Well, Spring has finally sprung and not a moment too soon. I’m sitting in my Adirondack chair, with my bare feet on the ground, watching the sunset through the limbs of my Hackberry tree. Yes, I have short feet. Shut up. (All photos are my personal collection. ©)
According to the Farmers’ Almanac 1818, this is the earliest First Day of Spring in 124 years. Yahoo! Maybe some warm, beautiful weather will offset the corona beer virus and this needless, manufactured hysteria that has appeared with it.
I did a Vernal Equinox post last year when it coincided with the Full Worm Moon. In our area, it was as high as 80° and I was out in it. My buddy Ray had some errands to run so, off we went to the county north of us. Once the errands were completed, we headed to downtown Roxboro for lunch & a minor visit to their museum (pictures coming tomorrow).
From Farmers’ Almanac 1818:
[Spring] will occur at 11:50 p.m. EDT for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere […]. Traditionally, we celebrate the first day of spring on March 21 but, astronomers and calendar manufacturers, alike, now say that the spring season starts on March 20th, in all time zones in North America. And, in 2020, it’s even a day earlier than that…something that hasn’t happened since 1896.
There are a few reasons why seasonal dates can vary from year to year. The first is that a year is not an even number of days and neither are the seasons. Another reason is that the earth’s elliptical orbit is changing its orientation (skew), which causes the earth’s axis to constantly point in a different direction, called precession. Since the seasons are defined as beginning at strict 90-degree intervals, these positional changes affect the time the earth reaches each 90-degree location in its orbit around the sun. The pull of gravity from the other planets also affects the location of the earth in its orbit.
Additional Interesting Reading:
First Day of Spring (The Old Farmer’s Almanac 1792)
Out on a neighborhood walk, I couldn’t help but admire the mosaic handywork, along with the bird and flower. It’s definitely an original. ~Vic
Buddy came to me (and an ex) as a little thing. He had been born under a home 75 miles east and his mother had to leave him behind. The guy living there heard the crying mews and went to investigate. He found tiny Buddy in an upright cinder block, pulled him out and realized he was a newborn with his eyes still closed. He sought help from a veterinarian and began to feed him. Fast forward five weeks and the guy contacts my ex. “You want a kitten? I can’t handle him, anymore.” He shows up with this gi-normous litter box with a cover, that little Buddy could barely jump in and out of, a box of various toys and a gallon container of kitten food. The guy lived alone and traveled a lot so, he felt Buddy would be better off with us. I had lost my very first cat six months prior so, Buddy’s arrival was cause for celebration. He was my baby for nine years. (1997-2006). All photos are my personal collection. ~Vic
It’s Friday the 13th! Eek! Everybody…RUN! Hide! Yeah, well, enough of the hysteria. We have plenty of that going on with the corona beer virus. Sugar, rice, pasta, Clorox & Lysol hand wipes, bleach, hand sanitizer and toilet paper doesn’t stand a chance. Now, we have to deal with the dreaded number 13. E-gads! The humanity!
March 13 has been a rather busy day in history. Curiously, Uranus and Pluto are involved.
Uranus is the seventh planet from the sun. The name of Uranus references the ancient Greek deity of the sky Uranus, the father of Cronus (Saturn) and grandfather of Zeus (Jupiter) […]. It has the third-largest planetary radius and fourth-largest planetary mass in [our] solar system and, […] is the only planet whose name is derived directly from a figure of Greek mythology. Uranus is similar in composition to Neptune and, both have bulk chemical compositions which differ from that of the larger gas giants Jupiter and Saturn. Uranus’ atmosphere is similar to Jupiter’s and Saturn’s in its primary composition of hydrogen and helium but, it contains more “ices” such as water, ammonia and methane […]. It has the coldest planetary atmosphere in the solar system […]. Like the other giant planets, Uranus has a ring system, a magnetosphere and numerous moons. The Uranian system has a unique configuration because its axis of rotation is tilted sideways, nearly into the plane of its solar orbit. Its north and south poles, therefore, lie where most other planets have their equators. Voyager 2 remains the only spacecraft to visit the planet.
