We have experienced yet another interesting month in our lives, and what follows below is of course only a small portion of what I really wanted to publish.
Complement to my post about Vasaloppet
In my post of 87’2021 (2021-03-28) , I wrote about the traditional ski race Vasaloppet. It starts in the town of Sälen and ends in Mora, 90 km away. One of my faithful readers sent me a nice picture from the same Sälen, where he recently enjoyed a different kind of skiing, going downhill. You can see it as the header photo of today’s post, taken at the peak Hundfjället (“Dog mountain”).
Making it easier to deal with the proposed numbering of days
In my post of 9’2021 (2021-01-09) , I suggested that we started to think about a new, unified way of writing dates, abolishing the months and changing to a sequential count of the days in the year.
Many people have expressed their support of the proposed scheme, but raise doubts about how we more easily can get used to it. Therefore, here is one way, turning the cell phone’s lockscreen into a monthly calendar, with both the current and the proposed day count and making it also function as a communications tool between peoples and languages.
Also the month of March has been quite interesting with some things that can only happen this month. Here they are:
The first Thursday of March
Although this special day started to be celebrated a decade ago, I only learned about it this month. It is a kind of unofficial local holiday for the Swedish landskap (province) of Småland in the South East of Sweden. I already spent five months of my military training there during the 1970s and so of course I had already notice that the locals have a big difficulty in speaking the combination of r and s in Swedish words. In normal Swedish, this is pronounced as a so called supra dental, where the r and s flow together. However, in Småland, that is not the case, they pronounce it as a sound containing two s’s. A linguistic explanation (in Swedish) can be found in reference # 1 below. It is linguist Jenny Öqvist at Institutet för språk och folkminnen (Institute for Language and Folklore) who has broken the sounds down into minute details. She also took the following photo of a cake served on this special day. It is a popular sponge cake in Sweden, with whipped cream and vanilla in between the layers, with a topping of marzipan, normally known as Princess cake, due to its connection with three Swedish princesses in the 1930s.
A man from Småland named Jonas Svenningson came up with the idea to start celebrating the pronunciation of ˜första torsdagen i mars˜ (meaning the first Thursday of March) in Småland as particularly interesting, because it is ˜fösta tossdan I mass˜. The idea spread like wildfire and now it is celebrated as Småland’s local, ˜national day˜.
The first Sunday of March
In my post of 66’2016 (2016-03-06) , I wrote about the traditional Swedish ski competition Vasaloppet, which is held every year on the first Sunday of March. This year, due to the on-going pandemic, only 400 selected top athletes could participate and what a race they made! The excellent weather conditions, well prepared tracks, sunny weather and -6 degrees Celsius resulted in that both the male winner, Tord Asle Gjerdalen from Norway, and the female winner, Lina Korsgren from Sweden, broke the records for the race. More details can be found in reference #2 below.
Sweden’s floral emblem
Each of the landskap (provinces) in Sweden has its own flower, but so far there had not been any national flower for the whole of Sweden. Until now!
Svenska botaniska föreningen (Swedish botanical society) invited the Swedish population to vote for their favorite flower. In the first voting phase were selected ten candidates, which participated in a final round to decide the winner.
And the winner is:
Liten blåklocka, Latin name Campanula rotundifolia! See also reference #3 below for more details.
The Öresund bridge
And last, but not least, my sincere thanks to my friend Graziela Gabrielli, who so graciously gave me her permission to publish the beautiful photo she took from the Swedish side on the high summer day of 197’2019 (2019-07-16), showing the bridge that since 2000 connects Sweden and Denmark over the straight of Öresund, thus called Öresundsbron (Öresund bridge).
More about Öresundsbron can be found in reference #4.
At midnight today we will stand before a fact that only happens once in a calendar year. You might remember from your school days a mnemonic to remember the length of a certain month. Start with your left hand and where there is knuckle that corresponding month has 31 days, the valleys in between are for months with normally 30 days, except for February. Put your to hands together and you have two knuckles without any valley between them. This is of course July and August.
