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Uncle Henry´s Universe.

About the blog

I have no heavy training... Barely Elementary School. Preferred the wilderness, it became my university, but I got muddy boots and experience instead of School knowledge so my English was therefore quite inadequate. This blog is a project to improve my skills in English language.

We all have our own universe, welcome to visit mine.

Geneva

Travel Posted on Sat, November 16, 2019 13:57:59

Geneva with its jewelry, Rolex watches and chocolate are fucking expensive! A pizza and a beer cost at least twice as much as in Sweden. But with that said… End of complaint. The city is a fantastic gem that I hope to return to.

An attenuating circumstance is that local traffic is free for tourists. Tram, bus and even some boat lines on Lake Geneva are free. (We got a free pass from the hotel we stayed at.) This means that you don´t have to stay downtown, if it is close to a stop, you can easily and conveniently reach the entire city center. In addition, the city is no bigger than you can easily walk around the central parts.

One of the city’s most visible landmarks are Jet déau, one of the world’s highest water fountains, located in the bay where Lake Geneva flows into Rhone. It sprays five hundred liters of water per second up to 140 meters in height.

Geneva is one of the greenest cities in Europe, 20% of the city is covered in green areas. And there is liberating free from rubbish. I don’t think I saw a single junk anywhere! At one point, I saw a young man smoking a cigarette at a bus stop. When he was done, he looked for a trash can, found one further down the street, went there and threw his fag-end before returning to the bus stop! Hello, the rest of the world, please copy!

Mentioned in this context should also be the botanical garden, Jardin Botanique, created in the early 19th century. This fascinating park and “living museum” have 16,000 plant varieties and the world’s largest herbarium. Sculptures, theme areas, bird ponds, restaurants, children’s playground and lots of giant greenhouses filled with exotic plants and environments. A facility where it is easy to spend a whole day.

To the west of the botanical park is Adriana Park, an even larger park area (46 hectare) with about 800 tree species. There is also the Palace of Nations with the United Nations Office, the second largest United Nations Centre after the United Nations Headquarter in New York.

Geneva is really packed with interesting sights and lots of international organizations have their headquarters there. One of them is the Handicap International, which together with the Genevan artist Daniel Berset stands behind the monumental sculpture “Broken Chair” on the Place des Nations. Initially calling on all States to sign a treaty to ban landmines, but today with an extended meaning. This gigantic work of art, facing the United Nations “Flags Valley”, is twelve-meter-high and made of 5.5 tons of Douglas fir wood. A thought-provoking creation and a tourist magnet where selfies and group photos replicate each other.

In conclusion, I would like to mention that the city contains lots of exciting architecture, both modern and older. The old town, picturesque and genuine as they usually are, offers exciting hikes in narrow alleys. St. Pierre Cathedral is probably a given visitor’s destination for those who are interested in John Calvin, one of the leaders of the protestant reformation. Inside the church is a wooden chair used by Calvin… Personally, I attach more importance to the Broken chair, but Calvin’s chair is probably a nice piece of furniture in its own way.



Paragliding Italy

PG / PPG Posted on Tue, November 12, 2019 09:24:53

We got the first real snowfall and the first attempt to find wolf tracks failed. No hurry just waits some day so they can move. Dreaming of paragliding instead, I have both paragliders on service.

October 2016. Barbara and Kevin at Flytaly picked up at the airport and we had to make a detour as the annual peace march between Perugia and Assisi was going on. About 100,000 people who manifested for peace and against indifference. They condemn war around the world and calls for international institutions and individuals to take a stand against violence of all kinds. They came from about 500 cities across Italy to walk the 24 km route – an event which has been held annually since 1961.

An hour later, I took off from Monte Subasio with all of Umbria under my feet. What a seductive panorama! A moment later, I look for thermals over a small village just south of Assisi, when suddenly the sound of drums and trumpets mixes with the whisper of the wind. When I look down, I saw a procession following a small brass band. It was an incredibly suggestive feeling to soar high above the houses and hear the music flowing out of the narrow alleys. A memory that is still strongly alive.

Other memories of the week are summer warm days in October, the scent of wild herbs on the slopes of Mt Subasio National Park, two curious young red foxes near the cave where Saint Francis of Assisi once meditated and lots of other impressions from the stunning village of Assisi. An in many ways exciting religious center, although that not really my cup of tea. And the memory of Italy’s food and wine of course! I am also a great admirer of the complex creation; Grappa.



Big Bad Wolf

Wolf Posted on Wed, November 06, 2019 07:58:41

Trapped in a fence with eight obviously wild wolves, the situation was becoming unsustainable … and I called desperately for the animal attendant to let me out!

At the beginning of my career as a wolf lecturer, I was in great need of wolf photos. Photographing wild wolves was very difficult so I asked a zoo, and as a wolf tracker I got the benefit to photograph wolves in a zoo fence. I was brought into a pack of about eight wolves. A wolf pack that had not grown accustomed to humans (sometimes puppies are snatched up to become more social to humans and easier for visitors to see) The animal attendant locked the gate after me and left his phone number, it was only to call when I wanted him to let me out.

