Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Red-haired Giants

A survey I read somewhere, some years ago, found that there are more red-haired people in Scotland than anywhere else. I believe it was 10% of the general population. Other countries in Northern Europe; countries like Norway, Holland, Ireland, also have a significant percentage of redheads.

So why is this? Like a lot of things on our planet it has do with the weather; a period of extremely hot weather in Africa and at the same time the end of a Northern Hemisphere Ice Age. It was a long time ago. Here's the basic story as told by:
Big Bang in the Laboratory - French/German TV arte.

Big Bang in the Laboratory is about the origin of the Universe and much of the programme's content was to do with the Large Hadron Collider and what the LHC may find or discover in the coming weeks and months. Another part of it was to do with astronomy and the latest discoveries in space. But the part of the programme I personally found most interesting was a report which boldly stated the following:

Approximately 30,000 to 40,000 years ago there were to be found two distinct species of humans living side by side in Europe.

That is, there were living in Europe the original first wave settlers out of Africa - the so-called Neanderthals. They moved northwards from Africa to seek a cooler climate. The men were large, for the period, and strong; 1m 75cm in height and built like weightlifters, weighing-in at a solid 90 kg. They buried their dead in narrow passageways deep inside caves and placed crystals alongside the dead. The crystal shown in the film may have been an amethyst. All well and good then; a spiritually inclined, prehistoric race.

But then came the cruncher; the genetic LHC equivalent: Only descendants of Neanderthals have genes for red hair.

Well, I'd heard about this before. But, until I saw Big Bang in the Laboratory I never dreamed that it was backed up with serious science.

After all, we're all from the same tribe who wandered out of Africa - the Homo Sapiens, we were always told. But not now. Now there's been a subtle shift. Almost unnoticed the DNA-door is being pushed open a little wider. It turns out that we're not all the same after all. Many of us are not 100% dyed in the wool Homo-Sapiens.

"Those fleet-of-foot Homo-Sapiens (Cro-Magnons) from Kenya," said the scientist pointing to the map of Africa to show me where Kenya was, "arrived in Europe a long time after the Neanderthals." They also come out of Africa. They were the second wave. They all had dark hair.

The two species, for what else shall we call them, lived side by side for 10,000 years but then the Neanderthals disappeared. It is not known how or why. But since I'm sitting here with my Neanderthal genes safe inside me, it must mean that the Neanderthals interbred with and, over a 10,000 year period, evolved into Cro-Magnon Homo-Sapiens.

"If you have red hair," said the scientist (confirming my thoughts) you must be in part Neanderthal."

And so, there you have it. There were giants in the Earth in those days. And they were my, and perhaps your, ancestors.

But, as a redheaded youngster I found that having a mop of red hair and the freckles to go with it caused me diverse problems: I was sometimes seen as being a bit different and singled out as a member of a strange and suspicious red-haired minority group; it was known that I must have a fiery temper, that I might be dangerous, that I might pose a threat to others - to the majority. Other normal boys, a few neighbours, and even a couple of teachers, appeared almost instinctively to know all these wierd things about me.

Perhaps Nestroy's Titus Feuerfuchs° is due for a rewrite.

°A play in which a red-haired man experiences discrimination simply because of his red hair. On the verge of despair he fortunately meets a red-haired woman ...
image: courtesy Wikipedia

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Bard on the Run's bad run

Pendle Hill, apart from being the home of the Pendle witches and the place where George Fox is reported to have had his vision that led to the founding of the Quakers, is also the home of a classic foot race.

I knew it was a mistake to enter the 'Full Tour of Pendle' fell-race having missed 6 weeks training due to a series of colds, coughs, sneezes, sore throats and not surprisingly a general feeling of lethargy. But I couldn't resist it.

Some 350 runners duly entered the fray, which involved running up the boggy mass of Pendle Hill 5 times in sweeping rain and swirling mist and visiting 11 checkpoints in various far-apart locations with only a compass-bearing for a guide. Route choice is your own problem.

And so it came to pass that as I ran off the Apronfull Hill* side of the Pendle hump down into Asshenden Clough I felt my first twinges of cramp in my thighs. And I was only halfway round the course. Halfway that is in terms of distance. But the serious climbing, the climb out of Asshenden Clough, the climb up the Big Dipper and the climb up the aptly named Big End were still ahead of me.

