Monday, February 28, 2011

Delivering bread to the Inn at Whitewell has its compensations

Friday, February 25, 2011

The party set out from the gates. The newly waning gibbous moon shone brightly behind the filigree of branches while the rising sun cast a pale coral pink shade on the ancient trunks. Snow could not be far off for the all knew the rhyme, “when sun and moon are seen in July the days ahead will be full of clear sky. But when they are seen after an autumn eve the wind will howl and snow will cleave.” Two crows caawed and flew off east. Perhaps a bad omen but Ibbero did not seem disturbed. He knew darker, fouler things were abroad on the journey ahead as they had been confirmed by the rumours already reaching Glavendell.

Asthralain as befits a queen was at the head of the company mounted on her horse Sunswift and was robed simply in a plain grey traveller’s cloak. But this was no longer a defenceless queen. She held her face towards the east and in her left hand Hammclas the staff of stewardship supported her will. To those that could see in the brightening day a faint light emanated from its tip as her will flowed through the wood and leached away into the earth. The company moved off and the bright glint of Glowersmair (sword of songs) was briefly seen under Asthralain’s robes. Ibbero had indeed taught her well. The journey to Witchwaste had begun.

Monday, February 21, 2011

For many years scientists figured there were 100 billion stars in the Milky Way, but last year a Yale scientist figured the number was closer to 300 billion stars. Now scientists have estimated the first cosmic census of planets in our galaxy and the numbers are astronomical - at least 50 billion planets in the Milky Way alone and some 500 million of those planets are in what is known as the Goldilocks zone, where the climate is thought to be not-too-hot and not-too-cold, and life could exist.
The numbers were extrapolated from the early results of NASA's Kepler telescope, almost two years though a three-and-a-half year mission which has cost an estimated $600million and that's just our galaxy. Scientists figure there are 100 billion galaxies in the known universe. (I’m guessing that’s a lot.)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Where does it all go? This fragile hold on consciousness we walk across our lifetime with leaches away across sunny dawns and frozen winters? It soars on a spring morning when life abounds and the sounds of the world make a path for feet to follow. It resides in dreams of warmth and love and a deep blue sea set in the distance like an aquamarine field viewed from a cliff. It is the sheen of olives or the fired golden haze of bread arising from an oven like a triumph. It is all that we can cram into a short space of time without lingering over regret. You can live your life with what seems all the greatest treasures outside your reach while the ones you truly have remain unremarked and forgotten as you extend yourself toward all these unobtainable goals. It is the thought that nothing truly matters when we are no longer loved that makes each day last a lifetime.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The harrying of the north continues still

The chances of dying early - below the age of 75 - are a fifth higher in the North of England compared with the South, research suggests. A study published in the British Medical Journal said the north-south mortality difference was now at its widest for 40 years. Researchers from the University of Manchester compared death rates from 1965 to 2008. The government said health inequalities were being addressed. In 1965, those living in the north were 16% more likely to die before the age of 75 than their southern counterparts. This had risen to just over 20% by 2008. Men were more likely to be affected. For men, the average geographical inequality rate over the period 1965 - 2008 was 15%, compared with 13% for women. Even when people in the North and the South were born into similar socio-economic circumstances, health inequalities persisted because people in the South, even if they had low incomes, had greater access to resources: "There is an overall concentration of resource in the South, the 'built environment' is very different, there's more access to education, transport and other large scale resources." These differences are not because those in the north are not looking after themselves... this is because of resources and the NHS needs to take action.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Friday, February 11, 2011

Egypt, the debt crisis, rising food prices, unemployment, immigration - I think on the scale of one day we are about at 1 second to midnight before it all descends into chaos. Let’s face it things aren’t looking good so perhaps they are right about 2012. I think the beautiful song by Oleta Adams sums it’s a bit of it...

We can travel to the planets
Drive a mile through solid granite
Thrive in all extremes of weather
But we cannot live together

We have pondered our existence
Tracked the comets in the distance
But we're overcome with blindness
By an act of human kindness

We have ventured where
None have gone before us
But in matters fundamental
We are patterned on an old design
Welcome back Tyrannosaurus
Evolution is a state of mind

Thursday, February 10, 2011

I’ve been finishing off putting up coving in my bedroom...I’m pretty good at it to. (That’s a first for something in that room.) Why I’ve made it look like it was applied perfectly 100 years ago and has slowly matured through small movements in the walls and ceiling into the twisted mess we see today. Still a bit of paint will make it look better. It always does.

Robbie the wonderdog is getting on with normal stuff but is bumping into everything. I had to feed him with a spoon last night but just as he gets used to his collar it will be coming off. I only found out they are called Elizabethan collars. I’m quite sure queen Bess wouldn’t be seen dead in one.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Monday, February 07, 2011

I took these pictures yesterday while out with the dog. Some have an eerie watercolour likeness. I took the dog for a longer walk than normal because Tuesday he is having his operation for his undescended bit. It’s only a day operation, so he’ll be back at home in the evening but probably a bit sore. Hope he doesn’t blame me. Wednesday I have to go the dentist so all round a week of pain I think.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

NASA Finds Earth-Size Planet Candidates In Habitable Zone, Six Planet System

WASHINGTON -- NASA's Kepler mission has discovered its first Earth-size planet candidates and its first candidates in the habitable zone, a region where liquid water could exist on a planet's surface. Five of the potential planets are near Earth-size and orbit in the habitable zone of smaller, cooler stars than our sun.

"In one generation we have gone from extraterrestrial planets being a mainstay of science fiction, to the present, where Kepler has helped turn science fiction into today's reality," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. "These discoveries underscore the importance of NASA's science missions, which consistently increase understanding of our place in the cosmos."

The discoveries are part of several hundred new planet candidates identified in new Kepler mission science data, released on Tuesday, Feb. 1. The findings increase the number of planet candidates identified by Kepler to-date to 1,235. Of these, 68 are approximately Earth-size; 288 are super-Earth-size; 662 are Neptune-size; 165 are the size of Jupiter and 19 are larger than Jupiter.

Of the 54 new planet candidates found in the habitable zone, five are near Earth-sized. The remaining 49 habitable zone candidates range from super-Earth size -- up to twice the size of Earth -- to larger than Jupiter.

"The fact that we've found so many planet candidates in such a tiny fraction of the sky suggests there are countless planets orbiting sun-like stars in our galaxy," said William Borucki of NASA's Ames Research Centre in Moffett Field, Calif., the mission's science principal investigator. "We went from zero to 68 Earth-sized planet candidates and zero to 54 candidates in the habitable zone, some of which could have moons with liquid water."

All of the planets orbiting Kepler-11 are larger than Earth

Friday, February 04, 2011

Two Ladies Talking in Heaven

1st woman: Hi, Wanda!

2nd woman: Hi, Sylvia! How'd you die?

1st woman: I froze to death.

2nd woman: How horrible!

1st woman: It wasn't so bad. After I quit shaking from the cold, I began to get warm & sleepy, and finally died a peaceful death. What about you?

2nd woman: I died of a massive heart attack. I suspected that my husband was cheating, so I came home early to catch him in the act. But instead, I found him all by himself in the den watching TV.

1st woman: So, what happened?

2nd woman: I was so sure there was another woman there somewhere that I started running all over the house looking. I ran up into the attic and searched, and down into the basement. Then I went through every closet and checked under all the beds. I kept this up until I had looked everywhere, and finally I became so exhausted that I just keeled over with a heart attack and died.

1st woman: Too bad you didn't look in the freezer---we'd both still be alive.