Wednesday, September 30, 2009


by Rachelle de Bretagne
Double decker buses are as common a sight in the United Kingdom, as the old red telephone boxes and black city cabs. Part of Great Britain's heritage, few realize that the evolution of the double decker bus or that the first versions of the bus were in fact brought out during the Industrial revolution of the late 19th century.
As far back as this, it was recognized that double decker buses which could carry more people to their destination at a time were proven as an economical method of transport. The first buses were horse driven, and although not of the same family as those seen today, were innovative and had seating areas on top of the main bus itself. London General, which would later become known among the British as London Transport brought out their first double decker buses for the 1851 Exhibition of London, converting a standard carriage into one which had secure seating on the roof.

This model paved the way to new thoughts on transport, and as far back as 1899, the first motorised double decker bus driven by steam took its place on the London streets, followed by the very first Daimler model which was petrol driven, and which used a 12 horse power engine. The old buses of the early part of the 20th Century were of completely different design to those seen in London in this day and age, and most required the upstairs passengers to climb up steps on the outside of the bus.
By the early fifties, the buses had been developed not only to be more economical, but to carry more passengers in comfort. The Routemasters came into use at this time, and are the standard design upon which modern day buses are built. The suspension was changed and the bus no longer relied upon the chassis being the main stress bearer. Little by little designs changed, and early buses of this kind had a separate entrance for the driver, at the front cab, and an entrance for the passengers at the back with an internal staircase which took them to the upper floor.
In seaside towns, the open topped double decker buses were popular with the tourist, and these are still used to take them around cities on tours, and in coastal regions, though now much different from the original Routemaster designs of older times.
In the early sixties, the length of the bus was extended to take 72 seats although this varies from model to model, and the old buses, while resembling those of the original fleets were adapted to have lighter bodywork, and sport the advertising panels which became their trademark
and began being used in 1964. 2005 marked the sad end of the Routemasters which were, by that time, sold privately, though the double decker buses which followed took on that same familiar look though were adapted for passengers with handicap. The Routemaster ramps were well known for their flaws of design and were never really a viable option.
Special edition Routemasters were used for ceremonies and celebrations, stepping away from the standard red to gold and silver. New buses took on a more streamline look allowing for adaptations to the times, and the introduction of the one man bus, where the driver and conductor were no longer needed and the driver took the money for tickets from the customers as they entered the front of the bus. The traditional method of having the engine at the front of the bus was replaced with placing it at the rear, making the front of the buses into available space for the customers to enter and to pay the driver their fare.

With the privatization of many companies all over England, many companies now use smaller buses, though the double decker bus has its place in large towns all over Britain, and while looking more sleek, still give the customer a comfortable ride to their destination, though with lightweight materials and more attention to overall cost.
It was a sad day when the Routemasters stopped running, as these had been the backbone of British transport since their early design days. The design was a solid design which was built to last, and even as late as 1995, the buses were refurbished, not because of anything other than the public expecting more comfort with new upholstery being added, to take the buses through the last ten years of their useful lives.
The bus conductor with his little ticket dispensing machine was as much a part of the British way of life as the Routemasters. Now, the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has pioneered a contest to design a new London bus, offering a 25,000 prize for the winner, meaning that the future of London buses is still on the drawing board until October.
It will take imagination and ingenuity to come up with a design that last as well as the traditional Routemasters, which have become all too familiar symbols of everything British, though no doubt the future will hold innovative designs which take on the Routemaster designers in an attempt to change the face of transport in the United Kingdom and bring it up to date with other famous landmarks. Who knows, they may even take the black cabs of London and try and replace them with electric cars, though it will take a bit of persuading for the new double decker buses to be as accepted as the old Routemasters were, or to win the hearts of the British public.


It was a custom brought in by Prince Albert and was firstly only practiced among the gentry. It was also Prince Albert who introduced the decorated christmas tree custom to Britain. The cards started out as greetings between the great families at christmas and then spread to the masses as the years went by.The first greetings cards were single postcard types and some were hand coloured and others were embroidered - obviously the more elaborate they were the more it represented your wealth.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


This year´s Science Fair of Seville is a sample of 2,500 inventions created by some very special "scientists". They all have in common that they are minors.

The nearly 100,000 visitors, mostly school-can enjoy learning what, for example, static electricity is, how to manufacture robots, or mixing chemicals.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Eat corn tortillas to prevent cancer!

