Five Awesome Group Events for You and the Squad

Looking for something new and fun to do? Group events tend to go the standard routes – dinner, movies, or meeting up at a bar, to name just a few. Get out there and do something different with your group and you’ll not only have an awesome time doing new things, but you’ll also bond with your crew in a whole new way. Check out a few great options for your next day or night out.

Spend a Day at the Park

Spend a day at the park with your pals. Bet you haven’t spent an afternoon playing frisbee, flying kites, or throwing around a football in years! Have some fun with your team and beautiful Mother Nature. Enjoy the boost your pals and the pure sunshine bring with a day at your local park or other outdoor venues.

Volunteer With a Local Non-Profit

There are few things as rewarding as volunteering. For alternative group events, why not get people together to serve a great cause? Whether it’s building homes, cleaning up a park, or planting a garden, there’s a perfect organization out there to support with your friends or co-workers. Not only will it feel good to get out and make a difference in the community, but you’ll also be able to learn about others and their leadership, time management, and natural communication skills.

Cheer on Your Team at a Sporting Event

Take your entire team to the ball game for a fun and memorable group event. Between brews and burgers, get to know your friends or co-workers and their favorite teams. There’s something about a sporting event that takes one back to childhood. Revisiting those days and swapping sports tales will make for a memorable experience.

Be a Tourist For the Day

Sometimes it’s great to explore your town through the eyes of a tourist. If you’re coming up short on team outing ideas, why not try a guided tour throughout your city, or hit up the hottest out-of-towner spots. Who knows, you may enjoy seeing things from the outside in and build a deeper appreciation for your hometown. Plus, it’s always fun to explore the best of your city!

Challenge Friends to a Game Night

Host a game night to encourage a bit of friendly competition. All you’ll need for this party is a few board or card games, some snacks, and plenty of space to seat your guests. Go old school with classic favorites like checkers or Twister, or do something analytical like Scattergories or Scrabble. No matter what you choose, your guests will enjoy feeling like kids again.

Group events don’t have to be stressful or, worst of all, boring. Inject some fun and team building into your next gathering with one of these ideas, and you’ll be ready for an enjoyable time with those closest to you.

Different World Views of Art

Art through the centuries acquired different forms and conceptions. First of all there was naturalism, then developed romanticism, and then there was impressionism, followed by cubism, which was followed by surrealism and finally trends moved on to postmodern art. Here I would like to provide my understanding on various schools of art.

Naturalism proceeded out of mimesis. The aim of art was to mimic nature. A classic example of mimetic art would Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. Mona Lisa lives through the ages for its enigmatic style. Another example would be the Last Supper by Da Vinci. Art became permeated heavily with religious motifs. What has naturalism contributed to the world? An answer would be representation of a mimetic ethos. There is very little to interpret in naturalistic art but we can admire its imitation of nature. I would also like to take Michelangelo’s sculpture of David. What would a postmodern interpretation take? It would perhaps couch it as being gay.

Another style of art that developed during the 18th century was romanticism. What is romanticism? The poet Wordsworth defined romanticism as the spontaneous overflow of feelings. Romanticism captured feelings on to the canvas. The canvas became permeated in rich colors of the baroque. Romantic painting is fanciful and ornamental. When we think of romanticism in the postmodern age we encounter a catharsis with the past. Goya’s exhibit: Saturn devouring his son can be taken as a classic example. The grotesque Saturn is portrayed as an admirable beauty. Romantic painters are endowed with passionate neurosis. Feelings and emotions lie with us to contemplate in ravishment.

Another school of art which developed during the beginning of the 19th century was impressionism. The great masters of impressionism are Van Gogh, Monet, and Gauguin. Impressionism is a unique style of art. Impression is marked by a wide usage of brilliant colors. Strokes were left like scars on the canvas. Impressionism was marked by a tendency of art to become modern. Van Gogh was a brilliant artist who etched out paintings in a style that marked a departure from his predecessors. When we look at Van Gogh’s starry night, we get a passion that is akin to listening of music. Similarly Gauguin’s painting: ‘where do we come from and where do we go’, highlights mythical allegories in brilliant dashes of color.

Another school of art which developed during the beginning of the 20th century was Cubism. Its master exponent was Picasso. With the advent cubism art left its mimetic modes and became the sole creation of the artist. Cubism had a tendency to portray art in abstract terms. Picasso’s La Demoiselles D’ Avignon presented harlots. Their features especially their breasts, hips and asses were made incongruous with oedipal fantasies. Another notable creation of Picasso was the Guernica. Guernica is fantastic rendition of the horrors of bombing Basque, presented in abstract terms. When we look at Guernica we become fascinated to the point of disgust. Cubism highlighted that art can be repulsive.

