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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy solstice, by the way


Almost forgot that yesterday was the winter's solstice, the beginning of the new year, the longest night and shortest day in the Northern Hemisphere. I recalled because astronomer Mike Brown posted very beautifully on it
at his blog.

So I want to wish a happy new year (natural year) to all my readers and, in general, the World. Even in troubled times like these there can be better or worse outcomes and, naturally, I hope for the first ones.

It must be nice weather now in New Zealand, right? What about tropical Venezuela or India? In Europe and North America has been Ice Age freezing or almost, with communications cut in many cases and many death, particularly in Poland and Ukraine. But you probably know that yourself from experience or, if you live somewhere else, from the news, always so Atlanto-centric.

At least in my area we have avoided the worst. And temperatures have been improving gradually but, well, it was damn freezing just a couple of days ago.


Leherensuge growing


Solstices are relevant dates for this blog anyhow. It was in the Summer solstice of 2008 when I adopted the ClustrMap feature that allows me to get an idea of who reads Leherensuge. So it's a good time to make balance on such matters.

To my surprise, the number of readers (actually singular reading episodes - I think each session counts as one visit) in the last 6 months has been as large as it was the previous year in total. From June 22 to December 23 this site got more than 9,000 visits, that was also the figure I got in June for the whole previous year. This some 50 visits per day (and I swear I never visit myself more than 10 times any day!), which is, I believe pretty nice for a "personal" blog like this one. The number of openly following readers has also increased recently (today they were 14, while a few months ago there were only 7).

Naturally I feel happy and proud of this little success and want to thank all readers for being there. I also want to bid a warm welcome to those that arrived recently and encourage everybody to comment when they feel they have something to add or criticise. I know I have a hot temper and am somewhat opinionated at times but, don't worry, you're safe at your home, surely many many kilometers away from where I am.

More than a third of all readers (reading sessions) are from the USA, with Canada making up for almost 50% from North America (yah, it includes Mexico, etc. but these countries don't have so many hits); probably another third is from Europe (UK, Spain and France with more than 500 visits each). Out of the North Atlantic area, India, Australia and New Zealand have over 100 visits each, Morocco, Brazil and Turkey are above 75, and then there is a huge diversity. Oddly enough, Kepler, Venezuela only shows 14 hits.

Well, whatever the case, enjoy the new year.

19 comments:

manju said...

Weather is pleasant in Hyderabad. Happy solstice.

terryt said...

Thanks Maju. Likewise to you. I enjoy our discussions even though we each get a little heated at times.

"It must be nice weather now in New Zealand, right?"

Really hot up here in the north (for here, probably wouldn't count as hot in most places) and sunny. We haven't had any rain to speak of for about two months so it's really dry as well. Global worming? It's getting more like Australia every day. I'm off up north tomorrow for a little drinking (and other, natural, organically grown substances).

"the number of readers (actually singular reading episodes - I think each session counts as one visit) in the last 6 months has been as large as it was the previous year in total".

Congratulations.

"you're safe at your home, surely many many kilometers away from where I am".

Perhaps we'll see you out this way some day.

Maju said...

I'm envious of your weather (as I imagine it), Manju. At least at this time of the year. This is not as cold as most other places in non-Mediterranean Europe but still can get very unpleasant for most of the winter, when the high pressures from Siberia (very cold) alternate with the low pressures of the North Atlantic (cold and humid). I imagine now southern India must be very nice: not hot but still reasonably warm, right? 15-20 degrees Celsius maybe?

Blessed tropics! We should have grown fur before colonizing Europe - hehe.

Maju said...

I enjoy our discussions even though we each get a little heated at times.

Nice to know. :)

Really hot up here in the north (for here, probably wouldn't count as hot in most places)...

Then it's probably not that hot.

We haven't had any rain to speak of for about two months so it's really dry as well. Global worming? -

Maybe. They have been having serious drought problems in Australia these last years. Also in Africa probably.

While these two or so last years have been relatively fresh here, possibly because of the Solar Minimum, I do notice a trend to warming through the last decades (i.e. my lifetime). It doesn't snow near the coast anymore. Even with this shocking cold wave of the last days, when they warned it could snow at the coast, it did not happen. It has not snowed down here since I was in school, though even back then it was somewhat rare (one winter of several, one or few days only).

