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Monday 4 July 2011

Peas in a Pod

"As like as peas in a pod" is a familiar saying. These photos were taken to explore that topic: Are pea in a pod really alike?

Photo #1 below shows the pod before opening, photo #2 is the pod after splitting. Notice that the pea attachments are to alternate sides of the pod.

The other two photos show the 7 peas in a hexagonal arrangement. Snap A is one arrangement, snap B is another arrangement. Or is B really another arrangment? Can you tell whether the central pea has been changed? Perhaps the 7 peas were shifted around, but the central pea in snap A is still the central pea in snap B? What are the chances?


Pea Pod Before Opening

Pea Pod Before Opening


Pea Pod After Opening

Pea Pod After Opening


Peas Snapshot A

Peas Snap A


Peas Snapshot B

Peas Snap B


Sunday 8 May 2011

Trillium Photos

This May 2011, we found two Yellow Trilliums in our woods. The yellow trillium is a variant of the red trillium. It is mentioned on page 165 of "Forest Plants of Central Ontario" (Chambers, Legasy & Bentley). It was quite exciting to find those yellow trilliums; we have thousands of reds every year, and hundreds of whites, but never before have we seen yellows. And we don't have any green trilliums either. Greens result from a micro-organism which infects the whites. We have found green trilliums in two woodland areas not too far from here.

Here are links to photos of the four colours we have encountered. The images are clickable for full-size photographs. Enjoy!

- Yellow Trillium - May 2011 -

Yellow Trillium

- Red Trillium - May 2006 -

Red Trillium

- Green Trillium - May 2010 -

Green Trillium

- White Trillium - May 2010 -

White Trillium


Wednesday 9 June 2010

Egg Spatula

Egg Spatula

This egg spatula is a modification of a square-ended spatula. It is intended for cooking fried or scrambled eggs in a small skillet. With a square spatula, one can turn the eggs over easily, but cannot scrape the sides of the skillet. A spoon can scrape the sides, but cannot turn the eggs. So this combo tool does the job! This particular spatula is made of bamboo - easy to modify - but I actually prefer plastic spatulas for everyday use.

Sunday 16 May 2010


Compost Pile

A description of my compost sifter was one of the first web pages I put online, about 1997, and my composting technique has changed a bit since then. So here is a revisit of the topic!

The above is my compost pile. It has four compartments for composting, each slightly more than 1 meter square, and a fifth compartment for sifted compost which is ready to use. The photo shows the compost pile during the middle of the spring sifting operation. After the pile thaws out (April), it is shoveled over towards and then into the sifter. Sifted compost drops thru, and the unsifted material is thrown back into the pile for further composting.

The photo shows two quadrants emptied out, one (the colourful one, far one) with some fresh kitchen and garden scraps, and the other far left one with sifted-out material thrown back. The two near quadrants are compost ready for sifting - you can see it is essentially dirt. And under the sifter is the sifted compost.

This sifting operation is done once a year, in the spring. New material goes onto the pile throughout the summer and fall, and winters over. There is no need to turn the pile. Composting is not hot; nature takes its course. There are typically lots of worms among the kitchen scraps before they finish composting. Weeds are not a problem - seeds will sprout, because the compost is a healthy growing medium; I just pull up the weeds and put them back into the pile to be composted.

The sifted compost compartment supplies compost for gardening needs during the year. Sifted compost is pretty much ready to use right after sifting, but another couple of weeks of digestion is ideal - sifting will have introduced more air into the mix, and anything that went thru the sifter mesh but is not completely digested, will finish digestion during the next while. If the compost is used right after sifting, it will simply complete its digestion in the place it is used; no problem.

What goes into my compost pile? Kitchen scraps - fruits and vegetables - and garden scraps - leafy things. Organics that do not have much or any fat or protein content. We have plenty to choose from so do not stretch looking for oddball stuff. Making compost is like making a stew - one adds a variety of things, not too much of any single thing, and lets it cook for a long time.

Below are photos of the details of my compost inputs, and of my sifter.

