Thursday, March 26, 2015

Bones, Stones and Other Items Used for Divination Found in Armenian Dig

Are these "dough stamps" -- designed to impress raw dough with images that were used in divination?  Or were they used in an entirely different way altogether, hmmm?  These look similar to ancient game pieces to me.  Might they have been used in an elaborate ritual to make impressions on a chessboard-like grid drawn into the dirt of the sacred sanctuary where the diviner practiced -- one not unlike the Dogon "fox print" ritual still practiced today?

Image courtesy of Professor Adam Smith, from news article at The Daily
Mail (UK -- see link at end of this post).  "Dough stamps" discovered
in three different ancient Armenian sanctuaries.  

Story and photos at Phys Org

Bronze Age bones offer evidence of political divination

Mar 13, 2015 by H. Roger Segelken

Trying to divine the future of a precarious administration, "House of Cards" President Frank Underwood enters the inner sanctum with a trusted adviser. "It's really a crapshoot," the adviser says, and the president nods. The bourbon is drained, cigars are snuffed, and the political leader emerges with a more confident sense of what's to come.

"It really was a crapshoot, with very high stakes for sovereign rulers in a turbulent time," says Cornell archaeologist Adam T. Smith, interpreting evidence from 3,300-year-old Bronze Age shrines, ensconced within a hilltop fortress on the Tsaghkahovit Plain of central Armenia. Smith, a professor of anthropology in the College of Arts and Sciences, studies the role that the material world – everyday objects, representational media, natural and built landscapes – plays in the political lives of ancient and modern-day people.

Dice-like knucklebones used for osteomancy and colored stones used for lithomancy (divination with bones and stones, respectively) were found deep within the ruins of the fallen citadel of Gegharot.

Aleuromancy (divination with freshly ground flour) is a likely explanation for implements found in one of three shrines, Smith and Cornell Ph.D. candidate Jeffrey F. Leon report in their October 2014 American Journal of Archaeology article, "Divination and Sovereignty: The Late Bronze Age Shrines at Gegharot, Armenia." > Excavations conducted at Gegharot since 2002 have turned up a variety of ceremonial, iconic and fortune-telling objects:

  • censers and basins for burning aromatic plant materials that could induce a trance state;
  • covered storage containers made of clay where pollen analysis found evidence of wheat;
  • drinking vessels, probably for long-gone wine;
  • sculpted clay idols "with vaguely anthropomorphic features and hornlike protrusions" and stele (standing blocks) the archaeologists say "likely served as focal point for ritual attention";
  • grain-grinding implements and stamp seals to make impressions in flour dough;
  • dozens of knucklebones (also called astragali) of cattle, sheep and goats with certain sides blackened like the markings on dice; and
  • polished stones in colors ranging from black and dark grey to red, green and white.
The Tsaghkahovit Plain was sparsely populated until around 1500 B.C. when a nameless people (they left no written record of what they called themselves) began to build strongholds and new institutions of rule there.

"It was a time of radical inequality and centralized practices of economic redistribution," Smith says, "and the political leaders were scrambling to hold on to their power. Knowing what the future held was critically important." [Sounds like the USA today.]

The diviner, Smith says, was a kind of primordial actuary, assessing risks and advising on pathways forward. "We call them 'shrines' because of two distinctive qualities of the spaces: They were quite intimate in scale, with not much room for public spectacle," Smith explains, "yet they appear to have been religiously charged places, designed and built to host esoteric rituals with consecrated objects – secretive rites focused on managing risks by diagnosing present conditions and prognosticating futures."

 The Bronze Age people who tried to predict futures there had a quarter-millennium run, until about 1150 B.C. Their divination paraphernalia, meticulously unearthed by the archaeologists, looks as if it had been abandoned in place, moments before the inhabitants fled some cataclysm.

 Without Bronze Age mystics to interpret the bones and stones, it's hard to know whether the citadel's demise was presciently foreseen. As the fictional President Underwood said: "It's not the beginning of the story I fear; it's not knowing how it will end."

 More information: "Divination and Sovereignty: The Late Bronze Age Shrines at Gegharot, Armenia American" Journal of Archaeology Vol. 118, No. 4 (October 2014), pp. 549–563 DOI: 10.3764/aja.118.4.0549

*****************************************************


See also interesting interpretative article on the findings reported at The Daily Mail (UK) - where else, LOL!  The article does provide additional information along with several maps, diagrams and photographs of the excavation site and some of the excavated artifacts -- which are very interesting.  Check them out and see what you think.

"DNA of an Entire Nation Assessed"

I find this article rather alarming, hmmm...

Article at BBC News

DNA of 'an entire nation' assessed


The genetic code of "an entire nation" has effectively been deduced, say researchers in Iceland.
The feat was performed by combining DNA data with family trees.
The team say they could now find every woman at high-risk of breast cancer "at the touch of a button" and it would be "criminal" not to use the information.
The reports, published in the journal Nature Genetics, used the data to make a suite of discoveries including the age of the last common ancestor of men.
DNA is passed from one generation to the next. If you knew everything about the DNA of a child and their grandparents, you could figure out a lot about about the DNA of the parents too.
The deCODE genetics team has taken the whole genome sequence of 10,000 people and combined it with nation-wide family trees.
"By using these tricks we can predict, with substantial accuracy, the genome of the entire nation," the chief executive of deCODE, Dr Kari Stefansson told the BBC News website.