The next school of art which developed by the middle of the 20th century was Surrealism. My most loved surrealistic artists are Dali and Paul Delvaux. Dali’s most famous painting is the ‘persistence of memory’. Surrealism following Freudian psychoanalysis attempted to portray art with a conglomeration of reality and fantasy. In the painting, persistence of memory, we find melting clocks hanging on trees and covered by an embryo. The tree can be symbolized as a phallic construct. The melting clocks portray time as flowing with the literature of streams of consciousness. The embryo can represent the artist’s oedipal trauma. Delvaux most famous painting is the call of the night. In the ‘call of the night’ a barren land is seen with skulls. There is a nude standing on the open with luscious vegetation growing on her head. There is also a nude whose head is covered standing outside a building with a candle on her head. Delvaux is trying to portray ancient fertility rites in modernistic terms. The painting can also be interpreted as a sexual awakening. Thus surrealism attempted to portray dream with reality.

Next I would like to focus on postmodern art. Postmodern art is contemporary and tends to be a rebellion against existing artistic norms. In postmodern art normal objects are presented in unusual terms. For an example: we can take Marcel Duchamp’s inverted urinal. Postmodern art is also famous for inventing pop-art, where cartoons, comic strips and consumer products were drawn as artistic representations. Another interesting example of postmodern art is Rodin’s thinker. The thinker can be interpreted in two ways. One in a way that a person has constipation, another as an intellectual poised in thought. Postmodern art freed art from all inhibitions and pre-existing conceptions.

Everything You Wanted To Know About Alginate

Alginate is a simple material that is made by processing naturally-occurring brown seaweeds from all over the world. This white, chalky powder surprisingly enjoys great patronage across diverse industries.

You will be surprised to read about some of the unexpected beneficial uses of alginate. Let’s find out more:

  • Medical and pharmaceutical – Alginate is used for different purposes in medicinal applications. The greatest advantage is that alginate hastens the disintegration of tablets thus allowing faster release of their medicinal component. The best part is that the alginate remains tasteless and odorless. Alginate is also used to lower cholesterol levels, treat hypertension, alleviate indigestion as well as for dressing wounds and burns. Not just this, alginate works well in health food and weight loss supplements too. The same powder has been used by dentists to capture dental impressions since many decades.
  • Industrial and technical – Alginate is used in various industries and proves especially useful for manufacturing textiles. This thickening and binding agent is used for substrate of color paste when applying patterns to print fabrics, particularly on cotton, jute and rayon. It is also used in the production of welding rods, fertilizers, ceramics, paper, adhesives, paints and dyes. Another benefit is that alginate allows for easier waste water disposal.
  • Food and beverage – Not many people may be aware that the organic and food-safe alginate has thickening, gelling, emulsifying, stabilizing and texture-improving properties that can be valuable in the kitchen. The sweeping use includes meat binding, preserving frozen fish, thickening sauces, softening breads, making icecream better, clarifying wines and keeping the foam in beer. Apart from this, alginate is even used by chefs to create those wonderful spheres with liquid inside that burst in the mouth.
  • Beauty and skin care – Alginate can make people look beautiful too. It is used to thicken various cosmetics and enables them to retain moisture. It can significantly improve the performance of specific products. This powder is used in different facial and spa treatments and is added to face packs too. It not just keeps the skin hydrated but can reduce wrinkles too. When added to lipstick, the same alginate helps the color to stay on the lip surface.
  • Art and craft – The use of alginate in artworks deserves a special mention. It is used by taxidermists to make molds of dead animals for recreating them in a lifelike state. The powder is also used by catch-and-release anglers for making a lifelike reproduction of their ‘catch’. Additionally, alginate is completely skin safe and can be used on live humans too. It is commonly used by life casting artists to capture molds of various parts of the body before making realistic-looking three-dimensional life casts.

Therefore, it is obvious that the humble alginates that are derived from the wild seaweeds carry immense potential for human beings. And alginates continue to stay completely safe across all their varied uses.

Increase Your Productivity by Finding Time for Quiet

Distractions are everywhere today, and quiet is hard to come by. It’s a fact of life in the 21st century.

We live in an age of constant connection, instant access and googling everything. And as wonderful as that can be, sometimes don’t you just feel besieged with task, choices, opportunities, and information?

The on-line marketing expert Connie Ragen Green once wrote: “Choose time every day that is designated just for you.” She then went on to specifically suggest that you find time for an hour of quiet contemplation and then an hour of productive writing.

