31 May 2024

A specialized colorblind test image

Most people are unable to see the number "73" in the image above.  But if you have protanopia or deuteranopia, you might see something like this:

Via Neatorama, where there are additional relevant links.

Browser glitch

After my hike yesterday, I went to Wisconsin Butterflies to report my findings and encountered the glitch shown above.  I knew the problem wasn't at the website and thought it might be the browser, so I switched from Chrome to Firefox and...

So I sent a quick note to the site's webmaster, wondering if his site wasn't perhaps optimized for Chrome.  He did some checking and suggested that I go to my Chrome settings and check my font size in the Appearance options.  Sure enough, I was running Chrome with the font size on "Large" rather than "Medium (recommended)", and a switch back to Medium font size solved the problem.

I thought I'd post this in case there are any readers out there who have increased their browser font size and might be encountering similar glitches.


I spotted this cluster of galls yesterday while hiking.  I'm used to seeing them on the leaves of oak trees, but was a little surprised to see these on the leaves of a sawtooth sunflower.  BugGuide explained that these are created by Pilodiplosis helianthibulla (a type of midge).  I found a longer discussion at Prairie Rivers.  See also gall-inducing insects.

Final words in the national spelling bee competition

And then bee officials announced it was time for the tiebreaker, known as a “spell-off”, before Bruhat and Faizan were even given a chance to spell against each other in a conventional round.

Bruhat’s 30 words were: brouette, adelantado, hyporcheme, bisellium, mycteric, endecha, sericin, nyctalopia, ascham, wenzel, cebell, heautophany, kwazoku, panetiere, sagaie, nachschlage, exorhason, porphyrio, giclee, ashwagandha, puszta, asarotum, scintillante, myrabalanus, sciniph, voussoir, caizinha, ramoneur, aposiopesis and abseil.
More information at The Guardian.  I have mixed feelings about the usefulness of this competion, but will defer any commentary to hear what others think.

28 May 2024

This is a "tree lobster"

Dryococelus australis is a stick insect that grows up to 8" in length and was thought to be extinct until a group of them were found here -

- on the uninhabited islet of Ball's Pyramid, which is the world's tallest volcanic stack.  An interesting story about attempts to protect and conserve this invertebrate is in The New York Times.

First image cropped for size from the original (credit John Francis Peters).  Credit for the second to John White Photos, via Alamy.

27 May 2024

Math puzzle

Looks like a puzzle for a Venn diagram, but probably easier to solve with logic.

I'll post the answer and the source in a couple days.  In the meantime, the same source asks what the following U.S. states have in common?
Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina
Addendum:  answer to the second puzzle in the form of a Venn diagram:

That's not an answer one might instinctively intuit - it's more like something one might encounter in an RSS annual Christmas quiz.

Both of these come from a very interesting (but now inactive) blog at Datagenetics.

25 May 2024

The frequency of use of each 4-digit PIN number

There is some reasonably-informed discussion at the dataisbeautiful subreddit.  Here's the Datagenetics source.

Photography studio logo

The website for Randy Johnson Photography features this logo.  Baseball fans will remember Randy Johnson as the tallest man in the pros (6'10") and as a pitcher with an overpowering fastball.  They will also remember the incident that generated this logo that he uses for his retirement hobby/business.

"MAGA" = Make America Germany Again ??

Excerpts from an op-ed in the New York Times:
Yet when Mr. Trump posted on Monday a video on his Truth Social account that featured mock headlines about his re-election in 2024, including one that predicted that “what’s next for America” was the “creation of a unified reich,” it was a shock of a different order, a suggestion that our country was on a glide path toward Nazi Germany in a second Trump term.

The Associated Press reported that the references in the video “appear to be a reference to the formation of the modern Pan-German nation, unifying smaller states into a single reich, or empire, in 1871.” A Trump campaign representative claimed that the video was posted by a campaign staff member while the candidate was in court. That underscores the bigger problem in the Republican Party today, one that goes far beyond Mr. Trump: a generation of young Republican staff members appears to be developing terminal white nationalist brain. And they will staff the next Republican administration...

Contemporary far-right activists like Mr. Fuentes clearly see Mr. Trump’s campaign as another opportunity to build power and influence. And unlike in decades past — where the far right was an important part of the right-wing popular front but did not exert hegemonic control — MAGAism is today the dominant strain in conservative politics...

