04 April 2020

This is a crinkle crankle wall

"A crinkle crankle wall, also known as a crinkum crankum, serpentine, ribbon or wavy wall, is an unusual type of garden wall built in a serpentine pattern with alternating curves.

The crinkle crankle wall economizes on bricks, despite its sinuous configuration, because it can be made just one brick thin. If a wall this thin were to be made in a straight line, without buttresses, it would easily topple over. The alternate convex and concave curves in the wall provide stability and help it to resist lateral forces.
"Crinkle crankle" is an ablaut reduplication, defined as something with bends and turns, first attested in 1598 (though "crinkle" and "crankle" have somewhat longer histories). However, it was not until the 18th century that the term began to be applied to wavy walls. At that time these garden walls were usually aligned east-west, so that one side faced south to catch the warming sun and were historically used for growing fruit...
Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826) incorporated so-called serpentine walls into the architecture of the University of Virginia, which he founded. Flanking both sides of its landmark rotunda and extending down the length of the lawn are ten pavilions, each with its own walled garden separated by crinkle crankle walls. Although some authorities claim Jefferson invented this design, he was merely adapting a well-established English style of construction. A university document in his own hand shows how he calculated the savings and combined aesthetics with utility." [below, via

RelatedWorm fence (snake fence)

Aquafaba explained

When we refer to aquafaba... we’re talking about the liquid in a can of chickpeas... The starchy liquid is a great binder directly from the can, but what really makes it magical is that it whips and creates a foam. Aquafaba is therefore able to trap air, giving items structure at the same time it delivers a fluffy crumb and lift...

We fold this foam into blueberry muffins to lighten them, and we whip aquafaba with sugar and vanilla to make egg-free meringues... 

As it does with egg whites, adding a stabilizing ingredient improved the structure of whipped aquafaba. In sweet recipes, we usually used sugar. But there’s another ingredient we often whip into egg whites to add stability: cream of tartar. But why?

Cream of tartar is acidic—when added to egg whites, it prevents the egg proteins from bonding too tightly to each other and denatures them so they can create a foam that traps air bubbles and water more quickly and holds them in place for less weeping...

For ease, we like to freeze aquafaba in 1-tablespoon portions in ice cube trays. Once the bean liquid cubes are frozen solid, they can be transferred to a freezer bag for future use. Frozen-then-thawed aquafaba whips just as well as fresh aquafaba.
More information at America's Test Kitchen.

Foot-operated elevator buttons

Apparently developed not in response to coronavirus, but for workplaces where staff routinely have arms encumbered with carried items.

02 April 2020

This is called "quarantine coffee"

Combine these ingredients, and then leave out the coffee.  Via.

Gecko shedding


Where people stayed home

Map from the New York Times.  Data from the week of March 23.  States and cities with known stay-at-home orders are crosshatched and outlined in black.

Also interesting is that data like this can be derived from cellphone data of 15 million people. 
The location data, from Cuebiq, a data intelligence firm, measures the range that people travel each day. It cannot predict where outbreaks will spread, and it does not track how many interactions people had while they were traveling. Not all travel is problematic: A person driving for a few miles to pick up groceries would not be violating stay-at-home orders. And people in cities can infect others without traveling far.

4,500 year old dress unearthed at Giza

At the via there is an informed discussion as to whether linen slips were worn underneath.  Or not.

There is a subreddit called "insanepeopleFacebook"

That's where I found this.  I don't normally go there.  Visit at your own risk.


Many, many years ago I submitted a group of rebuses to a local Kentucky publication.  I encountered them again yesterday while using this quarantine time to weed through old memorabilia.

In retrospect two of them are totally unfair (#12 = "center of attention" and #10 = "Last of the Mohicans) and #9 ("prepared") is incorrect.  The others I think are still valid.  I'm particularly pleased with #4 and #13.

Readers are invited to post answers in the Comments.

01 April 2020

Divertimento #177

These blocks of color are not alternating their movements
Tourist posing in perilous location.  Photographer inexplicably says "More, cmon."  WTF.
A woman handing out brochures
10-hour barn raising compressed to 20 seconds
These spinning circles are not changing size
Lady rescues a dog
Woman refuses traffic ticket

Nature and Science
Milky Way + Aurora Borealis
Chicken developing in an open egg
Using ice water to boil hot water
Coronavirus compared to SARS, Ebola, Swine flu (clipped from this video)

An acorn woodpecker filled this antenna unit with hundreds of pounds of acorns
Man removes bucket from a bear's head
Sheep cavorting on hay bales
A "roller pigeon"
Sea slug
How to summon emus
Parasites removed from a hornet 
Crinkly bags have different sounds
Beach towel removed from carpet python
Trail camera set up by log over a creek

Mountain bike fail
Mommy regrets wearing skirt on a slide

Impressive or clever
Tornado touching down in traffic
Sand art
Mime with a balloon
Using a drone to screw in a ceiling light bulb
How to moonwalk 
How to organize nails in a box

Sports and athleticism
Little girl gets long running start to kick a ball.
Rock climber using a "knee bar" to rest his arms
Toddlers display impressive balance
Railbiking (on abandoned railway)
Bowling trick shot

Humor or cheerful
Dog realizing he's being adopted
Dog working out on treadmill 
North Dakota girls shooting basketballs from half court (sound on for "no way")
Dog fails every test in service dog training
"You have to eat mommy's cooking"

 The images embedded in this gif-dump are selections from this year's competition for the European Tree of the Year.  The competition is not a beauty competition or really a photography competition - the winner is chosen in large part because there is an interesting story about the tree.  You can read those stories (and the identities/locations of the trees) at the link.

31 March 2020

Squirrel feeding perch

Cropped for size from the original at the Aww subreddit.

Clever response

Background, for those who don't immediately get the subtlety of the reply.

Corinthian helmet that had the warrior's skull inside

From the battle of Marathon. Via Reddit.

This is such an American headline

Details and commentary at Boing Boing.

Comfort food in a pandemic

Cookies and doughnuts honoring Dr. Fauci are now available.  The image is from a Wisconsin bake shop, but the products are being sold nationwide by various bakeries.
Owner Mike Vande Walle told WLUK he saw a New York bakery having success by putting Fauci’s face on doughnuts and thought it would be a huge hit in Northeast Wisconsin — a way of saying thank you for keeping Americans informed during this unprecedented time.

“I thought whoa, that’s a good idea because everyone can really connect with the guy, you know?” said Vande Walle. “He’s honest, straightforward — and so we started doing the cookies this morning, and we sold several hundred already today, and people are just swarming in, but I think everyone can connect with the guy, is why the cookies are popular,” Vande Walle said.
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