ANIMATED LIFE – COSMIC PHOTO CHALLENGE

Zig-Zag of life

The graphic is a digitally remastered and transmutated photo showing a crazy way for bikers in Berlin. This biking trail was painted on a not very large path being used normally by pedestrians, but here each 5 or 10 m you have to turn your bike to the right or left. A normal use tends to be quite impossible and you also risk an accident with pedestrians. So this created some great laughters and  the question whether the planner of this obstacle course in the local administration has been drunken or high when designing the same.

 

K’lee and Dale’s Cosmic Photo Challenge: An Anime_ted Life!

 

A BIRD AND THE MEAD OF POETRY

The red-necked phalarope is an extraordinary bird and a real wanderer between the worlds and above the sea of fog although it is not really big (length of 19 cms). The photo above shows the outlook during breeding, in autumn and winter the plumage will change to a simple white/grey. Quite exceptionally in nature the gender roles of these birds are completely different than normally while the male birds are breeding the eggs and also guiding afterwards the young birds while the female birds perform the courtship displays in order to attract the male birds and will as well protect the breeding site against external enemies.


Red-necked phalarope (Odinshühnchen) in breeding plumage,
photograph by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters

The birds are breeding from May until July all over the Northern arctic and subarctic hemisphere including Iceland, Sweden, Finland and Norway. During the rest of the year the birds are staying scattered over the tropical and subtropical oceans but also at the coastal side of Patagonia and the Southern part of Japan. The German name is a bit unusual Odinshühnchen (meaning literally Odin chicken) such making reference to the Northern & Scandinavian mythology – one of its glamorous homelands in the circle of the year.

Odin steals the Mead of Poetry while being chased by Suttungr,
illustration by Ólafur Brynjúlfsson, 18th century

In the old European mythology ‘Edda’ the divinity Odin (German: Wodan) steals the Mead of Poetry in the shape of an eagle out of Suttungr’s cave. The Poetic Mead is a real magic beverage and, whoever drinks it, soon thereafter can recite any information and solve any question. While being chased by Suttungr, Odin spits the Mead of Poetry into several vessels. But the chase was so fierce, that some spits dropped backwards. Hence, anybody could now drink this part, and subsequently poetry was finally gifted to mankind by a single bird.


Birdwatching excursion led by ornithologist Derk Ehlert
on Poel Peninsula/Baltic Sea in August 2016

In Central Europe the red-necked phalarope can only be discovered rarely during their passage to the South in August when making a rest in the German coastal region, sometimes as well in Austria at Lake Neusiedl. So in August 2016 I was really lucky to see an Odinshühnchen during an ornithological trip to Poel Peninsula/Baltic sea in large distance to the shore on an inland-pond which is one of their preferred sites. Then you need of course a very good binoculars / spotting scope for such purpose and without an experienced guide who knows where to look you will never have such a seldom chance. During such trips sometimes you can only hear the multiple birds, so we must also listen to their polyphonic concert starting early in the morning because birds can tell a lot of stories of their global wanderings around our world.

Postcard by artistampex, Canada, 1984

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #49: Favorite Things

 

CAIRO – BEACON OF THE ORIENT

Al-Azhar University, Cairo – postcard of late 19th century

“Places whose names are all forgotten once dominated. For centuries before the early modern era, the intellectual centres of excellence, the Oxfords and Cambridges, the Harvards and Yales, were not located in Europe or the west, but in Baghdad and Balkh, Bukhara and Samarkand.”

from: The Silk Roads, by Peter Frankopan

Calligraphy with verses from the Koran

Cairo derives from the Arabic word El Qahira meaning just superb and glorious city.  Thousands of mosques and the famous Mohammedan University Al-Azhar are to be found on its municipal territory showing that this is one of the most important spiritual centres of Islam since long time. During my visit of the town in 1985 I had the opportunity to visit some of them, a fascinating and mysterious Oriental world with a varied architecture everywhere in the big town.

Visiting the bazaar in the old medina

Mosque of Muhammad Ali, courtyard with old well house

In this regard I have to admit one big mistake as it was really hot in Cairo I did wear short trousers. Not thinking about religious regulations (which are the same in Christian monasteries) one day I wanted to visit a mosque in Cairo, there was a guard at the entrance who stopped me abruptly while pointing on my naked legs. I must have made an impression of real pity because the guard took from a corner a not very clean blanket with which I had to cover my naked legs in order to enter the mosque. I felt really ashamed but the rather pragmatic approach of the guard saved the situation with a rather unusual solution.

Massive pyramidic construction and entrance

The famous Cheops Pyramide on Giza plateau

The day I went to Giza pyramidic complex was cloudy and without any sun. Only few visitors were present on site, good for making photos of the wellknown Sphinx, the stunning  pyramides and the surrounding desert. These are really more constructions for giants of any kind, so the Pharaonic ruling dynasties have left really a creation of eternity. Modern buildings of today would not survive several thousands years like these stony grave-yards.

The ancient Sphinx with pyramide in the background

Besides Cairo is also a very modern town with a terrible traffic I have never seen again. In 1985 there was just one underground line with a few stations, so the many millions of residents were forced to move through their metropolitan town by all means: cars, shared taxis, busses, donkey carts, motorbikes, even camels made their way through this crazy traffic. When I visited Cairo in 1985 around 6 million people lived there what I think is more than enough, but today population has grown to incredible 16 million residents, a real urban moloch.

View from Cairo Tower at a smoggy and dusty day

Street scenery with camels in the very centre

As a resident or visitor of Cairo you have to bear  also a rather humid and hot climate while the wind unloads everywhere the sand of the surrounding deserts. Therefore, the view on Cairo from a high tower (see photo above) is not really clear and more smoggy. In the centre of the city I visited of course the big old endless bazaar and the renowned Egyptian Museum being now the home of the Pharaonic mummies and many other phantastic objects and relicts of the old times.

View on old Cairo with its thousands of mosques and minarets

In Cairo my long trip through all Egypt from the East to the West, from the North to the South and again back started and ended. And here my fascination for the Oriental world has begun when passing the vast deserts of all kind, the horizon always far away, and then a principal feeling of freedom may stir up suddenly an open mind in wild amazement.

 

 

 

WHY HOMO SAPIENS MIGHT NOT SURVIVE: ONE WORD SAYS IT ALL

The Secular Jurist

By Robert A. Vella

In the popular animated sitcom Family Guy, a recurring gag features the character of Cleveland Brown.  He’s sitting in his upstairs bathtub when some improbable catastrophe destroys his home (typically caused by his mentally juvenile neighbor Peter Griffin) sending the naked man and his soap-water filled tub sliding down onto his front lawn while yelling “No, no, no, no, no!”

Poor Cleveland is exclaiming shock-induced denial when confronted with a painful reality he was ill-prepared for.  While other popularized phrases are more expressive, such as “I DON’T believe it!” (actor Michael Forest, Star Trek episode Who Mourns For Adonais?, 1967) and “This CAN’T be happening, man!” (actor Bill Paxton, Aliens, 1986), the shouting of “NO!” basically says it all.  But, exactly what is it that we’re trying to say?

All of us – every man, woman, and child who…

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