Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Pomegranates: Latest weapon in the fight against MRSA

Pomegranates: Latest weapon in the fight against MRSA

Pomegranates used to be tiny fruits, but have been bred to become the size of a small grapefruit. If you've never eaten one, and you have no idea what to do when you open up the seedy fruit, try this: use a sharp knife to slice open the fruit. I usually cut across the middle like you would when opening an orange. Use your fingers to pry the rest of the fruit from the membrane, then separate the seeds. You can pop the seeds into your mouth, and squeeeze out the juice. I swallow the seeds, but my kids used to spit them out. The juice is very good for you.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

(When Is) Hanukkah This Year? by Melee

YouTube - (When Is) Hanukkah This Year? by Melee
I really meant to post this last week, but somehow with the sun and the sand I forgot to put this on the blog. I did, however, buy candles and light them every night. And yes, did make latkas with poke on the side

Poodwaddle World Clock

Poodwaddle World Clock

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Guess what we found at our doorstep last night? This lovely toad plopped itself in front of the door and wait for us to come home

blue dragon musicquarium

One of the secret places that locals go to is the blue dragon musicquarium. Fabulous music by night and a spa and massage place by day.

creatures in lava

Here are two lava creatures that you can find if you look carefully when driving along the highway.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

sad dog

this is what happens when you leave your dog for vacation. And it goes a long way to explain why this dog is called "Cry". Havoc the other dog is missing from the photo as he is off doing something evil

Thursday, December 17, 2009

FOXNews.com - 'Vicious' Tongue-Eating Parasite Discovered in the Sea

FOXNews.com - 'Vicious' Tongue-Eating Parasite Discovered in the Sea

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looking at lava

If you like looking at clouds, and if you like playing "eye spy", then the big island of Hawaii is the place to be. the lava on the side of the road has hardened in interesting shapes. but that's not the cool part. people have been making cut-out sculptures of various creatures. there's a dino, an armadillo, a frog, lizard, horse, pig and flamingo. There's probably more, but that's what we've found so far. Will post photos later.

Killer cookies: To resist temptation, exaggerate the threat

This is the perfect article for the holiday season. For those of us watching our waists, then this is what you need to know...... that cookie will kill you. Perhaps I will say this every time dessert arrives at the table!

Killer cookies: To resist temptation, exaggerate the threat


you might think that with nothing to do except bask on the beach and search for turtles, that I might have better things to do than blog. But this story caught my eye this morning. Nothing like a weird animal story to start the day. Check out this unusual bat


Friday, December 11, 2009

writer's fingerprint

a great many years ago the writer's group I belong to did a contest. Everyone submitted one sentence from a book they had written and the group had to match the writer to the sentence. While it is hard to believe, the 30 some authors who participated managed to correctly identify the vast majority of the writers. So it is no surprise that this study (below) has found the same thing

Formula to detect an author’s literary ‘fingerprint’

ScienceDaily (2009-12-10) -- Using literature written by Thomas Hardy, DH Lawrence and Herman Melville, physicists in Sweden have developed a formula to detect different authors’ literary ‘fingerprints’. ... > read full article

slow day

What's not to like. A day at the beach followed by an amazing dinner of local fish done with various preparations. And it's cold back at home

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Ventriloquist birds call to warn friends and enemies

As a child I grew up on Shari Lewis and her puppet, Lamb Chop. She was the Jim Henson and Kermit the frog of my day. Don't know who researched this, but it seems that birds are also talented ventriloguists.

Ventriloquist birds call to warn friends and enemies

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Kids eat less junk food when middle schools stop providing it

And yet again, another staggering finding in scientific research- if you don't give children junk food, they eat less empty calories. DUH! The only people in favor of junk food in schools are the people who make these foods and put them in schools. Nutrionists, parents, teachers, and anyone else with common sense just knows that empty calorie, high fructose corn syrup foods are one of the contributing factors to childhood obesity and a host of health problems. So- kids stop eating things that are white- sugar, flour, potatoes (chips and fries- not baked spuds as they are good for you), white rice, and things that are yellow- fried and battered foods. Exception to the white rule- drink milk, eat yogurt as long as you don't have allergies. Eat things that aren't packaged or haven't been manufactured. Anything green-vegetables, reds- apples, beets, fruit, purple - berries, eggplants, and orange - squash, oranges, sweet potatoes will be good for you. Don't drink sugary beverages. Forget about soda pop.

Kids eat less junk food when middle schools stop providing it

Friday, December 4, 2009

Hawaiian hot spot has deep roots

Yes, we are still counting down the days until we leave for vacation. With any luck the volcano on the big island will be erupting during the time we are there, so I will be able to post some pictures. In the meantime, I'm reading up on all things volcanic. Leslie and I wrote a book/kit on this subject two years ago, and I would like to write an even longer one with more details. LJ and I only have 3 more edits, and I have 3 edits on articles, then we are done for 2009. 2010 looks good so far.... but you never know.

