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May 17, 2024

Catatumbo Lightning

Roughly 160 nights a year, up to nine hours of lightning, visible from up to 285 miles away, illuminate the Catatumbo River basin where it empties into Lake Maracaibo (South America's largest lake) in western Venezuela.

From Slate:

Known as the "Beacon of Maracaibo," the Catatumbo lightning has guided sailors for centuries.

It can sometimes be seen on the horizon from as far away as the Lesser Antilles, more than 200 miles distant.

In his 1597 poem "The Dragontea," which tells the story of Sir Francis Drake's last expedition, Spanish poet Lope de Vega tells how the lightning — "flames, which the wings of night cover" — illuminated the silhouettes of the English privateer's ships, tipping off the garrison at Maracaibo to his surprise attack.

During the last major naval skirmish of the Venezuelan war of independence in 1823, the lightning was said to have helped steer the ships of Adm. José Prudencio Padilla to victory over the Spanish fleet.

The storm is so central to the region's identity that the state of Zulia put a large lightning bolt in the middle of its flag.


The lightning flashes occur 15-40 times per minute and can reach an intensity of 400,000 amps.

Discharging more the 1.2 million times a year, the Catatumbo Lightning has been called the single greatest natural source of ozone on the planet.

May 17, 2024 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

'Hard to Kill: Houseplants for the Inept'



Up top, the headline above Michael Tortorello's New York Times article.

Right about now is when a lot of people's houseplants are looking a little wan so I figured it was the good time for this.

Wrote Tortorello:

When I learned that I would be moving... for the first time in 11 years, I took stock of the survivors. What did I find on the radiator cover? A pair of umbrella plants that counted a dozen leaves between them. A ficus with something like psoriasis and another with a stoop. I felt pity, and I felt shame.

A month after moving into my new home, I phoned three experts [Uli Lorimer, Mike Rimland and Mark Hoover] to ask what new houseplants I should draw close to my bosom and adopt as my own. They suggested plants for shady windows and plants for dry winters. They shared their best tips and their favorite catalogs. They described plants that cannot be killed. Their greatest hits are below.

CAST-IRON PLANT (ASPIDISTRA ELATIOR) Like vending machines and cosplay, Mr. Lorimer said, the aspidistra [below]


is big in Japan. Maybe it's the ground-level flowers that bear an unlikely eight petals — the botanical equivalent of a two-headed goat at the state fair. Or perhaps it's the plant's indifference to light and water. Ultimately, Mr. Lorimer said, you can treat this plant like a piece of furniture. That is to say, remember to dust its foot-long leaves every once in a while.

SAGO PALM (CYCAS REVOLUTA - top) "You could drive a truck over it [top], and you couldn't kill it," Mr. Rimland said. Do we hear a challenge?

STRAWBERRY BEGONIA (SAXIFRAGA STOLONIFERA) The botanical name sounds like a Mary Poppins tongue-twister, and the "round, grayish, scalloped" leaves [below]


are nothing special, Mr. Hoover said. He came to appreciate the survival instinct of this tiny plant when he noticed it sending out runners at the nursery — on the cold floor, beneath a table, with no obvious water or light.

May 17, 2024 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

Instant Noodles Pet Bed — 'Udon cup-themed cat and dog nest'



From the website:

Everyone loves cup instant ramen in Japan: they are everywhere, they are tasty, they can be prepared in three minutes with just a couple of cups of hot water, and you can cook them and eat them in the cup they come in.

The Instant Noodles Pet Bed is the proof that even animals love this dish: the moment your cat or (small) dog sees it, they'll rush to get inside and stay there forever!

Like with the cup ramen, the trick in the Instant Noodles Pet Bed is the cup itself: made of cotton, it offers superb heat retention and an amazing level of comfort that any cat (or dog or rabbit) will appreciate the moment they get inside.

The pet nest is available in two sizes, medium and large (see below for exact dimensions), and can accommodate animals up to 10 kg (22 lbs). And as for its appearance, the bed is a perfect copy of one of Japan's most popular types of instant noodles – now with your four-legged friend as the topping!


Features and Details:




May 17, 2024 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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