Alienating Urban Landscape from Hong Kong Picture from Michael Wolf A pretty impressive image collection on Hong Kong unlike anything I had ever seen about that city. It seems that, as human populations grow, our societies are behaving more and more like ant colonies whereas humans are also not required to distinguish each other as individuals for a group to remain unified. I am probably already too old to adapt my psyche to such conditions but ... if need be. http://photomichaelwolf.com/#architecture-of-densitiy Read post in Google+
About a Giant Shadow I live on the opposite side on the right hand side and coming here took me about 20 minutes biking. A few minutes before I left the giant shade of the Stockhorn, our nearby mountain peak, had embraced us. Some would call that particular moment 'sunset' but this time I didn't and got on my bike instead.
After already a mere minutes I was past the peak of the Stockhorn shade and thus back in the sunlight which then lasted for another 30 minutes. It took me more than a year to realize this and now on a sunny winter afternoon I know where to go to stay longer in the warm company of my good sunny friend. Read post in Google+
♪♬ Happy ♬ ♪ Birthday ♪ to ♬ Meee! ♬ Tomorrow for most, today already for some, our various gadgets and online services will make sure you won't forget reminding me that special day.
I have to say it bugs me a bit when seeing it for others so here I'll attempt to make it a bit easier for you. Not sure it'll work though.
✿ First, this is The official public birthday post to remind it to you. Failing to dedicate a post to this event will thus not be punished. ✿ Press +1 if you wish me to visit and enjoy more such adorable little street in 2014. At the moment I can't seem to wish me much more than that. ✿ Press +1 if you just want to wish me a happy birthday, which is very likely to happen again this year while currently in holiday :-). ✿ Press +1 if you like this picture but do not care at all about my birthday, which I find perfectly respectable. After all, we did not raise pigs together, did we? :-) (comes from French).
Most important, feel free not to press 1+ as much as I felt free walking down that cute little street, built atop a section of the medieval city walls. Read post in Google+
This is probably what keeps my doctor away I am approaching half of a century of existence and I have never suffered anything more serious that an appendicitis as I was a boy. I know that the risky half is ahead of me, but so far, so good; knocking on wood.
Yes I eat chocolate, lots of it, to fuel my legs while running but not only that. On Saturdays I usually get myself fresh vegetables and on Sundays I chop them down into six neat little lunch boxes, as I just did. That will last me until the next Saturday, my refill day. I also eat fruits: two or more apples, one or more banana and several kiwis per day plus whatever seasonal varieties.
I am a strong believer in sickness prevention measures and the food I eat is one of the easy one I can take, physical activities being a tad harder one but I fortunately grew quite a liking for running as well.
"The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease." Thomas Alva Edison
I suppose we are now in that envisioned future but we know that Edison would be bitterly disappointed. As Virgil said 2000 years ago already, our greatest wealth today is still health. #ZelidarFood, Read post in Google+
Thun I went back to the oldest parts of Thun but walking instead of running and with the DSLR fitted with my wide angle lens.
I know I chose the easy way to practice this hobby today for it is pretty difficult to come back empty-handed (understand the memory flash of my camera).
Mining for the Ultimate Ivory As the international community unites behind putting an end to the traffic of elephant ivory the Chinese have began looking for legal alternatives and found one via the trade of ancient Siberian mammoth tusks.
Global warming now makes up for a steadily unearthing of tusks from their melting and eroding permafrost protective sheath. They are then painfully cropped each summer by a few hundreds Siberian "tusks hunters".
Hereafter a few extracts from the April 2013 National Geographic original article [*]. - - - "Nobody, not even Gorokhov, imagined that mammoth tusks would become an economic lifeline for a region that had been largely abandoned after the shuttering of Soviet-era mines and factories. (The population of Yakutiya’s Ust-Yanskiy District, which covers a swath of tundra three times the size of Switzerland, has dropped from 80,000 to just 8,000 in the past five decades.) Now hundreds, if not thousands, of Yakutiyan men have become tusk hunters, following their ancestors’ routes, enduring the same brutal conditions—and chasing the same Paleolithic beasts." [...] "None of the tusk hunters I met during an expedition to northern Yakutiya have ever traveled beyond the Siberian tundra. Yet they are all keenly aware of Chinese demand, which has doubled the price of top-grade mammoth tusks to around $400 a pound in Yakutsk, the regional capital, in the past two years. The price can double again across the Chinese border, and a finely carved full-length tusk can cost a king’s ransom. At an antiques shop in Hong Kong, I saw a ten-foot-long mammoth tusk carved with an intricate bacchanalian scene selling for $1.1 million."
