Monday, 29 March 2010

Smoke and Mirrors Day

I'd like you to pay attention to this Turritopsis Nutricula. It's the immortal jellyfish, quite literally defying all laws of nature by being genuinely immortal. Most jellies die after breeding, but when Nutricula gets old it returns to polyp state, cheating death and starting all over again! (Img: Here.) Scientific studies show that 100% of the jellies have this ability for perpetual biological immortality - but sadly this doesn't save them from being a yummy snack for fish...

So, today is the national day of mystery - and I'm proud to say I've finally solved the mystery of why occasionally, when Kyle hogs out on roaches, she hiccups and a live roach runs out! It makes me laugh because it's totally gross, and she will chase it down to eat all over again... It turns out when she's been yomming a lot of beetles in one go, or I've been hand-feeding her some veggies (she's a pest for not eating her greens!), she's been storing some in her throat pouch/beard to finish eating later! I've often noticed Kyle and Tsam've had lumpy throats, but she happened to be basking with her mouth wiiiiiide open on the sunny windowsill - and there it was - apple and green bell pepper chunks tucked behind her tongue! As I'm typing, I've just looked up and spotted her chewing on some. I just hope they don't do it this week, as I've treated them to a big box of locusts. They're just like Macdonalds for Dragons: they love their hoppy meals.

In 2004, astronomers discovered a very special star. "BPM 37093", otherwise known as Lucy, is composed 90% of diamond, measuring 4,000 km across and 10 billion trillion trillion carats. 50 light years from Earth in the Centaurus Galaxy, Lucy is classified as a crystallized white dwarf, as the hot core of carbon that remains after a star burns out slowly cools and solidified. Only recently have scientists been able to study the contents of the white dwarf, and they’ve confirmed that the crystallized carbon interior of the star is, in fact, the galaxy’s largest diamond. radiant but also rings like a gigantic gong, undergoing constant pulsations. "a diamond that truly is forever," says Travis Metcalfe. (Pic: Centaurus Galaxy, home of Lucy. More amazing star pictures here.)

Following the Smoke and Mirrors trend, we aim to the biggest displayers of the two: Hollywood. If you haven't seen Alice in Wonderland, I suggest you do. It's remarkably beautiful and Depp has redeemed himself from the Chocolate Factory Fiasco. The CGI and costumiers really outdid themselves. Please, do one thing - go see it!

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Great Gifts All Round

Today is a goooood day. Q Radio is hardwired into my happymode head, selecting the very funkiest of late night sounds and I have done some wonderful work on the fish tank. Having pondered for months whether to rehome my lovely loaches and close it down, I had a startling blast of inspiration, rendering it into this aquatic paradise from the barren, bleak box it had been before.

Laptop-cam hasn't the finest resolution, but here you can see sturdy grasses in a soft sandy base with stripy stones settled as perfect perches. So good it's alliterative. Cleverfish Erwin has this stuff sussed, scooting round the hidden pathways and appearing like a rocketfish from the middle of the grassbed. Blind, deformed but not broken Kansas is puzzled by it, but has quickly learned to navigate the blades and push them aside. Neville is just plain stumped - but he's never been particularly bright.

My American friend is sending over some Tagalong Scout Cookies (Pic: Tagalong Girl Scout Cookie: Peanutbutters in chocolate with biscuit base. Mmmm.) and some Mint Thins, which is a doublescore - I lost touch my supply from Texas some years ago, so I'm delighted to have a parcel on route with a stash of Nom in it. Another friend from down the road dropped off a box of small organic slugs for the dragons from her big organic garden - so win win all round there folks!

Better yet, it's Grumps's birthday, so I dished up some yummmmy foods followed by lemon cheesecake and sorbet. Happy Day Grandad!

Friday, 26 March 2010

Make Up Your Own Holiday Day!

