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May 2, 2021

Amethyst Starling


From Wikipedia:

The violet-backed starling (Cinnyricinclus leucogaster), also known as the plum-coloured starling or amethyst starling, is a relatively small species (17 cm) of starling in the family Sturnidae.

It is the only member of the genus Cinnyricinclus.

This strongly sexually dimorphic species is found widely in the woodlands and and savannah forest edges of mainland sub-Saharan Africa.


It is rarely seen on the ground, usually being found in trees and other elevated locations.

May 2, 2021 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Things worth remembering


Over the years certain things I committed to memory long ago have turned out to be useful on a regular basis.

Below, some I frequently invoke:

2.54 centimeters = 1 inch. I use this conversion several times every week.


• "Not only... but also." It is not appreciated by many writers and publications that the words "not only" must always be followed by "but also." Even august authors, magazines, and newspapers forget this fact. I don't, nor should you.


"Misspelled" and "misspelling" are often misspelled. Two s's, two l's. Memorize it, then laugh whenever you see it spelled wrong. Which will be soon and often.


ROY G BIV — Red Orange Yellow Green Blue Indigo Violet. The order of colors (longest to shortest wavelength) into which white light separates when passing through a prism. Useful when you want to order groups of objects differing only in color: nature makes it easy to be natural if you know the drill.


"Red sky at night, sailor's delight; red sky at morning, sailors take warning." Not just for sailors.


"30 days hath September, April, June and November; all the rest have 31...." At least once a week I rerun this refrain in my head to pinpoint how many days till something happens.

What about you?

What tricks and short cuts make your life easier?

Here's your chance to strut your stuff under the bright lights for the whole world to marvel at.

May 2, 2021 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (12)

Decoding utility markings spray-painted on city streets


From 99percentinvisible:

It wasn't the first or last accident of its kind, but it helped catalyze the systemization of critical color-coded utility markings — mysterious-looking tags that look like nonsense or a secret code until you start to decipher them.

On that fateful June 15th, workers were excavating Venice Boulevard to widen the road when disaster struck.

Pressurized gas from a ruptured line ignited into a fireball and smoke rose hundreds of feet into the air.

Flames engulfed businesses and apartment buildings along the block, killing and injuring dozens of people.

Three months later, the state created the DigAlert system for contractors and citizens to contact when planning a subterranean dig to help avoid future disasters.

Keeping track of work areas and what's underground can be tricky, so organizations like DigAlert mandate the use of white (paint, chalk, flour or flags) to mark off construction zones, plus Uniform Color Codes developed by the American Public Works Association (APWA) for the temporary marking of underground utilities. 


These "safety colors" were formalized by the American Standards Institute (ANSI) as Safety Color Code Z535:

  • Red: electric power lines, cables, conduit and lighting cables
  • Orange: telecommunication, alarm or signal lines, cables or conduit
  • Yellow: natural gas, oil, steam, petroleum or other flammables
  • Green: sewers and drain lines
  • Blue: drinking water
  • Purple: reclaimed water, irrigation and slurry lines
  • Pink: temporary survey markings, unknown/unidentified facilities
  • White: proposed excavation limits or routes

These colors cover the general categories of unseen hazards workers need to take into account, but they are only part of the equation.

Notations are also necessary to keep track of the locations, widths, and depths of conduits, cables, and pipes and identify the associated utility company.

Accordingly, the Common Ground Alliance maintains a set of Guidelines for Operator Facility Field Delineation to indicate where and how to mark things with arrows, numbers and symbols.


The stakes are high for underground excavation and construction projects.

Negligent digging can cause everything from a major utility outage to gas leak evacuations (or worse).

Hitting a water main may also trigger local flooding or require a boil-water advisory.

In the US, thanks to the 2002 Pipeline Safety Improvement Act, most municipalities require that people call before digging.

Utilities will then send people out to mark out underground hazards.

Other countries have evolved various similar systems to avoid accidents as well.

Deciphering Utility Codes Around the World

Some places, like Scotland, offer excavators detailed maps of utilities, but in the rest of the UK, for instance, people are on their own when it comes to finding and avoiding obstacles.

Many thus rely on CATs (Cable Avoidance Tools) to identify dangers. For metal pipes and cables, electromagnetic equipment can help workers "see" below the surface.

For plastic or concrete piping, ground-penetrating radar is employed.


[Above, utility locator tool in use]

Various countries have also evolved different color schemes and markings, too, often with some overlap (like: blue for water).

On British roads, many colors are the same as in the U.S., but some vary (e.g. green is used for telecom rather than sewage and drain lines).

In terms of markings, a number next to a "D" indicates depth and a looping infinity symbol marks the beginning or end of a project area.

For electrical lines, "H/V" means high voltage and "L/V" low voltage, while "S/L" is for streetlights.

For gas lines, "HP" denotes high pressure while "MP" refers to medium pressure and "LP" stands for low pressure.

With standards guides in hand, these odd hieroglyphics start to become legible.

Australia has its own system too, using orange for electricity, yellow for gas, blue for water, light blue for air, white for communications, red for fire services, cream for sewage, purple for reclaimed water, silver or gray for steam, pink for "unknown," brown for oils, and black for other liquids.

Most of Canada uses the same system as the United States.

The subterranean stretches of most cities are teeming with utilities, not to mention mass transit and road tunnels.

Mapping and marking all of this is a complex task often done by third-party contractors whose sole job it is to locate and tag potential hazards below.

The biodegradable paints they use are generally designed to fade over time, but, for those in the know, these odd scribblings provide unique temporary windows into the complex systems running underneath our built environments.

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And for residents, as well as workers in a dangerous industry, these codes are essential to public and workplace safety.

May 2, 2021 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

Moses Sleeper

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Not just a great name for a cheese but a great cheese.

From Jasper Hill Farm:

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FunFact, from The Daily Meal:

You've probably tried brie, a cheese so delicious it's rumored that Louis XVI’s last wish was that he taste it.

But you haven’t lived until you’ve tried this special variety of the famous French cheese.

Brie de Meaux (which hails from the town of Meaux) is different from normal brie because it's made from unpasteurized cow's milk.

Unfortunately, that’s also what makes it illegal in the U.S.

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Moses Sleeper is widely available in grocery stores in the U.S., or order direct from Jasper Hill Farm.

May 2, 2021 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

CMY Color Cube


From websites:

See the world in a different light with the CMY Color Cube.

Each side of the translucent cube is colored with cyan, magenta, or yellow film.

Twisting and turning the geometry creates new combinations revealing orange, green and purple.

Hold the cube before a candle or dip it into a sunbeam to bathe the room in a shifting spectrum of light.

An elegant physics toy disguised as a stylish desktop totem, the CMY Color Cube inspires experimentation as well as creativity.

Measures 1.5" on each side.

Made in Japan.



May 2, 2021 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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