Two years ago in February the temperature went as low as -15°C. The negative record this year and this month is -2°C. It was +6°C when I shot that picture while on a break from running in shorts.
On the one hand I enjoy these mild temperatures which, with already minimal body activities, are allowing light and thin clothing. On the other hand I long for a real winter. Read post in Google+
Today has been windy with large clouds hurrying above our heads and since last week Google is allowing me to show it to you with a delightful accuracy. I hope you will forgive the geek in me who had to try it out ;-). Read post in Google+
Capping Salaries? This November the Swiss people will be asked to decide if salaries must be capped at a 1:12 ratio within every company.
I am a bit torn on that one. On the one hand I think that some of those top figures are insane, completely unreasonable, and might be causing social unrest. On the other hand I would hate having one more legal obligation to apply within my own private company.
From a purely selfish point of view, we certainly would lose quite a few multinationals who would, in a few weeks, simply move their headquarters under more favorable skies.
Travail.Suisse studied the annual reports of 27 international companies based in Switzerland and calculated the ratio between the highest and the lowest salary within the same company.
The ranking is headed by Roche Chief Executive Severin Schwan, who earned CHF15.7 million ($16.8 million) in 2012. That is 261 times more than the lowest paid employee at the Swiss pharmaceutical company earned. Second is Nestle CEO Paul Bulcke with 238 times more than his company’s lowest-paid employee, followed by ABB’s Joe Hogan with 225 times more and Novartis CEO Joseph Jimenez with 219 times more.
In a wider context, the pay gap between Switzerland’s top brass and lowliest workers is still the second smallest in Europe. According to calculations by The Economist, the disparity is the smallest in Norway, followed by Switzerland and Iceland, presumably because everyone in those countries is paid well.
The pay gap is widest in former Soviet countries such as Romania, Ukraine and Russia. A worker in Romania will take about 30 days to earn as much as his boss earns in an hour. In Switzerland, the worker would take less than three days. Read post in Google+
Around the Castle of Thun For the nth time my morning jogging had me going through the area surrounding our dear castle and, for the nth time, it has been a renewed pleasure enjoying everything that the area was offering me.
I do feel fortunate to live close by and, on top of that, to have a lake nearby. This is becoming a small town I increasingly care for and, at the same time, other places further away or abroad are steadily loosing some of their luster.
The Same Chalet from Behind During a second run down I remembered to stop early enough and above to catch a glimpse at the view that the occupants of this chalet must be enjoying where they are at home.
Another typical Swiss view with our white and red national flag in the middle, the chairlift I've used on the left and two poor things heavily covered by snow on the right. Read post in Google+
The Candles are Back I am not sure why they did it there and now but these candles certainly made that little pier feels much warmer than it really was. Nights are still getting colder and longer yet the magic of December can already be felt. Read post in Google+
Photo-running in Delémont We are spending part of the weekend at my parent's, in the town where I grew up, and I took my running gear along, just in case. The case presented itself rather quickly and strongly with a beautiful sky and a rain that kept procrastinating half hour by half hour to my great satisfaction. The pics are geo-tagged, directly uploaded from the Xperia P to Google. Enjoy! #ZelidarPhonePics, #Switzerland , #ZelidarRunning Read post in Google+
Welcome The following is not entirely new as it comes from the old Google Buzz era. I wish I could only share it to those who have never seen it but for that I'd need Google to give me set operations (AllCircles - BuzzersCircle). Those concerned, my apologies and please Mute this post as I will certainly re-animate it a couple of times.
and thank you for your interest. Not counting all those spammers I sorta identified and blocked, a while ago more than 1000 4000 individuals have come across my profile and decided it was worth a try peeking at the images and the ideas I share online. Many thanks for your interest.
