I was 12 years old when I discovered the jungle wasn't for me, and I hadn't even been to one yet.
It was "Jurassic Park 2: The Lost World" that did it for me. Enthralled though I was by the idea of a Professor Challenger-esque expeditionary jaunt into unchartered territory, I was quite perturbed by some scenes in the movie. Even when you took away the dinosaurs, the tropical landscape seemed treacherous and thick with danger.
For instance, even the ground was unreliable. More than one character in the movie slipped on the unpredictable muddy jungle floor, often accompanied by a onomatopoeic schlippp and was promptly eaten. The hippie paleontologist lost his footing on wet rock. Crunch. "That's not for me," I thought. I don't care for the wet.
Then the "moveable feast" fled through a break in the woods and into the long grass. "Don't go into the long grass!" one of the characters urgently and repeatedly screamed as they did, and I nodded yes, listen to that man – for the long grass hid dozens of velociraptors. And, I thought, thousands of leeches. Sound advice either way.
Several years later I went on a jungle trek in Costa Rica, which I anticipated with a certain amount of dread. The real thing was stickier, itchier, sweatier and wetter. In short, it was much worse. The real world, as I discovered was far more sinister than "The Lost World."
But I'm nothing if not forgiving. I gave jungles repeated chances throughout my travels via a certain amount of self-inflicted amnesia and a masochistic determination to enjoy the ecosystem. I like the idea of the jungle in principle - full of life, and so on. So I hiked in India, Malaysia and other tropical places, each time with the same itchy, sticky, anxiety-inducing result.
Then I heard about Khao Yai National Park, supposedly one of Thailand's unsung treasures, and I knew it was time to test myself again.
Despite the fact that no human has set foot on the moon in over 40 years, Congress is worried that the sanctity of the Apollo landing sites is on the cusp of being compromised. So on Monday, worried legislators Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD) and Rep. Eddie Bernice (D-TX) introduced the Apollo Lunar Landing Legacy Act. The bill calls for the establishment of the Apollo Lunar Landing Sites National Historic Park, which will be a unit of the National Parks System.
According to the bill, the national park would comprise all locations where Apollo missions touched the surface of the moon between 1969 and 1972. This includes the site where part of the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission's rocket impacted the lunar surface.
The bill outlines the current threats to the historic landing sites, which include increased extraterrestrial activity by commercial enterprises and foreign nations. The sites' preservation will fall under the mandate of the Secretary of the Interior, who will coordinate with spacefaring entities to manage access to the site.
Finally, the bill also calls for appropriate bodies to submit the landing sites to UNESCO for designation as a World Heritage Site.
The peaks of the Dinaric Alps form the lip of a bowl, at the bottom of which Sarajevo sits like a social science experiment. Three of the four Abrahamic religions and numerous ethnic groups grind against each other and have for centuries, the strain of external and internal conflict sometimes violently exploding upon the hapless Sarajevans. The best view of this crucible of culture (and war) is from the green-shaded hillsides that surround the city, which can be reached after only a half-hour walk from the center - a remarkable thing for any capital. While the city is great to look at, the hillsides when viewed from the city are just as pleasing to the eye, their stacked dwellings and wild valleys evoking a certain bygone mountain charm. In the foreground, though, the snow white headstones of war cemeteries carpet barren expanses, a reminder that the city is always a catalyst away from another violent reaction.
More and more Americans are apparently attempting to take airline security into their own hands. In data provided by the Transport Security Administration to the AP, there is evidence of a significant increase in the number of firearms that passengers try to take through TSA screening points in airports around the country.
In only the first half of this year, the TSA seized 894 guns from passengers - 30 percent more than the year before. From 2011 to 2012, the number of firearms seized increased by 17 percent.
Many of these weapons were seized from people who claim they simply forgot they were carrying a gun onto a plane. Airports in the south and west of the United States had the largest reported number of gun seizures.
The Anichkov Bridge in Saint Petersburg, Russia is an architectural highlight of the city, and draws visitors to drink in the surrounding views and marvel at its ornate ironwork. However, it's the pair horse tamer statues placed on either end that really leaves an impression. The sculptures are so detailed and lifelike that they appear to be bronze casts. Flickr user jrodmanjr manages to capture the dynamic nature of the sculptures in this powerful black and white image.