Seriously -the 26th IS Make your own holiday day. And my choice of holiday is Ice Cream Day. So here's the best ice cream site ever: www.benjerry.co.uk/

I designed what must be one of the most awesome flavours in the world: Sweetmaple Wafflenut. Sweetcream to soften the strong flavour of maple syrup and chunks of wafflecone with hazelnut pieces blended with Nutella and caramel sauce. Mmmm, yum. But being as it doesn't exist, my favourite is still Half Baked. (Though I haven't forgiven them for pulling "Pulp Fiction" - chocolate and orange with orange liquor!)

Though now, Half Baked is in serious trouble. Ben and Jerry have created what must be almost absolutely identical to my ideal ice cream idea - "Fairly Nuts". Creamy caramel ice cream and a sticky caramel swirl, with salty-sweet praline almond chunks. Heaven in a tub... "Awesome. A little too sweet if you tried to eat a whole tub, but completely awesome." says His Lordship.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Mangled Meringue and Caught Cleaners!

His Lordship was mucking around making "Fail Proof" meringue. Which failed SPECTACULARLY, as shown here. Remarkably, there's actually less meringue than he started with by about 50%, which has mystified me - I can't work out where it's gone...

Following on with food complications, Nige made me laugh today - he's just moved into new work's accommodation, where he's only allowed a microwave. Bless the poor lad, he spent all his money stocking up his cupboard with canned microwavable edibles - only to discover he hadn't left himself enough money for a 'waveproof bowl or ... a tin opener. Once more, his sheer ingenuity astounds and amuses me; having thought about it for a few minutes, he decided his screwdriver would solve the can problem and his glasscutting tool applied to an empty bottle would provide for a suitable cooking container. Mmm, canned steak and gravy a la Lidl Orange container.

Impressively, the cleaner managed to lock herself IN, requiring me to come rescue her. This doesn't sound like much until you realise that the keys were inside the building and all the doors are built to be opened from the inside. She'd chosen to leave them in the one lock that works as the door handle - meaning it wouldn't turn and firmly removing all methods of access. This caused me to have a very scary thought: the national average IQ for the UK is 100. So, bearing in mind there's a lot of us smarter than that, I'm worried about the percentage of the population that's lower needed to create the average . I mean, an Alsatian dog has an IQ of 60 - but by law of averages, if my mother's a 142, there's likely to be someone with 58... Imagine being confused by shoelaces all your life... (Pic: Lilly at Pixdaus)

Interesting Fact for you: If you rub an onion on your foot, within 30–60 minutes you will be able to taste it! This is because the acids travel through the blood stream. Bearing in mind it has both antibacterial and antifungal properties, it's probably not a bad idea to go rubbing it on your feet anyway! Alright, so they'd smell of onions but, due to the germkilling action, at least they wouldn't smell of stinky feet.

Here's a giggle for Goof-Off Day - a rat's giggle!

Sunday, 21 March 2010

I like Pi

They say the sense of smell is deeply connected to the memory scenter (hehe, see what I did there?), so today, being as the 21st March is Fragrance Day, is a great day to discover and remember your favourite nasal flavours.

The one smell I miss most is my fruit pie village. My little old home village where my grandparents live, come summertime, smells of the most wonderful things as the season rolls on. As each tree type starts a new flower, the smells evolve. It starts off smelling like a delicious warm bath in late spring with the cherry and magnolia, early summer smells for all the world like Bakewell tart as the late cherry tree combines with the almonds and late summer brings in that gorgeous baked vanilla flavour of the chestnut trees... (Pic: Kev at Pixdaus)

The smell of freshly baked just-about-anything is wonderful though. I've almost mastered another new recipe of my own devising - a twist on my velvet rum'n'raisin, I call it "Jamaican Minervas" (because I wasn't sure if it would explode or not)! Starting with a layer of marmalade with fresh orange juice, you make a basic cake batter with a slosh of vanilla and lemon essence. A hefty slug of rum in both marmalade and cake mix, then seal the thing in with clingfilm. Stand well back and open the door for two seconds at fifteen second intervals - and enjoy! (Pic: Wikicommons)

Fact of the Day: The smell of rain in the woods, or rather on dry soil, has a name - petrichor.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

"Everything You Do is Right" Day

If it makes you feel better after yesterday's post, today is "Everything You Do is Right" Day - except of course the obvious, like anything illegal or harmful.

