Tuesday, 27 October 2020

Steve Called Round First Thing,

for a coffee and a chat,

after we said our farewells we made a move to the bus stop by the station, Steve had mentioned that there was a crashed car just along from our house, we were running a bit late for Diana's bus so I did not take a photograph,

the reason we were both out was that Diana was going to work, and I was going to buy a couple of rail tickets for the weekend, as Diana has Saturday and Sunday off a trip to Ramsgate is planned, hotel and restaurants booked all we had to do was get there!

some of the trees in the park still hanging on to the last few leaves,

oh dear, someone has had a oops! moment,

the once lovely grass verges in the park now reduced to mud, it is a pity that when the park was refurbished with its wild swimming lake, more thought was not put into where the now hundreds of cars at a weekend would park, but there it is, councils and forward thinking seldom go hand in glove,

I had a lazy day, and made a few phone calls amongst them I had a chat with Rainham Steve, after my evening meal it was feet up for a couple from Midsomer Murders and one from Poirot, just after 10.00 Diana called so off to the bus stop, quite a bright moon tonight in the cloudless sky, arriving home one from New Tricks and one from Have I Got News For You, before we were off to bed.

I Thought I Would Start The Week,

with a Halloween story,

in the Middle Ages in Europe and the UK, many lonely women were burnt at the stake for being witches, but in France they had The French Werewolf Epidemic, (1520-1630), it was France’s version of Europe’s witch trials and executions, but with werewolves. For 110 years, 30 thousand people were accused of being werewolves, tortured in exchange for their confessions, or lack of admission of guilt and died at the stake, 
of the many examples of accused werewolfery is of Jacques Rollet, dubbed the Werewolf of Chazes. Rollet lured a fifteen-year-old boy to the woods where he murdered and ate his body. When he was tried for his crime, he confessed to having done the same to other locals, specifically employees of the court system such as lawyers and attorneys. Rollet got the death sentence (like pretty much everyone else back then) but ended up in an insane asylum,

the country’s history with wolf-related mythology is long and rich with stories such as the La Bête du Gévaudan, or The Beast of Gévaudan, which for three years terrorized the area,

the first attack occurred in April of 1764, and the victim, a young woman tending her flock of sheep, described her assailant as looking “like a wolf, yet not a wolf.” She survived when her sheep went into action, defending the teenage girl from the Beast…. This would be the start of more than 100 documented fatal attacks in Gévaudan in which most of the victims were partially eaten, a 67-page academic paper on the history of killer lycanthropes or some sort of man-eating wolf exists, which lists the 100 fatal attacks in Gévaudan, thank goodness there are no more werewolves, or are there?

Yesterday I Mentioned That NASA Was Going To Make A Statement About The Moon,

and they did,

there is water on the moon! this illustration highlights the Moon’s Clavius Crater with an illustration depicting water trapped in the lunar soil there, along with an image of NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) that found sunlit lunar water, credits: NASA/Daniel Rutter, the US space agency has revealed conclusive evidence of water on our only natural satellite, this "unambiguous detection of molecular water" will boost Nasa's hopes of establishing a lunar base, the aim is to sustain that base by tapping into the Moon's natural resources, the findings have been published as two papers in the journal Nature Astronomy, unlike previous detections of water in permanently shadowed parts of lunar craters, scientists have now detected the molecule in sunlit regions of the Moon's surface, the new discovery was made from an airborne infrared telescope known as Sofia. This observatory, on board a modified Boeing 747, flies above much of Earth's atmosphere, giving a largely unobstructed view of the Solar System, using this infrared telescope, researchers picked up the "signature" colour of water molecules, the researchers think it is stored in bubbles of lunar glass or between grains on the surface that protect it from the harsh environment, in the other study, scientists looked for permanently shadowed areas - known as cold traps - where water could be captured and remain permanently. They found these cold traps at both poles and concluded that "approximately 40,000 kilometres squared of the lunar surface has the capacity to trap water" exciting news indeed, presumably for future, well a long time in the future water will not have to be brought to the moon, just thaw out the water that is already there!

