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AdChoices Gifts Unfit for Queen Elizabeth

She has 30 godchildren.
And more than 1.5 million people have attended her garden parties.
Surely, the queen doesn't need any gifts.
But heads of state, distinguished guests and even subjects of Queen Elizabeth II bestow Her Majesty will all sorts of presents, including a live llama, Legos, and a model of her state coach made from an ostrich egg.
Those are just some of the highlights of a newly released list of gifts the queen received in 2012, her 60th year on the throne.
Perhaps the most unique gift came from the British government, which renamed part of Antarctica in her honor for her Diamond Jubilee (even though it's not clear the area was theirs to name). Queen Elizabeth Land sprawls across 169,000 square miles, almost double the size of the United Kingdom.
Some of the strangest gifts came unsolicited from the British public: a knitted tea cosy depicting the queen with her beloved corgis, a 1/43rd scale model of the queen's Rolls Royce Phantom (full-size model worth $500,000), and that ostrich-egg state coach. (The corgis did pretty well: they also received a crown-shaped dog bed from Tuffies Dog Beds, a company in Scotland.)
There are simply no excuses for some of the gifts. The High commissioner for the Republic of Zambia gave her a "sports shirt." Glasgow City College gave her a cake. The artist Cimon Butler gifted her a Lego sculpture of Tower Bridge. And the British prime minister and the cabinet gifted "60 place mats." (Although they also made a charitable donation to the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust.)
Elizabeth, 86, received a boxed set of gold, silver and bronze Olympic medals from International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogges. And the Obamas gave her a 1950s Tiffany & Co silver compact.
"What makes a good gift is something practical," said Dickie Arbiter, the queen's former press secretary. "She's not a frivolous person. She's very much the sort of person who is practical and down to earth. She doesn't like to receive gifts for the sake of receiving gifts. She wants something useful."
Not everyone followed that advice. She received honorary ownership of a baby llama and the adoption of a baby Asian elephant. (It's not the first time she has received animals: among others, the president of Cameroon gave her a 7-year-old bull elephant called "Jumbo" in 1972.)
Some gifts she will likely never use.
The owner of a theater in western England gave her a silver token with the inscription, "The Proprietor of this Ticket is Entitled to the Sight of Every Performance to be exhibited in this House."
She also received jewelry, even though she has her own, rather extensive set in the Tower of London. The president of Yemen gifted her 60 pieces of onyx and ancient Yemeni silver jewelry, the emir of Kuwait gave her a necklace, earrings, ring and a bangle, and the British Jewellers' Association created a Diamond Jubilee brooch made of platinum with Welsh and Scottish gold and diamonds.
Not that every gift was expensive: from the Royal Engineers Association, she received two garden benches.
In total, according to the list provided to ABC News by Buckingham Palace, the public gifted her 436 books, 235 CDs and DVDs, 81 pieces of embroidery or knitting, 78 self-portraits, 40 digital photograph books, 28 wall hangings, 19 tea towels and nine jigsaws.
Every single gift gets a thank you note. But she's not allowed to regift anything. Royals are now strictly barred from selling or exchanging presents.
Asked what someone who is searching for a gift for the queen should consider, Arbiter said, "Just don't. ... She gets so much, it all gets stored away, some of it doesn't even get stored, if you get my drift."

Man Has Close Encounter With Mountain Lions

Man Has Close Encounter With Mountain Lions

A Colorado homeowner got up-close-and-personal with three mountain lions prowling near his home.
John Vomastic, of Manitou Springs, Colo., was home Tuesday when he heard something outside his window. When he went to the window to take a look, the eyes of one of the lions were staring back at him.
"That was a little bit frightening because the only thing protecting me from that big cat was a piece of glass," Vomastic told local ABC News affiliate ABC7.
Vomastic lives at such a high altitude in the mountains of Colorado that he has set up cameras and sensors to alert him when the wildlife who call the region home are close by.
It was those home security cameras that captured the three mountain lions exploring his own yard on Tuesday.
"[The mountain lion] came over and stood on his feet and looked into the window," Vomastic said.
The mountain lions walked away without conflict Tuesday and Vomastic says it's his honor to live among the wild beasts, despite the potential for danger.
"I consider it a privilege to live with these animals and share this space with them," he said.
Also Read


Creative Bookshelf Designs

  In today’s world, with interior designing becoming the rage, we all aim for that unique touch.  In such a situation, something as cherished and respected as books truly deserves an innovative design as its abode.  Here are 10 of the most creative bookshelf designs. 

1) The Wave

the wave
This one of a kind piece of art is made in such a way that its size can be adjusted according to your specifications and requirements. It is made from fabric and stainless steel.