A group of Mexican scientists designed a special form of this food, which can help prevent disease while lowering cholesterol and glucose in the blood, they say.

The product, designed at the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN), would help in preventing breast, prostate and colon cancer, which according to officials is listed in high levels in the population.

To a corn tortilla, which is one of the staples in the Mexican diet, flaxseed was added, phytoestrogens and omega 3, Rodolfo Rendon, the project leader, told BBC NEWS. "Some studies say that consuming six grams of flaxseed daily reduced cholesterol by 20% in three months," he said.

The product has completed its testing phase and in four months could go on the market, one of the largest in the country, since Mexico consumes daily 630 million tortillas.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Charge your phone with your body

Within not too long this phrase that seems impossible to occur may be a common action. A thermoelectric generator developed by the University ETH Zurich converts body warmth into electrical power. This invention could be the first key to the development of chargers directly using our energy to keep alive the electronic devices. The invention has won the "Swiss Electric Research Award 2009". A thermoelectric generator may be the solution to not having the battery run out at the most inopportune time. Its inventor, Wulf Glatz, a scientist at the ETH Zurich University, has been awarded the "Swiss Electric Research Award 2009" awarded by the electricity companies of Switzerland for being one of the most innovative inventions. The system which has been developed uses the difference in temperature between the heat source and the environment to generate no contaminated emissions and produce enough energy to charge a mobile phone or electricity to an apartment. Thus, the same as the heat of a body could recharge a cell phone, the heating of a building might give electricity to a floor or heat from a motor vehicle could give it fuel.

Monday, September 21, 2009


Today the proud nation of Belize is 28. Today we stand tall as we sing our National anthem. Today we look at our Belizean flag and proudly say: LONG LIVE BELIZE!!!

To all Belizeans, everywhere I extend a Happy Independence day 2009.

As we move forward, we learn from past mistakes and acquire the wisdom of time. (Brenda A. Ysaguirre)

Sunday, September 20, 2009


I have taken this article from BELIZEAN JOURNEYS. It was written by P. Arana and covers the carnival history in Belize so well that I just had to make sure more people read. it. Thanks to P. Arana. You are a proud image of Belize!!!

