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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, geocacher and blogger 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 goddamn 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'.

Some of my bikes

My Crypto Pages

My Maths Pages

Friday, May 29, 2015

Amrum Lighthouse Panoramas

We recently spent a pleasant week offshore, on the small island of Amrum which is in the North Sea, just off the mainland of Germany.

Amrum has a lighthouse which is open to the public, so I payed my entrance fee and clambered up the stone spiral staircase (144 steps if I counted correctly). From the penultimate floor there is a door which lets you out onto the external gallery and into the force Bf7 winds which just about blew my beard off!

I walked around the gallery and took these three panned panaroma photos. You can click on these small photos to get the full size (and thus slow-loading) panning shots.

Amrum Lighthouse Panorama, looking north(left) to south(right).

Amrum Lighthouse Panorama, looking SSE(left) to WSW(right).

Amrum Lighthouse Panorama, looking WSW(left) to north(right).

The reason that the sea on the horizon does not look horizontal is that I did not have a tripod with me and so panned around manually, obviously not holding the camera steady level enough. Sorry.

Once back inside and out of the gale, I climbed the narrow and very steep wooden stairs up to the light, only accessible to one person at a time. The light is now electric and is controlled remotely from the mainland. It has a reserve bulb which can be swung into the focus while the dud is swung over to a swap-out position. Meanwhile a technician will be sent over from the mainland on the next ferry (transit time about 2 hours) to swap out the dud and put in a new bulb (about 10 inches diameter) into the standby position.

Comments (5) :
Cop Car (USA) wrote " "Once back inside and out of the gale..." I'm certain that your autocorrect omitted the "near" for Bf7. *Grinning* Beautiful! I have to travel quite a distance to come even close to such scenery. Thanks for climbing the 144 steps to give us the view. (I like the way they maintain the light as do, I'm sure, the local navigators.)" CC is correct. Level 7 on the Beaufort scale is defined as "High wind, moderate gale, near gale." There was no display of the windspeed at the top, although the lighthouse bore a cup anemometer, probably feeding its data to the mainland control station.
Jenny (Ibiza) objects "Judging by your third photo, I would have put the sea-level wind at Bf5 at most." Me too, judging by the white tops. But wind speed increases with height as pilots know, doubling at altitude and turning 30° right in the northern hemisphere, due to the Coriolus force.
Petra (A) asks "Why are there two bulbs?" For reliability. If one bulb fails the other gets moved to the focal point within seconds and the central station alarmed that a replacement bulb will be needed asap. Grant Saviers recently wrote : " For two 1 year MTBF (Mean Time Between Failure) lamps in parallel and a one day repair time (MTTR=Mean Time To Repair) the math works out to about 183 years MTBF for both failing at the same time. This math is based on steady state failure rates so ignores infant mortality and wear out failures, but is illustrative of how reliable parallel redundancy can be when prompt repairs are possible. However, since filament lamps have finite lifetimes, I think best practice would be to burn them in to weed out infant mortality and replace both lamps when one burns out." That is correct, IMHO, since both bulbs come from the same batch made by the same manufacturer. But Grant's numbers assume the second bulb is a hot standyby; it isn't, it's a cold standby, only being turned on when at the focal point of the (huge) Fresnel lens of the light.
Ed (USA) asks "How far could you see?" About 14 miles. There is a formula for calculating the distance to the horizon from height above sea level. D=sqrt(1½*H) where H is eye-height in feet and D is in miles, I seem to remember. So let's assume those 144 steps had 6" risers, making 72 feet. Add 5½ feet for my eye height. The lighthouse was built on a dune, say about 54 feet AMSL. 72+5+54 = 131 feet. 131*1.5=196 approx. Square root of 196 is 14, ergo 14 miles to the horizon. But really, I could see as far as the sun (daytime) and as far as the Andromeda Galaxy (M31) at night, which is 2¼ million light years. David, is this getting too highbrow for you again? ;-)
Klaus (Alaska) picked up that last ball and ran with it " Here is a Wikipedia link for some of your blog viewers who want to go more in detail about "distance to the horizon", your formula is correct without the effect of "atmospheric refraction", D= 1.22 x sqrt. h will have the same result, they figured the sqrt. of 1.5 already hence 1.22 x sqrt. h " Adding 8% would make the distance 15 miles. However, my guess at the height of the dune, at the height of the lighthouse on it, forgetting the final floor, etc may be off by more than 8% :-(

