This came in from Bob Derham yesterday.
Our next door neighbour has had the upstairs of their house painted by a British Airways pilot on furlough.
This came in from Bob Derham yesterday.
Our next door neighbour has had the upstairs of their house painted by a British Airways pilot on furlough.
A couple of videos from Rik Cristiansen.
I find this fascinating. Apart from the value to the construction and home repair industries there is a beauty in the following video; well there is to my eyes!
(I suspect the music is also from Rik. I checked; it is!)
And the next one is a look at Rik getting ready to film a cellist. Or in his own words:
This film gives a look behind the scenes of a recent drone shoot we did for a music video. Additional footage and editing by Jazz Thorn, Music performed by Mateusz Holc.
But it also includes an explanation of the business of getting a drone ready for flight.
And the dogs will have to wait for next Sunday’s Picture Parade! Sorry!
I won’t explain more until tomorrow!
There’s quite a story behind this!
And behind this one!
A treat for an explosive detection dog!
This is another story from The Dodo blogsite. And, yes, about a dog. But not any old dog; he used his sense of smell to protect us humans. He has, in my opinion, an unusual name but it is still his name: TTirado. TTirado was an explosive detection dog at Indianapolis Airport and after eight years of service he was retired.
Here’s the full story!
His last find was a good one 😁
By Lily Feinn
Published on the 18th June, 2020
As an explosive detection canine, TTirado isn’t always allowed to play with tennis balls like normal pets. Tennis balls — his favorite toy — are used as a reward for a job well done at the Indianapolis Airport.
So when it came time for TTirado to retire after eight long years of service, his handler came up with the perfect way to celebrate — with a massive ball drop.
“It’s a coveted item during their career,” Keith Gray, TTirado’s handler, told The Dodo. “They know that they have to work for it to get it and that’s what keeps them going and keeps their motivation up.”
TTirado is top of the class when it comes to detection, and has passed every single evaluation and test. For TTirado, scent detection is a game, and he’s always been happy to go into work with his dad.
“He was the first dog that was assigned to me and the dog I kept my entire career,” Gray said. “He’s a black Lab, so he’s a fantastic, lovable pup. He’s been such a great dog to work with and I’ve learned so much from him over the years.”
To surprise the pup on his special day, Gray ordered 200 tennis balls online and set up a special final search for him.
“We had a couple of handlers that were behind the scenes ready to drop the balls when he showed up,” Gray said. “The handlers knew what to do when the dog alerts, which is basically him coming around the corner, sniffing that bag like he’s supposed to and dropping his butt to sit down.”
When TTirado signaled to his dad that he had found something, all 200 tennis balls dropped from the sky. TTirado was in heaven.
TTirado loves to play fetch, and everyone joined in throwing balls for the senior dog to chase.
After putting in countless 40-hour workweeks, TTirado is finally learning to enjoy his retirement. While TTirado was always part of the family, Gray has officially adopted him and plans on taking the pup on lots of fun trips in the future.
But perhaps the biggest change for TTirado is that he gets to hang out on the couch with his favorite toy every single day: “Now that he’s retired, he can have all the toys and tennis balls he wants and play around with them at home,” Gray said.
It’s a wonderful story about a great dog. TTirado, you have a fantastic retirement and may you live happily for a long time to come!
A slight tongue-in-cheek title to today’s post.
Because it is a leap day!
So I’m going back a long time.
I was born towards the tail end of 1944; six months before the end of WWII in Europe.
As such I was in my early twenties when NASA came to the wider attention of millions of people with their effort to put a man on the moon. It was enthralling to look up at the night sky when a moon was present and think that in time there would be a man standing on the moon’s surface.
Now that I am 75 many things have changed. But one of them has not: Staring up at the night sky and getting lost in thought. Luckily we live in a rural location without artificial light anywhere nearby and the night skies are very clear.
All of which takes me back to my days of sailing. From 1986 until 1991 I lived on a deep-water ketch, a Tradewind 33, based in Larnaca, in Cyprus. Each Spring, I would solo across to the Turkish coast, or the Greek coast, and meet up with friends, or my son and daughter, and go coastal cruising. Then in the last year I sailed for England. I well recall seeing the night sky all around me with the stars practically down the watery horizon.