2) Bookmark cum Bookshelf

This bookshelf is very convenient as you can place it wherever you find books, be it your bedside table, study area etc. In addition, it can also be used as a bookmark. You keep your books at the bottom and place the book you are currently reading open on the top bookmark.

3) Selfshelf Bookshelf

selfshelf bookshelf
This remarkable bookshelf creates a floating effect as it’s invisible. It’s base is intended to look like a book that attaches firmly to your wall and holds your real books.

4) USA Bookshelf

Designed by Ron Arad, this bookcase is in the shape of the United States of America. 

5) Curved Bookshelf

saba italia
These amazing curved bookshelves are sure to liven up any home. They have been designed by Saba Italia, the Italian furniture manufacturer.

 6) Ceiling Bookshelf

ceiling bookshelf
This bookshelf is ideal for you if you have limited space.  It utilizes a part of your home that most people never think of using, thus saving a lot of space. The only disadvantage is that you have to use a chair every time you want to get a book. 

7) The Cave

the cave
This bookshelf has a two-in-one facility as you can grab a book and begin reading it straight away by settling into the nook.  It also saves the space you would normally need for a chair while providing a private reading place. Books can be stored on either side of the nook. Hence, it can also function as a room partition.

8) Bookworm

Designed by Ron Arad, the bookworm is made from plastic and is an ideal way to store books in small spaces.  It can be bent into any shape and form you wish; although it is recommended that it be mounted in a curved designed in order to increase capacity. 

9) Sticklebook

This is a great alternative to a regular bookshelf which will make your friends and family sit up and take notice.  It creates the illusion of a line of books hanging unsupported on a wall whereas it actually consists of an aluminium bracket and combed strip that grips the cover and pages of the books.  It is sturdy and fall-proof. 

10) Wheel Bookshelf

wheel shelf

Night View of Japan

Night View of Japan

(Click on the images to view them full size)

Beautiful Singapore Pictures

Singapore Pictures

Singapore, formally the Republic of Singapore, is an island city-state and the smallest country in Southeast Asia. It is located on the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, south of the Malaysian state of Johor, and north of the Indonesian Riau Islands. It lies just 137 kilometres (85 miles) north of the Equator.

The name Singapore is derived from the Malay words singa (lion) and pura (city), which were themselves derived from the Sanskrit words सिंह siMha and पुर pura. Hence, Singapore is also known as the Lion City.

Singapore consists of 63 islands, including the main island itself. There are two connections from Singapore to the Malaysian state of Johor — a man-made causeway known as the Johor-Singapore Causeway to the north, crossing the Tebrau Straits, and Tuas Second Link, a bridge in the western part of Singapore that connects to Johor. Jurong Island, Pulau Tekong, Pulau Ubin and Sentosa are the largest of Singapore's many smaller islands. The highest point of Singapore is Bukit Timah Hill, with a height of 166 metres (538 ft).

Night view of Singapore
Night view of Singapore
Raffles City Shopping Mall
Raffles City Shopping Mall

Chek Jawa, a 100-hectare wetlands located on the south-eastern tip of Pulau Ubin, an island off the north-eastern coast of the main island of Singapore.
Chek Jawa, a 100-hectare wetlands located on the south-eastern tip of Pulau Ubin, an island off the north-eastern coast of the main island of Singapore.




Singapore Picture

River Banks near Central, Clarke Quay
River Banks near Central, Clarke Quay

Singapore Picture

The Singapore Flyer is currently the tallest Ferris wheel in the world. It reaches 42 stories high, with a total height of 165 m (541 ft), and is 5 m (16 ft)
The Singapore Flyer is currently the tallest Ferris wheel in the world. It reaches 42 stories high, with a total height of 165 m (541 ft), and is 5 m (16 ft)

View from Singapore Flyer
View from Singapore Flyer

Singapore Picture at Night

Singapore Pictures Crackers


 The Ossetians are an Iranian ethnic group from Ossetia, a region in the northern Caucasus Mountains in Europe. Ossetians populate North Ossetia-Alania in Russia, and the South Ossetia that is de facto independent but internationally recognised as part of Georgia. They speak Ossetic, an Iranian language.

The Russian geographic name "Ossetia" and the corresponding ethnic designation "Ossetians" comes from a Georgian root. The Russians originally called the Ossetians Jas, but in the late 14th century adopted the Georgian name of the Ossetians and their nation. In the Georgian language, Alania and the Alans are known as "Oseti" and "Osebi" respectively. From the Russian language the names Ossetia and Ossetians came to other languages. The Ossetians themselves refer to their nation as irættæ.

