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Stu Savory
Eunoia, who is a grumpy, overeducated, facetious, multilingual ex-pat Scot, blatantly opinionated, old (1944-vintage), amateur cryptologist, computer consultant, atheist, flying instructor, bulldog-lover, Beetle-driver, textbook-writer, long-distance biker, blogger and webmaster living in the foothills south of the northern German plains. Not too shy to reveal his true name or even whereabouts, he blogs his opinions, and humour and rants irregularly. Stubbornly he clings to his beliefs, e.g. that Faith does not give answers, it only prevents you doing any questioning. You are as atheist as he is. When you understand why you don't believe in all the other gods, you will know why he does not believe in yours :-) Oh, and he also has a neat English Bulldog bitch 'Frieda'.

And her big son 'Kosmo'.

Click to see a scrollable panorama of our village.

Some of my bikes

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Mothersuckers :-)

Comments (2) :
Jenny (Ibiza) grinned : "Nice title. If you had shown us a supercharged engine, you could have called it 'Blow Job' ;-)" AFAIK, the NSU TT is also a longstroke engine ;-)
Schorsch (D) corrects me : "No, you are wrong there. It was a shortstroke engine. The 1968 NSU TT 4-cylinder engine had bore × stroke = 75.00 mm × 66.30 mm = 2.95 in × 2.61 in = 1200cc. " My mistake; very boring ;-)

Wednesday, January 26, 2010

Prostate Cancer - a 5 phase Timeline

Happily, I can now write :-

I am a cancer survivor* :-)

But because the subject of (prostate) cancer is treated with such taboos (at least here in Germany it is), I want to write an account from a patient's point of view so that you will know what to expect should you (or your spouse/partner) be similarly diagnosed. Understand please that I am not a medical doctor; certainly you can find a lot of good articles/broschures/leaflets/books etc all written by doctors, freely available and on the net. My highly subjective and necessarily personal account does not compete with these, rather it complements them. Patient's accounts are rare, probably for taboo reasons; but I am shameless, and so may be able to help someone by writing an open account of my experiences. There will be several posts over the coming weeks; I'll link them all together too. These posts are aimed at potential cancer victims worldwide, but especially in the UK, because Britain has the worst survival rate for cancer among developed nations!

Think of the prostate as a gland used to store and emit seminal fluid which transports your semen through the urethra into the penis when you are having sex. It's a mixing valve too, because your urine flows from the bladder through the urethra & penis too. The prostate gland is attached to the base of the bladder. As you get older**, the prostate can grow, obstructing the flow of urine etc. It can become cancerous too (60,000 cases per year here in Germany, increasing by 4% annually). Prostate cancer can be inherited so it is good to know your family history. There are too reports that mitochondrial DNA may be the secret of prostate cancer. It helps MOST to get an early diagnosis; it is known that older people miss early cancer symptoms, even of melanoma. Although index finger length correlates with prostate cancer, this is not enough for a reliable diagnosis, so I'll be telling you about DRE and PSA diagnosis tests. The most significant correlation is with age, so I'll be telling you about that correlation in a later post.

For the purpose of these blog articles, I'm going to subdivide prostate cancer diagnoses and therapy into 5 phases. There is no fixed timeline to these phases, each phase can vary in duration, and indeed some lucky people may never get it and/or may die of some other cause while still in the harmless phase of prostate cancer. Two thirds of cancers are slow, 1/3 are aggressive, faster, ones. The slow ones can take a decade to become critical (c.f. active surveillance, phase 2). My subdivisions are :-

  1. Harmless phase, DRE but PSA value under 4
  2. Active surveillance, biopsy not (yet) critical
  3. Treatment (Operation to remove the prostate gland etc)
  4. Rehab
  5. Regular PSA checks

Today, I will just blog about phase 1 (DRE and PSA tests) and will cover the other phases each in later posts.

Phase 1 checks: DRE (Digital Rectal Examination).

As soon as you turn 45, get a prostate cancer check each year. I turned 45 twentytwo years ago and the first-check used at the time was the DRE, still in use today. DRE stands for digital rectal examination wherein the doctor shoves his gloved, lubricated finger up your backside, feeling for the shape, size and hardness of the adjacent prostate gland, maybe even 'milking' it. Unpleasant***, but not really painful. However, if the prostate is diagnosable via DRE then any cancer is likely to be quite advanced and indeed more than 2/3 of the tumours found by DRE have already spread beyond the prostate and the chance of curing the cancer is small :-(

However, any well equipped practice can have the doctor examine the lower abdomen via ultrasound and see if the prostate is enlarged, even keeping quarterly records of its size. But this doesn't tell him or you if it is benign. For this we have the PSA nowadays.

