Of the Aurorae

Based on the news and words out there, we just saw the Aurora Borealis in Norfolk. I smiled when I realized that I missed it, but people I know saw it (or a reflection of it). I don’t even know why smile at something as innocuous as that, but I did. And I enjoyed the thought that one day I will look at them (somewhere else, probably) and take the most of the sight.

And I was pleased of finding out it was that.

There. Here.

What and where would be two questions on my mind for this past week. For simplicity’s sake, I’m writing these posted on different dates as much as they came to my mind at very different moment, but ideally today is the 21st of December.

This “here” and “there” became important. For I felt that things had changed so much — what used to be the place where I enjoyed being, had stopped just that. Why? I couldn’t possibly say — unless if I tried to reason that this other location had grown closer to me and thereby the first further removed. Is that a valid argument?

So, with respect to the day at hand (16th), I could easily say “Not here; there!”. That would have been the truth of my mind. For now, it is Norwich I view as the place I am at. For how long? How long can we truly be anywhere, and contented with it (having seen greater causes and possibilities elsewhere)?

Cities and Seasons

Autumn is in full bloom. Wait. Autumn in full bloom ? A contradiction… Oh well, autumn is at its best right now : no rain, no extreme warmth, this colder weather with clear skies and leafless trees. At night, the stars shine so very bright. “The wandering moon gleams under the clouds.”

The season looks good here; even better is the look of streets (the Avenues) compared to what they were. It truly is a beautiful place.

I saw a video of Tallinn a number of days ago, again in the full colours of autumn. It seems to me that any city which looks good in the summer or winter, shall also look wonderful in autumn.

I think I’ve once mentioned here my idea that to truly know any place a person needs to have seen it at all times; and that is most certainly true of Norwich for me. It is a lovely city and yet it manages to escape resembling anything else : it is not a Tallinn or Stockholm, or Pärnu or Barcelona. It is Norwich, no matter what.

Same is not true of Glasgow, and consequently not of Edinburgh either. Glasgow was Helsinki remade, especially the more central areas of it. Edinburgh. If Glasgow was Helsinki, then Edinburgh was Stockholm. A bit more regal and grand, but still in the same class.

From a Train

Trains. Wonderful creatures, beasts of great power and strength. Having taken two rather long train journeys (journey upcountry and back, it might be called) I can rejoice in the technical wonder that trains are. Sure, an airplane might have been quicker; a bus *might* have been cheaper (usually it is not), but trains have something different. Trains are comfortable. More so than buses and airplanes.

Plus, the views… The east coast journey is a good one : from Newcastle up to Edinburgh itself the sights to be seen are great. I can just imagine what the more northern coastal line (Inverness-Aberdeen-Edinburgh) looks like, but it cannot be any disappointment if the southern section can be taken as a measure.

And the bridges… Some of them make me think of the times they were built in, of the hardships people had to endure in the name of development and advancement. The two large rivers I crossed were the Tyne and the Tweed, and both of them had a fair number of bridges besides the main railway one. Makes you think of humans.

Can just hope it is not too long until an affordable train ride connects Londres with capitals in the Baltics (although it is probably possible even now to follow a route that goes along the lines of London – Paris – Berlin – Warsawa – …).

And I read (now in English) the great master Sienkiewicz’s books. Aside from the awful anglicization it was great. :=) As expected.

“How could you hold out?” asked the chancellor, with an accent of doubt.

At these words, Skrzetuski raised his head, as if new power entered him. A flash of pride passed over his face, and he answered with a voice strong beyond expectations: “Twenty assaults repelled, sixteen battles in the field won, seventy-five sallies.”

“United as if … war”

The broadcasts of today’s Parliament enquiries on the BBC News network have left to me a sense of foreboding — for the words that the journalist used were that the Parliament was united as if a war had broken out.

Now, I am no judge to say what I think of the unity of the Parliament (and I certainly think it a lesser degree than if a war was declared on the United Kingdom) but I found that statement oddly disturbing.

Indeed, all the statements during the last few days have been made with references to “wars” and “warzones” that what are people supposed to expect — do the journalists truly expect that people are more satisfied if there’s a so-to-say higher cause that they can invoke ?

I cannot answer that question now, but I do know that I’d much prefer that people did not take it upon themselves to call upon “war” as rashly as they do; especially in this context. And also with no operational  carriers, except the to-be-refitted Illustrious until 2020… for this used to be a nation that thrived upon the seas…

The Cold Winds of Summer

The walk through the local park made me confront something that I do not enjoy this early into August : namely, the wind was cold. It did not remind me of summer, or of spring, or of the Sun, but instead of what should not be : winter. Not that the winds were that cold — just the impression they left were of the shortening of days and long weekends inside while the elements do their best against the house.

I would assume that this image was supported by the sight of leaves falling. Not many of them yet, fortunately, but a large enough number to make me think, “This is not the time!” What the gods of weather seem to have missed is that we could do well with another two or so months of warm weather (along with a few short showers) so that at least the short moments outside would be more enjoyable than the moment you sit on the coach and your eyes catch the words on BBC News of another riot in London or Manchester or any other city.

And yet, the walk reminded me of other places. The picture I saw before my eyes could have been changed with the road leading up to a Balto-German mansion and the real change would have been small — true, once mind strayed from the path ahead and looked to the sides, that would have been different indeed… but while eyes were to stay fixed on the destination, the differences at the edges of the field of view would be blurred. I’ve tried to add a picture (taken with my faithful LG) to this post to at least show in a few thoughts what was there to be seen (though a warning would be in order so that the pictures my LG takes are rather sub-par in most ways compared to most other wonders of technology).