But more of that some other day. Now back to the moon.
All of which is to republish this post and I do hope you will be able to read it fully.
By Michael d’Estries, February 26, 2020
On April 15, 1970, NASA astronauts Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert and Fred Haise aboard Apollo 13 set a Guinness World Record for the highest absolute altitude attained by a crewed spacecraft at a distance of 248,655 miles from Earth. Nearly 50 years later, that unplanned record still stands as part of a mission beset by technical glitches and saved by engineering heroism.
“We didn’t slow down, unlike the others, when we got to the moon because we needed its gravity to get back, so we hold the altitude record,” Lowell told the Financial Times in 2011. “I never even thought about it. Records are only made to be broken.”
Gliding by the moon’s far side at an altitude of only 158 miles, the crew of Apollo 13 were, at the time, one of only a handful of humans to ever gaze upon this strange and relatively-unknown terrain of our closest neighbor. Because the moon is tidally locked, a phenomenon in which an orbiting body takes just as long to rotate around its own axis as it does to revolve around its partner, only one side ever faces the Earth.
Using imagery collected by its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft, NASA has recreated views observed by Apollo 13 during the crew’s harrowing 25-minute journey around the moon’s far side.
“This video showcases visualizations in 4K resolution of many of those lunar surface views, starting with earthset and sunrise, and concluding with the time Apollo 13 reestablished radio contact with Mission Control,” the agency said in a release. “Also depicted is the path of the free return trajectory around the Moon, and a continuous view of the Moon throughout that path. All views have been sped up for timing purposes — they are not shown in ‘real-time.'”
This video uses data gathered from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft to recreate some of the stunning views of the Moon that the Apollo 13 astronauts saw on their perilous journey around the farside in 1970. These visualizations, in 4K resolution, depict many different views of the lunar surface, starting with earthset and sunrise and concluding with the time Apollo 13 reestablished radio contact with Mission Control. Also depicted is the path of the free return trajectory around the Moon, and a continuous view of the Moon throughout that path. All views have been sped up for timing purposes — they are not shown in “real-time.” Credits: Data Visualization by: Ernie Wright (USRA) Video Produced & Edited by: David Ladd (USRA) Music provided by Universal Production Music: “Visions of Grandeur” – Frederick Wiedmann
According to Lowell, despite the astronauts’ extremely close proximity, the moon was not the most awe-inspiring scene outside the spacecraft window.
“The impression I got up there wasn’t what the moon looked like so close up, but what the Earth looked like,” he said.
“The lunar flights give you a correct perception of our existence. You look back at Earth from the moon and you can put your thumb up to the window and hide the Earth behind your thumb. Everything you’ve ever known is behind your thumb, and that blue-and-white ball is orbiting a rather normal star, tucked away on the outer edge of a galaxy. You realize how insignificant we really all are. Everything you’ve ever known — all those arguments and wars — is right behind your thumb.”
Did you watch the video? It’s amazing and is literally the dark side of the moon!
I will close by republishing a Wikipedia entry for Apollo 13.
Apollo 13 was the seventh crewed mission in the Apollo space program and the third meant to land on the Moon. The craft was launched from Kennedy Space Center on April 11, 1970, but the lunar landing was aborted after an oxygen tank in the service module (SM) failed two days into the mission. The crew instead looped around the Moon, and returned safely to Earth on April 17. The mission was commanded by Jim Lovell with Jack Swigert as command module (CM) pilot and Fred Haise as lunar module (LM) pilot. Swigert was a late replacement for Ken Mattingly, who was grounded after exposure to rubella.
Accidental ignition of damaged wire insulation inside the oxygen tank as it was being routinely stirred caused an explosion that vented the tank’s contents. Without oxygen, needed both for breathing and for generating electric power, the SM’s propulsion and life support systems could not operate. The CM’s systems had to be shut down to conserve its remaining resources for reentry, forcing the crew to transfer to the LM as a lifeboat. With the lunar landing canceled, mission controllers worked to bring the crew home alive.
