What Lunar Eclipse?

For a bunch of fanatics with cameras, I feel like we’ve really dropped the ball on this one.

To partially remedy the situation, here’s my favourite photo as posted by the CBC:

An aircraft passes the full moon as the lunar eclipse begins in Frankfurt. (Michael Probst/Associated Press)


(Turaidas Roze was a big thing in the ’80s and ’90s, with the lead singer becoming a very prominent figure in music circles even unto this day. This one’s called Dedication to Midnight, and is a break-up song – the chorus: Don’t come with me, I will go on alone; Who will accompany me? The Moon and the Big Dipper.)

Cracking the Iron Curtain

[Note: This is not a historian’s overview of the events, so if you want to pick at the historical details, feel free to do so but don’t expect me to participate. I have compiled several sources of information and added my own personal impressions. That is all.]

It was two weeks in the frigid January air, two weeks waiting for an unknown future, two weeks that culminated in a night of violence but a final victory, of sorts.

The Barricades (LatvianBarikādes) were a series of confrontations between the Republic of Latvia and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in January 1991 which took place mainly in Riga. The events are named for the popular effort of building and protecting barricades from 13 January until about 27 January. Latvia, which had declared restoration of independence from the Soviet Union a year earlier, anticipated that Soviet Union might attempt to regain control over the country by force. After attacks by the Soviet OMON on Riga in early January, the government called on people to build barricades for protection of possible targets (mainly in the capital city of Riga and nearby Ulbroka, as well as Kuldīga and Liepāja). Six people were killed in further attacks, several were wounded in shootings or beaten by OMON. Most victims were shot during the Soviet attack on the Latvian Ministry of the Interior on January 20. One other person died in a building accident reinforcing the barricades. Casualties among Soviet loyalists are considered likely, but the exact number remains unknown. A total of 15,611 people have registered as having been participants of the Barricades,[citation needed] but other data suggests that more than 32,000 Latvians took part.


There’s a small photo gallery here (25 photos).

[Read more…]

Not a Solution

To be honest, it’s a serious medical condition, but I can’t help but feel a smidgeon of envy:

A woman in China is making headlines for a rare type of temporary hearing condition that makes her unable to hear men. According to the Daily Mail, the patient, only identified as Ms. Chen, woke up one morning and couldn’t hear her boyfriend speak.

Unfortunately, the condition seems to be brought on by a lot of stress and fatigue:

The night before, Chen felt nausea and suffered from a ringing in her ears. She was also under a lot of stress, working late and not getting enough sleep. Chen thought little of it and went to sleep as usual before waking up with the condition.

Doctors were initially puzzled by her symptoms, but she was eventually diagnosed with “reverse-slope hearing loss, in which she could only hear high frequencies.”


Dr. Xiaoqing believes fatigue and too much stress may have contributed to Chen’s hearing loss and expects her to make a full recovery.

I’m glad to hear, but perhaps in the meantime, someone can invent a certain type of earphones that produces the same effect? I’d buy a pair and wear them at work. It won’t stop the mansplaining, but it might buffer enough sound to reduce my annoyance.

Driftwood Art

This short informative video caught my eye the other day:

The CBC covered the artist a couple of years ago:

When Alex Witcombe decided to make a raptor from driftwood, he never thought it would get so much attention.

The Comox Valley resident enjoys strolling on beaches and looking at the driftwood, and that became his studio space.

“I like the gnarly pieces,” he says. “Ones with character.”

One summer day he was walking on Stories Beach in Campbell River when he was just inspired by the driftwood and got to work, building ‘Sheila the dinosaur’ in just a day.

And now he does animals, aliens, and imaginary beasts, too! He’s also on Instagram. Here’s a couple more samples, via Seashore Inspirations:

And my favourite:


Mornings of the New Year

Another round of sametimesameplacing, this time with a variation (and no, it’s not the darkness). So first, the classic shot:

I freely admit, this is a week ago, so maybe it isn’t quite as dark anymore…
©rq, all rights reserved.


This time, however, here’s a peek back towards the station and the town, just as the outbound (outbound from the capital, that is) train is arriving:

©rq, all rights reserved.

We have since received a lot more snow, which has all melted again, but at least it looks a little bit like winter.

Today’s song talks a lot about December, but it still sounds great in January. It’s from Blue Rodeo, a classic Canadian band previously mentioned by voyager:

Hey hey I guess it hasn’t hit me yet
I fell through this crack
And I kinda lost my head
I stand transfixed
Before this street light
Watching the snow fall
On this cold December night
And out in the middle of Lake Ontario
The same snow is falling
On the deep silent water
The great dark wonder
Into the waves of my heart
Into the waves of my heart
Of my heart
Sounds like home to me.

Reinterpreting Propaganda

To get it out of the way, Charly started it. And reminded me of a delightful bit of propaganda reinterpretation. Puts a smile on my face every time.

The original FB post was this nice, succinct narrative:

The Soviet-Chinese propaganda posters seem to be the story of a beautiful interracial gay couple who met in a metallurgical, got married and had beautiful children and a farm

In any case, some explanation:

In October 1949, Mao Zedong announced the creation of the People’s Republic of China. China and Russia had long been allies and now, as communist states, that relationship was more important to both countries than ever before.

