Archive for the ‘food’ Category
8: The Alamo was a mission in modern-day Texas built by the Spanish empire in the 18th century, though it is better remembered as the site of an important battle in the Texas Revolution to gain independence from Mexico. Though the siege by Mexican troops on the Alamo ended in defeat, many joined the forces fighting for independence afterwards, under the rallying cry “Remember the Alamo!”
9: Familiar with the great Velib’ bike-sharing system in Paris? The French are at it again with the launch of Autolib’, a car sharing program with all electric vehicles. It’s run similarly to Zipcar – pay a yearly membership fee then rent the car by the hour when you need it with a small cost for each rental. Hopefully it leads a lot of Parisian drivers to ditch their cars. The lower environmental impact and energy savings spell progress in our relationship to driving; the Bluecars of the Autolib’ program seat 4 and are zero emission. (NYT)
10: Check out this fun infographic of ingredient pairings created by David McCandless and Willow Tyrer using data from over 1,000 recipes: Taste Buds (clever title!)
11: Tightly-knit communities tend to fare better in most of the quality-of-life indicators that have been studied, but research by two sociologists in Louisiana have found that in communities where people have stronger attachments to each other, disasters may be, well, even more disastrous. Read more at The Atlantic‘s Cities blog.
12: From 6 billion people on the planet 12 years ago to 7 billion (on October 31, 2011), a lot has changed.
Oil prices shot from a low of $13 a barrel in 1999 to $113 a barrel earlier this year, and they’re now hovering around $86. The prices of grains and other essential foodstuffs have more than doubled. Hunger and severe poverty have made a comeback. The fight against climate change has been nearly abandoned. The global economy has been battered. Economic development assistance has fallen short of expectations. Water scarcity and resource limitations have grown more acute. And the transition to a green economy has not been as swift as many hoped. In the meantime, world population keeps on growing with no end in sight. If fertility rates don’t continue to fall, population could soar as high as 15 billion by the end of this century.
It’s a scary thought, so there’s your Halloween gift. (Via Grist)
13: Plant a tree to raise your property value? A study by the U.S. Forest Service shows a positive correlation between number of trees on a property and the property value.
In personal news, I’m moving to Bloomingdale (the neighborhood in DC) at the end of this month, which I’m very excited about even though I’ll have a longer commute. I’m also going to Austin, Texas for the first time next weekend! It’ll be my first time in Austin and my first time in Texas.
A lot of moving and shaking this month. Let’s make things happen and learn something new every day. Here’s what I’ve learned on each day of the first week of October.
1: East African elephants are terrified of bees, and will emit a rumble as an alarm call in response to the sound of the African bees. Science Magazine reports that this is the known finding of an alarm call amongst elephants.
2: Who knew watching paint dry could be this entertaining? Watch Pipe Plant by Sasha Aleksandrov.
3: China is absolutely riddled with what are known as ghost cities – entire cities devoid of residents – which if occupied could house over 200 million people. Some photos from Quora user Brian Roemmele help drive this point home. Nevertheless, China continues to build at the rate of something like 16 new cities per year, many of which lack the most essential resource to a city: its people.
4: HTML microdata is information about a web page that can be added to reduce ambiguity by providing semantic meaning to online search results. Schema.org provides guidelines on how to markup your web content using microdata. The benefit to doing this is that it indexes your web pages more accurately by the major search engines, like Google and Bing.
5: Because of the way English bulldogs been bred to select for certain traits, such as their wide shoulders and narrow hips, they are unable to reproduce naturally. They require artificial insemination and a cesarean section to give birth. This intensive breeding process also makes them expensive dogs to purchase.
6: You can sign documents electronically. It’s likely that I knew vaguely that this was possible, but I’ve never e-signed a document before and it was exciting to see how simple the process is. They’re legally treated the same as regular signatures in the U.S.
7: Pasta carbonara involves a specific process of cooking with an egg. I assumed it referred to a type of sauce, but real carbonara involves a raw egg that needs to be handled in a way as not to clump up or overcook when it’s added. The egg is added after the pasta is cooked and drained – it’s cooked by the residual heat of the pasta. After looking through a few recipes, I’ll try my hand at making this soon.