Although the LM was designed to support two men on the lunar surface for two days, Mission Control in Houston improvised new procedures so it could support three men for four days. The crew experienced great hardship caused by limited power, a chilly and wet cabin and a shortage of potable water. There was a critical need to adapt the CM’s cartridges for the carbon dioxide removal system to work in the LM; the crew and mission controllers were successful in improvising a solution. The astronauts’ peril briefly renewed interest in the Apollo program; tens of millions watched the splashdown in the South Pacific Ocean by television.
An investigative review board found fault with preflight testing of the oxygen tank and the fact that Teflon was placed inside it. The board recommended changes, including minimizing the use of potentially combustible items inside the tank; this was done for Apollo 14. The story of Apollo 13 has been dramatized several times, most notably in the 1995 film Apollo 13.
Carl Sagan’s legacy!
Last Friday saw the thirtieth anniversary of Carl Sagan’s iconic photograph, or rather NASA’s photograph, of Planet Earth. Carl persuaded NASA to turn Voyager 1, as it left the Solar System, and take the photo. It became famous almost instantly and became known as the pale blue dot.
Here’s a shortened Wikipedia account of Carl Sagan’s book:
Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space is a 1994 book by Carl Sagan. It is the sequel to Cosmos and was inspired by the famous 1990 Pale Blue Dot photograph, for which Sagan provides a poignant description. In this book, Sagan mixes philosophy about the human place in the universe with a description of the current knowledge about the Solar System. He also details a human vision for the future.
Here’s the latest from NASA.
February 12th, 2020
For the 30th anniversary of one of the most iconic views from the Voyager mission, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, is publishing a new version of the image known as the “Pale Blue Dot.”
The updated image uses modern image-processing software and techniques while respecting the intent of those who planned the image. Like the original, the new color view shows Planet Earth as a single, bright blue pixel in the vastness of space. Rays of sunlight scattered within the camera optics stretch across the scene, one of which happens to have intersected dramatically with Earth.
The view was obtained on Feb. 14, 1990, just minutes before Voyager 1’s cameras were intentionally powered off to conserve power and because the probe — along with its sibling, Voyager 2 — would not make close flybys of any other objects during their lifetimes. Shutting down instruments and other systems on the two Voyager spacecraft has been a gradual and ongoing process that has helped enable their longevity.
This celebrated Voyager 1 view was part of a series of 60 images designed to produce what the mission called the “Family Portrait of the Solar System.” This sequence of camera-pointing commands returned images of six of the solar system’s planets, as well as the Sun. The Pale Blue Dot view was created using the color images Voyager took of Earth.
The popular name of this view is traced to the title of the 1994 book by Voyager imaging scientist Carl Sagan, who originated the idea of using Voyager’s cameras to image the distant Earth and played a critical role in enabling the family portrait images to be taken.
Additional information about the Pale Blue Dot image is available at:
The original Pale Blue Dot and Family Portrait images are available at:
The Voyager spacecraft were built by JPL, which continues to operate both. JPL is a division of Caltech in Pasadena. The Voyager missions are a part of the NASA Heliophysics System Observatory, sponsored by the Heliophysics Division of the Science Mission Directorate in Washington. For more information about the Voyager spacecraft, visit:
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
Written by Preston Dyches
Voyager 1 is now nearly 14 billion miles from Planet Earth and still going strong. It has a plutonium battery that will last for eighty years. A one-way radio signal from Earth takes about twenty hours to reach the probe.
And now for something different but still to do with space.
NASA astronaut Christina Koch recently returned to Earth after 328 days in space, breaking the record for the longest single spaceflight by a woman. She completed six spacewalks while on the International Space Station, including the first all-female spacewalk with astronaut Jessica Meir.
When she finally made it home, her beloved pup, LBD (Little Brown Dog), couldn’t contain her excitement.
Koch shared a video on Twitter of the moment she walked through her front door and LBD pounced to shower her with kisses.
“Not sure who was more excited,” she captioned the video. “Glad she remembers me after a year!”
“We call her LBD, little brown dog, she’s from the Humane Society and she couldn’t be sweeter,” Koch told Insider on a phone call with reporters from the Johnson Space Centre.
“And yes, she was very excited, I was very excited, I’m not sure who was more excited! … You know it’s just a symbol of coming back to the people and places that you love, to see your favourite animal.”
This article was originally published by Business Insider.
Now I can’t disappear without acknowledging the fantastic work of Carl Sagan.