I would for safety-first reasons choose a longer route which I knew by heart rather than take any short-cuts in the poor visibility and the uncomfortable easterly wind; a nagging wind which reduced all but the hardiest fell-runners to little more than walking pace, and many to a shuffle, on the wide summit plateau where the terrain consists of millions of waterlogged ankle-spraining tussocks, some old stone walls and a maze of peat groughs.

Choose the wrong line in many places and you could soon find yourself up to your knees in watery peat, a soft black substance guaranteed to suck the very shoes from your feet even as your tired legs work laboriously to extricate themselves from the dark trap.

Having survived everything that Pendle Hill could throw at me, and having somehow negotiated the 20-odd miles of my route choice and ascended and descended the required 5,000' and visited all 11 checks in the right order I arrived back where I had started from; the village of Barley.

Yes, I was near the tail-end of the field and more than a little bit tired but I'd done it. Yes, I'd had a bad run. It was not up to my ridiculously unrealistic expectations. I had wanted to be a good hour faster than I finally was. But then I heard of the reported 15 runners who didn't manage to get round and what they must have felt like having to retire from the race. And then I thought to myself, yes I had quite a bad run but really, my foolish ambition aside, it was not really so bad.

*Apronfull Hill is so-called because it was here that the Devil armed himself with an apronfull of rocks and angrily hurled them at Clitheroe Castle 5 miles away in the west. A large hole in the castle wall testifies to a direct hit.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

A bottle of moon water, please!

[image courtesy of NASA]

The NASA image, released yesterday, shows a plume of dust raised by a projectile deliberately crashed into the Moon's surface. The dust cloud was analyzed and found to contain molecules of water.
When I was a young boy they told me that the Moon was made of green cheese and that there was no water on the Moon. They were were wrong on both counts. There's a message in there somewhere.

The amount of water discovered in the dust cloud was not very much; some 100 litres all told in that light grey plume that you may just about make out if you can squint at the screen at the right angle.
Obviously for water to exist on the Moon it must be frozen and the source of it must lie somewhere under the dust in the shadow of the crater where no sun ever shines. What I think is amazing about this discovery, which confirms a similar discovery by India, is that the Moon's water probably comes, like the Moon itself, from our own precious and wonderful blue planet, the Earth.
When we return to the Moon, for now there is some real point to returning there, and we bore into the frozen reservoir of Moon-ice will we find any evidence of life? An immense question. The answer may well change the way we see ourselves and define our new role in the Universe.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Art works

is not in the Biennale

The average net worth for Abu Dhabi's 420,000 citizens is US$ 17 million

Abu Dhabi's sovereign wealth fund, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), currently estimated at US$ 875 billion, is the world's wealthiest sovereign fund, in terms of total asset value.

from UAE Fact Sheet being distributed to visitors attending la 53. Biennale di Venezia Esposizione Internazonale d'Arte 2009.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

A song from India.

Go to the above place if want to escape to India for 10 minutes.
Less than the price of an airline ticket! Worth the journey.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

fellephant's Ben Nevis footage

Well worth a visit today is Mud, Sweat & Tears (MS&T in LINKS>>>). There you'll find brilliant piece of black&white film by the Scottish Hill Runners' blogger fellephant showing the atrocious weather, poor vizibility and slippery underfoot conditions experienced by competitors in the recent 2009 Ben Nevis Hill Race.

"Can you see anybody?" fell champion Rob Jebb asks one spectator.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Light for the world

In Ethiopia there is ONE opthalmologist for every ONE MILLION people. In Ethiopia there are 600,000 blind people whose eyesight could be restored by means of a relatively simple operation costing $40 per person. So why hasn't this been done already?

Consider for a moment how much money the so-called civilized World, in its self-gratifying climate of political hysteria takes from the public purse and wastes on manufacturing and developing more weapons of war than could ever possibly be needed. There is already in existence enough weaponry to wipe all human life off the face of the Earth almost overnight. And forever.

Clearly there can be no reasonable excuse that can be put forward for the impossible situation in which blind people find themselves in a country like Ethiopia. And the situation in several other African countries is even worse believe it or not. It's high time the West's politicians and bankers, to put it bluntly, got their finger out. Surely they can see that it's better to give than to destroy.

