Friday, 30 November 2007

Silly Signs: Espresso for Kids

Things you dont know about Da Vinci

Every now and then one bumps into a site that is very good.
I have found another one.
If you are a Da Vinci fan, this is a "must go and look" site.
Da Vinci and Beyond
My X majored in the History of Art, and by Osmosis I picked up a lot of interesting stuff. Nothing to match this though.
It is the "beyond" that is fascinating.
The quote on the right hand bar was done before I read the posts, but read it, and see what its means!!
Who is going to do a site on Caesar?, maybe it will have to be me, someday

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Why is November the 11th Month, but means Nine?

I was wondering why November is the 11th month of the year, but is derived from the Latin word Novem which means 9. Same can be said about December, which is the 12th month, but is derived from the Latin, Decem, being 10.
When I found the answer it was obvious, but, as I went to the trouble of looking it up, I will share the obvious.
Originated from the Roman calendar, which had 10 months. This calendar was invented by Romulus, in about 753BC. This was not a lunar calendar and had 304 days. There were 61 winter days that did not fall into this calendar. So November was the 9th and December the 10th month.
In 713BC Pompilius revised the calendar to make up for the lost days and squeezed in January and February, (the missing winter months). November and December moved forwards, to make place for the new ones.
Now the calendar had 12 months.
During this time June and July were known as Quintilis and Sextilis, which were later named July and August, after the Caesars.
All calendar names from Latin.
Maybe this will pop up in Trivial Pursuit, then we will all know.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

To Toe the Line: Origin and Meaning

What does to toe the line mean?
This is an interesting one. As usual there are multiple origins, but the meanings are all similar.
To control yourself or to do things in an acceptable manner.
The oldest reference is to things nautical. The spaces between deck planks on wooden ships were filled with a black substance called oakum. This made a visible line. When sailors were ordered to fall in on deck, they positioned their toes on the line to form a straight stripe.
Also nautical, was the procedure followed when sailors were punished. They were made to “toe the line” for long periods of time, in all weather conditions.
A further reference is to politics. Politicians in the British House of Commons carried swords to meetings. Lines were drawn between the opposing parties that were more than a swords length from each other. When things became heated they would be ordered to “toe the line”, in that way they could not cause grievous bodily harm. (Imagine politicians bearing arms in political meetings today)
Also from the 19Th Century the meaning was applicable to athletics. By toeing the line an athlete would gain no advantage over his opponent

Monday, 26 November 2007

Climate Change: Loss of Income

We have had unseasonable rain the last week. Serious rain, up to 200mm, (8 inches) in some places. This during November, a non-rainy month at the beginning of summer. Globally, this is the trend. The UK, Middle East, Americas and Europe have all had their share of unseasonable weather conditions. From fires to floods, with a massive impact on the economy, both Regional and National.
If ones income is not directly coupled to the negative results of bad weather, the impact is not experienced as intensely as those who are directly influenced. The region I live in is Agricultural, wine, deciduous fruits and Citrus are a major contributors to the regions income. Many, many workers are seasonal workers that are paid per hour. The rain experienced during the last two weeks has decimated deciduous crops, both for local and export markets.
Today we should be working; the factory is silent, as it has been for most of the last week. 180 people at home, not earning money. Under normal circumstances, these people would be working long shifts and earning good money. No sign of anything significant happening for the next three weeks.
We have been told that the harvest, as estimated until 15 December, is no more. It will rot on the trees.
Economics has the term “The Multiplier Effect”. I am not in the mood to look for an academic definition, but the basic theory is like this:-
When a person earns a Dollar, Rand, Peso, whatever, you spend that money at the local shop for bread, food etc. The shopkeeper buys vegetables from a local farmer to sell in his shop, using that same money. The vegetable farmer goes off to the pub and uses part of that money to buy a beer. In this way money is “turned over” in a community. Macro Economists will be able to tell you what the turnover is, based on the characteristics of the area. In a predominately “cash” economy, like ours, the turnover is the highest. The average ratio, whatever that is worth, is about 3:1. A unit of money is spent three times before it disappears into the system, and lands up, for example, in a bank or the States account somewhere else. I am convinced that the ratio is higher here.
What am I trying to say?
In summary, the farmer has lost his crop, and each Rand he has lost, is also lost by four other people in the region. There is also a level of critical mass. This is when the loss is so high that people cannot make a living, we have unemployment and debt. I am not even going there.
People who still insist that Climate Change is a figment of the imagination, limited to Doomsday Prophets, are either blind or earn their money from a “safe” source.
Beware, the disappearance of Multiplier Effect will also catch up to you one day.
And it is still raining, hard.

