Friday, December 6, 2013

* Feijoa

Today I was at a team building event at a bowling alley with my coworkers, some of whom are also very good friends. My Russian friend A stopped on the way to get some fruits for his daughters and was kind enough to share a couple of them with us. He introduced me to a South American fruit today. He sliced the feijoa for all of us to taste and was surprised at my first reaction with my wrinkled face from the sour taste. He was right - it certainly is an acquired taste and with a second slice I learned to appreciate this delicacy with its 'sour on the outside but sweet on the inside' disposition.

Thank you, Anatoly!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Belladonna Puppy Eyes

In the Italy during the Middle Ages, what women thought to do to attract husbands was making their pupils as big as possible to have that oh-so-desirable lost and sad puppy look. To achieve that they started dropping the juice of Deadly Nightshade, also known as Belladonna, into their eyes. Belladonna is quite poisonous if ingested, it also resulted in blindness from extended use. Yikes!!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Pseudis Paradoxa

The paradoxical frog (a.k.a. Pseudis Paradoxa), is a species of hylid frog from South America. Its name refers to the very large—up to 25-cm-long—tadpole, which in turn becomes an ordinary-sized frog, only about a quarter of its former length.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

World's Largest Ice Drum

Some accidents are happy accidents like the time Natalya Vlasevskaya slipped and fell on the frozen surface of Lake Baikal. The sound she heard was very unique and was reproducible. Of course, she gathered her other percussion capable friends and started beating on Lake Baikal.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Guelta d'Archei

The Guelta d’Archei is probably the most famous guelta in the Sahara and is at least 4 days’ travel from n’Djamena, the Chad capital, with a 4x4 and a few hours of trekking. Gueltas are oasis-like wetlands very typical of deserts that are formed when underground water in lowland depressions spills to the surface and creates permanent pools and reservoirs.

Sunday, December 1, 2013


When WobbleWorks LLC launched their 3D printing pen project on Kickstarter for crowdsourcing, their goal was to raise $30,000 to manufacture a highly marketable product. By the time they were done with their crowdsourcing campaign, they had raised over $2.3 Million. 3Doodler dispenses 3mm ABS or PLA plastic as its "ink" functioning much like a 3D printer only it fits into your hands like a pen - a very thick pen. Once you get into your creative mood, the possibilities are endless with this toy (recommended for 12+ yrs).

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Kuiper Cliff

I learned today that one of the many unanswered questions in Physics is about the Kuiper Cliff

Why does the number of objects in the Solar System's Kuiper Belt fall off rapidly and unexpectedly beyond a radius of 50 astronomic units?

Friday, November 29, 2013

Frances Ha

Frances Ha is a black & white 2012 movie much like those petit French-American fusion dishes that carry you through distaste, surprise, excitement, and contentment, leaving you with the tiniest bit of craving at the end.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Dancer In The Dark

Just added to my to-be-watched list the movie Dancer in the Dark that brought a Best Actress Award to Björk at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival. I had no idea she was an actress but then I'm not surprised.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Talking Turkey

Today I will share something I've learned several years ago but I think is very relevant to the spirit of Thanksgiving Day. The article below by Giancarlo Casale sheds some light to how the bird was named after the country. So make a cup of tea, turn on your fireplace, curl up in a big chair wrapped up in a cozy blanket in your jammies just like I am doing right now and enjoy!

