I invited Sasha and our cousin Gaby to join me on a trip to Seattle,Washington. Gee, those girls can talk! They loved flying, and we scampered down to Pike’s Market as soon as we landed. Sasha and Gaby went shopping for postcards while I hung around the fish market and gobbled down the bits of fish that landed on the floor. Seattle has an interesting history. In its early years, the entire downtown burned in a huge fire. The city fathers decided to raise the street level 15 feet higher than the previous street. It must have been funny to watch ladies in long skirts climb up and down ladders to get to the entrance of the stores! Eventually the stores put entrances on their second floors to solve the problem, and the first floors became basements. There is even a tour of underground Seattle now. Purrs, Gulliver
“Does anyone really know what time it is? Does anyone really care?” I hummed an old song while mom changed the clocks recently. Humans like to divide things into years, days and hours, even time zones around the world. It is a mystery to cats how it can be 9:00 am in Vermont, when it is 10 pm in Tokyo, Japan And another mystery is Daylight Saving Time. People turn their clocks forward in the spring, and back in the fall. Actually, only about ¼ of the world’s population observe this ritual to make days longer in the summer time. Those who live close to the equator do not have much change in the amount of sun they see, but if you remember reading about Alaska, they can have almost 24 hours of sun in the summer, and the reverse in the winter. Oddly, Arizona and Hawaii -the 48th and 50th states don‘t observe daylight saving time at all, though the Navajo Nation within the state of Arizona does. It causes a lot of confusion around the world trying to remember what time it is in a different place. For me, it is always a good time for a nap! Purrs, Gulliver
It must be hard to be a postman in Mongolia. It is a large country with only one large city, the rest of the country is open desert and mountains. Many of the roads don’t have names, and sometimes the roads move without notice if there is a flood or other natural disaster. Plus, about one quarter (25%) of the people who live there are nomadic, which means they don’t have a fixed address, but move to a different place each season to grow crops or feed their animals. Detailed directions and landmarks are used to find a place, even in the cities. I wonder how they get their mail? Purrs, Gulliver
I love visiting Italy. Pasta, pizza, pianos and violins were all created by Italians, and the first operas (stories set to music) were written in Italy. The name Italy comes from the word italia, meaning “calf land,” perhaps because the bull was a symbol of the Southern Italian tribes. l, Italy is shaped like a high heel boot kicking a rock or piece of dirt. Nearly 80% of Italy is either mountainous or hilly. There are many famous explores who were Italian, including Christopher Columbus, Marco Polo, John Cabot, and Amerigo Vespucci. Maybe someday I will discover a new land and have it named Gully! Purrs, Gulliver
“I’ve been working on the railroad.” I sang as my granddad played his harmonica. He taught me the song after telling me about how his grandfather worked on the transcontinental railroad. This connected the United States by going from Oakland, California through Sacramento, then up through Utah, and across the Great Plains to Omaha, Nebraska. There it linked with rails which already existed. The workers built tunnels through mountains and bridges over rivers and canyons to get the tracks laid. It was hard, dangerous work and it took six years to complete the lines. In 1876, an express train traveled coast to coast, from New York to San Francisco in just 83 hours and 39 minutes. Just 10 years before, the same trip would have taken months by covered wagon or even weeks by ship, going all the way around South America and up the Pacific Coast. My granddad was very proud of his grandfather.
April Fool! In 1996, Taco Bell announced that it had bought the Liberty Bell and changed its name to the Taco Liberty Bell. Many people were very angry because they didn’t realize it was just an April Fool’s joke. The trick had people talking though. After they got over being angry, they went to Taco Bell and had a burrito, taco or enchilada. Sales went up by more than half a million dollars that week. The Liberty Bell itself literally cracked up in February 1846, when it was rung for George Washington’s birthday. To prevent more damage, it is no longer rung with a clapper, but now it is tapped when marking special occasions. Purrs, Gulliver.
I was re – reading the book “The Little Engine That Could” and wondered when and where the first railroad was built. It turns out to be in Wales, in 1804. Trains originally ran on steam, which required coal or wood to heat large tanks of water. Today, many railroads run on electricity, including the high speed rail lines across Japan, China and Europe, and the light rail commuter lines in the big cities of the United States. The railroad was a new industry with a language all its own. “We are on the ground” means the train derailed, and “highball it out of here” was slang for traveling at the maximum allowable speed. I found another fun fact – the Chesapeake and Ohio railway used a kitten as a mascot for their advertising, and called him Chessie. A book of his adventures was written about Chessie and his friend Peake. I wish someone would write about me! Purrs, Gulliver
After going to the mud festival in Boryeong, South Korea, I scampered over to the capital, Seoul to visit some tourist sites. There are not one, but 5 palaces in the capital city. The oldest is Gyeongbokgung Palace (Palace Greatly Blessed by Heaven) which has 7, 700 rooms in over 500 buildings. So a palace is not just a large home for royalty, but a place that has government offices, meeting halls, and even museums. I could not see the whole place, but I was very impressed with the folk museum which shows how people dressed and worked many years ago. One thing that has not changed is the national dish, kimchi, though there are many recipes. Vegetables and spices which have been fermented for months, it is spicy and sour tasting! Purrs, Gulliver
Most historians think the name China comes from “Qin”, which sounds like “Chin” Qin Shi Huang made himself the “First Emperor” and standardized the Chinese language, measurements, and currency. Emperor Qin ruled only fifteen years. During that time the Emperor had clay (terracotta) sculptures made of his army to protect the Emperor after he died. These figures were not found until 2000 years after they were buried. The figures include warriors, chariots and horses. Historians estimate there were over 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses, all individually made. Other terracotta non-military figures were also found including officials, acrobats, strongmen and musicians. Purrs, Gulliver
Konnichi wa! That is Japanese for Good Day! Japanese writing is very difficult. There are two ways of forming a letter – one is called kanji, and is borrowed from Chinese characters. The second is called Kana, which uses more symbols. Almost all Japanese sentences use a mix of kanji and kana with several thousand kanji characters are used regularly. The traditional writing is not across the page, like English, but vertical, and read down the columns from right to left. Because of this mix of scripts, the large number of kanji characters, and the different direction of the words, the Japanese writing system is often considered to be the most difficult to use anywhere in the world.