I had the same equipment as when I was in the wilderness, the same type of clothing and a camera with 300 mm telephoto lens. When I started sneaking after the wolves to take my pictures, I immediately discovered that it was a disastrously bad idea. They rushed around like crazy and were completely frightened!

After a few fruitless attempts, I gave up. It was pointless and the wolves also so stressed that I decided to cancel. The few pictures I got were just as blurred and bad as the ones I managed to take on wild wolves.

Wolf on the go but in what direction?

After the animal attendant let me out, I snuck up on a hill far away from the wolf fence. From there it was much easier to photograph them. That a man was on the outside of the fence, the wolves were quite comfortable with.

At dusk and when I was outside the fence, a wolf dared to come out…

After loads of wolf meetings in the wild, this is exactly how I know the wolf. Not as a bloodthirsty beast prepared to kill people, but instead an animal that most of all avoids us, and who are usually very careful about what is new or different from the usual.



Working week

Everyday life, Nature Conservation Posted on Sun, November 03, 2019 15:06:53

The metrologists have threatened with lots of snow, but the week has been pleasant with a good temperature, brilliant sunshine and fantastic mornings. It started with work in the county’s northernmost nature reserve and ended with a day off in one of the southernmost.

In a fantastic autumn weather, we wandered around the Päggonätto nature reserve and placed signs to try to curb unauthorized motor vehicle traffic on the marshes. Päggonätto is 620 hectares, so it takes a while to walk around it with heavy signs, iron skewers and sledgehammer.

The week also offered some work with chainsaw. We felled contorta pine in one reserve and cleared the boundary in another.

We saw several moose during the week and had a nice sight of a golden eagle over one of the marshes in Päggonätto. We also saw some northern bird species such as Snow bunting, Bohemian waxwing, Pine grosbeak and Siberian jay. The highlight was nevertheless a brief but fine observation of two wolves. It was in an area that has long been empty on wolves, now it’s just that they manage to avoid the poachers this winter.

The week ended with a free day devoted to bird watching and a visit to Dyrön, one of our county’s southernmost nature reserves. Lovely hike in a different kind of pine forest than we are used to. Observation of a white-tailed eagle instead of a golden eagle, red deer instead of moose and a red fox instead of wolf. But that’s fine too!

The northern bird species were represented by a large group of Smew that hunted together.

The nature reserve ends out in Vänern, Sweden’s largest lake, an inland sea with a lot of coastal feeling. A completely different landscape than we have in the northern part of the county.

The lake is the largest lake in the EU, third largest in Europe, after Ladoga and Onega, and in 26th place in the world.



Squirrels!

Everyday life, Nature Conservation Posted on Mon, October 28, 2019 09:33:53

The winter cold is creeping up and it’s time to start this year’s bird feed. And it immediately makes me think of squirrels …

The record was set on Christmas Eve 2017 when nine squirrels feasted on sunflower seeds. Only eight can be seen in the picture, but the ninth sat in a birch next door and shouted his frustration that the restaurant was full at the moment!

This summer, as I sat in the woods below our cabin, I saw a squirrel digging things out of hiding in the ground that it then ate. It was around to several different places. As I researched the matter, I found shells for sunflower seeds. Squirrels are not only greedy bird food eaters; they also hide food for future needs. Expensive friends, but okay, it’s worth it. They are really entertaining to study.

Our squirrel is the red one, Sciurus vulgaris, also called Eurasian red squirrel. They are members of the squirrel family, Sciuridae, commonly just referred to as “squirrels”. They include over a hundred arboreal species native to all continents except Antarctica and Oceania.

When I was in Geneva, I got to see another type of squirrel that I had never seen before. The Siberian chipmunk, Tamias sibiricus, a species that originally came as pets to parts of Europe in the sixties, but which has subsequently formed viable tribes in forests and parks. (The species is listed as an invasive species of the EU) Squirrels are cute little creatures but like many other species, they pose problems when they settle in areas where they have never been. (The gray squirrel is another example from the UK)

Other squirrels I previously posted on the blog are Gambian Sun squirrel, Malabar giant squirrel and Three striped palm squirrel.



Visit CERN!

Everyday life, Travel Posted on Mon, October 21, 2019 19:55:28

Although nuclear physics is not my strongest side, 😉 the visit provided at least some idea of what it is all about, and it’s an absolutely amazing world to discover!

If ever visiting Geneva, I highly recommend a visit to CERN. The CERN Laboratory was established in 1954 and the name is originally an abbreviation of Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire.

Their work helps to uncover what the universe is made of and how it works. They do so by providing a unique range of particle accelerator facilities to researchers, to advance the boundaries of human knowledge. And if I borrow some more information from their website: CERN’s convention states: “The Organization shall have no concern with work for military requirements and the results of its experimental and theoretical work shall be published or otherwise made generally available.” That’s nice and wise!

