Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Random Stuff You May Not Know: Eleven

1. Accent Nails

While on the way to the Toronto Freedom Festival (4-20) of 2012 I noticed a 20-something-year-old girl on the subway. It was my first time to see this “accent nail” — the ring finger nail polish which is different than the rest on both hands. Today we recognise it as an international trend, but back then it was totally new. ⠀⠀
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There are many theories trying to explain if there is a certain meaning or symbolism behind the accent nail: From wanting to draw attention to the ring worn on that finger; to nail art which will be too much hard work, too expensive, or too overwhelming if done on all fingers; to breaking the monotony of one colour/shape; even as “flagging” for women who are into women. ⠀
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There is, however, no agreed-upon explanation. But there is a full article by Racked titled An Oral History of the Accent Nail, in which six manicure experts weigh in on how a painted ring finger became nail art. ⠀⠀⠀
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One fun theory is to subconsciously draw the attention of the lover to that ringless “ring” finger so that they may put a ring on it. Like, look at my cute finger: How about you add a ring to it? Ha.

As one can see today, not only are ring fingers painted with a different colour, but some are different by sporting elaborate designs, like adding glitter or tiny gems. As with almost every other fad, certain women overdo it. By that I mean: Really overdo it; with all ten nails, mind you. But hey, to each his and her own. ⠀

Back to that sunny Toronto day on the subway, I had the camera because I was heading to Freedom Festival. The girl’s nails were so novel and “different”, at least for me, I found the idea to be pretty cool — I still do. So I just went over and asked if I could snap a photo, obviously after complimenting her. Then ClicK it was!

And now we know.

2. Mariachi

“Mariachi” refers to a traditional Mexican style of music and musical group performance dating back to at least the 18th century. Ever since it has evolved over time in the countryside of various regions on the western parts of the country. Mariachi has a distinctive instrumentation, musical genre, performance and singing styles, and clothing — called charro suit. ⠀

Consisting of an embroidered jacket, pants, and vest, the attire is a style of dress based on the clothing of a type of horseman, the charro. The short coat, however, is worn by men and women alike. The origins of the charro outfit may be traced back to the city of Salamanca in Western Spain; as the Spanish conquistadors brought this type of clothing with them to Mexico.

Usually, the small ensemble strolls from one place to another while playing their music.

The term “Mariachi” is also used to describe the individual performer(s) of mariachi music as well as for the music itself.

White Squirrels 
One day beginning of September of 2011 while at a park in Montreal I spotted this little guy — a first to see a white squirrel. I had my camera, so obviously ended up snapping several shots. I knew he wasn’t albino, as those have red eyes, though had no idea how rare white squirrels are, or not. Google it is then.

So, this is a tree squirrel named the Eastern Grey Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) or Grey Squirrel. Native to eastern North America, there are two reasons why they could be white in appearance; Either albinos — must have red eyes — or like the one in the photo here those who exhibit a rare white fur colouration known as leucism, which is as a result of a recessive gene found within certain animals within the species. While in the wild the white makes them an easy target for predators like falcons, the gene seems to have lived on. 

A fun thing I found is that there is an ongoing research initiative in North America by Untamed Science about white squirrels. Once on their site, you can fill a short form in which you share what did you see, when, and where before you submit your info. Likewise, there exists a list of white squirrel sightings around the world, maintained by the White Squirrel Research Institute, a group based in Brevard, North Carolina.

Another thing is that white squirrels are a common sight in Parc La Fontaine in Montreal. There are actual Canadian articles about them — like one on MtlBlog.

An additional find is that white squirrels are a “Local Pride” is certain areas in North America. Olney, Illinois, for instance, is known as the “White Squirrel Capital of the World”. True story, Brah. For to is home of the world’s largest known white squirrel colony. Like cows in India, these squirrels apparently have the right of way on all streets in the town, with a $500 fine for hitting one. The Olney Police Department features the image of a white squirrel on its officers’ uniform patches. Serious stuff!

4. Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

Last time I went to a physiotherapist was 25 years ago because of a bad shoulder then a bad knee. I was really into weight training at the time, and apparently squating with 180 Kg (400 lbs) was a tad too much for a 17 year old. Thing is, I was surrounded by guys who only trained the upper half, which made them look cartoonish, and I sure didn’t want any of that. So intensive leg training was the solution. I did eventually heal and I owe it to Dr. Rawya the physiotherapist. ⠀

A couple of months back I noticed that my small finger and the ring one from my left hand become colder than the rest of the fingers. A week or two later, they began looking yellow whenever cold — showing that blood didn’t circulate properly. Hm. A month through, the same two fingers began to feel numb. Hmm. At the very same time, my neck was hurting, making yearn for a massage. Eventually I Googled it and it turned out it’s something called Ulnar Nerve Entrapment at the Elbow (Cubital Tunnel Syndrome). ⠀

I knew of carpel tunnel, but this is a cousin. One of the causes was using computer for long hours. After knowing what it was I finally went to a physiotherapist — who just happens to be in the building next door. How utterly amazing. Not just that, but Dr. Ramez is an “ancient Jésuitien”, as I found out from my father who also went to the same school. Today was our first session and I feel better already. ⠀

The reason I’m telling you all this is mainly to share why — I think — I got what I did. Now, the chair I’ve been using for the laptop is armless. This forces me to rest both my forearms on the edge of the desk. For 11-13 hours a day! Add to that sleeping a few times with a twisted neck and the nerves become entrapped. Now it makes sense that desk chairs all have arms, so you rest on them. It may seem obvious, but now we know what could happen. Stay Healthy! ⠀

5.  So Who Is Santa Monica Anyway?

Santa Monica is a prominent coastal city in Los Angeles with an environment of mountains, canyons, rolling hills, valley, and ocean. The area was previously inhabited by the Tongva people and was called “Kecheek” in the Tongva language. The first non-indigenous group to set foot in Kecheek was the party of explorer Gaspar de Portolà, who camped near the present-day intersection of Barrington and Ohio Avenues on August 3, 1769. 

Saint Monica (AD 322–387), also known as Monica of Hippo, was an early Christian saint and the mother of St. Augustine of Hippo. On the basis of her name, it is assumed she was born in Thagaste (present-day Souk Ahras, Algeria) and believed to have been a Berber.

Saint Monica is remembered and honoured in most Christian denominations — albeit on different feast days — for her outstanding Christian virtues, particularly the suffering caused by her husband’s adultery; also for her prayerful life dedicated to the reformation of her son, who wrote extensively of her pious acts and life with her in his Confessions. Popular Christian legends recall Saint Monica weeping every night for her son Augustine. 

There exists two accounts of how the city’s name came to be: The first, in honour of the feast day of Saint Monica, despite her feast day being May 4. According to the second version, it was named by Juan Crespí on account of a pair of springs, the Kuruvungna Springs (Serra Springs), which were reminiscent of the tears Saint Monica shed over her son’s early impiety.

I knew of Augustine of Hippo from his philosophical quotes I sometimes share. The last of which is: “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” However, the connection was only made when I got curious about who that Westside neighbourhood was named after.

And now we know.


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