While two one-hour blocks of time may be difficult to find each day, I enthusiastically support the general idea of setting aside time every day for quiet. And here’s why I say that:

  • Self-care is the root of your successful time management. It replenishes your energy and sharpens your focus.
  • It reinforces your sense of your own power. You are in charge of your time choices, and you always have choices, no matter what. This helps overcome stress and feelings of victimization that can accompany overwhelm.
  • Giving yourself the gift of time for quiet and contemplation gets your creative ideas flowing like water from its well-spring.

BONUS TIP: As I mentioned above, finding two one-hour blocks of time in your day won’t always be possible — at least not for most of us. So, one thing I’ve found very helpful in my own life is to “think small.”

You might try looking at your time in 15-minute increments. That way you’re less likely to set aside an activity (like spending quiet time) by telling yourself you just don’t have enough hours in the day. You can nearly always find 10 or 15-minutes.

And you know what? You’ll be amazed at how thinking in these smaller time increments can change things for you. Chunking tasks down into smaller timeframes makes them that-much-more possible, whether it’s a self-care activity or something on your to-do list, Smaller steps make it easier to start, and you can’t get anywhere until you do start — so “thinking 15” is an excellent addition to your time toolbox!

How do you make time for quiet and contemplation in your life?

Even the Tiniest Hand Can Hold a Diamond

I recently attended a circus wedding. I’m referring to a circus-themed wedding, not a wedding “under the big top,” though there were a great deal of fanciful shenanigans and enough clowning around that one might have difficulty differentiating the two.

Near the tented entrance stood a table replete with circus-oriented curiosities presented as tokens for the enjoyment of the guests. One could enthusiastically snatch up an adhesive Dudley Do-Right mustache or enjoy a taste of pure spun, sugar candy. Or, perhaps the more pragmatic guest (with December being right ’round the corner) might choose one of the red foam noses, making it doubly useful for Christmastime. But for me, it seemed a risky temptation of fate to choose the mustache as I had recently seen tiny hairs sprouting from my upper lip where there’d once been none. And, although easily tempted by candy, I admit to being somewhat of a cotton candy snob by believing that consuming it from a pre-packaged bucket robbed it of all the delights of its intended fluffy purpose and sticky intentions. My lack of pragmatism (but to my credit, my knowledge of that lack) eschewed me from the red foam nose as I would never be able to locate it in its time of need. Surely it would reappear one day from behind a dresser or from under a pile of books during a cleaning spree, probably around Easter, thereby making it a moot point at the end of my nose.

I was about to exercise my freedom not to choose, which is out of character for me as I love a freebie, when I noticed something magically appear on the third of the three-ringed centerpiece. Life-like, tiny human hands, each perched atop a straw, were placed in a vase to impersonate a diminutive bouquet of beige daffodils. There was a diabolical loveliness about them, and I was instantly amused. Without thought or hesitation I shook one free from its previous arrangement and chose the finger puppet of a tiny human hand to accompany me throughout the evening.

The tiny hand and I did not part company anytime soon. In the weeks that followed, I would often pull down my shirt sleeve and place the tiny hand onto my finger to allow the doll-sized, life-like version do my bidding. I shared tiny, nickel-sized, high-fives with the energetic grocery boys who loaded my trunk. To alleviate the monotony of bored waiters and waitresses, I tapped it against my cheek at restaurants as if trying to make a difficult menu decision. I sat in my car at stoplights and stroked my chin with the tiny hand, offering fellow drivers the sight of someone pondering the universe, and gave them an amusing story to share at the dinner table or between office cubicles. All of these tiny acts seemed to bring humor in some tiny way. And to think that I had a hand in that.

I grew quite fond of the Lilliputian extremity and its fleshy rubber digits, each the size of a matchstick-so fond, in fact, that I carried it with me in my purse, like a small phalangeal talisman. Then one day, I saw the opportunity to use my tiny hand to forge a bond with my teenage son. He and I were in the car together running errands, albeit somewhat begrudgingly on his part, and I could tell by the impatient fidgeting and ebbing conversation that he was becoming winded with fatigue by the process. Young people today have no stamina against the waves of boredom that beat incessantly against the shores of everyday life, so I took swift action and made a hasty decision, the same way I make so many-robust with good intentions and complete lack of forethought. I spared not even a moment to consider how this action would be perceived. I was going rogue.