Now, it would seem that the picture has been added and everything works (after Opera crashed once, but never mind that since WordPress’s auto-save seems reliable enough).

On a more interesting note, this picture shows what I tried to put into words before — and it makes me wonder how bleak it will be in five months time (I guess I’ll see then!). But, a happier note in my mind says that six months hence it will be a wondrous sight again, and so forth and forth! One replaced by the other : a true cycle of life and… desolation (though a Desolation of less beautiful kind than the one by Cole)!

A Display of Thoughts and an Anglian Sunset…

I had the most wonderful experience today realizing the lyrics of a song were pretty much the farthest thing from what I thought they were… Nevertheless, the idea which I originally had seemed to fit so very well, to this sad tone “if for every day since war began…”

Not to wander though, I read another magnificent newsletter entry (he calls them newsletters, I’d rather say blog posts) by John Howe. I do sometimes wonder where an artist takes the thoughts he has and how he builds the worlds he sees — especially true in this case for the posts that I have read have begun in one end and gone through such a wide range of ideas (feelings) that it seems nigh impossible. A thought from the most recent one (quoting a quote, that is): “…Give me the ships, with sails adapted to the heavenly wind; there will be fearless people, even if they face the immensity.”

My thoughts ranged with Mr Howe’s, nearly on as wide a trail, and I found myself heading to the Sportspark today. They call it modern for some reason but it seemed anything after a closer look. Nevertheless, I was amazed — overcast skies when I entered, and a beautiful Anglian sunset when I left the place. Made me go down to the Yare and think that the moment might be even a bit better if I could just listen to that one tune by J. Strauss, ‘Es war so wunderschön’ (Op. 467).. or a second, not-as-good but still intriguing one named ”S gibt nur a Kaiserstadt, ‘s gibt nur a Wien’ (Op. 291) of which I have yet to find a good quality version so the pleasure of listening to a “true” version of it will remain in the future (hopefully, near future).

Of course, another pleasurable conversation with anti-monarchists (can’t really call them anything else for they don’t know themselves what would be better except something vague called a “democracy”; I am sure /read: I hope/ that “people’s democracy” is however quite far from their thoughts…) on whether dying for a country is acceptable et al.; and before that on the pros and cons of their system itself. To be fair, it might be said that I am getting more lenient in my beliefs given that I’m almost accepting that an “Imperial Republic”-system might serve instead of a monarchic/autocratic one, but not too confident yet.

Not to forget the most important: “The night is dark and full of turnips.”

The User-Friendly Aspects of Meteorology

My recent visit to Estonia reminded me to take a look at the forecasts there (well, not there, if we are precise for they are Finnish forecasts which nevertheless display the area I’m interested in).

To put it mildly, I had forgotten how good something as necessary as a rainfall forecast can be — the best that the UK’s public sector can offer us should be the MetOffice rainfall forecast (link) which, while certainly usable, is more likely to be a nightmare to any person who would dare look at it and predict something. Even the most in-depth look (say, choose the East of England and play the file) shows you blots which sometimes turn into lines and sometimes not. At three-hour intervals. There might be a better option around there, but if there is anything more comprehensive I have been unable to find it.

Needless to say, a three-hour interval measure at that distance (I can place Norwich and Great Yarmouth to that map, but I wouldn’t even want to make a guess at where I can find Cambridge) is not the best concept one could think of.

Which made me think of the add-on (or rather, a past add-on and now private company) to the UEA, Weatherquest, to see if it had anything better or not. Surprisingly, they have made a better quality (but even worse resolution) map of the UK (link) which is a bit more fade-in, fade-out than the MetOffice one but otherwise still rather hard to use. Oh, sure, you can get the weather at Norwich there (still the three-hour issue), especially given that it is somehow easier to find Norwich on that map than on the other one, but I still wouldn’t bet a more than a few pounds on getting Cambridge to Cambridgeshire without another map. In case you missed it, clicking on the map does increase the size.

All in all, I would say that of the two here, the Weatherquest one is far more effective.

Now, let’s take a look at the Finnish one I mentioned in the beginning of the post. I have no idea what their meteorological service is called and I have always used one of their newspapers for the purpose anyways, so here is the Iltasanomat’s rainfall forecast (link). It displays the past eight hours that are based on accurate data, and then forecasts for the next eight hours (one-hour intervals). The area is roughly the same as England and Wales together, and likely some of Scotland as well (there is a separate map for Central and Northern Finland, as well as one for the capital region). Altogether, the area they service is about a third larger than the United Kingdom. Unfortunately, at the present they don’t seem to have any rain falling in the south but the northern maps (click around on the blue bar with words Keski-Suomi and Pohjois-Suomi if the language puzzles you) show you the manner of forecasts as well.

They also have a most interesting though rather useless map for the world. Needless to say, it is somewhat fun to watch though they have gone to three-hour intervals (I believe, for two reasons: the cost of hourly upkeep as well as the scale of movement would be rather hard to notice).

Now, you might say that the loss of any post-eight hour information is a loss, but I would disagree. I am not the most confident in the accuracy of the UK ones, and I would also rather know what happens in an hour not in a day, at least when we speak of the weather.

So yes, meteorology’s social aspect (which none of us really like but which is an inevitable part of it while being rather an indifferent one to oceanography except for the odd fisherman who wants to know wave height) seems to be lacking. Can we perhaps improve upon it?..