Phase 1 checks: PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen).

The PSA test measures the blood level of prostate-specific antigen, an enzyme produced by the prostate (The risk of prostate cancer increases with increasing PSA levels). So you merely have to give a blood sample. Although a low PSA test (PSA under 4 ng/mL) is good at excluding cancer, the PSA test does register a lot of false (high) positives. PSA levels can change for many reasons other than cancer. Two common causes of high PSA levels are enlargement of the prostate (benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH)) and infection in the prostate (prostatitis). It can also be raised for 24 hours after normal ejaculation, [which for younger men may mean almost continuously ;-) ] The excess false positives imply that, even with a high PSA result, you still have only about a 10% chance of having a malignant cancer :-) Unfortunately, it needs a painful, messy, biopsy to confirm or deny the PSA result :-( . More about that in a later post.

An annual PSA test costs about €20 to €30 here. You merely give a blood sample, having refrained from sex (ejaculation) for 2 days previously. Get them to check the blood sample for any prostate infection too, as that can artificially inflate the PSA level. You want any result under 4ng/mL.

Enough of serious, here's Billy Connolly ranting about his last DRE ;-)


Comments (7) :
Ivan (RU) - "Well you've kept your sense of humour too, well writ!".
Peter Harris (UK) wrote 'Having just read your interesting article on your cancer history I read Scobles thing on Elizabet de los Pinos who he says could receive a Nobel prize for her efforts...'
Jenny (Ibiza) asks "So what does the OP-scar look like?" I'll be (un-)covering that in a later post, Jenny.
Chet (USA) asks "You can lessen lung cancer risks by not smoking; what can you do about prostate cancer? I'll be covering that in a later post, Chet.
Reinhard (D) claims "I'd rather not know the gory details, I'm too squeamish..." You mean you'd rather die painfully of cancer? At least get the painless PSA tests man, I know you are over 60. Besides, I shall headline the relevant forthcoming blog entries with the words 'Prostate Cancer' so that you can chicken out and skip them; but I still think ignoring any possible problem is a bad idea! It's only information that I'm giving you!
Doug Alder (Canada) checks regularly : " Since my Type 2 diabetes diagnosis my doctor has me being screened for a variety of things every three months . When I told him my father died from prostate cancer that spread to his bones he added a PSA to that screening and a yearly DRE (but I've been having them for several decades). Fortunately for me the government pays for it not me :)" Glad to hear you are getting the checks regularly, Doug! The PSA test is a better early indicator than the DRE tho', as I explained above. Klaus (Alaska) informs me that a new test may help guide prostate cancer treatment.

Monday, January 24, 2010

'Tis Burns Nicht the morn, ye ken :-)

Fair fa’ yer honest, sonsie face,
Great Chieftain o’ the Puddin-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thaim:
Weel are ye wordy of a grace
As lang’s my arm.

The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
our pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o’ need,
While thro’ your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.

His knife see Rustic-labour dight,
An’ cut you up wi’ ready slight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright
Like onie ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm-reekin’, rich!

Then, horn for horn they stretch an’ strive,
Deil tak the hindmost, on they drive,
Till a’ their weel-swalled kytes belyve
Are bent like drums;
Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
Bethankit hums.

Is there that owre his French ragout
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi’ perfect sconner,
Looks down wi’ sneering, scornfu' view
On sic a dinner?

Poor devil! See him owre his trash,
As feckless as a withered rash,
His spindle shank a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit;
Thro’ bluidy flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!

But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread,
Clap in his walie nieve a blade,
He’ll mak it whissle;
An’ legs, an’ arms, an' heads will sned,
Like taps o’ thrissle.

Ye Powers wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o’ fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies;
But, if ye wish her gratefu’ prayer,
Gie her a Haggis!