Somehow these last couple of weeks have been even busier than the week before! Sorry for the delay in posting – here are the things I’ve learned every day for the past two weeks. Any cool new knowledge you’ve picked up lately?
16: In many places, we’re pumping groundwater faster than it can be replenished – in certain parts of the Ogallala Aquifer, for example, groundwater is being pumped 20x faster than the aquifer can be replenished. This can result in a lower elevation of the ground surface in the surrounding area.
17: The penny-farthing bicycle was named for this early bike’s resemblance to two coins sitting side by side – the larger penny and the smaller farthing, which was worth 1/4 of a penny or 1/960th of a pound sterling. (Bike Snob: Systematically & Mercilessly Realigning the World of Cycling by Christopher Koelle)
18: The Kyopo Project by artist CYJO, on exhibit until October 14, 2012 at the National Portrait Gallery in DC, explores the variety of experiences of Korean-Americans. The term ‘kyopo’ refers to a Korean who grew up outside of Korea. Well worth visiting!
19: At one point in time, you could send children through the post. Unbelievable? Well, there are stories of at least a couple of instances…
20: We’re primed to spend more when we go shopping through a number of psychological techniques that aren’t immediately obvious to most of us. Martin Lindstrom explains a few of these with the example of the Whole Foods grocery stores. Those flowers by the front entrance? Unconscious to you, their presence plants the thought of freshness in your mind, since they are so short-lived and perishable. The drops of water continually misted onto the fruits and veggies? They also call up the idea of freshness, though the extra water causes the fruits and vegetables to go bad more quickly. Lindstrom is the author of a book called Brandwashed that discusses more of these techniques of manipulation that marketers employ so effectively.
21: In New Orleans, all-day parties called boucheries are held in backyards and will often involve cooking up an entire pig – every part, including the blood, as Anthony Bourdain discovered on No Reservations.
22: Don’t wear herringbones, houndstooth or small plaids on-air. These patterns don’t capture well on TV cameras: they appear to ‘dance’ around because of the moiré effect.
23: This is probably an obvious fact to many, but South Korea has the fastest Internet speeds in the world – averaging 17.62 Mbps. The United States is in 26th place, with an average speed of 4.93 Mbps. (From a study by Pando Networks)
24: Steeling is the process of re-aligning the edge of your kitchen knife to keep it sharp. Honing steels are the steel rods that are used to hone the blade edge, and ideally, this should be done every time you use the knife.
25: Here’s a neat website called Inconspicuous Consumption – recommended for those interested in sociology, consumer culture, or product design.
26: Mosquitoes can be attracted to you by many cues, including the carbon dioxide in your breath, skin chemicals such as lactic acid, or body temperature. Basically, if you’re a breathing and sweating human being, you’re a target – though certain people seem to naturally attract more mosquitoes than others. Personally, I’ve been eaten alive by mosquitoes lately and wouldn’t mind if autumn settled in quickly.
27: Science explains: how a riderless bicycle can steer itself! Hint: it’s physics. However, the research of Andy Ruina and Jim Papadopoulos on gyroscopic torques and trail has found that these are not required to have a self-steering bicycle, as was commonly believed.
28: Eating three meals a day didn’t become the norm in the United States until as late as the 20th century. Dinner used to be the meal served at home around the early afternoon, but was moved into the evening as cities grew and more people worked further from home; the lighter mid-day meal then became known as lunch.
29: Incredible photos from the mass games in North Korea by Sam Gellman. Via Wikipedia: “Today, mass games are regularly performed only in North Korea, where they take place to celebrate national holidays such as the birthdays of rulers Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il.”
30: We’re not the only office who decided to put our geekiness on display to the world around us with Post-It Space Invaders and Mario scenes on our windows. Check out Post-It War, a project out of France.
01: Your senses are delayed by about 80 milliseconds. Your brain can align inputs from simultaneous sensations (traveling from different distances through your body) so they’re experienced in sync – in a way, your brain waits before registering the information it has gathered from your body.
02: According to a recent CDC report, 5% of Americans drink over 550 calories of sweetened drinks daily. Teenage boys drink the most of the sugary stuff.
