Monday, 24 February 2020

The Birds Are Still Calling By,

for their morning feed,

today two magpies arrived first,

 normally the crows beat them to it

 but not today, only one of the crows appeared, but the pair of magpies were joined by a third, 

 on to Sunday lunch,

 for our starter, a scallop shell filled with prawns, baked and smoked salmon with a salad, 


 Diana decided to take my photograph through the flowers,

 for our main course roast chicken with all of the trimmings,

 I then remembered that Steve had kindly brought a bottle of red around on Friday, so it was time to open it to go with the main course,

 and nice it was too,  

for our dessert, a sherry trifle, then feet up for the Sunday afternoon film,

 Diana had decided on Sink the Bismarck!, she likes to watch old classic films on a Sunday, this is what I wrote when we watched the film in August 2013, 'full of stiff upper lip, it was a interesting film from my point of view if for no other reason one of the Swingate kids had a Dad who was on one of the ships in the sinking of it, in those days there was a naval base H.M.S. Pembroke in Chatham, where one side of my fathers family originally came from, also I spent more than a few days there when the faculty was open to the public on Navy Days, this is a 1954 example of a typical 'Navy Day' for the public, I seem to remember my first day to watch the spectacle I must have been about 8 or so four years after the article, but back to the battle to sink the Bismark, for a more factual account of the battle have a look here,'

 after a snack in the evening, it was feet up for The Big Country, here is what I commented  about the film in November 2017, 'talk about an all star cast, Gregory Peck, Jean Simmons, Carroll Baker, Charlton Heston, Burl Ives, Charles Bickford, Alfonso Bedoya, Ramón Gutierrez, Chuck Connors, Chuck Hayward to name just a few, in case you have not seen it the film contains for myself one of the best, if not the best, monologues in film history by Burl Ives,

 and here it is, Burl Ives in the speech that won him an Oscar, and rightly so, I did read some where that his monologue was made in one take, the first one, and that was the one used in the movie, there were no second takes, strangely enough my first childhood memories of him was him singing in the Uncle Max radio show from 8 till 9 on a Saturday morning, I guess I was about 5 or maybe 6 years old, the song? Big Rock Candy Mountain, a song about a hobos dream land, great lyrics, here they are in full,

One evening as the sun went down
And the jungle fires were burning,
Down the track came a hobo hiking,
And he said, "Boys, I'm not turning
I'm headed for a land that's far away
Besides the crystal fountains
So come with me, we'll go and see
The Big Rock Candy Mountains,

In the Big Rock Candy Mountains,
There's a land that's fair and bright,
Where the handouts grow on bushes
And you sleep out every night.
Where the boxcars all are empty
And the sun shines every day
And the birds and the bees
And the cigarette trees
The lemonade springs
Where the bluebird sings
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains.

In the Big Rock Candy Mountains
All the cops have wooden legs
And the bulldogs all have rubber teeth
And the hens lay soft-boiled eggs
The farmers' trees are full of fruit
And the barns are full of hay
Oh I'm bound to go
Where there ain't no snow
Where the rain don't fall
The winds don't blow
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains.

In the Big Rock Candy Mountains
You never change your socks
And the little streams of alcohol
Come trickling down the rocks
The brakemen have to tip their hats
And the railway bulls are blind
There's a lake of stew
And of whiskey too
You can paddle all around it
In a big canoe
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains.

In the Big Rock Candy Mountains,
The jails are made of tin.
And you can walk right out again,
As soon as you are in.
There ain't no short-handled shovels,
No axes, saws nor picks,
I'm bound to stay
Where you sleep all day,
Where they hung the jerk
That invented work
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains.
I'll see you all this coming fall
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains.

the song was first recorded in 1928 by Harry McClintock, its a Hobo song, the word Hobo I have been told stands for Helping Our Brothers Out, first coined in America's Great Depression',

Burl Ives, what a great actor he really was, and with that we were off to bed.

They Say We Live In A Throwaway Age,

and up to a point it is true,

 a mass produced product is often more expensive to repair than replace with a new one, keeping this in mind, industrial designer Dina Amin takes discarded consumer products apart to see exactly what makes them tick, her hobby also exposes just how many resources and materials consumers throw away, a new stop-motion animation titled “What’s Inside” is a supercut of Amin’s breakdowns of familiar items, each splayed in perfect grids of plastic, metal, and rubber,

“On Fridays I pick a random product, I disassemble it, examine it and make a stop motion story with its parts,” Amin shares on her website, the designer writes that “we consume too many things to the point that we forgot the amount of work that was put into bringing even the tiniest pieces of things! We rarely see what’s inside each product thus treat it as one whole part; not as a plastic cover, with buttons, vibrator motor, mic and so on. This makes it easier to throw things away, one thing goes to waste, and not many.”

to see more of Amin’s work, follow her on Instagram and check her out on Patreon, where this project was funded,what a neat stop-motion animation, above is the video of it.

Most Trees Are Not Dangerous,

unless you fall out of them, 

or one falls on you!, but this tree is the very devil itself, along the coasts of the Caribbean, Central America, the northern edges of South America and even in southern Florida, you can find a nice-looking beach tree, often loaded with small, very greenish-yellow fruits similar to apples, whose pleasant aroma invites you to take a bite. It is best not to fall into that temptation, because it is a poisonous fruit, known as the Chamomile of death or tree of death (Hippomane mancinella), it is sometimes known as the beach apple, the plant bears another name in Spanish, arbol de la muerte, which literally means "tree of death". According to the Guinness World Records, the manchineel tree is in fact the most dangerous tree in the world, as explained by the Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, all parts of manchineel are extremely poisonous, and "interaction with and ingestion of any part of this tree may be lethal" the tree belongs to the large and diverse Euphorbia genus, which also contains the decorative Christmas poinsettia, the tree produces a thick, milky sap, which oozes out of everything - the bark, the leaves and even the fruit - and can cause severe, burn-like blisters if it comes into contact with skin, that's because the sap contains a range of toxins; it's thought that the most serious reactions come from phorbol, an organic compound that belongs to the diterpene family of esters, because phorbol is highly water-soluble, you don't even want to be standing under a manchineel when it's raining - the raindrops carrying the diluted sap can still severely burn your skin, "The real death threat comes from eating its small round fruit," Ella Davies writes for the BBC. "Ingesting the fruit can prove fatal when severe vomiting and diarrhoea dehydrate the body to the point of no return." the tree of death indeed!

