Back in the July 1943 issue of Sky & Telescope magazine, in a question and answer column written by Lawrence J. Lafleur, there was a reference made to the term “blue moon.”
Lafleur cited the unusual term from a copy of the 1937 edition of the now-defunct Maine Farmers’ Almanac (NOT to be confused with The Farmers’ Almanac of Lewiston, Maine, which is still in business).
On the almanac page for August 1937, the calendrical meaning for the term “blue moon” was given.
That explanation said that the moon “… usually comes full twelve times in a year, three times for each season.”
Occasionally, however, there will come a year when there are 13 full moons during a year, not the usual 12. The almanac explanation continued:
“This was considered a very unfortunate circumstance, especially by the monks who had charge of the calendar of thirteen months for that year, and it upset the regular arrangement of church festivals. For this reason thirteen came to be considered an unlucky number.”
And with that extra full moon, it also meant that one of the four seasons would contain four full moons instead of the usual three.
“There are seven Blue Moons in a cycle of nineteen years,” continued the almanac, ending on the comment that, “In olden times the almanac makers had much difficulty calculating the occurrence of the Blue Moon and this uncertainty gave rise to the expression ‘Once in a Blue Moon.'”
But while LaFleur quoted the almanac’s account, he made one very important omission: He never specified the date for this particular blue moon.
As it turned out, in 1937, it occurred on Aug. 21. That was the third full moon in the summer of 1937, a summer season that would see a total of four full moons.
Names were assigned to each moon in a season: For example, the first moon of summer was called the early summer moon, the second was the midsummer moon, and the last was called the late summer moon.
But when a particular season has four moons, the third was apparently called a blue moon so that the fourth and final one can continue to be called the late moon.
This time, on page 3 of the March 1946 issue, James Hugh Pruett wrote an article, “Once in a Blue Moon,” in which he made a reference to the term “blue moon” and referenced LaFleur’s article from 1943.
Pruett also wrote:
“Seven times in 19 years there were – and still are – 13 full moons in a year. This gives 11 months with one full moon each and one with two. This second in a month, so I interpret it, was called Blue Moon.”
How unfortunate that Pruett did not have a copy of that 1937 almanac at hand, or else he would have almost certainly noticed that his “two full moons in a single month assumption” would have been totally wrong.
For the blue moon date of Aug. 21 was most definitely not the second full moon that month!
Pruett’s 1946 explanation was, of course, the wrong interpretation and it might have been completely forgotten were it not for Deborah Byrd who used it on her popular National Public Radio program, “StarDate” on Jan. 31, 1980.
Over the next decade, this new, incorrect, definition started appearing in diverse places, such as the World Almanac for Kids and the board game Trivial Pursuit.
For me, this blue moon is also significant because it is my daughter’s birthday. If she was alive she would be 31 years old. Damn, I miss her. But I’m okay- not depressed, not confused… it’s only the second year since her death that I can actually look at a calendar and see the dates correctly and say, “Sunday is Erin’s birthday. It’s November 21st on Sunday.”
For 17 years I couldn’t read a calendar properly around this time of year. I couldn’t see the dates and know the days they fell on. I’ve turned a corner of some kind.
She’s doing great. Gets around without apparent difficulty, seems to be very content. (click for full size)
The Skin Horse had lived longer in the nursery than any of the others. He was so old that his brown coat was bald in patches and showed the seams underneath, and most of the hairs in his tail had been pulled out to string bead necklaces. He was wise, for he had seen a long succession of mechanical toys arrive to boast and swagger, and by-and-by break their mainsprings and pass away, and he knew that they were only toys, and would never turn into anything else. For nursery magic is very strange and wonderful, and only those playthings that are old and wise and experienced like the Skin Horse understand all about it.
“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”
“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”
“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.
“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”
“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”
“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
“I suppose you are real?” said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive.
Note: this blog will have it’s 100,00th visitor sometime this week. Maybe tomorrow.
"Yeah, right. You want your meds now? Or do we have to tie you down and give 'em to ya in the butt?"
Really. But that isn’t the point-
When I was about 11 I decided to memorize “Moby Dick” by Herman Melville. I had read the book “Faranheit 451” by Ray Bradbury. I was afraid no one would have the patience to preserve Moby Dick for the book-less future. I made it through the first chapter. Later on I remembered the first page- (goes like this):
Call me Ishmael. Some years ago – never mind how long precisely – having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen, and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off – then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship. There is nothing surprising in this. If they but knew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings towards the ocean with me.
