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The Dog Days of Summer

Dog Days of Summer. Dog Days. The dog days… What the hell is a “DOG DAY”!?

Well I’ll tell you.

I used to think that a ‘dog day’ was another name for one of those lazy days you have during summer. The ones where there is heat rising in a mirage-like haze from the roads, a slight sheen of sweat covers every forehead and more iced treats are floating about than at an Italian gelato vendor.

One of those days that become so bright you could swear some belligerent ten year old had turned on a high watt bulb over you and was trying to incinerate you with a magnifying lens.

One of those days so hot and summery that all you want to do is take a nap under a tree then douse yourself on cool water and guzzle a litre of ice tea from a tall glass filled with ice and topped with lemon.

tall glass of something from my pre-alcohol days… 😉

One of those days. The Dog Days.

But no. This is apparently (and admittedly disappointingly) not the case at all.

Mystic Meg

Apparently, the phrase stems from the Ancient Romans. Those clever little conquerors who invented all manner of things we now take for granted such as roads, cement, plumbing, government, even an EXTREMELY early computer, made a bit of a silly. For all their intelligence they may er… have read a little too much into the stars… kinda like Mystic Meg… except people actually believed them… for hundreds of years

They believed heavily in the power of the stars and their influence over earth. They studied them extensively – at least, as extensively as they could without todays technology.

Sirius Constellation

Once a year (another thing they invented, by the way, the calendar) the brightest star in the Sirius constellation would synchronise with the rise and setting of the sun, outshining all others in the sky. The Ancient Romans believed that it was the energy, light and heat released by this combination that led to the hotter and brighter summer seasons. Hence, Dog Days. It was really just a very early term for summer.

(This all has nothing to do with Harry Potter, by the way…)

The surprising thing is, that despite this being something they came up with simply as it was the only rational explanation they had for the change that came about in the environment around that time, they were not so far wrong; Sirius does shine brightest between July 3rd and August 11th, which is generally the hottest time of the year – it does not, however effect the actual temperature. That bit was all a load of rubbish. But it made them happy to feel clever, so we’ll let them have that as they were rather good at a lot of things.

It was the astronomer Geminus who out forward a more correct thesis around 70 B.C.

He wrote: “It is generally believed that Sirius produces the heat of the ‘dog days,’ but this is an error, for the star merely marks a season of the year when the sun?s heat is the greatest.”

This is what FLORENCE WELCH (of FLORENCE AND THE MACHINE fame) refers to in her song “Dog Days are Over”, used in the Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack. Many people originally thought the reference to “dog” was a tip in the direction of the films protagonist. Not so.

Florence Welch

So when you thought you were hippy swaying in a field to a song about breaking up with some “dog” of a guy/girl, or emancipation from being treated like nothing more than a “dog” – you were actually celebrating the end of the summer season, as sanctioned by the Ancient Romans. Go figure!

Not so chuffed about it now, are ya… 😉

It was purely a serendipitous moment that led me to this discovery. I was randomly pondering its implications, trying to make some nuance of sense of it, after hearing our fiery haired Florence on the radio (as you do…). Then the very next day I discovered its origins on, aptly enough, a calendar at work. 😀

Florence Welch

So consider this while you lament the end of the summer holidays:

When the light of the Sirius has waned, will you continue to grieve the passing of its season? Or will you invest your former vigour in new, autumnal exploits?

In other words, wocha up to after summer, anything interesting happening in the Autumn? 😀

Just because the fairest season has lived and left, does not meanthat the sun has to set on life and all its brightness.

And so, in the best of Florence style, I bid you, put on your flowery crowns, don those flowing dresses and RUN! “Run fast for you mother and fast for your fa-a-ather/run for your children for your sisters and b-rothers.”

Would you know, I think I’m becoming something of an optimist in my old age.

NAAAH! More like some kind of wood nymph. 😛

SSDD

“The Dog Days Are Over” still…

pretty and sweet...

Don’t Turn Over A Random Leaf; Turn Over the Right One

Picture the scene.