Like the classical planets, Uranus is visible to the naked eye but, it was never recognised as a planet by ancient observers because of its dimness and slow orbit. [Two hundred, thirty-nine years ago, today], Sir William Herschel first observed Uranus on March 13, 1781 (from the garden of his house at 19 New King Street in Bath, Somerset, England, now the Herschel Museum of Astronomy), leading to its discovery as a planet, expanding the known boundaries of the solar system for the first time in history and making Uranus the first planet classified as such with the aid of a telescope.
Pluto is an icy dwarf planet in the Kuiper belt, a ring of bodies beyond the orbit of Neptune. It was the first Kuiper belt object to be discovered and is the largest known dwarf planet. Pluto was discovered by Clyde Tombaugh in 1930 as the ninth planet from the Sun. After 1992, its status as a planet was questioned following the discovery of several objects of similar size in the Kuiper belt. In 2005, Eris, a dwarf planet in the scattered disc which is 27% more massive than Pluto, was discovered. This led the International Astronomical Union (IAU) to define the term “planet”, formally, in 2006, during their 26th General Assembly. That definition excluded Pluto and reclassified it as a dwarf planet.
It is the ninth-largest and tenth-most-massive known object directly orbiting the Sun. It is the largest known trans-Neptunian object by volume but, is less massive than Eris. Like other Kuiper belt objects, Pluto is primarily made of ice and rock and, is relatively small…about one-sixth the mass of the Moon and one-third its volume. It has a moderately eccentric and inclined orbit […]. This means that Pluto periodically comes closer to the Sun than Neptune but, a stable orbital resonance with Neptune prevents them from colliding.
[Observations] of Neptune in the late 19th century led astronomers to speculate that Uranus’s orbit was being disturbed by another planet besides Neptune. In 1906, Percival Lowell, a wealthy Bostonian who had founded [the] Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, in 1894, started an extensive project in search of a possible ninth planet, which he termed “Planet X“. Lowell and his observatory conducted his search until his death in 1916 but, to no avail. Unknown to Lowell, his surveys had captured two faint images of Pluto on March 19 and April 7, 1915 but, they were not recognized for what they were.
Percival’s widow, Constance Lowell, entered into a ten-year legal battle with the Lowell Observatory over her husband’s legacy and the search for Planet X did not resume until 1929. [23-year-old] Clyde Tombaugh, who had just arrived at the observatory, discovered a possible moving object on photographic plates on February 18, 1930. After the observatory obtained further confirmatory photographs, news of the discovery was telegraphed to the Harvard College Observatory ninety years ago, today, on March 13, 1930. Pluto has yet to complete a full orbit of the Sun since its discovery, as one Plutonian year is 247.68 years long.
The discovery made headlines around the globe. Lowell Observatory, which had the right to name the new object, received more than 1,000 suggestions from all over the world, ranging from Atlas to Zymal. Constance Lowell proposed Zeus, then Percival and finally Constance. These suggestions were disregarded. The name Pluto, after the god of the underworld, was proposed by Venetia Burney (1918–2009), an eleven-year-old schoolgirl in Oxford, England, who was interested in classical mythology.
Last year, the Full Worm Moon coincided with the Vernal Equinox. This year, the Worm Moon will be at full illumination at 1:47pm, today. I got some shots of it, earlier (actually, wee hours of the morning).
I did a complete write-up on the Worm Moon on my 2019 post with all of the interesting and varied Native American names. This year, our Worm Moon is a Supermoon, though that isn’t really a true and official ‘astronomical’ term. It’s more of an astrological description and, apparently, was coined by astrologer Richard Nolle. The technical term is perigee syzygy, with perigee referring to the closeness of the Moon to the Earth and syzygy referring to a straight-line astronomical configuration of three celestial bodies. Depending upon that configuration, there might be a solar eclipse or a lunar eclipse. Supermoons also bring higher tides. This Moon is the last full moon of Winter. Howl for me! ~Vic
Oh, it has been work looking for a film for today’s date. IMDB had plenty to choose from but, I couldn’t seem to get any further information from the others…Wikipedia, American Film Institute, Turner Classic Movies… Even the Silent Era site and Silent Hollywood were slim pickings and, Silentology had nothing.