Comments (2) :
Charles Pergiel wrote "I was able to make out some of it, but not enough to make it clear. Google's translation service was of no help, they don't even have Scottish listed. As for Haggis: a fellow I knew went to Scotland on business, something to do with an offshore oil operation. He had lunch with his hosts one day at a company cafeteria on the mainland. They pointed out the Haggis on offer, so he picked it up, national dish and all. Got back to the table and he was the only one who had gotten it. Everyone else got something tasty ;-)" FWIW, Burns wrote in Lallans (=lowlands language).
Susan (USA) asks "Like Charles, I would need a Scots dictionary. What would you recommend?" There is 'The concise Scots dictionary' - ISBN 0-08-028491-4 - specifically written for Sassenachs inasmuch as it only goes in one direction Scots(=Lallans) -> English. That's the one I have. An a cutty guide tae the maist kenspeckle pynts o Scots spellin can be fund in the Wikipaedia airticle anent the Scots leid :-)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Hu visits USA ;-)

And provides his own transport?

No chance he was presenting a foreclosure notice I suppose ?

Comments (1) :
Schorsch wrote "Off Topic, but thanks for making your bike pix in your left sidebar clickable; sadly I don't have photos of all of mine :-(" FWIW, Vic Ford has a MuZ now too :-) BTW, my FJR (second from top) is up for sale.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

If Magritte had used Linux* ;-)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Guns vs. Pencils

Well at least the pencil has an eraser !

Comments (2) :
Chelsea (LA,USA) triggers a wry thought with this question "Is it a coincidence that so many of the Tea Party can't spell ?" Wow, Chelsea, that sends a Colt shiver down my spine :-(
Ken (UK) "My pen is a mighty tool" Saw that coming; and to which I retort:-
Yeah, ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::your pen is:::::::::::::::::::: ;-)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Paint your Easter eggs early this year

"Have you got any eggs at all? Preferably poisonous brown eggs?"

U p until last week, you might only have heard that question when applying to join the local neofascist party*, but we have a current scandal in Germany about cancer-inducing chemicals being deliberately put into animal foodstuffs solely for profit maximisation :-(

As a result, to stop any progress along the food chain, many poultry farms have been prevented from selling non-free-range eggs until said eggs have been tested for industrial chemicals like dioxins and furanes etc. If these are found, the hens may have to be slaughtered, to interrupt the food chain.

So the question arises whether there will be sufficient healthy eggs (even if they are Chinese imports ?) for the traditional Easter egg hunt this year.

Families usually paint hard-boiled eggs and hide them for children to find. The eggs are a symbol of the stone being rolled away from Jesus' tomb. So Catholic priests like the idea of small children looking for their eggs ;-)

The painting can range from simple monochrome dying of the shells, through more elaborate egg art, such as this 2005 egg by blogreader Robin Kirkey to grim-looking pen-and-ink renderings of the child's favourite pet :-)

However, in view of the 2011 foodstuff problem, I suggest you draw a special pattern on your Easter eggs this year; indeed, I provide a stencil** below :-(

Comments (2) :
Marion(D): wrote "...Deine Erklärung über deutsche Ostereier ist mal wieder unschlagbar ;-)" Translation = 'Hit the nail on the head as usual ;-)'
Morag (Isle of Skye, Scotland) : reminds me of her Easter 2010 Dalek easter egg photo Eggsterminate! Eggsterminate! ;-)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Bloody Lie Belle :-(

Sarah Palin, the bloody lie belle, has requested that we librulz stop falsely accusing the right wing media of violent rhetoric. She needs to look at the actual facts! Here are just three examples, ignoring her own cross hairs map of 20 Dem 'targets'.
  • Rush Limbaugh fantasized about a terrorist attack on San Francisco.
  • Ann Coulter said a suicide truck bomb targetting the New York Times would be a good idea.
  • Glenn Beck said the murder of Nancy Pelosi and Michael Moore would be a good thing.
If those aren't examples of violence-inciting rhetoric, I don't know what is !