I pulled into the drive-through lane of his favorite fast food haunt, and he sat upright with the exited expression of a dog who hears Kibbles falling into a bowl. We placed our order, and I opened my purse to retrieve my credit card. There sat the tiny hand, waving to me with a friendly-hello. Even tiny gestures deserve recognition.

I pulled down my sleeve, placed the miniature fleshy hand, finger-puppet style, onto my index finger, and wedged my credit card between its rubbery phalanges. My son stared at me and, with the teenaged economy of words said merely, “uh-uh, no way.” I interpreted this to mean-do it! I know teenaged-boy language. With the whoosh of the opening of the car window, I extended my arm towards the unsuspecting employee who was simultaneously reaching through his window to obtain my payment. He flinched and reflectively withdrew, but after a brief pause, he saw the humor of my tiny hand, now peeking from the end of my covered fist, and proceeded to extract my credit card from its minuscule grip.

His ensuing laughter grew exponentially until becoming what one in this milieu could only define as being “biggie sized,” and the mortification mixed with fascination emanating from my son was as satisfying as applause to a comedian. Comedy does not need to be a market produced and consumed solely by the young; we elderly can be wickedly whimsical.

The employee, still captivated by the tomfoolery, returned my card, being ever so careful as he wedged it between the tiny hand’s flexible fingers. As he delivered our fried fare, he announced that the laughter was worth more than the food, and it would therefore be, “On me”- which I mistook to mean the joke, not the food. I departed with a tiny wave, a miniature salute, and a polite “Thank You.”

As I pulled away, my son looked at the receipt and announced, “Damn, Dang… it was free, seriously!” to indicate that our meal had, indeed, been issued complimentary. I was surprised, flattered, and touched that my capricious act had brought about such gut-filling happiness-twice, as I watched my teenager down a dozen chicken nuggety things, empty a carton of fries and flush the entire wad down with a liter of soda. So, who says you can’t feed a family on laughter. Talk about a happy meal.

Moments later in an office supply store, in search of the perfect fine tip marker, the previous act of kindness and generosity on behalf of the fast food employee was still permeating the air, like the aura of perfume. I couldn’t shake this happy mist in my midst, nor did I try; I wallowed in it. It would not, however, be fully experienced (even after obtaining the perfect fine tip marker) until it was fully acknowledged. This act of kindness required retaliation of the cleverest kind.

Fat and happy, my teenager wanted to return home at this high point in the day, but I pushed him to his limits by saying, “But wait, there’s more” and he slumps back down in the seat. “We need gas… fuel, petrol” to which there is no response. I pulled into the station and park, not near the pump, but near the door. He made no movement to release the seatbelt, indicating his intention to wait in the car. Once again, I used my maternal lubricant to pry him free of his own stubbornness. “I’ll by you an ice cream, you big baby.” He gets out of the car and, as he’s been taught to do, holds the door as we enter the store together.

While the friendly, young cashier rang up the ice cream, I asked her for the one single, solitary item I came in for. “Which type of lottery ticket would you like?” was all she said, before a barrage of questions and recommendations came shooting forth from the helpful crowd of strangers in the store. I was naively unaware that this request would come with options or spark such assistance. “I want a random one for the next multi-million-dollar thingy.” And then I added, “Wait. I need two.” I turned to the ice cream eater and said, “One will be for us.”

Returning to the Fast Food establishment and tearing past the squawk box, I pulled up to the window. The same employee was still there. He pushed open his window, looking confused, as I had placed no order. This time he saw a lottery ticket folded charmingly in the tiny hand and securely wedged between the fleshy digits. “This is for you,” I said. He took the ticket and looked at it with a mix of surprise and confusion. I continued, “It’s the Lucky for Life ticket. Drawing is tonight at eleven. What you did before was very generous and now I’m paying it forward, and well, backwards, too, I suppose. I hope you win a bazillion dollars and when you do, I hope you do a lot of nice stuff for a lot of people. Have a great day.” I peeled off, leaving the plastic nametag on his shirt still unread.

The silence in the car lasted through three stoplights before my teenager spoke, “If we win, I get half, right?” he asked, between licks.

I slap the tiny hand to my wrinkled forehead, “Eureka!” I said to my son, who was busy shoving the ice cream down his pie hole. “Even better than that,” I said, “I’ll double your investment, which is… oh wait… you failed to invest, so-nada. You’ll get, nada.” I burst open with laughter, and although he tried ever so hard to look unamused, I saw the invisible smile on his face.

He shook his head and mumbled through the mash in his mouth, “That was cool, Mom. I wish I’d have gotten it on Snapchat.”

