Category Archives: Science

Night Blooming Cereus 1

Here we go, people. This little beauty was concealed behind my desk. Let the show begin!

An astonishing feat of nature, the NBC blooms for one night a year. The bloom grows right out of the leaf. The fragrance is astonishing, and lingers long after the bloom has faded. People throw parties for her splendour. As it should be.  Stay tuned!

There’s Just Something About a Spool

From slender filaments to giant cables, spools get the job done right. The big daddy on the left appeared down the road a piece. It made my day.

My sister-in-law, an extremely talented fiber artist, has dozens of spools. I An Artist's Spools are best.have a lowly 30. If you’ve never wound a bobbin on a sewing machine before, you’re missing out. If mankind wound more bobbins, there’d be less misery and lower crime rates.

This place, El Taller (“The Studio”), in Lawrence, MA is a cool coffee shop with books and…spools. They write in your coffee. What’s better than that?

Bienvenudo, baby.

Spools stools

Go here!

Open wide and say Ahhhhhhhhhhh

Photo by Thomas O'Brien

Photo by Thomas O’Brien

Got yer meteor shower info right here.  Park your lawn chair (paper toweling?) after 11 pm (pref. after midnight) or right before dawn.

Maybe you’ll see a fireball.  As luck would have it, the Perseid meteor shower is the “Fireball Champion.” Jupiter, Venus, and the Moon will show up together just as the meteor shower reaches its peak. A dim Mars and bright Jupiter will be visible right before the sun rises, above the eastern horizon.

Best viewing spot? Rural America, of course!

Black Flies, Lemonade, Hope, Mayo, and More Mayo

mayo

Wicker and mayo. Bon ete!

It’s time. Fishing. Golf. Swimming holes. Mayonnaise.

Black flies comin’. But mercifully along with rain.  It’s been so dry the liquid manure spread over the Land baked, stank, and dried up into individual molecules blowing into our cars, homes, and nostrils. While the recent re-wetting served to reconstitute (read: re-aromatize) this fertilizer, at least it is no longer visible as a wind-borne dust. Not good for tourism (You can’t be 20…on Manure Dust Mountain. Ride our Dust Chute!)

Another month, another holiday.  As complements to Mother’s and Father’s Days, I have repeatedly proposed both Maiden Aunts Day and Perpetual Bachelor’s Day (Crack open a PBR…on PBD!) So far no takers, including those behind the Hallmark and Mayan calendars but, as always, I remain hopeful. The month of May also means American Idol is over so we can stop Talking like Aussie Keith Urban—every bit as addictive as talking like a pirate on Talk Like A pirate Day (Arrrrrrrr, avast, me hearties: a Thursday this year!) The difference is Idol spans many months and causes more permanent damage in friendships.

I can’t decide if the live voting that goes with TV shows these days is fun or saddening (How are the judges doing? Are they moronic? What about their hair? Yes or no?) Between that and young computer hackers sending viruses with creepy names and Trojan horses that “drop” malicious “payloads,” we oldsters are at a total loss. Maybe psychiatrists can tell us why these kids are so bloody angry. We know why we’re so bloody baffled. The world has become odd in our lifetime. Things are just…boggling. Tech confusion! Voter fraud! Bio-terrorism! Climate havoc! Calf implants! Oceans full of garbage! Economic pandemonium! Geez, it makes you long for a kilt and a good old-fashioned plague.  With some Crusades thrown in. Wait—maybe things weren’t so great in the past. But at least we know all about them; our new horrors we don’t understand yet. If youth is wasted on the young, history is wasted on the living. We don’t learn Jack from history, seems like. We just keep piling new horrors on the old.

In a world teetering on the brink of disaster, it is more pressing than ever to think on happy things. In this unimportant column, after some head shaking at the neo-Biblical mayhem of modern tymes, we strive for laffs, lemonade from lemons, and lerv.  People want good news, like how the re-opening of the Barnard General Store has proven the existence of a benevolent God, or when NPR news informs us that the honey bees’ Spontaneous Hive Collapse (a.k.a. “Colony Collapse Disorder” or “May Disease”) suddenly dropped by 50% this year. That means more bees generating warmth in the hive, giving them the energy they require to fly (they need to be warm to fly—don’t you?), so that they can pollinate the crops that feed this crazy planet.

Let’s hope all the flora—including trees flowering madly this year due to a legit winter without last year’s weirdly hot spring—will provide our busy fuzzy friends with the pollen and nectar they so richly deserve. Worth considering from the NPR report:  a woman suggested that humans (1) plant flowers and (2) be less fussy and let some weeds grow, as bees like ‘em. Thanks, NPR lady! Givin’ us advice we dig, makin’ our lives better. Less weeding = one item crossed off the To Do list = another perfect day in paradise. And thanks, European Union, for passing legislation (for two years, anyway) banning pesticides that might be behind the bees’ demise. Good work, EU.

Scientists are talking of bringing the dinosaurs back from extinction.  While they’re an old horror we know something about, we also know they’ll just walk all over the hives and everything else, breaking stuff, setting off nukes, and who knows what with their giant feet and pea-brains.  But maybe we’ll domesticate them (humanely!) as forms of mass transit (pterodactyl plane; brontosaurus bus; sea monster water taxi) or (lovingly!) make them walk (lumber?) on giant treadmills connected to power generators. I remain hopeful. As, I am certain, do you.  Good holiday, extra mayo, and good day.

Kick Off Black History Month with This

mcnairThis FABULOUS StoryCorps tale by the brother of Challenger astronaut Ronald E. McNair, the second African American to enter space, is uplifting on too many levels to name.  It’s great, and short (like BHM iteself).

Black History Month’s 85th theme is “At the Crossroads of Freedom and Equality: The Emancipation Proclamation and the March on Washington.”

Here’s what’s scheduled at the Smithsonian and here’s (ironically) the best list of DC events I found. A brief slideshow includes a shot of Harriet Tubman at [a lot] years old.

Happy Orthodox Christmas

You’ll LERV it.

This year, give yourself the gift of sinus health.

Neti potters can go that route.  Me, I’m blasting my way there with the NeilMed Sinus Rinse kit. You shoot it up one nostril and it blows out the other. What’s more fun than that?

But if they have Starbucks there, I’m not really interested

Image credit: NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech

When life on Earth has gotten to be too much, it’s time to head to another planet.

Catch you on Kepler-22b. I’ll be in a booth in the back.

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