Sunday, September 20, 2015

Minor curiosities - Alsace trip report

There's a statue of Mary along the E411 highway. I was unable to locate it on Google maps and it's not mentioned on the Internet. The (unintentional?) combination with advertising is ironic. I posted this on Facebook and Twitter but got no answers. Then I simply followed the highway on Google satellite view and found the spot in a few minutes. Using the place-name I found some close-up pictures. And from these I could identify the madonna as Our Lady of Beauraing, a place of pilgrimage 40km distant.
It took me some time to grasp that the structure on the left is a nest for storks. At first I thought it was a renaissance astronomic device or similar Lovecraftian apparatus. Later I saw more of them. Around Colmar they love storks (and wine and cheeses and cakes).
The Statue of Liberty in Colmar is mentioned on Wikipedia:
A 12 m (39 ft 4 in) replica of the Statue of Liberty in Colmar, the city of Bartholdi's birth, was dedicated on July 4, 2004, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of his death. It stands at the north entrance of the city.
 The Battle of the Linge is also mentioned on Wikipedia. The monuments of the German cemetery were defaced by bullet holes. I could not see if these were from WW-II or if they were just modern vandalism.
It was a bloody encounter with gas and flame throwers being used. Approximately 10,000 Frenchmen and 7,000 Germans were to be killed but after the fighting the front line positions were to remain much the same until the end of the war in November 1918.

The function of these Roman dodecahedrons remains a mystery. This was the first time I saw them, in the Strassbourg museum. They too have their Wikipedia page:
No mention of them has been found in contemporary accounts or pictures of the time. Speculated uses include candlestick holders (wax was found inside two examples); dice; survey instruments; devices for determining the optimal sowing date for winter grain; gauges to calibrate water pipes or army standard bases.

In Colmar this strange book was advertised in the bookshops. I don't think Roland Barthes was ever murdered. But I think he wrote about the "death of the author". And Binet is the writer of "HhhhH", a nice postmodern book. My French is insufficient to research this further. A nice little mystery.
While walking in the woods in Alsace I saw this lifeform. I don't think they're insect eggs. I suspect some kind of fungus, lichen or slime mold. The length of the things is 2-3mm. A search of Flickr supports the slime mold hypothesis. And a question on the Fortean Times Forum yielded an identification: now it has been identified as Leocarpus fragilis.
And I saw another mysterious object in the German city of Alzey. I leave this as an exercise for the reader.

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