The Humanity Star

I read about this very bright object being shot up into orbit around Earth earlier this year, just to twinkle in natural sunlight as an artificial star for a few months. And I noted that it would be visible from Norway on April 24-25 2018.

I've had this date marked on my calendar since I read about the controversial launch of the Humanity Star. Although I understand the arguments against this bright object that the astronomers had, I thought I may as well take a look since it's up there. I read somewhere that it would be visible in my part of the world today or tomorrow.

First of all, it's overcast now and it will continue to be overcast the next couple of days. Never fails. I guarantee that if they announce some awesome celestial phenomenon visible from Bergen, the skies will not be clear. I pretty much treat forecasts for southerly viewings of the Aurora Borealis as forecasts for rain now. (In case you're wondering, auroras are a polar phenomenon that weaken the farther away from the poles you get—unless the aurora activity is very strong.)

Secondly, the Humanity Star website tells me that the thing reentered Earth's atmosphere and burned up in March.

Well, no matter. Did I mention it's overcast?

Those who wander

"Not all those who wander are lost." —J.R.R. Tolkien

Let me just say—as someone who loved to get lost in an encyclopedic dictionary when she was a kid, wandering from definition to definition like exploring room after room in a pre-computer adventure game—that this is one of my favorite quotes.

And that love of following a path to discover more, especially in words, made me love html and hyperlinks. That's what the internet is: A huge encyclopedia with cross-references all over and "see …" everywhere. The encyclopedic dictionary I lost myself in also included a list of the meanings of names, a thesaurus, famous quotes, as well as French, German and Spanish dictionaries. It was published by Reader's Digest, and it is one thing I sometimes wish I'd taken with me when Grandma died.

But then I remember I have the internet. So off I go, wondering if "vague" has anything to do with the vagus nerve, and it does. The Latin root of both words means to wander, and that is also clear in the word "vagabond", a word borrowed from the French in both Norwegian and English that means a transient person, a traveler, a wanderer.

That reminds me: I know nothing about the vagus nerve. (Search, click a link, jump to a definition…) Ah, it is called the roaming or wandering nerve because it meanders around as it travels through the neck, chest and abdomen supplying organs and structures on its way. Basically your good ol' local bus.

I'll have to look up the meaning of "bus" one of these days.


The Daily Prompt: Vague

The almost astrologer

So, I'm busy downloading old photos from my Flickr account because Flickr is being sold and I'm tired of dealing with various TOS. 'Sides, I'm paying for Dropbox. And digging through the old stuff, here's one from 15 years ago: The weekend I was a professional astrologer.

Giving an astrological reading at the Bergen New Age Fair (Alternativmessen) 2003

Giving an astrological reading at the Bergen New Age Fair (Alternativmessen) 2003

First of all: Dig the Mac laptop! The toilet lid, as Norwegian Mac afficiendos called it. Heh. I still have the striped knitted sweater behind me. Handknitted by a dear no-longer-with-us friend who picked quality wool and did quality work. I shared the booth with the Tarot reader in the corner. Haven't stayed in touch.

If you dig into the links to earlier pages, you'll find where I wrote about the weekend I spent at the New Age Fair 2003 in Bergen and some other astrology stuff.

I never stuck with it. It turns out I don't find people all that interesting. Let me rephrase: I like helping and stuff, but I don't really "get" people. It takes me a long time to understand someone else, and I usually never do. I never seem to learn anything about other people. I certainly don't understand their motivations. I understand human motivation; I understand why someone would cheat or murder or steal, for example. I just can't understand an actual individual's motivations. I can't apply the theory.

The friend who knitted the jacket for me? She always gave me amazing and appropriate gifts. I'm not aware of others enough to do that. I cared enough about her to pay attention and ended up buying her a book on a topic she had expressed an interest in several times. She burst into tears when I gave it to her. I was surprised. I was also relieved and happy I'd bought that book. I finally did something right in the gift-giving department!

You see? I'd been friends for years with her, paid attention to her interests, and was still surprised when I got it right. Honestly, sometimes it would make sense if someone told me I was on the autism spectrum or something. At any rate, I try to remind myself to pay close attention so I can do something nice for a friend.

Since it takes so much effort and energy for me to get into what's going on with an individual, even with the help of a horoscope, I decided that working with people as a counselor was not for me. But I'll happily dish out advice on the fly if you ever need it.


I like that the word "parallel"—if written in a sans serif font—contains a parallel. What also contains a parallel, is astronomy and from there, astrology. Keep reading if you want to see me attempt to explain the tilt of the planet.