Medicine

Mutations in the BRCA genes lead to a much higher lifetime risk of cancer and led the Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie to have her breasts and ovaries removed. [Notice how they want to inform women that it may be best to mutilate yourself but there is no mention of mutilating men for the sake of preventative cancer treatment.]
Dr Stefansson argued: "We could, in Iceland, at the push of a button find all women who carry mutations in the BRCA2 gene.
"This risk could basically be nullified by preventative mastectomies and ovariectomies. It would be criminal not to take advantage of it and I am convinced that my fellow countrymen will begin to use it pretty soon."
The data is all anonymous at the moment. Using such data in medicine would raise ethical issues, including identifying deadly disease genes in people who never volunteered their own DNA for study.
Dr Stefansson says there is a lot of debate still to come "but I'm just an old-fashioned physician, my gut instinct is simply to go to these people and warn them".
He is already in discussions with the Icelandic healthcare system.

Elegant

The 100,000 genomes project in England and President Obama's Precision Medicine Initiative both aim to use such genetic information to revolutionise medicine.
Professor Mark Caulfield, the chief scientist at Genomics England, said the studies were "very interesting" and "very elegant".
He told the BBC: "The team in Iceland is to be congratulated as it has continued, over many years, to contribute to an understanding of the genetic information of disease by looking at the level of the population."
He said the progress being made around the world showed: "We are on the cusp on the application of transformative genomic medicine at scale"
However, he cautioned that there were many types of BRCA2 mutation and it was important to be certain they were relevant before informing women.

Common dad

The project made a series of other discoveries including a new gene linked to Alzheimer's disease.
The team has calculated a new estimate for the last common ancestor of all men by looking at the rate of mutation in the male Y-chromosome.
They believe the last common ancestor was 239,000 years ago - down from a previous estimate of 308,000 years ago.
They discovered that in Iceland that 8% of the population is missing all copies of a gene.
This could be harmful, beneficial or have no impact at all. The Icelandic group is starting a study to assess the health of these people.
Dr Susan Wallace, who worked with the Nuffield Council of Bioethics on a report on the use of biomedical data, said: "It sounds like a very exciting study and could bring health benefits to people.
"The concerns are that the data is going to be made public, anonymity technically promises protection, but you can be re-identified in datasets.
"There are also concerns of commercial interests in the use of these databases, so there are a lot of concerns that need to be addressed.
"There needs to be more engagement I think." [DUH!]

Carnelian and Iron Ring with Image of Goddess Artemis or Diana Found Near Herod the Great's Mausoleum

Story at Live Science -- contains photos and links:

New Excavations Planned for Jiroft (Iran)

Article from The Tehran Times

Iranian, German experts to excavate “archeologists’ lost paradise”

On Line: 10 March 2015 19:07
In Print: Wednesday 11 March 2015
TEHRAN -- A team of Iranian and German archaeologists will head to Jiroft in southern Iran in the near future to excavate the 5000-year-old site, which is known as the “archeologists’ lost paradise.”
 
Preparing a map of the site, searching for new structures near the Halil-Rud River, and analysis of the outcome of the excavation will be high on the agenda for the excavation, the director of the Iranian team, Nader Alidadi, said in a press release on Monday.
 
He said that the excavation project, which will last five years, aims to study the cultural boundary of the Halil-Rud region, cultural relations between the Halil-Rud region and the Mesopotamian civilization over the prehistoric periods, particularly during the Bronze Age.
 
The team is composed of 16 members, including eight German archaeologists, who will be led by Professor Peter Pfälzner of the University of Tubingen.
 
Eight Iranian archaeologists will also collaborate in the excavation project.

The collaboration between the Iranian and German archaeologists is based on a memorandum of understanding, which was signed between the University of Tubingen and Iran’s Research Institute for Cultural Heritage and Tourism in late January.
 
The Jiroft civilization was discovered next to the Halil-Rud River in Kerman Province in 2002 when reports surfaced of extensive illegal excavations and plundering of priceless historical items in the area by locals.
 
Since 2002, five excavation seasons have been carried out at the Jiroft site under the supervision of Professor Yusef Majidzadeh, leading to the discovery of a ziggurat made of more than four million mud bricks dating back to about 2200 BC.
 
Many ancient ruins and interesting artifacts were excavated by archaeologists at the Jiroft ancient site.
 
After the numerous unique discoveries in the region, Majidzadeh declared Jiroft to be the cradle of art. Many scholars questioned the theory since no writings or architectural structures had yet been discovered at the site, but shortly afterwards his team discovered inscriptions at Konar Sandal Ziggurat, causing experts to reconsider their opinions about it.
 
The Konar Sandal inscriptions are older than the Inshushinak inscription, suggesting that the recently discovered inscriptions link Proto Elamite script, which first appeared in Susa about 2900 BC, with Old Elamite, which was used between about 2250 and 2220 BC.
 