And I can’t do better than republish the first bit of a wonderful piece on Carl put out by Wikipedia.
Carl Edward Sagan (/ˈseɪɡən/; November 9, 1934 – December 20, 1996) was an American astronomer, cosmologist, astrophysicist, astrobiologist, author, science popularizer, and science communicator in astronomy and other natural sciences. He is best known as a science popularizer and communicator. His best known scientific contribution is research on extraterrestrial life, including experimental demonstration of the production of amino acids from basic chemicals by radiation. Sagan assembled the first physical messages sent into space: the Pioneer plaque and the Voyager Golden Record, universal messages that could potentially be understood by any extraterrestrial intelligence that might find them. Sagan argued the now accepted hypothesis that the high surface temperatures of Venus can be attributed to and calculated using the greenhouse effect.[
He died far too young in my opinion!
But not without leaving a tremendous legacy – The Pale Blue Dot.
This is a beautiful story.
Yesterday, as per usual, I was browsing my way through the latest posts on Ugly Hedgehog.
Then I really sat up. For Val had posted the following:
OMG. You won’t believe this story.
I took Lili (my faithful photo dog buddy) for her usual evening walk up in the back of my house by the golf course. Fortunately, that is where the eagles hang out.
They have been pretty boring, albeit, beautiful.
Tonight they had a very large bass that they were sharing.
I took a bunch of pictures and we went for our walk.
They don’t pay much attention to Lili and I any more which is cool. On our way back to the car, we had to pass under the tree they were now in.
I took a few more pictures, and as we passed under the tree, they dropped the fish and it landed about 3ft from our feet.
Lili is off leash.
I told her to stay and lie down, she did and we both stood still.
The big female flew down and walked over to get it. Looked at us, and took it back up into the tree and continued eating. It was soooooo exciting!!!
Val included some photographs.
I sent Val a private message asking if I could republish her story. Val said ‘Yes’. But even better than that Val included a short video and some additional news. In that Lili was found by a dumpster four years ago. Then Lili was just 5 weeks old. Since then “I have been taking her everywhere with me since.”
Val went on to say:
As soon as it gets dusky, I keep Lili on a leash too for the same reasons.
She is pretty big, 80# but I don’t trust the eagles.
Who knows what they would/can do?
And one of Lili!
And there’s a short video but I don’t have time today to turn it into a YouTube.
It’s a beautiful story.
A wonderful set of photographs for the new year!
These were taken by my son, posted on Facebook and with his permission reproduced here.
Taken at the Moat, at Bishop’s Palace, Wells, U.K.
From the Royal Society of Protection for Birds (RSPB) website:
Kingfishers have stout bodies, very short tails, short, rounded wings, large heads and long, dagger-like bills.
Their feet are very small, with the two outer toes partly fused together. They nest in holes tunnelled into earth banks. There is only one UK species, but many more worldwide, most of which are dry-land birds rather than waterside ones like the UK kingfisher.
Alex and Lisa have put together a remarkable video
Yesterday, in came an email from my son, Alex, about an amazing starling murmuration at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).
Lisa took the video and together they uploaded it to YouTube.
Having watched the amazing video I then did a little bit of research. I came quickly across the science of murmuration and have included it below.
Murmuration refers to the phenomenon that results when hundreds, sometimes thousands, of starlings fly in swooping, intricately coordinated patterns through the sky.
Maybe you’ve seen a murmuration video before. But this one is especially beautiful. It was shot earlier this month in Wales, at Cosmeston Lakes in the Vale of Glamorgan, and posted on Facebook by the BBC Cymru Wales. (It’s not included, Ed.)
It’s all about science. Just how do the starlings manage to fly in such an amazingly coordinated way?
A few years ago, George F. Young and his colleagues investigated starlings’ “remarkable ability to maintain cohesion as a group in highly uncertain environments and with limited, noisy information” — a nice description of what goes on in a murmuration.
Going in, Young et al. already knew that starlings pay attention to a fixed number of their neighbors in the flock, regardless of flock density — seven, to be exact. Their new contribution was to figure out that “when uncertainty in sensing is present, interacting with six or seven neighbors optimizes the balance between group cohesiveness and individual effort.”
