Happy New Year!

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New Year

(via Exploring Our Matrix)

Gaudete!

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A very merry Christmas Eve to all who celebrate such things!

Sundial Hunting in Switzerland (and France)

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I have many hobbies, and one of them is sundial hunting. A few years ago, I spent about a month in Switzerland visiting as many historic sites as I could and, as a fun little side project, I photographed as many sundials as I could fine. Here are some nice ones:

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Our first sundial is a fairly classic example spotted in Geneva. This was found on the corner pillar of a building in the historic part of town, with a Geneva flag fluttering nearby. This Old Faithful will tell you the time, but it certainly won’t wow any passing tourists.

Sundial2

Our second example was spotted above a fountain, also in Geneva.This one is a little more artistic and reminds the viewer of what awaits when time has finally run its course. It’s a beautiful use of a modern artistic style mixed with a medieval subject that is very common in Switzerland. Have you ever wondered why Eeyore is always so depressed?

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Confession time: I cheated a little bit. Our third sundial was actually spotted in France, in the Chateau de Joux. Europe’s a small place and borders are easily hopped, so I think it should still count. This simple yet effective design helpfully reminds us that the sun rules all (at least in our little neck of the universe, I suppose).

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Number four is also from the Chateau de Joux. Sorry about the terrible picture, but this sundial was painted on to the outer wall of the fortress, which was modified at some point by Vauban. If you’re familiar at all with Vauban’s work, you’ll understand that I couldn’t get close enough to get a good picture because no one gets close to one of Vauban’s walls.

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The modern art aficionados over at Gruyère decided to take a whole new artistic approach to the sundial concept by placing it on an inner wall and omitting the gnomon. In this case, function is sacrificed for form.

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Number six was found on the wall of a church build next to Schloss Thun, in the German (ptui) side of Switzerland. Thun, by the way, is a great place to go if you’ve ever wanted a really good illustration of the role terrain plays in the castle defence. The schloss is built at the top of a hill that’ll definitely test the mettle of even the bravest knight. In any case, this sundial features a dual gnomon, one to tell the time and the other to do something involving the zodiac – I assume it tracks the seasons?

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Chateau Chillon, on the other hand, doesn’t need a sundial. That’s because Chillon boasts an extremely badass mechanical clock originally built in 1543! You can see that giant bad boy on the larger tower in the photo above. If you visit the castle, one part of the tour takes you into that tower and you can actually see the mechanism that powers the clock (rebuilt in the 19th century).

Have some extra cash?

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Rather outside of the scope of this blog, but I just had to share: I have the privilege of being friends with some really neat people doing some really neat things, and many of those things require the contents of your wallet!

One friend is running a fundraiser for the Against Malaria Foundation, which buys nets to help people protect themselves from disease-spreading mosquitoes. The Foundation operates with zero administrative costs (due to grants and partnerships), so you get a whole lot of bang for buck when you donate, and they are ranked #1 by Givewell. Better yet, my friend is matching donations up to $20,000, so every $1 you give, through the magic of matching, turns into $2! Click here to give.

Another friend has recently started an Indiegogo campaign to help raise funds to write, publish, and promote about her experiences with Crohn’s and her attempts at receiving treatment from some less-than-reliable sources. The book will be called Young, Sick and Invisible: A Skeptic’s Journey with Chronic Illness. If she writes anything like she speaks, this book is going to be really fantastic! You can help support her work here.

I hope that you will consider giving to these worthy causes! But even if you can’t spare a few dollars, there’s still a lot that you can do! Awareness is a huge part of fundraising, and both of these very worthy efforts could use some promotion. So please let your friends know!

Thanks for bearing with me, and I promise that we’ll be back in the Bible on Monday!