There now is your insular city of the Manhattoes, belted round by wharves as Indian isles by coral reefs – commerce surrounds it with her surf. Right and left, the streets take you waterward. Its extreme down-town is the battery, where that noble mole is washed by waves, and cooled by breezes, which a few hours previous were out of sight of land. Look at the crowds of water-gazers there.
Circumambulate the city of a dreamy Sabbath afternoon. Go from Corlears Hook to Coenties Slip, and from thence, by Whitehall northward. What do you see? –
Herman Melville looked like this:
I personally like the movie with Gregory Peck as Ahab- better than the Patrick Stewart one, although I like Stewart as an actor.
It’s just a classic- you can’t compare it to Peck.
Reminds me of another great book, “A Long Way Gone”, a modern autobiography (by Ishmael Beah) of a boy soldier in Sierra Leone.
When he came here to the US he went to High School. This is an interaction he had with another student:
New York City, 1998
My high school friends have begun to suspect I haven’t told them the full story of my life.
“Why did you leave Sierra Leone?”
“Because there is a war.”
“Did you witness some of the fighting?”
“Everyone in the country did.”
“You mean you saw people running around with guns and shooting each other?”
“Yes, all the time.”
I smile a little.
“You should tell us about it sometime.”
Here is a short audio clip from the book read by Beah:
This is how Beah looks today:
From his article in the NY Times:
Sometimes I feel that living in New York City, having a good family and friends, and just being alive is a dream, that perhaps this second life of mine isn’t really happening. Whenever I speak at the United Nations, Unicef or elsewhere to raise awareness of the continual and rampant recruitment of children in wars around the world, I come to realize that I still do not fully understand how I could have possibly survived the civil war in my country, Sierra Leone.
Most of my friends, after meeting the woman whom I think of as my new mother, a Brooklyn-born white Jewish-American, assume that I was either adopted at a very young age or that my mother married an African man. They would never imagine that I was 17 when I came to live with her and that I had been a child soldier and participated in one of the most brutal wars in recent history.
In early 1993, when I was 12, I was separated from my family as the Sierra Leone civil war, which began two years earlier, came into my life. The rebel army, known as the Revolutionary United Front (R.U.F.), attacked my town in the southern part of the country. I ran away, along paths and roads that were littered with dead bodies, some mutilated in ways so horrible that looking at them left a permanent scar on my memory. I ran for days, weeks and months, and I couldn’t believe that the simple and precious world I had known, where nights were celebrated with storytelling and dancing and mornings greeted with the singing of birds and cock crows, was now a place where only guns spoke and sometimes it seemed even the sun hesitated to shine. After I discovered that my parents and two brothers had been killed, I felt even more lost and worthless in a world that had become pregnant with fear and suspicion as neighbor turned against neighbor and child against parent. Surviving each passing minute was nothing short of a miracle.
After almost a year of running, I, along with some friends I met along the way, arrived at an army base in the southeastern region. We thought we were now safe; little did we know what lay ahead.
1994: The First Battle
I have never been so afraid to go anywhere in my life as I was that first day. As we walked into the arms of the forest, tears began to form in my eyes, but I struggled to hide them and gripped my gun for comfort. We exhaled quietly, afraid that our own breathing could cause our deaths. The lieutenant led the line that I was in. He raised his fist in the air, and we stopped moving. Then he slowly brought it down, and we sat on one heel, our eyes surveying the forest. We began to move swiftly among the bushes until we came to the edge of a swamp, where we formed an ambush, aiming our guns into the bog. We lay flat on our stomachs and waited. I was lying next to my friend Josiah. At 11, he was even younger than I was. Musa, a friend my age, 13, was also nearby. I looked around to see if I could catch their eyes, but they were concentrating on the invisible target in the swamp. The tops of my eyes began to ache, and the pain slowly rose up to my head. My ears became warm, and tears were running down my cheeks, even though I wasn’t crying. The veins on my arms stood out, and I could feel them pulsating as if they had begun to breathe of their own accord. We waited in the quiet, as hunters do. The silence tormented me.
The short trees in the swamp began to shake as the rebels made their way through them. They weren’t yet visible, but the lieutenant had passed the word down through a whisper that was relayed like a row of falling dominos: “Fire on my command.” As we watched, a group of men dressed in civilian clothes emerged from under the tiny bushes. They waved their hands, and more fighters came out. Some were boys, as young as we were. They sat together in line, waving their hands, discussing a strategy. My lieutenant ordered a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) to be fired, but the commander of the rebels heard it as it whooshed its way out of the forest. “Retreat!” he called out to his men, and the grenade’s blast got only a few rebels, whose split bodies flew in the air. The explosion was followed by an exchange of gunfire from both sides.