There's a story behind the compost sifter design. My first sifter was hand-held, a 1.2cm-screen on a wooden frame. It needed a lot of arm work, and the screen was too small. Then I envisioned putting the frame on rigid legs, with a lever to move it back and forth. Overly complex. What I have now is just fine - the legs are wobbly, so the sifter can easily be shaken back and forth. And the mesh is 2.5cm, which is plenty fine for the job of separating compost from material which needs some more digesting.

Happy composting! Here are those additional photos:

Compost Contents Compost Sifter

And here, should you want a more compact compost pile, is a photo of an urban bin. Approximately a cube, 60 cm on a side, with a hinged lid. Notice the latch on the lid, to keep raccoons out. Three sides, the top, and the bottom are wire mesh, so lots of air can get in. The front boards with air holes drilled in them can be removed to shovel out the compost.

Compost Bin

Friday 7 May 2010

Cast Chain Puzzle

Cast Chain Puzzle

The cast chain puzzle is very enjoyable. Made by Hanayama, available in Canada from Puzzle Master ( ). It comes without a solution! There was a time, during my work with it, when I desperately wanted to give up and read a solution. But the satisfaction of solving the cast chain puzzle on one's own is tremendous

Cast Chain Apart

Wednesday 5 May 2010

Rotating Bucket of Water

The following little experiment was prompted by a mention of Newton's bucket experiment, in which a bucket is filled half-full with water, suspended from a rope, and the rope and bucket are twisted. Letting the bucket go, it spins, and gradually the water within the bucket comes up to speed, and its level rises on the sides of the bucket. When the rope unwinds and the bucket stops spinning, the water continues to rotate for a while, and its surface continues to be concave. (Ref - John Moffat, "Reinventing Gravity", 2008, pp 36-37)


A bucket with vertical sides, containing 3 litres of water, was placed on a record turntable. The radius of the bucket was 10.2 cm.

Photo #1 was taken at start, when the bucket and water were still. The water came to just under the 3.0 litre mark on the bucket.

The record turntable was switched on to its 45 rpm speed. The turntable quickly came up to speed - and that speed was 45 rpm (ie, the 3 kg mass of the bucket and water did not cause the turntable's motor to run slower than its rated speed).

The water started rotating, as could be seen by observing dust specks in the water. Specks further from the central axis had a higher angular speed, and within a minute were rotating at almost 45 rpm. Specks nearer the central axis took longer to come up to angular speed. Eventually, after about 5-7 minutes, all the water was rotating at or near 45 rpm.

Photo #2 was taken when the bucket and water were rotating at 45 rpm. The water level came to about the 3.1 litre level on the side of the bucket.

The turntable was switched off, and the rotation of the bucket was stopped. The water continued to rotate.

Photo #3 was taken when the bucket had been stopped but the water was still rotating, slowing down from 45 rpm. The water level was still above the 3.0 litre mark on the bucket, but below the 3.1 litre level.

After several minutes, the water had slowed down, and its level had dropped.

Photo #4 was taken when the bucket and the water had both stopped. The water level had returned to just above the 3.0 litre mark on the bucket.


Wednesday 20 June 2007

Water Lens

Water Lens

Standing ankle-deep in water, on a sunny day, at a pebble/sand beach. The water ripples act as a lens and cause the sun to focus on the bottom, creating rapidly changing lines of light. Taken at Pancake Bay, on the eastern shore of Lake Superior, Ontario, Canada.

Tuesday 19 June 2007

Black (Indian film)

"Black" is an Indian film, in Hindi with English (and other language) subtitles. A teacher (Amitabh Bachchan) helps a blind-deaf girl (Rani Mukerji) learn to communicate. The acting is superb, the cinematography also, and the story is inspiring and ultimately upbeat. "Black" is a film that one does not forget. I have a simple rating system for films, and "Black" is the only Indian film I have yet seen that gets a 10/10 rating - ie, perfection. I cannot at the moment think of any other films, in any cinema tradition, that deserve such a 10/10 rating. Don't fuss about not knowing Hindi ... think of the difficulties of a blind-deaf girl, and be thankful you can hear and see this wonderful production.

Red Trillium

Red Trillium

Red trillium, snapped in the woods near our house in Ontario, Canada. The trillium is the provincial flower of Ontario. The most frequently depicted trillium is white, but red trilliums are more usual hereabouts.