“Suspicious, but still benign…”

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When they left the S-Bahn station a thin drizzle was falling on the deserted sidewalks of Wedding. It was about 1:30 in the morning, there was hardly any traffic, dawn was still some hours away. They were tired of carrying their luggage: it had been a long journey, all the way from the other side of the other capital… But home was now very close!

On the plane they had celebrated with a half-bottle of half-cooled champagne, just happy to have made it, through the grid-locked roads, the late and overflowing trains, the idiotic obstacle course through duty-free (!) at the airport.

As usual, they felt happy to be back, under a sky that meant, for them, peace and love.

And then there was that diagnosis: something not right, but not so wrong that they should worry, for now. They were not going to, as they had long learnt that being suspicious was an attribute of free people. And so it went for these cells inside him, and their mysterious behaviour.

As she opened the door, they kissed. This was not their last trip.

Picture: ancient bell, Invaliden Friedhof, Berlin Mitte, ©2017 Honoré Dupuis

The tunnel #writephoto

Inspired by Sue Vincent’s Thursday Photoprompt

apparition

 

At first his vision was not clear, as if the world around him was out of focus. Minutes passed, then, step by step, he started making sense of what he was looking at. He was in some sort of cave, and far, far away in front of him, he could see light of day. He must have been lying down on a slab of rock, perhaps flat on his belly, but he could not feel the hard surface under him.

He tried to move, and sensed some motion, at the periphery of his vision. He wanted to touch, move his limbs, scratch his body. His body? He had wide angle vision, could look down at the floor of the cave down below, or up its ceiling, left and right.

Some oblong objects appeared, sideway of him. It took him some effort to recognise what they were: the pincers of some crustacean creature – was he in the claws of a giant spider?

He tried to move again, got some feeling in his right front limb, the claw had moved. Could he lift his head? Yes he could. It was so simple, the powerful limbs could lift his body up, shell and all.

The shell was his, he was the creature, the large sea spider, whose armour was scraping the floor of the tunnel, as he moved forward toward the light.

Ancient #DailyPost

From the magic crew

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He prides himself of a certain fitness, and longevity. At the gym he gets himself checked, measured and weighted. The young trainer congratulates him for his balance in muscular mass and body fat, and shows him the numbers: what could make him happier? Besides she’s most helpful and pretty. She draws up and explains a training plan. He so looks forward to resuming training. Soon he’s on the circuit, demonstrating his willingness to move from theory to practice.

As he works through the plan, she correcting his posture, smiling at his effort, he suddenly feels the weight of all those years: for, after all, he’s an ancient creature, still holding on, thick skinned, and well on its way to oblivion…

Image: Max Ernst (1891 – 1976) Mundmündig 1963 – via thirdorgan

Ambushed

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I know they are there, well hidden, but making sure I am aware of their presence, just in case I was about to forget. This is tyranny, being on an apparent lose leach, but one that can be shortened at no notice: suddenly the pain, the endless despair.

I see a glimmer of blue in the sky. No frost last night. There is hope in the air.

How long will it take? I know they are expert at rearguard actions too. Signs of withdrawal  can be deceptive! Like this weather, it can move swiftly back to ice and doom.

Marking time, observing, solace in sleep.

Spring will come.

Image: Max Clarenbach

#AtoZChallenge2015: Zn, for Zinc

Today is the last post of this 2015 AtoZAprilChallenge, and it’s about this marvellous element Zinc, symbol Zn, and number 30 on the elements periodic table. Zinc has many fantastic properties, and is a major component of living things.

1943 Zinc PennyZinc, in commerce also spelter, is a chemical element with symbol Zn and atomic number 30. It is the first element of group 12 of the periodic table. In some respects zinc is chemically similar to magnesium: its ion is of similar size and its only common oxidation state is +2. Zinc is the 24th most abundant element in Earth’s crust and has five stable isotopes. The most common zinc ore is sphalerite (zinc blende), a zinc sulfide mineral. The largest mineable amounts are found in Australia, Asia, and the United States. Zinc production includes froth flotation of the oreroasting, and final extractionusing electricity (electrowinning).