I lay there with my gun pointed in front of me, unable to shoot. My index finger became numb. I felt as if the forest had turned upside down and I was going to fall off, so I clutched the base of a tree with one hand. I couldn’t think, but I could hear the sounds of the guns far away in the distance and the cries of people dying in pain. A splash of blood hit my face. In my reverie I had opened my mouth a bit, so I tasted some of the blood. As I spat it out and wiped it off my face, I saw the soldier it had come from. Blood poured out of the bullet holes in him like water rushing through newly opened tributaries. His eyes were wide open; he still held his gun. My eyes were fixed on him when I heard Josiah screaming for his mother in the most painfully piercing voice I had ever heard. It vibrated inside my head to the point that I felt my brain had shaken loose from its anchor.
But that isn’t what I’m here to talk about today.
First up: Rainbows
I saw a brilliant rainbow on my way home from work the other day. It spanned the sky. I was able to snatch a few pictures from the commuter van in which I was riding. They don’t capture the the thing but I show them anyway. As per usual, click for full size (we aren’t chintzy about picture size at Moonsoup!).
rainbow leaving Salem
Now, some may call me cruel. I love cats. We have 5 cats in my home. Is it so wrong that I would want to dress them up for Halloween?
hats on cats
Self-explanatory. This is not a flattering picture of my wife.
She’s really much prettier. Terrible photo, my bad.
the kids grow- we grow old
Other pictures that have caught my fancy-
Angel Falls, Venezuela
This is why
Hey Jude flowchart
Sky at Powell Butte
Let Grandma see that smile, deary (click it if it doesn’t animate)…
"Good morning, default food-bearing large thing."
Really cool zodiacal picture from ESO
And if you want to see more amazing pictures from ESO go here.
mmmm... ahhh... oh, crap- time to wake up
maybe not so cute, perhaps grotesque…
…okay, back to cute
again, not cute has slipped in
I remember seeing this cat…
Click on the barbarian if he doesn’t animate. Also the ring of hands.
I don’t know why this happens sometimes.
The one below is also supposed to animate. Click if it doesn’t.
Alright. I want to talk to you about something. I have had a whole page dedicated to Roger Ramjet cartoons for quite a while. It’s not like it’s easy to come by these vintage, 1960s shows. I’ve even put them in order. So far I have had zero views. I’m beginning to think I’m wasting upload space. (Speaking of “space”, that’s where I moved the cartoons.)
So, I have a poll. I expect to get about as much response to the poll as I have from Roger Ramjet. But here goes. Vote!
Cute white bats
Free e-books for download (legal, beyond copyright):
This will be a mixture today- First, I want to call attention to some of my favorite mental health blogs.
Bi-polar Blast is now called Beyond Meds (and has been for a long time, I just didn’t get around to changing it in the blogroll). Today there is a video of Pema Chodron. Check it out here.
Ron Unger’s blog, Recovery from Schizophrenia, is a veritable fount of information, inspiration and sense. Today he’s talking about an article titled “A Fine Madness“. If you poke around, though, you’ll find many wonderful things on his blog. He writes with such clarity and insight- you’ll want to read all of his entries on everything from cognitive therapy for psychosis to reducing medications to redefining Recovery. To see what he’s up to today click here.
Furious Seasons has been quiet lately but you can still read back on some great topics. Also, they have an excellent sampling of links to mental health blogs. That’s where I go when I want to find gems like thisor like this.
Off the wall but not out of his mind, my pal Rich is the host of Kill Ugly Radio. Stop by and have a listen. You won’t regret it, most likely. Rich also is the guy who records my radio show and sends it to me so I can archive it here. Thank, Rich.
On the blogroll where it says “Simply the best there is”, what you’ll really find is The Icarus Project. The reason is because they are, simply, the best. Mad forums, mad radio, mad art, mad guides to living. Everything you want. Just do it.
Now for something completely different- it’s time to start scouting for frog spawning areas in my neck of the woods. They’ve been croaking up a storm around my house the last few weeks. It’s been a mostly dry spring but there’s still been plenty of rain to get things going.
Now is the time to find those puddles, ditches and wet spots that are marginal for tadpole survival. Typically there will be several spots near my home where frogs will spawn but that tend to dry up before most of the little guys can transform.
I’m going to check around and get back to you. I’ll bring back some pictures of the places I’m talking about. Then, before the second week of June, I’ll go out and rescue as many of the little fellers as I can. They’ll finish growing legs in the tank on my back porch and hop out into the world when they’re ready.
