My most boring blog post so far

Genoa is the city where the word jeans comes from. The French spelling of Genoa is Gênes and it was this word that was borrowed and became jean in English. It refers to the jean fabric which, used as in legged denim garment, became jeans, short for ‘a pair of jeans’. The word denim, interestingly, is from de Nîmes, after the city where the French tried to copy the manufacturing of this product. This was all long before it became stonewash, skinny jeans etc.

Genoa itself got its name from ‘knee’, because it’s located in the knee of the Ligurian Sea. Its etymology is similar to that of Geneva which has a comparable location at the Lake of that same name.

After Genoa I cycled along the coast to La Spezia ever following the Via Aurelia, it had quite a few climbs and it was hard work in the unrelenting heat. To keep my mind off this oppresive condition I tried to do some math to see how the sun was getting less powerful every day because of its declining position at the sky. A month had passed since the summer solstice after all.

You can skip this part as it is really boring….

So how did that work: during the summer solstice, the sun has its highest position and at the Tropic of Capricorn (23,5 degrees North) it stands at its zenith, that is at 90 degrees. For positions further north that is obviously lower. Genoa was at roughly 44,5 degrees latitude, so the sun’s highest point in that city was 90 + 23,5 – 44,5 = 69 degrees during the summer solstice. During the winter solstice that figure is 90 – 23,5 – 44,5 = 22 degrees. Thirty days after the summer solstice it would be: 45,5 + 23,5 cos (30 / 365 * 2 * pi). This amounts to 66 degrees which meant the sun stood already 3 degrees lower in the sky at noon that day than during the summer solstice. And yes, I had to get down from the bike to do the cosine thing on my calculator. I can’t do that in my head… And no, it didn’t help anything knowing this, because I still had no idea how the angle of the sun determines its strength.
The above calculation is with a few simplifications and doesn’t allow for the fact that the orbit of the earth around the sun is an ellips rather than a circle. According to Kepler’s Second Law the earth moves slower around the sun as it stands further from the sun, which means that summer on the Northern Hemisphere is slightly longer than summer on the Southern Hemisphere. People in Australia might not like this…

After two days I arrived in La Spezia and the road flattened out. It was still hot and the coast was very developed and ugly.


I don’t like children. Hell is other people, Sartre said, but I’d like to improve on that maxim and change it into: Hell is other people’s chldren. I came to that conclusion on a campsite near La Spezia where children were running and screaming around my tent while I was trying to recuperate from another day of cycling under the glaring sun.

Pisa at times seemed to be merely the medieaval decor for African migrants selling sunglasses to Chinese tourists. The first day I made some sketches in the Palazza Blu. The second day I decided to stay another day in that city because of violent thunderstorms. After that the heat returned, so I got back on my two wheels.

No photos as I didn’t make any. Boring…


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