Friday, August 8, 2008

The dog days of summer and other topics

We are now deep into the dog days of summer, as they are called, the period from July 3rd through August 11th. It is too hot and I am too exhausted to write at length about them (the aforementioned dog days of summer) -- I would much rather sit under a shade tree and drink sweet iced tea or, better yet, stay inside my air-conditioned abode -- but since (a) it is important that you know something about them (the aforementioned dog days of summer), and (b) the Wikipedia people have done such a smashing job of writing about them (the aforementioned, oh forget it), you may read all about the dog days of summer to your heart ’s content at this link to a very interesting article in the online (but not necessarily authoritative) encyclopedia known as Wikipedia.

Since one thing often leads to another, perhaps your interest will be piqued, as mine was, by the phrase “precession of the equinoxes ” in Wikipedia ’s “Dog Days ” article. If you have the slightest inclination to learn more about the precession of the equinoxes (and they are aforementioned, coincidentally) but didn’t click on the link over there, you can click on it here. You might as well spend some of the dog days enriching your mind. The spirit ought to be willing, even when the flesh is weak.

This, by the way, is how one learns new things -- by searching, by reading, by expanding one ’s horizons (to keep the astronomy theme going), by being curious. Curiosity may have killed the cat, but finding out, as Mrs. Rhymeswithplague often says, brought it back.

What an interesting phenomenon, almost as interesting as the precession of the equinoxes! This post started with dogs and ended with cats!


  1. My eyes (and brain) are glazed over after reading about astronomical precession. I feel like I've aged a 'Great Year.' Thanks! I have enough wrinkles as it is.

    I was amused by the Wikipedia article which, in part, reported (speaking of Hipparchus, 147-127 B.C.):

    "described in his writings, none of which are known to survive."

    So... if none of his writings survived, how do they know he wrote them? Inquiring minds want to know.

    Oh, 'eck! I've added another wrinkle just thinking about it.

  2. The dog days of summer, in addition to leading us towards "the Precession of the Equinoxes", also usher in what might be described as "the Procession of Obnoxiousness"; within the last week, I've already seen a Christmas decoration project beginning in a local mall, Halloween pumpkin patch advertisements, and (of course) the announcement of the approaching NCAA and NFL football seasons (mad [insane], barking fans, frothing at the mouth, only able to convey their deepest thoughts through the eloquence of their team apparel)...

  3. Oh dear, I would love to go off on a linky scavenger hunt, but I'm deeply enmeshed in the Enlightenment at the moment and have to boil it down to 400 words. The philosophes must be spinning in their graves.

    I remember vaguely that the term dog days has something to do with the name of a star that appears about now . . . or some such thing. I'll have to check all this later.

    Stay cool, Bob.

    P.S. Pat, usually a reference like that means that his writings are quoted or paraphrased by other ancients but that his original manuscripts did not survive.

  4. Thanks for keeping us up to date on current events, even if they are ancient. Silly, ignorant me always thought it was "procession of the equinoxes" know, like a parade. But, because of you I now know it is "precession". Thank you!!

  5. As always, everyone, thank you for reading and commenting.

    Pat, I'm sorry about the new wrinkle. I stopped counting mine ages (a Great Year?) ago.

    anonymous, what a great descriptive phrase about the football season, ("the Procession of Obnoxiousness")! Your comment about "barking fans" reveals, methinks, that you follow Georgia Tech.

    Ruth, I can do the Enlightenment in far less than 400 words. Reason, Rousseau, Robespierre, post-Renaissance. Also post-Rabelais, pre-Raphaelites, and the beginnings of Romanticism. (Sorry, but Jeannelle got me going using the letter V over at her blog, and I just can't seem to stop.) I'm staying as cool as I can, in every sense of the word, but it's very difficult for someone as nerdy and geeky as me, er, I.

    Jeannelle, always glad to be of assistance. I like how you put it, "current events, even though they are ancient." Silly me had never even heard of the precession of the equinoxes.

  6. Dog days? Any dog here in Leeds, England would probably have drowned this summer. Or died of pneumonia. It's been wet and cold and wet and warm alternately - - but always wet.

  7. Welcome, Daphne! You are the second English/British (which do you prefer) person to comment on my blog, the first being yellowswordfish earlier this week.

    I live in the state of Georgia, near Atlanta, and my daughter lives in the state to the west, Alabama, near Birmingham. Driving from Atlanta to Birmingham takes one through, of all places, Leeds! Small world!

    Warm and wet; cold and wet; sounds lovely. :(