One book leads to another...

Saturday, April 25, 2020

A to Z Historic Trivia - V


While the following subjects would have fit right in with yesterday’s underwater segment of the letter U, I purposely saved them for today’s letter, V.   

An extreme example of deep sea dwellers (as in lightless depths of 2 -3000 feet), the Vampire Squid resides in regions known as Oxygen Minimum Zones, where these small creatures are somehow able to breathe normally in 3% oxygen saturation situations. Characteristics such as black or dark red coloring combined with a unique webbing that connects all eight arms like a cloak, and those beady blood-red eyes, all contributed to the naming of the distinctive creature.  Not as one might imagine, a penchant for late-night snacks of blood. In reality, they feast exclusively on Marine Snow, which may explain the ability to (when agitated) eject clouds of bioluminescent mucus containing numerous orbs of blue light lasting long enough to dazzle the fins off of any would-be predators.
In contrast to the mild-mannered bottom-dwellers, predacious and teensy Violet Sea Snails float – upside down - on rafts of their own mucus and air bubbles, quite on the surface of tropical and subtropical oceans, feeding on hydrogens such as the deadly Man O’ War.
I took a fascinating Virtual Tour of Venice, Italy, and learned that it is part of a cluster of 118 small islands separated by canals and connected by more than 400 bridges. Venice was built on a shallow lagoon sometime during the 9th century. The city is considered to have been the first international financial center. It’s been a wealthy city throughout history. Lord Byron himself named “The Bridge of Sighs” for the last view convicts would have of Venice on their way from court to prison.  It’s one of the many highlights of Venice, which hosts as many tourists each day as people who live there year-round. Amazing. There are 417 bridges in Venice, 72 are private. There are at least 500 luxuriant gardens scattered around the “City of Water,” though as far as I can tell, only one near St. Mark’s square is open to the public.  There is talk that Venice may be nothing more than an amusement park by 2030 as the city is sinking at a rate of 1-2 millimeters per year, and the population decline (over half in the last 50 years) does not seem to be slowing down.

During his lifetime, Vincent Van Gogh sold only one painting. Though in less than ten years, he painted over 900 pieces. In addition, he wrote 800 letters, mostly to his brother.

So, if you had to choose a favorite sea creature…ah, just kidding. Have you taken any virtual tours lately?


  1. Hi, diedre!

    Happy "V" Day, dear friend!

    I don't know about you, but I would be perfectly content to live on a diet of marine snow (detritus). My mouth is watering as I write this. :) I wonder if the vampire squid would make a good pet. I'd love to watch him eject clouds of bioluminescent mucus containing numerous orbs of blue light whenever I tickle his belly. On second thought...

    The Violet sea snail seems like an equally enchanting creature given that they "float upside down - on rafts of their own mucus and air bubbles." Reminds me of all those shuddersome mornings after during my wild bachelor years. :)

    Lord Byron came up with an apt name, “The Bridge of Sighs,” for the bridge that offered convicts one last glimpse of Venice on the way to prison. I lived in Venice. Florida, for five years. I would love to visit Venice, Italy, and take navigation tours along the canals. 417 is a mind boggling number of bridges for a single city. It's a shame the historic city is sinking and losing citizens at a steady rate.

    Thanks for the trivia about Vincent Van Gogh. Mrs. Shady and I love his work. I didn't know he sold only one painting in his lifetime. I can imagine one of his pieces being sold at auction and the auctioneer shouting:

    "van Goghing - Goghing - GONE!"

    It's amazing that Van Gogh wrote hundreds of letters to his brother. Apparently he was determined to keep writing until he finally got a doggone reply! :)

    I enjoyed learning some new "V" facts this morning. Have a safe and happy weekend, dear friend diedre!

    1. Hi Shady!

      There are also blue Firefly squids that wash up and light up beaches. I think they're cousins of the Vampire.

      If they do turn Venice into an amusement park, they'll have to shore it up I suppose ;-)

      Van Goghing - ha! His sister in law was his biggest fan and never stopped trying to sell his work.

      Thanks, Shady! I've enjoyed your visit.

  2. I am trying to picture that blinding luminous mucus spray that blinds predators. Sounds useful.
    Finding Eliza

    1. Hi Kristin!

      Indeed, while the predator is blinded by the light, the would-be prey escapes ;-)

  3. dIEDRE ~

    I used to own and read (at least, I read MOST of) the book of Vincent Van Gogh's letters to his brother. If my old memory serves me, the book was titled 'Dear Theo'.

    Vincent was one of my real inspirations when I was in my early twenties. I could relate to his vision, commitment, and intensity.

    ~ D-FensDogG

    1. Howdy Stephen T!

      I've only read a handful of his letters to his brother. They seemed so private, at once plaintive and beseeching of his brother's approval. I felt like I was peeping. His paintings are fascinating. I don't know why he'd feel the need to explain them as he so did.
      Thanks for your thoughts!


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