Thursday, December 31, 2009

Blue moon to shine on New Year's Eve

(CNN) -- It happens only once in a blue moon -- and scientists say a blue moon is exactly what we'll see in the skies this New Year's Eve.

Don't expect an azure glow over our lunar satellite, however. The term "blue moon" simply refers to the second full moon in a calendar month, something that hasn't happened on a New Year's Eve for nearly 20 years, NASA says.

"December 1990 ended with a blue moon, and many New Year's Eve parties were themed by the event," said Professor Philip Hiscock of the department of folklore at Memorial University of Newfoundland, in Canada. "It was a lot of fun."

Most months have just one full moon, because the 29.5-day cycle of the moon matches up pretty well with the length of calendar months. Occasionally, there will be two full moons in a month, something that happens about every 2½ years, NASA says.

But a blue moon on December 31 is rare.

Elvis Presley crooned about it when he sang the old Rodgers and Hart song "Blue Moon," in which he stood alone without a dream in his heart or a love of his own.

He struck a more hopeful tone in another tune, singing about his love returning to his arms "When My Blue Moon Turns to Gold Again." He also covered Bill Monroe's bluegrass classic, "Blue Moon of Kentucky."

It is possible for the moon to have a cerulean hue, NASA says, but that's sometimes caused by fine dirt circulating in the Earth's atmosphere or the dark blue tone of the sky.

A blue moon hasn't always meant the second full moon in a month. Hundreds of years ago, it simply meant "never" or "absurd," Hiscock said.

"The phrase 'blue moon' has been around a long time, well over 400 years, but during that time its meaning has shifted," he said. "I have counted six different meanings which have been carried by the term, and at least four of them are still current today. That makes discussion of the term a little complicated."

When the Indonesian volcano Krakatoa erupted in 1883, it put so much dust in the atmosphere that the moon actually appeared blue -- an event so unusual that the term "once in a blue moon" was coined, according to NASA's National Space Science Data Center. The effect lasted for almost two years, Hiscock said.

Full moons used to have 12 names, one for each month, such as "harvest moon," NASA said. The term "blue moon" referred to the 13th full moon in a year.

The term acquired its current meaning in the 1940s, after the Farmer's Almanac of Maine offered an astronomical definition of a blue moon "so convoluted that even professional astronomers struggled to understand it," NASA wrote on its Web site.

A writer at Sky and Telescope magazine in the late 1940s tried to explain the almanac's definition by saying it referred to the second full moon in a month.

"That was not correct, but at least it could be understood," NASA wrote. "And thus the modern blue moon was born."


Brussels sprouts... a real treat

Staff at the Great Yarmouth Sea Life Centre in Norfolk give turtles a seasonal treat of Brussels sprouts at Christmas which provide a healthy dose of vitamins, minerals and fibre.

However, the turtles, like humans, are prone to heavy bouts of flatulence after eating the vegetables.

Last year a turtle at a Sealife Centre triggered overflow alarms in the middle of the night after the splashes from gassy bubbles hit overflow sensors.

Now the Yarmouth turtle tank -12 feet in depth and width holding 250,000 litres of water along with George the 3ft long green turtle - has been partially emptied for the festive season.

Thousands of litres have been removed to lower the water by a six inches and keep the sensitive alarms clear.

Displays Supervisor Christine Pitcher said: ''Last time an aquariist had to dash to the centre in the middle of the night, so we're not going to take any chances.

''Sprouts are really healthy for green turtles.

''The high levels of calcium in them are great for their shells, the fibre is good for their digestion and they also contain lots of beneficial Vitamin C, sulphur and potassium.''

Senior Marine Biologist Darren Gook added: ''We like to treat him to different foods and seeing as it's Christmas we thought Brussels sprouts would be good.

''I haven't noticed too many bubbles coming from George yet but hopefully now the water levels have been adjusted flatulence won't cause problems.''

Green turtles are mainly herbivores who feed on marine grasses and algae and are found in coastal regions of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans.

They are the largest turtles in the world and can grow up to one and a half metres (five ft) in length, weigh an incredible 400 kilos (63 stone) and live for up to 80 years.