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Three hundred billion suns

A recent announcement by NASA tells us that they have discovered a galaxy far far away (no, not THAT one) with 300 billion stars (about the same as the Milky Way) which is the brightest one known so far.

It is 12.5 billion light years away which means the the light we see from it left that galaxy 12.5 billion years ago. The age of the universe is 13.8 billion years, so that galaxy was so bright just 1.3 billion years after the Big Bang. This implies that it contains mostly first-generation stars which do not have planets. Why? Because the hydrogen fuses to helium and when all the hydrogen has fused the star contracts until small enough for the helium to fuse into carbon and oxygen (takes only a million years or so). So there were no heavy elements around yet to make planets around first-generation stars.

At the end of the fusion chain (iron core), the star goes (super)nova; the expelled (heavier) materials then go on to make second-generation stars (and maybe their planets). We are N-th generation stardust for some N>1 ;-)

The brightness comes from the material orbiting just above the event horizon of the black hole at the centre of that galaxy, which is expanding quickly as it consumes the material around in the inescapable maw of its gravity well. [Hypothesis: ALL galaxies have a central black hole.]

Because that galaxy is so old and far away, it is receding so fast that Hubble's constant tells us that the Doppler shift on its light has moved the brightness into the far infra-red by the time it reaches us. Thus it was the WISE infrared satellite which detected its faint glow. 12.5 billion years ago the universe was only about 10% of the size it is "now". So all those 300 billion stars were closer together and emitting their radiation at hard wavelengths. The luminous flux must have been (=is) ginormous and so even if there had been (=are) any planets there, the gamma-ray intensity would have killed off any life within microseconds. Hint : just 100 milliSieverts is enough to kill an adult).

So, given only first-generation stars and given the deadly gamma-ray flux, this casts a (w)hole new light (puns intended) on the Drake equation :-(

Feeling lonely now?

Comments (7) :
Jenny (Ibiza) asks "If the black hole is BLACK, how can it be bright?" Good question, to which Stephen Hawking has an answer : quantum effects at the event horizon mean light quanta can move just outside the horizon and depart from there as black body radiation (with its characteristic spectrum) known as Hawking radiation. The black hole thus evaporates, big ones slowly, small ones quickly.
John (UK) grinned "Thanks for the link to Terry Bisson's short story, which is hilarious ;-)" It is, isn't it; and thought provoking (sic!) :-)
Petra (A) asks "Would a local supernova cook us?" The nearest candidate supernova is Betelgeuse (pronounced Beetle Juice) which is 500 light-years away and so would just be a very bright star (brighter than the moon) visible even in the daytime sky, but not a second sun, when it goes off. Only a candidate within 50 light-years would harm us. That said, a gamma-ray burst would blow off our atmosphere if the beam were aimed at Earth. WR 104 is such a candidate star, aligned at us, and only 8000 light-years away (i.e. in our galaxy, the Milky Way).
Brian (UK) corrects me "Newest research shows that WR104's polar axis is NOT pointing at us." OK, so I was out of date. Got another example?
David (NY,NY) complained "Too highbrow. K.I.S.S" OK. Next blogentry will just be some vacation photos :-)
Renke (D) disagrees with David and wrote " As David was talking about your highbrow posts - do we have something like a reversed K.I.S.S. principle? I like the abbreviation K.I.C.K., but I'm unsure about the meaning of K (Keep It Complex, K[..]) :)" K=Kid, perhaps? I would suggest the acronym S.H.I.T = Show High Information Transfer, or something of that ilk ;-)
Jenny (Ibiza) asks "So just WHY do small black holes evaporate faster than big ones? No maths please." Because the ratio of surface area to volume increases inversely with the radius of the black hole :-)