Ossetic woman.jpg (1818520 bytes)
19th Century Ossetic Women

Ramonov_vano_ossetin_northern_caucasia_dress_18_century.jpg (364761 bytes)
Northern Ossetian (19th century)

The Ossetians descend from the Alans, a Sarmatian tribe of IRnaian stock. They became Christians during the early Middle Ages under Georgian and Byzantine influence. In the 8th century a consolidated Alan kingdom, referred to in sources of the period as Alania, emerged in the northern Caucasus Mountains, roughly in the location of modern Circassia and North Ossetia-Alania. At its height Alania was a regional power with a strong military and vast wealth from the Silk Road. Forced out of their medieval homeland (south of the River Don in present-day Russia) during Mongol rule, they migrated towards and over the Caucasus mountains, where they formed three distinct territorial entities:

Digor in the west came under the influence of the neighbouring Kabard people who introduced Islam. Today the two main Digor districts in North Ossetia are Digora district or Digorskiy rayon (with Digora as its centre) and Irafskiy rayon or Iraf district (with Chikola as its centre). Digora district is Christian while some parts of Iraf district are Muslim. The dialect spoken in Digor part of North Osetia is Digor, the most archaic form of Osetian language. 

Kudar in the south, in the Georgian central region of Shida Kartli. In 1924 this part became known as South Ossetia 

Iron and Digor in the north became what is now North Ossetia/Alania, under Russian rule from 1767. Iron language is a younger version of Ossetian language and is the literary and written language of Ossetians. 

In recent history the Ossetians participated in Ossetian-Ingush conflict (1991-1992) and Georgian-Ossetian conflicts (1918-1920 and early 1990s).

The Ossetic language is divided into two main dialect groups: Ironian in North and South Ossetia and Digorian of North Ossetia. There are some sub-dialects in those two: like Tualian, Alagirian, Ksanian, etc. Ironian dialect is the most widely spoken.

Ossetic is classified as Northeastern Iranian, the only other surviving member of the subgroup being Yaghnobi, spoken more than 2,000 km to the east in Tajikistan. Both are remnants of the Avestan and  Scytho-Sarmatian language groups which was once spoken across Central Asia. It also should be noted that Ossetic has substantial genetic similarities with Pashto, another Eastern Iranian language.

History and classificationOssetic is the spoken and literary language of the Ossetes, a people living in the central part of the Caucasus and constituting the basic population of the North-Ossetic ASSR, which belongs to the Russian Federation, and of the South-Ossetic Autonomous Oblast which belongs to the Georgian Republic. Ossetic belongs to the Northern subgroup of the Eastern-Iranian group of the Indo-European family of languages. Thus, it is genetically related to the other Eastern-Iranian languages, e. g. Pashto and Yagnobi.

From deep antiquity (since the 7th-8th centuries B. C), the languages of the Iranian group were distributed in a vast territory including present-day Iran (Persia), Central Asia, and Southern Russia. Ossetic is the sole survivor of the northeastern branch of Iranian languages known as Scythian. The Scythian group included numerous tribes in Central Asia and Southern Russia, known in ancient sources as the Scythians, Massagetae, Saka, Sarmatians, Alans and Roxolans. The more easterly Khorezmians and the Sogdians were also closely affiliated, in linguistic terms.

Ossetian, together with Kurdish, Tati and Talyshi, is one of the main Iranian languages with a sizeable community of speakers in the Caucasus. It is descended from Alanic, the language of the Alans, medieval tribes emerging from the earlier Sarmatians. It is believed to be the only surviving descendant of a Sarmatian language. The closest genetically related language is the Yaghnobi language of Tajikistan, the only other living member of the Northeastern Iranian branch. Ossetic has a plural formed by the suffix -ta, a feature it shares with Yaghnobi, Sarmatian and the now-extinct Sogdian; this is taken as evidence of a formerly wide-ranging Iranian-language dialect continuum on the Central Asian steppe. The Greek-derived names of ancient Iranian tribes in fact reflect this pluralization, e.g. Saromatae (Σαρομάται) and Masagetae (Μασαγέται).

DialectsThere are two important dialects: Iron and Digor—the former being the more widely spoken. Written Ossetian may be immediately recognized by its use of the æ, a letter to be found in no other language using the Cyrillic alphabet. A third dialect of Ossetic, Jassic, was formerly spoken in Hungary. The overwhelming majority of Ossetes speak the Iron dialect, and the literary language is based on it. The creator of the Ossetic literary language is the national poet Kosta Xetagurov (1859-1906).