Poaching and destruction of habitat has led to a decline in numbers and the species is now endangered, with a critically endangered population in the Mediterranean.

The eight-year-old resident male at Great Yarmouth Sea Life centre measures a metre and will reach maturity for another 20 years.


Never a year like 09

Never a year like 09: there is a lot of truth in that for me. 09 was full of commotion. I hope 10 will be more balanced in certain ways. Not sure though... 

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Big Ask Again - Dance For The Climate

Nic Balthazar says:

"The waiting is over. The clip is on-line!!!!
Please share and spread over the whole planet as fast and massive as you can click.
Or just You Tube it: Dance for the Climate. (and say nice things ;-) )
Also please start to dance yourself, and spread the message that everyone can join the dance, by uploading his own dance-video (preferably to the same Magnificent song). The idea is to make a huge international dance-petition.
Word is that the Copenhagen Climate summit would already fail to deliver. Let's all join the movement to tell them that failure is just not an option.
We just need to start moving! Together.
Hope you'll all like the clip, and thanks to everyone who contributed!!
Let's make it work!
Nic Balthazar"

Monday, October 5, 2009


I do not know folks, but it was beginning to be kind of worrysome. The heavenly clouds above refused to release a single drop of rain for how long? Two months? That is highly unusual here.
The buxus plants were beginning to suffer.  They are now saved by a gentle, but steady shower!

I am young! I have lots of grey matter! HURRAY

It is all in the Brain Book!

Being fluent in two languages, particularly from childhood, enhances cognitive skills and might also protect against the onset of dementia and other age-related cognitive decline.
One reason for this could be that speaking a second language builds more connections between neurons.

Studies show bilingual adults have denser grey matter, especially in the part of the brain where language and communication skills are controlled.

The increased density was most pronounced in people who learned a second language before the age of five.

read more

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Ananova - Cross-eyed owl finds happiness

Ananova - Cross-eyed owl finds happiness: "Cross-eyed owl finds happiness

She may only have limited vision but Lucy the owl's disability hasn't stopped her from finding the perfect perch in life.

The five-year-old Western Screech Owl can only see a short distance following an attack when she was just a fledgling.
The tiny bird, who stands just six inches high and weighs just over eight ounces, was discovered under her nest site in Santa Barbara, California.
Both her eyes had been punctured by a predator, possibly a small hawk or a corvid.
Unable to survive in the wild, Lucy is now an invaluable 'staff' member at the Ojai Raptor Center in California where she helps to raise other orphaned youngsters.
The small owl, who has a 12-inch wingspan, has only limited vision.
Kim Stroud, director of the Ojai Raptor Center, comments: 'She can see maybe 10 or 15 feet but we don't think she can identify objects. She wouldn't survive in the wild.'
However, despite her size and disability Lucy could live for a further 15 years.
Kim, 46, both founded and runs the Ojai Raptor Center, a non-profit rescue and rehabilitation centre for injured birds in Ventura County, an area of Southern California that boasts millions of acres of national parks.
And little Lucy has proven to be a valuable resource at the centre.
'She's a wonderful mother,' says Kim, 46. 'She lays eggs every year, infertile of course, but whenever screech owl eggs are brought in from the wild we have switched them. The same with foundling baby screeches. Lucy has raised 15 of them so far'.
Despite, or maybe because of, her excellent maternal instincts the tiny predator can be fierce and protective too.
Kim comments: 'She tolerates handling, but she's very vocal when she's mad. She flies at me when she has eggs or babies, or sometimes even when I go into feed her.'"

The Green Lake - Austria

Beautiful Film of Scuba Diving in a newly flooded meadow.Hiking trails, picnic tables, benches and signs all under water in this very relaxing video filmed in Austria.
So relaxing...