03: Caleb Chung, the creator of the Furby, wanted to improve upon the electronic pet idea (like the Tamagotchi and Giga Pet – very popular in the 90s) by creating a toy that could appear to be responsive and emulate machine learning. The more you played with a Furby, the more its vocabulary seemed to grow. It was programmed to gradually move from an unintelligible “Furbish” language to the English language, though the toy itself couldn’t actually hear or understand anything that was said to it. The Furby’s emotional expression are tracked to its ears – essentially serving as both its eyebrows and its arms. (Radiolab)
04: Pickling cucumbers doesn’t require many ingredients: cucumbers, water, vinegar, sugar, salt, garlic, and dill. I haven’t tried making them myself but hope to soon!
05: Verbal overshadowing is a term used to describe the strange effect studied by Jonathan Schooler: those who wrote down a description of a bank robber immediately after a staged crime actually had a harder time remembering the details later than those who didn’t describe the person right afterward. But his data began to regress towards the mean… (This one’s fascinating. Listen to the whole story here.)
06: The first Piggly Wiggly supermarket opened in Memphis, TN on this day in 1916. It was the first of its kind: a fully self-serve grocery store, in which customers could pick their items off the shelves without having to write an order to the clerk. According to the commemorative plaque at that site, “shoppers presented their orders to clerks who fetched goods, ground coffee beans, measured flour and sugar, and then added the bills in pencil on the back of sacks.”
07: An interesting analysis of China’s dependence on tobacco:
Smoking in China remains a highly gendered behavior with 57.4% of men and 3% of women smoking, respectively (WHO, 2010). The concentration of smoking among men reflects advertising and marketing strategies that have linked tobacco to traditional notions of masculine identity (nanzihan – 男子汉), political leadership (imagery of Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping smoking) and expressions of nationalism and patriotism (cigarette brands such as Zhonghua – 中华). Anthropologists such as Matthew Kohrman have described how exchanging cigarettes forms the currency of male networking and friendship in rural and urban China (Kohrman, 2007).
This list of things I’ve learned appears to have a food focus this week. Enjoy!
15: Hong Kong’s transit system, the Mass Transit Railway (MRT), makes a huge profit – over USD $1 billion per year. The daily ridership is almost 4 million. According to the Infrastructurist, this is because Hong Kong’s MTR also takes part in developing residences, offices, and retail in the immediate vicinities of its rail stations. Jaffe writes: “This side business generates a huge amount of revenue that can be recycled back into the system itself.” Thus resulting in more profits – a kind of recycling, of sorts!
16: In certain countries, upwards of 40% of an average household’s income is spent on food. Rising food prices have a much greater effect on well-being in poorer countries, where this is the case. See this infographic by Natalie Jones: How Much of Our Spending Goes Toward Food?
17: The documentary Thirst (2004) is a film about the global water supply and a look into the battles around the rights to water. In one of the main focal points of the documentary, the residents of Stockton, CA fight the privatization of their water by OMI/Thames Water. Since the documentary’s filming, there have been a number of updates as well.
18: The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is used as an economic indicator of inflation. It tracks the prices of certain common goods and services over time, helping to reach an estimated cost of living which is used to adjust salaries and wages.
19: Ceviche is a Central and South American dish made with fish and citrus juice. It’s served cold and is ‘cooked’ by the citrus. No heat is applied in the preparation of the dish: the proteins in the fish or seafood become denatured by the citric acid.
20: Lobsters can grow to 40 pounds or more in size because they hardly show signs of losing function as they age. Even very old lobsters have the equivalent appetite, sex drive, energy, and metabolism of a young lobster. The best indication of the age of a lobster is its size.
Also, eating lobster used to be a mark of poverty in colonial times:
“Prior to the 1880s, it was unusual to see lobster on menus at all except in bargain-priced lobster salad,” said Glenn Jones, of Texas A&M University, who led the research. “It was considered a trash fish — it was not something you’d want to be seen eating. In colonial America servants negotiated agreements that they would not be forced to eat lobster more than twice a week.”(‘How lobster went up in the world’)
21: Less a “self-driving car” and more a “self-driving shuttle”, these futuristic ULTra pods in Heathrow airport may be headed to other locations, including Tysons Corner, VA:
22: For a look into stem cell research, go see the documentary Mapping Stem Cell Research: Terra Incognita. I can’t articulate the arguments as well as they’re made by those in the film, but it’s worth watching. And it’s also available streaming on Netflix (I’ve been a bit ill so I’ve been watching more movies than usual).