Many Iranian and foreign experts see the findings in Jiroft as signs of a civilization as great as Sumer and ancient Mesopotamia. Majidzadeh believes that Jiroft is the ancient city of Aratta, which was described as a great civilization in a Sumerian clay inscription.
 
MMS/YAW
END

***************************************************************************
I have written several posts about Jiroft over the years since this blog began in 2007, but the primary article I wrote was done in November, 2005, and updated in January, 2007.  You can find it at the Goddesschess website if you're interested -- it is an indictment of the gross negligence of the Iranian government when news of the discovery of the site and its massive looting became public.  To this day I have seen nothing that proves to me there was no collusion between the massive and organized looting and sales on the illegal antiquities market (and subsequent massive quantities of manufactured "antiquities" that, simultaneously, flooded the international market for illegal sale) and the Revolutionary Guard. 

Chess Collectors International -- Meet Them in St. Louis!

Hola!

The Western Hemisphere members of the Chess Collectors International will be hosting a get-together for members and interested parties in St. Louis, Missouri that will coincide with the Third Annual Sinquefield Cup (the tournament will be held at the beautiful Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis or, as popularly known, the St. Louis Chess Club).  Meeting dates will be August 28 - 30, 2015.  Special room rates will be available for CCI members at the Chase Park Plaza Hotel (a FABULOUS hotel) and the Holiday Inn Express, both within a few blocks of the Chess Club and the World Chess Hall of Fame and Museum.

I attended a CCI meeting in St. Louis in September 2011 and had a wonderful time -- and I took lots of pictures of the area.  You can probably find some of them by doing a search here under "St. Louis."  I attended the grand opening of the World Chess Hall of Fame and Museum that is located across the street from the St. Louis Chess Club, met several of the chessplayers who were participating in the Kings v. Queens Tournament that was being held at the time at the St. Louis Chess Club and visited the club a few times to sit in on the analysis (fascinating!), socialized, shopped, attended lectures and presentations by the CCI members, attended a private showing of part of a fabulous collection of chess sets that were premiering the opening of the World Chess Hall of Fame and Museum, and enjoyed strolling through the Chess Fair that closed the CCI meeting.  At the Chess Fair CCI members present chess sets and other chess collectibles that are offered for sale.  The highlight of my stay in St. Louis in 2011 was having lunch with 12th Women's World Chess Championship GM Alexandra Kosteniuk, who is sweet, kind, and charming in person as well as stunningly beautiful.

Nope - not Alexandra Kosteniuk - that's me
making a rare appearance in a cocktail dress
at the 2011 CCI Gala Banquet in St. Louis.
I don't have further information at the present time, it will be forthcoming at a later date.  In the meantime, if you are interested in learning more about the CCI, please visit the website.

Update on Findings: The Red Lady of El Miron (Spain)

Hola everyone!

I am sad to report that I have not seen my little injured squirrel since March 17th.  I had named him Intrepid, Treppy for short.  I fear Treppy may have succumbed to his injuries (infection), got run over by a car or fell prey to a predator.  However, I have a squirrel who started visiting at the same time as Treppy who is blind in one eye (cataract). I've named him Blinky because when he is not on the alert his eyelid droops over the blind eye and it looks like he is blinking or even winking.  Here is a photo of him I took on Monday during a brief snowfall -- yes, it is still snowing in Milwaukee (damn!)



Sorry, it is not the best photo, I had the lens on the longest close-up I could get but the camera is 10 years old - an antique by today's standards!  He is very chubby now since he found my yard and a steady food source of peanuts, hazelnuts and sunflower seeds.  When he hears me whistle he comes running and turns his good eye toward me so he can see where I am tossing the food for him -- very clever!  You really cannot see it in this photo although because I know it is there, I imagine I do -- his right eye is totally opaque with a cataract.

Okay, enough about my wild "pets."  I came across this article last night at Ancient Origins:

Archaeologists unravel secrets of 18,700-year-old burial of the Red Lady of el Miron