If elected, Mr. Trump has promised to not govern as a dictator “except for Day 1” of his administration and to “root out the communists, Marxists, fascists and the radical-left thugs.” These are not empty words; the Heritage Foundation’s Project 2025 proposals are a road map to use executive authority to purge the federal government and replace current civil servants with conservative loyalists.

The likeliest candidates for those positions are campaign staff members and other activists.  A unified reich in America may still be just a fantasy, but those fantasists could soon be in positions of real power.

World's most expensive feather

A single feather of the now extinct New Zealand huia bird has set a world record after being sold for NZD$46,521.50 ($28,417, £22,409) at an auction.  The feather, initially expected to fetch up to $3,000, broke the previous record which was for a feather of the same species by 450%, the Webb's Auction House said.

The huia bird was sacred to the Māori people. Their feathers were often worn as headpieces by chiefs and their families and also gifted or traded. Its last confirmed sighting was in 1907, but unconfirmed sightings were reported for twenty to thirty years after that, according to the Museum of New Zealand.

The feather is registered as a taonga tūturu under a system to protect Maori made objects. Only collectors who had license in the system were allowed to purchase it, and it can not leave the country without permission from the Ministry of Culture and Heritage.

In the past, the huia feathers were a status mark to Māori people. Already a rare bird before the arrival of Europeans, the species became a target for collectors and fashion merchants after it gained popularity among those who came to New Zealand, which led to its extinction, according to the Museum of New Zealand. 

Some additional details at the BBC.  The Museum of New Zealand adds this info:
The huia was not a strong flier – like the kōkako, it was more of a flighty bounder as it worked its way through the layers of the forest.  These forest dwelling species have all been very sensitive to the effects that the arrival of humans and other mammals has brought to their environment. 

The decline in numbers would have started from the first Māori settlers, with their hunting, and predation by the animals they brought – kiore, the Polynesian rat, and kurī, the dog. Europeans brought new hunting animals, and also stripped the land [North Island] of large areas of forest.

22 May 2024

Jewelry made from baby teeth

I found this image at the often-interesting Awful Taste But Great Execution subreddit.  A related subreddit is It's Always Teeth.


This came to me in an email.   I'm sure it went to tens of thousands of other people, many of whom will not be sophisticated enough to recognize that some sleazeballs are basically asking for their credit card information.  And the ones vulnerable to maneuvers like this are the ones least able to afford the consequences. 

The orange (!) rivers of Alaska

"In this video, researchers from University of California Davis, National Park Service, and USGS, reveal the startling discovery of over 75 streams and rivers in Alaska's Brooks Range turning orange due to metals released in permafrost thaw. We delve into the consequences of this phenomenon, its impact on aquatic ecosystems and local communities, and the ongoing research efforts to understand and mitigate these changes."
Summary at UC Davis website.  Hard science at Nature.  Note the changes are not subtle -

- and the effect on wildlife is dramatic:

20 May 2024

An invasive wood decay fungus - updated

"You learn something every day" is the motto of this blog.  A couple weeks ago I had no idea that there was such a thing as an invasive wood decay fungus.  Then I attended the Annual Research Symposium at the University of Wisconsin Arboretum, where I saw the poster embedded above - one of numerous interesting presentations by doctoral candidates.  

I discussed the poster's findings with the lead author, then went online to seek more information.  There is of course a Wikipedia page for Pleurotus citrinopileatus, but the best discussion I found is at Forager Chef, whence these pix and text:

Golden oyster mushrooms are native to the hardwood forests of eastern Russia and northern China, as well as Japan. They're a popular edible mushroom over there and take well to cultivation, so it's no surprise that mushroom cultivation companies started selling them to grocery stores, as well as in grow kits for people at home where their spores can fly with the wind and spread...

The term "invasive" can be used in a number of ways. While some disagree, and they haven't been legally recognized as invasive (as if it would do anything to stop them) I consider them invasive and describe them to others as such for a couple reasons.