The following day, the newspaper headline read FAST FOOD WORKER WINS LOTTERY. The story that followed: Anonymous, small-handed, old woman donates lottery ticket to fast food worker who wins THE BIGGIE. Mr. Lucas Petitemain, in honor of his wounded warrior brother, plans to establish a foundation to provide bionic limbs to those in need.

Well, at least it’s lovely to think about… that, which might have been.

Life Casting in Animatronics

The unique techniques of life casting have found favor in many other fields such as prototype tooling, prosthetics, taxidermy, architectural restoration and special effects for film and television. The advanced technology used in animatronics also incorporates life casting techniques in the initial stages of creating the characters.

Animatronics refers to making and using robotic devices to imitate a living being. The creatures could be humans, animals (like dinosaurs and sharks), plant life or even mythical creatures. Animatronics brings lifelike characteristics to the inanimate objects so that they can walk, talk and do other activities in a natural way. The movements could be mechanized or controlled by computers.

Animatronics is largely used in films (20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, Jaws, E.T., Jurassic Park, etc), television and advertizing. This differs from computer animation as the simulated creatures are actually physically present and moving in front of the camera. The characters in various amusement parks also wow visitors with the aid of animatronics.

Making the creatures

Animatronics uses puppets, models and other figures which are then animated to emulate lifelike movements. The character first takes shape as a sketch on paper and scale models are created for approval.

Once approved, an internal supporting frame is carefully built using steel or even wood at times. Once the desired shape is achieved, electronic and mechanical components are attached around the framework.

The figure is finally covered with body shells that give it the shape and look of a real creature. Flexible skin is attached to the exterior of the figure that completes the lifelike appearance.

The skin can be made of silicone, foam latex or urethane. First a mold is made by using alginate or clay. The mold should be in the exact shape and size of the animatronics figure. Molds can be made in parts to allow for more ease of use.

The body mold is reinforced using plaster bandages to form a shell mold. Once cured, it is carefully demolded and will have captured the minute details which will be replicated in the skin cast. An alginate mold should be used quickly as it tends to shrink. The silicone or latex is poured into the mold and allowed to cure. Once fully cured, the thin skin cast can be easily demolded as alginate does not stick to anything.

The cast will have a texture similar to that of real skin. It will be flexible as well to allow facial and body movements as required. The demolded skin is cleaned and finished before being carefully attached to the figure.

The animatronics figure gets the final finishing touches in the form of eyes, teeth, hair, feathers and other such realistic characteristics. The requisite color pigments may be added to the skin during casting itself. Else, special silicone/latex paints are used to color the figure as required.

The figure is ready then be animated as desired.

What Is a Supermodel?

Supermodels are the world’s most exclusive models who have worked with the world’s top class designers and brands such as Versace, Alexander McQueen and has an extremely compelling portfolio too. To top on to that, supermodels are paid way higher compared to usual models and of course if the pay is good, the work increases too.

The term ‘supermodel’ refers to models who are renowned local and internationally for a certain period of time. They can be paid up to tens of thousands for a day of their hard work. Supermodels have a tendency to be more than simply lovely countenances fronting magazines and ruling the catwalks. They have identities and they are regarded for their ability as models, as well as for their capacity and accomplishment in making it into the select rundown of the top workers in the business. Supermodels rarely need to go for castings as designers and clients have already known them for years and guarantees that supermodels definitely can represent their product.

So what do one need to deserve the supermodel title? Having a gorgeous face of course one of it, but mainly includes one’s quirky uniqueness – birthmarks, gaped tooth, mole, wide eyed, skin condition and of course walk.

Let’s take a look on the few supermodels who breathe among us today,

1. Tyra Banks

Tyra is known for her huge forehead and the ability to change her styles of work for different shows. Not to mention her super fierce walk too.

2. Karlie Kloss

Miss Kloss is renowned for her great height (6ft2), extremely lanky toned legs and her brains! Model, fashion trend setter, baker and coder. How many girls do you know code?

3. Gisele Bundchen

This Brazilian beauty who’s the top highest paid model of all time is known for her high cheekbones and perfect measurements that every designer look for in a model.

4. Naomi Campbell

This gorgeous British black beauty who broke all walls against her kind was the first black woman to appear on the covers of French Vogue and Time. She’s known for her naturally fierce look and lengthy legs that helped her earn the supermodel title.

Moreover, it takes one model to strive hard for years to reach supermodel level. Supermodels like Giselle Bunndchen who holds the most expensive modeling contracts of all time, have every designer’s dream measurements that meet all high fashion requirements, photograph and moves like a goddess descended from the golden gates of heavens. Even if you have something really unique about you doesn’t mean you’re definitely able to receive the supermodel title, only a handful of top models come out as supermodels.