The woman whose remains were tinted with red ochre and buried with flowers about 18,700 years ago in a cave in northern Spain may have had what modern people would consider a hard life. But on the other hand, she must have been considered special because no burial so elaborate has been found from this period in Europe.
Researchers excavating the cave where she was buried call her the Red Lady of el Miròn. They announced this month that they found a triangular engraving on a large limestone block possibly placed to mark the grave. They interpret the engraving as representing the female pubis.
New Scientist magazine says this is the first Magdalenian culture burial site found on the Iberian Peninsula after a 150-year search. The Magdalenian Age in Europe lasted from about 19,000 to 11,000 years before the present. The woman lived during the Ice Age.
The researchers wrote an article for the Journal of Archaeological Science about the Red Lady’s burial for the March 2015 issue. An abstract of this article at ResearchGate says:
Her burial may have been marked by rock engravings suggestive of a female personage, by red ochre staining of a large block adjacent to her skeleton, and by engravings on the adjacent cave wall, and the burial layer itself was intensely stained with red ochre rich in specular hematite specially obtained from an apparently non-local source. The ochre may constitute the only demonstrable ‘grave offering.’ The grave was partially disturbed by a carnivore of wolf size after the corpse had decomposed. Then, it is hypothesized that the skeleton was covered over again and (re-) stained by humans after they (or the carnivore) had removed the cranium and most of the large long bones.
A photo of the woman’s jawbone here shows she had most of her teeth.
The lead researcher, Lawrence Straus of the University of New Mexico in the United States, has been taking students on Stone Age digs around Europe for 38 years. The co-director of the project is Manuel González Morales of the Prehistoric Research Institute of Cantabria.
“Since 1996, he has been digging El Mirón Cave in Cantabria, Spain, with levels that range in age from the Mousterian (41,000 years ago—the time of the last Neanderthals) to the Bronze Age (3500 years ago),” says a 2013 press release from UNM.
In addition to the woman’s body, found in the 2010-2011 dig, archaeologists excavating the cave have found the milk tooth of a child, thousands of stone artifacts and bones of ibex, red deer and fish. They’ve also found several antler points, bone needles and beads made of animal teeth and perforated marine shells.
Encyclopedia Britannica says people of the Magdalenian culture lived at the same time as large herds of bison, reindeer, and wild horses. They appear to have had a semi-settled life and abundant food. Their housing included rock shelters, caves and substantial dwellings in winter and tents in summer. They hunted animals with traps, snares and spears. “The great increase in art and decorative forms indicates the Magdalenians had leisure time. They also experienced a population explosion, living in riverside villages of 400 to 600 persons; it has been estimated that the population of France increased from about 15,000 persons in Solutrean times to over 50,000 in Magdalenian times,” the encyclopedia says.

Of the Lady in Red, who died between age 35 and 40, Straus and his colleagues wrote:
She had lived in the cold, open environment of Oldest Dryas, with a subsistence based on hunting mainly ibex and red deer, fishing salmon and some gathering of plants, including some starchy seeds and mushrooms. The technology of her group included the manufacture and use of stone tools and weapon elements made on both excellent quality non-local flint and local non-flints, as well as antler projectile tips and bone needles. Her burial may have been marked by rock engravings suggestive of a female personage.
While huge advances in knowledge have been made, there is still much research to be done to fully understand the lives and death rites of Paleolithic humans.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

"Calling You"

Hola Darlings!

I'm still being lazy in this now seventh week of my retirement.  I am doing things around the house -- the more than foot of snow that lingered for weeks because of the abnormally cold temperatures melted over the past week, thank Goddess!  We had far above normal temperatures, the last of which was yesterday when we reached 71 degrees F!!!  I worked outside raking up the left-overs of last autumn's leaves in the warm sunshine and worked up a sweat!  Now the cold has returned with bitter winds out of the northwest, but I think the worst may be over for this season.  I am planning a trip to sunny Las Vegas next month to get away from Milwaukee's chill and hopefully, when I return, the cold will be gone for six months!

I stumbled upon the Polish version of  "The Voice" links.  Poland!  I do not understand a word that is being spoken other than the English words that Dorota Osinska sings in her version of the mega-smash-hit "Calling You" that was sung by Jevetta Steele and is the flag-ship song of the movie "Bagdad Cafe."  Dorota sang the song with pure, raw emotion and an angelic voice.  I cry every time I watch this video and here her sing.  I think about Mr. Don and how much I miss him every day.

This is the video of Dorota's first appearance on Poland's "The Voice" and is over 7 minutes long -- it shows the judges in their chairs and their reactions as Dorota sings.  The actual song itself is about 2.05 minutes so you can stop the video after her performance if you don't want to watch the rest.  But watching the entire performance and the judges' reactions, even though not understanding a word they said, is well worthwhile:

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Hales Corners Chess Challenge XXI!

Hola darlings!

It's that time once again.  The Hales Corners Chess Challenge XXI will be held NEXT MONTH, woo woo!

Geez, it seems like yesterday that Goddesschess first offered prize money to Southwest Chess Club's Hales Corners Chess Challenge VIII!  That was thirteen Challenges ago.  Since that first tentative reach-out to the Southwest Chess Club, Goddesschess has provided thousands of dollars in prize funds to the Challenges.  How time flies.

This year's spring version of the HCCC will be held on April 18, 2015 at the Olympia Resort in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, so mark your calendars and get ready for a great event! Synopsis below, you can find the flyer with registration online at the link provided at the end of the synopsis. Please come and participate in this great southeast Wisconsin/regional event that attracts some of the highest-rated players in the region. Personally, I have attended a few Challenges in the past and had a wonderful time at each one -- me, not even a patzer level chessplayer!  If I can do it, darlings, you can, too.

Chess Magnet School Junior Grand Prix!
TROPHIES PLUS GRAND PRIX POINTS: 10

4SS, G/60;d6. 2 Sections: Open & Reserve (under 1600). Olympia Resort Hotel, 1350 Royale Mile Rd., Oconomowoc, WI 53066; 1-800-558-9573 (mention Southwest Chess Club for $99 room rate). EF: $40-Open, $30-Reserve, both $5 more after 4/15. Comp EF for USCF 2200+. $$GTD: Open: 1st-$325, 2nd-$175, A-$100, B & Below-$75; Reserve: 1st-$100, 2nd-$75, D-$50, E & Below-$40. Goddesschess Prizes for Females in addition to above prizes, Open: $40 per win/$20 per draw; Reserve: $20 per win/$10 per draw. Reg.: 8:30-9:30. Rds.: 10-1-3:30-6. Entries to: Allen Becker, 2130 N. 85th St., Wauwatosa, WI 53226; allenbecker@wi.rr.com. Questions to TD: Robin Grochowski: 414-861-2745.
FLYER.  