I forgot to do the post-Birthday writeup, so here goes. His Lordship decided the night before that He wanted ostrich steak and asparagus for His birthday dinner. I could have strangled Him, as you need at least three day's notice to order ossy steak.

So there I was, mulling over quite what to do, watching Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares when they did an advert for recommending your favourite restaurant. Being as I was online anyway, I voted - and noticed Mulberrys were doing one of their rare African nights on the exact date of His birthday. Interesting... Oooh, our favourite butternut soup!

Even more interesting - the steak of the night... Ostrich! I rang Garth up and luck was with me - he had a table free! Being the sweet people they are, they even did the asparagus for us!

Thank you again Mulberrys, we WILL be seeing you again soon!

Picture: (oddee.com) Tiny little Kingbird getting it's own back on a Redtailed Hawk! Lesson to learn: Be tenacious and determined - these plucky little birds can chase off predators 50 times their size by themselves.

Interesting Fact of the Day: Turns out we're all right! Both the Americans AND the British are wrong about Aluminum/Aluminium. When it was first isolated in 1808, it was called Alumium - and changed later to fit in better with "classical" elements like Platinum...

Monday, 15 March 2010

"Everything You Think is Wrong!" Day.

For a great example of "What you think is wrong." try this for size: butterflies and moths aren't all lovely fluttery little insects. The Calyptra moths are a family of moths that are known to drink blood - even human blood. They literally drill their mouths into the skin and then use their victim's own blood pressure to force locking spines out of the sides of the proboscis to lock them into place!

It might be today's festival, but it's a great reason to look at things from a new perspective, so here's a picture of Saturn as captured from "behind" taken by the Cassini spacecraft. You can see clearly in this amazing image the "Phoebe" ring, which is tilted at 27 degrees from the others. Truly seeing things from a different angle! (Thanks toutahskies.org)

Being as almost everyone I know has some strange inability to manage punctuation, I thought I'd target one that nearly everyone thinks they CAN use correctly, but the actually don't! In keeping with the spirit of the day, I will happily acknowledge that I learned some things from theoatmeal's semicolon page...

Quote of the Day: "For a while, I thought I had figured out the difference between assumedly and assumably. But, after spending half the night researching, I am no longer certain there is a difference. They are both adverb forms of assume. All I can say is that assumedly, assumably and assumedly have been subsumed by presumably, so now I presume I will resume to consume my night in this room as I sanction a combination of procrastination and blog creation as my destination." - EricIndiana

Sunday, 14 March 2010

I'm just a mushroom - kept in the dark and fed bu...

Now, everyone knows I love mushrooms for my dinner, be it garlic, Shitake or chestnut - but I was most impressed I discovered this extraordinary mushroom earlier today; Omphalotus olearius. Not only does it look yummy, it's said to smell wonderful and taste delicious - so much so that there are cases of repeat poisonings by people being tempted to try it again and again. Thankfully this glow in the dark mushroom (otherwise known as the Jack O'Lantern) isn't lethal, but it does causes serious cramps, vomiting and diarrhea. (Img1: www.mtsn.tn.it, Img2: See here for more incredible mushrooms!)

Following the train of thought, Jack O'lanterns, I was pondering if by putting a (or many) mirror(s) by a candle would it actually increase the amount of light? Bearing in mind you can see the flame, and the reflection seems just as intense... Having had a good think about it, I checked using the power of the interwebs, which confirmed my suspicions: No. It simply utilises the light and puts it in a more useful direction. It's the same amount of light, but more efficient.

Quote of the Day: "Pushbikes...I probably couldn't ride out of sight on a dark night without running out of puff!" - The Australian.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

His Lordship's Birthday!

The 11th March (like every other day in March) is a Holiday Day. Today's Festival is "Worship of Tools Day". It made me laugh when I told him - he was most offended! Being as it's His Day and there's nothing he likes better than computers, I figured we'd work together on some funky facts around one of our favourite technological tools.

