Can you blog about anything?

My daughter saw my back end the other day.

Of my blog – the back end of my blog. The bit where I write stuff.
Jeez. I need to make these things clear up front, hey?

We had a short conversation about blogging and she asked whether I could blog about anything. Could I, for example, blog about the glass harmonica she learned about at school?

This one?

The glass harmonica, also known as the glass armonicaglass harmoniumbowl organhydrocrystalophone, or simply the armonica or harmonica (derived from  harmonia, the Greek word for harmony).

You had me at hydrocrystalophone.

Well, yes I can. And I can even share a video of one being played.

This is the original, mechanical, sideways version of those wine glass street performers that you see in tourist areas of major european cities. The design is credited to Benjamin Franklin back in 1761.

So yes, my dear, I can blog about anything. The world is my whelk.

Whether anyone reads it is a completely different matter altogether, of course.

Mancala

Today, if weather permits (and actual genuine spoiler, it looks like it won’t), I’ll be helping with recording a Guinness World Record attempt for the largest number of people playing Mancala at any one time.

What is Mancala? I hear you ask. This is Mancala (not, as Wikipedia first warns us, to be confused with mandala or Lake Manzala):

Mancala is one of the oldest known games to be played. Mancala is a generic name for a family of 2-player turn-based strategy board games played with small stones, beans, or seeds and rows of holes or pits in the earth, a board or other playing surface. The objective is usually to capture all or some set of the opponent’s stones, beans, etc. Versions of the game have been played for at least hundreds of years around the world.

It’s part of the kids’ school’s 20th Anniversary celebrations and I think it’s a great way to remember a special birthday year.

The students have made and decorated their own Mancala boards and learned how to play the game – which is no bad thing in itself, as this article tells us:

Because there’s a lot more to playing these games than just… well… playing these games:

The African continent has a long history of gameplay that extends back to pre-slavery and precolonial times. Board games, in particular, have been used to teach, or reinforce, values as well as cognitive and motor skills.

The list of requirements for a Guinness World Record attempt is unsurprisingly rather long and arduous, but the team at the school responsible for this attempt have got it all in hand. For my part, I’ll be taking Florence the Mavic up to record the fun from on high. I may have to hide her behind some trees to get some protection from the wind.

Having been desperate for rain for most of this year, the inevitable Whatsapp group set up to keep us informed with the latest updates is ironically suddenly filled with prayers for dry weather for this morning. It’s not looking promising, but we’re going to give it a go anyway – the fourth term calendar is too full to easily accept a postponement.

Wish us luck – and maybe watch out for some of my aerial footage illustrating a new World Record  for South Africa in the 2020 GWR Book.

Suddenly… Spring?

Not quite. In fact, some well-read experts have suggested that special precautions be taken in view of the iffy forecast for today.

But yesterday was quite Spring-like.

The Boy Wonder had a photography assignment to do, so we went out looking for proteas. Is this one? It’s definitely a Leucospermum spp. I think, anyway. Rupert will doubtless let me know.

Cycling (yeah, I know) around the posher areas of Cape Town, we found several or more. Lots still to come at “that bush” on the corner of Glastonbury and Rhodes Drive, as well.

This one was just up the road from there. Planted outside a big house with a big wall. Probably out of place. Maybe not even a protea at all. But the colours and the intricate design caught our eyes and our lenses.

I’ll get some photos up on Flickr soon enough, but in the meantime, here’s one to brighten up a grey day.

The UEFA Nations League

I tried to understand what a UEFA Nations League is and how it worked.

Firstly, I went to the UEFA website: horse’s mouth and all that. And then, when my brain exploded thanks to lines like this:

Due to excessive travel restrictions, any group could not contain a maximum of one of these pairs: Andorra & Kazakhstan, Faroe Islands & Kazakhstan, Gibraltar & Kazakhstan, Gibraltar & Azerbaijan

I asked online for assistance, which came in the form of a link from The Guru. Thanks, The Guru.

Because yes, Football365 seem to have done a good job in attempting to simplify a rather complex format. And am I alone in thinking that UEFA might actually be onto something here? It actually looks quite good.

And there’s more great news for me too: Supersport – who failed to secure the rights for the English League Cup or the Championship – have managed to scrape some cash together to buy some UEFA Nations League goodness.

Tonight kicks off (quite literally) with the following fixtures:

Kazakhstan v Georgia
SS3 HD (4pm)

Armenia v Liechtenstein
SS3 HD (6pm)

Wales v Rep. Ireland
SS6 HD (8.45pm)

Germany v France
SS3 HD (8.45pm)

Slovenia v Bulgaria
SS11 HD (8.45pm)

Czech Republic v Ukraine
SS7 HD (8.45pm)

I know what I’ll be doing at 1800.

6 months in a leaky boat

With apologies to Tim Finn and Split Enz for borrowing stealing their title.

The ISS (you may remember it from posts infinatum on here) has sprung a leak.

[brief pause while I spill coffee all over my laptop]
[that wasn’t a good idea]

Look. We all have problems and they affect us all in different ways. There are levels here. My laptop may have just taken a hit of Nespresso to its power switch, but all the oxygen that I rely on for breathing isn’t disappearing into space.

Which is nice.

Apparently, the leak was likely caused by a MicroMeteoroid and Orbital Debris (MMOD) strike to one of the windows. A MicroMeteoroid is exactly what it sounds like: a very, very small meteoroid, but it was the Orbital Debris bit that got me interested.

Orbital Debris is also exactly what it sounds like. Debris in orbit around Earth. But what I didn’t realise was that it is often man-made. Yep. We’ve dumped shedloads 0f litter in space too. Great. Is there actually anywhere that we have f**ked up yet?

And MMOD strikes aren’t even unusual:

Although spacecraft are designed with a level of protection from such impacts, MMOD was the third biggest threat to losing an orbiter during her mission – second only to launch and re-entry.

During the Space Shuttle era, all of the orbiters would receive flesh wounds from MMOD strikes.

And because things in space generally go much faster than on earth, the damage is… well… here’s an example of what those MMOD strikes look like:

Eina.

But it was this line that amazed me:

Atlantis and Endeavour both suffered “bullet hole” impacts to their radiators, with Atlantis’ damage was sustained when she was hit by a tiny piece of circuit board on orbit – likely from a destroyed satellite. The damage held no mission impact and was only noticed once she had returned home and was in post flight processing inside her Orbiter Processing Facility (OPF).

Of course, NASA did a whole risk-analysis, debriefing, scientific investigation technical report paper on the whole thing. During the investigation, they tried to recreate the incident (in a lab on earth) by firing a bit of circuit board at a space shuttle panel at 4.14km/sec (that’s about 15,000kph). The entry hole on the original space shuttle panel was 2.74mm in size. The fragment of circuit board was only 0.4mm long, but when it’s going that fast, even little stuff is going to hurt.

There’s no evidence that the ISS window strike was from a man-made object, but it’s a proven fact that we’re literally putting astronauts in danger by putting them in the firing line of plastic rubbish that we’ve put into space and which is now hitting the ISS and other spacecraft.

Bonkers.