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October 2011  Issue 106

Return to Home Page   2009 Index  2010 Index   2011 Index

MESSAGE FROM THE STAFF

Thankfully, September 2011 is history.  Akumal and the Caribbean have dodged all the Tropical Storms and Hurricanes, and in the last few days of the month, we received the well needed rain; some may say “too much”. 

And, Ryan Fredette celebrated his 18th birthday in MA, and his grandparents were there to celebrate with him. 

The October issue of The Akumalian has been outsourced to the Massachusetts’ branch in Chatham, Cape Cod.

We had some hic-cups in late August / early September with the production machinery, but that all seems to be behind us now.  Unfortunately, it did cause some very minor 'issues' with the news coverage and reporting.  The presses are rolling, and this issue is being issued in a timely manner.  Thanks for your patience and understanding.
  

IMPORTANT OCTOBER FACTS

In Latin, octo means "eight".  October was also the eighth month in the Roman calendar until a monthless winter period was divided between January and February.  October has always had 31 days.

 Libra - September 23 - October 22
Scorpio - October 23 - November 21

 October Birthstone: Opal
 
Australia produces about 95% of the world's opal supply.  The aborigines of that country say that the opal was created where a rainbow touched the earth.  This certainly explains the cascade of color in fine opal specimens.  (Black opal rivals the price of diamonds for very fine specimens.)  While the black opal isn't really black, it does have a dark base color.  Given their shimmer and fire fine Black Opal Jewelry is particularly exotic.

 October Birthday Flower: Marigold
The golden colors of autumn are displayed by the marigold, which makes them the ideal flower for October birthdays.  Marigolds have come to be associated with affection.
 

OKTOBERFEST, SEPT. 17 – OCT. 3

O'zapft is - The Octoberfest has started and is well underway.  Is this real reason behind the tardiness of the September issue of The Akumalian?

Saturday, 12 o'clock - high noon in the "Schottenhamel" beer tent: By tapping the first barrel of beer, the mayor of Munich started the 178th Oktoberfest.

The nowadays both legendary and traditional ritual of tapping the first barrel of Oktoberfest-beer, broadcast on live TV and via the Internet, was, as usually, held in the “Schottenhamel” beer tent.  Celebrities, press and thousands of Oktoberfest fans were attending, as the mayor of Munich did his duty.

With Gabriele Weishäupl, head of the Oktoberfest management, and the Bavarian prime-minister Horst Seehofer at his side, it took the mayor only two swings with the five-pound hammer to drive the tap into the barrell. As usual, the first thing he spoke into the microphone was “O’zapft is!” (= “It is tapped!”) and wished everyone a peaceful Oktoberfest.

As protocol demands, the first mug of beer was passed on to prime-minister Seehofer and with that all the other beer tents could start selling beer as well.

Why is Oktoberfest called "Oktober"-fest when it actually begins in September?
The historical background: the first Oktoberfest was held in the year 1810 in honor of the Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig's marriage to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen.  The festivities began on October
12, 1810 and ended on October 17th with a horse race.  In the following years, the celebrations were repeated and, later, the festival was prolonged and moved forward into September.

By moving the festivities up, it allowed for better weather conditions. Because the September nights were warmer, the visitors were able to enjoy the gardens outside the tents and the stroll over "die Wiesen" or the fields much longer without feeling chilly.  Historically, the last Oktoberfest weekend was in October and this tradition continues into present times.

How much will a liter of beer (the "Maß" Oktoberfest Beer) cost this year?.  In 2011, a liter of beer cost 8.90 Euros - varying in every beer tent - a slight increase from 2010.
 

OCTOBER BIRTHDAYS 

Birthdays and Anniversaries
4          Stefanie Fredette
8          Maureen Miller
9          Pat Reagan
14        Denny Mahan
17        Alison Keegan
19        Verana Titze
25        Jim Power
25        Stefanie & Robert Fredette Anniversary
26        Sharon Brier
30        Cassie Gonzalez
31        Mike & Lynda Jochim Anniversary

 There must be more than this.  Let’s hear about YOUR birthday before it happens.