Monday, May 25, 2015

Restoring Vintage Aircraft

The Quax club at our local airfield (where I was a flying instructor for a while) has a hangar where they restore vintage aircraft. Each plane belongs to an individual member, but they share the workshop facilities. Once a year they have an open day, and this year we got to see work-in-progress :-) Here are a dozen or so photos I took, the planes' names under each photo are clickable to get you more info on each plane. Most of the planes are ex-military trainers, from 1930s biplanes to 1950s jets.

De Havilland Chipmunk, I've flown one.

Fieseler 156 Storch (=Stork), STOL liason plane.

Fouga Magister CM170, Mach 0.8 jet trainer

Stampe SV4C, I've flown one.

D.H. Tiger Moth, I've flown one.

Yak 52, I've flown one.

Unidentified radial-engined high-wing monoplane. Any guesses?

Unidentified polished-aluminium side-by-side 2-seater. Any guesses?

Can anyone help me identify those last two planes please?

And before anybody asks, these babies cost 50K€ for a P149 to upwards of 2M€ for a Messerschmidt 109. And then there are the restoration costs and the upkeep. Out of my league, I'm afraid. I just had a 1969 PA28-140.

Comments (2) :
Comrade Misfit (USA) tells me "That shiny aircraft is a Globe Swift." Thanks for the identification :-)
Klaus (Alaska) identifies the radial engine "The unidentified engine ( 7 cylinder, lower air induction) could be a Cessna 190 or 195, a friend of mine just sold his Cessna 190. It could also be this engine, a Continental W670." Maybe, but the lack of dihedral on that centre tank distracts me. Perhaps CC can confirm or deny???

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Our village : Henglarn

Google Earth doesn't seem to have any pictures of our village that I could find. So here are some of my own photos, to give you an impression of our village (still) life.

Henglarn is a 1000 year old village, small, with population about 900. According to the new-fangled three-word address system at What 3 words, I live at (=dust of the same travels ;-). Henglarn has just one shop, one pub, one (catholic) church, one river with one road-bridge over it, a war memorial and a graveyard ;-)

This is the village shop. It is also the bakery for surrounding villages too. Note no window display (a result of no competition). The door & windows are used as a message board :-) Like many of the (farm-)house roofs, it has a silicon roof, generating some of its own electricity. Bike rack, but no dog-ties.

This is the 19th century village pub. The landlord, Elmar, is going on 80 :-) It used to be the post-office, now there is just a (yellow) mail collecting box outside. Before that it was the staging post for the stage coach. Cigarette machine outside; the church insisted the condom machine be removed :-(

This is the "new" i.e. 19th century catholic church. The 10th century predecessor was replaced 120 years ago; it has now been partially restored as the war memorial. No village priest, they share one with the neighbouring village as it's a dying occupation. It's either that or because the primary school closed and was moved to said neighbouring village ;-)

The photo on the left below shows the river Altenau which flows through the village, currently with very low water levels (global warming?). The photo on the right shows the war memorial, a partial restoration of the original 10th century church. The bell tower was added in the 16th century. The masonry swords on the left and right sides are a post-WW2 decoration.

Looking in the other direction (east) we see the one road-bridge through the village. When the snows melt, I have seen it submerged, the old houses' ground floors flooded and the old church's graveyard (on the right side of this photo) awash. The new graveyard (since 1872) is 60 feet higher up on the northern hillside ;-)

In the old graveyard, this is the 1603 AD bell from the old belltower (12th century). The tower is now used as the war memorial.