Certainly due to the tremendous high supply of models that are incoming into the fashion industry, demand for top quality models increases hence competitions spikes up along as well. Turning the modeling industry even competitive than before.

If you’ve that dream to come up as supermodel, go for it! A dream will forever remain as a dream if you don’t work for it. It’s not going to be easy, but thrive with determination and you might be part of that handful who comes up as supermodel in few years time.

5 Most Artistic Cities in the World

There’s no doubt that some cities across the world are an artist’s paradise. Filled with the world’s greatest works and home to some of the best performers of our time, these cities are more than likely on your bucket list if you are an artist or an art connoisseur. Let’s take a look at some of the greatest artistic cities in the world, and why you absolutely have to visit them.

1. New York City, USA
New York City boasts a wide variety of artistic forms, from fine art to the performing arts. NYC is also home to more fine art schools, performing arts companies, art dealers and creative museums and businesses than any other city in the US.

Manhattan is an artistic adventure like no other. Home to world-famous institutions, such as the Guggenheim Museum, an incredible work of art in itself, along with a variety of other hot spots.

Immerse yourself in the local street art and contemporary galleries of Bushwick in Brooklyn. Queens is an unmissable attraction hosting the Queens Museum and the incredible Socrates Sculpture Garden.

2. Paris, France
Another art lover’s paradise has got to be Paris, France! Home to over 1,000 galleries, the city is filled with iconic art. The most notable is The Louvre which houses the famous Mona Lisa by Leonardo de Vinci. There is also an array of contemporary galleries to impress an artist. These include veterans such as Galerie Daniel Templon, to the newer Modus Art Gallery and La Maison Rouge. The Belleville neighborhood is also a must-visit destination for vibrant street art. The City of Light is jam-packed with art around every corner.

3. São Paulo, Brazil
The art capital of Latin America, São Paulo may not be as acclaimed as New York City or Paris, but the Brazilian megalopolis is overflowing with artistic attractions. Home to the second largest biennial, the venerable São Paulo Biennial, São Paulo is a must for your bucket list. The Museu de Arte Moderna showcases both modern and contemporary Brazilian art, as well sculpture gardens with 30 incredible works. If local, emerging talent is what you’re after, then galleries like Choque Cultural are where you need to be.

4. Berlin, Germany
One of the most varied art scenes in the world, Berlin is home to some of the longest-standing institutions. These include the Alte Nationalgalerie and Gemäldegalerie which showcase classic pieces from the 13th to 19th centuries. Modern 20th-century art collections can be found in the more-recently established Neue Nationalgalerie.

If alternative art is more your style, then Friedrichshain is the place to go for spaces like East Side Gallery, a section of the Berlin Wall that now displays the work of more than 100 international artists. Jonathan Borofsky’s sculpture, Molecule Man, is another must if you’re in Berlin.

5. Lagos, Nigeria
The largest city in Nigeria, Lagos, is fast emerging as a hotspot in the art world. Its thriving cultural scene is led by the Centre for Contemporary Art and the African Artists’ Foundation. The annual Lagos Photo Festival and National Art Competition are also attracting worldwide attention. With a variety of galleries like Omenka Gallery, you can delve into masterpieces by the best Nigerian and international artists.

Tales From Swarga – Part 3 – All Hands Meet

Swarga gets particularly colder during certain periods of time. Nandi, the great and obedient Lieutenant of the Gods ensure it to be so because Lord Shiva like Swarga to be particularly cold on his occasional visits to Swarga. Dwelling for most of the time in some particularly cold areas of the United States of Rakshasas, Lord Shiva is meticulous and prefers everything to be as ordered as his home and offices at Mt Kailasa. From the coldness of the atmosphere, to the pristine clarity of the cloud communication everything has to be just right for the short tempered God.

Now the cold does not bother Vyasa, having come from similarly cold environments of Nepal he prefers it cold but he and the rest of the Cloud Infrastructure team are on tenterhooks as ever. After all today is not just any other day. Today is the day of the All Hands Meet, when all the Gods of Swarga do a Conference Ashariri to give updates on the progress and future plans of Swarga. Maharishi Sanaka, who was once an acolyte of Vyasa and is now a full fledged Maharishi with his own speciality department is monitoring the Meteorology portals for any signs of disruption.

“Maharshi Vyasaji, I think the addition of the new service provider has made a lot of difference. When it was just Vayu and Varuna we had lots of limitations, however with Agni we have better control of the resources,” Sanaka said.