Brass, which is an alloy of copper and zinc, has been used since at least the 10th century BC in Judea[2] and by the 7th century BC in Ancient Greece.[3] Zinc metal was not produced on a large scale until the 12th century in India and was unknown to Europe until the end of the 16th century. The mines of Rajasthan have given definite evidence of zinc production going back to the 6th century BC.[4] To date, the oldest evidence of pure zinc comes from Zawar, in Rajasthan, as early as the 9th century AD when a distillation process was employed to make pure zinc.[5] Alchemistsburned zinc in air to form what they called “philosopher’s wool” or “white snow”.

The element was probably named by the alchemist Paracelsus after the German word Zinke. German chemist Andreas Sigismund Marggraf is credited with discovering pure metallic zinc in 1746. Work by Luigi Galvani and Alessandro Voltauncovered the electrochemical properties of zinc by 1800. Corrosion-resistant zinc plating of iron (hot-dip galvanizing) is the major application for zinc. Other applications are in batteries, small non-structural castings, and alloys, such as brass. A variety of zinc compounds are commonly used, such as zinc carbonate and zinc gluconate (as dietary supplements), zinc chloride (in deodorants), zinc pyrithione (anti-dandruff shampoos), zinc sulfide (in luminescent paints), and zinc methyl or zinc diethyl in the organic laboratory.

Zinc is an essential mineral perceived by the public today as being of “exceptional biologic and public health importance”, especially increasingly regarding prenatal and postnatal development.[6] Zinc deficiency affects about two billion people in the developing world and is associated with many diseases.[7] In children it causes growth retardation, delayed sexual maturation, infection susceptibility, and diarrhea.[6] Enzymes with a zinc atom in the reactive center are widespread in biochemistry, such as alcohol dehydrogenase in humans.[8] Consumption of excess zinc can cause ataxialethargy and copper deficiency

Various isolated examples of the use of impure zinc in ancient times have been discovered. Zinc ores were used to make the zinc–copper alloy brass many centuries prior to the discovery of zinc as a separate element. Judean brass from the 14th to 10th centuries BC contains 23% zinc.[2]

Knowledge of how to produce brass spread to Ancient Greece by the 7th century BC, but few varieties were made.[3] Ornaments made of alloys containing 80–90% zinc, with lead, iron, antimony, and other metals making up the remainder, have been found that are 2,500 years old.[17] A possibly prehistoric statuette containing 87.5% zinc was found in a Dacian archaeological site.[49]

The oldest known pills were made of the zinc carbonates hydrozincite and smithsonite. The pills were used for sore eyes and were found aboard the Roman ship Relitto del Pozzino, which wrecked in 140 BC.[50][51]

The manufacture of brass was known to the Romans by about 30 BC.[52] They made brass by heating powdered calamine (zinc silicate or carbonate), charcoal and copper together in a crucible.[52] The resulting calamine brass was then either cast or hammered into shape for use in weaponry.[53] Some coins struck by Romans in the Christian era are made of what is probably calamine brass.[54]

Strabo writing in the 1st century BC (but quoting a now lost work of the 4th century BC historian Theopompus) mentions “drops of false silver” which when mixed with copper make brass. This may refer to small quantities of zinc that is a by-product of smelting sulfide ores.[55] Zinc in such remnants in smelting ovens was usually discarded as it was thought to be worthless.[56]

The Berne zinc tablet is a votive plaque dating to Roman Gaul made of an alloy that is mostly zinc.[57]

The Charaka Samhita, thought to have been written between 300 and 500 AD,[58] mentions a metal which, when oxidized, produces pushpanjan, thought to be zinc oxide.[59]Zinc mines at Zawar, near Udaipur in India, have been active since the Mauryan period. The smelting of metallic zinc here, however, appears to have begun around the 12th century AD.[60][61] One estimate is that this location produced an estimated million tonnes of metallic zinc and zinc oxide from the 12th to 16th centuries.[19] Another estimate gives a total production of 60,000 tonnes of metallic zinc over this period.[60] The Rasaratna Samuccaya, written in approximately the 13th century AD, mentions two types of zinc-containing ores: one used for metal extraction and another used for medicinal purposes.”