Comments (1) :
Dave (USA) says " forgot Sharron Angle(R), who has called for armed insurrection aka 'Second Amendment remedies' :-(" Yes, and she also proposed eliminating the Education Department, aiming to bring everyone down to Tea Party level, I presume. Here in Germany we have a law (§130) forbidding inter alia inciting the electorate to violence; I assume the US doesn't have an equivalent? Can a US blogreader help me with more info?
In the meantime, I found the following on Doug Alder's blog : "On June 26, 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court embraced the National Rifle Association’s contention that the Second Amendment provides individuals with the right to take violent action against our government should it become 'tyrannical'. That's almost the opposite of our §130. US Civil War II coming up shortly? Armageddon, USA? The Mayan calendar ends in Fall 2012 you remember ;-)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

"And the holy waters howl" :-(

Let us spare a few thoughts today for all the bloggers (and the non-bloggers too) across the world who are affected by the extreme flooding this year. Particularly I am thinking of SapphireWine in Brisbane, Australia and biker friend Thorwald who lives in Zell on the Mosel, one of the town-flooding rivers in Germany, not to forget the unknown 330+ dead from mudslides in Brazil :-(

We've been lucky ourselves; yes, the river through our village is up several feet, belly-high and swift, and the ford across the river is unpassable both on foot and by vehicle; but the thaw was slow. We only had 1 to 2 feet of snow and the thaw took place over several days so the waters rose slowly. The dam at the the back of our house has functioned well and there is only a small and shallow (1 ft?) lake behind it, so we've stayed dry so far. But tough shit for the next village downstream : our village's sewage works has just been flooded. I hope this doesn't mean that they'll close the input valves and our sewage pipes back up too :-(

BTW, my headline today is taken from the poem Gylfaginning (the beguiling of Gylfi) in the Edda, which I mentioned on monday.

"Körmt and Örmt | and the Kerlaugs twain,
    Them shall Thor wade
Every day | when he goes to doom
    At Ash Yggdrasill;
For the Æsir's Bridge | burns all with flame,
    And the holy waters howl."

Update 7pm CET : There is now a small creek running down the northern side of the valley and through the graveyard. Council workers are trying to stem/divert it. I promise my readers that if we get coffins sailing down the village street, I'll be there with my camera, zombies notwithstanding! ;-)

Comments (4) :
Ivan (RU) asks "How high are the main rivers? About 15-30 feet higher.
Update sunday noon: Passau +30 feet; Backnang, main street 5 feet deep; Frankfurt +16 feet; Koblenz +23 feet. So Cologne and Düsseldorf today?
Thilak (SL) reminds us of the "...terrible flooding here in Sri Lanka too" :-(
Peppone fan (I) writes "...count yourself lucky it's only water in your village, here on Sicily Mount Etna has just erupted again :-("
SapphireWine, a regular blogreader who lives (and swims?) in flooded Brisbane (Australia), has sent me three photolinks & an Oz weather map:

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

11-1-11 : Little Johnny strikes again ;-)

An old biker friend, Paul, referring to saturday's suggested (but rejected by a majority) blog name change, claims he would have preferred the new title "Paraprosdokian" and sent this neat pun, his example of a paraprosdokian :-


The teacher asked the class to use the word 'fascinate' in a sentence.

Molly put up her hand and said, 'My family went to my granddad's farm, and we all saw his pet sheep. It was fascinating.' The teacher said, 'That was good, but I wanted you to use the word 'fascinate, not fascinating'.

Sally raised her hand. She said, 'My family went to see Rocky and was 'fascinated.' The teacher said, 'Well, that was OK Sally, but I wanted you to use the word 'fascinate.'

Little Johnny raised his hand. The teacher hesitated because she had been burned by Little Johnny before. She finally decided there was no way he could damage the word 'fascinate', so she called on him. Johnny said, 'My aunt Gina has a sweater with ten buttons, but her tits are so big she can only fasten eight.' ;-)

Comments (4) :
Charles puns : "Teacher: Johnny, can you use the word horticulture in a sentence for me? Johnny: Yes 'em. You can lead a horticulture but you can't make her think." Groan!
Wendy (AUS) chimes in with this one : "A bit late, but, this is a pretty terrible joke from Little johnny. I thought it was hilarious when I was about 8 years old: The teacher asks Little Johnny to say a sentence starting with 'I'. So he says, 'I is..' and she says, 'No. I am...' So he says, 'OK. I am the ninth letter in the alphabet...'" Me is a stown dead ;-)
Stuart Haber (HPL Princeton, USA) wrote : 'While actively avoiding some work today, I happily stumbled on your blog, by following the link from your comment on the Language Log posting about Getting Real. When I scrolled down to your entry about little Johnny, I thought immediately of Little Bobby Tables, whose story I highly recommend, if you don't know it already: '.
Paul (D) adds a tale of his own about Little Johnny : " During one of her daily classes, a teacher trying to teach good manners, asked her students the following question: 'Michael, if you were on a date having dinner with a nice young lady, how would you tell her that you have to go to the bathroom?' Michael said: 'Just a minute I have to go pee.' The teacher responded by saying: 'That would be rude and impolite?. What about you Sherman, how would you say it?' Sherman said:'I am sorry, but I really need to go to the bathroom. I'll be right back.' 'That's better, but it's still not very nice to say the word 'bathroom' at the dinner table. And you, little Johnny, can you use your brain for once and show us your good manners?' Johnny said: 'I would say: Darling, may I please be excused for a moment? I have to shake hands with a very dear friend of mine, whom I hope to introduce to you after dinner.' The teacher fainted. " Go, Johnny, go! ;-)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Reader of Recent Runes ;-)

