rhGUq-31bfxS-316GzT-316xNt-316yCg-31b8K7-31b9dh-31b4TG-316z6p-316wva-31bbq9-31bdXs-31b3iw-31b64m-316EZD-31b7tU-316xwZ-31b8nG-31bdvo-31bcvw-316y1V-31baXE-316w2a

SULLEE J: Crooked Justice with Crooked I

“Two versatile MCs get together and bless you with profound lyricism. KXNG Crooked and Sullee Justice expose a unique vision of their reality in the verses. Crooked Justice is filled with positive and uplifting rhymes along with conscious truths for the riveting minds.”  – GlobalFaction promo text 

This past Monday, the 1st May 2017, acclaimed Baltimore rapper and cross-cultural artist Sullee J released his latest single, a special collaboration with Long Beach, California-based KXNG Crooked, also known as Crooked I. It is already looking set to be one of Sullee J’s most popular collaborations to date, with its hit mix of digital animation and a team-up with one of West Coast rap’s most technologically proficient names in the business. Sullee himself has released seven mixtapes and numerous singles, collaborating with many artists from different musical backgrounds, successfully fusing hip-hop with Punjabi, Pakistani and Bollywood styles.

The new track, named “Crooked Justice” is a song that is a perfect example of brilliant lyricism over a dope beat. With each bar telling a story, the song comes teamed with a video that is jam-packed with metaphors which reflect “Crooked Justice” in literal terms. 

Produced by GlobalFaction, the video is a cool animation of the two rappers on a space travel jaunt, with the lyrics fitting the scenes perfectly. The awesome lyrics, full of meaning, are delivered over a relaxing piano tune, reminiscent hallmarks of the best in independent hip-hop. Look out for some trendy dance moves, Sullee and Crooked jamming to some dope beats on the Moon’s surface – couches and all, and references to major contemporary American issues, such as the Dakota Pipeline controversy. Sullee J and Crooked I’s lyrical styles complement each other perfectly and the track gets you thinking deeply as much as the video entertains you with its colourful cartooney animations.

Crooked I, a.k.a Dominick Wickliffe, is a member of the musical supergroup Slaughterhouse. A successful record company CEO and digital marketing and video channel pioneer, Crooked I is currently signed to Shady Records and has been in the hip-hop business for more than twenty years.

Crooked Justice is available on YouTube and SoundCloud and as a download on iTunes.

 

 

Music Video Link: youtu.be/AmaSgZYWf2Y
 
SOURCES:
Sullee J Management.
“Crooked I” – Wikipedia/Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crooked_I