Tag Archives: biology

Ketchup time…(04/12-04/18)

I have been traveling lately and have fallen behind on these postings, but I have been keeping up in my journal. Here is a weeks worth in one post:


I learned about this Saint from a homily on Easter Sunday & it’s quite a story.

A sealed glass vial containing a dark unknown substance, allegedly the clotted blood of San Gennaro (St Januarius), is shown several times a year to a packed crowd in the Cathedral of Napoli (Naples). Whilst the container is being handled during a solemn ceremony, the solid mass suddenly liquefies before everybody’s eyes.

read more.


In 1988, Wrigley Field was the last major league park to install lights for night games.

August 8, 1988

August 8, 1988

It wasn’t for lack of trying though, lights were to be installed for the Cubs 1942 season. But after Pearl Harbor was attacked, all of the equipment was donated to the United States Armed Forces.

(The following 3 “WORD OF THE DAY” entries were learned from Dr. Oliver Sack’s book Musicophilia)


daven |’dävən|
verb (davened, davening) [ intrans. ]
(in Judaism) recite the prescribed liturgical prayers.

ORIGIN Yiddish.


bonhomie |’bänə,mē; ‘bänə,mē|
cheerful friendliness; geniality : he exuded good humor and bonhomie.

ORIGIN late 18th cent.: from French, from bonhomme ‘good fellow.’


dyskinesia |diski’nē zh ə|
noun Medicine
abnormality or impairment of voluntary movement.

|-‘netik| adjective



CHICORY (Cichorium intybus)

I learned all about the chicory flower from my sister (& about.com), who recently became fascinated with the flower.

It’s best known for its association with coffee.

At many points through history, coffee has become unavailable or too costly. During these times, people have often turned to roasted chicory as a substitute. Folks also used to make coffee from roasted acorns, yams and a variety of local grains.

There is no caffeine in chicory, and it produces a more ‘roasted’ flavor than coffee does. Many coffee producers offer blends with up to 30% chicory, which cuts down on the caffeine content of your cup. (It cuts down on the bitterness, too)


This is a theory that I was not aware of and will now share it with you…

One suggestion is that there was a good living to be made on the sea shore for any ape that left the forests to exploit it. Gradually adopting an upright stance would have been useful since it would free the hands to poke around and find food, while maybe also allowing the ape to wade into deeper water. Some suggest that a semi-aquatic past can also explain many modern human peculiarities (reduced body hair, subcutaneous fat, and our descended larynx for example).

read more theories here.

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Rats & Bamboo (03/05)

When I learned about the phenomena which you are about to read about  – I was astounded.

No matter how many rats the farmers of Mizoram kill, dump into piles and then set alight, it seems there are always more of the rodents to take their place.

In an unlikely cycle which takes place every 48 years, the north-east Indian state has been struck with food shortages and hardship after the flowering of a particular species of bamboo which provides an easy and ready source of food for rats.

The remarkable plant bringing misery and despair to Mizoram, sandwiched between Burma in the east and south and Bangladesh in the west, is muli bamboo (Melocanna baccifera) which flowers only twice every century. The state is covered with bamboo forests and every time the muli flowers, rats feed on its seeds and their population soars. Some experts even believe the seeds increase the rats’ fertility.

In the local Mizo language, the term for this cyclical phenomenon is mautam, and oral histories tell of mautam famines in both 1911 and 1862, when the flowering took place. In 1958-59, about 100 people starved to death as a result. Those deaths and the subsequent public anger also helped to fuel a 20-year war between Mizoram separatists and the federal government. The current state administration, headed by a former guerrilla leader, has been preparing for the next mautam for several years.

from Independent World

Fruit from Muli Bamboo

Fruit from Muli Bamboo (& a dead rat)

See view times for NOVA special here.

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Do You Know Bonobos? (02/20)

You should, they are our closest ape relative. They are only  found in the wild in the Democratic Republic of Congo and are not usually in zoos due to their highly sexual behavior (it’s true!).The following video is a tad long, but I promise that it will be worth it

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To Cull or Not to Cull (02/19)

I was struck by this image

 	 Kruger National Park, South Africa. A view of an elephant fetus from a culled female

Kruger National Park, South Africa. A view of an elephant fetus from a culled female

and its caption. What is a culled female?

cull |kəl|
verb [ trans. ] (usu. be culled)
• reduce the population of (a wild animal) by selective slaughter : he sees culling deer as a necessity | [as n. ] ( culling) elephant culling.

As you might imagine, it is a highly controversial topic.

Here is brief take on the issues in Kruger National Park:

On one hand, the increased South African population of elephants is a good thing. It means that conservation efforts are working and poaching for ivory is on the decline. On the other hand, the repopulation has been so dramatic that  it threatens other species.

In fact, since culling was brought to a stop in 1994 the elephant population in Kruger National Park has nearly doubled (from 7,000 to 13,000).

(according to a 2005 article on the BBC’s website)

Culling is also an issue in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park. Here the issue is not elephants (naturally), but elk. The reason being that biologists believe the elk population is decimating new growth aspen trees and willows.

(read more)

I won’t go into my opinion about this matter, but  I will say this – it does remind me of the ‘old lady who swallowed the fly’. You know the song, she swallowed the spider to catch the fly, I don’t know why she swallowed the fly…etc)

(maybe we should start a new version “she culled the elk to save the trees, I don’t know why she culled the elk…)

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The Clanking of Pots & Pans (02/17)

Amusia: The inability to recognize musical tones or to reproduce them. Amusia can be congenital (present at birth) or be acquired sometime later in life (as from brain damage).

It isn’t a problem of the ears – they can understand other sounds perfectly well – but when it comes to music, all tunes sound the same. While most of us are sensitive to small changes in pitch, amusic people need two notes to be very far apart before they hear them as different. It’s no surprise, then, that music, which tends to move in small steps, is literally “lost” on them.

Test yourself.

Read more.

Or just listen to the expert, Dr. Oliver Sacks…

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