C ontinuing with another of Terry Pratchett's characters from the Discworld®'s Ankh Morpork Unseen University. pTerry has a character who is an university lecturer he calls the Reader of Recent Runes, a pun on the browser function 'newsreader'. Which brings me to a runic alphabet called Elder Futhark, because FUTHARK are the first 6 letters, not the usual ABCDEF.

Actually the 'J' should be written as offset angled brackets <>so that all letters (all of which have only straight sections) can be made by prodding a dagger into tree bark :-)

Few people nowadays are still Readers of Recent Runes :-( In 2002, my friend Alex and I were in the graveyard at Laxey (Isle of Man) looking at the Viking graves. An american tourist there too said "Beautiful gravestones, pity we can't read them", so we translated - something along the lines of Here lies Erik, son of Thorwald, who built the ship [that brought us here]. Runology is still a tiny part of Germanic Studies these days.

Now to give you a chance to try out your newly found skills, here are two photos of one of SWMBO's bobbly hats*. Try reading these; can you ?

Neither can I, because I can't understand the Icelandic, merely transliterating rune by rune is not enough, you have to know the particular scandinavian language as well :-(
It turns out that becoming a fluent Reader of Recent Runes is much more difficult than it seems, I can only cope with a minor subset; respect, pTerry!

This stamp is from the Faroes, which are sub-arctic islands 320kms north of Scotland. In the dawn after the months-long arctic night, the early Viking settlers knew all about global warming after the ice ages; indeed, they even named one of their gods Thaw ;-)

* Hint: the bobbly hat bears a quotation from the Edda :-)

Comments (3) :
Carol (UK) sniffled "I'be god a rune nobe, dub thad helb?" I doub id :-(
Anikki (FI) suggests : " Is the bobbly hat quotation from the Völuspá : 'Heroes tread Hel-way, Heaven is cloven.' ?" I wouldn't know, lass :-(
She-of-the-600-Ninja (IOM) groans "..godawful pun!"

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Blog name change ?

Jenny, an old friend from Ibiza, suggests I not only change the format of this blog for the New Year, but also its name, because no-one knew what Eunoia meant let alone how to pronounce it. Going beyond expectations, and in order to correct both these problems at the same time, let's try renaming it as Paraprosdokian ;-)

Look it up in a dictionary, you lazy sods, or mouseover the dotted words ;-)

Objections, agreement, don't cares, and WTFs by Email please...

Comments (4) : Chip blogged "That's so much more of a household word ;-)"
Ivan (RU) suggests I "Change it back, otherwise we all have to edit our carefully alfabeticly(sp?) sorted blogrolls :-(" OK, OK, I'll change it back.
Jenny (Ibiza) thinks "...that's even WORSE !!!" I think so too, as does Ivan.
Frothing Mouse, commenting on this AND on the January 5th entry, wrote "Eunanoia, er, eunnoinoia, er dying birds : I actually looked up the word and it has a 'beautiful mind' part to it! Plus being the only word with all the vowels, blah blah. Also, I also thought the bird thing was a result of the huge storm system that blew threw the midsection of the US. Of course, that doesn't explain the other fish and bird deaths we've been privy to lately. Other than I guess they've happened regularly before and we just don't get the news about them. Or, maybe the aflockalypse, ichthyopalyse is upon us." 'Beautiful mind' ? I warn you, I Nash my teeth sometimes too ;-)

Friday, January 7, 2011

Hard is good - rock hard is better ;-)

Dwarf Bread really exists :-)

[Well, what were you expecting me to write about ? ;-) ]

Terry Pratchett is my favourite author of fantasy novels. His Discworld® stories sometimes refer to Dwarf Bread which is the ultimate hardtack, a hard discus-shaped unleavened bread. The dwarves sharpen its edges and use it as a frisbee-like weapon (remember Mr.Oddjob in that James Bond Movie Goldfinger?). The 'loaves' are also used as currency. Should dwarves fall on hard times they can even eat the discs, crispy but hard and most assuredly tooth-endangeringly crunchy.

