Saturday, August 14, 2010

Dog Days of Summer

Pictures of the Star Sirius - The Dog Star, Sirius, and its Tiny Companion

NASA, H.E. Bond & E. Nelan(STScI); M. Barstow & M. Burleigh(Univ. of Leicester); & J.B. Holberg(UAz)

It's been quiet around here lately. The entire summer, in fact. I haven't posted a blog since the end of May. It isn't because I haven't been busy, I have. And while I have danced and played and whiled away the days of summer, I simply could not bring myself to sit down at the computer and compose. Even on those days when it's been too hot to get out and do anything, I preferred to spend the time on my couch, watching TV or reading in the cool darkness of my home. Now while there are those that will accuse me of laziness, apathy, and/or procrastination, I have a solid excuse for my nonproductivity. I have been under the celestial influence of Sirius.

"Dog Days" (Latin: diēs caniculārēs): are the hottest, most sultry days of summer. The name comes from the ancient belief that Sirius, also called the Dog Star, in close proximity to the sun was responsible for the hot weather. In the northern hemisphere, the "Dog Days of Summer" usually fall between early July and early September.

Dog Days were popularly believed to be an evil time "when the seas boiled, wine turned sour, dogs grew mad, and all creatures became languid, causing to man burning fevers, hysterics, and phrensies" according to Brady’s "Clavis Calendarium, 1813". The Romans would sacrifice a brown dog at the beginning of the Dog Days to appease the rage of Sirius.

Nowadays the dog days define a time period or event that is very hot or stagnant, or marked by dull lack of progress.

So, there you have it. I was forced to make a choice: sit back and wait out the season before returning to my sane self or sacrifice a brown dog. I chose the less bloody option. The neighbor's dog doesn't know how lucky he is. (I can just imagine the police interview: "No officer, I can assure you it was not me the witness saw climbing over the fence with a dead dog slung over my shoulder. What? No, absolutely not! No one was dancing naked in the backyard at midnight waving a mullein torch...")

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