First of all, let's get one thing in our heads: All the planets, except Pluto, revolve around our sun on the same plane.

Now add to this the fact that the Earth tilts about 23 degrees and this is the reason for seasons. I once really messed explaining this to the point that I called the other person stupid. But I was the stupid one, so let's see if I finally have this straight (hah!) in my head. This is, of course, far easier to understand visually, so grab something and hold it at a tilt and then move it in a circle parallel to the floor, keeping the same tilt, i.e. the object is tilted the same way as you see it all around the circle.

You'll notice that at one point, the bottom is closest to the center of the circle and the top is farthest away. 90 degrees from that—or a quarter of the way around the circle—the whole side of whatever you chose is equidistant to the center of the circle. Another quarter turn and now the top is pointing toward the center of the circle, i.e. closer to it than the bottom is. Yet another quarter turn, and once again the whole side of the object is equidistant to the center of the circle.

I have just described how our Earth looks relative to the sun for, respectively, winter in the northern hemisphere or summer in the southern hemisphere, an equinox, another solstice but with reversed seasons, and another equinox.

The sun in the northern hemisphere climbs very high in the summer time, and above the arctic circle at 66 degrees, 33 minutes north (or 66N33), it is so high, it doesn't set. (The closer you get to the north pole, the more days during the summer you will have this phenomenon.) At the same time, south of the antarctic circle at 66S33, the sun isn't rising at all. And, the closer you get to the south pole, the more days you spend in the winter without sunlight. (These circles are also called polar circles.)

As our planet moves around the sun, it slowly either tilts one way or the other (and here is where I was stupid: The planet doesn't actually move from side to side; it stays fixed in its lean, but appears differently to the sun depending on where in its orbit Earth is). And because of how this tilt changes the angle of sunlight hitting our planet, it seems to us that the sun is climbing higher in the sky as we approach summer (either hemisphere) or lower as we approach winter. That height is called declination. Declination is given as latitude.

So, 00 or zero declination is at the equator. The equinoxes are when the sun is at zero declination (00N or 00S, same thing), and at that moment the sun's rays hit us at a perfect 90 degree angle and day and night are of equal length.

For the summer in the northern hemisphere, the sun climbs northwards to 23N26. (This figure varies slowly over time, but has a range of 22-24 degrees.) This latitude is the maximum northern declination of our sun, and it happens on the summer solstice. Astrologically, that is 00 degrees of Cancer, and the imaginary line at 23 degrees north on planet Earth is called the Tropic of Cancer. It's opposite, the imaginary line that markes the sun's southernmost declinaton is the Tropic of Capricorn. The areas between these two are known as the tropics. The word "tropic" means cycle or turning. We're just drawing huge circles here.

In case you're wondering: 00N declination is 00 Aries, the Spring Equinox and first day of spring in the north. 23N26 is 00 Cancer, the Summer Solstice and first day of summer as well as the year's longest day in the north. As the sun climbs back down to the equator and 00S declination we have the Autumn Equinox at 00 Libra. Finally, the sun goes all the way down to 23S26 and the winter Solstice at 00 Capricorn, giving us northerners our shortest day of the year.

Now that that is clear as mud, what's a parallel?

All the planets do this declination thing. Our tilt along our orbit is also relative to the other planets on the same plane we are. So any planet in a summer sign (between 00 Aries and 00 Libra) will have a northern declination, and any planet in a winter sign (between 00 Libra and 00 Aries) will have a southern declination.

If two planets are at the same declination, let's say they are both at 19N, they are said to be parallel. The symbol for parallel is written as //. If two planets are at the same degree but in opposite declinations, such as one is at 8 degrees north and the other is at 8 degrees south, they are said to be counter-parallel. The symbol for that looks like the // with a single bar across but you can also use the hashtag/pound/flat/octothorpe key: #.

Astrological aspect grid showing regular and parallel aspects

Astrological aspect grid showing regular and parallel aspects

What is this used for in astrology? Parallels have a similar energy to a conjunction (zero degrees apart), i.e. the planets strengthen  each other—or crowd each other. Counter-parallels have a similar energy to an opposition (180 degrees apart), meaning they work against each and at best can only take turns being in charge.

One of my interests in this is due to astrological meteorology. Simply put, expect a weather change when the moon changes hemispheres; that is, when the moon crosses the equator or zero degrees declination, i.e. is moving from north to south or vice-versa.