 Missed September Birthdays / Anniversary
 2          Leandro Kantun
22        Mauricio Bautista

 

SUPERNOVA PTF 11kly

Here is another story where The Staff really missed the boat.  However, a unanimous decision suggested it be included in this issue, because it might still be visible under the right conditions with the right telescope or binoculars.

 Back in August, scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California discovered what they think could be the youngest -- and closest -- supernova in decades, leading UC Berkeley's Joshua Bloom to call it "the supernova of a generation."  The supernova, which is essentially an exploding star, has been named PTF 11kly.  And even though it exploded in the Big Dipper, 21 million light-years away in the Pinwheel Galaxy, you were able to see it in early September; see the green arrow pointing to it.

If you live in the dark countryside, use binoculars with a magnification of at least 20 and a diameter of at least 80. (The first number is magnification and the second is diameter, so binoculars that measure 20x80 or 25x100 would work.).  But if you're anywhere near the city, you'll want a six- to eight-inch telescope.

The peak brightness was on September 9, but the supernova will be visible for a couple weeks.  Maybe you still can see it, but only if you look.

How To Find PTF 11kly, I hear you ask.  The easiest way to find it, is to take the last two stars in the handle of the big dipper, form an equilateral triangle heading north, and bang, you'll find the Pinwheel Galaxy.
 

THE 21st 1ST ANNUAL IG NOBEL PRIZE CEREMONY, SEPT 29 WINNERS

The 21st 1st Annual Ig Nobel Prize ceremony happened on Thursday, September 29, 2011.  The Ig Nobel Prizes honor achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think.  The prizes are intended to celebrate the unusual, honor the imaginative -- and spur people's interest in science, medicine, and technology.

In a gala ceremony in Harvard's Sanders Theatre, 1,200 splendidly eccentric spectators watch the winners step forward to accept their Prizes.  These are physically handed out by genuinely bemused genuine Nobel Laureates.  The ceremony is webcast live.

The Ig Nobel Prizes are organized by the magazine Annals of Improbable Research.  The ceremony is co-sponsored by the Harvard-Radcliffe Society of Physics Student, the Harvard-Radcliffe Science Fiction Association, and the Harvard Computer Society.

Ig Nobel prizes awarded, highlighting the fun side of science

They are not the discoveries that have altered our understanding of nature, transformed medicine, or rewritten the laws of physics.  But they have made us laugh.  Male Australian jewel beetles act amorously toward empty beer bottles.  The urge to urinate can cause cognitive impairment on par with being drunk at a bar.

The Ig Nobel prizes honored less prestigious, but more hilarious achievements.  Before a sold out audience at Sanders Theatre at Harvard University, seven real Nobel laureates handed out prizes for work that showcases the whimsical side of science.

The winning research often seems silly at best, but behind even the most preposterous studies are serious scientific questions.  And that is the point of the event, produced by the humor magazine, the “Annals of Improbable Research”: to make people laugh, then think.

 More than two decades ago, for example, biologist Darryl Gwynne was camping in western Australian doing field work when he and a colleague, David Rentz, happened upon a strange scene: male beetles attempting to mate with beer bottles discarded by the side of the road.  Gwynne, who studies the evolution of differences between the sexes, was fascinated to see the mating mistake – a behavior seen in males because the reproductive costs of romancing the wrong mate are not high.  Gwynne, now a biology professor at the University of Toronto, says he still uses the examples in his lectures.

“It’s a hook to my students -- what is the male doing? Think about this.  The mating errors are males and not females, and then go on to think about all the theory,” Gwynne said.  He and Rentz shared the biology prize.

The physiology prize went to an international team for their finding that the red-footed tortoise does not “catch” yawns from other tortoises.

The chemistry prize was awarded to a team of Japanese researchers for the “wasabi alarm” -- an invention that uses the pungent Japanese sushi condiment to jolt people awake in case of an emergency.

The medicine prize went to two international teams, for studying the impact of the urge to urinate on people’s cognitive function

The psychology prize is awarded to Karl Halvor Teigen of Norway for his investigations of sighing.