My very own stuff or about the things I value I mostly share my own ideas and pictures and I do treasure those who are doing the same. Occasionally I come across something that resonates a lot with my values and I will share it as well along with the reasons why I am doing it. I like using Google Plus to help me set a few ideas straight or to learn something new related to my many interests, both private and professional.
In case you missed it from my profile the following link gives you a good overview of the kind of topics that interests me. It dates back to the Buzz time and I might later do something equivalent for Google+. http://goo.gl/YbyWW
Too many minds, too little time Please do not be upset if I do not "follow" or "circle" you back as there is no way I can interact with several thousand persons. I suppose I would need some sort of politician training for that purpose :-), but even then, according to Dunbar, that would be faked. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunbar's_number
I sincerely hope I won't offend anyone by not doing so. Knowing that many of you seem be interested in what captivates me is a great honor and incentive to continue.
Welcome aboard! Some of the discussions could possibly be perceived as if two or three were busy with each other, being acquainted from some time, joking about and around, etc. That shouldn't keep you from having a different opinion and wanted to speak it out. Please step in and do so, no need be invited.
All what you share is yours Google Plus is a great place to learn about democracy, about respecting each other's ideas, beliefs and cultures. If you change your mind or later dislike what you wrote, you can modify or delete whatever you shared; posts or comments. I do that too every once in a while.
Please! Do interact! A little click on that +1 button at the very least will inform or remind me that you exist but it will usually pleases me as well as then I better get to know what we have in common and allow me to share accordingly. A comment is always welcome and they don't always have to be in English. French and German are fine and Google can help me a great deal with other languages.
So, again, thank you for reading. To make sure that a maximum of you read this post I will re-activate it a couple of times so do not hesitate to mute it.
The Giant Gippsland Earthworms Like some of you (I suppose) I recently stumbled on a set of uncredited and barely commented pictures which were typically meant to impress for just a few minutes in "sharing circles".
Fortunately, that same Internet is also allowing me to quickly reach the background information I was curious to know about this fascinating earthworm species, first that it is real and endemic to Australia.
At a time when everything and nothing gets photographed with the billions of mobile phones out there, neither the DEPI report nor the Wikipedia article contain pictures of this invertebrate. The Museum Victoria only shows two low resolution pictures.
From: http://museumvictoria.com.au/discoverycentre/infosheets/giant-gippsland-earthworm/ -- Giant Gippsland Earthworm Introduction In the 1870s, surveyors around Warragul found an animal that they thought may have been a snake. They sent it to the then Director of the National Museum of Victoria, Professor Frederick McCoy, who described it as a new species of earthworm and named it Megascolides australis. Its common name is the Giant Gippsland Earthworm.
Although the body lengths of adult specimens average around under one metre, the body can expand and contract, and lengths of over two metres have been recorded. However, body length is not an accurate measure of size, and fresh body weight is more reliable; adults average around 200 g.
Where does it live? Even though it is a large species, it is not often seen because it lives deep in the soil and never comes to the surface unless flushed out by heavy rain. It is also very restricted in its distribution. It is only found in the Bass River Valley of South Gippsland, in an area of about 100,000 hectares bounded by the towns of Loch, Korumburra and Warragul. However, within that area, it is very patchy in its distribution and is found in a particular type of blue-grey clay within a short distance of water courses, soaks and springs.
The worm burrows can occur from just below the soil surface to a depth of 1-1.5 m with the worms occurring at a median depth of about half a metre. The Giant Gippsland Earthworm, like any other species of native Australian earthworms, leaves its casts underground in its burrows, and the conical shaped entrances to land crayfish burrows are often mistakenly identified as earthworm casts.
Why is it on the Endangered Species List? Before European settlement, South Gippsland was predominantly covered by tall, wet eucalypt forest. This vegetation type was extensively cleared for farming leaving small, isolated patches of vegetation. Despite some revegetation undertaken throughout Gippsland; the worms current distribution range remains primarily cleared farmland. The species has survived this massive change because it can go deep into the soil. However, it is considered a threatened species because its range has declined since European settlement. The Giant Gippsland Earthworm is listed as a threatened and protected species under the Victorian Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988, and is also listed as vulnerable under the Commonwealth Endangered Species Act.