The Daily Prompt: Parallel

PS: If I totally screwed up the astronomy, PLEASE let me know! Thanks!


There are some real-life genies: Ones who can give you exactly what you want, without any effort on your part. Like my hairdresser.

I think the modern term is "stylist" but my hairdresser doesn't style the rest of me—just the hair. But he does do magic with that hair. My hair has its own version of stubborn: Ruler-straight and baby-fine, it will not hold a curl without chemical help, and it won't even stay put in a ponytail. Within half an hour I have strands of hair gleefully escaping whatever I tried to hold them with.

But my hairdresser makes me happy with my hair. He finds ways to cut it to take advantage of what it is. And it is shiny and gorgeously mousy brown. No, wait, he once told me it is ash brown and one of the best hair colors out there.

He's less than two years older than me. I keep wondering what I'll do when he retires. I'll finally have to go find another cutter and that isn't easy. He has employees and some of them have had the opportunity to do my 'do when he wasn't there. It just didn't feel right or look right or handle right.

He seems to not want to retire any time soon, so we watch each other grow older, him losing what hair he has, and me sometimes asking how many grays I've acquired. He brushes that question off (heh). Which is why I've taken to studying what falls on the floor, looking for telltale "blond" strands. Saw a few more today, silver accents well spaced apart amidst the dark brown.

For over 35 years I've sat in a chair with him wielding sharp instruments near my ears, holding conversations with eye contact done via the mirror. I don't really know him, but he knows my hair. With just a few words from me, he goes to work, and a half hour later I am turned into a goddess.


The Daily Prompt: Genie

A glimmer of a post

I could give you all kinds of astrological reasons for why my flow suddenly choked, but suffice to say that the communication planet Mercury is slowing down to turn around and right itself on Sunday. Until then, I shall amuse myself—and hopefully you, too—by wondering about the "false friends" language has. Things that look related or alike, but do not mean the same thing.

Take "glimmer" for example. A word that means faint or wavering, especially of light. The dying beams of your flashlight are glimmering. Then there's the Norwegian word "glimmer", which means brilliant or excellent or brightly shining and flickering. Both the English and the Norwegian word have made the rounds but started with German. At what point did the English version come to mean faint rather than bright?

Anyway, if someone tells you you're glimmery or something like that in Scandinavia, beam brightly and steadily with pleasure.


The Daily Prompt: Glimmer

Almost 950

When I read that Bergen was getting ready to celebrate 950 years in 2020, I suddenly felt old. I remember when this plaque was new: 


Stones from all the counties of Norway were used to create this commemorative plaque for Bergen's 900th anniversary in 1970. The caption reads "1070 Bergen City 1970 / Norway's cities lay down these stones". (The number of cities has increased a lot since 1970.)

Cold radiation

"Luminescence is emission of light by a substance not resulting from heat; it is thus a form of cold-body radiation."

Wikipedia's definition of luminescence immediately put me in mind of a literal cold-body radiation. I still don't quite understand it. It happened when my then-boyfriend attended church with me.

"Church" was not really church the way a typical Christian might think it. The term was used for lack of something else recognizable, something that would identify the building as a place of worship that wasn't a mainstream religion. The philosophy offered in this church was one of compassion, tolerance, positivity and personal responsibility. The church also believed in the power of healing but did not promote actual laying on of hands. Which led me to learn about the aura and the invisible body.

Yes, a bit New Agey but I liked it and still do. With this sort of thing in my life, I was getting into the idea of us being energy bodies and of our thoughts going beyond our brains through other means than actual facial expressions or words. I was learning to meditate, I had started to see auras, and was even able to astral project somewhat. I could also tell when somebody else did it. I was totally into love and light and attracting it to me and all that (I was in my teens and it was California, y'know).

So I was baffled when my boyfriend went to church with me—and radiated coldness. I had been to that church many times before and never felt a draft. But the side of my body that was next to him was feeling a chill while the other side wasn't. It was almost like someone had placed a curtain of ice directly between us.

I have never really found a good explanation for that. Searching through the internet, I (re)learn that we perceive something as cold if it radiates less heat than its surroundings do. Which doesn't really help. I hadn't experienced this sitting next to my boyfriend before—and there was one other thing: The woman sitting on his other side looked at him closely, like she was trying to figure something out about him. Did she feel the cold, too?

It was probably just some natural thermodynamic thing going on, but with other things in our relationship piled on, this incident became yet another reason to dump the dude.


The Daily Prompt: Luminescent