Hawaiian hot spot has deep roots

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

plant camera

If I had a wish list for Christmas, which I don't because:
1 I'm an adult
2. I"m Jewish
I would put this really cool camera on my list. If any family member is reading this- there's a plant camera that captures the growth of plants over time. This really appeals to the geek in me.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Countdown to vacation

It's like being a kid again. Do you count down the days to the end of school? Well, adults do the same thing, too. We are shortly off to someplace warmer. The dog sitter came by to get keys, instructions and to meet the boys. She loves them and they love her, so all is good. I will shortly be filing from the lanai on the big island of Hawaii, where I will be sitting late afternoons and will be writing a new book, no doubt.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Rare woodland plant uses 'cryptic coloration' to hide from predators

When I was at the National Tropical Botanical Garden in Kauai, I learned that certain plants had evolved over the years in response to animals. These plants began growing stems and flowers at heights that goats and pigs could not reach. It now turns out that plants will also try to hide in plain sight.

Rare woodland plant uses 'cryptic coloration' to hide from predators

Tough yet stiff, deer antler is materials scientist's dream

It's that time of year when kids think about reindeer. If you ever have an opportunity to touch a deer's antlers, you are in for a big surprise. Over the holidays, find a petting zoo or a display with live deer and see for yourself just how the antlers feel.

Tough yet stiff, deer antler is materials scientist's dream

Saturday, November 28, 2009

YouTube - Aliens Vs. Coffee machine - Amazing Sci-Fi Animation

When the movie Alien first came out I remember nearly hiding under my seat, along with one of my closest friends, as we were both so freaked out. I should mention my friend, big Bob, is 6'5 and weighs 300 pounds. For a tough guy he can scream like a little girl. Since then I must have seen the movie at least a dozen times and each time it still scares me. Ths video treatment of the film is brilliant. Watch until the bitter end and you won't have to close your eyes.

YouTube - Aliens Vs. Coffee machine - Amazing Sci-Fi Animation

Friday, November 27, 2009

YouTube - Swine Flu Song

Warning- you won't be able to stop singing this song. Fine, it's been around for a while, but it's a slow day at the office.

YouTube - Swine Flu Song

Thursday, November 26, 2009

YouTube - Classic Sesame Street - Born to Add

AND- they did have the born to add video. Play the Springstein classic, then listen to this one.

YouTube - Classic Sesame Street - Born to Add

YouTube - Victor Borge, Meet The Muppets

You have to love youtube. It seems to have everything you've ever wanted to find and some things you don't. This one just never fails to crack me up. If you are having a bad day it's impossible not so smile when you see this.

YouTube - Victor Borge, Meet The Muppets

YouTube - The Muppets: Bohemian Rhapsody

a great many years ago, the muppets did a kazoo symphony with Victor Borge, and it was until this video came out my favorite muppet song. OK- Born To Ad with Bert and Cookie Monster was a classic, too. Enjoy!

YouTube - The Muppets: Bohemian Rhapsody

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Ants use bacteria to make their gardens grow

There are so many interesting things about ants, and here is another great fact. There are also a number of ant cams where you can look inside an ant colony and see what goes on first hand.

Ants use bacteria to make their gardens grow

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Amazing card trick. [VIDEO]

For those of you who like card tricks, this is pretty impressive. Many years ago we were at a family gathering where the kids had to perform some trick or play a musical piece. One young child decided to do a card trick and used my niece as the person in the audience who would pick the card. With a great deal of flourish is pulled a card from the deck and asked, "is this your card?". She looked and said, "no, stupid.". So I walked her into the kitchen and told her that no matter what card he showed her she was to say that it was the correct card. He tried the trick again, pulling out a card and asking if it was the one she had chosen. She looked right out at all the adults, winked, smiled and said, "why YES, it is.". We fell to the floor laughing. That said, take a look at the video.

Amazing card trick. [VIDEO]

New wound dressing, full of antibiotics, dissolves when wound has healed

This is a great story for any child who hates to take off a band-aide. Personally I have to have someone rip off my bandage when I have a cut as I simply am too chicken to do this my myself. Or I get it really wet in the bathtub and slowly pry it off in the water. Don't even ask me about waxing my legs. There might be a simple solution coming to a store near you in the future.

New wound dressing, full of antibiotics, dissolves when wound has healed

YouTube - The Brain That Changes Itself Pt 4

YouTube - The Brain That Changes Itself Pt 4

YouTube - The Brain That Changes Itself Pt 3

YouTube - The Brain That Changes Itself Pt 3

YouTube - The Brain That Changes Itself Pt 2

YouTube - The Brain That Changes Itself Pt 2

YouTube - The Brain That Changes Itself Pt 1

YouTube - The Brain That Changes Itself Pt 1

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Rolltop - Future Designer laptop

This is amazing. Wouldn't it be fun to have one of these computers?

Rolltop - Future Designer laptop

Monday, November 16, 2009

- Air Canada, the Board Game

If you have ever flown Air Canada, a company whose motto is, "We're not happy unless you're unhappy", you will really appreciate this video.

YouTube - This Hour Has 22 Minutes - Air Canada, the Board Game

YouTube - This Hour Has 22 Minutes - Public Health

It turns out that everyone on this planet will be able to get a flu shot before they will give a shot to me. So the correct way to sneeze is very important. Watch this!

YouTube - This Hour Has 22 Minutes - Public Health

YouTube - Giant jellyfish

YouTube - Giant jellyfish

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Telling An Old Book By Its Smell: Aroma Hints At Ways Of Preserving Treasured Documents

When I was in grad school, I spent a lot of time in the old UBC main library. It was dark, creepy and had a musty smell. For some reason, the smell always sent me running to the bathroom. It was much better than fibre for keeping me regular. I kid you not. The libary has been re-done and is light and beautiful with lovely art, big windows and comfortable seats. I miss the old scary place.