Tonight 15,000 runners, including blind runners, will run in Vienna's Night Run to raise awareness and much needed cash for the charity Licht für die Welt (Light for the World). www.licht-fuer-die-welt.at

People like eye doctor Prof. Dr. Gerhard Schuhmann (University Clinic Graz) work in Africa helping many thousands of children regain their lost eyesight. He has been actively involved with the charity for more than 20 years.

Every second blind child in the so-called Third World suffers from grey star (cataracts) and can be helped to see again with a relatively simple operation, says Prof. Schuhmann who has recently returned from Ethiopia. The charity is now building a clinic in Somalia where tens of thousands of blind people will for the first time be able to benefit from appropriate medical treatment.

The terrible facts (WHO statistics) are that two-thirds of the blind children in the Third World will die within 2 years of becoming blind. An operation costs €30, €10 provides a course of Vitamin A.

The WHO is working with VISION 2020 to prevent the number of blind people from doubling in the next 12 years.

When blind children can see again they look eagerly at their world with new eyes. And every time it is just like a small sunrise, says Prof. Schuhmann.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

A lot of stars

In the Milky Way Galaxy there are 100,000,000,000 stars. The Earth's sun is one.

The nearest star to the Earth's sun, on a scale where the Earth's sun is about the size of a small coloured sweet known as a Smartie (we may use a yellow one), is 150 kms away.

Now imagine the whole Milky Way Galaxy with its 100,000,000,000 stars shrunk to the size of a Smartie. Where would next galaxy, it's called M31, be? The answer may surprise you. It will be just 13cms away. Galaxies tend to clump together. They appear to enjoy each others company.

The Milky Way Galaxy Smartie and the M31 Galaxy Smartie, sitting a mere 13cms apart from each other are part of the Local Group. The group of galaxies nearest to the Local Group is the Sculptor Group. The Sculptor Group and the Local Group are 60cms apart.

Only 3mtrs away from the Sculptor Group there is a very large group. It is spread over an area the size of a basket ball. The next big cluster of galaxies is 20mtrs away. And so it goes on. Some of the galaxy cluster are 20mtrs across. The entire known Universe would fit into a sphere 1km across.

This begs the question: What is beyond 1km or is there a beyond?

Friday, 4 September 2009

Ben Nevis Hill Race

The Ben Nevis Hill Race will take place tomorrow 5th September. A local band complete with bagpipes will give a musical salute to the 500 or so runners dashing away from the starting field in Fort William and out along the lane to the fell gate and to the rough track leading to the summit of Britain's highest mountain, Ben Nevis.
Having arrived at the top the runners will visit the checkpoint, have their numbers recorded, then turn around and dash all the way back down the mountainside and back along the lane to the field from whence they started.

Some 35 runners from Clayton Harriers will be amongst the particpants and, like all the other runners, they will be seen and warmly applauded by the spectators lining the track on the lower slopes.
"It matters no who wins!" or indeed is last, for it is as the old saying goes the taking part that counts.
The only opponent is the big bulky mountain and her blustery weather. Treat her with due respect. Keep a weather eye on the skies. Carry the map, the whistle, the compass, the wind/waterproof gear and some emergency rations.

Good luck to all who compete in this wonderful traditional race run in the spirit of fair and friendly competition. I'm only sorry I can't be there.

Thursday, 27 August 2009


WADA is the World Anti-Doping Agency, the only organization currently dedicated to worldwide eradication of doping in sport. The WADA link in the sidebar will take you to a 2-minute video about the important and essential work of WADA. Why should the cheats have it all their own way; a token 2-year ban and they bounce back with broad guiltless smiles all over their faces. Behold the conquering hero returns! And even in the world's doping laboratories there are shady characters at work who will mix-up or tamper with the samples for a financial or other consideration. WADA's motto is:
"Respect, Dedication, Character, Solidarity, Excellence, Courage and Play True!"

What better way is there? If you must cheat go and play cards!

Saturday, 22 August 2009

So what are your library books, then?

A few days away from running for it doubtless pays (aged 60+) to give one's weary legs a short respite after a couple of hard mountain races.