In addition to Goddesschess prizes for the chess femmes, which are awarded to them in addition to any other prizes for which they may qualify, the top female player in each section will receive a Goddesschess gift bag that I take great delight in putting together. The top female finisher in each section also receives paid entry to the next Hales Corners Chess Challenge courtesy of Goddesschess, if she wishes to participate.

We all take a great deal of pride in the fact that over time the Hales Corners Chess Challenges have produced an above-average turn-out of female chessplayers in a safe, family-friendly environment. We hope you will be able to join us on April 18th and check it out for yourself.

Another Horrific Rape In India -- Seventy Year Old Nun Gang Raped During Attack At Christian School

Yet another horrifying rape in India -- I just learned of this incident today while reading at The Daily Mail online.  There is video footage of some of the suspects retrieved from a security camera that has been publicized, at least in London; one hopes that people are also seeing the video footage in India too, but who knows, and who knows if it might reach the villages where these sexual terrorists are bred and raised, generation after generation.  I hope the authorities catch these sexual terrorists and that their penises are cut off and stuffed down their throats.  That is the only fitting penalty for a rapist.

Suspects pictured in hunt for men who gang-raped elderly Indian nun at convent 

  • Nun was trying to prevent six men from robbing the Christian school
  • Gang believed to have gagged security guard before violent rampage
  • CCTV footage released shows suspects leaving the school's staff room
  • Five others have been detained for questioning, police said  
  • Latest in a series of violent gang-rapes that has shocked the country

Arnab Ghosh, a police superintendent, said: 'CCTV footage showed that six men, aged between 20 and 30, scaled the boundary wall around 11.40 pm and entered the school and disconnected the telephone lines.'
  
The robbers then tied up and gagged a security guard before entering the nuns' room, where they found the women sleeping, police said.

Mr Ghosh added: 'At least two of them were armed and the rest were carrying burglary tools. In the chapel, a holy scripture was found torn and a bust of Jesus was broken.' 


The nun is recovering in hospital in Ranaghat. 

Furious residents took to the streets yesterday, shouting slogans demanding action and blocking off the main highway.

Mamata Banerjee, West Bengal Chief Minister, also tweeted her condemnation of what she called a 'horrific attack', promising 'swift, strong action'.

Archbishop Thomas D'Souza has appealed to people to maintain peace and harmony in the area.
He said: 'In our Sunday Mass, we prayed for the sister to recover quickly from trauma, fear and her physical injuries. We will pray for her again this evening.

'They not only committed a heinous crime, but they also vandalized the chapel. This is the first time such an attack has happened in India.'

The incident comes at a time of heightened sensitivity over women's safety in India, which last week saw a documentary about the 2012 gang-rape of a student in Delhi being banned.

Authorities said screening the documentary could have caused public disorder, but critics accused the government of being more concerned with the country's reputation than the safety of its women. 

Shocking footage also emerged this week of an angry mob stripping and slowly beating a man to death in an Indian village after he was accused of raping and murdering an 11-year-old girl. The prolonged attack on the 18-year-old was watched by a jeering 1,000-strong crowd. [Shocking?  Why?  Posse or vigilante justice is what happens when the structures put in place to enforce laws fail to protect innocent citizens and often overlook crimes such as rape. I hope it was a large crowd of women who executed justice against the rapist.]

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

I'm A Sucker For An Injured Baby Squirrel

Hola everyone!

A few weeks ago we suffered through another nasty cold snap in southeast Wisconsin.  One bitterly cold (windchills below zero F) but bright and sunny afternoon I opened up the patio door to toss out another hand-full of hazel nuts for my tribe of squirrels, who were feeding more than usual in order to keep their bodies fueled against the cold.  There, on the steps leading down to the patio, was a squirrel that did not run away when I opened the door.  I could see it was not one of my "regulars" as it was smaller and darker than my usual tribe members.  It totally ignored me, in fact, like I wasn't even there.

That is when I realized it was either a baby or a sick squirrel, maybe even a blind and deaf squirrel, on his/her last legs.  I would roll a nut right in front of it and it would crawl right over it, like it didn't see it, that's why I thought for several days that it was blind.

It kept showing up in the yard.  It was either very young and injured (young enough not to know that humans can be dangerous and evil and young enough not to instantly recognize a hazel nut) or very old and weak.  It did not move like a squirrel and was unsteady on its feet, so I suspected it might have the "tipping over" disease that I occasionally witnessed in squirrels at the former Maison Newton over the years.

The other squirrels pretty much left it alone.  Thankfully, starting last Saturday the weather turned well above freezing during the day and the snow is slowly melting away. The squirrel came every day and foraged for nuts.  In the afternoon sun last weekend it laid out on top of the fence railing and slept, soaking in healing and warming rays.