About Zinc and healthhttp://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Zinc-HealthProfessional/

Zinc in foodhttp://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=nutrient&dbid=115

Image: http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=10228&picture=1943-zinc-penny&large=1

#AtoZAprilChallenge: Organic

Alive The term Organic may refer to an organism, or living entity, or to an organ. Wikipedia lists Organic references in: Chemistry (carbon-based chemistry, chemistry of carbon-based compounds), Agriculture and Farming (organic agriculture “conducted according to certain standards, especially the use of methods of fertilisation and pest control”, organic horticulture, organic food), Computing (organic computer built form neurones, computer systems with properties of self-configuration), Economics (organic growth “as opposed to mergers, acquisitions and take-overs”, flat structure businesses), Military (organic unit, “a permanent part of a larger unit that provides some specialised capability”), Law (organic or fundamental law), Music (several albums under that name, e.g. Freak Kitchen, 2005, and Joe Cocker, 1996) and a few others.

From Keywords: “Organic has a specific meaning in modern English, to refer to the processes or products of life, in human beings, animals or plants. It has also an important applied or metaphorical meaning, to indicate certain kinds of relationship and thence kinds of society…

The source of its common specific modern meaning is the major development of natural history and biology in C18, when it acquired a dominate reference to things living and growing.”

#AtoZChallenge: April 26, 2013 ~ Women

La liberté n’offre qu’une chance d’être meilleur, la servitude n’est que la certitude de devenir pire.” ~ Albert Camus

Amazons
A wall painting by Franz Xaver Simm from the Caucasus Museum in Tbilisi. The original painting has not survived. Date 1881 Source Hermann Roskoschny, 1845-1898. Das asiatische Russland, Leipzig: Gressner & Schramm, 1884

Perhaps one day – how far in the future is a matter for speculation – it will be suggested that parthenogenesis is the way forward for the human species on its way to the Stars.  In my novel, The Page, the alien race poised to colonise Earth, offers it to the female gender, arguing, with some reason, that exterminating the males would be a favour to the Universe in general, Earth in particular, and free them from the kind of slavery no law or feminist revolution has so far succeeded in doing.  The unanimous reply is: “Please go – and clone yourselves.” This may be yet further evidence supporting Paulhan’s idea of “bonheur dans l’esclavage”…

Yet you are irreplaceable, even if we might be.  Not only are we hopeless at bearing children – pace “mummy” Schwarzenneger – let us banish for ever the thought of a male only world, even if biologically such an enormity was conceivable: it would be hell, even for the more softly inclined among us.  Who would we copy, whose lingerie would we try with rising emotions?  Whose panties would we rub our stubbled cheeks with, dreaming of the thousand and one nights delights? Whose lovely ways of walking would we try to emulate, us, the primates, occasionally goose-stepping morons, of otherwise poor artistic tastes?  And, worst of all, whose slender necks would wear those sober collars, emblematic of our deepest dreams?

“Neanderthal rising” is an hallucination lurking in my “writer-in-learning” ’s mind: an apocalypse of primal beasts rushing back to the stone age in a flurry of females being dragged by their (long and gorgeous) hair… and frightened mammoths…

But there are biological and physical facts: a different – but then, are two brains ever similar? – wiring of the synapses, longevity (a crucial quality for deep space travel)… and of course the potential for asexual reproduction.  If a (presumably female) Columbus of an unfathomable future wished for “peace on board” the proverbial ship, what would be her best bet?  A mixed gender crew soon rioting into roman orgies and muscular hand to hand fights, or a spartan and disciplined amazon crew of jar-headed female warriors, athletic, evidently lesbian, and, well… just tremendously sexy to this Neanderthal’s imagination. Peace.