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Story of How the Unofficial Bird of the United States Got Named After a Country (by Giancarlo Casale)
How did the turkey get its name? This seemingly harmless question popped into my head one morning as I realized that the holidays were once again upon us. After all, I thought, there's nothing more American than a turkey. Their meat saved the pilgrims from starvation during their first winter in New England.
Out of gratitude, if you can call it that, we eat them for Thanksgiving dinner, and again at Christmas, and gobble them up in sandwiches all year long. Every fourth grader can tell you that Benjamin Franklin was particularly fond of the wild turkey, and even campaigned to make it, and not the bald eagle, the national symbol. So how did such a creature end up taking its name from a medium sized country in the Middle East? Was it just a coincidence? I wondered.
The next day I mentioned my musings to my landlord, whose wife is from Brazil. "That's funny," he said, "In Portuguese the word for turkey is 'peru.' Same bird, different country." Hmm. With my curiosity piqued, I decided to go straight to the source. That very afternoon I found myself a Turk and asked him how to say turkey in Turkish. "Turkey?" he said. "Well, we call turkeys 'hindi,' which means, you know, from India." India? This was getting weird. I spent the next few days finding out the word for turkey in as many languages as I could think of, and the more I found out, the weirder things got. In Arabic, for instance, the word for turkey as "Ethiopian bird," while in Greek it is "gallapoula" or "French girl."
The Persians, meanwhile, call them buchalamun" which means, appropriately enough, "chameleon." In Italian, on the other hand, the word for turkey is "tacchino" which, my Italian relatives assured me, means nothing but the bird. "But," they added, "it reminds us of something else. In Italy we call corn, which as everybody knows comes from America, 'grano turco,' or 'Turkish grain.'" So here we were back to Turkey again! And as if things weren't already confusing enough, a further consultation with my Turkish informant revealed that the Turks call corn "misir" which is also their word for Egypt! By this point, things were clearly getting out of hand. But I persevered nonetheless, and just as I was about to give up hope, a pattern finally seemed to emerge from this bewildering labyrinth. In French, it turns out, the word for turkey is "dinde," meaning "from India," just like in Turkish. The words in both German and Russian had similar meanings, so I was clearly on to something. The key, I reasoned, was to find out what turkeys are called in India, so I called up my high school friend's wife, who is from an old Bengali family, and popped her the question. "Oh," she said, "We don't have turkeys in India. They come from America. Everybody knows that." "Yes," I insisted, "but what do you call them?" "Well, we don't have them!" she said. She wasn't being very helpful. Still, I persisted: "Look, you must have a word for them. Say you were watching an American movie translated from English and the actors were all talking about turkeys. What would they say?" Well...I suppose in that case they would just say the American word, 'turkey.' Like I said, we don't have them." So there I was, at a dead end. I began to realize only too late that I had unwittingly stumbled upon a problem whose solution lay far beyond the capacity of my own limited resources. Obviously I needed serious professional assistance.
So the next morning I scheduled an appointment with Prof. Sinasi Tekin (Ayse’s Note: this guy is Turkish) of Harvard University, a world-renowned philologist and expert on Turkic languages. If anyone could help me, I figured it would be professor Tekin. As I walked into his office on the following Tuesday, I knew I would not be disappointed. Prof. Tekin had a wizened, grandfatherly face, a white, bushy, knowledgeable beard, and was surrounded by stack upon stack of just the sort of hefty, authoritative books which were sure to contain a solution to my vexing Turkish mystery. I introduced myself, sat down, and eagerly awaited a dose of Prof. Tekin's erudition. "You see," he said, "In the Turkish countryside there is a kind of bird, which is called a "chulluk" (Ayse's Note: chulluk = pheasant). It looks like a turkey but it is much smaller, and its meat is very delicious. Long before the discovery of America, English merchants had already discovered the delicious chulluk, and began exporting it back to England, where it became very popular, and was known as a 'Turkey bird' or simply a 'turkey.' Then, when the English came to America, they mistook the birds here for chulluks, and so they began calling them 'turkey" also. But other peoples weren't so easily fooled. They knew that these new birds came from America, and so they called them things like 'India birds,' 'Peruvian birds,' or 'Ethiopian birds.' You see, 'India,' 'Peru' and 'Ethiopia' were all common names for the New World in the early centuries, both because people had a hazier understanding of geography, and because it took a while for the name "America" to catch on. 
"Anyway, since that time Americans have begun exporting their birds everywhere, and even in Turkey people have started eating them, and have forgotten all about their delicious chulluk. This is a shame, because chulluk meat is really much, much tastier." Prof. Tekin seemed genuinely sad as he explained all this to me. I did my best to comfort him, and tried to express my regret at hearing of the unfairly cruel fate of the delicious chulluk. Deep down, however, I was ecstatic. I finally had a solution to this holiday problem, and knew I would be able once again to enjoy the main course of my traditional Thanksgiving dinner without reservation.
Giancarlo Casale

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Dietary Habits Of Vulcans

As much as I like Star Trek, I am not fanatic enough to call myself a Trekkie, so what I learned about Vulcans today about their relationship with food  surprised me quite a bit. Here are some highlights:
  • Vulcans are vegetarians by choice and were omnivores in ages past
  • Vulcans do not like to touch their food with their hands, preferring to use utensils whenever possible 
  • It is a Vulcan custom for guests in the home to prepare meals for their hosts (especially love this one)
  • Vulcans drink a Vulcan alcoholic drink called "Vulcan Brandy"
  • Vulcans may become inebriated by ingesting chocolate

Live long and prosper!