And then, yesterday, the squirrel did not appear.  I waited all day, looking and looking, but did not see it at all.

I thought it must have died, and my heart broke a little. I know it is the way of nature, but it still hurts.

I checked for sight of him again this morning first thing, but did not see him.  He has a distinct way of moving, and I did not see him among the other squirrels.

But a short while ago I looked up from the kitchen table out the patio door and there he was, sitting on top of the snow where the bird seed lands and the sun has not yet melted through the snow to the concrete below, eating the sunflower seeds in the bird seed mixture just as fast as he could find them!  Relief - and gratitude that he is still alive.

I grabbed my camera and managed to get some photos of him.  I tried not to spook him; even the squirrels who are very familiar with me do not like to have their photos taken and will run away if I stand at the open patio door too long. This squirrel seemed oblivious!


Being able to see the squirrel close-up in the sunlight, I saw that he has an injury on his left leg above his paw, and he is favoring the left front leg/paw, so essentially, he is surviving on two legs and his right leg/paw!  In the photo above, you can see the left paw looks shriveled.  You can see the area above the shrunken paw has matted fur and while it is not possible to tell from the photo, I could see that he must have either been hit by a car or had a run in with a predator but managed to escape.  The skin had been broken and he is missing a patch of fur.

Brave little guy, and thank Goddess he found sanctuary in my yard.  I don't know where he was yesterday, I'm just happy he found his way back today, and has been busy eating the additional peanuts and hazelnuts I've been tossing out to him, which he now recognizes as food!

He is moving MUCH better today -- he is moving around more like a normal squirrel (getting strength back?), so the warmer weather, the sun, and probably the food he's getting enough of here are, I hope, putting him on the path toward a full recovery.


By being able to observe him this close-up, I could see that he favored the left leg/paw.  The photo above was the next one I quickly snapped in the sequence -- you can see the damage to his upper left side above his paw area.  But, look - he's getting chubby!  When he first appeared he was so wizened and thin.  See all of the snow still left on my patio area -- and even more snow in the front yard that faces west and the sun not yet high enough up in the sky to reach it with melting sunshine.  If the weather does hold for two full weeks as forecast, I hope ALL of this snow will be gone!

As the snow has been slowly melting I've been going out with my broom to sweep up the nutshells freed from the ice and snow cover -- feeding squirrels leads to rather a big mess on one's patio!


In the photo above, you can see the difference between the size of the healthy right front leg and paw and the left side.  Isn't he cute, my little gimpy squirrel.  I hope he heals and survives.


Saturday, March 7, 2015

Squirrels Acting Nuts -- Squirrel Crazy Dancing

Hola and happy weekend everyone!

You know I'm a squirrel nut -- I  nurture and fed a large tribe for 24 years at the former Maison Newton and am doing the same here at the new maison.  In the northeast corner of my backyard are two large clumps of arborvitae that have grown nearly as tall as a telephone pole and there are a couple of squirrel nests inside the thick foilage, very much concealed from prying eyes because the arborvitaes are evergreen.  Because of how sunshine and wind come into the fenced backyard, the ground underneath the arborvitae clumps is bare, and it is not uncommon on a sunny afternoon even in bitter cold to see a squirrel or two stretched out on the layer of dead leaves that I put down last autumn to "melt" away during the winter, soaking up the warm sunshine.  This morning as I sipped my coffee and watched the first group of squirrels come for their morning hazel nuts, peanuts and sunflower seeds just after sun rise, I noticed a squirrel doing a "crazy dance" on the bare ground beneath the arborvitaes!

I've seen this kind of behavior many times over the past 25 years; I sat down at the computer and, not sure how to describe the behavior, did a google search under "squirrel doing sommersaults and acting crazy" and sure enough, up popped lots of results, LOL!  I found this website -- backyardsquirrels.com -- please check it out, it is a hoot! -- and this video:



This kind of show presented to us by Mother Nature is exactly why I find my squirrels so entertaining!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Goddesschess News: The Moscow Open (Tournament B - Women's Chess Ghetto)

Hola darlings!

As far as I have been able to determine from the website for the 2015 Russian Open, only males are allowed to play in the "A" Tournament.  Female players are relegated to "B" and below.  Well, figures.  There are a lot of hungry Russian chessplayers these days who cannot afford to travel outside the country, so they flock to events like this one, and male players greatly out-number female players.  The Russian Open used to be a far-more well-funded international event, attracting top-level players from around the world.  These days, not so much.

As you know, I don't give a fig about men's events but the ladies, yes, they are important to track, and not only because of their gender.  What is going on in the world as a whole is reflected in the miniscule world of chess, only greatly magnified.  Who suffers first?  Always women and children.  So take a look at this list of all of the female players from the 2015 Moscow (NOT SO OPEN) Tournament - the "B" Event, and draw your own conclusions.  "RR" equals Russian Rubles, which are STILL falling relative to international currency standards, despite the relative stablization of the price of a barrel of oil the past couple of weeks -- but this has happened after the tournament concluded -- wonder if the players actually got paid???