Anyway, one hundred, five years ago, today, Episode #17 of The Hazards of Helen, The Death Train, was released. Similar to The Perils of Pauline, The Hazards of Helen was a film serial or series that ran from November 7, 1914 to February 24, 1917.
There were 119 episodes that were 12 minutes long, most of which have been lost. Based upon a novel written by John Russell Corvell and a play written by Denman Thompson, W. Scott Darling adapted the material for the silent screen and Edward T. Matlack wrote The Death Train, specifically. Directors were J. P. McGowan (1-48) and J. Gunnis Davis for the rest. The original actress was Helen Holmes (1-48), followed by Helen Gibson for the remainder of the series, with Anna Nilsson filling in for Holmes for Episode #18.
The discovery that detectives are on their trail causes Doyle, Broden and Etzer, counterfeiters, to pack their paraphernalia into a trunk and express it to Lone Point. Upon its arrival at that station, a corner of the trunk is smashed. Helen thus learns of its contents. The telegrapher immediately wires to Savage, a railroad detective. The latter, accompanied by Duncan, a Secret Service detective, hastens to the scene. At their suggestion, Helen arranges a trap for the counterfeiters. When the latter appear, they are set upon by the officers. Etzer is captured but, his pals get away. Doyle eludes pursuit but, Broden later falls into Savage’s hands. Helen, watching the pursuit, ventures on the high trestle which crosses the dry bed of the Loro River. Doyle, who is hiding, sees Helen. Overpowered by a desire for revenge, the man attacks the telegrapher and makes her a prisoner. A rope lies nearby. Binding Helen, Doyle suspends his victim from the trestle and fastens the end of the line around the rails. Duncan sees this from afar. Although he rushes forward, he knows that the Keene local, due any moment, will cut the rope as it crosses the trestle. Meanwhile, Helen, after a tremendous effort, frees her hands. There is one chance for life. The girl commences swinging her body. Each time, she [manages] a wider arc. The train is crossing the trestle when Helen swings toward a beam. The engine wheels sever the rope. Helen flies through the air and reaches the beam. Doyle is captured. Savage and Duncan raise Helen to the tracks and find her uninjured.
Moving Picture World
This is one of the lost pieces so, there isn’t a YouTube clip and I could only find one picture. ~Vic
This comes under the heading of “things you don’t see everyday.” I was out on a walk around our old cotton mill complex and stumbled across it. I have no idea how old this thing is but, it appears to have been manufactured in Tennessee. ~Vic
Coming forward in time, I was reading around in the 1400s & 1500s (noticing some of the composers that died in the plague) and discovered another interesting little piece: My Lady Carey’s Dompe (a lament or dirge), a traditional English dance tune. Written for a harpsichord and, possibly, a lute, the composer remains unknown, though suggested attribution is Hugh Aston and, the specific date is questionable. It could be 1525 or, 1528 if the song was, indeed, composed for the death of William Carey, a courtier in the service of Henry VIII. Lady Carey could refer to his wife Mary Boleyn, a mistress to Henry and sister to Anne Boleyn but, could also refer to his mother, sisters or his sister-in-law.
In any case, the song is lovely and, catchy. Enjoy.
“One of the earliest surviving keyboard pieces we have…”
We’ve had cold temps here and plenty of rain but, the two haven’t combined to give us any frozen precipitation. Don’t me wrong. I’m not complaining. I like a good snow storm, here and there but, I don’t like the mess. That being said, since we haven’t had any of the white stuff, I submit…for your approval…some pix I harvested from a FakeBook group back in 2018, when we had two snow bombs. I posted my own photos on December 9, 2018 and added some of my stuff to the same group. These are really good and photographer credit is listed. I will post the rest, tomorrow. ~Vic
Two months ago, on December 7, 2019, I visited Alamance Battleground with my buddy Ray. I posted the first batch of pictures on December 8, intending to post the rest on December 14. For obvious reasons, that didn’t happen so, here are the rest.
