alfreda89: 3 foot concrete Medieval style gargoyle with author's hand resting on its head. (Milky Way over WA Coast)
Writer, artist, and editor Terri Windling shares many fascinating bits of folklore, art, and myth on her blog Myth and Moor. A recent post links to Charlotte Du Cann of Dark Mountain books, and her blog about a celebration for the Cailleach, Queen of Winter, the dark aspect who stands half the year against the brightness of Bridget, Queen of Summer. This is myth being woven today by people who feel our need for it.

"Carrying the Fire's name is taken in part from the dystopic novel, The Road, where the father explains to his son that the purpose of being human is 'to carry the fire' and that if that spirit is lost the art of being human is also lost. The Cailleach is not human: she is a mythic being that lives deep in our bones and sinews, the parts of us that resonate with stones and wild weather. She reminds us of human beings' original bargain with Earth. Sometimes we need a reminder that she is still there, so we can carry the fire, come what may. So, in spite of living in a 24/7 world, we can mark time; in spite of living in a world where we are told we do not belong, we can make ourselves at home."

alfreda89: 3 foot concrete Medieval style gargoyle with author's hand resting on its head. (Mascot)
This is awesome!

In September this year, archaeologists in Russia reported on the discovery of a suit of armor made entirely of bone, which belonged to an ancient Siberian knight who lived around four millennia ago. The Siberian Times reported that the stunning discovery was found in near-perfect condition and is the only example of bone armor found in the Siberian city of Omsk.
alfreda89: (Blankenship Reeds)
As a child, I loved the dictionary. They didn't teach phonics in my school--it was a different period of teaching experimentation--so I was constantly trying to figure out from the dictionary how words were pronounced. And I kept seeing Proto-Indo-European as a root language.

Who were they? How did it sound? Did anyone still speak it?

There are anthropologists still trying to answer those questions. Here's the latest stab at the language.
alfreda89: (Blankenship Reeds)
Turns out that quantum mechanic's wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey aspects may be explained by the pilot wave theory.

In other words, de Broglie and Schrodinger may have been right.
alfreda89: (Blankenship Reeds)

Writer Brenda Clough went to the World Science Fiction Convention in London (LonCon) this year.  She went early, and is staying late, because she is writing a time travel steampunk adventure, and wants lots of "color" as it's often called.

Her latest report is about Chedworth Roman villa.  I highly recommend her series of mini-posts via iPhone.  We even get pictures.  And where else can you see a holy spring dedicated to the Nymphs that never freezes and never fails, possibly because frogs still worship there?

Complete with a frog ramp!

alfreda89: 3 foot concrete Medieval style gargoyle with author's hand resting on its head. (Mascot)

Especially sand dunes!  Where I grew up, the sands "barked."  You would kick along through dry layers of sand, and it sounded like barking dogs.  But with the right combination of the height of a sand dune, angle on the dune, and ambient temperature, sand dunes sing.

They usually sing one note, most commonly an E, F, or G.

In this report over at Atlas Obscura, the video at the bottom gives you more information on how some sand dunes move to their own inner song.  The other videos are specific locations around the world of singing sand dunes.

Trust me--once you hear a couple of these dunes sing, you completely understand how people decided that ifrits haunted the deserts.

alfreda89: (cat animated)
...and it may be evolutionary.

Charles Darwin hypothesized that musical skill led to better mating options not just for birds but for humans, as well. “Musical notes and rhythm,” he wrote in The Descent of Man, “were first acquired by the male and female progenitors of mankind for the sake of charming the opposite sex.”

For over 140 years, research had not been able to verify Darwin’s theory, that is until a recent study conducted by Benjamin D. Charlton confirmed that indeed, “music is a product of sexual selection through mate choice.”

But the findings come with some nuance.