Communist propaganda has always been an integral part of that particular political structure, and Chinese-Russian propaganda attests to how much each country wanted to show the world they had a united front – China and Russia walking hand-in-hand, happy and gay, so to speak. The posters they used to get this idea across, however, may have been a bit too literal.

Here’s a quick sample of a couple of my favourites. Commentary at the link:

Slightly different, but no less amusing, captions available at imgur, too. If only real-life international relations were as friendly.

And too bad modern day propaganda doesn’t lend itself so easily to left-leaning reinterpretation (please point out if I’m wrong).



Just goes to show, Estonians are show-offs. Even their rivers make perfect circles of ice (article in Latvian, but it’s the visual that’s important).

Video here, I can’t seem to embed it, except like this: .

At any rate, it’s another interesting natural ice phenomenon known by various names, and observed in various parts of the world. Here’s National Geographic:

While the Russian ice circle is rare for its large size, the phenomenon isn’t quite as unusual as it might seem. Ice disks have been filmed in North DakotaWashington state, and Michigan.

Early theories of why the disks formed centered on erosion. Ice disks observed in 1987 and 1994 were in the path of flowing river waters. A paper published in 1997 by the Royal Meteorological Society theorized that flowing river water created a whirlpool effect. As the ice spun, researchers theorized, the borders eroded into a circular shape.

Published in the journal Physical Review E, researchers from the University of Liege in Belgium found that temperature changes—and not flowing rivers—prompted the spinning. As water warms it becomes less dense, and as it’s cooled by surface ice, a vortex forms.


I was stuck between two songs, but this seems the most obvious choice:



Stepping Out of the Silence

I’m working on it. It doesn’t help that I have writings planned out in my head and keep choosing not to put them down in writing when I have half a chance.

In the meantime, see this excellent winter weather (this is Sunday morning around 11, in case anyone is wondering about my early rising habits).

©rq, all rights reserved.

A Long 2018

To finish off the year, I’d like to share a song that probably all of you have heard at least once before (if not many times), in the spirit of Giliell’s Soundtrack of Your Life series (see episodes here, here, here and here) and voyager’s original soundtrack post.

The Counting Crows have been among my favourite bands since grade 7 or so, and while I don’t listen to them nearly as often as I used to, I find I see their lyrics and angst in all kinds of different ways, depending on life stages and life events. Many of their songs have followed me through darker times, but have also given me pleasure during happier times.

While they have several songs I can listen to again and again, one of my all-time favourites is A Long December, although this year I have to disagree with the sentiment that ‘maybe this year will be better than the last’. In a global sense, that is – personal life will continue on in various ways, and professional aspects currently are tending towards some serious development. But! We shall see. In any case, I find the relevance of the sentiment – a not-particularly-celebratory feeling at the turning of the year – to be pretty much universal during all the new years I’ve had since mid-high school.

Also, here’s a happy crayfish who just received five worms before being released back into the pond (back in October). May all your 2019s be so fortunate.

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You Don’t Like Dandelions

The year is almost at an end, and thank goodness for that, amirite? 2019 should be so… much… ummm… well, let’s enjoy the end of 2018 at least, okay?

One of the biggest events for me this year was the passing of Caine, as a(n internet) friend, as an inspiration, as a teacher, as an emotional support. Amongst all the other changes, this was huge, so it was a very emotional moment when I recently received a package from Germany, which included not only life-saving cookies, but also a very special envelope with a very special letter and a huge reminder of what we all miss so much, embodied in a perfect shiny little pendant:

Horse pendant by Giliell. Best thing ever.
©rq, all rights reserved.

And everything was blurry for a while.

Thus, before the closing of the year, I would like to say a big thank you to my fellow bloggers, my fellow readers and commenters, and most of all, to Caine (and Rick) for being the beginning and support of this whole blogging project.

©rq, all rights reserved.

Today’s song choice is one that always, always reminds me of Caine – strangely, the song is about a person who would, most likely, be the ultimate opposite. The chorus reads something like “You – don’t like [the taste of] dandelions, / You – don’t like me; / Where others have a raging rapid, / You have built an H[ydro] E[lectric] S[tation]”. It’s my favourite new song by a local artist this year (the video isn’t), and I hope at least some of you enjoy it, too.

Also, I want to apologize for sparse contribution lately. I’m never good with the end of the year, which is a long and melodramatic story, but I hate New Year’s even more than I don’t like Christmas, and things don’t seem to get better with time (except the idea of not attending peopled activities or large fireworks events), but I will improve with the new year and the lengthening of days. Thanks for reading!

Homeward Bound

This is a travel day, and what with Gatwick and German airports and any number of random occurrences, I just want to get home. Sometime very early Sunday morning, I will be.

The quiet version of my feelings is here, but quite honestly, I’m still playing my angry music. So here’s Blue October, expressing a lot of frustration on my behalf:

(I confess, I have always had a weakness for rock musicians. Something about the way they express themselves without reserve. Especially when it’s traditionally masculine men expressing emotions. And previous post, it’s what I love most about the video – the tough, rockstar performance images placed beside the caring father images. Heart.)