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Brooklyn Botanic Garden Turns Over a New Leaf

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Only a skeleton staff at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden witnessed the blizzard of cherry blossoms scattered by spring breezes during the pandemic shutdown. Delicate blooms of wisteria tumbled over pergolas and plump roses unfurled with no appreciative fans to say “Oooh.”

The garden reopened in August for a limited daily number of socially distanced visitors. Now, as fall’s vibrant, showy display begins, meadow and woodland gardens completed at last winter’s onset are finally coming into their own. They are the culmination of a yearslong evolution, as the garden turns over a new leaf with the selection in September of Adrian Benepe, a former commissioner of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, as the new president and chief executive.

Botanical gardens have long represented an ideal of nature civilized, clipped and classified. The Brooklyn Botanic Garden hasn’t discarded taxonomic collecting or spectacular floral displays but has steadily brought more of an ecological ethos to its intimate 52 acres. The new plant groupings are comparatively disorderly, host insects and birds, and change constantly with flowers, seed pods, and leaf colors constantly popping and fading.

A long neglected 1.25-acre slope has become the Robert W. Wilson Overlook. It now hosts a sinuous path lined by white concrete retaining walls. It zigzags up amid a maturing meadow in what look like calligraphic brush strokes.

The slope was produced from excavations for the adjacent Brooklyn Museum early in the 20th century. The two glass pavilions that form the Washington Avenue entrance and visitor center had been wedged into the slope in 2012, designed by the architects Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi. In designing the overlook, the architects echoed the waving grass roofs of the pavilions across the garden. The overlook unites upper-level attractions that wrap the museum with the core of the garden that stretches southward.

The path also eases the slope’s three-story drop for disabled visitors with a ramp so gentle that no confining railings are needed. The serpentine 680-foot-long walkway urges close contemplation as it rises a gentle 26 feet. “The garden slows you down,” Ms. Weiss said.

Textures and color are subtly enhanced in this meadow. “Grasses are prominent,” explained Tobias Wolf, the overlook’s landscape architect. Tiny intertwined flowers, leaves and stems hug the soil, including wild strawberries flopping over the top of retaining walls. Mr. Wolf likened the planting idea to “very fine threads woven together,” creating, in effect, small ecological habitats. “Even in winter there is an architecture of interlocking plants stems and seedpods,” he said.

Crape myrtles soar like totems out of the layers of low plantings, their summer firecracker blooms finished and their leaves turning rust red. The overlook adds 12 new varieties to its small collection. They have gained in popularity as climate change has extended their range northward.

The Botanic Garden opened in 1911 as a plant collection assembled for appreciation and scientific study, and the new myrtle varieties continue that mission. At the same time, they frame vistas from resting places along the path to such iconic destinations as the Cherry Esplanade and the Cranston Rose Garden: formal set pieces spread out below that echo the Brooklyn Museum’s Beaux-Arts splendor, now hemmed in by wilder, shaggy clouds of vegetation in contrasting textures and hues.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the Elizabeth Scholtz Woodland Garden, which rescues an ignored corner of the Botanic Garden and remakes it as an intensified version of a Northeastern forest edge.

Using the swirling paths found in Brooklyn Bridge Park and his other prominent works, the landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh created a richly varied understory of shade-loving plants. The feeling is familiar yet foreign, since the plantings, as at the overlook, mix the native with the cultivated. Elegant Asian conifers spread their lushly needled branches alongside youthful American hardwoods. Plantings are dense and the spaces intimate, opening to short vistas, including the dome of the museum.

Historically, botanical gardens were set up to “move you from one tableau to the next,” Mr. Van Valkenburgh said. “What we’re doing is like rehanging a museum collection,” in the process enriching the specimen displays and blurring the borders between them. “We find the notion of the botanic garden pretty forgiving,” he added. “You can find what speaks to you.”

What at first appears to be a roofless ruin seen through a scrim of lindens is a walled patio designed by Mr. Van Valkenburgh’s team. “It’s a romantic idea,” he said. “We wanted to surprise you.” Paths weave around the delicate branches of a magnolia variety called Green Shadow. His hand is seen all the way to the southern gate at Flatbush Avenue. Using more coiling pathways he draws the visitor around the majestic trees of the Native Flora Garden, and into a new display of maples from Japan and China that rise out of mounds of low herbaceous plantings. Younger trees turning pale yellow stand out against the still-green backdrop of mature trees.

In an earlier project, Mr. Van Valkenburgh improved Belle’s Brook, a stream that drains the pond of the Japanese garden and runs along the western edge of a parklike lawn. The riot of leaf shapes and hues of its water-loving plants contrast with the sober procession of specimen tree collections along the eastern edge — a contrast of traditional botanical magnificence and invented but authentic nature. “Though the stream looks natural and native there are plants from all over the world,” he said. “They may be French, North American or Japanese but they can play together.”