Friday, September 11, 2009

The aftermath

Even though my jaw surgery went well and there were no major complaints during the initial healing process, it now appears that I have developed scar tissue inside my mouth. This is something rare, a nuisance. More than that. It is trouble. It feels like a cramped muscle. So I cannot open my mouth like a hippo. Which is why I have to enlarge the opening by putting a pile of tongue depressors in my mouth to stretch the tissue. I am supposed to add one extra tongue depressor each day. Impossible. It is bloody painful. Tomorrow there is another session with my PT. It is freakin' painful.
I fear this will need to be corrected by a surgeon. First goal is to get rid of the braces though.

That is what today feels like

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Big Ask again - English

Call for movie extras: come and dance for the climate!
When? Saturday, August 29 - 2 pm
Where? Klein Strand - Oostende

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Yep. I caught the two garden pigeons sunbathing this afternoon. The picture was taken through a closed window - I could not get any closer.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Marechal Foch

When my orthodontic adventure started in March 2008 I knew surgery was required to get the job done properly. I did not know what “surgery” exactly meant then. I know now.
On 26 June 2009 I was hospitalized for bilateral sagittal split osteotomy as well as chin reduction. My lower jaw was moved forward a bit more than 1 cm. My chin was shortened. Moreover, the surgeon extracted three wisdom teeth. He argued in my case it would not endanger the split osteotomy. In order to avoid problems it is more customary to extract wisdom teeth six months prior to surgery. Mine were not removed, because there was enough maneuvering space. Only after the set up did the surgeon see he could not carry out the operation properly because one wisdom tooth was positioned too high compared to the other teeth.
The procedure took place at Sint Augustinus Veurne, a fairly small hospital. People there were friendly, all went well. It is the first time I woke up in my room after surgery. I do not remember spending time in recovery.
On 27 June I was ready to return home (fortunately). Shortly after my arrival the doorbell rang. An unexpected but welcome visitor greeted me. Marechal Foch. I offered him a neat spot in the garden yesterday. He is carrying four, no five little green grapes. Cannot wait for the harvest! Do not know a thing about growing grapes, but I will learn!
Mind you, I was scared to death for this op. Thought I would not survive. It turned out to be far less gruesome than I expected.
Although I look like Popeye or at least the Incredible Hulk, the pain is very manageable. My main problem was/is swallowing. My head and throat were/are so swollen that hardly anything can pass my throat. I am also beginning to turn green, purple and black. At the moment it is difficult for me to imagine what my face and profile will look like when the swelling is gone – I get the impression though the doctor has done a decent job.
I also feel faint and weak. I lack energy. This morning (Monday June 29) I nearly fainted when I got up. So I tried to eat a little something more than artificial energy drinks: scrambled eggs. Yummie Yummie! At lunch time there was more yummie yummie. I had soup and… and the remainder of my breakfast. I also managed to eat a soft cake.
Those energy drinks the hospital gave me taste lousy. Getting food into my mouth and swallowing it takes time and effort, but hey, who cares? I have got all day. Moreover there is a tasty grape harvest on the way.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


Yesterday my eye discovered an oddity in the Camellia container. Is this the right word? Something new and exciting is growing in there! I wonder if it is a regular plant... Do not really recognize the leaves. However, miracles do happen, you know.


Today is the longest day of the year. Have not done anything special. Thinking, reading, sleeping. Still have an ocean of time to do the cleaning. Is there an accurate description for the mood I am in? Yes!
Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability (Sam Keen). That is it!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Get behind the mule in Vancouver

I hope that Classic Rock 101 keeps this interview with Jeff online for a while, for I sure enjoyed watching him and listening to some of the tunes he picked. Guess what? Big Mama Thornton and her Hound Dog were there too. Cool.

Thursday, June 4, 2009


Today Arno has made use of the doggie toilet for the first time since its official inauguration. Is this the end of his stubborn refusal to "perform" there? The near future will tell.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Moment of truth

Official toilet training starts tomorrow morning.
They are not used to walking on pebbles...
If all fails, we will invite a couple of neighborhood dogs to give it a try, so that my critters know there is some serious business going on there!

Arno & Nero have their private dog toilet

Will my three walks per day become history soon?
It remains to be seen. Now that Arno & Nero finally have their own little corner in the garden they still have to learn what it is for...

