Archive | April 2017

One day…

Maybe…

One day, I will post a review and declare it finished and it will be finished, without the additional 48 hours of chisel tapping and complete rewriting of paragraphs only a lobotomized gibbon would have thought polished. And the next day I will drop dead.

The day after that, the international media will announce the record holder for the oldest human ever known will have expired at 187 years of age.

Cases in point include:

Ardbeg Kelpie

Martin CEO-8.2

and the Monday Map post following this one.

Adygea Republic- Monday Map

The Republic of Adygea is virtually unknown in the West

Located within Krasnodar Krai, at the extreme southwest tip of the Russian Federation, near the Black Sea

Adyge Republic Map

Called Cherkess by the Soviets, when it was set in the 1920s as an autonomous region for the Adyghe people, more than 60% of the republic’s current 107,000 residents are ethnic Russians. But the Adygejtsy government is headed by an elected official, sensibly called the Head, who by law must be fluent in the Adyghe language.

Notable people who have come from Adygea include professional athletes, a cosmonaut, Sci-Fi novelist Iar Elterrus, and the artist and illustrator Konstantin Vasilyev, who had a minor planet named after him.

The Adyghe are made up of twelve tribes, with two languages, considered dialects by modern linguists. They are among the indigenous people of the Caucasus mountains, but the majority of the modern Adyghe population live in Turkey, Jordan, and Syria, and are Sunni Muslim. Most of the rest reside within the Adygea Republic and are primarily Orthodox Christians, with a minority of Muslims and others not officially religious.

Adyge dancers

Also called the Circassians, the Adyghe suffered from persecution and “ethnic cleansing” throughout their history, when the greater Krasnodar territory was conquered at various times, first by local tribes, then the Kievian Rus, then Byzantine armies, and basically ever afterwards. And the Adyghe have adopted customs from other cultures, just as they have provided some of their own. Hence, they embrace the fashion and spirit of the Slavic Cassocks who were at times their enemy, while also inventing the Cossack’s fabled shashka sword. The word shashka coming from the Adyghe term for “long knife.”

A crossroads of empires, the Adyghe homeland is found within an area that includes the northeastern shore of the Black Sea, and the peninsula situated directly across from the Crimea.

But the Republic of Adygea itself is landlocked within a larger republic, with plains in its northern areas, and mountains in the south. It has no lakes but several large reservoirs. It is one of the poorest Russian republics, but has considerable natural resources, with some 40% of its 2,900 square miles covered large forests, along with undeveloped oil and natural gas reserves.

The Adyghe are also capable farmers, with a deep and fabled history of cultivating fruit and nuts. The oak from the region is prized by Georgian and Russian winemakers, and similar to oak used by French vineyards. And the Adyghe tradition of wine goes back to the deepest recesses of their ancient tribal history, and it is something that even Muslim Adyghe have never given up. Their prehistoric religion was centered on the fruit tree and archeologists have discovered the remnants of Adyghe gardens deep within the wild forests of the Caucuses and Asia Minor, still producing fruit, nuts, and grapes to this day.

This landlocked “island” at the southwest edge of the Russian Federation has a surprising connection to the Isle of Islay, of the Inner Hebrides near the southwest edge of Scotland. Oak trees from a forest in Adygea were made into barrels and seasoned there before being shipped to the Ardbeg distillery, on Islay, where they were used to age single malt whisky that has now been turned into an exclusive, high-priced expression called Kelpie. The result is an impressive and eccentric spirit, even for that maker of exceptionally robust whisky. You can read my exclusive review of Ardbeg Kelpie at 1mansmalt.com.

Adygea mountains in the Caucauses

 

The Sierra Cacachilas Mountains of Baja Sur, Mexico – Monday Map

Haunt of Hikers, Divers, and the Giant Spider Califorctenus of the Cacachilas

Situated between La Paz and El Sargento in Southern Baja

Baja Sur Sierra Cacachilas detail map

Before the 2017 announcement that a new genus of giant wandering spider was discovered there in an abandoned mine shaft, I had never heard of the Cacachilas Mountains, located in a relatively out of the way corner of Baja California Sur, the second-least populated state in Mexico.

Baja Sur Sierra Cacachilas satellite map

As it turns out, the nearby sea coast is a popular place for scuba divers. And the Cacachilas themselves offer an expansive sunny landscape for hikers and burro riders who want to get away from it all and commune with some the wildlife. But don’t worry, the spider isn’t that venomous. And since it had gone undetected by science all these many centuries, it is safe to say you will likely never see one outside of a zoo, or perhaps an abandoned mine shaft.

sierra-cacachilas-mexico

 

Related Reading:

https://www.ranchocacachilas.com/home/

New Species of Giant Spider Announced

As reported in the scientific journal Zootaxa, this spider also represents a newly discovered genus.

Allow me introduce you to Califorctenus cacachilensis (Cteninae, Ctenidae, Araneae), the giant spider of the Sierra Cacachilas.

Califorctenus_cacachilensis giant spider face

OK, the arachnid in question measures about four inches across, with a body about one inch long. But compared to most spiders in the world, that qualifies as a giant to scientists. And it would seem that way to most anyone who felt one running up their leg, or had an encounter with its furry fangs.

In fact, this new species of wandering spider is reminiscent of the infamous Brazilian wandering spider, among the most venomous arachnids in the world. Also known as the banana spider, newspaper reports of my childhood wherein Brazilian wandering spiders hitchhiked to the USA amongst banana bunches, made me extremely wary of my mother’s grocery bags.

However, you would have go to the mountain caves at the extreme tip of Baja California to find this new creepy crawler, as that is where they were discovered, doing their wandering in the dark of night, in search of prey. But one reason this new spider has been declared the first species of a newly discovered genus is that it is not as venomous as its poisonous cousins from points father south.

While new species of spiders and insects are discovered all the time, it is rare for anything so conspicuously large to be found new to science these days.

Califorctenus_cacachilensis giant spider lit

You can read more about the discovery of this new spider at Smithsonian.com (since Zootaxa costs money to read and is rather dry in the telling.)