7: Scientists Juliano Laren, Amy N. Dalton, and Eduardo B. Andrade conducted an experiment in which they discovered that although brands cause priming effects in line with the intended behavioral effect (brands such as Wal-Mart led to more frugal behavior, while luxury brands led to increased spending), slogans actually cause the opposite of the intended effect. This suggests we’re less vulnerable to certain kinds of advertising than traditionally believed. We may subconsciously recognize and resist marketing tactics, especially those we identify as outright attempts to manipulate our behavior.
8: The U.S. income tax is a result of Prohibition. Before Prohibition, the federal government derived a significant part of its domestic revenue from the excise tax on liquor. Without the money from that tax, the federal government needed to establish an income tax – which it did with the income tax amendment of 1913. (Last Call by Daniel Okrent)
9: Among 3D printing’s many uses: creation of prosthetic limb casings.
10: Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) is a field of study that explores the interface between man and machine (computers). Experts in this field are essential to jobs related to user interaction design, in high demand today. I have several coworkers with degrees in HCI, which I had never heard of before.
11: Farm raised shellfish may be one of the most sustainable seafoods we can eat. Barton Seaver, a DC-area chef, recommends eating as many oysters, clams, and mussels as you want. Quoth Seaver:
It’s the only seafood that I recommend overconsumption of. Oysters are an absolutely decimated wild population, and they provide a very necessary and vital ecosystem function of helping to filter the waterways. When an oyster farmer plants a clam or an oyster, that farmed oyster is the exact same species that goes in the wild, and it performs the same vital functions. In fact, in some cases, those oysters will actually breed and reproduce, thus helping to replenish and restore native populations. Every time you eat one of these farmed oysters you’re incentivizing the farmer to plant at least one more. And that creates a vital economic lifeline for areas that are devastated by overfishing. (via Grist)
13: Speaking of shellfish, the greenshell mussel is native to New Zealand. My uncle, who’s from NZ, tells me you can identify a New Zealand mussel by its unique green color on the edge of the shell. Green mussels are also larger than the kind we find elsewhere, one of the largest species of mussel.
14: As useful as ‘walk scores’ (such as www.walkscore.com) can be in grading the accessibility of a neighborhood on foot, there are many details that don’t get factored in and should be for a useful grade. Though the algorithm measures distance to amenities, these amenities are all weighted equally in the score.
I’m curious: What’s the walk score of your neighborhood? Do you think it’s accurate? Mine’s 86 out of 100, and from the few I’ve cross-checked, seems like a decent assessment. Less walkable than the heart of Adams Morgan, more walkable than Bloomingdale.
1: Painting the roofs of buildings white is one strategy for reducing energy costs. In the summer, this allows more sunlight to reflect off of the roof (as opposed to a dark-colored roof) keeping it cooler inside the building.
2: Labor omnia vincit is a Latin phrase that is also Oklahoma’s state motto. It means “Labor conquers all” and appears in a work by Virgil in encouragement of Caesar’s back to the land policy (to promote farming as a profession). According to USDA’s Economic Research Service, almost 80% of Oklahoma’s land area is farmland.
3: As we know, there’s a great disparity in America in terms of transportation. Lack of good mass transit in the U.S. is one critical barrier to employment. A recent report on transportation states that for Americans in the lowest income bracket, approximately 42% of their annual income goes to paying for transportation. For middle-income Americans, that number is only 22%. And those lowest-income Americans tend to have the longest commutes – many of the poorest NYC residents have a commute of more than an hour each way. Transportation policy affects access to healthcare, to economic opportunity, and to affordable housing. (Source)
4: Via the Washington City Paper, here’s a great oral history of Fort Reno, an institution of local music: [Your Band] Played Here. For those who don’t know, Fort Reno is a park in the Tenleytown neighb DC that’s been putting on free summer concerts (punk, hardcore, indie rock, and other genres) on its outdoor stage on and off since 1968.