Telling An Old Book By Its Smell: Aroma Hints At Ways Of Preserving Treasured Documents

Bubbling Ball Of Gas: SUNRISE Telescope Delivers Spectacular Pictures Of Sun's Surface

It's Sat. and despite the fact we have several edits and some other real work to do, I'm spending the morning reading about interesting science stories. I really need to stop and feed the dogs.

Bubbling Ball Of Gas: SUNRISE Telescope Delivers Spectacular Pictures Of Sun's Surface

Soft body robotics. [VIDEO]

Soft body robotics. [VIDEO]

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Conserving Historic Apple Trees

Conserving Historic Apple Trees

Leslie and I have just finished writing a book on Plants. It's a short book filled with great information, but because it is a short book, we could not put in all the interesting information that we found. Something we were really would have loved to have gone into more detail about was the disappearance of certain kinds of fruits and vegetables. With all the genetically modified foods on the market, it's so nice to see a food that has not been changed. I bet these apples taste amazing!
And for those people who live in Vancouver, support the UBC farm!

Organ Regeneration In Zebrafish: Unraveling The Mechanisms

Organ Regeneration In Zebrafish: Unraveling The Mechanisms

Now isn't that interesting! It's like a sci-fi movie. So.... what body part would you like to be able to re-grow? Personally, I'd like to trade in my 50 something body for the shape I had when I was 23.

Monday, November 9, 2009

shark vs octopus

since we were working on a sidebar on octopuses, it seemed like a good time to post ths video.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A Solution To Darwin's 'Mystery Of The Mysteries' Emerges From The Dark Matter Of The Genome

There are certain truths in life. As soon as you finish writing a book and you've sent it in for an edit, something you could have used in the book will suddenly appear in your mail box.Oh well, at least I can post it to the blog.

A Solution To Darwin's 'Mystery Of The Mysteries' Emerges From The Dark Matter Of The Genome

Losing Your Tongue: World's Top Endangered Language Experts Gather

Losing Your Tongue: World's Top Endangered Language Experts Gather

Monday, October 26, 2009

pixar parody

Yes, I have way too much work to do today, and I ought not to be doing this, but I couldn't resist. Now I'll go back to my article

Mantis Shrimp Eyes Could Show Way To Better DVD And CD players

Mantis Shrimp Eyes Could Show Way To Better DVD And CD players

a science experiment in my fridge

StillTasty: Your Ultimate Shelf Life Guide - Save Money, Eat Better, Help The Environment

There are green things in my fridge. Sometimes they should be green. Sometimes ought not to be a glowing, oozing color. But how to tell and believe me, tasting is not an option. This is a great web site that will help you decide if something should be tossed, or recycled or put in the compost. When in doubt, throw it away. Do not feed it to your dog or cat, because if it makes you sick, it will also make them sick. And vet bills are sometimes way higher than doctor bills.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Flight of the bumblebee explained (The Vancouver Sun, 01 Oct 2009, Page B7)

Flight of the bumblebee explained

The Vancouver Sun
01 Oct 2009

OXFORD, England — Scientists armed with modern software and high-tech cameras say they have created a computer model that shows how bumblebees manage to appear to defy the laws of aerodynamics. A team of scientists from England and Australia used...read more...

transylvanian bakery

It's nice to play tourist in your own city. In Vancouver there's a very strange bakery that makes giant hollow desserts, that taste flakey with an undertone of orange. You have to see these things being made! The dough is rolled onto special forms and rotated on a spit-like contraption.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

High-heels Linked To Heel And Ankle Pain

Here is another "duh" science article, which must have been written by a man as every woman knows this without using the scientific principle to prove the thesis"high heels hurt your feet".

High-heels Linked To Heel And Ankle Pain

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Electric Fish Plug In To Communicate

Electric Fish Plug In To Communicate

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Saturday, September 26, 2009

"WHAT IT’S CALLED: The yellow boring sponge, or in Latin, Cliona celata. WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE: Like a bright yellow, very small, porous, lumpy sea flower growing in a shoreline rock bed. Except it rarely grows alone. Usually you find clusters of them — each one no more than a centimetre and a half in diameter — spreading through the rock bed so they almost carpet it. It can be quite a pleasing effect to the human eye, but to nearby sea creatures it’s a wasp at a picnic.The boring sponge doesn’t get its name from being a bad storyteller. No, this is boring as in drilling — either into rocks or the shells of oysters, clams and other mollusks sometimes to the point of overwhelming them. So if you find an empty oyster shell covered with what look like pockmarks, chances are the oyster was plagued by a plague of boring yellow sponges. WHERE TO FIND IT: On both coasts of North America where it occupies low intertidal zones. It bores into the shells of other creatures in order to anchor itself and gain some protection. WHAT IT EATS: Various microscopic marine particles including plankton. It’s what’s known as a suspension feeder, meaning it draws water through its tiny pores and then filters out whatever organic material it can find. WHAT EATS IT: Sea slugs and, where they exist, different sea turtle species. HOW IT REPRODUCES: Sexually and/or asexually. It can manage both. Sexual reproduction occurs when one sponge releases sperm into the water. Currents carry the sperm to another sponge that has eggs to fertilize. The fertilized eggs are then released into the water where they develop into larvae. Then after a few hours or sometimes days, the larvae start looking for a suitable surface to settle on. When they find it, they attach themselves to that surface and metamorphose into juvenile sp"

Fanged frog, 162 other new species found - Science- msnbc.com

Fanged frog, 162 other new species found - Science- msnbc.com

Biodiversity’s winners and losers - Science- msnbc.com

Biodiversity’s winners and losers - Science- msnbc.com

Friday, September 18, 2009

custom DNA

This is very cool and something only science geeks might appreciate. Check out the link to this site.