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Window Cleaner

Twitter and Facebook generation need to log in every day

Depending on your email program, you may be able to click on the link in the email. Alternatively, you may have to open a web browser, such as Firefox or Internet Explorer, and copy the link over into the address bar.

For the best content online, visit

Friday, May 1, 2009


"Tis like the birthday of the world,
When earth was born in bloom;
The light is made of many dyes,
The air is all perfume:
There's crimson buds, and white and blue,
The very rainbow showers
Have turned to blossoms where they fell,
And sown the earth with flowers."
Thomas Hood

Monday, April 27, 2009

Photofilm - "Oostends Staketsel" by Simonne

Mijn foto's van het staketsel doorheen de seizoenen, samengesteld en op muziek gezet door DE TORRE.
Groetjes, Simonne.


I am a Twitterer now

Saturday, April 25, 2009


On a sunny day in Belgium

Chocolate shooter

The chocolate shooter is a machine that gives you a high on chocolate. D. Persoone designed it for the birthday party of Rolling Stones member RON WOOD???

Sunday, April 12, 2009

More Progress


The Rocket War Of Vrondados

Happy Easter

The Rocket War of Vrondados is an old custom that began at the time of the Turkish occupation and it still happens every year at Easter. In the beginning the residents of the parishes of Panagia Erithiani and Saint Mark's, which are facing each other, made small cannons, to fire at each other. But through time the canons became rockets and fireworks made from nitre, sulphur and gunpowder.
The preparation of the rockets starts immediately after each Easter, so everything can be ready for the next year. Each year the amount of the rockets increases and the fireworks burning in the air, at the night of the Christ's resurrection, are really magnificent. Many people visit Chios Island this time of the year, so they can enjoy this truly unique but dangerous event.

Click here to read more about Chios

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Garden Works

Old & New. It was impossible to find the same materials, because they are out of production.

David started working on Monday March 30th. His working pal had let him down, so he was supposed to do all the work on his own. That is why I decided to give him a hand. At 3 pm I had to stop - could not use my left hand anymore.
On Wednesday, David had found himself a new assistant (fortunately, one with more muscle power).
They still have to come back to finish the big path in the middle, and some smaller paths on the West side of the house.
To start planting stuff David's work has to be finished first.

I had to move those pallets from front to back....

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Enkindled Spring

"This spring as it comes bursts up in bonfires green,
Wild puffing of emerald trees, and flame-filled bushes,
Thorn-blossom lifting in wreaths of smoke between
Where the wood fumes up and the watery, flickering rushes.
I am amazed at this spring, this conflagration
Of green fires lit on the soil of the earth, this blaze
Of growing, and sparks that puff in wild gyration,
Faces of people streaming across my gaze."

D. H. Lawrence, The Enkindled Spring

Friday, March 27, 2009

Arno's teeth

Little Arno had his teeth cleaned on Monday (March 23). They look almost brand new now.
The vet also removed the lump growing on his gums. I think this is called an "epulis" or gum boil. It was a benign growth. I brush Arno's teeth at least three times a week and try to do it on a daily basis.
His blood test was good. It is a pity he put on some weight again. I have been trying to make him walk a bit more, but it is difficult. His short legs are not particularly keen on long distances!
All in all he is doing well.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Friday, March 6, 2009

Reproduction cycle of Martian peen worms

Reproduction Cycle Among Unicellular Life Forms Under the Rocks Of Mars. This film, banned in schools since the late 1970's, purports to show actual life on Mars. Disputed by scienticians everywhere, what do YOU think? (TruSlack - YouTube)

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Month of March

Dear March, come in!
How glad I am!
I looked for you before.
Put down your hat-
You must have walked-
How out of breath you are!
Dear March, how are you?
And the rest?
Did you leave Nature well?
Oh, March, come right upstairs with me,
I have so much to tell.

by Emily Dickinson

Saturday, February 28, 2009

The garden is a changin'

The works in the small back garden have finally started. David and his partner came earlier this week to carry out the necessary preparatory works. Since it was difficult for them to estimate the required quantity of pavers, they first finished digging the paths. They will be back at the end of March to finish the job.