I used the first rest day to nip down to the library and get a new stock of books. The following day I met a friend and over a coffee I happened to mention my library visit. "So what are your library books, then?" was the natural response. It was oh so sad. I struggled to remember the titles and authors of just 3 of the books...the rest were well beyond my recall.

Obviously almost all my energy is going into my legs and insufficient is being left for the brain. So what books did I borrow? Having now emptied the rucksack and examined the contents I can now refresh my memory and at the same time make a list.-

In no particular order, they are:

The Beggar - Naguib Mahfouz°
Paul Celan Selections - Pierre Joris°
What am I Doing Here - Bruce Chatwin
Poems & Prose - Georg Trakl
House of Splendid Isolation - Edna O'Brien°
A Person Made of Porcelain and Other Stories - Heimito von Doderer

°these are the titles I remembered -
apologies to Chatwin, Trakl and Doderer!

Monday, 17 August 2009

Bard on the Run's run on p3tv

To tell the truth I don't know if I actually feature in the 2-minute TV clip of the Hinteralm 'Brutal' Race but in any case it should be interesting viewing for we climbed up a ladder at the side of a waterfall in the course of of our 7.5km run with 980mtrs+ ascent. The reward: exhilerating exercise, wonderful scenery, a bowl of soup and a beer, a small cup to take home (3rd M60 in 62:16). The winner's time 44:05. Other performances of day - the two 75 year olds who finished the course!!!

The TV 'sport' item (with approx 2 minutes of mountain running) may be viewed for a few days at www.p3tv.at (go there and click on 'sport' and then the icon showing a mountain runner) from Wednesday 19th Aug 2009.

When the race is no longer on the front sport page entering the following link may bring it up: http://www.p3tv.at/webtv/sport/1786

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Inspired by a younger man

I am following the sky-running career of the young running sensation (young to me at my white haired age of 60+) Kilian Jornet on the Salomon and Mud, Sweat and Tears websites with great interest and fascination and I have to confess that I am truly inspired. It's not often that one's heroes are two generations younger than one's self but in this case it is so. Follow him too, and see why! He, like anothet running hero of mine New Zealand's world champion Jonathan Wyatt, is unassuming, courageous, talented, communicative, and best of all is a brilliant mountain runner.
Kilian's own blog (see LINKS) links to Salomon. There you can watch his amazing record breaking run across Corsica.
Good luck Kilian Jornet! You are an inspiration to us all; and especially to this enthusiastic, not very talented, lover of mountain scenery and forest trails.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Bard on the Feuerkogel

The following LINK shows Bard on the Feuerkogel (Runner 160).

Startnummer 152 - 219

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Great art rescue gets hand from God

In almost every town and village in Austria there is to be found a plague column. The plague column is a curiosity from the baroque era and shows the tormented victims of one of the great plagues that beset Europe periodically. These plagues are known by such names as the Black Death, the Purple Death and so on. The most recent great European plague was the Spanish Flu of 1919 which began in Normandy, France and went on to kill 50,000,000 people worldwide. The plague column's purpose is to thank God for saving the remnants of a town's populous following its fervent prayers, doubtless by all and sundry for divine intervention and forgivness, and to send the cruel plague away. It is a most powerful religious symbol.

One of the great novels written against the background of a plague is Hermann Hesse's Narcissus and Goldmund. I have no hesitation in highly recommending the Bantam edition translated by Ursule Molinaro. It is a novel, as described on the back cover, of: two medieval men, one quietly content with his religion and monastic life, the other in search of more wordly salvation. This conflict between flesh and spirit, between emotional and contemplative man [...] is a theme that transcends all time.

What is being described as 'the greatest art disaster in the world narrowly averted' is unfolding here in Vienna. The manager of the Albertina Museum just round the corner from the Vienna State Opera is widely reported to have said: That the flood didn't destroy the works in the storage room is evidence of the existence of God.

I don't know if I'd go so far as to agree with Dr Schröder but it was certainly a small miracle judging from press reports of the narrowly averted disaster. It seems that water poured in to the storage room containing a thousand artworks by such iconic painters as Rembrandt, Klimt, Warhol and Durer. The combined value of the works stored in the Albertina basement is said to be €950,000,000. The works of art are now in the process of being transported to a secret, and we are assured a 'safe and secure' location. Unfortunately God is not assisting here. It seems that the robotic arm that pulls the works from the racks and shelves is malfunctioning due to electrical problems caused by the flood. Work, with or without God's assistance, is progressing at a snail's pace.