So imagine my delight when I found out that there actually is a real world equivalent of Dwarf Bread available on the market :-)

In our world this is called Vinschger Schüttelbrot (presumably because you shudder at the thought of the delights of eating it? ;-) ). It is made in South Tirol by Egger OHG, Kugelgasse 2, I-39021 Latsch, Tirol, Italy. The German importer is Wolfram Berger Delikatessen, Alfred-Nobel-Straße 1, in D-51588 Nümbrecht, Germany. It comes in 200 gram packages of 4 caraway- and fennel-flavoured discs which cost me €1.94 per package at my local store.

See if you can get some, perhaps via your local delicatessen, it really is scrumptiously crunchy. The package claims it stays fresh for a year; I wouldn't know, it never lasts longer than a couple of days in MY pantry ;-)

Comments (1) :
Jenny (Ibiza) quips : "Tight is good ; so mine's a large Scotch ;-) That should go well with the Dwarf Bread. PS: Is dwarf bread shortbread ;-) ?"

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

It's Raining Blackbirds ;-)

N umerous news-sites (e.g. here and here) are reporting that thousands of blackbirds fell from the sky on New Year's Eve in Beebe, Arkansas, USA. (That's 30 miles northeast of the state capital, Little Rock.) Noone knows why this happened, but two main theories are being proposed :-
  • "There were some fireworks shot off at midnight and it is possible that the birds were on their roost and stressed so bad that it could have killed them." Sounds highly implausible to me!
  • More likely, I think : High winds and tornadoes struck Arkansas on New Year's Eve, with the hardest-hit area more than 150 miles to the west of Beebe. So I think the birds were sucked up by the CuNim storm cloud and spat out of the top where they froze solid before falling. Those CuNims can be up to 10-15 miles high. Think a 2°C temperature drop per 1000 feet, 10°C (=18°F) per mile.

But for the conspiracy theorists, creationists and tinfoil hat brigade I have scanned Wikileaks for the REAL reason this happened. It seems that one Osama Bin Laden was getting fed up with hiding from US spy planes looking for him from an invisibly high 80,000+ feet. He got so mad he instructed his R&D people to come up with a way to "knock all those goddamn high-altitude Mach 3+ spy planes right out of the sky!". The Beebe, Arkansas, shower of blackbirds was the result of Al Quaeda's terrorist R&D ; problem is, they screwed up & knocked the wrong kind of Blackbird out of the sky ;-)

Monday, January 3, 2011

Perihelion today - eclipse tomorrow
W elcome to the New Year and a new blog format. I've dropped the assumption that I have to cater for 800*600 screens and am now assuming you have a screen at least 1000 pixels wide. If not, complain. Font size has increased from 14px to 16px to help those with deteriorating vision and the line spacing upped from 150% to 160% for the same reason. Furthermore, the text is block-justified now. That OK for you?

This said, today I want to talk about perihelion - closest Earth-Sun proximity - which happens today at 00:00 hrs UT. Apart from those of you teaparty types who still think the Earth is flat (pace Terry Pratchett, I'll do a Discworld® blog later this week) or that the sun orbits the earth (pace The One True Church®), most of you will have been told that the Earth orbits around (the centre of) the Sun. Even that is not quite right, they both orbit around their common centre of gravity. In doing so Earth's orbit is slightly elliptical and today - perihelion - the Earth is only 147,098,040 kms [that's some 91,402,484.5 miles for USA fans of imperial measures] from the sun. On july 4th - aphelion - the Earth is some 152,096,448 kms away from the sun, which is why the sun appears to be about 3% bigger today than it will on 4th of july. That implies 7% more solar radiation today vs. july.