Every so often one, but usually more, of the eager spectators stops and peers down the street, scanning the horizon expectantly for signs. This extended glance is usually followed closely by similar gazes down the line in domino-like effect until, of course, a police car is spotted. At this time, excited whispers will ripple along the line like shivers down a spine. Unuttered, but at the back of everyone's mind, are the words: "Let the partying begin!"Born as the Latin pagan custom, carrus navalis (ship of fools) in which a magnificently-decorated ship on wheels was pulled to the temples, it grew into the Italian carne (flesh or meat) vale (goodbye) in which agitators unmanageable by the Church, celebrated Bacchanal. The day of unbridled merrymaking so named in honor of Bacchus (Roman god of wine), marked Shrove Tuesday (also known as Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras), the eve of Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the forty Lenten days of eating, drinking and sexual restrictions.In some parts of the world, that's how carnival started; but in Belize, it was five spirited women who gave birth to the movement. In 1975 Ms. Crystal, Ms. June, Ms. Alice, Ms. Maude and Ms. Myrtle got together on a Sunday as they had done on numerous occasions before that. What was different on this particular afternoon social was the heated discussion of how to spice up the Tenth of September Celebrations. They left bubbling with the excitement of an idea that was still brewing in their heads. None of them envisioned that an acronym formed from their names, C-JAMM, would one day become a household September word in Belize.Calling themselves the Belize Women for Cultural Preservation, the five mothers from Sixth Street in the King's Park area of Belize City sold their idea to their children, who in turn brought neighborhood friends. That September the costumed group danced through the main streets of Belize City, inadvertently selling their show; the rest of Belize City bought into it. In fact, the concept created such an impression that for the next 25 years, the "Sixth Street Masqueraders", as they were dubbed, saw more neighborhoods forming bands, creating costumes and floats to join in the Carnival parade.Today, during the designated day in September, 70,000 plus inhabitants and visitors line the streets of Belize City, from Central American Boulevard to the Marion Jones Sporting Complex, to witness the spectacle. As you elbow your way through the crowd, slicing trough the excitement hanging in the air, a few people mumble in protest. Once you move on, though, they return to their happy chatter, assured that no brazen latecomer has succeeded in cutting in and blocking their view. Very few, if any, give thought to carnival's rebellious teenage years.In the 1980s, the Belize Women for Cultural Preservation was given the task of taking a group of roughly eighty dancers to showcase Belize's culture on the streets of Miami. Dressed in costumes portraying the wildlife of the rainforest, Belize's beasts met the Caribbean's beauties. This affair became a turning point in Belize's carnival history.Like true adolescents, the dancers returned to Belize demanding why. Why did they have to wear those wretched long skirts? Why couldn't they get costumes that kept them cool in ninety-degree weather? Why did they have to attend those two-hour long practices to learn synchronized dance steps? Why couldn't they just show up on the day of the carnival and dance their hearts out? And why, for heaven's sake, couldn't they have hip names like Gem or Cultural Heritage or C-JAMM? When the parents stopped frowning, they adopted the five-letter acronym and revisited the costume designs. In subsequent years, carnival entered a metamorphic phase. Costume bottoms shortened from the modest ankle-length to conservative knee-length to the provocative bikini-length.Clearly influenced by carnival in the Caribbean, carnival in Belize is an engaging experience in music, dance, and costumes. It is here that the resemblance ends because carnival in Belize has evolved into its own. An absence of the million-dollar machinery that drives the most famous Caribbean carnivals has left Belizeans with no option but to use head and heart to power the carnival engine.It is a determination whose embers are fanned inside buildings called camps, months in anticipation of the actual event and far from the eyes of the embracing community that comes out to share in its success. Drawing on such inspiration as history, culture, and nationalism, the groups raise funds, design and make costumes and mobilize the business community to pull off the best free and most anticipated cultural production in Belize. Today that show continues to emerge each year. As a result, carnival in Belize has grown up, giving birth to her own offspring.Carnival in the northernmost town of Corozal is reminiscent of its earlier days in Belize City. Adults make costumes, host practices and organize the road march while children and teenagers are the dancing stars. Since participating groups represent the various elementary and secondary schools in the district, the carnival itself has been made into an educational experience. While floats and costumes depict the Maya, Mestizo, Garifuna, Chinese, East Indian, Creole and Mennonite cultures, this educational focus does not take away from the festive mood. From Santa Rita Hill to Corozal Bay, carnival in Corozal Town is one non-stop jam session.In neighboring Orange Walk (a.k.a. Sugar City), the ten member committee of the Orange Walk Carnival Group has followed in the footsteps of the Belize Women for Cultural Preservation. Though it cannot accept credit for starting carnival, the committee, including coordinator Flavia Burgos and Production team (Minioli Alonzo, Lupe Salas and Tiburcio Hernandez), has catalyzed the carnival experience in Orange Walk Town. The majorettes and marching bands are still present as they have been since anyone in Orange Walk can remember carnival, but this group has added a new ingredient.Focused on building and maintaining cultural awareness, the group conducts extensive research to recreate for the performers and audience the connection to their heritage. At the end of each carnival they store the costumes and floats, thus building a visual archive of carnival and of the cultures they have showcased. For them, carnival is not merely limited to the street parade; carnival is an opportunity to learn and pass on traditions. Since this new flavor was added to the pot last year, the group has been spotlighting their Mestizo and Maya culture on the streets of Orange Walk. Judging from the increasing popularity of Orange Walk carnival, the "Latin" flavor has certainly caught Belize's attention.Whether you choose the Corozal, Orange Walk, or Belize City experience, Carnival is about letting go of your inhibitions. From a distance it looks like a frenzy of colors spurred to movement by towers of speakers pumping out lively soca beats. From the sidelines it becomes a revelry of brightly colored costumes moving with the gyrating seemingly possessed bodies that inhabit them. The jerky, rotating, and trembling dance movements are further accentuated by swaying beads, shimmering materials, and feathered projections adorning the costumes. The masqueraders dance themselves into a high that feeds on itself like an insatiable cycle, keeping fatigue at bay in a move to outbid itself. The soundtrack is hype, energetic, persuading all within earshot to "jump", "mash it up", "raise yu hand", "wine yu waist", "tremble it", and any combination thereof. In response arms flail, feet kick, lifting bodies off the ground, bodies shiver, faces contort and butts jiggle in synchronized motion giving way to cathartic relief reminiscent of some physiological functions. If this sounds unreal to you, come experience it for yourself!