Here's a very short history of our village :-

Around 4000 BC Two stone age cist graves built; still here.
Around 1500 BC, bronze age barrows (tumuli) built; still here.
900 AD, the old church built, now restored as the war memorial.
1015 AD, Henglarn first mentioned in the Paderborn cathedral property lists.
1192 AD, Pope Coelestin III refers to Henglarn in a letter.
1391 AD, Cathedral buys land here and starts to erect Vyenburg castle, but fails to complete it (1395).
1539 AD, the (Water-)Mill is mentioned for the first time in the property lists
1597 AD, Witch hunts :-(
1603 AD, the old bell in the photo above was bought for the belltower.
1753 AD, first school built.
1894 AD, new church built.
1903 AD, new school built, still standing.
1988 AD, we moved here ;-)
2015 AD, Millenium festival later this year :-)

Comments (2) :
Renke (D) wrote ". And, if Wikipedia is correct, Henglarn has the one biggest singular Quellschwemmkegel with up to 7 Quickspringe (called Hungerbrunnen in South Germany) - good candidates for the German word of the week award :)" Indeed it does, but it's not at all obvious. The ones in nearby Niedertudorf are far more apparent.
Hattie (Hawaii) wrote " So you've lived in that village since 1988! It looks idyllic." Fairly peaceful, yes, only one murder per decade and an excommunication (not for the murders though ;-)

Tuesday, May 12, 2015


Several of you read my blog article datelined January 29th about our village being 1000 years old (or more) this year and have asked me to show you photos of any really old buildings near to us which still stand.

My favourite is the "Spieker", which stands for storage-house, built in 1588 by Deitharr (=Dieter) Reisen and his wife Geirtrut (=Gertrude) Romes who moved in on May 12th 1588 (see photo below). The ground storey is of stone to improve fire-resistance. It was used as the village storage facility for crops (over winter). The door is more recent as is the house number, both probably 19th century. The door was originally 6" shorter and stopped at a 6" removable wooden thresh-hold used to keep the straw inside. The thresh (=straw) was used internally as floor-insulation back then (now you know where the word "threshhold" comes from). Removing the threshold let you sweep out the old straw before spreading new. Doubtless Deitharr carried Geirtrut over that wooden board (threshhold) on this very day in 1588 :-)

The first floor (European numbering goes G-1-2-3 etc not 1-2-3-4 etc as in the USA) was made of a wooden frame with wattle (=mud) walls. It held the living quarters. Drain pipes and snow-stopper on the roof are a recent (19/20th century) addition. The photo below shows the eastern face of the building.

The horse trough appears to be a 17th century addition; the bench is 20th century. The 19th century cobbles around the house are all that is left of the cobbled street, now asphalted.

The photo below is of the south face. You can see that the second floor (in the roof) was also used for storage because the sole window also open like a door. Originally there would have been a beam projecting above it, bearing a pulley, so that sacks could be winched up. The tiny room at the very top might well have been the servants' quarters. Photo taken around 10 a.m. so that you can see the shadows of the wooden dowels (instead of nails) used in the construction.

Over the centuries the house was also used by the local gentry, then as an apartment for any visiting dignitaries, then in the 19th century as the village police station. Hence just across the road we have the 19th century 2-cell gaol (=jail) shown in the photo below. The upstairs barred window has been replaced by a door because this building was also used for crop storage; you can see where the beam for winching sacks up was originally placed in the (west) wall. The lock has had a modern cylinder fitted and an electric lamp was added in the 20th century too, reality beats authenticity :-(

The village well was nicely restored in the 20th century, but is now dry in the summer, the ground-water table having sunk over the centuries.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

I have strange tastes ;-)

Friends say I have strange tastes. And not just in the culinary sense. But it is true that when visiting new countries, I like to try out their cuisine, especially things I've never consumed before.

This has led me to try such culinary disasters as a tea-substitute with a large knob of yak butter in it, a fruit-bat and kangaroo pizza, some warm chinese wine and various other vomit-projecting comestibles :-( And this from someone who actually likes Haggis. But I did like chocolate covered ants :-)

The drink shown here is birch sap, sadly diluted and sugared, filled in Minsk (which is in Belarus) by Asaloda (= Borisov cannery). I had expected it to have more taste and found it rather disappointing. Maybe I should have added (more) vodka? And left out the birch sap ;-) ?

