Wednesday, March 25, 2015


Apparently the phrase "The whole is greater than the sum of its parts" is an incorrect translation of Kurtz Koffka's actual phrase about Gestalt philosophy "the whole is other than the sum of its parts."

Monday, September 29, 2014


I played Trivial Pursuit with my family last night, and there were a few things I learned that I was determined to remember.

Malcolm X's real surname was Little.

A volley in tennis means hitting the ball before it touches the ground.

Hmm, I'm sure there was at least one more. Oh, I know...

It's called magma when it is still underground, and lava when it is above ground.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Causes of fatness

I had already read articles showing that, while diet and exercise are most important (in that order), other things also have an effect on weight gain. They include lack of sleep (the next most important), temperature (apparently shivering burns calories), stress and medication/chemicals. But last year's New Scientist that I just borrowed from the library (December 2011, No2844/2845 Australia) had a couple I hadn't heard before.  

One is pollution. Rats had 50% more abdominal fat after 10 weeks of being subjected to polluted air than rats on the same diet living in clean air. It can also "make your cells less sensitive to insulin, increasing your risk of type 2 diabetes." (p64) The link for diabetes has also been shown in humans. Nasty.

More startling is that the common cold virus, or at least one incarnation of it, has a strong link to obesity. Adenovirus-36 (Ad-36) increases both the number of fat cells and their size, and the effect lasts for years. One study claims "children with Ad-36 antibodies weighed an average of 23 kilograms more than children without them." (p63) And another 10 microbes have a fat-increasing effect. One researcher hoped that this means we can do something about obesity.

Maybe I don't have big bones. Maybe I have the fat virus.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Passionfruit parfait

Donkey talks about parfait on Shrek when Shrek says he is like an onion (with layers) -- apparently everyone loves parfait. I wasn't really certain what it was, other than a desserty thing. But today I made some. It involved sieving the seeds out of passionfruit (which is mainly seeds), whisking yolks over heat without ending up with scrambled eggs, making sugar syrup and adding it to other ingredients without getting little lumps of boiled lolly as it cools, 3 saucepans and 2 sets of beaters. The end result tastes, rather pleasantly, like passionfruit folded through whipped cream. I could have folded passionfruit through whipped cream with a lot less time, trouble, and dirty saucepans. And egg all over the floor when I dropped the whisk (twice).

So I'd be happy to order this in a restaurant, but I won't be making it again in a hurry.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The speed of bees

According to a quirky snippet of info printed on the wrapping of this morning's sanitary product, bees fly at an average of 15 miles per hour. I don't particularly put my faith in this, some of the other "facts" have been highly suspect. But it could be true.

Sunday, July 15, 2012


Termites are descended from cockroaches. Yuck.

Saturday, July 14, 2012


The Muppet Show, a great source of information, had a sequence on Vets Hospital with a patient (a pig) from Hawaii. A joke revolved around the fact that Hawaii used to be called (by Europeans, presumably, not the natives) the Sandwich Islands. I didn't know that. The Muppets are always teaching me something new.