A note for my friends in the US of A : a 500 mph passenger jet would take 20 years at cruising speed to cover that distance, plus the time needed for landing for refuelling and at each intermediate stop a total of a further 20 years for the touchy-feely TSA to spend groping your family jewels :-(

The dates of perihelion and aphelion change drift on over the years, making one complete cycle in 22,000 to 26,000 years. The stars precess accordingly. This is a mechanism behind one of the many Milankovitch cycles, caused e.g. by the gravitational pull of the other planets and by relativistic effects.

And as if perihelion today wasn't enough, tomorrow we have an eclipse of the sun! When the sun rises here at 8:32 MET tomorrow morning, 23% of the disc will already be obscured by the moon. Local maximum (about 71%) will occur about an hour later and it will all be over and done with by 10:44. Sadly, there won't be another eclipse here until march 20th 2015 :-(

This post is for sun worshippers, as opposed to the Xmas blogs which were for son worshippers ;-) Meanwhile, here's how The One True Church® interprets eclipses of the sun ;-) Why am I thinking of a Kenneth Anger movie ?

Comments (4) :
Jack (US) comments "The new sizes are an improvement, 'cos I have a HD monitor. But what's with the 'Impressum' and the 'Most recent Blog' in the Nav section top of the left sidebar? I'm on that page anyway!" Hi Jack(sic!), the 'Impressum' is required by German law, we are not allowed to blog anonymously. The '--> Most recent Blog' link makes perfect sense for those reading any of the archives, to take them straight to the current blogpage :-)
Carola (B) asks "Is the focus of our elliptical orbit then outside the sun ?" No, Carola, both foci of Earth's orbit are inside the Sun, just off-center. Earth's orbit is very nearly perfectly circular (only 3% off), so the foci are quite close together, 'cos the Sun weighs a hell of lot more than the Earth.
Jenny (Ibiza) informs me : "On my 1280*1024 pixel 15.6 inch laptop screen its perfectly legible". Good to know. And late thanks for the Xmas card :-)
Pierre (F) sees the light ;-) "Aha, now I understand why some eclipses are annular and others not. It has to do with the distances of the sun and the moon in elliptical orbits! Thankyou!" Yessir, you deduced correctly :-)

25 Recent Writings
Prostate Cancer Timeline
'Tis Burns Nicht the morn
Hu visits USA ;-)
If Magritte used Linux
Guns vs. Pencils :-(
Easter Eggs 2011 :-(
Bloody Lie Belle :-(
and the holy waters howl
Little Johnny ;-)
Reader of Recent Runes
Blog Name Change ?
Dwarf Bread
It's Raining Blackbirds
Perihelion today...
Happy New Year
Udalrike's snowflake
A Xmas story
Calendars ;-)
Selenelion stuff
How slide rules work
First flight ?
Slide Rule
Kinda Cool...
In darkest Africa
The incompetent Fed
The Stable Door
Number of the Beasts

Archive 2010:
Jan Feb Mar Apr
May Jun Jul Aug
Sep Oct Nov Dec
Archive 2009:
Jan Feb Mar Apr
May Jun Jul Aug
Sep Oct Nov Dec
I have taken the archives 2002 thru 2008 offline to save space on the server.
Ain Bulldog Blog
Back of the envelope
Balloon Juice
Cheese Aisle
Chip's Quips
Cosmic Variance
Decrepit Old Fool
Doug Alder
Dr Grumpy
Earth-Bound Misfit
Fail Blog
Finding life hard?
Flight Level 390
Four Dinners
Frothing Mouse
Gimcrack Hospital
Improbable Research
Inspector Gadget
Jonny B's secret diary
Kees Kennis
Making Light
Mostly Cajun
Noded (JR)
Not Always Right
Observing Hermann
One Good Move
Rants from t'Rookery
Stupid Evil Bastard
The Poor Mouth
The Magistrate's Blog
Too many tribbles
Xtreme English
Yellowdog Grannie

Link Disclaimer
ENGLISH : I am not responsible for the contents or form of any external page to which this website links. I specifically do not adopt their content, nor do I make it mine.
DEUTSCH : Für alle Seiten, die auf dieser Website verlinkt sind, möchte ich betonen, daß ich keinerlei Einfluß auf deren Gestaltung und Inhalte habe. Deshalb distanziere ich mich ausdrücklich von allen Inhalten aller gelinkten Seiten und mache mich ihrem Inhalt nicht zu eigen.

Books I have written

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