Monday, 29 June 2009

Bard on the Run on the Big Long Run...


...57 kms and 2,290 mtrs +/- to be exact!

Q: What number is the Bard?

A: click on image 1096 , runner no. 7

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Considering the universe in which we have our being

The photograph below shows my small collection of cacti. They have now emerged from their over-wintering place and are enjoying the sunshine. They will flower grandly during one night, and then only 2 or 3 times in the year. They will quickly go to sleep again. With their simultaneous night-time burst of heavily scented perfume they will attempt to attract a rare moth from thousands of miles away in the desert. It is unlikely that the creature will arrive. But this doesn't stop the cacti from trying.

That the universe is a big place may appear to be stating the obvious. But, beware, for in the universe the obvious is not always what it appears to be. What we see in the physical realm is merely a manifestation of something whose qualities are unknown to us. Many sages, poets and holy men have spent their lives delving into the matter and have often come away at the end as confused as they were when they started. One has only to look at the high suicide and mental illness rates to get some idea of the difficulties encountered in going down a path that leads into a labyrinth through which it is impossible to navigate one's way to the tower in the centre. The poet and holy man R S Thomas, summed up an important aspect of life in the labyrinth when he said: God waves the white flag of surrender and at the same time retreats from you at the speed of light.

The images featured on the Astronomy Picture of the Day give us ample food for thought. They serve to nourish our curiosity and our ambition. The images are often composite images made with x-rays and radio-waves and other 'tricks of the trade' to give us the wonderful images that a God would see if his huge magnifying 'eyes' could visit many different frequencies and wavelengths at the same time. On the other hand, closer to home, we can imagine the colours of the flowers as seen by insects, small white and yellow daisies may appear as a large yellow and red flowers to passing insects.

We say flowers are beautiful, and so they are, but when we look at them we are not seeing the real flower. The real flower is what the bee sees. To feed the bee and by this means to multiply is the flower's raison d'etre. The fact that flowers carrying out their vital and important tasks, appear as beautiful creations in our eyes is one of the miracles of creation.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

The fresh wind of change for sport

Sport doping began as a means to an end during the communist era in Eastern Europe. We remember those great East German and Russian women built like battleships and tanks throwing their spears and hammers half way across the world's Olympic stadia. We gazed in wonderment from the innocent English shores where sport had always been more or less a hobby.

Chariots of Fire meant cutting down on cigarettes and jogging on a beach or up and down some sand dunes coupled with a few press-ups and so on. Gold medal marathon runner Ron Hill's idea of a supplement was a mixture of orange juice, water and a pinch of salt.

We could run like the comic hero Tough of the Track on a diet of fish and chips and steak puddings; and through all weathers and in unsuitable footwear. It was all sport. We spoke innocently of someone being a good sport, meaning that he or she was a fair minded person. The idea of doping was almost unheard of.

But then we saw Arnold Schwarzenegger become Mr Universe, and those battle cruiser East European women scooping all the gold medals and the glory. Not only we, but all of Europe and then all of the world. We decided to become stronger and faster whatever it took to do it.

The Tour de France rider with his baguette and bottle of water, or in one famous case a bottle of wine which caused him to fall asleep at the roadside, became almost overnight a drug experiment on wheels. And in other sports like athletics we saw men built like weightlifters pumped up with steroids winning races that once went to the slim and lithe. It was crazy. It was nonsense. It was big money. And, here in Austria, it is now crashing down.

In the last few days there have been raids and arrests. For the first time those behind the scenes are being rounded up; or at least two or three of them are. More, we can only hope, will quickly follow. Austria, once known as a doping oasis, is getting at long last to grips with the problem. I applaud the Austrian authorities for this overdue action.

Let no stone be unturned in the fight, for it is a fight and it will be a long struggle, against those corrupt and evil drug and blood-doping dealers who would not hesitate to injure the health of young men and women, boys and girls, who strive to make the grade in their chosen sport.

