2017-11-27 (Monday)

Today, I learned that:

Last Thursday was celebrated Thanksgiving Day in the USA, when the Americans remember the pilgrims who escaped England in the 17th century for a better life on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean and how they in turn celebrated the first crop of their new fields. But do you know why they choose Cape Cod as their destination for the Mayflower? Well, they did not, their goal was to arrive in Virginia, where they had expectations of obtaining fertile land.

So, why did they disembark in the inhospitable Cape Cod? The answer can be found in a book that Susan Cheever published two years ago. The simple answer was that they had ran out of beer! That fact was only the first one about the American relation to alcoholic beverages. Others, such as the true story about the prohibition time in the decades of 1920 and 1930, can be found in this book. If you are interested in knowing more, hear an interview with the author on the Los Angeles based radio station KCRW, reference #1 below, read the critics published in Vogue, reference #2, and if that thrills you, buy the book and read more, e.g. from Amazon, reference #3.

Speaking about the day succeeding Thanksgiving, called Black Friday, and today, Cyber Monday, did you already suspect that when the stores announce hefty discounts, they have already raised the prices to be used as a base for calculating the discount, aka “fake prices”? Well, here is one proof that it is true. One of Brazil’s biggest newspapers, Folha de S. Paulo, compared the prices of 6.875 different objects at the end of October 2017 to those published for sale during Black Friday one month later. The results showed that all the 9 surveyed stores practised that bad “habit”, the worst one in 12 % of all cases surveyed. See the complete article (in Portuguese) in reference # 4 below.

Cape Cod, Old Harbor Life Saving Station at Sunset

Old Harbor U.S. Life Saving Station at Cape Cod, photo taken on 2011-12-18 by JCefaly

 

That’s what I learned in school !

Refs.:

1: Guest: Susan Cheever

2: In Drinking in America, Susan Cheever Puts the Bottle Back in the History Books

3: Drinking in America: Our Secret History

4: Comércio eleva desconto sem reduzir preço antes da Black Friday

*: What did you learn in school today ?

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2017-11-17 (Friday)

Today, I learned that:

Besides dedicated software applications, e.g. translation software, without any doubt, it is the general applications word processing and spreadsheet calculations I use most, as I guess is the case for most people.

Of those, it is especially the spreadsheet that I tend to use for almost any task. Back in the 1980s, unfortunately I did not use the very first spreadsheet, Visicalc, which was introduced for the Apple II in 1979. More about that in reference # 1 below. But soon after that, I already started to use various of its successors, which during the following decades have included such softwares as Lotus 1-2-3, Multiplan, Quattro, Excel and Numbers.

Now there is even celebrated a Spreadsheet Day, on October 17 every year, in remembrance of the date of introduction of Visicalc. And on that day this year, I had the pleasure of receiving a newsletter from a person who knows a great deal about spreadsheets. Her name is Mynda Treacy, and in that newsletter she presented a comprehensive article about how to work with dates and times in Excel, which currently is the most commonly used spreadsheet application worldwide. If you think that it is difficult to use them in Excel, Mynda will explain it to you in an easy fashion, complete with all the formulas you need. See reference # 2, where you can download the article and accompanying spreadsheet file, as well as sign up for her newsletter.

And now back to another favourite topic of mine, robots. Examples of that can be seen in my posts from 2016-03-12 and 2017-03-12. In both of them were presented robots from the American company Boston Dynamics, named Atlas and Handle. Now, its new owner, the Japanese company Softbank, reveals how Atlas has developed since we last saw it. How about the following backflip? More about Atlas, including a video, can be found in reference # 3 below.

Atlas 2017

The humanoid robot Atlas performing acrobatics with a perfect backflip.

That’s what I learned in school !

Refs.:

1: VisiCalc: Information from its creators, Dan Bricklin and Bob Frankston

2: Excel Date and Time – Everything you need to know

2: Boston Dynamics’ Atlas robot is a parkour master

*: What did you learn in school today ?

2017-11-11 (Saturday)

Today, I learned that:

Exactly 39 years ago today, I was studying in the French city of Compiègne, located 80 km north of Paris. And on that very day, there was a big crowd coming into the city to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the signing of the armistice agreement of the first world war between France and Germany. The signing had taken place in a railway car in the forest of Compiègne, and the railway car is still there close to the original site, and copies of the documents and utensils used for the signing can still be found inside. However, the car as such is also only a replica, the original one was confiscated as a war bounty when Germany invaded France in June, 1940. The following painting of the 1918 event is also considered to be not totally true to the original. More information can be found in references #1, 2 and 3 below.

Waffenstillstand

This image appears to be a painting, not a colourized photograph. (It might have also been published as a sepia postcard.) The probability that it is not a photograph is also indicated by the inaccurate depiction of furniture, in Maréchal Foch’s ‘dining car’, which had a fixed-to-the-floor table and French chairs (as seen in photographs of the event). The probable inaccuracy of the depiction might be the reason for its anonymity.

Then, on the very same day 4 years later, I had the pleasure of going to a concert with the Swedish singer Lill Lindfors. After the concert, she signed her portrait with a dedication to me. In reference # 4 you can read more about her and references # 5 and 6 give links to one of the songs she sang then. In Swedish the title is Teresa (about a young girl and her dreams), whereas the original Brazilian title is Tristeza (which means sadness, but you can make it go away when you sing, just like Elis Regina does here). ENJOY!

Lill

The newspaper insert from Svenska Dagbladet reads, translated into English : “Lill finishes her concert tour in Akalla. Lill Lindfors will give her last concert of the tour she is making in the outer suburbs of Stockholm tonight at 19.30 at Akalla Träff. The set list is based on the theme of longing and it is a performance of songs and music, where also the trio Anders Ekdahl (piano), Jan Bergman (base guitar) and Ola Brunkert (drums) participates.”

Finally, today’s header photo shows the Ayrton Senna bridge joining the Brazilian states of Mato Grosso do Sul and Paraná. On the right side can be seen the city of Guaíra, PR. Photo taken on 2017-10-28. See also my post from 2016-11-30.

That’s what I learned in school !

Refs.:

1: Forest of Compiègne

2: Compiègne Wagon

3: Painting of November 11, 1918

4: Lill Lindfors

5: Lill Lindfors – Teresa, 1987

6: Elis Regina – Tristeza, 1965-1968.

*: What did you learn in school today ?