5: I haven’t had to search for housing in New York City before, so this is what I hear from friends living there: apparently it’s pretty common to hire a real estate broker to help you find a place to rent. No one I know has had to use a broker to find housing in DC, but then again the real estate market is much more competitive in NYC than in DC. For some of my friends, it’s taken three months just to find an apartment rental in New York.
6: The Guggenheim Lab is a traveling lab that is “part urban think tank, part community center and public gathering space.” It’s in NYC until October 16th of this year, and we saw an interesting demonstration of edible water by a culinary performance group called a razor, a shiny knife (these are the same people that put on a 6-course brunch for 50 people on the L train).
11: William “Bill” James Sidis was the youngest person to graduate Harvard at age 16. In one of the lectures Bill gave at age 11, he explained four-dimensional space as “a speculative realm of incomprehensibly involved relationships.” At age 3, Bill taught himself to read Latin, learned nine languages before the age of 8, and throughout his childhood proved himself to be exceptionally smart. But he got burnt out at an early age following his early graduation from Harvard, trying to hide away from the constant storm of reporters by moving around and working menial jobs under false identities. Later in life, he wrote a number of books under an alias, including an extensive study of streetcar transfer tickets… (via The Memory Palace)
12: What helps keep people together in relationships may be the misattribution of arousal. For example, when we have breathtaking, novel experiences such as riding a roller-coaster with a person, we often partially attribute that heightened level of excitement to being with that person. Our minds aren’t great at distinguishing between the causes, and sometimes we aren’t aware of all the environmental or physical factors involved. There have been many experiments to explore this. Another example is an experiment in which the subjects are placed either in a cold room or a warm room. The subjects who were talking to another person in the cold room were less likely than the others to rate the conversation (or the conversation partner) positively. So it might mean you’re likely to stay with a person with whom you often have these exciting experiences – your terrifying skydiving trip gets your system pumping with adrenaline, which you attribute (partially) to your attraction to your date. This makes me wonder if maybe terms like “heartthrob” and “sweetheart” are more insightful than you’d think. (More here)
13: Over 15% of Singapore households are millionaires. I know Singapore’s a city-state, but still – unbelievable. (A million millionaires)
14: “Complete streets” are liveable, safer streets that recognize the needs of both drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians, making it easier to share the road. The widening of U St’s narrow sidewalks, for example, is one related plan in DC that focuses on making the street safer, not just more accessible to vehicles. (Discussion with David Alpert of GGW on the Kojo Nnamdi Show)
15: A SnorriCam is the name for a video camera mounted on an actor’s body, facing them, so that it stably records face-on while the background moves. This was named for the Icelandic directors, with last names Snorri and Snorri, who despite their shared names weren’t related by blood.
16: Modern night vision devices as used in the U.S. Army were invented by Professor William Spicer. The technology behind night vision may be attributed to several different sources, however.
17: Lake Tahoe is the 2nd-deepest lake in the United States, after Crater Lake in Oregon. Just another one of those debates that pop up between friends on long drives.
18: Honey shouldn’t be given to babies until they reach at least 2 years of age, because of the risk of infant botulism. Botulism is caused by bacterial spores that are sometimes present in canned foods (especially self-canned foods) and are commonly associated with honey. Because infants have weak immune systems, they are at greater risk of botulism poisoning.
Daily lessons learned are back! And they’ll continue for the rest of the year, since I don’t have any big trips planned for the rest of the year 2011. It’s true you learn something new every day, and writing it all down helps. Here’s the latest installation, with the first 10 days of July.
01: China has opened a 26.4 mile over-water bridge, the Jiaozhou Bay Bridge, connecting Qingdao city with the island of Hongdao. Many of the world’s longest bridge projects are located in China, including the three longest.
02: The sensation of “brain freeze” you get when you drink an iced drink or eat ice cream too fast is a result of your blood vessels constricting quickly. Still, it strikes me as strange how the feeling’s experienced towards the top-back of your head.