You are in a landscape. This landscape may be near barren. A smattering of wilting bushes peppering brazen, cracked soil. The shoots that are left are of a variety capable of life in harsh conditions. Perhaps there is a burning sun. Perhaps it is tundra like and cold. This landscape is yours alone. It is not so entirely unpleasant that it is always unbearable, much in the way that even the most unsavoury of areas can be tolerated once you get used to them, but there is something not quite right about it.

There could be many names you could give this place. Limbo, might be one of them. Or perhaps perdition, nowhere, or even confusion. You might prefer not to give that place a name at all. That’s ok. It is yours…

You stir from a most intense day-dream. So intense you might have believes it reality; were it not for that bush.

The lush and leafy, impossibly mulit-tonal green bush, that has attracted your attention. Was it always there or has it just suddenly sprung into being from the drought ridden ground?

unusual and intimidating…

As if independent from meteorological influence, a leaf detaches itself from the bush. It float purposefully toward you. You approach with caution. Lift the leaf: pretty. Unusual shape, not one you are familiar with. Interesting. But not for you.

Take a step back, but take care not to lose sight of the leaf. Something has stirred in you and you know it’s important, even if you don’t necessarily want to encounter that particular shoot again.

pretty and sweet…

Another has flown near you, with a gentle motion, as if to avoid startling you. This time the leaf is colourful. Inhail and discover that the air is sweet, the scent carried on a light breeze and wrapping coolly around you.

Carry this leaf awhile. Twirl it experimentally between your fingers. Hmmmmn, lovely; but not for you. Let the fragile pretty thing float away on the fragrant flurry. It lands close to the bush.

is this your leaf? …

Next, a darker one catches your eye. This one is scary by comparison to the others. Spikier edges. It writhes in the draft, which by this time has become warm, despite the lessening intensity from the sun; it no longer burns.

A glance at the bush shows that it sits there still, innocent and suspicious only in its alien contrast to the tired little sprouts around it.

You stand, stare quizzically at this leaf. A tall shrub sways dozily in the breeze beside you. It never did that before…

The leafy bush seems to glow as you approach the spiky leaf. This one sends shockwaves through you and your nerves alight with a fire that has never been experienced in this forlorn place before. This knowledge seems to make the bush glow brighter still.

The scary leaf continues its dance, with each of your tentative steps seeming to increase its fervor. Your heart races in time with its perilous twist – the feeling is somewhat nauseating after so long in such a place of dry suspension.

But you reach out and pince the stem between shaking fingers. Mouth dry but eyes no longer heavy, the leafs struggle ends. It is course to the touch but fresh and crisp. It feels more dependable that the others. Less likely to die quickly or suffer a tragically short existence, or worse, a promising start followed by a hollowly unfulfilling end.

Sure, those spikes might make it a little difficult to handle at times, but sometimes that is the price of reliability.

The warmth that had been blanketing you from the wind now swirls and glows somewhere else – is it inside you? Somewhere, perhaps, and quite deep. But deep in a way that a well is deep; the only place it can go is up, and this time, what goes down, will come back up.

The leaf has ceased its struggles and sits palliative in you hand. This is the one for you.

Turn it over.

 

SSDD

a lone shrub surviving…

tundra…

could you miss this tree in a desert…

A TIN OF QUALITY STREET!!

There is a Thief on Quality Street…

Picture the scene.

It’s 11th August, the eve of my 19th birthday… I, like most teenagers on a slow, Saturday afternoon, am sitting before my laptop, my thoughts torn between my next mission in Tuscany in Assassins Creed II and what shoes would best match my jeans for a party I was going to that night…

When a tentative knock on my front door disturbs my reverie!

Who should make waves in my proverbial pond of ponderings??…

Picture next, me, rising from my throne (kitchen chair) alighting to the grand entrance (front porch) with all the good grace of an arthritic penguin (a teenager in a penguin onesie being made to move when they would rather stay seated). But instead of some visitor, what should i find on my doorstep –

A TIN OF QUALITY STREET!!

That’s right; a tin of Quality Street, complete with blue ribbon and a beautiful birthday card from my 80-something year old neighbour, as a one-day-early birthday present.

Now, kind reader, you would be forgiven for thinking that this is a happy tale. It is not.