The stream culminates in the Shelby White and Leon Levy Water Garden, a naturalized focal point for the Discovery Garden and Children’s Garden near the southern entrance. The water-garden project includes a filtration system that returns the stream’s water to the Japanese garden pond, saving millions of gallons of fresh water annually.

The Woodland Garden completes a $124-million master plan conceived in 2000 by the former Botanic Garden president, Judith Zuk, and the chairman, Earl Weiner, and largely executed by Scot Medbury, who left in January. He has been succeeded by Mr. Benepe, who most recently came from the Trust for Public Land.

“My first obligation is to be true to what’s been done here,” Mr. Benepe said while walking through the garden. He’s looking at how the institution can lead when the coronavirus has made gardens and parks “more essential than ever for physical and mental health.” Across the country, he said, parks face funding crises.

The Botanic Garden’s extensive education programs continue via video; it sends plants to children to raise on their own. Mr. Benepe now would welcome schoolchildren to the garden in small groups. “The science tells us that outdoors are safer than indoors,” he said. Schools and the state government have yet to get on board with the plan, so it is up to parents to bring them here to see and touch the magic.


Brooklyn Botanic Garden

990 Washington Avenue, Brooklyn; 718-623-7200, bbg.org. Advance timed-entry tickets are required to enter.

By: James S. Russell
Title: Brooklyn Botanic Garden Turns Over a New Leaf
Sourced From: www.nytimes.com/2020/10/22/arts/design/brooklyn-botanic-garden-reopen.html
Published Date: Thu, 22 Oct 2020 15:21:13 +0000

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What could you order from Ansett Airlines’ inflight bar in the early 1970s?

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People have always liked to drink on board flights, especially people from Australia. Therefore, it should be no surprise to anyone that there was an inflight bar offering in the 1970s.

Ansett Airlines were a major player in the Australian domestic market up until their demise in September 2001. For many years, there were two domestic airlines, Trans-Australia Airlines (TAA) and Ansett.

Ansett’s Inflight Bar

At the time, Ansett operated Boeing 727s, Douglas DC-9s and Fokker F27 Friendships on domestic routes in the country. Airline tickets were quite expensive, with tariffs agreed upon by both airlines thanks to Australia’s weird two-airline policy at the time.

While tickets were expensive and food complimentary, you still had to pay for a drink at the bar. Here is an inflight bar menu from the era, showing the drinks available and their prices.

Clearly the pricing is astounding by today’s standards – 30 cents for a beer? I’ll have thirty-three please! I like how Australian gin is 35c while the imported gin is just 5c more. Which would you choose?

You can tell it is from another era as you can buy cigarettes on board. These price up at 45c, a far cry from the extortionate prices people in the west pay these days for a smoke!

Overall Thoughts

The on board offering is pretty comprehensive for internal flights, and I imagine you’d be hard pressed not to find something you might like. In those times, all payments would have been by cash as well, which would have meant a lot of coinage being handled on board.

Of course, things haven’t changed too much over the years. On many airlines you pay for your drinks just as they did back in the 1970s. Shame the prices aren’t the same of course!

Did you ever buy drinks on board flights from the inflight bar back in the day? Do you still? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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Featured image by Daniel Tanner on Airliners.net via Wikimedia Commons.
Menu image by Ikara on Australian Frequent Flyer.

By: The Flight Detective
Title: What could you order from Ansett Airlines’ inflight bar in the early 1970s?
Sourced From: travelupdate.com/ansett-airlines-inflight-bar-menu/
Published Date: Thu, 19 Nov 2020 15:03:14 +0000

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These Shrimp Leave the Safety of Water and Walk on Land. But Why?

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The shrimp stop swimming at dusk and gather near the river’s edge. After sunset, they begin to climb out of the water. Then they march. All night long, the inch-long crustaceans parade along the rocks.

The parading shrimp of northeastern Thailand have inspired legends, dances and even a statue. (Locals also eat them.) During the rainy season, between late August and early October, tourists crowd the riverbanks with flashlights to watch the shrimp walk.

Watcharapong Hongjamrassilp first learned about the parading shrimp, and the hundred thousand or more tourists who come each year to see them, about 20 years ago. When he started studying biology, he returned to the topic. “I realized that we know nothing about this,” he said: What species are they? Why and how do they leave the safety of the water to walk upstream on dry land? Where are they going?

Mr. Hongjamrassilp, a graduate student at the University of California, Los Angeles, decided to answer those questions himself. His findings appeared this month in the Journal of Zoology.

Working with wildlife center staff members, Mr. Hongjamrassilp staked out nine sites along a river in Thailand’s Ubon Ratchathani province. They found shrimp parading at two of the sites — a stretch of rapids, and a low dam.

The videos they recorded revealed that the shrimp paraded from sundown to sunup. They traveled up to 65 feet upstream. Some individual shrimp stayed out of the water for 10 minutes or more.

“I was so surprised,” Mr. Hongjamrassilp said, “because I never thought that a shrimp can walk that long.” Staying in the river’s splash zone may help them keep their gills wet, so they can keep taking in oxygen. He also observed that the shells of the shrimp seem to trap a little water around their gills, like a reverse dive helmet.