How To Spell B-Y-U With DNA

ScienceDaily (2009-09-16) -- DNA origami just got a new "twist" from Brigham Young University researchers who use DNA strands of customized length to spell "BYU." The advance puts them one critical step closer to building nanoscale electronic circuits. ... > read full article

Thursday, September 17, 2009

what is a "smoot"

In school you learned how to measure things. There are 12 inches in a foot. There are 3 feet in a yard. But if someone asked you "how many Smoots are there in a bridge", you might be confused.

If you were to ask a student at MIT, they would know that a SMOOT is equal to 5 feet, 7 inches, which is the exact height of a student named Oliver Smoot- class of 1962.

Smoot, after finishing his courses at the prestigious university went on to become the chairman of the American National Standards Inst.

If you use the Google Calculator and type in a measurement in feet and ask it to convert this to Smoots, it will give you an answer. For example 10 feet is equal to 1.79104478 Smoots.

The members of a fraternity decided to measure a bridge and used Oliver Smoot because he was short and also had a cool name. They laid Smoot down and drew a line to mark where his head was. They did this over and over again until they had measured the distance across the bridge. The fraternity has painted the markings each year to commemorate the "smoot".

Science Of Motion Sickness -- Physiologists Investigate The Role Of Perception In Motion Sickness

Science Of Motion Sickness -- Physiologists Investigate The Role Of Perception In Motion Sickness

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Blind woman gets sight

A woman who has been blind for the last 10 years got her sight back after doctors (and here I kid you not) "implanted a tooth in her eye as a base to hold a tiny plastic lens." Following the procedure (which was developed in Italy), surgeons took out the patient's canine or the appropriately named "eye tooth", the surrounding bone and drilled a hole into it to put in a special kind of lens. Isn't that cool?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Scary Music Is Scarier With Your Eyes Shut

This next story is just in time for Halloween and fits perfectly into the book that we are working on. Scary Science, a new book Scholastic Canada will be published later next year and has some really spooky activities. Watch for it!

Scary Music Is Scarier With Your Eyes Shut

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Levitation Mice

There's a phrase, "When pigs fly", which means that something is probably never going to happen. Good thing the phrase isn't "when mice fly", because that is something can happen. Scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab have been experimenting with rodents and have managed to get these creatures to float in the air. By studying what happens to mice and their bones, researchers hope to find out what would happen to astronauts who will be on long space missions. Said doctors, "we first tried a fully conscious mouse and he didn't like it very much. He started to spin and got disoriented.", which is probably science speak for, "the mouse threw up." When sedated the mouse floated happily and even ate and drank.

Back to Work

Are you the kind of child who stood in line at midnight so that you could be one of the first fan to read the latest Harry Potter? Did you stay up all night reading the book? I'm often asked what kind of books I like to read. Let's put it this way- I'm the kind of adult who gets the first copy of new Dan Brown novel- the Lost Symbol. I cannot stay up late and read all night, but for the next few days, I have something fun to read.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A cookbook you can taste

Gallery - Innovation: Award-winning product design of 2009 - Image 1 - New Scientist

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This is really my idea of a good time!

Research ship drills deep into seafloor - 05 August 2009 - New Scientist

Research ship drills deep into seafloor - 05 August 2009 - New Scientist

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and in other zombie news.....

The annual Zombie Walk took place on Sat, Aug 15th on the tony Robson Street in Vancouver. The undead roamed the streets of the downtown core, milling around the Vancouver Art Gallery. Tourists wondered if there's a special category for Zombies in the upcoming Olympic Games.

math and zombies

Math profs at a Canadian University have concluded that if the world were attacked by zomibes, that the zombies would take over the planet. It was the opinion of the paper, entitled, "When Zombies Attack! Matethematical Modelling of an Outbreak of Zombie Infection", that the world must act decisively to get rid of the creatures before they get rid of us. They based on the model on the swine flu virus. You have to love an academic paper that cites Compartmental Models in Epidemology as well as the horror film, Night of the Living Dead.
Who says university papers have to be dull?

Vampires with SARS

Perhaps it's because we are writing a book on all things scary that I keep finding strange things. In New Scientist this week there's an article about Vampires with SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome). Apparentlty vampire bats in Brazil carry a virus which is SARS-like, but the virus doesn't the bats.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Is your cat left or right pawed? - life - 24 July 2009 - New Scientist

Is your cat left or right pawed? - life - 24 July 2009 - New Scientist

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This is interesting. You have to wonder why someone would care enough to test if cats are left or right pawed.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Perils of the professional lab rat - health - 28 July 2009 - New Scientist

Perils of the professional lab rat - health - 28 July 2009 - New Scientist

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lab rat part 7 - adult only content

It's over and today was the last day. Actually I didn't have a treatment, just photos and measurements. The flawless beauty tells me that the procedure was not exactly successful and that I look the same when viewed from the rear. There's a lesson there somewhere. Not too sure what. But this whole experience opened my eyes to a new job opportunity - professional lab rat. Apparently there are people who do this for a living. Check out GPGP.net. This is not something I would recommend as you may die, have permanent organ damage or any one of a number of dreadful outcomes.