Monday, November 25, 2013

A Musical Wish

Dear Classical Music Loving Friends,

Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra will be performing magic by Schubert and Mahler at Arlington Theater in Santa Barbara, CA on March 5th, 2014 under the gifted baton of Daniele Gatti. This is your clue to get me the best new year's gift ever. ;)

Sincerely Yours,

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Power Of Feminine

I just completed a marathon of watching the first season of Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries portraying a lady detective in 1920's Melbourne, Australia. I am in love with all the characters, costumes, and the light story lines. It has been a delight to watch and very hard for me to not identify with the lovely Phryne Fisher. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Paranoid Android Is Real

Sometimes the scientific research wanders into the realm of scary and for the sake of solving medical, biological, neural mysteries they push technology beyond its safe limits. DISCERN is one such robot that is designed to behave like a biological neural network, but overloaded by scientist to the point where it started acting like a schizophrenic, claiming responsibility for criminal activities and talking about itself in the third person. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013


In the space between the network of highways and the internet a new kind of connectivity is developing. Matternet is still in its infancy but has great potential to become the future of transportation. Today the Matternet is able to deliver a payload of 2 kg. over 10 km. in 15 minutes with a cost of only 24 cents using automated flying drones. This may not sound too impressive until you listen to Andreas Raptopoulos' TEDTalk demonstrating how vital that can be for the 1 billion people who are cut of from the world for parts of the year due to seasonal phenomena.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Touching Strangers

Richard Renaldi is a genius of visual and sensory delights of human delicacies. In his project Touching Strangers, he convinced total strangers to pose intimately to photograph them. These pictures create swirling warm-fuzzies in my heart. Visit his website and look at all of his pictures in this series - I'm including four of them here.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Möbius Bridge

Möbius Strip Pedestrian Bridge designed by the very innovative architecture firm Next won first place in Meixi Lake District Competition and will be built over a river within the town of Meixi Lake in China.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Waitomo Glowworm Caves

The Waitomo Glowworm Caves located at Waitomo on the North Island of New Zealand are known for their population of glowworms, Arachnocampa luminosa. This species is found exclusively in New Zealand. They are around the size of an average mosquito and illuminate the cave like the nightsky of a faraway universe.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Loneliest Whale

"She isn't like any other baleen whale. Unlike all other whales, she doesn't have friends. She doesn't have a family. She doesn't belong to any tribe, pack or gang. She doesn't have a lover. She never had one. Her songs come in groups of two to six calls, lasting for five to six seconds each. But her voice is unlike any other baleen whale. It is unique -- while the rest of her kind communicate between 12 and 25hz, she sings at 52hz. You see, that's precisely the problem. No other whales can hear her. Every one of her desperate calls to communicate remains unanswered. Each cry ignored. And, with every lonely song, she becomes sadder and more frustrated, her notes going deeper in despair as the years go by."


Friday, November 15, 2013

Cotton Candy Slime

Although similar to fungi in terms of life cycle, the Slime Molds are of a different kingdom. When conditions become unfavorable, the slime molds form sporangia - clusters of spores, often on the tips of their stalks. Spores from the sporangia are dispersed to new habitats, "germinate" into small amoebae, and the life cycle begins again. A family of slime molds look like cotton candy and are named as such.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Hawkmoth Jammin'

Hawkmoths can rasp their genitals against their abdomens to beam loud ultrasound signals at approaching bats which may serve as a warning or jam bat echolocation. Talk about multi-purpose body parts.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Folding Faces

I feel pretty proud when I fold an origami crane or flower but when I came across Joel Cooper's work I felt so untalented. This genius origami artist creates immaculate origami masks and you can purchase one for yourself at his Etsy store.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Tupper's Self-Referential Formula

Jeff Tupper's Self-referential formula visually produces itself when plotted in two dimensions. The formula is an inequality defined by:

where denotes the floor function and mod is the modulo operation.

Super cool!

Monday, November 11, 2013


The Japanese believe that when something's suffered damage and has a history, it becomes more beautiful, so they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold. I wish we could do this with human beings too...

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Super 8

Just watched the movie Super 8, and to me, this was one of the best alien movies of its kind after Batteries Not Included, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Project Space Planes

In 2011, a group of researchers released 100 paper airplanes 23 miles above Germany as part of the Project Space Planes. Each of these paper planes were suited with a Samsung SD memory card with a message. Amazingly, some of these planes made it to as far as Russia, U.S.A., and Australia!