GrammarAccording to Ossetic researcher V.I. Abaev:
“ In the course of centuries-long propinquity to and intercourse with Caucasian languages, Ossetic became similar to them in some features, particularly in phonetics and lexicon. However, it retained its grammatical structure and basic lexical stock; its relationship with the Iranian family, despite considerable individual traits, does not arouse any doubt.” 
According to the Encyclopedia Britannica 2006 Ossetic preserves many archaic features of Old Iranian, such as eight cases and verbal prefixes. The eight cases are not, however, the original Indo-Iranian cases, which were eroded due to pronunciation changes. The modern cases, except the nominative, are derived from a single surviving oblique case that was reanalyzed into seven new cases by Ossetic speakers.

Today the majority of Ossetians, from both North and South Ossetia, follow Eastern Orthodoxy. As the time went by, Digor in the west came under Kabard and Islamic influence. It was through the Kabardians (an East Circassian tribe) that Islam was introduced into the region in the 17th century. Today, a large minority profess Sunni Islam). Tuallag in the southernmost region became part of what is now Georgia, and Iron, the northernmost group, came under Russian rule after 1767, which strengthened Orthodox Christianity considerably. Most of the Ossetes today are Eastern Orthodox Christians.


Could Coffee Protect Against Liver Disease in Alcohol Drinkers?

By Lindsey Konkel, MyHealthNewsDaily Contributor | 

"Our findings suggest a possible protective effect for coffee intake in alcohol consumers," said study researcher Dr. Onni Niemelä, of Seinäjoki Central Hospital and the University of Tampere in Finland.
The researchers asked nearly 19,000 Finnish men and womenbetween ages 25 and 74 about theircoffee and alcohol consumption. They also measured participants' blood levels of the liver enzymegamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT).
Drinking alcohol raises levels of GGT in the blood. Over time, drinking can also lead to alcoholic liver disease. People with liver disease show higher levels of GGT in their blood. Men in the study who consumed more than 24 alcoholic drinks per week, or about 3.5 drinks daily, had the highest levels of the liver enzyme — about three times higher than men who did not drink alcohol.
But among the men who were heavy drinkers, those who also consumed five or more cups of coffee daily showed a 50 percent reduction in GGT compared with men who drank no coffee.
The researchers found no significant association between coffee consumption and GGT levels in female drinkers.
"The findings are thought-provoking, though it is impossible to derive meaning from them," said Dr.David Bernstein, chief of the division of hepatology at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, New York, who was not involved in the new study.
In addition to drinking alcohol, smoking, older age and being overweight can also raise GGT levels. While there were no differences in these variables among heavy drinkers, moderate drinkers, former drinkers and nondrinkers in the study, the researchers cannot say for sure whether some interaction between alcohol and one of these factors affected the results. And participants may not have estimated accurately the amount of coffee and alcohol they drink.
The researchers found that the way that coffee was prepared — whether it was filtered, boiled or served as espresso, for example — did not seem to make a difference in the findings. 
Previous studies have suggested that drinking coffee may decrease GGT levels, and that caffeine may play a role in this.
It remains unclear whether elevated levels of the liver enzyme correlate with symptoms of liver disease. "If I go out and have a six-pack tonight, my levels will be up, but it doesn't mean I have liver disease," Bernstein said.
People should not think that drinking more coffee will cancel out the effects of heavy drinking, he said. "We know nothing about whether decreasing levels of the liver enzyme leads to improvements in overall health, or a decreased risk of liver disease," Bernstein said.
The study was published online March 14 in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism.
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Amazing Capilano Suspension Bridge

Voices from Vancouver's past mingle with the sounds of nature, beautiful gardens skirt colourful totem poles, British Columbia First Nations artisans chisel legend into cedar and Capilano Suspension Bridge takes you to the serenity of a West Coast rainforest and Canada's award-winning Vancouver attraction, Treetops Adventure.



Impressive Highways system above the Rainforest in Sao PaoloBrazil

Dinner in the sky in BrusselsBelgium

The Stone Mirror in IstanbulTurkey

View of Schwerin CastleGermany

The water is so clear it looks like the boat is hovering! - Bora Pearl Beach

Heart Island in mangrove delta of the Vaza-Barris River, Brazil

Escalator of the New World Trade Center

Walk at West Side of Taihang Mountain in Shanxi ProvinceChina

Impressive Swim Pools Balconies at Bandra Ohm Residential Tower in MumbaiIndia

Mesmerising Niagara Falls - Rainbow BridgeUSA

Corinthos Channel in Greece

Singapore - Dance of Light

World's Largest Ice Cave in Austria

World's first billion dollar house in MumbaiIndia - 27 Floors Ambani's Palace

Landwasser Viaduct Switzerland

The best & most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched �
They must be felt with the heart.
~Helen Keller