I have posted a link to an article from New Scientist about people who get paid to test treatments or drugs. It's not a good thing and I can't be any more clear on this subject. Don't Do It! So why did I do it? I didn't take drugs, didn't have any injections, didn't have any surgery and the worst thing was a shock to my tush.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Fishing didn't quite work out, which is why I'm home blogging. Sadly my husband was not feeling well enough to get on a plane, then travel by boat to a lodge, where he would then jump into a small boat and go fishing. So, here I am stuck on dry land, writing a new book.

New York Dance

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Go figure!

My son is the luckiest kid around. He entered a contest and won, and here I kid you not, a honking big Harley Davidson Motorcycle worth about 23,000. So if anyone reading this blog would like a motorcycle or a son for that matter, please drop me a line.

lab rat part 6 - adult only content

And I'm now down to the last few treatments. The flawless beauty marked me up with white chalk and I felt like a garment that was going to be altered. Next week I get measured and no doubt will learn that I gained inches rather than losing them. Could be time for a more radical approach, like wearing loose, flowing unstructure dresses.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

samson fishing lodge

For the next week I will be fishing in the Queen Charlotte Islands and staying at the wonderful Samson Fishing Lodge. I'm very much into the "catch and release" idea of fishing so I doubt that any fish will have to die for my eating pleasure. Another way of looking at this is- I'm not very good at fishing.
These are photos from the last trip. The coolest thing were the jelly fish, one of who returned with me and donated its body to science. The image of thie jelly is in the 3-D book- Weird Animals.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

lab rat part 5 - adult only content

After another quirky morning as a lab rat, I spent the afternoon at MAC's pool. The slate around the pool is burning hot, so if the treatments don't work, sitting on the can-fry-an-egg- on-this surface edge of the swimming hole will probably melt any lumps on my legs. My dear friend, MAC, is kind and says lovely things like, "I've never noticed the back of your legs before.... they don't seem that bad." The flawless technician has stopped sighing and now just says, "hmmmmmmmmmm". She touches the screen pad for the machine more frequently and I think she is secretly upping the voltage as the "zzzt" sound is getting lounder. Or at least it seems like it to me.

Friday, July 24, 2009

lab rat part 4 - adult only content

It's day 4 of being the human guinea pig. In some respects it's much like the classic fairy tale "The Emperor's New Clothes". No one wants to tell the ruler that he's naked and they all make a fuss about the beauty of the fabric, the design of the coat and how good it makes him look. I ask my family if I look different and they all rave and tell me that I seem so much thinner. Behind my back they are snickering, so I'm of the conclusion that I pretty much appear to be the same as before the treatments. The flawless beauty still sighs, and says, "hmmmmmm", a bit too much, but she is brutally honest. Maybe it's bait and switch. This machine works great on most people, but may not be the one for me. The other machine is soooooo much better. Sign here and re-mortgage your house for 10 treatments.


Giant Toucan Bills Help Birds Keep Their CoolMatt Kaplan
for National Geographic News

July 23, 2009
Good for more than sniffing out Froot Loops, the toucan's big bill also helps the bird dump heat when its body gets too warm, a new study says.

The discovery may even lead to clues to how some dinosaurs did the same.

Birds Can Dance, Experts (and Zany Videos) Reveal
For over a century biologists have puzzled over why toucans have such monstrous and colorful bills. Darwin theorized that they attracted mates. Others have suggested the bills are fruit peelers, territorial weapons, and visual warnings to predators.

Glenn Tattersall at Brock University in Canada and a team of colleagues wondered if perhaps the beak served an altogether different purpose.

Heat Release

Like any warm-blooded animal, the toucan has to release excess body heat—humans do it in part by sweating; dogs by panting.

The researchers figured that the "large uninsulated appendage," with its extensive network of blood vessels close to the surface, "might be an important tool for helping toucans cool off," Tattersall said.

To find out, the team regularly photographed captive toucans with infrared cameras, which display warm areas as bright and cool regions as dark.

In hot conditions, the toucans' bills appeared to glow with radiated heat as warm blood flooded them. At cooler temperatures, the bills would go dark—blood flow to the bills had effectively stopped.

It's unclear whether many other bird species use their bills to shed heat, said study co-author Denis Andrade of São Paulo State University in Brazil.

Ducks and geese "seem to be able to do the same thing, although not to the same extent as toucans," he said.

Dinosaur Connection?

Previous studies have also suggested that some dinosaurs were blessed with similar natural radiators on their bodies.

Debate has been ongoing about the function of Triceratops' head frills (Triceratops pictures) and Stegosaurus' plates (Stegosaurus picture), for example, with some experts suggesting uses as varied as cooling, defense, courtship displays, or even interspecies ID.

(Related: "Stegosaur Plates Used for ID, Not Defense, Study Says.")

To strengthen the case for frills and plates as cooling mechanisms, researchers would need to prove that these dinosaurs could control blood flow to their bony ornaments, study leader Tattersall said—something top paleontologists have tried and, so far, been unable to do.

Paleontologist Kevin Padian at the University of California, Berkeley, agreed, adding that "most accessory [temperature control] by vertebrates, from lizards to elephants, is behavioral: The antelope turns towards or away from the sun to thermoregulate, just as we do.

