December 2009

“There have been joys too great to be described in words, and there have been griefs upon which I have not dared to dwell; and with these in mind I say: Climb if you will, but remember that courage and strength are nought without prudence, and that a momentary negligence may destroy the happiness of a lifetime. Do nothing in haste; look well to each step; and from the beginning think what may be the end.”


image by aarmono

Go on, be brave…..

From the Outdoor Fox

“News Years Day Splash

Hi. I hope you have overcome the stress, happiness and overeating at Christmas! Now I expect you are thinking of the New Year? The Outdoor Fox  is offering a great idea to get you into the mood for the new decade—- Start 2010 with a SPLASH! This is the start of my 60th year and as a way of celebrating the fact that I have survived to this stage in relatively  good health I thought I would raise some money for Clic Sargent.This is a charity close to me as my young brother died of Leukemia 55 years ago and so me reaching this age is doubly important! Clic Sargent looks after children and families of children with cancer.So what is this Splash. Well you can join me by running into the sea at Ganaway at Midday on New Years Day. Either sponsor me to jump into the sea for you or raise sponsorship for you to do it.So please come we hope to have soup, rolls and coffee afterwards!Ganaway is between Millisle and Ballywalter.See you Here! Happy New Year John 07779295299″

Belfast under the Winter Sun

The last two days involved lots of walking for the lovely Sharon and I.  Yesterday was a wee dander up to the top of the cave hill.  It is somewhere I had never been before and involved some interesting paths.  They were made interesting by the hard compacted ice and the fun involved in walking on them.

Belfast Lough

Today’s walk was a little longer.  It began just outside Ballycastle and took us to the top of Fair Head and beyond.  Then down to the sea and a coastal walk back.

The air was frigid and the wind numbing.  At one point I had that dentist visit  feeling and had to warm my face a little before speaking in order to make sense.  Scotland and the Paps of Jura were clear and very wintery with a bright white coating.

The walk was quite a long one and was enjoyed with friends including the outdoor fox.  The humour for the day was supplied by Jasmine a Prince Charles Spaniel who has been spending several weeks with the outdoor fox on an unofficial ‘fat camp’.  She was an overweight little dog who seems to have lost a lot of extra pounds after sampling a slice of the outdoor fox’s active lifestyle.  Although she seemed to be feeling her new found health and was throwing herself into things, she failed to throw herself off things and often suffered from a whiney panic while perched on ledges and steep ground.  All this while Meg dog ( the outdoor fox’s dog) seemed to be always in front and dragging us all forward while constantly sniffing for rabbits.


It is interesting to note that the lovely Sharon and I had a conversation we often have when out walking.  The fact that given the choice she prefers the view out to sea and the wild waves and I prefer the view to the land, the hills, and valleys.  My eye was constantly being drawn to the lake near fair head with it’s crannog sitting in the middle.  With the  snowy fields around and the sheets of ice floating on the lake, my imagination was tugged into an older time.  A time thousands of years ago when a family lived on that crannog, possibly the only people for an area around fair head.  This was and still is a wild place that has very faint, but very real, echoes in all of us.

Starts with a bang does a very nice explanation of today’s xkcd, a brilliant illustration of gravity.  All those wonderful Mars scifi films look a lot more improbable now.

Orion is rising in the winter sky with the bright Sirius, the dog star, due to follow obediently later tonight.

The December moon dominates the frozen sky, waxing.  In a few days it will be a blue moon, the name given to the second full moon in any month.  This is an event that happens every two or three years.  It seems a shame to give it this name and I am sure it had another not too long ago.  They all had names.  The names marked the time of the year and the timing of nature and the seasons.  When I look up the names of the moons it says that the December moon is the Cold Moon, Long Night Moon or Winter Moon.  A name is given for every one of the 12 months, but of course this is us shoe-horning the lunar calendar into our Georgian one.  The Georgian calendar seems just a short-lived aspect of our current culture with the lunar calender probably being more deeply in our psych and behavior when you consider the lunar effect.  Apparently it is difficult for bouncers to get the night off on a full moon.

cold moon image by vtdarkstar

The Full Moon which will be the blue moon falls on the 31st of December our cultural celebration of the new year.  On this night the lunar effect might get a lot of chance to play as so many people are out to let their hair down and celebrate.  All this and we have lost its proper name.

After the initial ambition of going up the black stairs before Christmas it is good to see that Paul had some fun on them (see here).

“nerds are really important both socially and culturally”

Ben Goldacre

Click on Ben’s face to see the interview.

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