It’s Sunday night, I’m tired and still want to share a couple things.
First, Update on Blizzard, our cat that had her eyes removed (surgically) because she was suffering from glaucoma. She’s doing exceptionally well. Wayy better than when she was going bind from the glaucoma. She gets around the house without any difficulty, hardly ever uses the walls to roam the place. One of these shows her eating with her sister Annie.
So, this is an odd time of year for me. My birthday last weekend, April 11th will be my older son’s 25th birthday (he’s coming to visit from SF this weekend- riding the dog, ought to arrive by tomorrow morning), and smack in the middle of these things is the anniversary of my oldest/ youngest child’s death- April 6th. I often dread this time of year- if I’m going to be symptomatic mental health wise, this is the time I would do it. These days, however, I’m not expecting badness. She has mellowed in my heart. I experience her as a kind, gentle angel of death; reminding me of the preciousness in each moment. Thank you Erin.
Here’s a doodle by Andrew, the oldest living child,
and one of the most coolest people I know.
One of our cats- Blizzard, has been suffering from glaucoma for years, gradually going blind. Last month she had surgery to remove her eyes- it’s called “enucleation“. Anyway, these are some shots of her recuperation. By the way, she’s doing great. She’s way more comfortable and happy and since she’s been blind for a while she has no trouble finding her way around. My younger son paid for the surgery- over $1000- because he is also a really great guy. Blizz gets the cone off her head later today.
Here’s Blizzard today, sans cone head,
in the arms of my youngest son.
The Jupiter Symphony is one of my favorite Mozart compositions-
I wrote a while back, I think, about the death of a patient at Oregon State Hospital where I work. The Oregonian newspaper just did it’s first major story about it (better late than never).
From the article linked above:
The body of Moises Perez, 42, was discovered in this bed located just to the left of the door of a room he shared with four other men. The Oregon State Hospital patient had been dead several hours before he was discovered during evening medication checks.
Below- some great pictures of/ from the ESO Paranal Observatory in Chile, high in the Andes. The top picture is a full-sky, 360 degree panorama. The other pictures are of the observatory itself in summer and winter.
Richard Harris is the state Director of Addictions and Mental Health. He wrote this to the Oregon Consumer Survivor Coalition, our primary collective voice as survivors of the Mental Hell treatment system. I don’t know if it’s serious or comic relief. Time will tell. Anyone can yak yak yak.
Over the past several months I have had the opportunity to meet with
many people representing many mental health consumer groups. From
these meetings it has become clear to me that there is a need for
increased consumer voice within local and state government. Len and I
recently met with the Oregon Consumer Survivor Coalition (OCSC) and
together we have identified four ways by which consumer voice can be
1. Increased public education on addiction and mental health issues;
2. Increased training for those providing addiction and mental
3. Continued and increased peer support services and;
4. Supporting and promoting an independent voice in the addictions
and mental health consumer community.
My initial commitment to increase consumer voice and to support and
promote peer delivered services will be for AMH to provide phone and
video support to the upcoming strategic planning summit sponsored by
OCSC. The summit will identify a clear pathway to establishing a
formal mechanism to support consumer voice statewide. In addition
Oregon’s Olmstead Plan calls for increased consumer participation in
all aspects of transition from residential facilities to independent
living with people having a key to their own home with access to
addiction and mental health services when needed.
To further consumer voice and increase consumer visibility in the
community, OCSC will reach out to the addictions community and attend
and participate in the OHA/DHS statewide budget forums scheduled
around the state later this spring.
These are important first steps in creating a solid foundation to
promote consumer voice and visibility within local communities and
local and state government. I look forward to continuing dialogue with
the OCSC and others to develop a highly visible and robust consumer
voice as part of AMH and the developing OHA.
Richard L. Harris
Addictions and Mental Health Division
500 Summer St NE E-86
Salem, OR 97301-1118 firstname.lastname@example.org
Heads up: may contain graphic violence–
By the way, you can’t outrun a Samurai!
My personal favorite by Mozart, his unfinished “requiem”. This is the whole shebang, huge file, high quality-
A couple weekends back my wife and I went hiking at Catherine Creek to look at the first wildflowers of spring. You get there by going to Hood River, Oregon, crossing the troll bridge (don’t look! you’ll turn to stone!) into Washington, driving east through the town of Bingen, Washington and at the second roadside lake take the old state road that climbs the hill. You’ll know you’re there when you get to it. There are a few waves of wildflowers that bloom and pass relatively quickly in the stony volcanic earth. By now there’s a whole new batch. By the middle of April they’ll almost all be gone. I hope we get back up there before the end of the season.