Warning:  The Women's "B" Tournament Results is in Russian alphabetic script and I can't read a damn word, so I may be reporting average Siberian temperatures for the past 50 years:

Итоговое положение после 9 туров

Ст.номСт.ном.ИмяГрФЕД.Рейт.Очки Доп1  Доп2  Доп3 Kрейт+/-
12WGMLei TingjieCHN24298.052.548.571014.6
21WGMGoryachkina AleksandraRUS24517.055.551.55105.0
323WGMMirzoeva ElmiraRUS22207.052.048.552049.0
435WFMTokhirjonova GulrukhbegimUZB21817.046.543.064098.8
511IMOvod EvgenijaRUS23247.042.039.57100.7
66IMGuseva MarinaRUS23756.554.050.55103.5
73WGMSzczepkowska-Horowska KarinaPOL24156.553.048.5410-2.0
844WFMBayarmaa BayarjargalMGL21346.551.047.552058.4
97WGMCharochkina DariaRUS23706.549.045.0610-7.0
108WIMBivol AlinaRUS23556.548.544.0520-4.6
1110FMPustovoitova DariaRUS23346.548.044.55204.6
1212IMVasilevich IrinaRUS23206.545.041.5510-4.1
1326WIMSchepetkova MargaritaRUS22166.055.050.552039.0
1438WCMHojjatova AydanAZE21706.052.048.564083.6
1524WIMMatveeva OlgaRUS22206.051.547.562012.0
1613WGMMaisuradze NinoFRA23106.049.045.0520-9.6
1717WIMIbrahimova SabinaAZE22736.048.045.55208.0
189WGMNakhbayeva GuliskhanKAZ23446.048.044.0520-7.8
1949WIMBaraeva IrinaRUS21056.047.043.552034.6
2015IMGalojan LilitARM22836.043.540.0510-6.2
215IMBodnaruk AnastasiaRUS24026.043.039.5410-17.7
2245WFMPavlova KseniiaRUS21326.036.033.5640-2.8
2321WIMDordzhieva DinaraRUS22445.549.045.0440-14.0
39WFMSmirnova EkaterinaRUS21615.549.045.044057.6
2528WFMPetrukhina IrinaRUS22105.547.543.54203.4
2631WFMAverchenko EkaterinaRUS22045.547.043.54200.0
2777WFMBelova OlgaRUS19715.547.043.044083.6
2871Maslova PolinaRUS19965.546.544.5540118.8
2920WFMKhlichkova TatianaRUS22575.546.543.5520-13.8
3027WIMDrozdova DinaRUS22155.546.542.0320-4.0
3119WIMKomiagina MariaRUS22625.545.542.0420-16.2
3233WIMBaraeva MarinaRUS21915.545.542.0320-15.8
3353Gaboyan SusannaARM20865.545.042.054081.2
3436WFMZherebtsova AlexandraRUS21815.544.042.05203.0
354WGMKovanova BairaRUS24055.544.040.5410-23.8
3637Sukhareva EvgeniyaRUS21715.541.539.5420-10.0
3765WFMNovikova GalinaRUS20165.541.039.052022.2
3834WFMGvanceladze AnnaRUS21865.540.537.0420-15.8
3961Azimova KarinaRUS20325.540.039.042030.2
4042WFMShuvalova PolinaRUS21495.049.046.034062.8
4122WIMTarasova ViktoriyaRUS22355.047.544.0320-20.0
4229WFMDerakhshani DorsaIRI22085.046.043.0440-8.8
4316WIMDauletova GulmiraKAZ22775.045.541.5320-38.2
4440WFMRjanova ValeryRUS21605.045.041.5420-5.4
4543WFMObolentseva AlexandraRUS21455.044.542.05409.6
4630WIMSemenova ElenaRUS22065.043.541.0420-28.2
47102Kuznetsova DaryaRUS18455.043.040.5340106.4
4860Trapeznikova DaryaRUS20385.043.039.53200.8
4950WFMPershina ElenaRUS21035.042.540.542010.6
5056WFMKhazieva ElzaRUS20705.042.039.04407.2
5159WFMUtiatskaja IrinaRUS20395.041.539.044033.2
5262WFMLingur ZalinaRUS20295.040.537.044013.2
5366Nosacheva MariyaRUS20095.040.038.04406.8
5447WFMProtopopova AnastasiyaRUS21115.040.037.0440-17.6
5548WFMKochukova AnnaRUS21075.039.537.0340-38.8
5667Romanova AnastasiaRUS20055.039.036.5520-2.2
57114Dyachkova MariaRUS17365.038.535.5440110.8
5863Alieva AlexandraRUS20295.037.034.5440-35.2
5914WFMBelenkaya DinaRUS23045.037.034.0420-58.4
6041WGMShaydullina SandugachRUS21495.035.032.0320-45.6
6155Imeeva AysaRUS20774.546.042.0420-7.6
6280Komissarova OksanaRUS19534.545.041.534022.4
6346WFMVifleemskaia SvetlanaRUS21114.545.041.0220-3.0
64119Zakariadze IrinaRUS17044.544.040.0340134.0
6532WFMIvanova KarinaRUS21934.543.539.5240-92.8
6654WFMParamzina AnastasyaRUS20834.543.040.04408.0