Silly Signs: Close the gate

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Bloggers Droop

I am suffering from bloggers droop. Something like Writers Block, only worse. Don’t know why the thought “droop” popped out of the keyboard, maybe Uncle Cooper had something to do with it.
Been busy, and now that there is time, the creative juices have wandered off to do business somewhere else, without me.
Now that I think about it, reminds me of a theory a wiseass man once told me. It was all about the survival of the fittest, and the consumption of alcohol and intelligence.
The theory runs like this. In the wild, it is the survival of the fittest. A lion chasing a bunch of buck, will most probably catch and eat the weakest, as it will be the slowest. This results in the “weakest link” taken out of the community, which in turn, strengthens the gene pool. So, in the Greater Order of Things, it is beneficial.
No hassle with that.
Now, according to Wiseass, it is a known fact that alcohol destroys brain cells, for those who have them. This is also a known fact.
So, therefore, when you consume alcohol, it will chase brain cells to kill them. And, as in the wild, the weakest will be caught and eaten first.
Ergo, by minimizing the weak brain cells, on average, one would be increasing your IQ.
End of Wiseass story.
Maybe tomorrow I will have something of substance to post, like the influence of the over production of bananas in Zunguland on Zimbabwe’s balance of payments

Neutrons in Government

Research has led to the discovery of the heaviest element yet known to science.
The new element, Governmentium (Gv), has one neutron, 25 assistant neutrons, 88 deputy neutrons, and 198 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 312.
These 312 particles are held together by forces called morons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons.
Since Governmentium has no electrons, it is inert; however, it can be detected, because it impedes every reaction with which it comes into contact.
A minute amount of Governmentium can cause a reaction (that would normally take less than a second) taking from 4 days to 4 years to complete.
Governmentium has a normal half-life of 5 years; It does not decay, but instead undergoes a reorganization in which a portion of the assistant neutrons and deputy neutrons exchange places.
In fact, Governmentium's mass will actually increase over time, since each reorganization will cause more morons to become neutrons, forming isodopes.
This characteristic of moron promotion leads some scientists to believe that Governmentium is formed whenever morons reach a critical level of concentration. This hypothetical quantity is referred to as critical morass.
When catalyzed with money, Governmentium becomes Administratium, an element that radiates just as much energy as Governmentium since it has half as many peons but twice as many morons.
From an e-mail received.
Image from Wikipedia

Monday, 19 November 2007

Speeding in a BMW

I am not good at telling or listening to long jokes. I stick to one liners.
But I liked this one.(Abridged)
A middle aged guy bought a top of the line BMW. Took it for a drive and wound it up to 200k's per hour.
The siren and blue flashing lights behind.
The BMW driver thought to himself " Geez, I can put my foot down and loose him with no problem. But I am too old for this crap".
He slows down and pulls over.
Traffic guy approaches and says
"You know, it is 10 minutes before I knock off. I want to go home. If you can give me an excuse that I have not heard in my 20 years on the job, I will give you a warning"
The old guy replies
" Well Officer, a few years ago, my wife ran off with a traffic policeman, and I thought you were bringing her back"