03: According to a woman I met from Australia, Australian accents are considered similar to the Surrey accent in the southeast of England. This area of England may be where the Australian English accent first originated. I wonder if the Surrey accent also demonstrates the upward inflections at the ends of sentences that is so characteristic of Australian English.
04: The St. Louis Gateway Arch is taller than the Washington Monument. Learned this from the game You Don’t Know Jack, which is a pretty entertaining game if you like quirky trivia. The arch looks like an impressive structure; never been to St. Louis myself. [Photo at right, which I snagged off the internet.]
05: The angklung is an Indonesian instrument made entirely of bamboo. It’s played by holding the instrument loosely by its upper section (the top horizontal beam of the frame) with your left hand, and moving it to the left and right with your right hand (holding the bottom tube). The sound is a pleasant hollow tone and each angklung produces a specific note – musicians need to play together in an ensemble to play all the notes of a song.
06: Not all bars give you a new glass or pitcher when you order another of the same beer. This was a relief to see because I had grown accustomed to bartenders performing the (seemingly) pointless act of giving you a new cup when you went up to the bar to get a refill on your beer. If it’s the same beer, I don’t see the point in giving a fresh glass every time. Just looks like it’s creating more unnecessary dishes… but feel free to chime in if there’s a counterpoint here.
07: In the U.S., certain fictional phone numbers are set aside for use in movies and television shows by the Motion Picture Association of America. These begin with “555” and are not usually given out by phone companies, so that real phone customers aren’t continually harassed by people trying to call their favorite stars. However, Universal Studios is a notable exception. They own the phone number (212) 664-7665, which they’ve used in a few recent flicks and allegedly just keeps ringing when you call it. (via Mashable)
08: The hagfish, misleadingly nicknamed the slime eel, is the only animal that has a skull but no spine. One species of hagfish is caught in the northwest Pacific and exported live to Korea as food – their slime used in similar fashion to egg whites.
09: According to the World Health Organization’s “World report on road trafﬁc injury prevention”, 1.2 million people die in traffic accidents each year. Approximately 85% of these types of deaths occur in low- or middle-income countries. Whereas in most high-income countries car deaths take the lives of car drivers, in lower income countries, the deaths are primarily among pedestrians, passengers, cyclists, motorcyclists, and those taking other modes of transport such as buses. (Source)
10: Watermelon is originally from southern Africa. We had a few people guess on its origins at a picnic, and the most specific we got was my aunt’s answer of “Africa! Because everything comes from Africa.” Today, however, China grows the most watermelon worldwide – over 63 million metric tons were produced in 2008.
A couple more observations I noted on my recent trip to South Korea:
Catch a cab at a cab stand. I saw cab stands (similar to bus stops, sometimes with a shelter covering them) along the busier streets in Seoul. Cabs will come by and pick up any passengers waiting at the stop, or even wait in a line of cabs in popular areas near train stations. I’ve seen cab stands at big transit hubs in the States like Union Station in DC, but I spotted more of them in Korea in a few weeks than I have in all my time in U.S. cities.
Stairs and mountains and… moving walkways. Korea is, more so than not, mountainous. It makes for great hiking. This also means navigating the subway stations involves lots of stair-climbing. And in some of the transfer stations, the different subway lines are so far apart that there are moving walkways to help you get to your destination.
Hotel vs. hostel. We stayed in a hotel in Daegu, but it was worse in every way than any of the hostels we stayed in during our trip. It was a really old building that seemed like it hadn’t been updated since at least the 60s, the shower would only give you hot water for about a minute at a time, and it was completely empty. I think we were the only ones staying on the entire floor, and possibly in the entire hotel. To be fair, Daegu’s not a city that draws in tourists, which is also the reason it doesn’t have any hostels. When we could, we stayed in hostels – they’re cheaper and much more social.
Kimchi! If you’re a fan of spicy food, the food in Korea is so, so good. Kimchi, a fermented Korean side dish with lots of red pepper, is the accompaniment to any proper meal in Korea and essentially the national food. Koreans take a lot of pride in their kimchi, often touting its health benefits and cooking with it in a huge variety of ways.