Tag Archives: ice

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its Russian Antonov AN-32B into the sky from N’Dolo Airport in Kinshasa even though its certification for flying had been revoked.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).

Land of Mint Juleps and Iced Tea on the Veranda?

_MG_8581Ah, the south! The land of cotton, beaches, gators, swamps, mosquitoes and “snow-birds” from the northern part of the country. Why do the “snow-birds” come south for the summer? Is it because they have some Canadian goose DNA mixed in with their genetic make-up? Nah, I don’t think so. They come south for the warmth and southern cookin’ and hospitality!

When you think of the south, you may think of plantations and movies like Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil where the heat is sweltering and the accents are thick.  You picture folks in white suits and flower-print dresses sitting on the veranda sipping a mint julep or iced tea, right?

Yeah, sure.  I used to think that, too. Today’s photo, taking just Wednesday, is of one of the two small man-made lakes just down the hill from where our RV is parked. It shows that there probably was no one sitting on the veranda anywhere in Georgia this week!

Thank goodness, the cold has gone!  Now, we’re headed for rain. I can handle that. I even enjoy sleeping at night when the rain is beating a tattoo on the roof. If you’re still in the grips of the cold and winter storms, my heart goes out to you. Hang in there! Spring will come to Narnia!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: on this day in 1965 (can we possibly be that old!?), the James Bond movie “Goldfinger,” which featured the suave British super-spy driving an Aston Martin Silver Birch DB5 sports car, opened in theaters across the U.S. Aston Martins would go on to appear in a number of other Bond films.

Aston Martin’s roots date back to 1913, when Robert Bamford and Lionel Martin formed a company in London to sell Singer cars. The following year, the men changed the name of their business to Aston Martin (in honor of Lionel Martin’s successful performances at hill climb races at Aston Clinton in Buckinghamshire, England) and eventually began producing their own high-quality sports cars. By the 1920s, Aston Martin cars were racing in international competitions, including the French Grand Prix and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In 1947, British industrialist David Brown bought Aston Martin and the next year launched the DB1 (the name comes from his initials). In 1959, an Aston Martin DBR1 took first place at the 24 Hours of Le Mans; the company also won the World Sports Car Championship that year.

In 1987, Ford took a 75 percent stake in Aston Martin, which by then had gone through several owners; Ford assumed full ownership in 1994. In 2007, Ford sold Aston Martin to a group of investors for a reported $925 million. At the time, Aston Martin made around 5,000 cars per year, each carrying a price tag of more than $100,000.

The DB5 went into production in 1963 and the elegant coupe was featured in “Goldfinger,” which debuted in Great Britain in 1964. The DB5 also appeared in such movies as “Thunderball” and “GoldenEye.” “Die Another Day,” which premiered in 2002 and starred Pierce Brosnan, featured an Aston Martin V12 Vanquish. In 2006, “Casino Royale,” starring Daniel Craig, featured an Aston Martin DBS. The car appeared again in “Skyfall”…but was destroyed.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  The names of the horses ridden at the Battle of Waterloo by Napoleon Bonaparte and the Duke of Wellington were Marengo (a white stallion), and a chestnut, Copenhagen. Both men named their mounts after famous battle sites where they had been victorious.

Summer In the City

It was the Lovin’ Spoonful who recorded the song, Summer in the City that had these as part of the lyrics:

Hot town, summer in the city
Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty
Been down, isn’t it a pity
Doesn’t seem to be a shadow in the city

All around, people looking half dead
Walking on the sidewalk, hotter than a match head

While it hasn’t been all that terribly hot here in Cloverdale the past week, it’s warm…and other parts of the country have just completed a horrendous heat wave.  In an effort to help you cool down a bit, I thought I’d include and OLD picture I shot in Maine during the winter of 2003.  We’d not lived there very long yet, and at the end of our gravel driveway that led to the country road in front of our house, there was a pine tree.  As I walked out one day to get the mail from the mailbox (across the country road from our driveway), I noticed the pine needles encased in ice.  After I got the mail back inside, I hunted down the primitive digital camera we had at the time, wrapped back up in my heavy winter coat and went back outside.  (I don’t recall precisely what the temperature was, but the temperature was below zero that day, I know.)  Here’s what I got…and I hope that if you’re experiencing the heat today that this will help cool you down!!!!

Pine needles encased in ice near Carmel, Maine

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1933 the singing telegraph was first introduced.  The first recipient was, appropriately enough, Rudy Vallee, in celebration of his 32nd birthday.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: President Calvin Coolidge had a fondness for cats.  He often walked around the office with a yellow cat draped over his shoulders like a piece of fur.