Hong Kong Landing in a 747

I have had more than my fair share of air travel. Extended air travel comes with it's own bunch of incidents, oftentimes retold in dramatic terms that make them seem worse than they really were. My personal favourite was landing in a 747 at Hong Kong Airport, (the "old runway"), in the early hours of a windy and rainy morning. First visit to Hong Kong, and had no warning as what to expect. Afterwards I figured out that an aircraft has only one approach to the runway. Irrespective of weather conditions. Aircraft approaches, makes a sharp right and dip at a massive chevron on a mountain side, then lands on a runway that extends into the sea.
I can vividly remember approaching the runway, flying between massive buildings on either side, that appeared to be apartments. The reverse thrust, or whatever it is that slows the aircraft down, was as bad as a 737 landing at East London. Having the sea right next to the runway was an added concern.
A clip can be seen here
Back to the 737. Arguably the most fun to fly in. Steep take offs, sharp and fast turns etc. In Chile they fly them differently. Low and fast, my perception after about a dozen local flights. It was a Chilean Air Force guy who made the statement that "737's were designed by a man who wanted to design fighter aircraft, and flown by Pilots who wanted to fly fighter aircraft". Fun stuff. About a week or so ago an engine "fell off" a SAA 737 on take off at Cape Town airport. The aircraft managed to land safely. Could find no mention as to where the engine landed. Most probably stripped and sold as scrap metal by now. The 737's must have reached their "sell by" date
A number of "incidents" that I can remember vividly.
1) A bomb threat on a Lufthansa flight from Johannesburg to Windhoek.
2) Flying from Santiago to Beunos Aires, and into a terrible storm over the Andes, even the cabin staff were visibly scared.
3) The Hong Kong landing
4) A trip from Nelspruit to Johannesburg in an 8 seater during a serious Highveld thunderstorm,... all the way. Only myself and another lady passenger. White knuckle stuff. After we landed the relieved pilot said, "Ons het so pas op Johannesburg lughawe neergestort" (Untranslateable)
5) "Falling" a couple of thousand feet , between Richards Bay and Johannesburg, with absolutely no warning, in a 58 seater turbo prop aircraft, the name of which I cannot remember.
6) An "aborted" landing at Johannesburg, in a 737
Fun stuff if all ends well.

Visuals that made a lasting impression
1) Flying over Greenland, the contrast between black and white. I cannot explain in words.
2) Flying over Algeria early in the morning and looking at towns built in circles, with roads radiating out like spokes on a wheel.
3) Flying over Rio de Janerio at night. There are millions of lights. One gets the impression that you cannot find a space big enough between the lights to place a pin point. And, in this sea of lights, the highly visible soccer stadiums.
4) Sao Paulo, looks like horizon to horizon of massive grey buildings.
5) The Andes, awesome.
6) Lesotho, flying reasonably low in a light aircraft. The mountains are spectacular. I am sure there are places there that nobody has been to.
8) Landing at Seattle, Seatac, with planes "stacked" in front and behind for landing. The control staff at this airport must be special.

What triggered this rambling? This image of an SAA aircraft, I know not where, when how or why.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Be the Blog

Be The Blog award

Received from jos
The following quote from Mark who implemented the concept and did the designing ".......really sums up what a successful blogger does. And what I mean by successful is that they make it their own, stay with it, are interactive with their readers, and just plain have fun".
This is what I have in mind when posting, but never seen it defined in words.
Jos, apologies for taking so long to do justice to the occasion.

Wordless Thursday

Just found out that today is Thursday not Wednesday. So be it. Most probably still Wednesday somewhere.
Arrived home yesterday afternoon and K had cleaned the Oven. Red fingers and a few bloody spots as testimony to 3 hours of hard scrubbing with seriously dangerous oven cleaner. The heat in the kitchen replaced with an icy cold reception. After all I am the stupid bugger that caused it.
The image above has been around for a long time, but here it is. From what I understand it was a vehicle accident in Russia somewhere.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Oven Fire

