Watership Down, Chpt 29


(Originally posted 1/7/17 by Read With The Gringa)

Together we read “Return And Departure” from Richard Adams wonderful book. Hazel returns alive and well but the warren still has a “mudder” of a problem.

Let’s read “Watership Down” together on the gringa’s YouTube channel!

Image Source:  Eclectic Indulgence

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Florida Vacation


While most Americans are experiencing bitter winter weather, the gringa is enjoying sunny Florida. Checking in on my responsibilities I realized I missed a post for today! So, just a note to let you know that the best I can do is this little note! Now, back to my beer and shady beach umbrella!

Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Chpt 11, Pt 1


(Originally posted 1/8/17 on Read With The Gringa)

We begin reading “The Dufflepuds Made Happy”. The invisible spell has been broken but should the Duffles be de-uglified?

Let’s read “The Chronicles of Narnia” together!

Image Source:  Teacup Sediments

 

A Year With The Stars


(Originally posted 1/6/17 on Read With The Gringa)

Now that the new year is in full swing, it’s time to mark all the significant events that you don’t want to miss. By now you’ve already missed the first meteor shower of the year, the Quadrantids, that happened in the wee hours of January 4th. Later that same day Earth arrived in its closest position throughout its annual orbit round the Sun, called Perihelion, despite the fact that it was cold as the dickens with most Earthlings experiencing their winter seasons. But don’t despair if you missed out. There is so much more to come!

Feb. 10/11 Penumbral Lunar Eclipse:  It may seem like a normal full Moon but it’s not. The Moon will be moving through the outermost part of the Earth’s shadow. Because this part of the shadow is so faint, the Sun’s reflection off the Moon is incredibly striking and bright. As the three celestial bodies align, rather than see the Moon blocked out by the Earth’s shadow, the reverse will happen, it will shine brighter. Look at this image and see the difference between an ordinary full moon and the Moon in penumbral eclipse:

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Feb. 26 Annular Solar Eclipse: If you live in the geographical swath of Earth that stretches across southern and western Africa, most of South America, and the islands dotting that belt in the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans, or if you happen to be in Antarctica, you will get to see the very best of this event. Some places, like the gringa’s H-town, won’t be able to see it at all. The eclipse will start around 6am Houston time and take about 5 hours to complete its cycle. However, you can’t just gaze up at the sky to see a proverbial “ring of fire” unless you want to come away blind and this be the last thing you ever see. To view a solar eclipse safely, you can always use a homemade pinhole projector, welders’ goggles or special solar filter viewing products. Check out Mr. Eclipse and discover how not to commit optic suicide while viewing a solar eclipse.  Here’s a map so you can see if you will be anywhere where you might get to see it.

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April 22/23 Lyrid Meteor Shower:  This annual celestial event takes place during the time of a waning crescent Moon. That means the setting will be fantastic to watch meteors streak across the sky. Although the Lyrid Meteor Shower season can start lighting up the sky as early as April 16 and last as late as April 25, the 22 & 23 are the days where activity should peak. So, as long as it’s not cloudy or raining, all you have to do is sit outside anytime after nightfall and watch the show until daybreak.

What direction should you look? Well, the event takes its name after constellation Lyra. That’s the direction from which the meteors emerge. Look toward the star Vega, it’s one of the brightest stars in the sky in April. To spot it, look directly overhead for a brilliant star that looks bluish-white. Folks in the Northern Hemisphere have the best seats for this show but just about everyone in the world has a chance at a peek.  Here’s a star map to help you find Vega so you will be looking in the right direction:

vega-lyra_sky-map

May 5/6 Eta Aquarid Meteors: If you didn’t get to see anything exciting with April’s meteor showers, maybe you will see something in May. The Eta Aquarid meteor shower season lasts from April 19 until May 28. However, the time of most activity will be May 5 & 6. Well, more specifically, the week hours on the morning of May 6. These meteors are the product of dust and debris from Halley’s Comet. During this time, Earth is passing through the path this famed comet travels around the Sun. This happens twice every year. The second event occurs in October. It takes the comet about 76 years to complete its orbit around the Sun. So, we are seeing rocks burn up in our atmosphere that have been hanging out on their own for nearly a century, at least. But, that’s just how long the rock has been separated from the comet. As to a meteorite’s true age, there’s really no telling. When you witness a shooting star, you could be watching the end of millions of years of history. To look for these meteors look toward the Aquarius constellation. Eta Aquarii, the namesake of this event, will be the brightest star of Aquarius. Here’s a star map to help you:

radiant-of-eta-aquariid-meteor-shower.png

Aug. 7/8 Partial Lunar Eclipse: This will be visible in most of southern/eastern Asia, Europe, Africa and Australia. The eclipse will begin around 4pm UTC with maximum effect happening around 6:20pm UTC.

Aug. 12/13 Perseid Meteors:  This is one of the brightest and most active meteor showers throughout the year.  The entire season lasts from July 17 until August 24 but these are the best 2 days to be expected from the peak period of Aug 9-13. If you can, get out of town on a really dark night, settle down on a blanket and wait for the sky to light up right before dawn. These meteors are debris from the Swift-Tuttle Comet and can be viewed by looking toward the Perseus constellation. Folks in the Northern Hemisphere should look at the zenith of the northeastern sky. Here’s an image of the Perseus constellation:

perseus-constellation

Aug 21 The Great American Eclipse: A total solar eclipse will be center attraction across the entire U.S. Refer to Mr. Eclipse listed in the event for Feb. 26 to find out how to watch it safely.

October 8 Draconid Meteor Shower:  The debris left behind by dust from comet 21 P/Giacobini-Zinner makes for a spectacular light show but only for certain lucky people who live in North America, Europe and Asia. The further south you go toward the equator, the less likely it is you will get to see any action. For the best opportunity, look toward the 2 brightest stars of the Draco the Dragon Constellation, Eltanin and Rastaban. If you can find the Little Dipper, Draco is close by. Take a look:

Draco2 (1).jpg

October 20/21 Orionid Meteors:  Right on the heels of one fantastic meteor shower event is another. The Orionid meteors are blasting away throughout all of October but these two nights are the biggest shows. The best time to start watching is right after midnight. More dust from Halley’s Comet is making an encore appearance. Everyone in the Northern and Southern Hemisphere is invited to watch. It’s as easy as looking right overhead no matter where you are.

Nov 17/18 Leonid Meteor Shower:  If you want to have a chance at seeing light shows from burning space debris created by the Tempel-Tuttle Comet, this show promises about 20 meteors per hour.  People in both hemispheres can view the meteors starting around midnight on Nov. 17. No particular direction is better than another. Just get out of town, away from city lights. Pack a few sleeping bags so you can snuggle down in comfort and warmth, then lie on your back and enjoy the show.

Dec 3/4 Supermoon: End the year with a fabulous Supermoon. It will appear about 12-14% larger than normal. Being nearer the Earth will also mean the Moon will have a stronger tidal effect. If you have a chance, get to a beach and view three cool natural events, a Supermoon, amazing high tide and super-low neap tide. As the Supermoon pulls the tide further away from the beach than normal, there’s no telling what kind of treasure might be found!

The gringa hopes you are all excited about an interesting year ahead with cool space stuff to do every single month! Get out and enjoy the stars with someone you love! Pack a midnight picnic, disconnect from devices, lay back, relax and be patient. The show will begin in its own time!

Source:  www.timeanddate.com

Image Credits:  Fine Art America

CNN Philippines

www.timeanddate.com

www.space.com

Fall Of A Thousands Suns

Shmoop

aslc-nm.org

Epictetus : The Art of Living, #2


Installment #2 of “The Art of Living”, a translation of the works of Epictetus by Sharon Lebell.

Let’s read the works of Epictetus as translated by Sharon Lebell on the gringa’s YouTube channel!