6758Mokshanova ElizavetaRUS20424.541.037.53402.8
6851WFMGoltseva EkaterinaRUS20994.540.537.5340-56.0
6972Shalukhina TatyanaKAZ19934.539.537.0420-7.6
70100Aksenova MariaRUS18634.539.036.544058.8
7195Chan NarunaRUS18834.538.536.042013.8
7273Aseeva AnastasiaRUS19924.538.036.0340-5.2
7394Sorokina NatalayRUS18874.536.033.044031.6
7481Malova AnnaRUS19504.535.033.044011.2
7574WFMDrogovoz MariaRUS19914.534.532.5340-44.0
7696Smirnova NinaRUS18804.534.032.04207.0
77112Gutkovich PolinaRUS17444.529.028.0440-4.4
7825Li XueyiCHN22184.050.046.0320-28.6
7978Muratova SaltanatKAZ19664.045.041.544013.6
80104Shchevyeva LiubovRUS18254.044.040.514084.8
8170Abramova YuliaRUS19974.041.038.0320-9.4
8293Pavlova NataliyRUS18914.040.538.544023.6
83105Zhemchuzhina ElizavetaRUS18034.040.538.534068.4
8490Kozina AnastasiaRUS18974.040.037.534032.8
85101Ochneva IngaRUS18504.040.037.044026.8
8685Tukaeva AdelyaRUS19304.039.537.5340-7.6
8776Litvinenko EkaterinaRUS19764.038.535.5440-38.0
8864Kobozeva ViktoriaRUS20224.038.535.5340-43.2
8968Maltsevskaya AleksandraRUS20034.038.036.0340-27.6
9082Ivanova SvetlanaRUS19404.038.035.5320-18.0
91108Vinokur YuliyaRUS17964.037.534.544012.0
9288Muratova AnelKAZ19054.035.534.54402.8
93115Chistyakova DariaRUS17334.034.532.044035.2
9491Beshukova EkaterinaRUS18924.034.032.0340-35.6
9552Morozova UliaRUS20934.033.531.5340-126.8
96109Makhno MariaRUS17754.032.530.534020.0
9783Lysenko ViktoriaRUS19364.032.030.0340-60.8
98123Garifullina LeyaRUS16534.030.528.534048.4
9979Kosova EkaterinaRUS19583.545.542.0340-19.2
10084Lysenko MargaritaRUS19313.543.040.0240-18.4
10175Adamova TuyaraRUS19803.543.039.5320-18.0
10269Sviridova OlgaRUS20003.542.039.5220-6.6
10357Mirzaeva GulnaraRUS20563.541.539.5340-42.8
104113Pivina MariyaRUS17393.541.037.534078.0
105103Dolgaeva EvgeniaRUS18373.539.037.034018.0
10692Chekalkina ViktoriaRUS18913.538.537.5340-17.2
107107Makarova DaryaRUS17973.537.535.034017.2
10887Niks YanaRUS19113.535.532.5220-28.4
109110Borisova PolinaRUS17643.534.532.5340-12.4
110117Sakorenko AdrianaRUS17323.534.532.524032.0
111128Troyanok TatianaRUS16043.533.031.034048.0
112126Gibadullina RajanaRUS16143.532.530.534024.8
11389Mamontova AnastasiaRUS19033.038.036.0340-35.2
11498Pranizina AlinaRUS18753.036.534.5240-80.0
115111Bulatova KamaliyaRUS17643.034.533.5140-6.8
116124Golovchanskaya AlinaRUS16483.032.030.032014.4
117121Chursina AdaRUS16803.032.030.024010.8
118122Zayniddinova SabokhatUZB16763.031.530.534017.6
119131Akulova TaisiyaRUS15153.028.526.534046.0
120116Golyshkina MarinaRUS17322.539.537.0240-29.6
121127Lopata ChristinaRUS16122.532.530.5140-1.6
12286Kiseleva EkaterinaRUS19142.532.530.0140-141.2
123106Kosolapova OlgaRUS18022.532.030.5140-105.6
124130Nagaytseva MarinaRUS15482.531.030.014026.0
125133Lysenko OlesyaRUS13302.528.527.524018.8
126134Radchuk YanaRUS02.528.027.02
127125Galimzyanova AlbinaRUS16282.526.024.5140-78.0
128135Reznik SofyaRUS02.524.522.50
129120Shkljar ValeriaRUS16992.034.031.5240-21.6
13099Beshukova AlinaRUS18662.033.031.0240-70.0
131118Matafonova YuliaRUS17292.033.031.0120-39.8
132132Bagaeva MariaRUS14752.031.029.0140-2.0
133129Shchukina EkaterinaRUS15501.030.028.0120-28.0
13418WIMShumilina AlexandraRUS22690.027.026.00200.0
97Milovanova MariaRUS18790.027.026.00400.0
136136Zhdanova AnastasiyaRUS00.021.520.50
Аннотация:
Доп1: Buchholz Tie-Breaks (variabel with parameter)
Доп2: Buchholz Tie-Breaks (variabel with parameter)
Доп3: The greater number of victories
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