Luckily rain is not likely to fail here, even in the worst case. In fact, if I remember correctly, we are likely to get even more rain with global warming. Not good for bone or breathing problems.

Perhaps we'll see you out this way some day.

Be careful with what you wish... ;)

In fact I almost don't travel anymore. I used to when I was in my 20s but eventually I got fed up. I think it's an age-related "disease". Also costs and all that (I live with a limited income) and it's not like planes are any appealing since they banned the smoking area (I am a heavy smoker and already went once through 8 unexpected hours of air travel in the non-smokers' area, which was very stressing) and disparaged the so-called security measures.

So not really likely... in principle. But thanks for the invitation anyhow. Really appreciated.

manju said...

It's relative. During summers it becomes unbearable here. I have always been envious of cold regions. As one of my European colleagues put it;
"I would prefer winter at any place. You can always put more clothes on but there are only so much clothes to remove during summer".

And if clothes maketh a man, then traditionally near naked tropical men were hardly that :-)!

Maju said...

All the clothes in the world can only protect you so much. You need heating and (often non-existent) building isolation: you need to be locally able to alter the climate at your home or workplace...

And what makes man (human) is nakedness, not clothes. Just compare us with our Chimpanzee cousins: we have lost nearly all our fur for a reason: to withstand tropical heat (naked or nearly so of course).

All the rest is Christian repression (or from whatever other self-righteous - and wrong - sect).

But anyhow I just meant now in winter. I know from reference that the heat can be smashing in India in Summer. There are even more ideal places, typically subtropical islands, that keep the temperature in some perfect 20 degrees Celsius all year long.

Kepler said...

Happy days for you as well, Maju.
Thanks for your interesting articles on science, on other political views and, why not?, on conspiracy theories :-)

I am in Europe now, so I a= freezing like you and wondering why people decided to colonize these regions.

Venezuela does have wonderful weather, particularly the coast, where you have the Trade Winds (vientos alisios) refreshing things and
the Coastal Range on top
http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cordillera_de_la_Costa_%28Venezuela%29
But mosquitos can be a drag, they are two sizes bigger than anything in Europe.
And you would find things like this a lot:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bothrops_atrox
(I used to find several every year even in our garden, on the outskirts of a big city)

Maju said...

I am in Europe now, so I a= freezing like you and wondering why people decided to colonize these regions.

I see. It's not anymore so cold here now, the Atlantic winds, even if from the NW, are quite a blessing (rainy and windy blessing though). Earlier the sun was visible for the first time in many days.

Personally, I have always been of the opinion that, after stepping down from the trees, migrating north of the tropics or at least the subtropical belt was one of the major errors of Humankind. But well, what is done is done.

manju said...

Heating is very easy. I mean anybody can a lit a fire and keep himself warm. However, cooling is not. In fact, we never had the luxury of refrigeration or air cooling. Only nowadays few people can have calmer days throughout the year.

Heavy work in cooler environment is enjoyable and rewarding for self and society. However, in hot environments it just wears you down.

The side effect of it, too much stress on mental calmness or mind control among educated elite sections thus too much self-centrism. Something cool regions never required.

Maju said...

Cooling is as easy as jumping into the water (river, sea, lake), which in fact takes a much smaller toll on the environment. In fact, we sweat so copiously to cool off: we are well equipped for tropical heat (however clothes are not part of that equipment but a burden for the most part).

Anyhow a campfire is not enough to face freeze for a sustained period: you need good clothes (to make up for the lack of fur), a good isolated (but "breathing") refuge... and on top of all that fire, which in turn needs combustible, which might not be always available (there's not much wood in the steppes, is it?).

Heavy work in cooler environment is enjoyable and rewarding for self and society.

Cooler like 15 degrees, 10 maybe? Sure. But not when it's damn freezing or almost. Then the only reasonable option is that of the wise bear: hybernate. But we can't.