This Could Almost Be A Halloween Story,

just a few days ago,

a colony of murder hornets, (Vespa mandarinia), was found and destroyed, in a statement on Friday, the Washington State Department of Agriculture said entomologists discovered the nest inside the cavity of a tree on a property in Blaine, a small town on the state’s northern border with Canada, for a more in depth look at the threat that these super wasps pose have a look here, and big threat they are too, but some people just loved to collect insects like these so here is your very own chance to own a murder hornet, 

sold by BicBugs they are an impressive size,

you can buy them in a framed for $61.00, or pinned for $51.00,

or you can buy them 'wet', the specimen is preserved in 70% isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol), the vial is approximately 2.5 inches tall, for $46.00, hopefully the authorities will have any new outbreaks in hand, after reading that 50 people a year are killed by these insects in Japan, the last thing anyone wants is a nest of these in the neighbourhood!

Monday, 26 October 2020

The Crow With The Damaged Eye And Leg,

called by first,

and for a brief moment,

both crows were on the window sill, but I was not quick enough to photograph them,

on to our Sunday lunch, a pre-meal sherry and read,

for starters, 

a thick country vegetable soup,


for our main courses, Diana had a beef steak with gravy,

for myself lamb without, we do not quite know why it happened, that there was just one steak and one piece of lamb in the freezer, we normal by things in twos, but there it is,

for dessert apple and blackcurrant crumble, with custard and cream,

we also bought some red currants to sprinkle over the top,

and plucked them the way my grandmother showed me,

with the red currents even better than delicious, we were going to watch a couple out of the sci-fi box, but switching the television on Columbo was just starting, so we watched a few of those, in the evening a couple of films, 

firstly The Other Boleyn Girl, which we both enjoyed watching again, 

keeping to a similar although slightly later period in UK history, Elizabeth, The Golden Age, again thoroughly enjoyable with lavish sets and costumes, both a little thin on history, but so what? both are films film not history lessons, and yes hopefully we will watch both again in the future, and now for a bit of fun, as Halloween will soon be here, we thought we would get into character, 

in the vein of Tim Burton's Corpse Bride,

and here we are,

I thought Diana made a really good job of our transformations! 
and with that we were off to bed.

Last Tuesday,

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft performed the almost impossible,

it collected a sample of the ancient asteroid, known as Bennu, the collection event, known as “Touch-And-Go” (TAG), which if provided enough of a sample, mission teams will command the spacecraft to begin stowing the precious primordial cargo to begin its journey back to Earth in March 2021, now here is the rub, it collected too much! The OSIRIS-REx’s collection chamber can no longer close all the way, leading to some of the material it collected from asteroid Bennu to float away into space. MIT Technology Review explains the reason why the spacecraft collected too much:

Over the last few days, the onboard cameras revealed that the collection chamber was losing particles that were floating into space. “A substantial amount of the sample is seen floating away,” mission lead Dante Lauretta said Friday. As it turned out, the sample collection attempt picked up too much material—possibly up to two kilograms, the upper limit of what OSIRIS-REx was designed to collect. About 400 grams seems visible from the cameras. The collection lid has failed to close properly and remains wedged open by pieces that are up to three centimetres in size, creating a centimetre-wide gap for material to escape.

Image via MIT Technology Review, what to do next? as it happens the craft can be sent to make a second pick up in January, but I guess material blocking the door will have to be cleared first, here's hoping all will go well.

Keeping To A Space Theme,

VP1 2018 is a near-Earth asteroid in the sense that it crosses Earth's orbit,

it was discovered on 3 November, 2018. According to NASA experts, VP1 2018 is 91 centimetres wide, 2 metres long and weighs 15 kilos. Its small size means that the asteroid will most likely burn when it enters the Earth's atmosphere and decay before it even reaches the ground. According to specialists, VP1 2018 has a 1 in 240 chance of impacting planet Earth on 2 November, with this in mind Oreo created a doomsday vault in Norway to house its cookies just in case something terrible happens to the world. Cookies aren’t something you’d put into a vault for safekeeping, but the company isn’t taking any chances, as Input Magazine details:

In a video about the Global Oreo Vault project, the company says it was inspired by a tweet from a fan on October 3rd asking if the asteroid strikes, "I wonder who will save the Oreos?" It then sprung into action, working with one of the same architects who designed the seed vault. Except instead of having two years to design the vault as he did with that one, in this case, he had just thirty days before the asteroid reaches us to get the Oreos safely stashed in permafrost.