All photos are my personal collection. © ~Vic
I’ve been digging around, looking for something interesting. Back in September 2019, I posted about Billboard locking down/wiping out their online charts behind a paywall. I don’t know if this is a fluke or if they got a lot of blow-back for what they did but, the charts have reappeared (their Hot 100 era). Ok. Good. Time will tell if they stay. And, I hope they did get some blow-back. Assholes.
Now that I got that off my chest, on to other stuff.
Wikipedia has a timeline of musical events (Yeah. I know. Wikipedia is hardly a bastion of truth but, seems to be a bit less haphazard with music, plants, animals, cars and finding a U.S. town.) I stumbled across the Seikilos Epitaph, a short, little marble tombstone with poetry/lyrics/text, with musical notation, written in Greek. It is unusual and unique because it is the oldest, intact musical composition in the world. It was found in Tralles, Turkey, an ancient, Hellenistic town where Aydin exists, now. The lyrics:
Ὅσον ζῇς φαίνου
μηδὲν ὅλως σὺ λυποῦ
πρὸς ὀλίγον ἔστι τὸ ζῆν
τὸ τέλος ὁ χρόνος ἀπαιτεῖ.
hóson zêis, phaínou
mēdèn hólōs sù lupoû
pròs olígon ésti tò zên
tò télos ho khrónos apaiteî.
While you live, shine
have no grief at all
life exists only for a short while
and time demands his due.
The dedication was partially destroyed and could read:
“Seikilos to Euterpe”, possibly his wife (also the name of the Muse of Music)
“Seikilos, son of Euterpes”
The inscription reads:
Εἰκὼν ἤ λίθος εἰμί. τίθησί με Σεικίλος ἔνθα μνήμης ἀθανάτου σῆμα πολυχρόνιον.
eikṑn ḗ líthos eimí. títhēsí me Seikílos éntha mnḗmēs athanátou sêma polukhrónion.
“I am a tombstone, an image. Seikilos placed me here as a long-lasting sign of deathless remembrance.”
Take a listen:
Here is another version, based upon the inscription being dedicated to a wife:
Song of Seikilos (Classic FM website)
Yes. I’m still alive. I wasn’t sure I would be after battling septicemia. That is not something to be trifled with. I had an abscessed tooth rupture on me the night of December 14/15. The details of my desperate attempt to get it pulled is boring but, suffice to say that, with a 103 fever and delirium, I did manage to post here, scribble some instructions for a friend and write out a will. The pain was unimaginable and the dead bacteria my body shed while I was recovering was disgusting. I never could get pain medication and I had a bad reaction to an antibiotic. I have no kind words for the dental industry. It’s taken me six weeks to get my energy levels back to normal. It wasn’t until after my ordeal that I did some reading on toothaches. They can, indeed, kill you. I was scared and I got lucky.
Thank you for all the kind words.
I am battling something that I am not totally sure I will survive. I don’t mean to come across as dramatic but, I need to let readers of this blog know why I won’t be posting. I may return…I may not. I don’t honestly know.
This is, now, effectively, a static blog. I encourage you to read all of my Chris Thomas posts. I have sporadically posted years ago, so, I do have some older posts going back to 2013, I think. Peruse if you wish.
Thank you to all of my readers. You are so appreciated.
[Addendum: I’m not taking this post down as I put it up for a reason. That being said, I am alive and well…and doing the best I can. ~Vic]
Back in May, I did a post on the Battle of Alamance so, I won’t revisit the historical details. Yesterday, I visited the actual battleground with my buddy, Ray. They were having German Heritage Day with authentic German food for visitors. I was so glad we had a beautiful day. It was chilly but, there was a really good turnout. I hadn’t been to this site in nearly 45 years.
All photos are my personal collection. © ~Vic
More to come…
[Note: The finding of the abandoned Mary Celeste is sometimes listed as December 5, 1872. This is due to time differences between “Civil Time” (land time) and “Sea Time”.]