When you hear about CERN, I guess most people think about the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world’s most powerful particle accelerator, smashing particles together at unprecedented energies. These collisions enable physicists to study the phenomena that govern particles and forces. We got to visit an older model that has now been taken out of service, but with the help of a fantastic light and video show, the visit was very rewarding.

The researcher who led our guided tour was inspired by the story of the infant universe and all the research they conducted on the subject. We listened and were amazed, listened and were taken aback, listened and were amazed again … And in that way the tour continued.

Mysterious Neutrinos, The Higgs Boson, Antimatter, Dark Matter…“The possibility that dark-matter particles may interact via an unknown force felt only feebly by Standard Model particles motivated LHCb to search for “dark” photons, setting tight new constraints on the coupling strength between dark and conventional photons. Also exploring the dark universe is the CAST experiment, in which a large superconducting magnet is pointed towards the sun to search for dark-matter axions as well as solar chameleons (candidates for the dark energy sector) “…. WOW!  

Their website is very readable! There is a universe to discover for you too!

Even if you do not have time or manage to get a guided tour, their permanent exhibitions are so good that they provide value for the visit. It also describes some small side projects that happened to be created in connection with their research, such as computed tomography and the World Wide Web.



The Longhorn Beetle.

Nature Conservation Posted on Thu, October 17, 2019 07:58:26

The Longhorn Beetle, Tragosoma depsarium, are categorized as “Near Threatened” (NT) by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as that may be considered threatened with extinction in the near future.

The big beetle has disappeared from large parts of our country, but it occurs on some premises in our landscape. It needs older sun-exposed wood for its egg laying, preferably coarse pine trunks. Today, the species is threatened due to lack of suitable habitats.

10 years ago, we got hold of several very rough pine logs from a local sawmill. They were almost 6 meters long and up to 80 cm in diameter. Too rough for the sawmill to handle. I ordered a timber car to place them in sunny places in the Stormyren nature reserve and still remember the driver and his very suspicious look … He was used to transport wood out of the forest not the other way around!

It took 10 years before we could see that it succeeded. This summer we found lots of holes after the beetle. Now the rough logs can serve as nurseries for generations of beetles for many decades to come. Nature conservation can take its time but when it succeeds it pays off with interest.



Coupe Icare 2019

PG / PPG Posted on Mon, October 14, 2019 16:27:15

This year´s Coupe Icare, the 46th edition, was dedicated to Leonardo da Vinci. It is 500 years since he died, this absolute genius of all times, who has meant an incredible amount for the development of human flying.

The church in Saint-Hilaire-du-Touvet had a fantastic exhibition with copies of his very early models for aircraft. As early as the middle of the 1400s, he sketched on the ornithopter that would allow man to fly like birds.

There is almost nothing more spectacular, innovative, acrobatic, and off- the-charts in terms of ultra-light air sports than the programme of the Coupe Icare. The Parabatix sky racers stands for speed and acrobatics in its playful competition, all kinds of madness combine in Icarnaval (where Leonardo and his creations of course were frequently used this year) and the children stand for play and creator joy when they build pinweels, kites, gliders or birdhouses. Hot air balloons, different types of aircraft, delta wings, birds of prey, music and street shows… There was something for everyone!

Like every year since 1974, The Coupe Icare have been held at the joint site of Saint-Hilaire-du-Touvet / Lumbin, in the heart of the Isère Alps between the Chartreuse mountain range and Grésivaudan Valley. It is not-to-be-missed. It is an amazing on-going 4-day show that attracts about 100,000 visitors over 4 days each year.



One evening three weeks ago

Everyday life Posted on Sat, October 12, 2019 19:11:47

Live in the present, do not wait until tomorrow; pick the roses of life today… (Pierre de Ronsard)

We are too tired after the day’s experiences at Coupe Icare in Saint Hilaire du Touvet and not hungry enough for a restaurant visit. A pizza slice, a ripe tomato from the neighborhood shop and cold beer in a plastic mug. A happy ending to an inspiring day.

The evening is lukewarm, weak winds play along Rue Gabriel Peri; we are at our favorite hotel in Grenoble. Sometimes the laughter rises from the outdoor seating where the regulars gather, the black cat with harness and leash catches the attention for a while, everyone wants to cuddle.

The moon strokes along the eaves, a dove chirping in his sleep. Life is good! We pick a rose and fall asleep to the suggestive sounds of street life through the half-open window.



The light in the tunnel!

Nature Conservation Posted on Mon, October 07, 2019 11:22:31

Since Alice Cooper wrote on his Facebook page that he would like to walk through Tilas Stoll, the nature reserve suddenly became a much hotter tourist destination!

Today we have a little over 200 nature reserves in our county Värmland. Högbergsfältet is one of them. It was founded in 1979 and is a mining area near Lake Yngen. Tilas Stoll is a mining corridor leading into the Krakbo mine. For security reasons it has been closed for a few years but is now open to visitors.

Go there! It is a strong experience, well worth a try.



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