I've never found birch sap elsewhere which is why it piqued my curiosity.

What strange foreign food/drinks have you tried (maybe only once ;-))?

Comments (4) :
Renke (D) wrote "Tripe. uargh. Foreign culture of origin: Swabia. I'm still shuddering, though the taste sensation happened 10 years (+/-) ago. Roasted insects are great, btw - as a snack I would prefer them over crisps." Yes, I liked them roasted too :-)
Jenny (Ibiza) asks "Belarus? Isn't that where Chernobyl is? Are you sure the juice they gave you isn't radioactive?" No, I'm not. But Cs-137 has a half-life of 30 years, I seem to remember, so it's half gone now. During my lifetime I've totted up maybe only tens of milliSieverts. In an adult, 100 mSv can cause cancer, 10 mSv for a child, so I think I'm OK ;-) People in Bavaria who ate wild venison and forest-picked mushrooms probably got more mSv :-(
Cop Car (USA) wrote " You have tried some really strange things, Stu. Things I find exotic often register as ho-hum to others: alligator, rattlesnake, mountain oysters (which I prepared and took to work as a treat for my co-workers), octopus and squid, buffalo/bison (consumed sporadically, but continually over the past 50 years). I find even escargot to be exotic (I tried them once!) An allied listing would be of things I've prepared more-or-less regularly over the years that others in this area think weird: kidney stew (Yugoslavian recipe from my mother-in-law was prepared by me, on occasion, for the first 19 years of my marriage) and various other Yugoslavian main dishes, side dishes, breads, and treats. A neighbor's son once told his mother that while staying at my house he even ate cabbage. Imagine anyone's thinking cabbage exotic. (He feared me or he wouldn't have eaten it, he told his mother.) I've tried recipes from Germany, Middle East, India, and Mexico, as supplied by co-workers." I've never tried rattlesnake. Escargot (snails) are quite usual here. I just love steak and kidney pie (with flakey pastry). Just to warn my other readers : Mountain oysters is a term for a dish made of bull, pig or sheep testicles ;-)
Isabelle (D) who lives by the river Oder on the border with Poland, extends my strange taste in music with her dawn frog concert :-)

Thursday, May 7, 2015

International No-Diet Day :-)

Yesterday was International No Diet Day and so all the fat cats could eat as much as they wanted. Good for a laugh in the first world, but not so funny in - say - Burundi or Eritrea :-(

This is a triple bacon/cheese burger with jalopinos (sp?) and single fries.

Personally, I don't know why people have a problem dieting. I just finished a very successful 30 day diet, eating it all in only four days ;-)

Now I'm on a seafood diet; I see food and I eat it ;-)

Comments (2) :
Renke (D) clarified my spelling "Jalapeños (if you meant the chili pepper cultivar). In German Jalapeno is a valid variant of the Spanish name, no idea if this also true for English." OK, I'll try to remember :-)
Cop Car (USA) wrote "I would share that burger with you, Stu. (You get all of the bacon and ½ of everything else!) OTOH: If two or three of us shared it with you, it would be about right for a meal ;-)" It was in Bavaria in some village we rode through last year, where I saw the sign "XXL Bistro" :-)

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

A multi-blossom tree

Riding along a local country road, Frank and I came across this one tree bearing two different colours of blossom (pink and white), so we thought it worth some photos, two of which I'm showing you here.

The zoomed shot below shows pink blossom, which I believe is plum, and white blossom, which I believe is cherry. They are growing on the same tree, as you can see from the top photo.