We live best between 10-30 degrees celsius, maybe 15-25, which is the ideal temperature range for active humans probably. Here in winter it is below that too often and in most of Russia it is below that all the time. We almost never get above 30 degrees, one or two days in all the year. Yes, I sweat but that's normal and healthy - and I can get rid of some unnecesary clothes and can jump naked into the cold sea as well for a quick and very effective refreshment.

What really bothers me is the one or two days per year when temperature goes well above 30 (but then I hide in my quite fresh home and wait for them to pass) and the three or four months per year when temperatures drop well below 10, when my cool home is of no help at all. In this time of the year I really envy brown bears, who are truly adapted to this cyclical "climate crisis" and sleep through it.

Maju said...

Excepting places like Canary Islands (that are around 20 C all the year), there are no ideal climates probably. But still our species is best adapted to tropical ones, as long as there is some water available (which we use for cooling, either by bathing or drinking and sweating). But our only adaptation to other climates, such as the so called "temperate" (mildly cold) or subarctic ones, is our brains: our ability to transform the environment in order to adapt to our needs (clothes, refuge, fire). It's somewhat like living in Mars: a continuous unnatural challenge.

manju said...

How easy it is to migrate to Canary islands? Do they have industries there?

What is the point in sleeping thro? That sounds as if there is a point in being dead.

Maju said...

How easy it is to migrate to Canary islands?-

If you are "the Sahrawi Gandhi", way too easy it seems, you don't need even passport nor plane ticket.

Otherwise it's part of the Schengen space of EU. If you are legally in Spain or EU, it should be no big deal. Illegally, you may need to make a risky boat journey from Senegal.

Do they have industries there?-

Tourism mostly. They also grow bananas, tobacco and some other agriculture. There are fisheries nearby too, though Canary Islands itself is not a fishing power. It holds a major astronomical observatory. Some islands are rather desertic but the ones further from Africa are humid and lustful.

What is the point in sleeping thro? That sounds as if there is a point in being dead.

Have you ever thought about the similarity between Latin words "invernus" (winter) and "infernus" (hell)? About the lower layer of Hell being not any lava pool but totally frozen? This last appears AFAIK both in Dante's work and in Hindu or Jain mythology, so it's multicultural.

The persistent cold and darkness of the winter can really be taxing. I love sleeping as much as possible in such times. But maybe it's just my way... you don't have to agree.

manju said...

Far too difficult for me to migrate from South India, it appears. No career opportunities too. Disappointing.

Ken said...

"The persistent cold and darkness of the winter can really be taxing. I love sleeping as much as possible in such times"

Up until artificial light became affordable people slept far more (an average of 9 - 10 hours a night, more in the winter). Hunter-gathers would not go blundering about in the dark so it's probably instinct to go to sleep when the sun goes in and get up with the dawn. Computer screens and tv are creating a all year summer and making us sleep less as a result.

Shift working is unhealthy for sure.

Maju said...

When I said "darkness" I meant also the cloudy skies and, when it's open, the low sun that illuminates but does not warm too much. Of course night length too: it's just slightly 8 hours of daylight right now, and this is almost "tropical" in the context of Europe. It must be a true pain in places like Scotland or Sweden, north of the 50 degrees circle.

However, I would not be able to sleep more than 10 hrs per day (only a few days I've done that in all my life). I'd say that 9 or 10 hrs. is ok, at least for me. 8 hrs. is too little.

In summer and warmer climates an afternoon nap is ideal but that is in order to avoid working at the hottest hours. It does not make much sense in the northernly winter though.

terryt said...

"What really bothers me is the one or two days per year when temperature goes well above 30"

Only once or twice in ten years or more does the temperature here rise anywhere near 30 degrees. Even though I suggested it was hot here at present you're correct when you say, 'Then it's probably not that hot'. 25-28 degrees.

"and the three or four months per year when temperatures drop well below 10"

It's a rare winter's day here if the temperature here doesn't rise above 10 degrees for at least part of the day.

Still no rain. Not as bad as most of Ozzie though, but I see they've had rain in northwest NSW.

Maju said...

You seem to have a nice climate in North New Zealand. You almost need no heating nor air conditioning.

terryt said...

Little bit of heating on Winter evenings is all we have. Sometimes a fan on hot afternoons.