The Oasis of the Seas

A floating city

The biggest cruise ship will soon make its first trip.

It has even got a park

Of course there are many rooms (the biggest rooms even have a grand piano), and also 22 restaurants.

View from above

It certainly looks impressive, but what about its carbon footprint?

Masai Mara

This is savannah

Met a few students from Kenya at university yesterday. They were really interesting to talk with. It took me back to a trip I took to Kenya many years ago, when I went on safari in the Masai Mara national park, stunning place.

Uluru / Ayers Rock view from above

Uluru from above
No climbing!

It was given the name Ayers Rock by white settlers to Australia, but the original aboriginal name is Uluru, which is fast becoming the common name.

Not so many years ago hundreds of people would climb this rock every day, it only took a few hours. But the local people objected strongly since, for them, Uluru is a sacred site, so now hardly anyone climbs, and most people enjoy this fantastic site from the ground or the air.

Tahiti sunset

Tahiti, the main island of French Polynesia

Many of you will know of my liking for the island of Bora Bora, which I think is the jewel of French Polynesia, but the main island, Tahiti, is also blessed with stunning beauty.

Blue frog

dendrobates azureus
dendrobates azureus is the real name

There are green frogs, orange frogs, red and yellow frogs, purple frogs, and even translucent frogs and now you can see a blue frog.

Many species of frog are in danger, it is thought that about half of all frog species will soon be extinct. There are two reasons: loss of habitat, and a disease that is spreading to  frogs all round the world.

The frog’s skin contains a protective oil, and in this oil can be found some incredible chemicals. Now one of these chemicals is used to treat cancer.

Friday 13th, part 3

Next week we will have Friday 13th, which is considered to be an unlucky day in some Western cultures.

In one year there can be one, two or three Friday 13ths. In 2009 there are three, there was one in February, and one in March, and now there is one in November.

Paraskevidekatriaphobia is fear of Friday 13th. It comes from three old Greek words, ‘paraskevi’ means Friday, ‘dekatria’ means 13, and ‘phobia’ means fear.

Where is Jason?Where is Jason?

Why is Friday 13th considered an unlucky day? Nobody really knows, but it seems that it is the combination of the unlucky number 13, with the bad day, Friday, which equals the mega-unlucky day of Friday 13th.

There is no doubt that 13 is considered by many people to be unlucky, for example:

Many buildings have no 13th floor.

Many condominiums have no apartment 13.

Many cities have no 13th Street nor 13th Avenue.

Many airports have no Gate 13.

Many hospitals and hotels have no Room 13.

Many people will leave a party or a meal with 13 guests.

And there are many more examples, plus of course Apollo 13!

So why is 13 so unlucky?

The most popular view is that there were 13 guests at the Last Supper of Jesus Christ, before he died, as shown in a famous painting by Leonardo da Vinci. Added to this is the view that 12 is a ‘complete’ or ‘perfect’ number. There are 12 months in the year, 12 signs of the Zodiac, 12 apostles of Jesus, 12 tribes of Israel, and many more, which suggests that 13 is an imperfect (and evil?) number.

And what about Friday?

Christian belief is that Jesus Christ died on a Friday, and it is also thought that Eve gave Adam an apple on a Friday.

So, 13 and Friday make a strong combination. On Friday October 13th 1307, about 700 years ago, King Philip of France arrested, tortured and killed thousands of Knights Templar, who were a very powerful group that protected Christians (though there are many stories of their corruption), and who are included in the  book, ‘The da Vinci Code’.

There is also the fact that every month that includes Friday 13th starts with Sunday 1st which, according to Christians, is God’s day of rest, but why this is a sign of bad luck I don’t know.

One other fact: research in the UK shows that on Friday 13th there is less traffic on the streets (lots of people stay indoors), but there are more traffic accidents than normal. Is this because of bad luck, or because people get more nervous and panicky?

To be honest I’m not at all superstitious about Friday 13th, but I’m glad that my children weren’t born on this day.