Archive for the 'weather' Category

something of the sadness of Sundays

Saturday, November 14th, 2009

These pictures look like so many towns near where I grew up – grey and a bit grimy. Always feeling like Sunday afternoon, slightly sad.

These reminded me of a post by Levi Stahl on Sundays from Victorian times to his own youth (which correlates quite closely to my own).

One great quote:

The afternoons hung heavy. It seemed to be always 3 o’clock.
– Molly Hughes, A London Child of the 1870s

Things I saw today (number stations and the shipping forecast)

Sunday, September 6th, 2009

I remember reading about Number Stations in Simon Singh’s The Code Book (which I highly recommend).

Numbers stations (or number stations) are shortwave radio stations of uncertain origin. They generally broadcast artificially generated voices reading streams of numbers, words, letters (sometimes using a spelling alphabet), tunes or Morse code. They are in a wide variety of languages and the voices are usually women’s, though sometimes men’s or children’s voices are used…

Evidence supports popular assumptions that the broadcasts are used to send messages to spies.

(link to an mp3)

Removed from almost any understandable context, listening to the numbers is strangely soothing. It reminds me of another curiously beautiful radio broadcast – the Shipping Forecast:

Being an American, I have no cultural context for the Shipping Forecast but I find it lovely and calming. I’d gladly download an hour or so of these to listen to on my iPod while falling asleep.

Things I read today (as it begins to rain – geosmin and petrichor)

Sunday, April 26th, 2009

It’s a wonderful feeling to encounter a scientific explanation for something one has experienced but never quite understood – in this case the distinctive smell that is discernible when rain starts falling…

Geosmin, which literally translates to “earth smell”, is an organic compound with a distinct earthy flavour and aroma, and is responsible for the earthy taste of beets and a contributor to the strong scent that occurs in the air when rain falls after a dry spell of weather (petrichor). The human nose is extremely sensitive to geosmin and is able to detect it at concentrations as low as 5 parts per trillion…

Petrichor is derived from the Greek petros “stone” + ichor “gods’ blood”:

The scent is generally regarded as pleasant and refreshing… In desert regions, the smell is especially strong during the first rain after a long dry spell… The oil yielding the scent can be collected from rocks and concentrated to produce perfume; however, it has yet to be synthesized, perhaps due to its complexity. It is composed of more than fifty distinct chemical substances.


I too love learning these kinds of things and that names sound like characters from a biblical story – magi or young lovers.)

another poem (“Whatever will become of us?”)

Sunday, January 4th, 2009

After the rain,
Our umbrella
Becomes a cane,
And, “Whatever will become of us?”
Becomes “…became.”

– David Thewlis

Blocks of time – Saturday morning or “Still Life (with clown and mattress)”

Saturday, June 24th, 2006

7:34am: I wake up, it’s a grey day. I wander around the house a bit, see who is on IRC and decide go back to sleep.

9:15am: I wake up again, it’s still grey out. I eat, have some coffee and look at news, blogs and Flickr from my RSS reader

10:49am: I’ve been sitting with my laptop for more than an hour, a friend of my sister Marijke’s comes to see some of the furniture she is selling. Being one of Marijke’s friends, chances are fairly good she thinks I’m unfriendly and a bit odd. I wave from my chair but don’t get up.

11:20am I look up from the laptop and there’s a black-and-white movie on TV but I haven’t been paying attention so I’m not sure what’s going on. Ah, someone chokes a clown! This might be worth watching.

11:34am: I decide (yet again) that I like the make-up style from the 40s.

11:38am: Though I am not, in fact, 13 years old, I play with make-up. I don’t get the 40s look quite right.

1:11pm: Cereal for lunch. Convention can consider itself flouted! What a whirlwind life, eh?

2:04pm: Shower (yes, finally).

2:20pm: Driving – the red light is rather beautiful against the still grey sky.

2:34pm: At a coffee place, I have the iced mocha and Marijke has the lemonade. I hear a girl at a table near us say loudly at one point: “She’s a slutbag!” to her friend, who doesn’t say much.

3:25pm: We go to one of those huge, overwhelming mega-stores that sells 50 lb. tubs of mayonnaise and four weeks worth of cereal and I’m proud, now that I’m more used to it, to have pretty much stopped cringing and whimpering when I walk through the door.

5:03pm: I buy a new mattress at the mega-store! (they really do have everything). It’s one of those lovely, lovely memory foam ones I’ve been coveting for almost a year now. Yummm.

9:42pm: Cleaning, laundry, other house things done, I lay on the really quite delightful mattress and watch Poirot. Mischief (of a dull kind) managed.

One way to love winter

Friday, January 20th, 2006

(from Snowflake Gallery: No Two Alike , of Course )

Yesterday was one of those crisp winter days where the sunlight is sharp and gorgeous.

In the morning I thought how the light from the window sparkled on the water from the shower head like some soft stream of diamonds. On the train I noticed blue streaks of sky reflected on a man’s shoe and how even the dirt on the windows looked dignified, like some strange parchment etched in white, when the sun shone through it. Walking down the street at lunch, the light seemed to dance on puddles so brightly that I had to shut my eyes.