First, the mushrooms aren't native, and they're consuming resources that other native mushrooms (pheasant backs, mica caps, and wild enoki) could use...
Secondly, and what I don't see discussed much, is their fruiting pattern. Like their cousins, golden oysters are decomposers... As someone who hunts a lot of morels with elms, the preference of golden oysters for dead elm trees, which the mushrooms seem to consume whole, worries me. As these mushrooms spread throughout the Midwest, what will happen to the morels? I have a theory...
Informed discussion continues at the link, including information on identification, harvesting, and cooking ("a great mushroom meat substitute").

Update:  It's a good thing I attended that arboretum symposium this spring, because when I was in the woods behind our house yesterday doing some gardening chores, I saw these guys on some fallen deadwood:

The "Seek" program by iNaturalist on my phone identified the clusters as being golden oyster mushrooms.

Now what to do??  When I discussed the poster results with the presenter, she didn't indicate that any reporting mechanisms are in place, nor was her focus on control or eradication of the fungi.  This log's location and size preclude my moving it out of our woods.  Should I try to excise and bag the specimens for disposal?  But there are probably a half billion spores already wafting through the woods.  I'll see if I can forward this info to my neighbor on the other side of the woods and to a local DNR representative to see if they express any interest or have any ideas.

19 May 2024

Why the pyramids of Egypt are so far from the Nile

Because the Nile has moved.  As simple as that.  Details from Scientific American:
By analyzing batches of satellite images and sediment samples collected from deep beneath the desert’s surface, she and her research team located a long-lost ancient branch of the Nile that once ran through the foothills just beside the Giza pyramid field. It’s likely that this channel, which the study team named the Ahramat (“pyramid” in Arabic), is how builders transported materials to the pyramid construction grounds, Ghoneim says. Knowing its course can help archeologists search for potential sites of ancient human settlements that may be buried beneath vast, dusty plain. The researchers detailed their discovery in a study published on Thursday in Communications Earth & Environment.

See the adjacent post on meanders.  (pending)

Questioning corrective glasses for color blindness

A tip of the hat to this fellow for taking the time and effort to do this: "In this two-part investigative documentary series, I delve into the color corrective glasses industry, focusing on major brands like EnChroma, PileStone, and Carelust. The investigation exposes a landscape rife with scams and misleading marketing tactics, challenging claims that these products enable people with color vision deficiencies to see new colors."

I will personally admit to having been taken in by videos about EnChroma glasses, to the extent that I posted one or two of them here on TYWKIWDBI.  After seeing this video I took them down, and I hereby apologize to any readers who were misled by my old posts.  

No time for the video?  Just look at this screencap of a scene in which a "colorblind" boy identifies colored balloons incorrectly -

- and note the the producers of the video labeled the balloons with the wrong names for him to recite.  

The embedded video is excellent in terms of quality research and presentation.

Incredible amounts of beach glass

No need to watch the entire video, but worth browsing for sea glass collectors.  I have on occasion spent a couple hours on the shore of Lake Superior searching, and was happy to find a handful of specimens.  This beach in St. Kitts is unbelievable.

15 May 2024

MSICS to correct "preventable blindness"

A TEDX talk in which an American ophthalmic surgeon explains how "manual small-incision cataract surgery" (MSICS) with a 50c scalpel is an effective substitute for the standard American-style laser-guided procedure costing $2,000 for the treatment of mature cataracts.  The worldwide statistics are staggering: cataracts in 200,000,000 people causing half of all worldwide blindness, with each untreated case also impairing the life of associated caregivers.

Concise, well-spoken, and definitely worth 15 minutes of your time, IMHO.

"Nature's first green is gold..."

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
         ---- Robert Frost, "Nothing Gold Can Stay"
The photo is of an oak tree in my back yard. In a few weeks the golden catkins will fall, leaving light green leaves, which will darken over the summer and turn russet in the autumn.

Reposted from 2018 to add a closeup photo of the 2024 new foliage and catkins:

Image from ten days ago; the leaves are already green and catkins falling.


I remember finding stones like these on lakeshores in northern Minnesota.  Never knew they had a name until I encountered a discussion of a particularly odd one -

- at the WhatsThisRock subreddit.  Here's the wiki:
"Omars are a distinctive type of glacial erratic that consists of dark siliceous greywacke and exhibits prominent rounded, often deep, hemispherical voids and pits. The hemispherical voids and pits result from the selective dissolution of carbonate concretions within the greywacke... Omars are typically rounded and range in size from pebbles to boulders. Their rounded shape, whether found in glacial tills or glacial-fluvial (outwash) gravels, indicate that they were eroded from pre-existing littoral or fluvial deposits.

