Today, Dec 21st, is the shortest day of the year. Many believe this makes it the Winter Solstice, but the one is not always the other.
The Solstice is when the Sun rises in its lowest position in the year. This does not always fall on the Shortest Day. In 2015 the Solstice occurs at dawn on the 22nd. That is the morning you want to be in Newgrange or Stonehenge or one of the other great megalithic clocks.
It is funny to read about the 50 people who were disappointed at Newgrange when the clouds obscured the sunrise. They won the annual lottery to attend the event on the 21st. Did they realise they were there on the wrong day?
A Leaf From The Tree of Songs; by Adam Christianson
When harpers once in wooden hall
A shining chord would strike
Their songs like arrows pierced the soul
Of great and low alike
Aglow by hearth and candleflame
From burning branch ot ember
The mist of all their music sang
As if to ask in wonder
Is there a moment quite as keen
Or memory as bright
As light and fire and music sweet
To warm the winter’s night?
Sonnet 7: by John Milton
How soon hath Time, the subtle thief of youth,
stol’n on his wing my three-and-twentieth year!
My hasting days fly on with full career,
but my late spring no bud or blossom shew’th.
Perhaps my semblance might deceive the truth
that I to manhood am arriv’d so near;
and inward ripeness doth much less appear,
that some more timely-happy spirits endu’th.
Yet be it less or more, or soon or slow,
it shall be still in strictest measure ev’n
to that same lot, however mean or high,
toward which Time leads me, and the will of Heav’n:
All is, if I have grace to use it so
as ever in my great Task-Master’s eye.
Harrison Sea Chronometer H5
On this day in 1722 one of the greatest disasters in British Naval Military History occured; the Scilly Naval Disaster. A British fleet returning from the siege of Toulon during the Wars of the Spanish Succession, left Gibraltar bound for Portsmouth in heavy seas and bad weather. Four ships of the line ran aground on the Isles of Scilly with the loss of 1,400 men.
An enquiry established that the disaster was due to the inability of the fleet to calculate their Longitude. So began one of the greatest quests in maritime history. In 1714 a large prize was made available for the person who could solve the problem. It was not until 1767 that a Yorkshire carpenter and clock-maker, John Harrison was published as the winner. He began by constructing massive clocks, perfected his technique and won the price with what looks remarkably like a large watch. The principles, in particular the circular balance, underpinned the world of horology until the development of electronic systems.
At the same time as Harrison was working in England Pierre Le Roy invented the detente escapement in France, another essential of the accurate chronometer.
The invention of the Chronometer allowed explorers like James Cook to map the world accurately, and delivered an advantage to the British Admiralty which enabled the development of the British Empire.
It seems such a little thing, but it is very important to know exactly where you are. I find a similar dynamic in operation in the Business World. Many business owners know where they want to be, but struggle with how to get there, because they have a limited understanding of where they are now. If you fully under stand your present position, and know where you want to get to, the intervening steps become very simple to map. Those steps are what we call a ‘business plan’. That mapping is the core of what I do in the workplace.
Lost; by Carl Sandburg
Desolate and lone
All night long on the lake
Where fog trails and mist creeps,
The whistle of a boat
Calls and cries unendingly,
Like some lost child
In tears and trouble
Hunting the harbor’s breast
And the harbor’s eyes.