Yesterday brought a strange fantastic sky moment: I went outside for some fresh air and a snack, sat down, and then looked up – and saw a colored cloud! I never have seen something like this before. So I quickly got my camera and tried a photo, thinking the light effect might vanish soon. But it remained, for about 15 minutes:
Later I looked for an explanation, and found one that came close: Cloud_Iridescence. And this morning, in the newspaper, they had a photo of it and an expert explained that the color effect is very rare, happenening when the sun is very high. here's the article, with the German word for it: Rare weather phenomenon over Stuttgart: Zirkumhorizontalbogen. and here's more about it: Circumhorizontal arc, and here are twitter-notes.
It’s the year of sky phenomenons, it feels: first the meteor in April, and now the colored cloud. So special. All this sky looking and sky research brought back the memory of a sky mail conversation that partly happened on a friday, and that turned into a published story later: "Half Moon on Fry Day". I include it below, for friday, for the blue sky, and for the a-to-z-challenge.
HALF MOON ON FRY DAY
I just tried to translate some lines for a friend from English to German. And looked for a translation for “blue screen.” As in: the computer crashed. There is none, I figured, but tried babelfish. Guess what it makes of it?
“Er hat einen blauen Schirm.—It has a blue umbrella.”
So now I am tempted to hand the crashed computer an umbrella.
In foreign movies I have noticed that a lot of English words come up. Blue screen. Cursor. And hello—people all over are saying hello. When you answer the phone, what do you say? If i know who it is, I say, “What’s shakin’, bacon?” or “What’s up, buttercup?” Otherwise hello.
And a couple of years ago I read an article on how the French government wanted people to not say “e-mail” because it’s English—I think they called it courielle? Something like that. What do you call e-mail? In high school, the French teacher had a picture of Garfield the cat and it said: “Je vis pour le weekend.” Funny, too, that the concept of a weekend is a pretty modern idea. Used to be 6 days of work. More for farmers.
Do you know that Robinson Crusoe invented the 5-day work week? He had all his work done by Friday. Ba-dump-bump.
In Germany, it is “hallo”—also on the phone, there people say, “Ja, hallo”—“Yes, hello.” Or when you knock on a door, and aren’t sure if someone is inside, you say “hallo?”
I never heard that Friday joke before. In German, Friday is “Freitag.” Almost the same word, but when you go with pronunciation, the English is closer to fry-day, while the German is sounding like frei-tag: free-day. Only that Freitag isn’t free.
I once knew the roots of the word, Frei. I think it’s in honour of a northern goddess, Freia. But I’m not sure about that.
Suddenly, and it might be because it’s Freitag, or because I am hungry, but suddenly it seems weird that all over the world we have Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. In different words. It’s not just language but also culture. We all use a calendar that is based on seven days for a week.
And another strange thought: Catholics, you probably know, don’t eat meat on Fridays, but they eat fish. So Irish places, because they are catholic, often have a fish fry on Fridays. But I don’t think that’s why it is called Friday either. I don’t eat much fish, but right now an ‘all you can eat fish fry’ sounds delish!
The concept of seven day weeks. That’s what I thought of on the way to the bakery, some days ago, on a morning that came with the full moon in the sky. Must have been a week ago, as the calendar notes the full moon there, with a full circle. The other icons are: empty circle for new moon. And left sided or right sided half circle, for the half moons.
Why do I talk about the moon? Because it is the reason of the seven days. At least I think it is, because one moon phase is 28 days. And when you try to imagine living in a world without clock and calendar, the most apparent change of time is day and night. And the next apparent change is the moon, shifting from full moon to half moon to new moon and then back again. And every shift takes 7 days. That’s how weeks formed. I think.
About Saturday and Sunday: actually, they are not exactly the same throughout the world. In Israel, for example, the weekend is Friday / Saturday, and the working week starts Sunday. I didn’t know this, it was an Israeli friend of mine who explained this to me.
Oh yes, that makes sense in Israel—Friday sundown till Saturday sundown is the Jewish Sabbath. So that is the end of the week. That’s interesting, that they are on their own schedule.
But isn’t it strange that people everywhere look to the moon? The sun I understand, but the weeks and months are all the moon’s doing.
I just looked in the web. There are all kind of explanations coming up: the Biblical concept of the seven day week, the moon phases, but also the seven planets known back then, and geometrical theories that are based on the wrapping up circular objects in stable constellations, which only works within a hexagon.
I think the moon phases make the most sense. The math makes no sense to me. But then there is also something about Mayans and Egyptians with weeks of different size.
For the people in former times, I think the sun, the moon and the sky were like the huge screen of life. And the stars, of course. If you spend every evening sitting at a fire outside, you probably get into moon movement and star constellations rather quickly, even when you can’t write or read.
I remember sitting in the desert when there was nothing there, but nature. And the sky. And then after dusk, the stars came out. And the moon. It was like being in a multiplex cinema. Only that it was real.
That is interesting about the Mayans. There must be a book about this, too, somewhere here... but instead I should go out, have a look at the night sky. Only that it is overcast today. So the moon is there, but invisible.
There are seasons for some things. I meant that in reference to the looking for books, and the theories, and movement. Although it then occurred that it also makes sense in light of the moon, and stars, and sun.
Here it’s a rainy sky today, no moon visible either. But I will try to work the phrase “Er hat einen blauen Schirm” into a conversation this weekend.
more sky moments from everywhere
more a-to-z blogs: Chris Galvin, Rose Hunter, Margrét Helgadóttir, Jane Hammons, Jo Thomas, Fred Osuna
story archive link: Pequin magazine / internet archive