Last night the oven caught fire, well the pack of bacon in the oven caught fire, to be precise.
What happened was K invited a bunch of her buddies around for something to munch, and do damage to some local wine. Our standing arrangement is that I do the food exercise and refrain from being rude, passing sarcastic comments in general, and desist from promising to do bad things to cell phones. This gives her time to socialize. Don’t mind that.
So I did the Kiep Kiep a la K thing. Part of this dish needs bacon to be baked in the oven at 140c, low down in the oven. So I did that, and having time to spare, looked for some reading matter and disappeared into the bathroom. I cannot do justice to the occasion without something to read. The sweat can be running down my face in anxiety but I must have reading material. Even the telephone book will do.
So, while doing what a man has to do, I hear “ Where are you?”
“In the bathroom!!!” I reply.
5 minutes later “ Where are you?” again. Geez, “In the Bathroom!!!!” my irritable reply, with unprintable thoughts.
“Have you got a book?”
“No”, says I “ I am doing it from memory” and laugh at my own questionable joke.
“Something is burning”, she shouts
“Well, go and have a look”
“The oven is on fire!!!” she screams from the kitchen.
Now I know where the expression “caught with his pants down” comes from.
With all possible haste I am off to the kitchen. The oven was smoking profusely when K arrived and she did exactly the wrong thing, she opened the oven door. (Eye level oven) The gasses in the oven spontaneously combusted and there were flames everywhere. So she closes the oven door, minus a couple of eyelashes, and this is when I arrive.
Lots of flames in the oven, black smoke and a horrible burny smell.
It is easy to say don’t open the oven door, once the oxygen has been used up the flames will die. It is more difficult to come to terms with what will happen first, will the flames die down or the kitchen burn out.
I take the fire extinguisher off the wall, and struggle to break the seal, need a pair of scissors to do that.
Now what? The bacon is still burning merrily in the oven. What will cost more? Refilling the extinguisher or repairing the oven? Sand also works, what will happen if I dump the cat sand into the oven? It will be cheaper, geez, but the cleaning, and I don’t think cat turds and urine will work well under theses conditions.
Just as I am at the point of knocking the button on the extinguisher the flames start subsiding. After a while they are gone. The kitchen is under a cloud of thick, black smoke.
After a while, open oven, remove contents and inspect damage.
The oven survived.
Next time I will remember that there is a difference between grill and bake, and give more attention to what I am doing, rather than looking for something to read.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

The Celestial Surgeon : Robert L Stevenson

I am not good at reading poetry, most probably partly due to translating untold stuff from and into Latin in times past. But, I found this in and old Encyclpedia and I can relate.

If I have faltered more or less
In my great task of happiness;
If I have moved among my race
And shown no glorius morning face;
If beams from happy human eyes
Have moved me not; if morning skies,
Books and my food; and summer rain
Knocked on my sullen heart in vain:-
Lord, Thy most pointed pleasure take
And stab my spirit broad awake;
Or, Lord, if too obdurate I,
Choose Thou, before that sprit die,
A piercing pain, a killing sin,
And to my dead heart run them in

Monday, 12 November 2007

Greek Mythology: The Trojan Horse

This is the story of how the Wooden Horse came to Troy. The Greeks had laid siege to Troy for 10 years without any success. Revenge for Menelaus, after Helen had run off with Paris, had not been achieved.
So, Ulysses, with a little help from the Goddess Athena, devised the famous wooden horse and a Greek sculptor built this hollow colossus. It was big enough to contain 100-armed men. Ulysses and his buddies climbed into the horse, and the opening underneath was bolted closed. The rest of the Greeks packed up camp, climbed into their ships and set off to sea, leaving the horse behind.
The Trojans were happy, after 10 years of futile combat the Greeks had had enough, and were returning home to Mamma and Royco soup. They saw the wooden horse as a peace offering to Athena.
Great rejoicing and happiness around the horse. Some of the Trojans were wary and suspected a trick. Laocoon, a Trojan Priest did not trust this setup at all. “Put no trust in the horse, men of Troy”, the wise man said. “Whatever it is, I fear the Greeks, even bearing gifts”. Nobody listened to the wise man, as is the case even today, only wise men listen to wise men. In frustration the priest flung his spear at the wooden beast, and it bounced off, giving an ominous hollow sound.
At this point in time a couple of Trojan shepherds brought in a Greek prisoner, a certain Sinon by name, who had been captured on the beach. He begged for pity, and maintained that he was about to be sacrificed to Athena by his comrades, when he made his escape. He confirmed that the horse was a gift to Athena, but that it had been built too big to fit through the gates of Troy, as this would mean that the favour of Athena would also be transferred to Troy. Obviously, Sinon had been left on purpose by the Greeks to do exactly what he did.
While all this was happening, two very large serpents rose from the sea, twisted themselves around the Trojan priest and his two sons, and squeezed them to death. The masses saw this as an omen. Punishment for Laocoon’s sacrilege against the sacred gift.
All problems sorted out, the horse was dragged into the city in the belief that the Gods would favour them.
That evening there was a great party, sponsored by Bacchus and a number of his buddies, after which all the Trojan warriors fell asleep.
This is where Sinon did part two of his task; he lit a fire to call back the Greek army, hiding behind the horizon, and opened the belly of the horse and out came the hidden Greeks.
The Greeks entered the City of Troy and slaughtered about everybody, in the morning only smoldering ruins were left.
Helen was rescued and taken back to Greece, Ulysses went on to complete his adventures.

