Category Archives: Miscellaneous

Today is the Spring Equinox

Solstices and Equinoxes Image: NASAThe Spring or March Equinox is today at 16:15 UTC. This equinox marks the moment where the Sun crosses the equator and usually occurs between March 19-21 every year. Both the March and September equinoxes are when the Sun shines directly on the equator making night and day nearly equal.

The March equinox is the transition from winter to spring in the Northern Hemisphere but the reverse in the Southern Hemisphere (summer into fall). Various cultures celebrate March equinox as a time of rebirth. Many spring festivals are timed to coincide with the equinox and some religious events (Passover and Easter) use specific calculations based on the equinox to help determine the exact day of the event.

Though the equinox marks the changing of the seasons, it is quite common for winter effects to continue in many places far until May or even June.


Happy Sunday (And Daylight Savings Time)

Colorful Sunrise
Photo: Bobby Mikul(publicdomainpictures.net)

Happy Sunday! Today is once again a day we loose one hour of sleep thanks to daylight savings time. Some really like it while others loathe it. If you live in areas that have lots of farms, farmers do not like it much. In fact, they dislike it intensely because they have to feed and maintain their animals 365 days a year and it causes problems with their schedules.

Daylight savings time is really a misnomer. We are not saving time in any real sense of the word. The sun still rises and falls as before, it is just our measurement of the length of daylight has been altered. We get extra sunlight because our clocks move ahead one hour. Those with resorts in sunny tropical areas generally like it but Hawaii stays on standard time year round. They see no practical reason to change it. Some claim the extra hour of daylight reduces crime though studies are mixed. Likewise energy conservation is debatable as well. More recent evidence is that more energy is expended during daylight savings time rather than on standard.

Easter is not that far off now. Good Friday begins on March 30 (Passover also coincides this year as well) and Easter Sunday on April 1.


Happy Sunday

Here is some excellent choral music for your Sunday.


Titanic Exhibition Coming to Falmouth in 2018; Old Titanic Game Gets New Lease on Life

As we wind down 2017, here are some news items of interest to Titanic enthusiasts.

National Maritime Museum Cornwall, UK
Photo: Public Domain (Wikipedia)

1. National Maritime Museum Cornwall Will Bring Major Titanic Exhibition To Falmouth In 2018 (Cornwall Live, 29 Dec 2017)
The National Maritime Museum in Falmouth has confirmed that the ‘TITANIC STORIES’ exhibition will be on display from March 8 next year until January 7, 2019.The exhibition which will examine the stories of the Titanic’s sinking on April 15, 1912, and reappraise the several assumptions, controversies and myths that still linger around one of the most renowned historic events of the 20th century. As well as retelling personal stories of survivors, it will present rare and never-seen-before objects and items -thanks to collaboration with private collectors from major UK museums and private collectors from overseas.
Information about hours of operation and admission fees can be found at https://nmmc.co.uk/.

2. Some of you might remember all old Titanic action adventure called Titanic: Adventure Out of Time. It was actually a decent computer game with good Titanic graphics and an intriguing story. But that was a long time ago (1996). But now it has been resurrected at Gog.com. The reviews so far are mostly positive. Right now it is only available on Windows. No word if a MAC version is coming.
Source: 1996 Point-And-Click Game Titanic: Adventure Out Of Time Sails Onto GOG (PC Gamer, 29 Dec 2017

3. Titanic Belfast is holding a New Years Celebration reports Belfast Live. They report that for £40 per person you get a cocktail upon arrival, a light supper, a midnight piper to herald in 2018 and of course a DJ to control the music being played.

4. And finally if you have $100,000 to spend, then come May 2018 you can take a diving tour of Titanic reports Wate.com. According to the news report: “London-based travel company Blue Marble Private will begin taking people down to the wreck in May 2018. Nine people at a time will leave from the coast of Newfoundland and take a 10-day trip, which includes a deep ocean dive to Titanic. The cost of the voyage matches the name of the ship — the per-person cost weighs in at a hefty $105,129, the company told CNN. Blue Marble Private says the cost is the equivalent of a first-class passage on the ship’s inaugural voyage after an inflation adjustment. The trip includes three potential days of diving, with each dive lasting three hours. During the three hour tour, clients will explore the deck, bow, ridge and cavern where the grand staircase once stood.” Perhaps Clive Palmer, who famously said he was going to build a Titanic II and never did, will buy a ticket to see the real thing.


First Day of Winter/Winter Solstice

 

Today is the first day of winter and the Winter Solstice. It is the shortest day for the Northern Hemisphere. The Winter Solstice usually falls between December 20-23 and the sun is directly overhead the Tropic of Capricorn resulting in the North Pole being tilted the furthest away. The result is shorter days for sunlight for the Northern Hemisphere. And the further north you are (like Alaska or Scandinavian countries) means less sun during the day. The reverse happens in the Southern Hemisphere as the sun is closer to them and they celebrate the Summer Solstice. Those closer to the South Pole can have nearly 24 hours of sun during this time of year.