Managers and trainers of young talent have a responsibility to make sure that all their athletes; swimmers, skiers, cyclists, weight lifters, wrestlers, boxers, marathon runners and so on are clean and doping free. When they abuse their position of responsibility and the confidence that parents, friends, relatives and supporters of the young up-and-coming talent have entrusted them with they deserve no mercy. Throw the book at them!

Thursday, 12 March 2009

On the run in the Vienna Woods

Here is some evidence that I, as the blog title implies, actually do run. The area where I do most of my running is in the Vienna Woods. It's a wonderful area with 9,000 kms of paths and trails. It should be better protected from the grasp of unscrupulous property developers and other dodgy characters. But it won't be. It's one of these things that is often talked about, but little or nothing ever happens. Money talks. Reason doesn't.

For me springtime is the time that I finally get out and into the great outdoors on a regular basis to enjoy myself physically. I think of it as a reward for 3 or 4 months pent up in fog, ice, snow and in Austria I'm sad to say far too many smoke-filled, tobacco-reeking, unhealthy cafe´houses which stink my clothes and hair and make my eyes water.
Now outdoors under sun and scudding cloud, amid birdsong and the gentle rustle of branches, I get my much needed fresh air and exercise. I can feel my body coming back to life; the energy coursing through my veins as the blood does its work and feeds my muscles so that I can run for miles, and shake off the winter blues along with the few surplus kilos.
The only problem, and there is always a snag, is the dreaded Rottweiler. Some owners take two of these slobbering beasts along the forest trails. It's quite unnerving to suddenly meet one of these unfriendly creatures barring the way along the path. I have found, from grim experience, that the best thing to do is to stand still, avoid eye contact and await the arrival of the owner who will invariably come huffing along uttering some inane words and meaningless phrases before disappearing with his hound of hell bounding away ahead through the undergrowth.
But even standing still and keeping quiet may not save you. The canine warrior may not try and devour your leg but in my experience he may try and bowl you over with repeated body checks, running at you from a distance of 10 mtrs or so. It will take some nerve to stand your ground. It is highly unlikely that the owner, if owner is the right word for the keeper of the savage beast, an animal that should be in a zoo along with the lions and tigers, will apologise for the inconvenience caused or the damage to your running tracksters. He's only playing, is the best you'll get, the best you can hope for. In Austria keeping fit is like passive smoking; quite a risky business.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Marcus Aurelius on the primal Cause

Upwards and downwards, from age to age, the cycles of the universe follow their unchanging round. It may be that the World-Mind wills each separate happening in succession; and if so, then accept the consequences. Or it may be, there was but one primal act of will, of which all else is the sequel; every event being thus the germ of another. To put it another way, things are either isolated units, or they form one inseperable whole. If that whole be God, then all is well; but if aimless chance, at least you need not be aimless also.

Soon earth will cover us all. Then in time earth, too, will change; later, what issues from this change will itself in turn incessantly change, and so again will all that then takes its place, even unto the world's end. To let the mind dwell on these swiftly rolling billows of change and transformations is to know contempt for all things mortal.

The primal Cause is like a river in flood; it bears everything along. How incorigible are the little men who play at politics and persuade themselves that they are acting in the true spirit of philosophy. Babes, incapable even of wiping their noses!

What then, you who are a man? Why, do what nature is asking of you at this moment. Set about it as the opportunity offers, and no glancing around to see if you are observed. But do not expect Plato's ideal commonwealth; be satisfied if even a trifling endeavour comes off well, and count the result as no mean success. For who can hope to alter men's convictions; and without change of conviction what can there be but grudging subjection and feigned assent?

Oh yes; now go on and talk to me of Alexander, and Philip, and Demetrius of Phaleron. If those men did in truth understand the will of Nature and school themselves to follow it, that is their own affair. But if it was nothing more than a stage-role they were playing, no court has condemned me to imitate their example.
Philosophy is a modest profession, all simplicity and plain dealing. Never try to seduce me into solemn pretentiousness [...]

Many of the anxieties that harass you are superfluous: being but creatures of your own fancy, you can rid yourself of them and expand into an ampler region, letting your thought sweep over the entire universe, contemplating the illimitable tracts of eternity, marking the swiftness of change in each created thing, and contrasting the brief span between birth and dissolution with the endless aeons that precede the one and the infinity that follows the other.
Marcus Aurelius (AD 121-180)