"As an added precaution, the Oreo packs are wrapped in mylar, which can withstand temperatures from -80 degrees to 300 degrees Fahrenheit and is impervious to chemical reactions, moisture and air, keeping the cookies fresh and protected for years to come," Oreo said, image via Input Magazine,

thank goodness for that! so keep an eye in the sky on the 2nd. and if it hits remember where the Oriels are! as an aside today at midday look at the NASA site, apparently they are going to release some important information about the moon.

Some Time Ago,

in August this year as it happens,

I went to Brompton Cemetery, taking photographs of various statues and headstones, many of which had symbols on them, the meanings of which have been lost over time, so it was with some interest when I found this article, it looks at 11 different symbols and their possible meanings, of course some are obvious: tombstones for children are engraved with angels or lambs, and crosses, stars, and crescents denote the deceased's religious faith,

but there are many symbols that aren't so easily interpreted, the symbols in this list mostly say "it could mean" and "it could also mean" because, while there is traditional symbolism passed down over the years, many tombstones have symbols because those who paid for the stone just liked them, for a much fuller alphabetical list, have a look here, I know that going around graveyards is not everyone's cup of tea, but I enjoy going around ruins and graveyards taking photographs as I go, and next time I must look closer for some of the hidden symbols in them.

Sunday, 25 October 2020

The Crow Was Back,

a couple of times as it happens,

which considering how windy it was,

surprising, it really was blowing a gale, in the day I pottered about the house and decided to clean the bathroom blinds, 

they are not the normal size Venetian blinds,

 each slat is just a half inch or so across, it was a bad decision, each slat had to be wiped individually, which was time consuming in the extreme, but even worse,

a couple of days ago as I was trimming the flowers I had bought for the table, I slipped with the scissors and nearly cut a chunk of my own flesh off, you have no idea of the number of times one of the slats found this cut and opened it up again, and here was the problem, I could not stop halfway through cleaning them as it looked worse than if I had never started!

on to my evening pre-meal sherry,

for my starter tonight serrano dry cured ham, and some from the Emlia Romagna region, smoky chorizo, salchichon salami, pecorino bianco and cheddar cheese, biscuits and cheese straws, plus silver skin onions and mini gherkins


for my main course a half a roasted chicken,

I munched away on a leg first, and nice it all was too, just before10.00 Diana called, so off to the bus stop to pick her up,

the rain had not stopped all day, so it was puddle time on the way home, arriving back feet up for a Have I Got News For You, a New Tricks and we were off to bed.

Next Saturday It Will Be Halloween,

like no other,

the virus that is stalking the world like a giant stalking thing is scary enough, but here is a look at one magazine that took the scary dairy genre from its humble beginnings, with only 51 issues in existence, Der Orchideengarten, was an Austrian magazine printed between the years of 1919 and 1921, predating the American fantasy-horror magazine Weird Tales, which is still in circulation after nearly a century,

the magazine although short lived had many influential authors that defined the early 20th century, such as Edgar Allen Poe, H.G. Wells, and Dickens, above two of the covers,

from here just a few of the illustrations,

Heinrich Kleys was a regular contributor, whose work was avidly collected by Walt Disney, take a look at some early Disney productions, particularly Fantasia, and you’ll find Kley’s unmistakable influence, 

also of great influence to many contributors was of course the Great War, many dark memories from that war can be seen in the illustrations,

as it happens you can buy reprints with English translations here, or there is a digital versions here, and in case I forget to say it next Saturday, Happy Halloween!