Online banking uses 128bit encryption (kind of like a made up language - your computer speaks French. You don't so it's going to be really hard to learn). The time required to crack a 128bit code is about 1000 times longer than the current age of our Universe and requires an ubercomputer* that can handle a billion billion calculations per second.

*IBM's current best supercomputer "BluegeneL" handles 70.7 trillion calculations per second - that's nearly 71 trillion calculators working at the same time on different math things.

The only computers that MIGHT be able to do it is the MDGrape3, which they haven't even worked out exactly what it can do yet or IBM's similar system, "Roadrunner", which can handle a phenomenal speed of 1.4 petaFLOPs per second. Even at these unthinkable speeds, it's still not going to crack 128 any time soon.

Needless to say, they aren't going to be on the public market any time soon - Roadrunner occupies a space of over 560 square meters and requires it's own powerstation to run! To show the sheer scale of these machines, your average home PC only handles about 100 million calculations and runs at a speed of about 3 gigahertz -roughly 30 million FLOPS. A petaFLOP is a quadrillion FLOPS. (For detailed chart: Wiki Giga)

Interesting Fact of the Day: It turns out "e" is a number = 2.71828183. It requires some serious thinking time to explain.


Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Tackety Toes VS Olive Oil

Sometimes my brain offers me some very odd solutions to problems. I was considering Nep's Girl's earache problem when it whispered to me "You could always put Bonjela in your ear." Thankfully the rest of me is smart enough to see why this is a bad idea - but it's a great mental image! Also - disconcertingly tempting, just to see what it was like. Would you feel it?

But sometimes it comes up with some great puzzles to ponder. If you remember, I asked a few weeks back: "What, in your opinon, would happen if you put olive oil on the feet of a gecko?" It was a thought I was mulling over due to it's contradictory nature (as they use a lot of different tactics; static, suction AND velcro styles to hang onto things) and potential comedy value. I did discover it really gives an insight to the person you ask though:

His Lordship: I don't know - their feet work funny, so I honestly don't know as they rely on a pull rather than a suction... (logical and honest)

Erkan: Mmmh... I guess it would soften their feet. (Nice lateral thinking there)

Hannymal: I think he would try to lick it off? He might find it tasty - probably tastes like leaves. (sensory with a practical side)

Engineer Rob: Not a lot. I'd guess perhaps a better seal to the surface due to the surface tension. Concrete would be a problem though as the hairs on the feet for anchoring would be hampered. Textiles would fail and leave oily marks. The gecko would, within the correct habitat, probably find something porous/absorbent i.e. fine sand to get the worst of it off. Dry soil would have the same effect, topsoil rather than low-basin/compost as it's drier. (Rob specialises in variables and outcomes as he has Irlen Syndrome)

Ross: Hmmm, he'd slide around and stuff, 'cause he's used to having grippy stuff rather than oil in contact with the floor / wall? Are you planning on dipping a Geeko in olive oil? If I had one and it occurred to me - I would. Hey! If you dipped it in batter first, you'd have a nice lunch! (Greedy and funny!)

Denzil: Probably not much because, if my knowledge is correct and I'm not saying it is, they have suction thingies on their feet and the oil should just replace the seal around the suction thingies, but i'm not guaranteeing any of this. I was being cautious in case you attempted to do it to your gecko, I know what you're like! (Wary - specialises in psychology)

Craig: Wut? Uh, I guess it may slip all over the place. what do you think then? (Noncommital, needs justification of self?)

Bogle: Slippy slidey. I don't think the static would be of much use with the oil, as the little hairs go all greasey. I think maybe he could stick a little but not very well - it would be a bit icky! (My younger sister. Nuff said.)

SnaketongueJ: Might sting a bit for them... Oh wait, did you just ask me what would happen if you put olive oil on a geckos feet? Ahhh. I got confused then. (You tell me.)

Nige - It wouldn't be able to climb on smooth surfaces any more, though you might get the same entertainment value of a dog walking on ice. (Straightforward.)