The literature prize went to John Perry of Stanford University for his Theory of Structured Procrastination, cited for its insight that “to be a high achiever, always work on something important, using it as a way to avoid doing something that’s even more important.”

The physics prize goes to a group of European researchers who examined why discus throwers, but not hammer throwers, get dizzy.

The math prize went to a wide-ranging group of people who predicted the world would end at previous dates.

The peace prize is awarded to Arturas Zuokas, the mayor of Vilnius, Lithuania, for demonstrating that a weapon associated with war -- an armored tank -- can be put to civic use, combating the problem of illegally parked luxury cars by running over them.

And the public safety prize goes to John Senders of the University of Toronto, for experiments in which a person driving on a highway is temporarily blinded as a visor is repeatedly flipped over his eyes.

 Peter Snyder, a professor of neurology at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University, who shares the medicine prize for a study that involved giving water to participants until they really needed to urinate and then tested their cognitive abilities, conceded his work is funny.  But it is also an outgrowth of a serious question.

Snyder and colleagues have been working on developing tests that could detect cognitive decline in the early stages of dementia.  But such tests can give confusing results, because people naturally get better at the tests after doing them over and over again -- something he called “practice effects.”  So his team has been working to develop cognitive tests that people wouldn’t improve on because of practice.

“Really, we were using this model of the urge to pee just as a technique to validate the” tests, he said.  “The neat thing about this is, as a neuroscientist I’m typically using instrumentation like MRI imaging and PET imaging that cost millions of dollars.  This cost -- this entire study -- cost us about $1.50.”
 

HURRICANE SEASON  UPDATE

The ‘official’ hurricane season ends on November 30, and while we have passed the peak point of the season, the Atlantic continues to be quite active, with most of the activity that has come from Africa heading up into the Atlantic. 

 The remote offices of The Akumalian in Massachusetts are getting ready for wind and rain on Saturday, after one glorious Friday "on the Cape".

This shows Ophelia, which was heading towards Bermuda on September 29, and Philippe, which had an uncertain path at that point in time.
 

WORLD SMILE DAY, OCTOBER 7th 

This year, on October 7, 2011 we celebrate the thirteenth World Smile Day.  As ever the theme for the day is "Do an act of kindness.  Help one person smile."  And, as ever, the image that leads the way on this day is the smiley face.

World Smile Day is celebrated on the first Friday in the month of October every year.  The idea of World Smile Day was coined and initiated by Harvey Ball, a commercial artist from Worcester, Massachusetts.  Harvey Ball is known to have created the Smiley Face in 1963.  The World's first World Smile Day was held in the year 1999 and has been held annually since.
  

ROBIN’S BEST SHIRT AWARD, OCTOBER 7th  

Come one, come all, to the Beach Bar, where we’ll have a ball.

It’s time for another “Best Shirt Award”, which is held on the first Friday of each month during Happy Hour at the Lol Ha Beach Bar. 

This award is based on Robin’s penchant for good, classy Beach Bar shirts, and his sister, Mary, has the honor of judging the merits of the shirts.  And, as we go to print the criteria are still somewhat nebulous, and they seem to be changing as we move into Fall.

The September competition drew another large crowd of brightly shirted contestants, and the judges had a difficult time with their decision, and they ultimately selected Neil Humphreys, based on the shirt and the story.    The photos are located at  September Best Shirt Award.  
 

COMINGS AND GOINGS

            September was one busy month but for the most part, it was quite slow.  The photos from the Best Shirt Award give some example of the “crowd”.  There might be some ‘confusion’ here with regards to the report last month, this month, and what actually happened. So, don’t be too offended if your presence was not reported.

Comings:

            There were a few people down in South Akumal in September, including:
·                    
Terry & Lisa Turner,
·                    
Garry & Oveda Vardell
·                    
Larry & Shari Jackson
·                    
Macon & Susan Gravlee
·                    
Tom Baxter
                    
 

Other visitors included:
·        
Bente Palmer
·        
Memo & Marcy Essy
·        
Laura and Elsi Bush

 Goings:
 
Apparently, quite a few people went north during September, but there is no good record of their departures.
 