Charlton and his fellow researchers at the University of Sussex found that women in the middle of their menstrual cycle—at their most fertile—tended to believe men with strong musical abilities carried better genes than men without that skill and thus preferred them as mates. For the study, 1,465 women listened to four different piano compositions of increasing levels of complexity and were asked which composer they desired most.

Women who were not at a point of peak conception were generally ambivalent, not preferring a single composer over another, but those who were on days six through 14 of their respective reproductive cycles overwhelmingly preferred the composer of the most complex song.

alfreda89: 3 foot concrete Medieval style gargoyle with author's hand resting on its head. (Red Cascade)
A couple of these photos from the 1895 Looff Carousel in San Diego will set you straight.

It's not just the magic in Sharon Lee's Carousel Books that takes so much time and effort!
alfreda89: (Books and lovers)
There you are, researching when humans figured out that iron was in our blood, and you stumble onto genetic questions about why one population has more occurrences of a genetic condition than others. And you lose the time it takes to read the article. If you're inspired to keep going, oh, the time lost!

There must be an explanation for why hereditary hemochromatosis is 30 times less common in blacks and 11,000 times less common in Asians than in non-Hispanic whites. A founder effect, the relatively young age of the mutation, and other unidentified demographic factors may explain this discrepancy. And perhaps, the allele may have discouraged iron deficiency or disease at a particularly vulnerable time in northern Europe.

The why is so important, as it raises fundamental questions regarding our own future
alfreda89: 3 foot concrete Medieval style gargoyle with author's hand resting on its head. (Furry crustacian!)
Did you know where real Dragon's Blood comes from? It's not just something from a fantasy tale.

This may be the most alien landscape ever that is marginally hospitable and does not require an O2 tank. Socotra Island is worth a look. Liz Williams found this--many thanks!
alfreda89: (Tea -- the universal cure (ask the Docto)
"Falling in love, going to sea and making a fortune are accidents that may befall a Policeman; but staying with a Cabinet Minister, taking a Duchess in to dinner and seeing a cockaded hat touched in deferential recognition, are sensations enjoyed by the favoured few."

Deportment for Dukes & Tips for Toffs may end up on my want list.
alfreda89: (Tea -- the universal cure (ask the Docto)
You know how I'm always talking about how there's a 75% decrease in your chance of Alzheimer's if you're a ballroom dancer? How ballroom dancing, bridge, chess, and puzzles are your best defense?

Add reading to that. A 32% less chance for lifelong readers.

Damn, we should be healthier....

And then there's the glow-in-the-dark tree gang. I was swamped in the spring, so I missed all the Kickstarters including this one, but we're talking almost a half-million dollars to develop trees that could replace street lights, giving us a soft, ambient glow to a nighttime street. It's an exciting idea, although I am a little taken aback at how easy he predicts this has become.

As he says, the scary stuff will eventually arise. For now, we get glowing cats and small trees!

In the meantime? Read a book.
alfreda89: (Peppermint Peach Tree)
In just sixteen years, this Chinese Garden Park theme park is falling into ruin, nature overwhelming its manicured landscapes.

I always see stories in ruins. Who was there, and why did they choose that place? Why did they leave? Did anyone ever intend to return?

It tells me stories, so I can tell you a Story.

Do you see a story in ruins?
alfreda89: 3 foot concrete Medieval style gargoyle with author's hand resting on its head. (Mascot)
I just tossed in that last--the article doesn't explain anything about the languages. But this little article over at Listverse does what all good inspiration should do--it takes you somewhere else.

Thanks to the Rosetta Stone, we can read Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. We have no Rosetta Stone for the neolithic age--we can't read the symbols we have found. A vast swath of ancient people across the world are silent. We don't know who they were, what they valued, or what they would want us to know about the times they lived through.

If we're lucky, we have artifacts. If we're really lucky, they haven't been hopelessly jumbled into a discordant song no one can sing. We can examine things where we find them, and try to understand the story they tell us.

