Odds and Ends, Randomly Useful and Totally Useless Ideas and Information

Monthly Archives: July 2017

Ancient Assyrians sent their dead to the afterlife with fearsome companions: turtles. Excavations of a burial pit in southeastern Turkey revealed skeletons of a woman and a child, plus 21 turtles, a team lead archaeologist Rémi Berthon of France’s National Museum of Natural History reports in the February Antiquity.

The burial is part of an Assyrian site called Kavuşan Höyük that dates to between 700 and 300 B.C. The turtle bonanza included shells from one spur-thighed tortoise (Testudo graeca) and three Middle Eastern terrapins (Mauremys caspica), plus bones from 17 Euphrates soft-shelled turtles (Rafetus euphraticus). Butchering marks on the R. euphraticus bones indicate that the turtles may have been eaten in a funerary feast, Berthon and his colleagues write.

Back then, turtles were a regular menu item in many parts of Mesopotamia. Turtle bones also were thought to ward off evil. The abundance of R. euphraticus turtles, a notoriously aggressive species, in this burial pit suggests the deceased had high social status.

To ancient Assyrians, these ferocious reptiles probably represented eternal life and served as psychopomps — mythical guides to the afterlife, the team writes.

Source: Science News

This is a sampling of an old old mathematics book, not sure when it was published, or what the name of it is. I looked for copies the whole thing, but these were the only images I could find. As you can see this was back in the day when multiplication tables were memorized.

Here’s a page from a similar but different book. This one is in color, and has decorative borders. Notice the hand sewn binding. Very cool.

Have you ever wondered whether you could set ice on fire? These are instructions for how to make ice appear to burn and also instructions so that you can actually set it on fire.

Looking as if ice is on fire:

Most of the photos you might see of burning ice were probably made using Photoshop, but you can get the appearance of burning ice very easily without resorting to image processing tricks. Get some glass cubes (craft stores carry them), set them on a surface that can withstand fire (metal pan, pyrex, stoneware), pour something flammable over the ‘ice’, and set it alight.

You can use 151 rum (ethanol), rubbing alcohol (try for 90% isopropyl alcohol, not the 70% alcohol stuff), or methanol (Heet™ fuel treatment from the automotive section of a store). These easy-to-obtain fuels burn cleanly, so they won’t set off your smoke alarm (I know… I tried).

If you want colored flames, you can add any of the usual flame colorants to the ethanol or rubbing alcohol. If you use methanol, try adding a little boric acid for a brilliant green flame. Use caution with methanol, since it burns very hot.

One little display tip: You can give glass cubes the imperfect, crackled appearance of water ice by setting one on fire and then tossing it (with tongs) into water after the fire goes out. The glass may shatter, but if you have the temperature just right you’ll just create internal fractures that look very pretty in photographs.

Flaming ice

High-proof ethanol (like 151 rum) or 90% isopropyl alcohol will float on the surface of water and mix with it so that as long as there is fuel, your ice will appear to burn. Don’t use methanol… as the ice melts, it will extinguish the flame (methanol is highly toxic too). You can use ethanol on ice used for human consumption (or flaming ice cream drinks).

Note: Rubbing alcohol is toxic and should only be used for decorative purposes.

Really Burning The Ice

You may be thinking it is impossible to burn ice. Strictly speaking, that is not true. You can burn ice, just not water ice. If you make ice cubes from any of the alcohols I have listed, you can burn them. For pure alcohol ice cubes, you’ll need a way to freeze the liquid down to about -100°C, give or take a few degrees depending on the specific alcohol.

You don’t need to get quite that cold for 75% alcohol/25% water ice, which will burn if you spritz it with a little liquid alcohol to get flammable vapor over the ice. You may be able to freeze the 75% solution over dry ice.

Flaming Ice Safety

Just remember two things:

  1. If you want to ingest the flaming ice, only use food-grade ethanol, not some other fuel.
  2. Methanol burns very, very hot! You can get away with using almost any surface if you use ethanol or isopropanol (hey… you can even touch the flame briefly). The uncontrolled-fire and burn risks are much higher using methanol because it produces so much heat.

by Anne Marie Helmenstine

A collection of weather related slang, sayings, superstitions, and phrases:

  • as right as rain ~ means that everything is just fine or going well.
  • billy wind ~ used primarily in England, referring to a blustery, howling wind.
  • bolt from the clear blue sky ~ something [usually wonderful or horribly tragic] has happened and it is sudden and unexpected.
  • break the ice or ice breaker ~ is the means in which someone opens up a conversation, generally to make others feel more relaxed or at ease.
  • buzzards flying high indicate fair weather ~ weather lore
  • calm before the storm ~ an unnatural lull or calm before an eruption of emotion or activity.
  • chasing rainbows ~ to try to find or get something that cannot be obtained
  • chill wind ~ to have fore-knowledge of trouble or a problem.
  • cloud on the horizon ~ this means you can expect trouble in the near future.
  • cold light of day ~ being grounded in reality, seeing things as they really are.
  • come rain or shine – pertaining to a personal goal or to achieve success, that no matter what it will be accomplished.
  • comets bring cold weather ~ weather lore
  • don’t have the foggiest idea ~ having no knowledge of a person, place or thing.
  • dry spell ~ being unsuccessful for any length of time, abnormally.
  • every cloud has a silver lining ~ there is always good in a bad situation.
  • face like thunder ~ pertains to identifying someone, by reading the signs in their face, that they are very upset or angry.
  • fair weather friend ~ a person whom you engage infrequently, they are usually unreliable, and there are conditions attached the friendship.
  • get wind of ~ to be privy to information that should have been kept secret.
  • greased lightening ~ an event or moment that is happening extremely fast.
  • head in the clouds ~ not having one’s mind on the topic at hand.
  • if shooting stars fall in the south in winter, there will be a thaw ~ weather lore
  • in the dark ~ to be left without information, to be uninformed, or without knowledge of an event, or a situation or problem.
  • in the eye of the storm ~ in the center of, or otherwise deeply involved in a problem or difficult situation.
  • into each life, rain must fall ~ something bad will happen to each and every one of us.
  • it never rains, but it pours ~ a small situation or problem becomes exacerbated by more trouble or problems.
  • Jack Frost ~ when all of outdoors is frozen, [weather lore], then Jack Frost has paid the region a visit.
  • know which way the wind blows ~ being able to judge someone’s mood, or to prepare for changes in a situation.
  • knows enough to come out of the rain ~ may refer to someone who is stupid, or un-knowledgeable, but they have the sense enough to seek shelter or safety when a situation or event turns bad, or is imminent.
  • left out in the rain ~ to be left out of a problem or situation, without support or assistance.
  • lightning under the North Star will bring rain in three days ~ weather lore
  • Mackerel skies and mares’ tails; Make tall ships take in their sails. ~ Cirrus scattering clouds often follow warm weather that brings rain.
  • make hay while the sun still shines ~ to take advantage of a period of time or a situation as it may not last.
  • Moss dry, sunny sky, moss wet, rain you’ll get. – weather lore
  • on cloud nine ~ a feeling of elation or extreme happiness.
  • on a pink cloud ~ a feeling of elation or extreme happiness – often used when one first begins recovery [from alcoholism] and are sober, one may experience extreme happiness, but are often not grounded or facing reality.
  • once in a blue moon ~ an event that occurs only very rarely.
  • one crow flying alone is a sign of foul weather; but if crows fly in pairs, expect fine weather ~weather lore
  • pink at night, sailor’s delight; pink in the morning, sailor’s take warning ~ or the idiom may use the color red, in place of pink. Weather Lore: Pink at night is predicting that fair weather will occur the next day; however, pink in the morning cautions the viewer that rain or a storm may be imminent.
  • rainbow to windward, foul fall the day; rainbow to leeward, rain runs away ~ If wind is coming from the direction of a rainbow, then, rain is heading toward you. Likewise, if the rainbow is in the opposite direction, it has passed by you.
  • raindrop in a drought ~ to wait or hope for something to happen.
  • rain on my parade ~ to ruin or spoil something planned; or to usurp another’s plans or event.
  • rain on wet – to make a situation worse.
  • raining cats and dogs ~ to rain very heavily.
  • ray of sunshine ~ to bring happiness or hope to a situation.
  • reach for the moon ~ to be very ambitious, to set your personal standards or goals very high and hope to obtain success.
  • right as rain ~ everything is going as planned.
  • save for a rainy day ~ to save something – usually money – for an unplanned event or unexpected debt.
  • sail close to the wind ~ means that someone may be doing something that is barely legal or somewhat dangerous.
  • seagull, seagull, sit on the sand; it’s a sign of rain when you are at hand ~ birds tend to roost before a storm or hurricane. It is believed that it may be difficult for a bird to take-off when there is low pressure, or when the air has become thinner as the updrafts are lessened.
  • seven sheets to the wind ~ means a person is very drunk.
  • shoot the breeze ~ to converse in a casual or relaxed way.
  • The sky is red, the devil is dead, it’s going to be good tomorrow. – old saying
  • snowed under ~ pertains to having so much work to do, it feels impossible to get through it all.
  • steal my thunder ~ to take the attention away from someone else.
  • storm in a teacup ~ to make a fuss or a problem out of something that is not important
  • storm is brewing ~ you believe that there may be trouble, anger or outbursts of emotion.
  • stormy relationship ~ usually pertains to an intimate relationship, during which many arguments or disagreements occur.
  • take a rain check ~ you will return later, but cannot take an immediate invitation or offer to do something or to be somewhere at an appointed time.
  • tempest in a teapot ~ to exaggerate an event in an attempt to make it worse.
  • there is something in the wind ~ someone may suspect that something important, or significant is about to happen.
  • throw caution to the wind ~ to forget planned commitments and do something wild and crazy or unexpected.
  • twisting in the wind ~ to be left alone and without assistance.
  • two full moons in a calendar month bring on a flood ~weather lore
  • under a cloud ~ in disgrace or under suspicion.
  • under the weather ~ to feel sickly or ill; not feeling “yourself” on a particular day.
  • weather the storm ~ to be successful upon surviving a difficult situation, period of time or problem.
  • when halo rings the moon or sun; rain’s approaching on the run ~ A halo is caused by ice crystals that forms a clouds that indicate warm weather and predicts rain within a day.
  • when leaves fall early, autumn and winter will be mild; when leave fall later, winter will be severe ~ weather lore
  • when leaves show their underside, be sure that rain betide ~ weather lore
  • when porpoises and whales spout about ships at sea, storm may be expected ~weather lore
  • when windows won’t open, and the salt clogs the shaker, the weather will favor the umbrella maker ~ moisture in the air is very heavy, and rain is imminent.
  • wind from the south, has rain in its mouth ~ southerly winds usually blow before a cold front occurs, after which rain will generally happen in the east.

From: The Elysium of Rain

Be Merry
Christmas will be here in:

Because we like to look at the numbers!

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