I can only assume that at some time in the past the owner spliced a branch of plum into the cherry tree, because as far as we know, this cross breeding doesn't happen naturally, evolution notwithstanding :-)

We resolved to come back at harvest time to sample the fruit(s) :-) Comments (3) :
Doug (Canada) sent a link about Fruit Salad trees :-)
Schorsch (D) wrote "Off Topic: As one Biker to another: Geoff Duke died peacefully on May 1st. Thought you'd like to know." Indeed. Thanks for the heads-up. I met him once & got his autograph at a TT-marshals' dinner :-)
Doug (Canada) sent another Star Wars link :-)

Monday, May 4, 2015

Star Wars Day

Star Wars Day is so named because TBBT-like geeks enjoyed the pun "May the 4th be with you".

Such is the stuff of urban legends, because even Adam & Eve also ate from the Tree of Commonly Held Misconceptions®.

But what George Lucas didn't tell us - because his prequels didn't go back that far in time - was that the Dark Side of the Force did indeed come into being on a May 4th!

As many of my older UK blogreaders may remember, it was on May 4th 1979 - 36 years ago - that Maggie Thatcher became PM and Brits are still living in a country that Maggie shaped. Poor sods. No wonder I emigrated ;-)
Comments (5) :
Schorsch (D) wrote "You've been here so long now, you'd suffer from culture shock if you moved back to GB." I pop over to GB every few years and yes, I do get a culture shock, every time. You can't step twice into the same river!
Jenny (Ibiza) said "Surely you moved to Europe before that?" Indeed. 1969 to be precise. Been gone almost 46 years now.
Han (sic! USA) points out that "Now on 5/5 we have the Revenge of the Fifth ;-) This includes 5/5/1912 the day Pravda was first published, 5/5/1886 the day Coca Cola first went on sale, and 5/5/1862 the Cinco de Mayo battle :-)" Like Mexico, here in Germany, we also celebrate the day we beat the French. Except we call it Monday, Tuesday, etc etc. ;-) BTW, have you noticed there seem to be no women on the Dark Side? Or did I miss something?
Han replied "Star Wars Wiki says The term "Sith Lord" generally encompassed members of both sexes, although some female Sith such as Lumiya, Tahiri Veila, Olaris Rhea and Vestara Khai were styled Sith Lady." OK, so I wasn't paying attention :-(
Doug (Canada) wrote "I said when she (Maggie) died they should have let the coal miners bury her. I'm sure they could have thought up something entirely appropriate - just in case there is some kind of afterlife - at least it would have been cathartic for them. The deepest part of a Welsh coal miners latrine comes to mind." Heh, heh!

Recent Writings
Amrum Lighthouse
Three hundred billion suns
Restoring Vintage Aircraft
Our village : Henglarn
Strange Tastes
International No-Diet Day
Multi-blossom tree
Star Wars Day
Sole survivor
Congrats, Pete Barnwell
Schrödinger's bilingual cat
Credit where it is due!
Timetraveller´s´ Reunion
Oldtimer Ahoi :-)
Pythagorean Triples
Pub Joke Win ;-)

Ain Bulldog Blog
Balloon Juice
Cop Car
Earth-Bound Misfit
Fail Blog
Finding life hard?
Hattie (Hawaii)
Making Light
Mostly Cajun
Murr Brewster
Not Always Right
Observing Hermann
Rants from t'Rookery
Scary Duck
Spork in the drawer
Squatlo Rant
The Magistrate's Blog
XE Express
Yellowdog Grannie

Archive 2015:
Jan Feb Mar Apr
Archive 2014:
Jan Feb Mar Apr
May Jun Jul Aug
Sep Oct Nov Dec
This blog is getting really unmanegable, so I am taking the first 12 years' archives offline. My blog, my random decision. Tough shit; YOLO.
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Blog Dewey Decimal Classification : 153
FWIW, 153 is a triangular number, meaning that you can arrange 153 items into an equilateral triangle (with 17 items on a side). It is also one of the six known truncated triangular numbers, because 1 and 15 are triangular numbers as well. It is a hexagonal number, meaning that you can distribute 153 points evenly at the corners and along the sides of a hexagon. It is the smallest 3-narcissistic number. This means it’s the sum of the cubes of its digits. It is the sum of the first five positive factorials. Yup, this is a 153-type blog. QED ;-)
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