DNA analysis from captured shrimp showed that nearly all belonged to the species Macrobrachium dienbienphuense, part of a genus of shrimp that live mostly or fully in freshwater. Many Macrobrachiumspecies spend part of their lives migrating upstream to their preferred habitats.

Most parading shrimp that Mr. Hongjamrassilp captured were young. Observations and lab experiments showed that these shrimp probably leave the water when the flow becomes too strong for them. Larger adult shrimp can handle a stronger current without washing away, so they’re less likely to leave the water.

Walking on land is dangerous for the little shrimp, even under cover of darkness. Predators including frogs, snakes and large spiders lurk nearby, Mr. Hongjamrassilp says. “Literally, they wait to eat them along the river.”

And the shrimp can survive on land for only so long. If the parading crustaceans lose their way, they may dry out and die before they get back to the river. A few times, Mr. Hongjamrassilp came across groups of lost shrimp dead on the rocks, their once-translucent bodies baked pink.

Yet most navigate upstream successfully, and scientists have spotted other freshwater shrimp around the world performing similar feats, scaling dams and even climbing waterfalls.

Leaving the water when the swimming gets tough may have helped these animals spread to new habitats over their evolutionary history, Mr. Hongjamrassilp said. Today, the number of parading shrimp in Thailand seems to be declining. He thinks tourist activity may be a factor, and learning more about the shrimp might help protect them.

The study’s authors made “some really excellent observations,” said Alan Covich, an ecologist at the University of Georgia who was not involved in the research. But understanding why the Ubon Ratchathani shrimp move upstream, and how far they travel, will require more research, he said.

“The most surprising thing to me was that it attracted so many tourists,” Dr. Covich said. He doesn’t know of any other example of people gathering to appreciate a crustacean in quite the same way.

“We have crayfish festivals, we have all kinds of things,” Dr. Covich said, “but generally it’s people eating them, not watching them move.”

By: Elizabeth Preston
Title: These Shrimp Leave the Safety of Water and Walk on Land. But Why?
Sourced From: www.nytimes.com/2020/11/18/science/shrimp-parade-thailand.html
Published Date: Wed, 18 Nov 2020 17:02:07 +0000

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Will Aer Lingus launch transatlantic flights from Manchester?

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There are reports that Aer Lingus have applied for 1,500 slots at Manchester Airport for the Summer 2021 season. This will allow the airline to base four aircraft there and service flights to the United States.

At present, there have been no press releases from the airline stating what is going on. Even so, it probably makes sense for the Irish airline to do this in the current market.

Aer Lingus And Manchester

From what is known, there will be three Airbus A321LRs and an A330 based at Manchester. These will operate non-stop services to New York JFK, Boston, Chicago and Orlando, and the season starts on 28 March 2021.

With Thomas Cook having gone out of business, there is likely space for another competitor. New York and Orlando will see competition from Virgin Atlantic, while the other two routes have no airline flying at the moment.

Aer Lingus has been connecting passengers over Dublin very successfully from the UK regions for a while now. Due to this, they will have visibility on traffic patterns, potential yields and more, making this an informed decision.

I imagine they also hope to cream off some of the connecting traffic that routes through London Heathrow on British Airways and Amsterdam on KLM among others. It would prove to be quite successful.

Transatlantic Joint Venture Approval

The US Department of Transport has tentatively given its approval for Aer Lingus to join the oneworld transatlantic joint business. This is operated by American Airlines, British Airways, Iberia and Finnair.

These airlines coordinate schedules and pricing, share revenues and expenses. For the consumer, it means more choice – those making a booking on British Airways across the Atlantic will also see options on American Airlines on the BA web site as one example.



Theoretically, it would allow people seeking flights on the British Airways web site to automatically be given options to fly non-stop with Aer Lingus, along with the Manchester-London Heathrow-US city connecting itinerary.

Whether Aer Lingus will join the oneworld alliance, even in a oneworld connect capacity remains to be seen. Frequent flyers would welcome it, especially those in Ireland.

Overall Thoughts

No doubt the boffins have been working behind the scenes to see if the business case for transatlantic flights from Manchester stack up. As things have proceeded as far as a slot application, I would guess chances are good that it will go ahead.

Either way, let’s see if this happens and if it does, whether Aer Lingus will stay for the long haul. If they can make more money elsewhere, they’ll up sticks and leave. Regardless, it is an interesting development in European aviation.

What do you think of Aer Lingus starting transatlantic services from Manchester? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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Featured image by N509FZ via Wikimedia Commons.
Aer Lingus A321neo LR by Pitmanaaron via Wikimedia Commons.
Business class cabin via One Mile At A Time.

By: The Flight Detective
Title: Will Aer Lingus launch transatlantic flights from Manchester?
Sourced From: travelupdate.com/aer-lingus-manchester/
Published Date: Wed, 18 Nov 2020 18:03:48 +0000

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