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A Hundred Million Miracles

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Ever since I was around 12 years old and saw my first Broadway show, I have loved musicals.  The musicals written by Oscar Hammerstein and Richard Rodgers are among the best in both stories and music.  One of their lesser known musicals,”Flower Drum Song” was first performed in 1958. It is a charming musical about the Chinese community in San Francisco.  “A Hundred Million Miracles” is  a staccato drum beat song and definitely not a good example of the talent of Richard Rodgers.  It’s the lyrics of Oscar Hammerstein that shine.

My new story is a Middle Grade Sci-Fi Comedy entitled, “How Michael Saved the Bosites and Everybody Else.”  Its main message is that humans are destroying nature and causing global warming. Near the end of the story, Tier, the Director of Education, sings part of the song to Michael. He tells the protagonist, “If more people understood those words, we would not have to worry about nature being destroyed.”

The lyrics are probably the simplest ever written my Oscar Hammerstein, but they say much.  I hope you enjoy listing to this Original Broadway Cast recording of the song, and take a moment to appreciate all the wondrous things around you.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i_o8hpFIGfc&list=PLUSRfoOcUe4YNgmrWKi-nZryRwdoBeaIE&index=3

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Iceland’s Blue Lagoon is Re-Opened after being Drained and Expanded

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Some people consider the Blue Lagoon to be a tourist trap.  I do not agree!  Yes, it is artificial in a land of natural wonders, but it is still a ton of fun to visit.

 

 

 

 

The following is from Iceland Magazine.

The Blue Lagoon, one of Iceland’s most popular tourist destinations has been re-opened after being closed to the public for two and a half weeks. On January 5 the lagoon was closed and emptied so that the lagoon could be expanded and improved. A new, greatly expanded and improved lagoon opened on January 21.

Two new coves were added and the lagoon expanded by more than 3,200 square meters (34,500 sq. feet). As well as expanding the lagoon itself a new refreshment stand and bar has been added in the lagoon.

The lagoon, its water and the silica which accumulates at the bottom of the lagoon are cleaned regularly with specially designed equipment. Margrét Stefánsdóttir at the Blue Lagoon explained to Iceland Magazine that even if this was the first time the lagoon was completely emptied since it was opened at its current location, the draining did not reveal any surprises at the bottom. “The entire body of water in the lagoon is renewed every 48 hours, and we also clean the lagoon regularly, so if anything has fallen to the bottom, for example jewelry, it is sucked up during that cleaning.”

However, she added that the cleaning did reveal how the lava in the lagoon had been covered with a solid white enamel. “It was pretty astonishing, white and beautiful.” Dagný Pétursdóttir, the manager of the Blue Lagoon, told Iceland Magazine the volume of the lagoon was expanded from 6 million liters (1.6 million gallons) of geothermal seawater to 9 million liters (2.4 million gallons): “We added two beautiful bays to the lagoon, and they look like they have always been there.”

Irish Blessings and Sayings

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After writing my story, “Aldar and the Leprechauns,” I couldn’t help being interested in Ireland.  I hope to travel there later this year.  I can almost feel a new story coming on.

The following link is to a video showing some lovely Irish scenes that shares a few of the charming blessings.

 

 

Watch: Fantastic drone video of a humpback whale jumping close to a whale-watching boat

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Seeing so many whales in one tour does however not have any thing to do with luck. According to operators of whale-watching boats in Akureyri this year has been unusually good in Eyjafjörður fjord. A likely explanation is that there is is more feed for the whales in the fjord than usual. In addition to more whales than usual, there are more seabirds.

Watch the video at: https://youtu.be/7gDpTuerZI8

Source: Icelandic Magazine

Astronomical Clock of Prague – Youtube video and history

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I recently returned from visiting Prague as well as several of the places that Aldar visits in his search for the Golem of Prague. http://www.aldarandthegolem.