Photographer Simon Christen spent two years compiling footage of San Francisco's famous fog for this 4.5-minute, piece of Zen, time-lapse video. His "love letter to the fog of the San Francisco Bay Area" was written during pre-dawn, 45-minute hikes into the Marin headlands to capture the fog gliding over the hills and under the Golden Gate Bridge. The result is quite beautiful. The fog tumbles over the hills like a waterfall, rolling like ocean waves as it streams toward the city. The video is scored with dreamlike music by composer Jimmy LaValle, making it a therapeutic tribute to the soft forces of planet earth. Indeed, the San Francisco Fog itself was impressed with the video, tweeting that it was the "most stunning video of me you'll ever see."
According to a declassified report obtained by South Korean daily JoongAng Ilbo, the naval city of Wonsan is being developed into a tourist resort. It current hosts a naval base and numerous heavy industry factories, but has apparently long been a favorite holiday destination of the ruling Kim family.
Viewed in the context of other wacky and nonsensical North Korean projects, building a beach resort in a polluted, industrialized and militarized bay seems about par for the course. But contrary to the perceived isolation of the country, North Korea does welcome several thousand tourists every year, and the Kim regime is certainly aware of the financial incentives of increased tourism. Only a few weeks ago did the country open up a city on the border with China to Western visitors.
But North Korea isn't going to replace Cancun anytime soon. The development project seems to be stuck while the country seeks $1 million of international investment, which will almost certainly run afoul of current UN sanctions.
Dervishes of the whirling variety are most famously associated with Turkey, where they've become something of a tourist attraction throughout the country. But the dervish tradition extends far beyond modern-day gawkers and Turkey's borders. Dervishes are Sufi Muslims who lead an ascetic lifestyle. Whirling dervishes spin rhythmically in order to reach a state of religious or spiritual ecstasy, and are found in many places outside of Turkey. In fact, the whirling dervish ceremony just outside of Khartoum, Sudan, where Flickr user Mark Fischer snapped this photo, is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the capital. If you'd like to see your great shots on Photo of the Day, share them with us in the Gadling Flickr pool.
AKA: Fete Nationale du Quebec (Canada), Kupala Day (Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Poland), Festa Junina (Brazil), Foguera de San Xuan (Brazil), Jaanilaupaev (Estonia), Saint Jonas' Festival (Lithuania), Jani (Latvia), Dia de Sao Joao (Portugal), Sant Joan (Spain), Johnsmas Foy (Scotland)
When? June 23 (Eve) and 24 (Day)
Public holiday in: Quebec, Canada; Turin, Italy; Catalonia, Spain; Estonia; Latvia; Lithuania; Porto, Portugal
Who died? St. John the Baptist. June 24 is his feast day.
What's a feast day? Certain Christian traditions, notably Roman Catholic, keep track of which liturgies are given when by way of something called the General Roman Calendar, or Universal Calendar of Saints. Around 60 percent of the days of the Gregorian calendar year are associated with one or more saints, martyrs or holy figures. Even some relics have feast days. The feast day for St. Peter's chair is on February 22. St. John the Baptist's feast day falls on June 24.
Interestingly, St. Christopher, the patron saint of travelers, lost his feast day back in 1969. A lot of people think St. Christopher was "desanctified," or lost his sainthood, but in fact he was just stripped of his feast day because there's no proof he actually existed.
Also interestingly, the patron saint of travelers is also the patron saint of bachelors and bookbinders, among other things.
You were saying about St. John the Baptist... Right.
So why June 24 of all days? That's when John the Baptist is said to have been born. But more than that, Christianity has a long tradition of co-opting pagan rituals into Christian holidays. It's a good way to gain converts. Pagan celebrations generally aligned with the turning of the seasons - equinoxes and solstices. And so Christians have major holidays around these dates: Easter near the vernal equinox, Christmas near the winter solstice and Michaelmas, which celebrates Lucifer being cast out from heaven, near the autumnal equinox.
Jamaica's airports only experienced a small hiccup this weekend as the country's air traffic controllers staged a sick-out in protest over low wages and mismanagement of the civil aviation authority. The posts were quickly filled by supervisors and managers and there were no reports of flight safety being compromised.
Flights appeared to be operating more or less on schedule, though there were reports from the capital, Kingston, of delays on inbound and outbound flights. There were no delays at Sangster International in Montego Bay, Jamaica's busiest airport.
The union had said that the sick-out will affect traffic in Jamaica's airspace over the coming days. However, with the abandoned posts having been taken over fairly quickly by management, the impact of the protest appears to be less than hoped for.