Tag Archives: bizarre

What in the world is it?

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OK…this is weird. The other morning after a very cold night, my wife called tme and said I should bring my camera. I asked what for, and she said it was because there was something in the birdbath that is on the back deck. I went to get my camera, thinking it was a bird or perhaps some leaves or pine needles. Imagine my surprise when I saw thing:

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I had never seen anything like it, nor have I since (but hey – that was only less than a week ago). I couldn’t figure out what it could possibly be that caused it. There was nothing inside of it except air bubbles, yet there it was, ice sticking straight up about six inches out from the surface of the birdbath. If it had a branch in it, a feather perhaps, it might be understandable, but nothing? How does water mound itself up in defiance of gravity and do in such a way that it instantly freezes before it falls back into the liquid from which it sprang?

I was totally at a loss for the cause…until today, when an old friend of mine shared a photo he’d taken on Facebook of the exact same phenomenon at their home! He didn’t know what it was, either, but one of the people who read his post knew what it was: an ice spike. You can read about it here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ice_spike. Even thought I read about how it is believed to form, I’m not sure that I understand it at all. Regardless, it is an explanation.

Have you ever seen such a thing?

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1996, a cargo plane crashed in Kinshasa, Zaire, (modern day Democratic Republic of the Congo) killing somewhere between 225 and 350 people and injuring another 500.

Africa Air was a private freight company that operated on the margins of legality. They were well-known for sometimes ignoring safety regulations, and enforcement of the rules was lax in Zaire. On January 8, the company went even further, sending its Russian Antonov AN-32B into the sky from N’Dolo Airport in Kinshasa even though its certification for flying had been revoked. Making matters worse, the Russian crew members had loaded the plane with freight beyond its capacity. The plane was allegedly on its way to bring supplies to Jonas Savimbi’s notorious rebels in Angola.

As the plane barreled down a runway on the sunny afternoon, its engines smoked and then burst into flames. The plane could not attain any altitude and simply ran off the end of the runway, toward a marketplace filled with wooden and iron shacks. The plane crashed into the crowded market and exploded. Fires broke out everywhere and would-be rescuers were driven back by the intense heat and smoke.

In all, estimates of the death toll ranged from 225 to 350 people killed and approximately 500 seriously injured. Of the six crew members on board, four survived. The angry marketplace crowd attempted to lynch them but was thwarted by authorities. There was a second attempt while the crew was at a local hospital but it also failed. The crew members were extradited to Russia for prosecution and sentenced to two years in prison. Pilot Nicolai Kazarin stated during the trial “the market shouldn’t have been there, so why should they be entitled to compensation?” Africa Air subsequently went out of business.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: In 1995, Hiroyoki Gotu memorized 42,195 places of pi and is considered the current pi champion. Some scholars speculate that Japanese is better suited than other languages for memorizing sequences of numbers. The first 144 digits of pi add up to 666 (which many scholars say is “the mark of the Beast”). And 144 = (6+6) x (6+6).

…Must Have Been Very Strange

Double click for a larger image (if you dare!)
Double click for a larger image (if you dare!)

Meet Roxie.  Roxie is a, well, I’m not sure what she is supposed to be.  But this past weekend when we went to the Georgia Renaissance Festival, Roxie was just a short distance inside the entry to greet us.  This strange creature (and the other strange folks we saw) really made me think that we’d not fallen into a Renaissance Faire, but into something from the Dark Ages…the VERY Dark Ages!  There were people everywhere with elf ears, horns on their heads, elf ears and horns on their head…and even some folks dressed as Imperial Storm Troopers!  For a while I thought we’d fallen through a rip in the space-time continuum and were in the future until someone reminded me that Star Wars took places “long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away!”  That made me feel better right way…at least, until I saw Roxie again!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1987, firefighters finally contained a giant fire sweeping eastward across China, but not before 193 people are killed.

The fateful fire began on May 6 in Mohe County of the Heilongjiang Province. From the outset, authorities mishandled the blaze, failing to contain it while the size was still manageable. It spread quickly and within two days, 2,000 square miles had burned and 100 people were dead. Firefighters also had to contend with a separate large forest fire that had broken out near China’s border with the Soviet Union that threatened to join the initial blaze.

It took several more days for the firefighters to finally stop the spread of the fire as it moved toward Inner Mongolia. Although the city of Manqui was saved by controlled fire breaks set by the firefighters, the toll from this huge fire was already immense. Two and a half million acres of land burned and 50,000 people lost their homes. In addition to the 193 people who were killed, hundreds more were injured.

When the fire finally burned out completely on May 27, Yang Zhong, China’s Forestry Minister, was fired for the initially incompetent firefighting response.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  The lobotomy, from the Greek lobe=of brain +tome=slice, was one of the most popular types of brain surgery ever invented. Neurologist and psychiatrist Walter Freeman (who was not a surgeon) simplified the surgery by taking an icepick through the eye sockets instead of through drilled holes in the skull. He chose an ice pick because regular surgical tools made at the time kept snapping off inside of people’s heads.  Headache, anyone?