I Never Think Of Vampiresses,

having a problem dating,

but apparently they do, if you find the above cartoon funny, or want to see more,

and how the date goes have a look at Sarah Andersen's FANGS, from the strip's introduction:

Vamp is three hundred years old but in all that time, she has never met her match. This all changes one night in a bar when she meets a charming werewolf. FANGS chronicles the humor, sweetness, and awkwardness of meeting someone perfectly suited to you but also vastly different.

the comic appears in weekly episodes, in anywhere from one to six panels, and the humor is definitely of the black variety, such as Vamp's response to Jimmy the Werewolf's query as to what she did when one of her past lovers cheated on her. "What did you do?" "With his body?" FANGS is but one of the offerings on tapas, and the first episode may be found here, just scroll through the sequence to see all what are currently available, there are at this moment 38 episodes, who would have thought that vampires have trouble dating? but there it is, a great sense of humor from FANGS.

Sunday, 23 February 2020

We Were Out Of Water,

for our marine aquarium,

 so off to the shop past the church, but first,

 a look into the town hall, as an exhibition was being held there,

 by the Beckenham Photographic Society, what a treat, so many stunning photographs, it put my humble efforts to shame!

 on to the bus stop, The Cosy Kitchen now up and running, I called into Kingfisheries Aquarium and picked up the RO water we use to top up the aquarium and home I went,

 in the evening a sherry,

 followed by my evening meal and a few glasses of red,

as I read a few more chapters of Lanark by Alasdair Gray, whilst listening to music,

towards midnight Diana called, so a walk to the bus stop, returning home it was feet up for a coffee and for us next we were off to bed.

Just A Couple Of Days Ago,

I was watching a documentary, 

about the Confederate submarine known as the H.L. Hunley, that delivered a torpedo bomb to the underside of the Union ship Housatonic in 1864, pressing its torpedo against the side of the USS Housatonic until it detonated, sinking the ship and killing five, image credit: Conrad Wise Chapman, but the Hunley also sank, and all eight crew members died. No one knew where the submarine was until 1970, and it took another 30 years to raise it to the surface, and then I found this story, from the article,

One hundred and thirty-six years later, in 2000, in a massive custom-built water tank, archaeologists clad in protective coveralls and wearing respirators sorted patiently through the muck and silt that had slowly filled the hull of the submarine as it lay on the bottom of the ocean floor. Accounts of the Hunley’s sinking had assumed horrific scenes of the men trying to claw their way through the thick iron hatches, or huddled in the fetal position beneath the crew bench in their agony. Sinkings of modern submarines have always resulted in the discovery of the dead clustered near the exits, the result of desperate efforts to escape the cold metal coffins; to sit silently and await one’s own demise simply defies human nature, the crew of the Hunley, however, looked quite different. Each man was still seated peacefully at his station.

What killed the eight men of the Hunley? Rising water or lack of oxygen would have induced a mad dash to escape. Damage from the torpedo would have scattered the bodies and left evidence on the submarine itself. Biomedical engineer and blast-injury specialist Rachel Lance modeled the remains of the submarine and recreated the torpedo incident in a pond (assisted by a bomb-demolition expert and the ATF) to test a new theory on what killed the crew of the Hunley, this is a really fascinating read, a real 2 mug of coffee job, you can read a excerpt from her book on the subject at Smithsonian, the extract was from, In the Waves: My Quest to Solve The Mystery of A Civil War Submarine by Rachel Lance, to be published April 7 by Dutton, an imprint of the Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Copyright © 2020 by Rachel M. Lance, one to put on my reading list.

One Thing I Have Never Been Convinced About,

is wind turbines,

and how cheaply they make electricity 24/7, and like the batteries in all electric cars, how in an environmentally friendly way can you get rid of them once their life is over? this is the untalked about part of wind farms, the above photograph is of the municipal landfill in Casper, Wyoming, which is the final resting place of 870 blades whose days making renewable energy have come to end, photographer: Benjamin Rasmussen for Bloomberg Green, tens of thousands of aging blades are coming down from steel towers around the world and most have nowhere to go but landfills, I thought we were supposed to be cutting down on landfill waste, it seems the wind farm industry is making more! in the U.S. alone, about 8,000 blades will be removed in each of the next four years, here at home in Europe, which has been dealing with the problem longer, has about 3,800 coming down annually through at least 2022, according to BloombergNEF, and it is going to get worse, most were built more than a decade ago, when installations were less than a fifth of what they are now, the fact is that wind power is carbon-free and about 85% of turbine components, including steel, copper wire, electronics and gearing can be recycled or reused, but, and it is a big but, the fiberglass blades remain difficult to dispose of, with some as long as a football field, big rigs can only carry one at a time, making transportation costs prohibitive for long-distance hauls, so use more energy cutting them up, and then transport them to, you guessed it, a landfill site! there has been laboratory research into breaking the blades down, but the cost of heating the blades to the temperatures required is prohibitive, wind farms helping to fill landfill sites near you!