Other factors that make the Giant Gippsland Earthworm prone to threat are its slow developmental rate and low reproductive rate. The worms produce a large egg capsule, about 4-7 cm in length, containing a single young which can take over a year to incubate. Baby worms are already 20 cm long when they hatch, but may take several years to reach adulthood. Giant Gippsland Earthworms live in a complex system of burrows and there are still many aspects of its biology and ecology that we know little about. --
1.2.1 Distribution and habitat The GGE is endemic to a small area of approximately 40,000 ha in the Bass River Valley of south and west Gippsland, Victoria. Distribution of the GGE is confined to an area roughly bound in the north by Warragul, and in the south by Loch and Korumburra. Within this range, GGE distribution is fragmented and populations can be restricted to very small areas of habitat. Populations are usually associated with creek banks, gullies and soaks or hillslopes with a southerly or westerly aspect. Anecdotal information regarding historical distribution patterns suggests that numbers have declined and the range of the species has contracted through farming activities and infrastructure development, although precise factors responsible for this decline are unclear.
[...] 1.2.2 Biology The GGE is of conservation concern because of its limited distribution and life history characteristics. Particular aspects of the biology and ecology of the GGE such as long life span, low reproductive and recruitment rates, and low dispersal ability render the fragmented populations vulnerable to threatening processes (Van Praagh 1992; McCarthy et al. 1994). The GGE is a hermaphroditic species. Breeding occurs predominantly in spring and summer. Large amber coloured egg cocoons ranging in size from 5 to 9 cm are laid in chambers branching from the adult burrow at an average depth of 22 cm (Van Praagh 1994). Only one embryo is found in each egg cocoon, which is thought to take over 12 months to incubate. Egg production appears to be very low (0.36 per annum) and may not occur every year, depending on seasonal THREATENED SPECIES AND FARMING Report X –Giant Gippsland Earthworm case study 4 conditions. Although the life span of the species is unknown, field and limited laboratory studies suggest that it is long lived, possibly taking up to 5 years to reach sexual maturity. Field studies show the population consists predominantly of adults at all times of the year (Van Praagh 1994). This suggests a slow growth rate and population turnover, with a low rate of recruitment. Individuals are extremely fragile and even slight bruising or damage may result in death. Populations of GGE appear isolated from others and the opportunities for genetic exchange may be limited.
Steep Today's trip on the bike is probably my first one really qualifying for the terms "mountain bike". I had to use everything I got: the power of the disk brakes, the smallest gears, all the studs of both tires for going up and for going down. I was glad I could also use my fitness from running which has kept everything fairly dry, and pleasurable. http://goo.gl/NA4iYj, #MountainBiking Read post in Google+
10 km and 1 hour After hundreds of times and looping through my second winter I have now made jogging part of my life and routine to such an extend that when I stop more than two days it then feels like an irresistible call from my inner nature to go out and enjoy some freedom, fresh air and natural light.
10 km and 1 hour, those nicely round numbers, have proven to ideally suit me as typical values. On weekends I put on some extra and a couple times per year I double that distance.
Some of the lessons I have learned in no particular order 01 ✦ At the beginning one can and will easily find excuses for not going but after a few weeks, or months, it turns into a pleasure. 02 ✦ Very few diseases will keep me from running 03 ✦ The price of the shoes, their cushioning and other technicalities are less, much less important than I first thought. I have accumulated 4 pairs between $50 and $200 and I rotate them without noticing anything significant. 04 ✦ Warming up is good, I often return faster than I left and I strive to take 5 to 10 minutes to do some calisthenics. 05 ✦ Paradoxically rocky paths seem better for my feet and legs than those Swiss smooth asphalted roads 06 ✦ Running in the rain can be fun 07 ✦ Running over some ice seems dangerous but is actually less dangerous than barely walking on it. One just needs not trying to make sharp turns or stops. 08 ✦ Running on the snow is magic, it is all so smooth and silent. Appropriate shoes can be helpful. 09 ✦ Hills are fun too, they bring variety in my tracks. Normally nice views as well. I just reduce my speed to swallow them. 10 ✦ Dogs are putting an awful lot of people on nature's paths, but those are so much more friendly than these others hidden in their vehicles. 11 ✦ Horses produce a lot of manure 12 ✦ I have much less interest for alcoholic beverages than before and I eat much more chocolate (http://goo.gl/VvD69) :-) 13 ✦ Old ladies are always smiling back when you greet them, some old men do too. 14 ✦ The final length of a session is often a matter of surprise. It can be 8 or 16 km without me knowing it when I began. 15 ✦ Running naked (=without any electronics) has its value that I've learned to enjoy but.. 16 ✦ ..but audio books and podcast are my best jogging friends 17 ✦ Running backward or sideways for a few minutes feels good 18 ✦ What goes along a good regularity in jogging is a good routine about my meals, and also about when and what to eat.