Because when I sat down to peruse the chocolately box of faux-gems, I noticed something peculiar – the distracting lack of colour to be seen…

Of all the yummies contained within that attractively rich looking tin, there were two colours that were noticeable mainly by their absence – the iconic, Big Purple One and the Big Green Triangle; where on earth were they!?

I searched that entire box and in all of it, only found one Big Green Triangle and only two Big Purple Ones!!

Considering the purple ones are my mums favourite, you can imagine the disappointment… And that Green One I had (before I realised it was the only one!!) was one of the yummiest pralines I think I have ever had.

And so this regaling tale ends. With me, a 19 year old unable to provide my mum with her favourite sweets through a saddening and distinctly random shortfall from ™. Luckily my dad’s favourite is the Toffee Finger or else we’d really be having problems…

Then again, I do love the Strawberry Creme ones… and those Orange Cremes, too… and the Caramel Cups are delicious… and so are…

Ok, so the tin is not a total loss, but c’mon! They are two of the iconic chocs, the ones that are instantly recognizable! And some little sweetie thief has gone and hand-picked them away from me! Tis a lamentable tale, to be sure.

Nestlé, take better care in your delivering of treats, to avoid disappointing a poor, innocent 19 year old on her birthday, and shattering her dreams of a rainbow-foil-filled field crunching under her, as she sits, surrounded by empty wrappers. Because a rainbow-foil-filled field is not a rainbow foil-filled field if it is missing purple and green. In fact, it’s hardly a field at all. More just a bit of a mess, really.

Ah well. It was my birthday, so I’ll be damned if I’m the one clearing up that particular mess!!

As for the empty cider bottles…

😉 😛

SSDD

What do you call this, Nestle??

Guestpost

The Curse of the 19 Year Old: Panic Freedom

Ok, so I think I have a problem.

The other day was my 19th birthday.

NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THAT MEANS I’M PROPERLY OLD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHY CRUEL WORLD, WHYYYYYYYYYY!?!?!?!?!?!?

Kidding, I don’t really care about getting old. 😀 It’s more the fear that a chapter of my life has now closed, that era which could still conceivably still be called childhood is no longer. It doesn’t mean that I have to suddenly shrug off my Invisibility Cloak (that tatty rag I used for Halloween when I was eight) and pull on that Robe of responsibility (a bra), but it is something to consider.

Age is not a garment, it cannot be measured in appearance. I think that, for the important things at least, age is a state of mind.

And my state of mind now; confused. Here’s why.

I always considered 19 year olds to have something over their peers. I don’t know what it is but a 19 year old in my eyes seemed to have a freedom and a rebellion that came from being that age; too old for the newly-legally-novelty to still really influence your actions, but not old enough yet that you feel any actual responsibility for your life or your future. Like there is still a sheen of total abandonment coating everything and a flavour of good ol’ “I’m too young to die” in every puff of suspiciously scented cig.

(if you get the reference hidden in there, props to my fellow AR fans… keeping the youth alive… and the movie sequel dream… :P)

In fact, I thought quite the opposite: I felt that a 19 year old was stuck in a place almost of panic, right before you turn into an actual, glorified adult, no longer able to claim it was teenage hormones that made that bad decision, that it was all down to a learning curve, that living excessively was all part of being young. I think it is that fear that makes a 19 year old seem to me one of the most hectic and volatile creatures in existence.

Imagine; one day it is all partying, no consideration, the next – you’re 20, the same laws that once ruled you are literally irrelevant, getting away with a child ticket is no longer merely “a push” but laughable. Using “only when I’m drunk” as an excuse won’t work – who has the time when you have to be up so early for work?!

Maybe life doesn’t stop at 20, even if it does start at 50. But from the shenanigans I’ve seen from some of those 19 year olds in the past, I’m not willing to take that chance.

So, I’m guessing that this year might have some surprises in store. Nothing that I can predict at the moment, but neither could anyone else, and most of them seem to have done alright for themselves.

If life were predictable, it wouldn’t be nearly so interesting. There would be no such thing as surprises. It wouldn’t be worth waiting around for. Zombies would be the norm, rather than that threat we nerds have spent decades preparing for the arrival of.

