December 2015

Dry Canals: Paris on purpose, Venice by low tides

Two European cities are facing dry seasons in their canals, with record low tides exposing long-unseen areas of Venice's waterways, and Paris draining its iconic Canal Saint-Martin for cleaning and repairs. In Venice, abnormal tides this year, combined with a so-far dry winter, have left water levels about 70cm (more than 2 feet) below normal. As a result, routes for the city's vaporetti, or water buses, have been curtailed because they are unable to navigate in some of the smaller canals.

Vertical test with trophy picture

This is the vertical picture, again placed in a text box, with the rules showing. An alternative, with no rules, but with the space filled with tint, is below. It's also, of course, possible to have the picture with neither rule nor tint visible. Of course, this isn't as satisfactory as having a stunning vertical but full-width image when desired...but it may save us until we're ready to jump!

Horizontal test with car

This is a test with the car picture, inserted in a text box and captured with Snipping Tool and saved as a jpg. The box rules have been left in place here for illustration, but could be either removed altogether for normal posting...or the space within the box but outside the photo could be replaced by color, as in the sample below.

WWII forts at sea could become luxury hotel

A series of seven forts built at sea to fend off a Nazi invasion have been proposed as a setting for a luxury hotel by a design firm trying to lure investment and a developer. The forts are off the coast near Whitstable, and can only be reached by sea or helicopter. The forts, called the Maunsell forts after their designer. have been out of service since 1956, and an eighth one in the group was removed as a shipping hazard. It appears that technically the forts are ownerless, but they are...

Perfect scores for the cleanest ships afloat

When cruise ship passengers come down with a virus, it's always news, but there's not as much publicity for the good news—so here it is: In 2015, 32 ships earned perfect scores of 100 on their semi-annual inspections by the Centers for Disease Control. Leader of the pack, so to speak, is Holland America's Eurodam, which has had a perfect score on its last 9 inspections. Holland America also got 100s for Veendam, Noordam, Statendam, Ryndam and Nieuw Amsterdam. The inspections are...

Flour and egg battle marks Spanish town's tradition

Ibi, in Eastern Spain's Valencia region, was a battlefield Monday as two "armies" fought each other for control of the town, using flour, eggs and firecrackers as weapons. It's hard to say who won. The mock battle takes place every Dec. 28, which is Dia de los Inocentes, roughly equivalent to April Fools' Day in effect. In the 200-year-old tradition, the insurgents seizing the town under the slogan of "New Justice" served as "Enfarinats," or "flour police," levying fines under a mock system...

Germany plans first bicycle-only Autobahn

Germany has just opened the first 5km of a planned 100km bike route that will eventually connect 10 cities and four universities in the Ruhr area, and more are planned elsewhere. The wide route is aimed at commuters, with 2 million people living within 2km of the route, as well as reducing pollution and traffic congestion. Other routes under consideration include a 30km route from Frankfurt to Darmstadt. In some cases, the routes are able to take advantage of disused rail lines. For more...