FULL MOON, OCTOBER 12th

The Full Hunter's Moon is on Wednesday, October 12, 1:06am AST.  With the leaves falling and the deer fattened, it is time to hunt.  Since the fields have been reaped, hunters can ride over the stubble, and can more easily see the fox, also other animals that have come out to glean and can be caught for a thanksgiving banquet after the harvest; don’t do the North Akumal raccoons though.
 

TAMPA BAY TO PROGRESSO FERRY UPDATE  

Tamara Magnusson (tamarainprogreso@gmail.com ) of the potential ferry operation has provided this update.

“I know many of you are getting anxious to book flights and make plans for your trips to Mexico this fall and winter and were looking forward to the possibility of taking the ferry this year.  It was hoped sales would begin this fall for launch early next year, but unfortunately, the ferry service will not be launched in 2011, however, it is proposed for sometime in 2012.  The launch date announcement will be made once all the required agreements have been made.  In the meantime United Caribbean Lines continue to meet with governments and officials in the US and Mexico in an attempt to facilitate a speedy launch.  They are also working on an abbreviated website for interested parties.  As soon as I have a launch date or firm information I will forward another email.  I know many of you will be disappointed by this news but unfortunately we will all have to keep waiting a little longer.

“In the mean time I have been asked by United Caribbean Lines to collect more data and answer more questions allowing them to use the information to craft programs designed specifically for the expatriate and snow bird markets.  I apologize if it seems like some of the questions are the same as the previous survey but this time we are looking for details and specifics, so please provide as much information as you feel comfortable sharing.  Even if you never plan to use the ferry, please complete as much of the survey as possible, since we need you input as well.

“If you live six or more months a year in Mexico or any other country in Central or South America please follow this link and complete the Survey entitled Expatriate Ferry Survey.  If the link doesn't work please copy and paste it into your browser.  http://4563016.polldaddy.com/s/new-survey

“If you travel back and forth or live less than 6 months of each year in Mexico or any other country in Central or South America please follow this link and complete the Survey entitled Snow Bird Ferry Survey.  If the link doesn't work please copy and paste it into your browser.  http://4563016.polldaddy.com/s/snow-bird-ferry-survey-1

Both surveys will be open until September 16th so please respond as quickly as possible.  Please feel free to forward this email to anyone else you think should complete the surveys.  Thank you in advance for your participation.  We look forward to your responses.

“Tamara Magnusson”

 NOTE: Apologies from The Staff on the timing of this with regards to closing date of the surveys, but it is suggested you attempt to do the surveys and/or contact Tamara directly.
 

DIA DE LA RAZA (COLUMBUS DAY), OCTOBER 12th 

In Mexico, October 12th is a national holiday known as Día de la Raza or Day of the Race.  This date is honored in other countries as Columbus Day and under other names; but the event it commemorates and the way in which it is observed have become quite controversial.

In the fifteenth century, an obscure Italian seafarer named Christopher Columbus became convinced that it was possible to reach the East from Europe by sailing westward across the Atlantic and that this route would be shorter than traveling around Africa; he underestimated the size of the Earth and overestimated the size and eastward extension of Asia.  After eight years of negotiations, he convinced Queen Isabella of Spain to support his enterprise.  He finally set out in three small ships and, on October 12th, 1492, he landed on an island in the Bahamas inhabited by the Taino or Arawak tribe, thinking that it was India.

            Although Christopher Columbus was perhaps not the first to discover America, as has so often been claimed, he was the one to bring about the first real contact and interaction between Renaissance Europe and the American continent with its various civilizations; and that has shaped and changed world history in countless ways.  Over 500 years later, this date is still celebrated, lamented, and debated.