A merchant brigantine, the Mary Celeste was built at Spencer’s Island, Nova Scotia and launched under British registration as Amazon in 1861. She was transferred to American ownership and registration in 1868 when she acquired her new name. Thereafter, she sailed, uneventfully, until her 1872 voyage.
[She was] discovered adrift and deserted in the Atlantic Ocean off the Azores Islands on December 4, 1872. The Canadian brigantine Dei Gratia found her in a disheveled but seaworthy condition under partial sail and with her lifeboat missing. The last entry in her log was dated ten days earlier.
She left New York City for Genoa on November 7 and [the] Dei Gratia departed for Gibraltar on November 15, following the same general route eight days [later]. [She] was still amply provisioned when found. Her cargo of denatured alcohol was intact and, the captain’s and crew’s personal belongings were undisturbed. None of those who had been on board were ever heard from again.
At the salvage hearings in Gibraltar following her recovery, the court’s officers considered various possibilities of foul play, including mutiny by Mary Celeste’s crew, piracy by the Dei Gratia crew or others and conspiracy to carry out insurance or salvage fraud. No convincing evidence supported these theories but, unresolved suspicions led to a relatively low salvage award.
The inconclusive nature of the hearings fostered continued speculation as to the nature of the mystery and, the story has repeatedly been complicated by false detail and fantasy. Hypotheses that have been advanced include the effects on the crew of alcohol fumes rising from the cargo, submarine earthquakes (seaquakes), waterspouts, attack by a giant squid and paranormal intervention. The story of her 1872 abandonment has been recounted and dramatized many times in documentaries, novels, plays and films and, the name of the ship has become a byword for unexplained desertion.
[Were] it not for Dr. Arthur Conan Doyle, struggling to establish himself as a writer prior to creating Sherlock Holmes, perhaps the world would not have ever known or cared [about the ship]. Conan Doyle’s short story about the ‘Marie Celeste‘ (he changed the name from Mary) turned a minor puzzle into one of the most famous legends of the sea. Nevertheless, we should recognise it was fiction, for which his editor paid 30 Pounds, […] a respectable sum in 1884.
Smithsonian Documentary Clip
[A] cat, a flask of poison and a radioactive source are placed in a sealed box. If an internal monitor (e.g. Geiger counter) detects radioactivity (i.e. a single atom decaying), the flask is shattered, releasing the poison, which kills the cat. The Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics implies that, after a while, the cat is simultaneously alive and dead. Yet, when one looks in the box, one sees the cat either alive or dead, not both alive and dead. This poses the question of when, exactly, quantum superposition ends and reality collapses into one possibility or the other.
[Schrödinger] intended the example [above] to illustrate the absurdity of the existing view of quantum mechanics:
One can even set up quite ridiculous cases. A cat is penned up in a steel chamber, along with the following device (which must be secured against direct interference by the cat): in a Geiger counter, there is a tiny bit of radioactive substance, so small, that perhaps in the course of the hour one of the atoms decays, but also, with equal probability, perhaps none. [If] it happens, the counter tube discharges and, through a relay, releases a hammer that shatters a small flask of hydrocyanic acid. If one has left this entire system to itself for an hour, one would say that the cat still lives if, meanwhile, no atom has decayed. The first atomic decay would have poisoned it. The psi-function of the entire system would express this by having in it the living and dead cat (pardon the expression) mixed or smeared out in equal parts.
It is typical of these cases that an indeterminacy originally restricted to the atomic domain becomes transformed into macroscopic indeterminacy, which can then be resolved by direct observation. That prevents us from so naively accepting as valid a “blurred model” for representing reality. In itself, it would not embody anything unclear or contradictory. There is a difference between a shaky or out-of-focus photograph and a snapshot of clouds and fog banks.
Schrödinger’s famous thought experiment poses the question, “when does a quantum system stop existing as a superposition of states and become one or the other?”
The EPR Paradox was a thought experiment proposed by physicists Albert Einstein, Boris Podolsky and Nathan Rosen (EPR) that they interpreted as indicating that the explanation of physical reality provided by quantum mechanics was incomplete (PDF).