17 April 2011

Sunday smörgåsbord

While researching my blog post on birch sap, I found a number of amateur videos on the subject.  This is the best one, in part because he shows at the end how to create a "bung" to plug the hole in the tree after you are done harvesting sap.

An article about this year's "March Madness" NCAA basketball tournament argues that the quality of play at the collegiate level has decreased because so many skilled players are opting to enter the NBA early.

Newsweek has an article about male-on-male rape in the U.S. armed forces.

La Muse Verte offers a collection of graffiti from the walls of the structures of Pompeii - most of it of a crude sexual nature.

I have seen and enjoyed every Ken Burns documentary.  The subject matter of his next one is the Vietnam war.

A long essay entitled "Ghost Babies" at BoingBoing discusses the intricacies of Victorian post-mortem photography and related non-death photos.

The lionfish is an invasive species.  ".. in the Atlantic and Caribbean, where it has been proliferating madly since the early 1990s, the lionfish has no controlling predators. Not even goliath groupers or sharks have developed a taste for them."

Quick:  What's the last name of the marooned family in Swiss Family Robinson?   Wrong.  The answer is in the Futility Closet.

Several years ago I posted a brief report on "mechanically separated meat."  Now a report from Australia discussed "glued meat."

A video showing a six-year-old girl being patted down by TSA screeners has provoked a lot of comments on different websites.  Offered here without commentary.

An article at Bloomberg explains how traders at Goldman Sachs tried to manipulate the market in mortgage derivatives.  The trader who was interviewed later backtracked: “He said that reading his self- evaluation as a description of an intended short squeeze put too much emphasis on ‘words.’"

Human kidneys have been made from stem cells. "The artificial organs were created in a laboratory using human amniotic fluid and animal foetal cells.  They are currently half a centimetre in length - the same size as kidneys found in an unborn baby."

The generation of baby-boomers is now starting to try to unload a lifetime accumulation of "things." "With some 8,000 Americans turning 65 every day, on average, and the senior population expected to double by 2050, millions are facing a massive, multifaceted purge that's turning out to be much tougher than they thought it would be."  Details at the Smart Money link.

A deer protecting a nesting goose in a cemetary.  With video.

The top photo shows our dining-area table a couple weeks ago.  Some of you will understand the eagerness with which Midwesterners look forward to the onset of spring.  Pots of bulbs bursting into bloom indoors hastens that transition.  Here's the same table this past week:
When it gets a little warmer, the bulbs will be moved into the garden.


  1. Stan, I am going to share these photos with my Wisconsin Master Gardener class; our certification test is this week. I am very much a novice---the reason for taking this course--and have not been able to 'force'springtime bulbs so beautifully.

  2. Your blooms are beautiful and hyacinth smells lovely. When we lived further north, my gardener's soul could cope with January and February's gloom if I had set aside a stash of bulbs in fridge a few months prior.

  3. Stan, thanks for the link to the Newsweek article on male-on-male rape in the military. I think most women today know someone who has been raped or sexually assaulted and can help steer them to the help they need, but I don't think there is much public consciousness of help available to men who have been sexually assaulted. Obviously this help is needed.

    My heart goes out to anyone abused in this manner. I would not blame anyone if they went AWOL after such an attack. Maybe that is what is needed to wake up the upper echelon that something has to be done about predators in the military. Find these people, give them time in the stockade and a dishonorable discharge. Don't waste our tax dollars on criminals and put decent sailors and soldiers in harm's way from their comrades in arms. What a disgrace to every decent military person.

  4. On the birch syruping video-

    Seems a rather large hole he is drilling in the trunk. Maple syrupers are down to using 5/16 inch spiles, resulting in less trauma to the trees. The sap usually stops running when bacteria clog the "capillaries". Serious syrupers take a good deal of care not to prematurely introduce bacteria to the holes, as it reduces the yield. I've never heard of trees bleeding to death. Now I have to find out. I have loads of birches, so I'm eager to hear of your experiences.

    Here in New York, Blood Root, Trout Lilies and some trilliums are already throwing up blooms. I can't believe they survived that winter.

  5. I don't have any experience to share re tapping tree trunks, but re the spring ephemeral flowers I can comment. Here in Wisconsin we had the deepest and longest-duration snowpack in decades, and the early wildflowers are bursting forth. I think the deep snow protects them from harsh winter temperatures, and the snowmelt gives the bulbs a boost.


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