One of the main consequences of this contact, was the imminent conquest of the new world by the old.  In writing of his discovery, Columbus noted how he and his men were greeted with gifts and said: "As soon as I arrived in the Indies, on the first Island which I found, I took some of the natives by force in order that they might learn and might give me information of whatever there is in these parts".  And, generally speaking, this was to characterize relations between the old world and the new: Europeans sought wealth and to impart (or impose) their culture.  The indigenous people befriended them and were dominated by armies from abroad.

Less than 30 years later, in 1521, Hernán Cortés landed on the shores of Mexico. He too was received with gifts, and he proceeded to conquer the vast Mexica empire, which is Mexico today.  Relations between the indigenous population and the conquerors of Mexico during the 300 year colonial period were complex.  Spain sought riches in the new land, but also converts for Catholicism. Missionaries traveled with the soldiers.  Some of them were greatly impressed by native cultures and are responsible for the preservation of many codices and documents regarding the period.

When Mexico celebrated the four hundredth anniversary of Columbus' landing, in 1892, the country was ruled by Porfirio Díaz, who remained in power for over thirty years and was a great admirer of European culture, especially the French.  At that time, the government prepared a celebration of "The communion of all peoples in sentiments of justice and admiration for the past, noble aspirations and glowing hopes for the future" for October 12, 1892.  As in most of the world, this event praised Columbus for his skill as navigator, for his Discovery of America and for bringing European culture to this land, although all of these things have since been questioned and re-examined.

In 1918, philosopher Antonio Caso took October 12th as an opportunity to praise the "Mexican mestizo race", La Raza, the rich mixture of Spanish and indigenous cultures which characterizes MexicanS.  He was perhaps the first to coin the term La Raza, which has now been adopted by Latinos from all across the continent.  Ten years later, the Día de la Raza was declared an official national holiday by Congress, after only minor debate.

As early as 1836, Oaxacan historian Don Carlos María de Bustamante began the "first vitriolic Mexican commentary on the Columbian event".  For him, October 12, 1492 was "the most villainous day there could ever be in America; the day its slavery was established".

            Columbus Day is on Monday, October 12 in the US.
 

TULUM SEA TURTLE FESTIVAL, OCT. 13 - 16th  

Held annually in Tulum, the Sea Turtle Festival is a free event which encourages participants to learn about sea turtles and familiarize themselves with the various organizations that are trying to protect them. Artistic, environmental and cultural activities are also a part of the festival.

This seems to be scheduled for October, but The Staff has been unable to find any additional information about any of the specifics.  You might look at the CEA web site to see if they post something as the dates get closer.

Website: Festival Tortuga Marina but its information is about 2010.
  

MLB WORLD SERIES STARTS OCTOBER 19th 

The 107th Major League Baseball World Series is scheduled to start on Wednesday, Oct. 19, in a National League setting, thanks to the NL's All-Star victory in Phoenix.  Last year, the Giants capitalized on that home-field advantage and won it all at Texas in Game 5 on Nov. 1, so a Game 7 could have been on Nov. 4.

As you should know by now, the Boston Red Sox are not going to be in the World Series, having missed the playoffs with one flaming disaster after another.

Now, there definitely are some readers who question the designation of this event as the “World” Series, when only 30 teams – all but Toronto being from the United States – are eligible to even be considered.
 

DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME (DST), OCTOBER 30th

In Akumal and Europe, DST ends on Sunday, October 30.  Do not forget to turn the clocks back one hour.

         For the U.S., and only the U.S., DST ends on the first Sunday in November – November 6 – as the clocks are set back one hour at 2:00 a.m. local daylight time, which becomes 1:00 a.m. local standard time.  

Remember, On August 8, 2005, President George W. Bush signed the Energy Policy Act of 2005.  This Act changed the time change dates for Daylight Saving Time in the U.S.  Beginning in 2007, DST begins on the second Sunday in March and ends the first Sunday in November.  

 

WHAT’S NEW AROUND TOWN?

AKUMAL

 Tequilaville Update
       Tequilaville will be closing from October 3rd and reopening October 16th. During that time Ken & Mary Anderson will be sprucing the place up a bit, fresh coat of paint and cleaning and staff time off.  During that time, Mary is going back to Canada to visit family, while Ken stays here to oversee things and to work. 

