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Friday, February 26, 2010


Let me start today with new countries visiting my site. #136 is:


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The French annexed various Polynesian island groups during the 19th century. In September 1995, France stirred up widespread protests by resuming nuclear testing on the Mururoa atoll after a three-year moratorium. The tests were suspended in January 1996. In recent years, French Polynesia's autonomy has been considerably expanded.

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Country #137 is:


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The former French Cameroon and part of British Cameroon merged in 1961 to form the present country. Cameroon has generally enjoyed stability, which has permitted the development of agriculture, roads, and railways, as well as a petroleum industry. Despite a slow movement toward democratic reform, political power remains firmly in the hands of President Paul BIYA.

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As you might know, you can click on the "Visitors" box on the right and view details of these and other countries.

It was raining this morning, so I just went to museums. The I amsterdam card costs about $50 for a day or $65 for two. You can catch all modes of transport (not the wet ones, although a canal tour is provided) plus go to most museums for free. Other attractions, including restaurants, give a 25% discount, but the Ann Frank Museum is not covered. It is located a three minute walk from my hotel, but every time I wandered by, there were long lines.

The national museum of the Netherlands is the Rijksmuseum. However, the main building is being renovated, and only the Philips Wing is open. Normal entry: $13. What is shown is a depiction of art which features the country when it was most powerful (1568-1648). Many of the paintings are more than 500 years old, but amazingly, they look so fresh as if just finished. The details are incredible and colors rich. The Night Watch by Rembrandt van Rijn (1642) is the showcase exhibit.

The Van Gogh Museum is outstanding, first opened in 1973, but with an exhibits extension in 1999, where Paul Gauguin is currently featured. The entry fee is a stiff $20 or so, although free if you are under 19. There must have been at least a thousand viewing the mostly paintings and maybe double that. As might be expected, most were under 19.

Vincent Willem van Gogh, was, I guess, an expressive (post-impressionist) painter, who was born in this country in 1853. He does look like Kirk Douglas, who portrays the painter in Lust for Life, co-starring Anthony Quinn, who played Paul Gauguin. But Vincent was a mostly a slouch, working in art dealing and sketching, until, at the age of 27, having no real training, he decided to become a painter. He never was able to sell anything in his first three years. His brother helped him survive. However, in the decade of his creativity, he produced around 2,000 artworks.

His early work was dark, with a lot blacks. By the mid 1880s he had moved to Paris and was influenced by Peter Paul Rubens, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Japanese Ukiyo-e woodprints. He then began to add color and shifted to pointillism.

This was the transition period when photographically perfect renderings (as are featured in the Rijksmuseum) began to shift to symbolism and mystery. He painted Sunflower specifically for Gauguin's room when he moved in with him in 1988. van Gogh had a huge influence on the Modernists.

He was mentally disturbed, suffered from syphilis and had epilepsy. Actually, the latest speculation is that he had a congenital brain lesion drowned by absinthe. Remember, he cut off his ear (only lower portion of left lobe) after a quarrel with Gauguin and gave it to a prostitute, plus he shot himself with a gun, feeling he was losing it at the age of 37, and never recovered.

He died a pauper, but his Portrait of Dr. Gachet, painted the year he died, has a current value of $138 million (owned by Ryohei Saito). I bought a reproduction of Irisis because the flower color was blue. The original is valued at $101 million.

See right boxes for the Dow Jones Industrials and price of crude oil.


1 comment:

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