While unloading his satchel and making himself comfortable on his tiger skin Vyasa said, “True, but we should still monitor what these Rishis are doing. The Devas who were once such menaces are so helpful nowadays, however Rishis are always trying for ways to subvert our controls. Especially the new batch of acolytes who have joined Swarga, some of them are too smart, we should keep a better eye.”

Just then Lord Vishnu walked in. He hailed Maharishi Sanatana, ” Sanatana, what is the status of the new Homa Kundas we ordered for the new Rishis? The Apsaras have confirmed that we have two Rishis joining this week and three more next week.”

Looking up harriedly from his own Homa Kunda where he was on a support call with the Homa Kunda manufacturer, Maharishi Sanatana, a member of Cosmic Infrastructure team but also the Purchase Rishi for Swarga, stood up and replied to the Lord Vishnu, “Prabho, we have raised the Purchase Order, I just need your approval before releasing the order to the manufacturer. Once the order is placed we should be able to get the new Homa Kundas by end of next week.”

“End of next week? Oh, that is too bad. Also what about the case for Homa Kundas?” Vishnu asked.

“Not to worry, Prabho. I shall send Sanandana to SP Road to get some cases. And in the meanwhile we have some Homa kundas as backup for the Deva Support team that we could give temporarily to the new joinee Rishis,” Sanatana said. Even Gods and Rishis get their stuff from SP Road.

“Okay, cool, cool,” Lord Vishnu said before walking away to Vaikunta.

“Maharishijee, we are recruiting so many Rishis nowadays. With all the new projects that are coming up here at Swarga and so much recruitment why dont we buy Homa Kundas and other Homa supplies in bulk?” Vyasa asked Sanatana.

“What to say, Vyasa jee, I think Swarga believes in Calvin’s principle of nothing inspires better than last minute panic,” Sanatana replied before hurrying back to the Support call. Peering into the flames of his Homa kunda Vyasa could already see prayers from countless other Rishis reaching out to Maharishi Sanatana for support.

As Vyasa grabbed his Kamandalu to get some Arishta from the cafetaria in walked Maharishi Vishwamitra, looking buff as usual. As the largest and most powerful of all Maharishis in Swarga, Vishwamitra intimidated even the Gods. Even Lord Shiva, a health freak amongst Gods was a bit intimidated in front of Rishi Vishwamitra.

“Aay Shapath!! What traffic we have nowadays here in heaven!! It took me two Yugas to reach here from my hermitage. Let me quickly grab some snacks before Durvasa comes asking me for more favors,” Vishwamitra was nowadays working more and more with Durvasa. While initially he was the Lead of Universal Observation Team of late Durvasa, banking on his years of experience had become Senior Brahmarshi. Despite his years of experience Durvasa often needed help from the much junior Maharishis for doing his work and the Maharishis obliged in respect of his venerable old age.

As Vyasa walked besides the Homa areas of Maharishini Gargi he could see Nandi setting up the paraphernalia for the Ashariri that was about to happen in a few more hours. While Shiva, Vishnu, Brahma were all here at Swarga, some of the newer Gods were still at the office in United States of Rakshasas. Over the yugas the number of Gods had risen considerably. From the initial duo of Shiva and Vishnu Brahma had joined their ranks. Indra, who was the Senior Manager of Deva Support Services was now the God of Support Services with a slew of projects under his Kamandalu. There now are some demi gods too, Surya here at Swarga itself, Ganesha and Kartikeya at USR working with Lord Shiva.

Somehow there are no female Gods in Swarga.

While getting his Arishta he could see the gods playing table tennis, Shiva and Vishnu on one side and Brahma and Surya on the other side. It was strange, all the gods are usually experts at playing this game. Taking care not to spill his Arishta Vyasa walked over to the where Gargi sits as the Conference Ashrariri started. The Ashariri was started by Menaka, the Leader of Apsaras and soon she made way for Ravana, one of the leaders of Lanka, a new client of Swarga. Vyasa felt his attention wandering as Ravana, with his ten heads was saying different motivational stories and Vyasa thought back to the day Ravana had come to Swarga for a client visit. Several Rishis and Rishinis had done special pujas of singing and dancing to entertain the visiting Asura and the music loving Ravana himself had sung a few songs. Shortly after Ravana the Gods of Swarga started speaking about the updates from their own domain. Lord Shiva, the Senior God of Business Development spoke about the various new clients and projects that have been acquired by Swarga, Lord Vishnu spoke of the various innovations done by the Rishis of Swarga, Lord Brahma spoke about the updates from the long standing clients like Patala and Naraka. Menaka later chimed in with announcements of various awards and updates of the Swarga, especially relating to the well being of the Rishis and Devas. One special update was that of introduction of tea and coffee made using actual milk in the cafeteria. The Apsaras and the management of Swarga were particularly proud of that.