Less than 1 hour and 10 km 19 ✦ Running 1 hour is roughly equivalent to 3 hours of mountain hiking 20 ✦ No need for special food or drinking before or after. I will usually drink and eat a lot more than usual because I need it. 21 ✦ It is even possible to start just after dinner but the first 30 minutes will be about the food you just ate :-) 22 ✦ When in the forests or shady places gloves come quite handy after 30 minutes from November through March 23 ✦ The rest of the clothing choice is not crucial, 1 hour is short and one can cut home shorter if needed when the track is a circle. 24 ✦ When running less than one hour my feet are usually just fine. Over one hour and without rest days I will need taking some preventive measures. 25 ✦ Aside from a camera, and preferably my DSLR, I now always try to squeeze a pair of running shoes in my suitcase. 1 little hour can often be organized.
Oh yes, and I don't need an electrical bicycle. Jogging helps me ride faster on my leg powered one than most with their Li-ion powered motors :-)
An Old Church in the Night I finished my walking day in Maastricht long after the sunset and I had parked not foo far from the Saint Martin church, one of the many churches spread around the city. A lowly one which seems to be of interest only in the eyes of special tourists like me.
I tried to enter it but could not go past the illuminated and covered porch which ornamented window is visible here. The heavy doors inside seemed locked and the solid silence which came through them convinced me that I shouldn't try any harder.
Thank goodness for the concept of "not buildable areas" Spiez again with an in-phone computed panorama and the title of this post here to remind us that beauty is always achieved in the pursuit of balance, here between the city, its size and its limits and the surrounding countryside.
The Swiss people has voted several times in recent decades toward reducing those otherwise steadily increasing building zones, that particular balance is continuously at stakes. Here again we find those conflicting interests between short term economic growth and long term perspectives. Read post in Google+
The Suks, what will be left of them? I was along those lucky few who could visit the old city of Aleppo during the past recent years. In particular I walked around in the suks for hours until I thought I had deciphered its maze but, moments later, I realized I was lost again.
Like that first picture, it has done several rounds on the internets since I first published it on my (late) web site and WikiPedia in January of 2003. I returned to that very same spot in March 2005 and then finally in March 2010 when I also learned that the son had just taken over the shop of his father thus carrying on a cultural heritage from the distant past to the now uncertain future.
Several centuries and countless invasions: the Hittites, Assyrians, Akkadians, Greeks, Romans, Umayyads, Ayyubids, Mameluks and Ottomans, two world wide wars, ... the old city seemed invulnerable and now this. How sad!
29 September 2012 "A blaze has swept though ancient markets in Aleppo, activists say, as rebels and government forces seek to gain control of Syria's largest city. Reports say hundreds of shops in the souk, one of the best preserved in the Middle East, have been destroyed." http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-19775530
"Located at the crossroads of several trade routes from the 2nd millennium B.C., Aleppo was ruled successively by the Hittites, Assyrians, Arabs, Mongols, Mamelukes and Ottomans. The 13th-century citadel, 12th-century Great Mosque and various 17th-century madrasas, palaces, caravanserais and hammams all form part of the city's cohesive, unique urban fabric, now threatened by overpopulation." http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/21 #Aleppo Read post in Google+
Good morning, evening everyone. That is the view one gets just behind the church, here looking toward Interlaken. The distant white mountain peak is the Eiger, I think :-). I am off for some family holiday as is often the case these days, I hope you all have a nice weekend ahead of you. Read post in Google+
Belgian Waffles For mysterious reasons the God of the waffles has chosen Belgium to come down and teach the men and the women his precious secrets. This culinary tradition has been carefully maintained until just now as we could verify it in record's time. #ZelidarFood, Read post in Google+