Another odd thought prompted me to ask His Lordship to imagine what it would be like if someone put strawberries down his underpants. The reaction I got was so convincing I was actually concerned that someone HAD put squishy strawberries in his underpants - complete with shaking imaginary fruit out of the bottom of his trouser legs and grossed out expressions... Bravo Jigs, bravo! A job well done indeed! (Img: A perfect tie in of my two topics from Worth1000!)

Interesting Related Fact of the Day AND the solution: "Oil will disrupt the van der Waals force that allows a gecko to climb by seta, the tiny hairs that have spatula shaped tips. Water increases this power and oil will stop it! Plastics, derived from oils, are also hard work for geckos to stick to - they can't hang on to Teflon either." Thanks to Metin Sitti and his experiments into Artificial Gecko Sticking.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Is Global Warming All Humbug?

As today is the official day for people to panic (Panic Day) I thought I'd find something for you all to really panic about! Here's a great one from Listverse<-- so hit link for 10 different types of Mass Extinction!

Here's something to alleviate the current trend fears: at this moment, the earth is in the middle of an ice age which began around 2.58 million years ago. We are in an interglacial period which started between 10,000 and 15,000 years ago and may last for a further 50,000 years before global glaciation begins again. (Thanks to NASA!)

The "humbug" in the picture is a rather beautiful Antarctic iceberg spotted by Oyvind Tangen. Its wonderful stripes are formed by a glacier passing over layers of different materials - sea-water rich in algae creates green stripes, fissures in the iceberg hat fills with meltwater turn bright blue. Brown and black layers are dust and soil picked up when it slides down the land collecting dust, soil and ash.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

PROPER Chip Butties

We did the most amazing dinner a few days back. I picked up a nice slab of gammon to roast with chunks of pineapple for flavour and moisture and finished the tender meat with a crisp honey glaze. When served up with fresh veggies on a bed of soft honey mustard mash, it makes for an incredible combination - I certainly recommend this surprisingly simple dish. May have to do it when some family visit some time, I think it could be quite popular! (Especially if I don't tell my brother what it is)

Although, I miss home sometimes. Fish and chips just isn't the same down South, not to mention harder to get and more expensive. Here, thanks to Google Maps, I've found a 6km by 4km of my old town with a glorious THIRTYSEVEN chippies in easy reach.

Better yet, I can have my chips in stotties. Now, this is an argument that has been going on between myself and His Lordship (and HLSenior) for some time. They claim that there's no such thing as a stottie because it isn't in the dictionary, furthermore they insist that it's a giant bap. "Bap" I ask you. Like this is America.

Well, I finally won my argument, and here's undeniable proof: STOTTIE at ASDA! For further evidence I rang the ASDA people at 17:32 06/03/10. They checked the site for me, confirmed it does exist, it is a real food item and it's even in stock. What better proof than a global company? I thank you.

Related Thought for the Day: What would happen if you put olive oil on the feet of a gecko? Looking forwards to seeing what you think in the next post!
(Email indigo_blue_fish at hotmail.co.uk)

Monday, 1 March 2010

Dear God...

This little boy seems to be thinking what the rest of the country has in mind. http://fillinn.com It's STILL icy cold - but the rhubarb is loving it. I have fresh green leafies peeking out of the solid, frosted ground.

Here's another Dear God - what was that awful smell at work? Oh, it was only the refrigerator catching fire whilst the compressor overloads and leaks Dichlorodifluoromethane R12 gas which was banned over 16 years ago. Mmm, that would be catchy as a perfume name though. It smells truly rank too, combined with badly singed insulation and ozone from the arcing power supply. Good job I'm savvy enough to recognise burning insulation and unplug.

Interesting Fact of the Day: Every day in March is special. Today (1st March) is Peanut Butter Lover's Day! Here's some awesome facts about our favourite spread - with some very useful tips - PB removes label glue better than anything. http://listverse.com/2009/03/01/top-10-unusual-uses-for-peanut-butter/