But "without being able to observe directly those extinct dinosaurs, we can't assess how they might have used their regular bodies, let alone their bizarre structures, for thermoregulation."

Findings to be published tomorrow in the journal Science.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

lab rat part 3- adult only content

Ok- It's treatment 3 from the flawless beauty. Each treatment is preceded by white pencil markings and a near silent and perpelxed "sigh" from the technician. I have no idea what is going on behind me, but it doesn't hurt as much as the previous times. The feeling that I've been initiated into a fraternity with a wooden paddle has subsided. Since no one in my immediate family is willing to go on record as to what I look like when viewed from the back, I haven't got a clue if this is working. Apparently there will be photos published (sans names) on the Dr.'s web site. Mercifully he never updates his site, or sends out newsletters, so I am safe.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

lab rat part 2 - adult only content

It's treatment 2 and true to the non-disclosure agreement I won't say what's being done to me. Today let's talk about slime, in particular the slime that is gooped onto your body. The flawless beauty uses an industrial-sized spatula to spread this gel. The tube of slime is kept at a temperature slightly above absolute zero, or maybe about the same temperature as dry ice (frozen carbon dioxide). When it hits your skin the stuff sublimates (goes directly from a solid to a gas), and if I could see what's going on behind me I'm sure clouds of steam are coming of my now cold glutes. The sound-proof room muffles any screams (just kidding), and the whole thing is over before you can say "fat-cells-be- gone" or whatever the Hogwarts equivalent to that phrase might be. When I grew up in Alberta there used to be car races advertised as "stock" not "modified". This meant that the stock cars were the same as if they had come out of a dealer's show room and did not have anything special under the hood. I've always said that I was "stock", not "modified", and am reasonably sure I can still say this after the clinical trials are over.

Monday, July 13, 2009

more sugar in desserts

Jello (tm) and Twinkies (tm) have the same amount of sugar. Go figure. These images are from SugarStacks.com. I urge everyone to read this web site if only to understand how much sugars are hidden in foods. One of the tricks that food producers use is to label "sugars" under different names, so you don't think there is that much inside the product. Stick with healthy snacks like carrots, whole fresh fruits, berries, and unflavored water. For a treat, slice lemon or cucumber into a pitcher of water and leave it in the fridge. The lemon and cukes give the water an amazing flavor and don't add any sugar or calories to your diet.

sugar in food from sugarstacks.com

Kids (and adults, too), check out this web site- www.sugarstacks.com
Obesity rates are skyrocketing, along with childhood diabetes. If you want to know the reason why children are gaining so much weight, you don't have to look much further than your fridge, 7-11, or other fast food restaurants.
For an eye opener, take the family to see the new movie FOOD INC. or rent Fast Food Nation. Or catch The Learning Channel's series on morbidly obese people- i.e. the Half Ton Father, or the 33,000 calories day diet. It will change your life and the way you look at food.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Kelowna, BC

If you are ever in Kelowna, BC, Canada, drop by the Carmeli Goat Farm. They make the most amazing Goat Cheese products and spectacular goat's milk gelato. There's nothing quite like this place anywhere and the most interesting part of this farm is the story of how an Israeli family ended up in the middle of nowhere in British Columbia. Their history will blow you away and inspire you.

lab rat part 1 - adult only content

Well, I had to sign a non-disclosure agreement stating that I wouln't tell anyone about the treatment. Suffice it to say that if you've ever stuck your tongue on a 9 volt battery to see if it still had any juice, (and I highly recommend that you never do such a silly thing) imagine that feeling on your tush, only you have a cold layer of slime to which a jolt is being applied. And not just briefly but for 45 minutes. The flawless beauty who is the technician doing this procedure offers kind words like, "this would hurt more on the front of your legs."
I can't tell you the name of the procedure or the machine, or anything else, but it was interesting in a blogging sort of way.

Friday, July 3, 2009



Large Hadron Collider Rap

This is cool!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

funny book

This blog is not for kids. Adult content follows. Parental permission required to read this posting.
The book jacket featured on this blog belongs to one of the funniest ideas I've seen in ages. Last week I had lunch with two amazing writers: Joan Stuchner and Cynthia Nugent, winners of this year's Chocolate Lily. Look for their book, Honey Cake, as it is remarkable. Anyways, during lunch Joan said she was intersted in the story of Christian relics. A relic is a bit of bone from a Saint that various churches have in their collection. Joan said that there was a tiny church in Italy that claimed to have the foreskin of Jesus from his circumcision. This caused us to laugh so long and hard that the other people in the restaurant gave us dirty looks.
So check out this book when it is out.

lab rat - adult only content

To test certain products before releasing them to the general public, companies frequently use monkeys, rats, and other creatures to see if the product is safe. There's a very bad joke about using lawyers instead of lab rats, but that can't be told to children.
In the interests of science, I have signed myself up to be a human guinea pig for a new medical procedure. I don't want to reveal too much about this, but it is safe to say that the whole process will be interesting.... and apparently painful beyond belief. I can't post pictures, but I will keep you up to date with the test results. Without saying too much, it is the same treament that Madonna has done in Switzerland at a significant cost, but mine is free because it is the clinical trial in Canada.
So over the next 7 weeks look for updates as I become a hands-on science experiment. Thanks to Dr. Gerry Boey.