Sunday, 11 November 2007

How to handle a flood

Received this via e-mail. This could be South Africa as well, only difference would be cans of Castle and a braai fire somewhere.
Been busy, busy the last week. This is all Jeans fault. Getting up at all hours for her Air Freight. Will get back to proper posting next week.
People actually read the spaghetti thingy. Had three mails, two said it was lekker (good), and one said my "directions" need more attention. Anyhow, thanks for that.

Sunday, 04 November 2007

Friday, 02 November 2007

Spaghetti a la Horny

Need something good to eat that is economical, easy, fast and tasty? This is it. Obviously a spaghetti thingy. (The name is another story.)
Firstly and most importantly, you need a pack of Spaghetti. My way of looking at it is that a pack is enough for 4 hungry people. More eaters than that, and some will eat and others will be spectators. Good, now break the spaghetti in half. I do this as it is easy to twirl the spaghetti around the fork, and I hate watching people slurping so fast that it bangs both ears before disappearing down the hatch. The spoon way still challenges me and I avoid that.
Take a medium sized pot and fill up to ¾ with water. On the stove, on high and bring to the boil. Half a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of Olive oil. Olive is best but, what the hell, if not in the cupboard, a dash of cooking oil will do. This is to stop the spaghetti from sticking together. When boiling away merrily drop the spaghetti into the pot, vertically, in 4 or 5 handfuls. Don’t worry if they stick up in the air for a while, they will move down under the water. Stir every now and then to make sure the buggers are not sticking together.
This is the time to open a can or bottle of something you enjoy. The spaghetti will cook for about 15 to 20 minutes. Turn down a notch or so if it looks like the spaghetti is going to climb out of the pot.
Cook, bake or grill a bunch of bacon bits or pieces in the micro or whatever, I bake them in the oven. (160c). Main thing is the bacon must not be raw.
Next is to take a glass bowl or any other container that can take about 500ml. What one is going to do now, is create a mixture that will be poured over the hot spaghetti when cooked. Into the bowl goes 1 egg per two eaters. Do the math for 4 people. Then take grated cheese, preferably a white cheese like Parmesan, and into the bowl with the egg it goes. Grind a tad of black pepper ½ teaspoon and in it goes with a dash of salt. Chop up a handful of parsley, follow up with about a cup of cream. Stir away until all mixed.
After the bacon is ready add to the mixture with a bunch of olives and cherry tomatoes.
Spaghetti should be ready by now. Just taste it, if you think it is fine, its ready, if not ask someone else. There is usually someone in the kitchen that knows everything.
Drain the spaghetti and pour hot water from the kettle over the lot to flush, and then into a serving bowl. Add the mixture and toss around quickly. The heat of the spaghetti will “cook” the egg.
Zap some extra parsley on top and mix in a couple of leaves of green rabbit food, Rocket the best, and serve.
Good stuff, Naked Chef beware!!!

Zero Tolerance Radar

Thursday, 01 November 2007

Origin and meaning of "Let the Cat out of the Bag"

One of those "where did that come from" expressions. The meaning is straight forward. To give a secret away.
Would appear as though in days of past one would trot off and buy a pig from your local butcher at the market. The pig would be placed in a bag for convenience. (The bag was called a "poke"). A dishonest butcher would replace the pig with a big cat.
Now, if you opened the bag later, to find out that you had been taken for a ride, the cat was "let out of the bag", the Butchers secret was exposed.
Back to the poke. If you buy a pig in a poke you have bought something worthless. From the same origin.
A number of sources say this is not true, the cat referred to is the cat 'o nine tails, used to flog sailors in the Royal Navy. The whip was kept in a bag, and when taken out, it meant that the flogging was a certainty.
There you have it.....