To learn about the little elf’s adventure with the clock, check out the preview under the book title on the top menu.  The video I took of the clock is posted on youtube:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AhC2B2EPKqY

The following information about the clock is from http://www.prague.cz/astronomical-clock/

“Legend about clockmaster Hanus

The origin of the Astronomical Clock was misrepresented for centuries. It was believed, that the author was clockmaster Hanus, also called Jan of Ruze, who lived in the 15 th century. The story said that the clock was admired by many foreigners, but Hanus refused to show construction plans to anybody. When Prague Councillors found out that he was going to make another, even better clock, they became jealous and blinded him so he could not finish it. Later he allegedly damaged the astronomical clock in revenge, and nobody was able to repair it.

Real history of the Astronomical Clock

The real author of the clock was discovered in 1961 in an old document, which describes the astronomical dial and says it was made by Mikulas of Kadan in 1410. He probably cooperated with the astronomer and Charles University professor Jan Sindel.

The Astronomical Clock was repaired and improved by Jan Taborsky in the 16 th century. However, it became very faulty as time went by, and it was mostly out of order. It was even considered whether it should be liquidated in the 1780s. The clock soon stopped working for a long time.

The major repair was inevitable and it came in 1865. The clock was modernized and a new Calendar Dial was painted by Josef Manes. In 1945 the German army damaged the Astronomical Clock and some of the statues burned. They were replaced by replicas later, and the striking of the clock was changed from the Old Czech Time to the Central European Time.

The Astronomical Clock consists of the windows with apostles at the top, the Astronomical Dial, which is the oldest part, the Calendar Dial underneath and various sculptures around.

Figures of Apostles

The wooden figures of apostles with their attributes appear in the windows every hour, while at the same time some of the sculptures begin to move: the Death holds its hourglass and beckons to the Turkish man sculpture, which shakes its head in response. There is Vanity portrayed as a man with a mirror and Miserliness as a man with a moneybag, shaking a stick. The other statues, that don´t move, are an Astronomer, a Chronicler, a Philosopher and an Angel. When the apostles finish their journey, the golden cockerel at the top crows and quivers its wings, the bell rings and the clock chimes the hour.

Astronomical Dial

The Astronomical Dial shows the medieval perception of the Universe: the Earth is the center. The blue part of the dial represents the sky above the horizon, the brown part the sky below it. There are Latin words ORTVS (east) and OCCASVS (west) written above the horizon, andAVRORA (dawn) and CPEPVSCVLVM (twilight) below. There is a Zodiac ring, which represents the stars in the sky and it moves according to it. The two clock hands bear the signs of the Sun and the Moon.
There are three circles on the dial, showing different time: the outer circle with Schwabacher numerals shows the Old Czech Time (“Italian Time”), the circle with Roman numbers shows the Central European Time and the inner circle with Arabic numerals shows the “Babylonian Time”: the length of an hour differs there according to the season – it is longer in the summer, shorter in the winter. The Prague Astronomical Clock is the only one in the world able to measure it. Furthermore, the little star by the zodiac ring shows the sidereal time.

Calendar Dial

The newest part of the clock is the Calendar Dial. There is the Prague Old Town symbol in the centre. The rotary outer circle describes every single day of the year, and the current date is indicated at the top. There are also medallions with zodiac signs and with pictures depicting every month.”

Auroras

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Auroras and Star Trails over Iceland
Image Credit & Copyright: Vincent Brady

Explanation: It was one of the quietest nights of aurora in weeks. Even so, in northern- Iceland during last November, faint auroras lit up the sky every clear night. The featured 360-degree panorama is the digital fusion of four wide-angle cameras each simultaneously taking 101 shots over 42 minutes. In the foreground is serene Lake Myvatn dotted with picturesque rock formations left over from ancient lava flows. Low green auroras sweep across the sky above showing impressive complexity near the horizon. Stars far in the distance appear to show unusual trails — as the Earth turned — because early exposures were artificially faded.

This photo was found on the apod.nasa.gov. If you are interested in some really cool astronomy photos, it is a great site to follow.