Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Comical misreadings, gas leaks, honey and mushrooms

So it's been forever since I updated this thing, and today was amusing, so off we go.

  • I was just checking my gmail, and the little link they give you up at the top was from "NYT Travel" with the headline "Hotel Spas Try to Lure Locals". Of course I misread it as "Hotel Spas Try to Lure Lolcats".

  • Today I and thousands of other students, faculty and staff were evacuated from the University of Utah campus after crews installing an underground fiber-optic line nailed a gas line with their drill. Oops! The guy whodunit said that Blue Stakes, the local utility line locating company, had cleared the area that morning. Gj Blue Stakes! Apparently they nailed the line so hard that grass was waving and the asphalt was bubbling. You could smell gas as far over as the business loop, a good thousand feet away.

  • I just watched an unduly fascinating episode of Good Eats with Alton Brown. It is quite possibly one of the coolest shows on television, because Alton Brown picks a particular food item and tells you everything you could ever possibly want to know about it - chemistry, history, recipes that use it, etc. etc. Tonight's episode was on honey. I knew a little bit about honey's antiseptic and preservative properties, but it turns out that it's way cooler than that - it's strongly hygroscopic, which means it will actually suck water out of the air to help keep foods made with it moist. Alton made a delicious-looking honey mustard thing that could be used as a salad dressing OR a dip for chicken fingers or whatever OR anything else your imaginative mind can think of. Cool. Then I got wikipediaing about honey and bees and stuff and found out that, holy cow, bees are AWESOME. Not only do they make honey, but they do a waggle dance to indicate to other bees how far away and in what direction a particular field of flowers is, they can kill wasps by balling up around them until they die of overheating, and that archaeologists have found sealed pots of perfectly good (if a little crystallized) honey in Greek shipwrecks and Pharaohs' tombs. How cool is that?

  • Speaking of random wikipediaing, I learned a lot about mushrooms today. Did you know that there are a ton of edible mushrooms, a ton of inedible mushrooms, and a ton of quite poisonous mushrooms, some of which look rather a lot like certain delicious mushrooms? Did you know that Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI died as a result of eating poisonous mushrooms, and that his death led to the War of Austrian Succession? Voltaire commented, "This dish of mushrooms changed the destiny of Europe." I bet you'll never look at a mushroom the same. Also, I want to kick this.


Silas said...

Having worked (briefly) in the gas industry, I can tell you that Blue Stakes had a probability of 1 of working from inaccurate maps. Any time you're doing any work in the vicinity of gas lines, expect to nail one that isn't where it's supposed to be, or isn't what they say it is...

Jill said...

I LOVE Alton Brown and honey. I can't believe I missed it. Thanks for catching me up. :)

Laverna said...

Mmm. Honey. Fresh bread made with honey and honey on top. My dad has a co-worker that has a beehive. After sampling some of this guy's honey, my dad wants to have his own beehive now. We'll disregard the ironic fact that my dad's extremely allergic to bees.

Looking for a good read? The Omnivore's Dilemma. Lots about food and there's even a part where the author goes hunting for wild mushrooms. Reading that book make me hungry -- sometimes.