The Middle Ages

I just finished a book called The Middle Ages, by Morris Bishop. Given that it was a 99¢ Kindle book, I wasn’t expecting much I really enjoyed it. In particular, I like reading new books about topics I’ve previously read about, and learn new things. With that in mind, I present you with the way time worked in the middle ages.

No one … knew surely what time it was. The Angelus ringing in the village church was a sufficient time signal for most people. Night and day were each divided into twelve hours measured between sunrise and sunset. Thus, the length of an hour or minute varied every day and from one latitude to another.

Morris Bishop, The Middle Ages, 2015

So not only did the length of an hour vary between latitudes, but it would vary as the year progressed. That’s so bizarre.

Backyard bunnies

For the second year in a row, a mother rabbit has used Julie’s backyard as a nursery. She has a few plantings of decorative grasses and the rabbit made a nest in one of them for her litter. She must have liked it as that’s the same place she prepared for her babies last year.

20180425-154235 iPhone8 IMG_0530.jpg: iPhone8, back camera @ 3.99mm, 1/30, f/1.8, 32 ISO

File: 20180425-154235 iPhone8 IMG_0530.jpg
EXIF: iPhone8, back camera @ 3.99mm, 1/30, f/1.8, 32 ISO

And just like last year, her dogs alerted Julie to the presence of the little ones. As a precaution, the dogs are no longer allowed out there until the kits are grown and finished with the yard.

She and her daughters go out there every day to check up on them and see how they’re growing, and they sure do grow quickly! It was my privilege to see them Wednesday, and now you’ve seen them too. Lovely, aren’t they?

Mom’s recipes

The other day, my mom got ants in her pants and decided to make her lemon chiffon cake in a bundt pan. Except she left out the lemon and added chocolate! Chocolate chiffon? Maybe. What really surprised me is her recipe book. I’ve seen it every time she’s baked ever since I can remember, but for some reason, I saw it with new eyes this time.

20180408-130233 4m6c4703.CR2: 5D Mk.III, EF 17-40mm 1:4L @ 40mm, 1/80, f/4, 1600 ISO

Isn’t that something? Talk about a relic. I just love it.

Fragile Conservative

Politics and social media are a terrible mix. I wonder if it doesn’t at least partly explain why politics is increasingly polarized. Let me give you an example.

This morning I visited a Facebook group called the National Conservative News Network Canada. Despite its name, it’s not a news network in any sense. It’s merely a group inhabited by a bunch of people who hold strong opinions and don’t want to hear any others. I visited because of a particular graphic that forcefully told the reader that all flags in the country should immediately be flown at half-mast for sixteen days, one day for each of the Humbolt Broncos hockey team members killed on Friday in Saskatchewan.

As you might imagine, the suggestion created quite a discussion. One group felt that lowering the flag is best limited to when members of the Canadian Forces are killed on active duty. The group owner, who favours the flag-lowering for the hockey team members, tried to invalidate that position by pointing out that Prime Minister used his executive privilege to have the flag lowered for his “good pal” Gord Downing.

Until this point in the discussion, I had no real skin in the game. However, when a person championing an action for the respect of the dead, makes a mockery of the name of another person who has passed on, I had no choice but to jump in. That feeling only increased as there were three other instances of the group owner making reference to Gord Downing.

I replied, pointing out that given his respect for the dead, the least he could do is spell Gord Downie’s name correctly. He came back with a graphic of the Peace Tower flag schedule indicating it was lowered in honour of Gord Downie. I looked up and saw he had corrected his mistake, trying to pass of my comment as an error on my part. Facebook labeled his post as having been edited, and clicking the “Edited” indicator, he correct the spelling three minutes after I pointed out the error. In reply, I suggested that it was a simple error, and he should simply own it, rather than correcting it and pretending he made no mistake. Hell, it was likely an autocorrection error he missed. Be an adult and admit it!

Hours later I checked back and found that the group owner had banned me from the National Conservative News Network Canada. This banning also deleted all my comments and any replies.

So rather than a discussion area, the group owner has gathered around him people who think just as he does and parrot the same opinions. Anyone who raises a dissenting voice is summarily silenced. It’s a fragile ego indeed who can’t accept a spelling correction! Is it any wonder people can’t discuss politics or religion any more without things getting out of hand? These jokers have fashioned echo chambers where everyone allowed in agrees with them. How can they ever learn reasoned discourse?

But the real kicker? The image you see to the right is the profile image attached to the National Conservative News Network Canada Facebook page. They seemed to have missed the warning against having one’s own opinions, voicing them, or even having <gasp!> an original idea … never mind something as minor as pointing out a spelling error of significance.

The cognitive dissonance is strong in this one.

I’m sick, but it could be much worse…

I feel terrible. I’m sick of feeling terrible and I’m upset that I haven’t written in a while so here I am, against my better judgement.

This winter has been terrible in terms of illness. Most people I know have been sick multiple times. I can’t remember if this is my third or fourth time.

It started with a sore throat. The next day it got worse. I described it as a raging sore throat. The day after is was somewhat better but I thought it best to get things checked out. Happily, it wasn’t the throat infection I was expecting, but rather it is 98% likely to be some unknown viral thing that my immune system would take care of in a week or so.

So what is the other 2% chance? Strep! The dreaded streptococcal pharyngitis1. They took a throat swab and told me that if it was strep throat, they would be in touch in a day or two. Happily, that time has expired.

What blew my mind is something else the doctor told me about strep. He told me that not only is strep throat miserable, but it can lead to much more serious things. Chief among them is acute rheumatic fever2. This is particularly nasty because it can lead to rheumatic heart disease. The body attacks the strep bacteria of course, but this can cause an autoimmune reaction resulting in the body attacking the heart itself. According to Wikipedia,

Chronic rheumatic heart disease (RHD) is characterized by repeated inflammation with fibrinous repair. The cardinal anatomic changes of the valve include leaflet thickening, commissural fusion, and shortening and thickening of the tendinous cords. It is caused by an autoimmune reaction to Group A β-hemolytic streptococci (GAS) that results in valvular damage. Fibrosis and scarring of valve leaflets, commissures and cusps leads to abnormalities that can result in valve stenosis or regurgitation.3

So you catch a bacterial illness and it damages your heart! How messed up is that? Even worse is that rheumatic fever is the leading cause of acquired heart disease in India and sub-Saharan Africa4. That’s astonishing to me.

Happily, I’ll be having none of that since what I have isn’t strep. Thank goodness!

And a word of warning … if you follow those links to Wikipedia, be ready for photos of infected throats. I don’t recommend it.


  1. Wikipedia, “Streptococcal pharyngitis,” retrieved April 8, 2018
  2. Wikipedia, “Acute rheumatic fever,” retrieved April 8, 2018
  3. Wikipedia, “Streptococcal pharyngitis: Rheumatic heart disease,” retrieved April 8, 2018
  4. Wikipedia, “Streptococcal pharyngitis: Prognosis,” retrieved April 8, 2018