Winter Solstice seen from space.
NASA

Many cultures observed the Winter Solstice as it marked an important time in the agricultural cycle. By this time all crops and livestock had been prepared for winter. Important foodstuffs were stored for the months when virtually nothing grew. Wine and beer, which had been fermenting during the year, was ready at this time. Cattle and pigs would often be killed at the start of winter so they would not have to be fed during this time. The early months of winter were tough in many places and often called the “famine months” since little food was to be found. Many cultures observed the Winter Solstice as a renewal or that the year was reborn. For out of the seeming withdrawal of the sun, it would come back just as strong and powerful as before. Thus the Winter Solstice was seen by many as the start of a new year such as the old Roman Feast of the Unconquered Sun (Sol Invictus) which happened around the 25th of December.

Singing The Turkey Blues

Male wild turkey
Photo: Public domain

Thanksgiving is over, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are over as well. One final note about Thanksgiving is about the turkey. There are many ways to prepare this bird. One favorite technique is deep frying. Now this has become a rage in the past few years. And I have pointed out the pitfalls of not doing it right. You get one very delicious turkey when done right. Personally the deep fryer is the way to go (east to clean, close the lid etc) but many get those hulking turkey fryers available all over the place these days. No need to play the warnings here. Go to You Tube and see the disasters of turkey frying. Here is a satirical melody about turkey ruined by deep frying the wrong way.

Today is Black Friday (US)

Black Friday Shopping Photo: Public Domain
Black Friday Shopping
Photo: Public Domain

Today is called Black Friday or as it used to be known, the day after Thanksgiving in the United States. It is not an official public holiday though many government employees and a select number of private companies do take the day off. Schools are generally out as well so a lot of kids from grade school to college have the day off.  The day after Thanksgiving has been a major retail event for decades. And the term “Black Friday” likely came from such overwhelming numbers of people and vehicles filling the streets, sidewalks, and malls on this particular day.

Until fairly recently most retail stores were closed on Thanksgiving Day. Only a limited number of stores, often grocery and 24 hour restaurant or retail operations, would be open. Usually stores would open around 6:00am the next day but a few years ago some big retailers like Target started opening up at first late at night but now open at  6 pm. It has not been without controversy as workers get a limited Thanksgiving with their families. Most retailers if they are wise will pay extra for the inconvenience but they are not required to.  Federal law does not mandate extra pay if you work on a  holiday or on weekends. Overtime pay for most non-exempt (meaning hourly workers)is only legally required once you exceed 40 hours,

The sheer masses of people trying to get into stores or malls creates hazardous situations. People being stomped on or worse hacve occurred. Criminals like to take advantage of the situation to rob shoppers, stores, or break into cars. It bears remembering that if you leave anything visible in the car such as backpacks, bags, GPS devices and mobile phones that it may trigger a smash and grab.

Black Friday is often used to measure consumer spending for the upcoming Christmas season. Merchants use the data from the sales made to forecast what the projected seasonal  earnings will be. If modest or low, it tells them the rest of the season will be lackluster unless they step up their marketing.  If sales are booming, then retailers are looking forward to a prosperous Christmas season.

Of course if you want to avoid the whole Black Friday mess and have access to the internet, you can shop from the comfort of your home. Why stand outside a store for hours when you can order the very product you want, often with the same discount, when you can do it at home? That is something likely to get stronger if the present trends hold up which is why there is now a Cyber Monday.


Welcome To November

Halloween has come and gone, Linus once again mourns the Great Pumpkin did not show up, and Christmas decorations are starting to appear. Fall is now apparent with its cool nights and moderate warm days punctuated by rain here and there. Although it is still very early, Christmas jingles are starting to be heard in commercials.

In San Francisco, city workers are hard at work putting up Christmas lights and decorations on Market Street. With standard time, they will be seen by commuters early in the morning and as they leave at night. Thanksgiving is not far off so many are already making plans for the Great Feast. Thanksgiving is normally a day to relax but alas some retail stores do open on that day in the hopes of luring shoppers with great deals.

Coats that have been little used are being fetched out, cleaned, and worn again as the days get a bit cooler. Sometimes very cool depending on how far north you live. But for my friends down in Australia, spring is coming to an end and summer will begin with the solstice in December. Their December is mostly pleasant and warm. It is sort of odd to hear that tune with the lyric “…. Jack Frost nipping at your nose…” as you grill food and sit back in shorts to enjoy a fine meal.

I guess it is all a matter of perspective since I know a guy who fires up his grill in the dead of winter to cook pork chops. But winter is still a ways off and we are in early November. So we say welcome to November and begin our trek into the Christmas season and to the New Year.


Countdown To Halloween:Headless Horseman Song (Bing Crosby)

Once again we are in the Halloween season. Pumpkins and scary decorations now adorn porches, patios and lawns. Here is a clip from the Disney animation classic The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949). Of course if you want a more scary headless horseman you can view one here.

Have a nice Saturday everyone.