Here are ten places to ponder. Some are stone circles, some henges, some settlements...some may be tombs. They may have been temples or calendars or even the annual social hall. A few of these places still see visitors--curious tourists, working scientists, spiritual pagans, and maybe even the Fair Folk.

The builders weren't aliens, for heaven's sake--they had our brains. Some were visionaries, some scientists (in that they looked at what was actually there, and worked their way through the evidence.) Skara Brae had drainage and toilets! They measured the skies in ways we lost, taking thousands of years to return to that knowledge. They impacted their world.

No, it's not a pyramid. They worked with the materials they had. But we should respect their solutions, and know that we are an incredible species, in our thinking and our doing.

Take a look.
alfreda89: (Peppermint Peach Tree)
"That which is taken from the Earth must be allowed to return."

All right--I will give you a hint. This concept happens to mirror something in the contemporary fantasy I am planning right now. So.

Think of it as a breadcrumb or two...or three....
alfreda89: (borrelia burgdorferi)
This article is incredibly exciting in so many ways. I will not begin to attempt to deconstruct and explain all the ramifications of retroviruses, diseases like MS, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, a virus that may have been attached to our DNA for sixty million years, and something like influenza triggering a cascade in an infant body, manifesting in a ghastly disease decades later.

I leave those aspects to you, reading the article. I want to address this:

Even more puzzling is the so-called birth-month effect: People born in winter or early spring are more likely than others to become schizophrenic later in life. It is a small increase, just 5 to 8 percent, but it is remarkably consistent, showing up in 250 studies. That same pattern is seen in people with bipolar disorder or multiple sclerosis.

“The birth-month effect is one of the most clearly established facts about schizophrenia,” says Fuller Torrey, director of the Stanley Medical Research Institute in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

Read more... )
And this is why, despite my fascination with science of all kinds, I am a storyteller.
alfreda89: 3 foot concrete Medieval style gargoyle with author's hand resting on its head. (Polar Lights)
In some tarot decks, this card is also called The Universe:

"The World card suggests that my alter ego is The Conqueror, whose superpower lies in graduation to the next level. Today I am free. I have accomplished my mission and feel on top of the world. I will enjoy the experience to its fullest. I have come full circle on my path to success. My job is done, my dream fulfilled, and I have them eating out of my hands. Accept and embrace the journey taken. It has served great purpose in my growing wiser and stronger, and has provided a sense of relief in that now it's complete."

I'm ready for the next level!
alfreda89: 3 foot concrete Medieval style gargoyle with author's hand resting on its head. (Red Cascade)
Artist Kerry Kate makes handmade dolls -- ghost dolls, clairvoyant or wormwood dolls, poison dolls. Take a walk on the macabre side. She's on vacation right now, but her Etsy store will open in late April or May.
alfreda89: (Cat Magic)
My DVR box has stopped recording any series on Comedy Central. Since I tape Daily Show and Colbert, this is very annoying. They can't get it to work from Time-Warner central, so they're sending someone out here to steal my box.

I have 20+ hours of viewing on here, from being out of town two months and trying to keep up with current things and whittle away at this stuff. Of course I will lose it all, because I do not have time to watch it all today. (Have made a valiant attempt since the appointment was made.)

This box never has worked well. It constantly resets itself, causing me to lose episodes and not know what's going on. I gave up on Fringe, after missing six episodes.

The whole idea of DVR is that I should not have to tend it constantly, after setting it. If I have to check every time I want something taped -- or every time I leave town for five minutes (and I DID check, and according to the DVR, it's recording these series just fine, thanks) then what is the point?

They are not going to make it hard for me to cancel my cable when I move. I'll just let Internet plans duke it out.

In the meantime, there's a PBS special on the War of 1812 I need to see.
alfreda89: 3 foot concrete Medieval style gargoyle with author's hand resting on its head. (Default)
First an unknown Egyptian tomb, and now this, in Greece:

And my parents discouraged me from being an anthropologist.


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