The name given these glacial erratics refer to their source, which is the Proterozoic Omarolluk Formation in the Belcher Islands in southeast Hudson Bay. The Laurentide Ice Sheet eroded omars from the Belcher Islands, an archipelago limited to only about a quarter of 1% of Hudson Bay. Glaciers moved omars from the southeastern part of Hudson Bay to central Canada and into the U.S. where they were deposited on moraines. Because scientists know precisely where they came from they are very valuable in documenting the movement of glaciers."

"Best of show" at Westminster

I will defer comments and just offer this description from The New York Times:
"Like all show poodles, Sage appears to be about 75 percent hair, with a sumptuous coiffure that rises to a huge pouf above and around her head, surrounds her body in a kind of puffball, and reappears again as topiary-ed pompoms on the end of her tail and at the bottom of her skinny legs, as if she is wearing après-ski boots. She trots daintily, as if running was slightly beneath her."
Image cropped for size/emphasis from the original.  The dog's full name is GCHG Ch Surrey Sage.  For fox ache.

Math puzzle

What fraction of the image is black? 

Ignore the straight lines and express your answer as a fraction, not as a "series" extending to some asymptote.

Answer here after you kick yourself for not solving this instantly in your head.

13 May 2024

"Someone like you" redux

I heard that you're settled down 
That you found a girl and you're married now 
I heard that your dreams came true 
Guess she gave you things, I didn't give to you 
Old friend, why are you so shy? 
Ain't like you to hold back or hide from the light 

I hate to turn up out of the blue, uninvited 
But I couldn't stay away, I couldn't fight it 
I had hoped you'd see my face 
And that you'd be reminded that for me, it isn't over 

Never mind, I'll find someone like you 
I wish nothing but the best for you, too 
"Don't forget me, " I beg 
I remember you said 
"Sometimes it lasts in love, but sometimes it hurts instead" 
"Sometimes it lasts in love, but sometimes it hurts instead" 

You know how the time flies 
Only yesterday was the time of our lives 
We were born and raised in a summer haze 
Bound by the surprise of our glory days... (repeat)

Nothing compares, no worries or cares 
Regrets and mistakes, they're memories made 
Who would have known how bittersweet this would taste?... (repeat)

The top embed is what I understand was the first release of the song twelve years ago in 2011.  The second was recorded at the London Palladium in 2021.  I'm sure I'm not the only listener to detect a difference between the two: the first an outcry of anguish by a young girl, the second expressing acceptance and defiance by an adult woman.

10 May 2024

Divertimento #194

Innovative pastry creations
How cinnamon is harvested from trees
Industrial-level harvesting of trees
Chemical rust remover
Man catches cobra with a bottle :)
"De-aging" a 400-year-old wooden beam
Michelin star-level cutting of an onion
Removing paint with dry ice (less risk silicosis)
Interesting way to construct and serve a sandwich roll
Adjusting a caulk nozzle
Vibration will homogenize fresh concrete
Removing varnish from a painting
"UFO sighting" debunked (is moth close to CCTV cam)
Is the horse walkiing away from you, or toward you??
Man in criminal court swallows cyanide.  Full video in top comment.
Rainbow drinks discussed in the thread

Happy cow (note jump at end)
Elephant on a rampage
Kangaroo stampede
Lioness rescued by her pride
Mantis eating hair from someone's arm
"Tornados" of insects (though not mosquitoes as labeled)
Deep-sea squid brooding her eggs
Border collie in an agility competition

Nature and science
Popsicle-sticks demonstration of something
Freshly cut jasper
Indonesian volcano erupting
Bored?  Make a fire tornado
Owl can turn his head better than you can
Tumbleweed stampede (good comments)
Mesovortices in motion

Impressive or clever
"Extreme Firemen" competition
Refrigerator from the 1950s
How Australia implements crowd management
Halloween costume (would probably be shot)
Man catches bass using only his hands and a minnow
Identifying songs in one second
Water goes through permeable concrete
Professional builder laying mortar (note top comment)
"Please tidy up that bin of nails"
Timelapse of patio being cleaned
Garbage truck eats a couch
It's called a hydrovac