Friday, November 8, 2013

A Lighted Window At Dusk

Found this in The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows today ... and loved it...

n. the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Willard Asylum Suitcases

When the Willard Asylum for the Chronic Insane closed down in 1995, the staff found hundreds of unclaimed suitcases left behind by the patients that passed away over the years, that preserved the personalities of these humans in these unintended time capsules. These suitcases are now in the possession of New York State Museum, and the museum has given permission Jon Crispin to photograph the contents of the Willard Suitcases. The end product is a haunting collection of images portraying the men and women that were once living isolated lives within the walls of an insane asylum.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Walking With Strangers

It is not very often that I like an entire album by a band so it exhilarated me when I came across the album Walking With Strangers by the Canadian band The Birthday Massacre. I am listening to it for the third time today as I type these words.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Gravity Glue

The artist Michael Grab uses gravity as his glue to create balancing rock sculptures. Click on his name to see more of his amazing work at

Monday, November 4, 2013


My first thought was "this must be a joke" when I saw the commercial for Poo-Pourri but not only is it a legitimate product but it has received stellar reviews from its users.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Universe Next Door

I hope to visit Abelardo Morell's The Universe Next Door exhibit today at the Getty Museum. His camera obscura style photography is both amusing and haunting.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

* Perlman Vivaldi Stradivari

My head tilted slightly to the right
My hands clenched on my lap
Nostrils flared to hold tears from falling
Chest rising and falling in keeping time
My vision blurred
Every note dripping from Itzhak Perlman's Stradivarius
   melting on my skin like delicate snowflakes
My heart aflutter in Walt Disney Concert Hall
My taste buds swollen with deliciousness of
   Vivaldi's Four Seasons

This was a night
in musical delight

Friday, November 1, 2013

Singing Ringing Tree

The Singing Ringing Tree in Lancashire, England sings the eeriest songs. This wind powered steel sound structure stands in solitude in the middle of Pennine Hill range singing its haunting songs to kids that climb its hollow limbs.

Thursday, October 31, 2013


My feelings about the band Ozma's music is wildly oscillating as I sample randomly from their albums. They have songs that sound like computer games and songs that take you into deep space and even a song about Natalie Portman. So far my most favorite album is The Doubble Donkey Disc.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Marmaray Opens

Coinciding with the 90th anniversary of the Turkish Republic, the rail system connecting the European and Asian sides of the city of Istanbul underneath the Bosphorus was opened on Oct. 29, 2013. Marmaray tunnel is part of a larger rail system project that is expected to significantly reduce travel time across Istanbul via public transportation.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Friendly Floatees

On 10 January 1992, during a storm in the North Pacific Ocean, several containers were washed overboard from a container ship headed from Hong Kong to the U.S.A. In one of those containers were 28,800 floatees - children's bath toys. Over the years and decades following this incident, these Friendly Floatees landed on the shores of places near and far, following the oceanic currents.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Selective Sound Neutralization

For urban dwellers like me, noise pollution sometimes becomes a big issue, especially on nights you are trying to get some sleep and your neighbors are having very loud conversations under your window for hours, or there is an international airport nearby, or the foghorn blows all through the night to provide navigation to sea-farers in the thick fog.

Sono is a sound neutralizing device that attaches to your windows, making your home the quiet sanctuary at the time you need it most. You can also utilize the setting to selectively neutralize certain frequencies so that you can hear the birds singing while blocking out other sounds. Although still a prototype, I see a very promising high-selling product...

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Reason I Jump

The Reason I Jump is a memoir by Naoki Higashida - a thirteen year-old Japanese boy, giving us a chance to take trip into his autistic-mind. I just added this brilliant book to my digital library!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Millinery Obsessions

Thanks to the Royal Christening today I learned not one but two things! The word "millinery" - women's apparel for the head, and the milliner to the millionaire - Jane Taylor.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Ode To Browsing The Web

Ode to Browsing the Web


Two spiky-haired Russian cats hit kick flips
on a vert ramp. The camera pans to another

pocket of  the room where six kids rocking holey
T-shirts etch aerosol lines on warehouse walls

in words I cannot comprehend. All of this
happening in a time no older than your last

heartbeat. I’ve been told the internet is
an unholy place — an endless intangible

stumbling ground of false deities
dogma and loneliness, sad as a pile of shit

in a world without flies. My loneliness exists
in every afterthought. Yesterday, I watched

a neighbor braid intricate waves of cornrows
into her son’s tiny head and could have lived

in her focus-wrinkled brow for a living. Today
I think I practice the religion of  blinking too much.

Today, I know no neighbor’s name and won’t
know if  I like it or not. O holy streaming screen

of counterculture punks, linger my lit mind
on landing strips — through fog, rain, hail — 

without care for time or density. O world
wide web, o viral video, o god of excrement

thought. Befriend me. Be fucking infectious.
Move my eyes from one sight to the next.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Glaucus Atlanticus

Everything looks prettier in shades of blue ... even ocean slugs. Learned about Blue Dragon today...

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Short Circuiting People's Thinking

A TedTalk I watched today introduced me to the hilarious universe of Emily Levine. She is one humorist that can talk on any subject to short-circuit your brain and make you think in way you never imagined before. She now my most favorite smarty-pants. :)