Sunday, 21 February 2010

It's a gas, gas, gas...

Have been having fun at Art School this week with an old Malaysian spinning top - found in a East Coast junk shop some 25 years ago. The Malaysians call their top spinning sport , Gasing - the top I have is made of hardwood and lead and weighs some 5 kg.

The whole sport is full of unusual traditions - I particularly like the fact that they often fumigate their tops with Styrax Benzoin - an extract from bark - to endow them with supernatural powers - in competition the winning top can spin for up to 2 hours...

Styrax benzoin can also be added to boiling water to produce fumes which when inhaled have a soothing effect on the lungs - sounds like we need to order some to help us with our long distance runs .

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Slowcore music

If you don't know Low, a US band from Duluth, Minnesota, then you are missing a treat.

They play slowcore - slow music for slow runners - and they are very good at it.

See for their website and I'd recommend Dragonfly, Silver Rider and When I go Deaf as stand out tracks.

Also worth listening to the lead guitarist's louder and faster band, The Retribution Gospel Choir, if just for its excellent name.

New album due out soon...

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Supermassive black hole

Yesterday, we ran along 2/3rds of the Regents Canal and then back from Paddington, through three rather lovely Royal Parks and back to Smithfield for an early lunch - all in aid of London Marathon training. We ran circa 13 miles - so only twice this distance for the real thing - and then had to have a long lay down.

Managed to make it into London again in the evening for a fantastically funny and thought provoking play called Jerusalem - would highly recommend it to anyone interested in the state of Britain today and also to see Mark Rylance - probably the best actor alive today.

Today, I have tried for the umpteenth time to understand what a black hole is - middle son is studying them for A level physics - as usual I am with the explanation for most of the way and then ... nothing ...

Anyway here is an artists impression of a black hole pulling gas off its companion ... doesn't look very black to me ...also could have been taken from a Roger Dean album cover ...

Astronomers have spied a star-sized black hole much further away than any such object previously known. It has a mass 20 times that of our Sun and is sited six million light-years away in the galaxy NGC 300. The discovery was made using the Very Large Telescope (VLT) facility on Mount Paranal in Chile.

You would have thought the scientists would come up with a more inspirational name for its telescope - answers on a postcard please ...