Christmas day randomness

Saturday, December 25, 2010

It's Christmas day and there are a number of things worth mentioning so let's just put everything together and see what happens.

First of all, I've written two posts on 90 Years Ago Today since I last mentioned it here, as I don't always make a note of it on Page F30 when I do. The US has elected a new president and the League of Nations is shiny and new. It's Christmas 1920 and 1921 is just around the corner.

Over in Occidental land I've just finished uploading Cosmoglotta to 1930. I've never read old issues of Cosmoglotta before so I'm watching the progression of the language for the first time, and though by 1930 it mostly resembles the Occidental of today and the language went through quite a bit of fine tuning that year, it still has the apostrophe that denotes a very soft y sound here and there.

Cosmoglotta November - December 1930

In Sambahsa land Olivier has finished translating another movie, this one a fan-made Star Wars movie called Revelations. I watched it once back in 2006 or so and don't remember a great deal about the story. I believe this makes four movies that we have subtitles in Sambahsa for: The Hunt for Gollum, Born of Hope, The Man from Earth, and this one.

Dawn is now just 9 million km away from Vesta, or just 6% the distance from the Earth to the Sun (23 times that from the Earth to the Moon). The chief engineer updates at the end of every month and I had hoped he would mention when they expect to take and release their first images of Vesta during the last two but nothing so far. In under a week we should see the next update here, and maybe he'll bring up the subject. Because entering orbit with an ion engine requires a lot more finesse than your typical chemical engine, it will continue to slow down more and more compared to Vesta until it finally achieves the same orbit, when finally a tiny thrust will be enough to enter orbit. This is why it's still going to take seven months to 'arrive' even though it's already at an extremely close distance. Your average interplanetary probe flying by an object would cover this distance in just ten days or so.

More on Martin Gaskell, the astronomer who is suing the University of Kentucky for religious discrimination: for some debate and background on the case see these threads here and here.

Want to compare the altitude of two locations? You can do that here. Click on one location on the map, click on another, then to the right of that select draw profile and you'll end up with something like this.

It's potentially quite useful when looking for a place to live in a city with a varied topography, as lower generally = warmer and less windy. There's a world of difference between a house in the suburbs in the hills and away from downtown compared to a south-facing apartment by the river near downtown, which benefits not only from the lower altitude and less wind but also the heat island effect being near downtown brings. In the end this is only a couple of degrees, but when gardening this makes a huge difference:

A superb example of a unique microclimate is the Calgary Zoo and Botanical Gardens’ site on the flood plain of the Bow River which has become a resource to many Southern Alberta gardeners. The gardens benefit from river moisture and a high water table in well-drained sandy soil. There is a good canopy of mature trees and bushes designed in part to protect much of the area from the extremes of wind, hail, rain and sun; the soil has been cultivated and well mulched for decades by expert gardeners. Extra heat is provided because of the proximity to the downtown core and the nearby major traffic routes. A consequence of all these factors is an array of trees, shrubs, annuals and perennials that thrive in a few communities in Calgary, but can be replicated in some areas of many gardens, especially near downtown Calgary and within the Bow and Elbow flood plains. The Perennial Trial Gardens sites at the zoo, Olds College and at the Muttart Conservatory in Edmonton test and publicize plant varieties that should grow well over much of south-central Alberta. At the zoo, some of the more unusual trees include the Manchurian walnut, and linden, but some “exotics” like the Hick’s yew (Taxus x media ‘Hicksii’) can be susceptible to winter kill.

My favourite new Portuguese band: Madredeus.

I found out about them (and a number of other singers and bands) on Yahoo! Answers of all places.

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