So bring on the impulse panic decisions. Bring on the freedom. Or, if it swings the other way, bring on the fight against oppression.

Because I may not be ready for it, but what 19 year old is?

 

SSDD

Weekly Writing Challenge: Never Underestimate the Price of Silence

We should never underestimate the price of silence. Silence is by nature, empty. It is the very most basic, expressionless, non-existent thing known to man.

Or is it??

They say that there is no sound in space, because there is nothing there for the molecules to bounce off of and create the noises that our ears pick up; but rather than making that the most gaping and vacant, miserable expanse of nothingness, I rather think that might make it the most peaceful place I could ever imagine being.

It took Hollywood directors so much effort to find a place of complete silence, that they often refuse to re-create it for each film. That’s right; they buy it from the guy who “recorded” it, sometimes paying thousands for a 30 second clip. Never has there been such a perfect capturing of utter quiet on earth – without totally removing sound, that is.

Because the world in complete mute is unearthly. People do not like to feel that they are alone. Even the sound of your own breathing is enough to make a person feel that there is enough life left that hope still exists.

And yet, achieving the stillness, the motionless existence, the utter suspension of all things around you that make up what in each individuals eye constitutes the correct level of “silence”, is obscenely difficult.

For NASA, nothing less than that place so deep within the heart of SPACE, is silent enough. For Hollywood, there is no more natural nor inimitable a silence than the one found in the desert.

For myself, the perfect silence comes when I am alone in my house. The only sounds are the ones I make. There are no voiced, in this silent domain of mine. There might be the ratt-a-tatt-tat of my fingers as they tap out something like this, or perhaps something for Uni, or a message to a friend. More often, there might be the crisp swish, as a page in a book is turned, a crackle, as the page falls into place on top of its predecessor. There are no voices, in my silence, nor snores, nor televisions blaring nonsense at me.

We all find pockets of solace in different ways. But in order to achieve such peace, one might have to battle long and tragically hard to win over the domain that is; the comfiest seat in the house.

We should never underestimate the price of silence.

SSDD

So, You Really Think This Is A good Plan!?!? : The Fat Acceptance Movement

Ever had that moment when someone has tentatively said to you “Ever thought about losing a little weight?” and, scowling and red-faced replied, “I just can’t, alright!!”

Well, good news. According to new research, it could be genetic – so don’t worry about it!

There is a new stance emerging – “Fat Acceptance Movement”.

Thinking “hey I think I’ve heard of that before…” but with no idea where? Nope, it wasn’t on that (now empty) tub of Ben and Jerry’s, nor was it scribbled on the bottom that take-out menu. You may have heard of it in passing while listening to the news or the radio, perhaps even on a heath or fashion TV show, (that’s right, they mentioned it on a couple of those recently!) but never really discussed on its own. I predict this will change very soon.

So Where Has This Idea Come From?

It stems from the Government. The idea is that governments are moving on from the stance that all overweight people can be helped back to a healthier size; apparently it all genetic! They are now entertaining the idea that they should instead focus on changing societal view of fat people to be less discriminatory.

I’m all for changing negative social stigma so that it isn’t directed at people. Stigma would be far better attached to negative things instead; a recent example would be the possibility of a law being passed to force cyclists to wear helmets – stigmatising this could save lives without needless laws being passed. (Amol Rajan discussed this in the i on Friday, link HERE)

However. I think this might be a tad ridiculous.

Yes, there are people who are naturally heavier build, same goes for some thin people – that’s just the way you are built. But there is a big difference between being big boned and being obese.

Obese people have made the choice to let their weight get out of control, therefore, their health problems are their own responsibility. Same goes for super thin people. This “fat acceptance” nonsense seems like the government are saying it’s too big a problem (excuse the pun) and are giving in a little.

This seems like an excuse for overweight people to say “I’m just going to accept that I’m too big and do nothing about it – it’s genetic! The Government even says so!” It seems lazy and like quitting.

But Isn’t Changing the View of Society the First Step Toward Changing the Individual?