Sports and athleticism
Baseball's Randy Johnson kills a bird 
   (note his company logo nowadays)
6-year-old does 80 backflips
Kid converts a 1-7-10 split
Russian army acrobatic stunt
The University of Minnesota has a basketball player

Falls and WTF
Driver abandons car rather than damage gate
Baseball fan ruptures both ACLs on the steps
Idiot driver gets karma

Humorous or cheerful
Dog doesn't recognize owner after latter's weight loss
Mom creates a virtual roller coaster for daughter
"Simon says" done by a professional
Elderly lady meets Alexa
Gravy jug from the AwfulTasteButGoodExecution subreddit

Embedded photos from Cake Wrecks (twice), via Neatorama.

04 May 2024

Chile's Torres del Paine National Park

Ending my blogging day with some awesome photos from a gallery of 30 images of this park posted at The Atlantic.  

Photo credits Anton Petrus/Getty  (top) and Lukasz Nowak1/Getty (bottom)

Managing falls at assisted living facilities

Some senior-care homes say they don’t have the ability to lift fallen residents. Many have adopted “no lift” policies to avoid the risk of back injuries for staff and other potential liabilities...

A nurse wo worked at an assisted-living facility in Greensboro, N.C., who requested anonymity because she was not authorized to speak with the media, said her company required caretakers to call 911 even if a resident had just slid harmlessly out of a chair.

“If you’re on the floor, period, you’d have to call,” said the nurse, who left her position last year. She said residents were often embarrassed by the lift-assist calls. Some begged her not to dial 911. She said she had no choice.

Fire officials point out they bring no special skill to such situations — it’s just a matter of who’s doing the work...

Lift assists are now the seventh most common type of 911 call, with an average of 1,800 lift-assist calls every day nationwide, according to an analysis of the National Fire Incident Reporting System, which collects emergency calls from more than 23,000 fire departments...

A growing number of cities and towns — from Rocklin, Calif., to Naples, Fla., to Lincoln, Neb. — have started pushing back with special fees of $100 to $800 for senior lift-assist calls... In Mequon, Wis., the fee is billed directly to the facility to emphasize that it’s the company’s responsibility, said Deputy Fire Chief Kurt Zellmann.

“We tell them they can’t pass that onto the patient,” he said. But they can’t prohibit it...

Assisted-living facilities appear to make far more 911 calls for lift assists than nursing homes, which have higher staffing requirements, according to Ron Nunziato, senior policy director at the Health Care Council of Illinois, which represents nursing homes. Nunziato said he rarely called 911 for a lift assist at a nursing home during the three decades that he ran a company that included both nursing homes and assisted-living facilities.

“We had enough staff and equipment to get someone off the floor, out of the tub, whatever the case may be,” Nunziato said, adding: “We don’t believe that skilled nursing facilities are causing the concern.”
More details and commentary at The Washington Post.

"Florida is filled with trash"

BOCA RATON, Fla. – While many people have expressed outrage over a viral video showing teenagers dumping garbage into the waters off South Florida over the weekend, one of their classmates is sticking up for them.  

A Boca Raton Community High School student who didn’t want to give his name said he was on the boat next to the perpetrators during Sunday’s Boca Bash. That classmate said his fellow students’ actions are being unfairly scrutinized.
Trash happens everywhere, all over the world,” that classmate said. “We are terrorizing 15-year-old kids ‘cause of trash. Yes, I know they are dumb, but at the same time, we all (have) to realize that Florida is filled with trash.”

"Cavernous space" (5): ABYS-

I learn things while doing crossword puzzles.  The April 24 NYT puzzle asked for a five-letter word meaning "bottomless pit."  The answer was ABYSM, not ABYSS.

Editorial comment accompanying the puzzle cited Merriam-Webster as noting that the adjectival form "abysmal" is more commonly used than "abysm", while conversely the adjectival form "abyssal" is less commonly used than "abyss" (I have ever heard it used only in reference to the sea-bottom plains),
"All four terms descend from the Late Latin word abyssus, which is in turn derived from the Greek abyssos ("bottomless"). Abyss and abysm are synonymous (both can refer to the mythical bottomless pit in old accounts of the universe or can be used more broadly in reference to any immeasurably deep gulf), but the adjectives abyssal and abysmal are not used identically.
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