            On November 11th, 2011 (11/11/11), Ken & Mary will be celebrating their first Tequilaville anniversary and their great customers; mark that on your calendar, it's going to be a don't miss event.  More details of this event in an upcoming email from them, and there should be more on their Facebook page and the website www.tequilavillerestaurant.yolasite.com

 North Akumal Road Update
   
            Real work and progress continues on the road in North Akumal, thanks to the efforts of the North Akumal Road Committee (NARC) and more specifically Russ Motley of Akumal Investments and Rhett Schober of Akumal Villas.  The road by Sirena has been completed, and now they are working the interior loop by the Lagoon.  It’s almost worth a “Sunday drive” to the Lagoon.

 NOTE:  This is a WIP photo from late August.
 

HALLOWEEN, OCTOBER 31st

Halloween is an annual celebration, but just what is it actually a celebration of?  And how did this peculiar custom originate?  Is it, as some claim, a kind of demon worship?  Or is it just a harmless vestige of some ancient pagan ritual?

The word itself, "Halloween," actually has its origins in the Catholic Church.  It comes from a contracted corruption of All Hallows Eve.  November 1, "All Hollows Day" (or "All Saints Day"), is a Catholic day of observance in honor of saints.  But, in the 5th century BC, in Celtic Ireland, summer officially ended on October 31.  The holiday was called Samhain (sow-en), the Celtic New year. 

One story says that, on that day, the disembodied spirits of all those who had died throughout the preceding year would come back in search of living bodies to possess for the next year.  It was believed to be their only hope for the afterlife.  The Celts believed all laws of space and time were suspended during this time, allowing the spirit world to intermingle with the living.

Naturally, the still-living did not want to be possessed.  So on the night of October 31, villagers would extinguish the fires in their homes, to make them cold and undesirable.  They would then dress up in all manner of ghoulish costumes and noisily paraded around the neighborhood, being as destructive as possible in order to frighten away spirits looking for bodies to possess.

Probably a better explanation of why the Celts extinguished their fires was not to discourage spirit possession, but so that all the Celtic tribes could relight their fires from a common source, the Druidic fire that was kept burning in the Middle of Ireland, at Usinach.

The custom of Halloween was brought to America in the 1840's by Irish immigrants fleeing their country's potato famine. At that time, the favorite pranks in New England included tipping over outhouses and unhinging fence gates.

The custom of trick-or-treating is thought to have originated not with the Irish Celts, but with a ninth-century European custom called souling.  On November 2, All Souls Day, early Christians would walk from village to village begging for "soul cakes," made out of square pieces of bread with currants.  The more soul cakes the beggars would receive, the more prayers they would promise to say on behalf of the dead relatives of the donors.  At the time, it was believed that the dead remained in limbo for a time after death, and that prayer, even by strangers, could expedite a soul's passage to heaven.

The Jack-o-lantern custom probably comes from Irish folklore.  As the tale is told, a man named Jack, who was notorious as a drunkard and trickster, tricked Satan into climbing a tree.  Jack then carved an image of a cross in the tree's trunk, trapping the devil up the tree.  Jack made a deal with the devil that, if he would never tempt him again, he would promise to let him down the tree.

According to the folk tale, after Jack died, he was denied entrance to Heaven because of his evil ways, but he was also denied access to Hell because he had tricked the devil.  Instead, the devil gave him a single ember to light his way through the frigid darkness.  The ember was placed inside a hollowed-out turnip to keep it glowing longer.

The Irish used turnips as their "Jack's lanterns" originally.  But when the immigrants came to America, they found that pumpkins were far more plentiful than turnips, so the Jack-O-Lantern in America was a hollowed-out pumpkin, lit with an ember.
 

EVENTS

Besides the usual Robin’s “Best Shirt Award” in September as an Event, we also had another exhibition at ONDEARTE on August 27th.

 ONDEARTE Exhibition, August 27, 2011

Robin’s Best Shirt Award, September 2, 2011

 

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