Changing the social attitude towards fatness is not going to do anything to change the actual weight of the people or improve their lives in the end. It may mean that there is greater acceptance of the eve-expanding waistline of the nation, but that isn’t really a good thing if people are still unwell because of it.

It just means that, when you are lying in hospital having broken you leg while tripping on your run, and see an obese 28 year old in for a quadruple by-pass, the old guy on your left being treated for diabetes won’t shake his head and complain about how parents should educate their kid better – he’ll nod with a look of sympathy and ask you about your leg.

It is people’s best interests to say fit and healthy, which is why it is necessary to fight your genes and say no, I will not give in and eat that chippy/Chinese take-out/burger as well as that tub of ice-cream/cake/deep fried mars bar, every day of the week. (No sane person would ever say NEVER, coz, I mean, c’mon, take-out is the best thing ever… 😀 )

It’s all down to making healthier choices and receiving encouragement – not giving up and saying, know what, you go ahead and munch your way to ill health, we have no idea what to about it anymore.

Try harder, Mr. Cameron, or everyone’s favourite Mayor may just take-over… 😉

SSDD

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T-ara Contoversy

On the 30th July news broke that T-ara member Hwayoung would be leaving the band, effective immediately.

The news came as an utter shock to thousands of fans, as the girls have only recently been embarking on promotions for Haru Haru. The girls popularity had been at an all time peak with their music charting well and successful runs in television programmes.

Yet controversy has struck again for these girls as the reason for Hwayoung’s sudden departure was revealed – bullying.

She has allegedly been the victim of bullying for her (now former) bandmates and has suffered to the point that her agency, CCM, agreed it was time for her to go.

The story has progressed further. Following a deluge of negative feedback directed at CCM, they released further statements claiming that, not only was the decision to terminate her contract was not solely the fault of her members actions, but her own – apparently Hwayoung has become too big for her boots and had become arrogant, which was another contributing factor. One might have expected that joining late into an already established group would be an advantage; but oh no, this seems to have been part of the problem.

My reason for posting this is to condemn the actions of the agency and her bandmates. It is not to troll on any specific people, however, so not hate, please.

At just 18 years old, this talented, beautiful musicians’ career is being put on halt and it appears to be because her supposed friends and colleagues, saw her as an easy target. In a professional  environment, this is utterly unacceptable.

From all of the stories and footage emerging to back the bullying claims, including one eyewitness saying they saw member Eunjung slapping Hwayoung, it begs the question as to why they did not release the version of her becoming too arrogant, first. So, you allow the release of a story that completely decimates the reputation of several of your most valued employees, then suddenly the game changes and it was actually all her own fault.

Yeah. Coz that sounds totally legit.

Everything about the situation is just a disaster. Were it all true, then her agency should have disciplined her and corrected her attitude or fired her and have this version released first. It would have limited the damage to the entire groups reputation instead of this mess of a fiasco.

Hwayoung

KPOP is synonymous with a wholesome, butter wouldn’t melt image, generally, but I do not personally know even one person who has been taken in by all that. There have been too many suspicious reports of mistreatment, quickly quelled whispers of dire working conditions and the odd, highly public, deeply embarrassing lawsuits for big companies, regarding “slave contracts”. The public are not so naive as the industry would like.

It seems that everyone is aware of the secret black heart of KPOP and yet are willing to get involved with it anyway. The legions of screaming, obsessive fans would indicate that they are practically foaming at the perfectly sculpted mouths to be a part of it!

Creating a group so large (they have 7 members) may have worked with the nine-strong Girls Generation, but appears to have been less successful here. T-ara have always been plagued by controversy, making headlines as often for their “mistakes” as their merits, from that concept to those outfits.

All this raises the concern of how many other bands are hiding the cracks under public displays or sugar-coated friendship? Will this incident open a crevasse into which other members shall fall? It would not be the first time such a domino effect was created in the fall-out of scandal. Once Pandora’s Box has been opened, it is very difficult to close again…

We can only hope that those suffering tyranny instead of savoring success find freedom and that those whose sibling-like relationship is real stay strong in this latest unveiling of KPOP sham.

Fighting!!

SSDD