Monday, June 29, 2009

New Book and a New Day

Kids, have you ever had a really bad day? No, make that a really bad week? The kind of week that you want to go to your room, crawl into bed and stay there until you are old enough to drive? You know- you had a fight with your best friend. You forgot your homework and got a detention, your dog growled at you and your mom made you do dishes and not go to the mall. That kind of day and week.

Well, adults have those kinds of weeks, too, except we are old enough to drive and we still have to do all our work. It certainly had been one of those weeks, when suddenly, everything changed.

Our new book arrived on our doorsteps and it was pretty good. One of my books won 3 awards. A wonderful publisher offered us a contract for a book. Someone wanted to print a chapter from one of our books and use it for an exam. (Can't tell you which chapter, but you should bone up on our First Science Books if you are in the Southern United States). I had the best lunch with two of my friends who are brilliant writers who told me not to feel bad about not being wanted. And I found shoes on sale.

The lesson is this: life may sometimes suck big time, but then it gets better and forget whatever was wrong.

Friday, June 19, 2009

moon rock contest

Wouldn't it be neat to own a piece of moon rock? Here's your chance. Go to the New Scientist web site and click on the link to the contest. Write in the best short quote and you could be the proud owner of a small hunk of rock.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

whale babysitting

When your parents go out do you have a favorite babysitter? Maybe it's your aunt who lets you stay up late, or perhaps it's the teenager next door who makes popcorn, but what about a whale for a babysitter?

Mother sperm whales like to eat squid that live deep in the ocean, too deep a dive to take along their kids. Scientists in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, have discovered that these kinds of whales form a babysitting co-op. The moms gather in a circle and watch over each other's calves. The moms not only babysit, but they also feed other calves protecting them from Killer Whales and other predators until their mother returns.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

letter to editor- sans edit, digital books, BEA

For those of you who read the Vancouver Sun, my letter to the editor appeared in today's paper. They shortened it to fit within the usual space, so here's the long version

RE: "It's far too soon to terminate books" Ceri Radford, Page -A17, June 11, 2009

Ceri Radford's article, "It's far too soon to terminate books" (Page -A17, June 11, 2009), was in the same self-righteous tone as those prognosticators in the early 1900's who said that cars would never replace horses, or who claimed that if man was meant to fly, God would have given him wings.
Wake up. Already some of the major North American publishers at Book Expo America (BEA) seem to be abandoning books in print form. At the annual show last week in New York, I was given large format postcards at the Harper Collins booth. Each card had the image of a book cover, and on the back was the book identification number (ISBN), information about the book, the author, the publication date, and a free download of the book when I went to the publisher's web site and put in the 16 digit PIN number. The book was then downloaded into my computer, in my choice of formatting, and I had access to their new front list of books. Next year at BEA the majority of publishers say they will be giving out their new releases in this manner.
Why is this good thing? Frankly, digital books are better for the environment. Let's start with how a book is made. Trees are cut down; they are then turned into paper pulp, which means chemicals are spilled into our waterways killing fish. The pulp is turned into paper, shipped off on trucks, processed, printed and shipped off again to a warehouse, which then sends off the books. There is a very large carbon footprint in this process, while downloading a book into a computer requires no gas, little energy and no pollution. There is never extra stock to be warehoused, and there is no waste. Publishers who are worried about their profits love digital books because, let's face it, they cost very little to produce., nothing to ship or store, and there are no returns.
As for school books, I hate to agree with Governor Schwarzenegger, but he is right. California ought to move its science and math textbooks to digital books. Yes, it is going to save the state an estimated 30 million dollars, but that's missing the bigger picture. Science changes every day but science texts are only updated maybe every 15 years. Having the latest information available to students will mean that children aren't learning old and outdated science. In BC, one of the grade 9 science texts is available on a CD, while the grade 10 science text is available on line. The only thing stopping teachers here from using these texts is the lack of computers in each classroom.
So will digital readers supplant paper? Yes. For those of us who like to read in bed without waking the person next to us, a backlit Kindle is great. I don't have to wear my glasses because I can make the font bigger. It always remembers what page I'm on. It weighs less than the 10 books I take along on holidays.
As an author of children's books, I think that digital books will be good for my work. I can create an app and people can purchase my books that are out of print directly from me.

NOTE- If you want to see the books that HCI offered at BEA, go to the website:

Friday, June 12, 2009

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

california text books

According to a news report California is set to go with digital text books for several subjects. This is going to be a projected savings of over 30 million dollars. Which brings me back to my previous blog about BEA and digital books. The next generation will be reading everything on line- from their texts, to their bedtime stories. (see June 1, 2009). This means no trees are cut down, no fish die from chemicals used to make paper pulp, no shipping costs, no waste if the books aren't sold, immediate updating of materials, and you can never lose your book. For anyone with bad eyesight, you can enlarge the font, and teachers can email homework and check out assignments on line. It's a smaller carbon footprint, better for the environment, and it means more accurate up-to-date information in important areas like science.
Perhaps it's not such a bad thing afterall.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

5 minute chocolate cake recipe

Erin C sent along this great recipe and photos. I'm just off to try it.