Soon the Conference Ashariri concluded and the Rishis and Devas dispersed to their hermitages. Packing his satchel Vyasa too left for the day, now his only worry about how he would sleep at night seeing as he was struggling to stay awake during the Conference.

Palaeocommunities in Upper Campanian Stratigraphy of Alberta

Abundant Ornithischian Fossils shed light on Late Cretaceous mega-fauna

With the re-examination of many of the lost quarries within the Dinosaur Provincial Park of Alberta more data on the palaeocommunities from this region has been collected. This has provided some intriguing information that may indicate a succession line of ornithischian genera (both ceratopsia and hadrosauridae) and lead to a greater understanding of the type of habitats preferred by many types of dinosaur.

Between 1898 and 1954 nearly 40 large palaeontological expeditions were sent out into the Dinosaur Provincial Park many led by the famous Charles Sternberg and his sons, collecting museum quality specimens for institutions such as the Royal Ontario museum, the American museum of Natural History and the then British museum (London Natural History museum). However, poor and incomplete field documentation as well as incorrectly catalogued field photographs has led to a number of these sites being “lost”. The rapid erosion of the messas and buttes within the local landscape has further complicated the finding of these fossil sites from just the photographic evidence alone.

Researchers from the Royal Tyrrell museum have been playing detective and gathering evidence so that these old quarries can be located and mapped using modern global positioning technology. Re-visiting these sites once they had been found again has yielded more specimens and important micro-fossils, overlooked by the scientists during the first excavations. It is a good job some palaeontologists are untidy, many of the sites have been found again as site rubbish dumps have been located. Dates when expeditions first visited a site have been calculated by studying old newspapers left behind by the original scientists. During the early to mid part of the 20th Century, expeditions would carry bundles of old newspapers with them to wrap fossils. Fragments of newspaper recovered from the dumps and from around old quarries has helped the Royal Tyrrell team to accurately date when these quarries were first explored.

Modern palaeontological techniques have helped produce more finds and the sites have been properly numbered and accurately recorded. This helped provide a clearer picture of the changes in environment and the resulting fauna over the 2 million years or so that the Dinosaur Park Formation represents (believed to cover 76 million – 74 million years ago).

Using this new information and the stratigraphic distribution of ornithischian dinosaurs, a time frame for major genera can be plotted. For example, no Chasmosaurines have been found in the Oldman Formation, but Chasmosaurs have been found in upper Campanian sediments dating from 76 million years ago, with Chasmosaurus russelli being found in the earliest strata with Chasmosaurus belli being found in later strata, indicating a succession. Another ceratopsian group, the Centrosaurines are confined to a zone of sediments about 40 metres deep dating from 76.5 mya to about 75 mya, after this their place in the fossil record seems to be taken by Styracosaurs.

A similar pattern of succession can be seen in the main hadrosaur types around at the time when these sediments were laid down. In earlier sediments, roughly equating to the time of Centrosaurine dominance in the ceratopsia fauna, Corythosaurus genera dominate. These give way to increasing numbers of Lambeosaurs such as Lambeosaurus magnicristatus.

This does not mean that the animals that preceded the later ones are directly ancestral to them, but it might indicate that certain genera were better able to adapt to the changing environment in this part of western North America during the latter stages of the Cretaceous. The Dinosaur Park Formation was deposited in the last stages of the transgressive phase of the Bearpaw cycle. Rising sea-levels would have made the area much more coastal and the climate would have been greatly affected by the encroachment of the sea. Perhaps the Centrosaurs and Corythosaurs were less able to adapt to the changing environment and preferred more inland habitats. This allowed the Styracosaurs and the Lambeosaurs to move in and out compete these other dinosaurs.
Ornithischian Faunal Zones within upper Campanian Stratigraphy of Alberta

74 mya – “Pachyrhinosaurid” – L. magnicristatus – C. irvinensis faunal zone?

Styracosaurus – Lambeosaurus faunal zone C. belli

76 mya – Centrosaurus – Corythosaurus faunal zone C. russelli

78 mya – New Centrosaurus Species No Chasmosaurines found

Ref: Dinosaur Provincial Park (Ecosystem Revealed) – P. J. Currie and E. B Koppelhus