So how come this phenomenon? This, as many other things, has its origin in Rome, around the beginning of the Christian era of counting the years. The former month namned sextilis, meaning the sixth month, was renamed to that of Emperor Augustus as a tribute to his many feats during that certain month. But why 31 days also in August, and as in July? There is a common misconception, invented in 13th century, that Augustus wanted to have his month equal to that of the great Julius Caesar. Well, that is fake news! It is was already that way when the Julian calendar was introduced by Julius Caesar in the year 45 BC. And furthermore, the two consecutive months December and January, both also have 31 days. So, really, there is no good, plausible reason for this question. See also reference # 1 below.
Now over to some geography. My good old friend Arthur and his family recently visited the Grand Duchy of Luxemburg. And as you have seen before, when they travel, my friends spread out over the world, remember me! They send me photos of the place, so that I can show them to you. My warmest thanks to Arthur, and all his predecessors in this great habit!
The photo above was taken in the center of the capital of Luxembourg, which also is called Luxembourg (and sometimes Luxembourg City)! The building in the middle is famous for, among our things, to have been the seat of the High Authority of the ECSC (European Coal and Steel Community), consisting of six member countries. This was the origin of the current European Union (EU), and the High Authority these days is called the European Commission. So it is no coincidence that you see all those flags from Luxembourg and the EU in the forefront. See also references # 2 and 3 below.
Below are some more photos from Luxembourg, enjoy!
You have probably heard and seen that NASA has sent another mission to explore Mars. It was launched yesterday, and as a tribute, all articles in a newsletter from HowStuffWorks (HSW) on the same day were also about Mars, quite interesting stuff! In reference # 4 below is an article the new NASA Perseverance Rover which will search for signs of a ancient Martian Life. Look up the article and while you are on the HSW website, I suggest you sign up for their newsletter, so that you will have many interesting stories to read in the future.
The following subject is something that is constantly on everyone’s mind these days, the Covid-19 pandemic. So, why not take it from the humorous side, for once?
Finally, tomorrow I will celebrate the 10th anniversary of my favourite online game, Wordfeud. I have been addicted since April, 2012. Don’t know Wordfeud? Look at my post from 2016-03-18 !
I owe a big apology to all my faithful readers for having been absent with new posts for almost two months, so let me make it up today with a quite few interesting facts:
1. Image of a black hole
During the month of April, we received the astonishing news that astronomers had finally managed to catch a black hole on film. The image was captured by the Event Horizon telescope (EHT), a network of eight radio telescopes spanning locations from Antarctica to Spain and Chile, in an effort involving more than 200 scientists. Read more about it in ref. #1 below.
2. Late Easter (continuation from earlier post)
In my post of 2019-03-05 I wrote about the late date of Easter this year, and as you may remember my friend, the German-Swedish meteorologist André Franke explained it all for us.
However, I have received comments about this subject. In 2019, the March equinox occurred on March 20, and there was a full moon already the next day, March 21. So, why was not Easter Sunday celebrated on March 24? André can explain that, as well. It is quite complicated, but here is the short explanation:
It all started in year 325, when the First Church Council of Nicaea among other things decided that the March equinox should always fall on March 21, and then Easter Sunday would always be the first Sunday following the first full month after the March equinox. But as we know, the Earth’s rotation around the Sun is not exactly 365 days. It is approximately 6 h more, and that causes that the fixed March equinox day is not always the same actual, astronomical day for the same equinox, as happened this year.
If you want know the long story, take a look at reference #2. Unfortunately, it is written in Swedish, but there are many other sources around the internet that can tell the same story.
Baarle is a village right on the border between the Netherlands and Belgium. 91 % of the total area of the village belongs to the Dutch, the rest is Belgian. But it is not a clean cut, there are in fact 16 Belgian exclaves within the Dutch territory, and they in turn surround seven Dutch areas. See also reference #3 below. Thanks to Radio Sweden’s Andreas Liljeheden for yet another idea to an interesting blog fact, see also ref. 4 below! (You may remember Andreas’s earlier contribution to my blog on 2018-10-20, when he presented the donkey steps in the EU headquarters in Brussels.)
4. Different maps of the world
One of my interests is maps, traditional, historic, different kinds of maps – you name them! It is therefore a great pleasure for me to present a total of 45 different maps of the world, the big majority of them are without doubt something you have never seen before. Click on the link of ref. #5 below and start being amazed. (I like maps #1, 2, 7, 8, …)