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December 30, 2018

Moving the goal posts


Since I started doing my own laundry in college, I've separated it into three groups:

• Whites

• Reds

• Darks

A couple weeks ago while I was sorting through the dirty clothes I had an epiphany: just like I stopped

• turning items inside-out because the washing and/or drying instructions said to do that

• not putting things in the dryer that said "do not tumble dry"

• avoiding bleach when something was nasty and the instructions said "do not add bleach"

I decided from now on I'm gonna wash whites & darks together.

One less thing to do.

I'll know that I've achieved satori when I throw in the towel [heh] and stop separating the reds.

December 30, 2018 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)

How geckos walk (and run) on water

From the New York Times:



The Asian house gecko can move across water at great speed by using a half-running, half-swimming motion.

Many insects can skate, stride or whirl around on the surface of the water. But larger animals usually have to swim.

There are a few exceptions. The famed Basilisk lizard zips along, slapping down its feet so fast that it seems to be outrunning the possibility of sinking.

A few bird species, like Western grebes, eiders and mallards run along the water as a prelude to taking off.

That seemed to be about it, until researchers found Asian house geckos, in Singapore, apparently running across the surface of water.


They weren't fully upright, like the basilisk lizards, but they definitely weren't swimming. It looked like most of their body was above the water line, and they were going fast.

Their water speed was "virtually indistinguishable from their land running speed," according to Jasmine A. Nirody.


Dr. Nirody, who will start research at Rockefeller University this coming year, and Judy Jinn, were graduate students in the lab of Robert J. Full at the University of California, Berkeley, when they decided to subject the geckos' water running to greater scrutiny. They built a tank, acquired some house geckos and used video to document the geckos’ water running in a controlled environment so that it could be mathematically analyzed.

As they and their colleagues reported in Current Biology, geckos use both running and swimming motions.


They run on all four legs, slapping the water with their feet the way grebes and basilisks do, finishing the leg movements with paddle-like strokes that help raise most of their body above the water surface and push them forward.

They also swim, using their tails the way alligators do, in an undulation that can only be seen from above.

Also, their skin is very slippery, or hydrophobic, and that helps their bodies hydroplane as the feet and tail power them forward.


The researchers also showed that surface tension was important. When they added soap to the water in the test tank to reduce surface tension, the geckos floundered, moving at a much slower speed and failing to get enough of the body above water to hydroplane.

The soapy water struggles were apparently exhausting, Dr. Nirody said, because some of the geckos just stopped, as if the effort was just too much.

Some actually sank to the bottom of the tank and stayed underwater. They can hold their breath for quite a while, Dr. Nirody said. She speculated that this behavior might be an alternative to the fast running, which seems to be a response to fear.

If you can't outrun them, save your strength and hide on the bottom. Smart geckos.

December 30, 2018 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Experts' Expert: Does freezing fish kill bacteria?


Short answer shorter: No.

"Freezing fish will NOT kill bacteria! Freezing at very low temperatures does kill fish parasites, which is one reason why maatjes herring and much fish for sushi and sashimi are frozen before being eaten raw. But bacteria are hardy and will spring back to life when you thaw the fish."

[via Harold McGee and the New York Times]

December 30, 2018 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

The most beautiful whisk broom in the world

Screen Shot 2018-12-09 at 12.05.25 PM

From the website:


Japanese craftsmen have been producing beautiful handmade grass brooms for hundreds of years.

Not only are they efficient and durable, but also their design and craftsmanship make them lovely objects to hang on the wall of any home.

As the specialized craftsmen who hand make these brooms are aging, the art is dying.

Fortunately, recent interest in natural eco-friendly products is creating a new demand for old-style brooms that may help them to survive.

This large broom has been handmade by the same husband and wife team in Tochigi Prefecture for over 50 years.

Features and Details:

• Dimensions: 23.6"L x 12.6"W

• Weight: 0.5 lb

• Made in Japan


$53.22 (detritus not included).

December 30, 2018 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

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