4 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional)
A small splash of vanilla extract
1 large coffee mug (MicroSafe)
Add dry ingredients to mug, and mix well. Add the egg and mix thoroughly.Pour in the milk and oil and mix well..Add the chocolate chips (if using) and vanilla extract, and mix again. Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes at 1000 watts.The cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don't be alarmed!Allow to cool a little, and tip out onto a plate if desired.EAT ! (this can serve 2 if you want to feel slightly more virtuous).And why is this the most dangerous cake recipe in the world? Because now we are all only 5 minutes away from chocolate cake at any time of the day or night!

DUH! if you are addicted to gaming you sleep less

In possibly the dumbest study ever funded, scientists have found that if you are addicted to gaming, you sleep less. Here's part of the article from Science daily:

"Excessive Gaming Associated With Poor Sleep Hygiene And Increased Sleepiness
ScienceDaily (June 8, 2009) — Computer/console gamers who play for more than seven hours a week and who identify their gaming as an addiction sleep less during the weekdays and experience greater sleepiness than casual or non-gamers, according to a research abstract that will be presented on Monday, June 8 at SLEEP 2009, the 23rd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies

Results of the study indicate that excessive gamers have significantly poorer sleep hygiene and sleep less on weekdays than other gamers; a significant positive correlation was found between the hours of game play and sleepiness. Gamers who reported that their gaming interfered with sleep slept for 1.6 hours less than other gamers, while those who claimed to be addicted to gaming slept one hour less on weekdays".

So there it is everyone, turn off the games and go to bed. Scientists had to study this to figure it out. Honestly!

Monday, June 8, 2009

buddies, horse and bird

When you are tense, what do you do to relax? Do you play a video game? How about taking a walk with your dog? Or maybe you can lie back on the cool grass and watch the clouds go by. If you were a horse, what would calm you down? As strange as this might seem, some people put birds in the pasture with their horses. The birds sit quietly on the animal's backs and it seems to relax the horses. Both creatures appear to like each other's company the horse does not buck or gallop off when a bird lands on its back.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Tiffany Glass, Met Museum

This is a Stained Glass window made by L. Tiffany, and it is in the large interior courtyard of the Met Museum in NY. If you used the audio guide to the museum, it would probably take you a year to make it through the entire collection. The Tiffany windows found in this area are like paintings and they take your breath away.
There is a story told about Tiffany that he once made a fabulous window for a wealthy man. The man who commissioned the work looked at the window and said to the artist,"I wanted a swan in the lake". Allegedly Tiffany threw a rock through the window, breaking it. No idea if this urban legend is true.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Japanese Desserts, NY

OMG! This was probably one of the strangest places in NY. This very spacious store, that looks like belongs in Japan was just off 5th Ave, near Saks. It featured designer "desserts" and I used a quote here because each of these tiny bites cost about 5 buck US. Beautiful cherries on the right side of the photo were real cherries in a flavored gelatin. I lugged these treats back on the plane and they were much the worse for the wear. Certainly my family did not appreciate the effort, which is an understatement. If ever you are in NY, you must see this place because it is like an edible museum. (USA Minamoto kitchoan- 608 Fifth Ave. NY)

DALI, Met Museum, NY

Close up of Dali painting
What does this look like to you? An ear, right? If you got up really close you would find that it is made up of tiny dots that seem random and odd. This is a painting by Salvadore Dali in the Met Museum in NY. It was really wonderful because when you were next to the picture you only saw a blurr. It's hard to understand how he could see what he was paining.

Time Square without traffic

What would happen if you closed off traffic at one of the busiest intersections in the world? Well, that's just what they did in New York. The Mayor, in quite frankly, an inspired move, put up barricades and made Times Square into a pedestrian only area. There are lawn chairs, loungers, bleacher seating, and odd chairs in the middle of the street where people plunk themselves to watch..... other people watching them. It's so much fun. There were tens of thousands of people there day and night, just happily sitting around doing nothing. It was amazing.

graveyard book, BEA, way too cool

This is the man who brought you Coraline, Graveyard Book, and other amazing books. Yes, that's the real Neil Gaimon at BEA. You wouldn't believe the line to get close to him. But the most interesting part of this signing was the unsigning. Instead of an ARC (advanced reading copy) the publisher HCI gave out over-sized postcards that had a PIN number. You go to the Harper Collins web site, plug in the PIN number and the book is downloaded into the format of your choosing. Not only was Gaimon's new book being distributed this way, but about a dozen other novels were also being passed out in the same manner. This is the end of books as we know it at BEA. Sad, but true and it makes perfectly good sense. Publishers don't have to print books to pass out, books won't be sold on Ebay, and everything is better for the enviroment. You won't be able to share your book with anyone as it's only one download/PIN, but you also won't have to pay for the shipping back to your home. Personally, I'm old school. I love books and putting a postcard on my book shelf looks pretty lame.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


HOME! I'm home. It's so nice to be home. The kids did the shopping and cooked fabuous meals. There was champagne, steaks, yummy veggies and a clean house. The sheets were warm out of the dryer and the dogs cuddled up next to me. Sadly I only have 2 nights here and I'm off to NYC tomorrow for Book Fair. No matter, it's just nice to be back home.

Theobald House

This is where I spent a week in Kauai. For those of you who know me well, and know that I am not a camper, you might appreciate how much I really wanted to receive this wonderful fellowship. Did I mention the bugs that invaded the kitchen when food was left on the counter and in the sink? The gecko liked the downstairs shower and joined any bather during the evening. The lichee tree had fruit too high to reach, and the pigs were too quick to catch.