Young et al. analyzed still shots from videos of starlings in flight (flock size ranging from 440 to 2,600), then used a highly mathematical approach and systems theory to reach their conclusion. Focusing on the birds’ ability to manage uncertainty while also maintaining consensus, they discovered that birds accomplish this (with the least effort) when each bird attends to seven neighbors.
Another post from many years back.
From June 4th, 2013 to be exact.
Continuing the theme of revisiting earlier posts this week!
What a wonderful relationship it has been.
Years ago if I was ever to own a dog, it had to be one breed and one breed only: a German Shepherd Dog.
The reason for this was that back in 1955 my father and mother looked after a German Shepherd dog called Boy. Boy belonged to a lovely couple, Maurice and Marie Davies. They were in the process of taking over a new Public House (Pub); the Jack & Jill in Coulsdon, Surrey. My father had been the architect of the Jack & Jill.
As publicans have a tough time taking holidays, it was agreed that the move from their old pub to the Jack & Jill represented a brilliant opportunity to have that vacation. My parents offered to look after Boy for the 6 weeks that Maurice and Marie were going to be away.
Boy was the most gentle loveable dog one could imagine and I quickly became devoted to him; I was 11 years old at the time. So when years later it seemed the right time to have a dog, there was no question about the breed. Boy’s memory lived on all those years, and, as this post reveals, still does!
Pharaoh was born June 3rd, 2003 at Jutone Kennels up at Bovey Tracy, Devon, on the edge of Dartmoor. As the home page of the Jutone website pronounces,
The Kennel was established in 1964 and it has always been the aim to breed the best German Shepherd Dogs for type and temperament. To this end the very finest German bloodlines are used to continue a modern breeding programme.
and elsewhere on that website one learns:
Jutone was established by Tony Trant who was joined by Sandra Tucker in 1976. Sandra continues to run Jutone since Tony passed away in 2004. Both Tony and Sandra qualified as Championship Show judges and Sandra continues to judge regularly. Sandra is the Secretary and a Life Member of the German Shepherd Dog Club of Devon.
Turning to Pharaoh, here are a few more pictures over the years.
The next picture of Pharaoh requires a little background information.
For many years I was a private pilot and in later days had the pleasure, the huge pleasure, of flying a Piper Super Cub, a group-owned aircraft based at Watchford Farm in South Devon. The aircraft, a Piper PA-18-135 Super Cub, was originally supplied to the Dutch Air Force in 1954 and was permitted by the British CAA to carry her original military markings including her Dutch military registration, R-151, although there was a British registration, G-BIYR, ‘underneath’ the Dutch R-151. (I wrote more fully about the history of the aircraft on Learning from Dogs back in August 2009.)
Anyway, every time I went to the airfield with Pharaoh he always tried to climb into the cockpit. So one day, I decided to see if he would sit in the rear seat and be strapped in. Absolutely no problem with that!
My idea had been to fly a gentle circuit in the aircraft. First I did some taxying around the large grass airfield that is Watchford to see how Pharaoh reacted. He was perfectly behaved.
Then I thought long and hard about taking Pharaoh for a flight. In the Cub there is no autopilot so if Pharaoh struggled or worse it would have been almost impossible to fly the aircraft and cope with Pharaoh. So, in the end, I abandoned taking him for a flight. The chances are that it would have been fine. But if something had gone wrong, the outcome just didn’t bear thinking about.
So we ended up motoring for 30 minutes all around the airfield which, as the next picture shows, met with doggie approval. The date was July 2006.
What a dear dog he has been over all the years and, thankfully, still is!
As if to reinforce the fabulous dog he still is, yesterday it was almost as though he knew he had to show how youthful he still was.
Because, when I took his group of dogs out around 7.30am armed with my camera, Pharaoh was brimming over with energy.
First up was a swim in the pond.
Then in a way he has not done before, Pharaoh wanted to play ‘King of my Island’, which is in the middle of the pond.
Then a while later, when back on dry land, so to speak, it was time to dry off in the morning sunshine.
Long may he have an enjoyable and comfortable life.
Pharaoh died of old age on June 19th, 2017. He was 14!
Despite the fact that we have six wonderful dogs including Cleo there is still a twinge of sadness when Pharaoh is mentioned. And now you know the origins of Pharaoh!
Let me close by sharing a photograph of Cleo.