 

Image Source: Daily Stoic

Watership Down, Chpt 28


We’ve reached “At The Foot Of The Hill” from Richard Adams’ famous rabbit tale. Blackberry returns with the good news that Hazel is alive!

Let’s read all of “Watership Down” by Richard Adams on the gringa’s YouTube channel!

Image Source:  www.bookdepository.com

Have A Cup Of Torture Tea


(Originally posted 1/3/17 on Read With The Gringa)

Why were people being tortured in England during the 12th century? In Chillingham, a small village in Northumberland, England, there is a castle of horrors. Have you heard of Earl Grey tea? Yeah, you are drinking tea named after a famous family with ancestral roots as torturers of the locals, the Scots and their own kin. Now, the gringa is sure that the Grey and Bennet families would prefer folks remember them for the tea and famous Chillingham Wild Cattle. But that’s just boring so the gringa will discuss the dark past of their ancestral home’s macabre history.

Scotland was the staunch enemy of England during the 1200’s. The Scots attacked the castle many times throughout this medieval century. Do you remember the movie “Braveheart” about legendary William Wallace? This leader of the Scots attacked the castle, burned it to the ground, and even the women and children of the Grey family were killed in this brutal act.

However, bloodletting was not solely reserved for hated Scotsmen enemies. During the 1300s the War of the Roses was raging. This was a bitter family feud for the possession of England’s throne. The Grey family had to decide whether to support the Lancastrian family who threw in with Henry IV or back the Yorks who were behind Edward IV. The Lancastrians, with the support of those in Chillingham Castle, eventually won the crown but not after executing eight of their own kin.

Their sentence for treason was to be hanged, then drawn and quartered. This was by order of Sir Ralph Grey. One of the victims was his own son. If you think being drawn and quartered doesn’t sound so bad after a lynching, um, the gringa would like to remind you of one gruesome detail. The victims were cut down from the rope while still alive. They were ALIVE when they were disemboweled then chopped into four pieces. Usually their heads were also chopped off and hung in public as a warning to others. And Sir Grey ordered this torturous death for his own son.

The gringa has to wonder what kind of upbringing he must have had on the family estate that allowed a father to commit such an act. He was, after all, raised in a castle featuring dungeons filled with torture devices. Dungeons that, for a price, can be toured today in hopes of seeing one of the many ghosts reported to inhabit the dark corners of these subterranean death chambers.

A few favorite ghosts are known as Blue Boy, Lady Mary Berkeley, and, the Torturer. How appropriate. The gringa believes torturers should find no rest upon their death. And what kind of grisly acts would drive a person mad to the point of remaining at the site of their suffering in order to exact revenge by inflicting suffering upon others? Get a load of some of the ingenius ways humans invented for torturing their fellow humans during the 12th century in rooms specially designed with sloping floors to efficiently drain the pints of blood spilled upon them:

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Chair of nails.

medieval-rack-torture-480x640

Rack to stretch you to stringy, dislocated bits.

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Mangle, like an old-fashioned laundry wringer, to cripple the hands. Probably saw a lot of action with neighborhood thieves.

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Boots with nails. The gringa supposes they were good to kick in the seat of the pants anyone who didn’t work fast enough or was just downright pesky and troublesome.

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The barrel of nails that victims would get tossed in then rolled down a hill, coming out leaking like a sieve at the bottom.

When folks start pointing the finger at Muslims as the sole source of murder and mayhem today, the gringa wonders how people can be so forgetful. There is not a single religion on Earth that has cornered the market on righteousness or cruelty. Every religion is comprised of the same elements: inspirational teachings of love, tolerance and compassion that also include a few perverse verses that could be exploited by unsavory people to justify violence. In every religion the masses are relatively decent people who choose to practice religion for the right reasons. However, there is always a handful of rotten power-mongers exploiting religion for nefarious purposes that makes everyone else look bad and the religion itself gets the blame. So, if you get caught up in populist fervor and feel tempted to shake a finger at the Muslim community, go have a cuppa Earl Grey and think on that.

Sources: chillinghamwildcattle.com

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Photo Credits: Great Castles

The Vintage News