Posts Tagged ‘interesting’

I love that there are still so many things to learn. Take fox nuts, for example (the food, not the, well, you know). If you have more than a passing familiarity with Indian cuisine you’ve probably heard of them, but I had not. I ran across a reference today and thought, “Fabulous! What the heck are those?”

Where do Makhana (fox nuts) come from?

Fox nuts, or makhana, are seeds from the prickly water lily (euryale ferox). When cooked they puff up, a little like popcorn (if all the action happened inside the shell and required a blow with a wooden mallet to release the final product). It is a very popular Indian food for snacking and other dishes.

Fox Nuts: How They Are Grown and Prepared

I wonder what they taste like? Time to head over to the local South Asian grocery and find out. 

And this has been today’s edition of Learning at Lunch.

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This is a different, admittedly more photogenic, type of waterlily. Photo by Jimmy Chang on Unsplash

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I accumulate a lot of links. Work links, sure, but on my way to the data mines I often come across  fun, interesting, obscure or downright delightful corners of the web. They inform me when I need a bit of learning with lunch, cheer me up when the news is too newsy, and otherwise remind me that the internet, like the world, is not 100% terrible.

What sort of links? I’m so glad you asked:)

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Look Up! An Introduction to Identifying Raptors in Flight

  • Helpful, although I’ll probably continue to just say “hawk!” every time I see something predatory with wings. My bird enthusiast father’s reply is always (honestly, can he really be right all the time?*) “turkey vulture.” Just once I wish he’d say “dragon.”

* The answer is yes.

20 of the Best History Podcasts to Help Us Actually Learn From the Past

  • History is cool.

Honest Government Ad | Carbon Capture & Storage – YouTube

  • Is there swearing? There is. It’s warranted.

Introducing the Icelandverse – YouTube

  • Look out, Zuckerberg, Iceland is coming for you.

Bohemian Catsody – A Rhapsody Parody Song for Every Cat Queen and King! – YouTube

  • Since you’re already on YouTube. And like cat videos.

This man won a Guinness World Record for his tree that bears 10 types of fruit

  • “Hussam Saraf says his record-breaking tree with 10 different types of fruit is a metaphor for how he sees the world. … ‘[It’s] mother nature that’s united us all together. Doesn’t really matter how different we are in colour or culture or tradition. We are one, and we can respect each other as one.’” If that’s not nice then I don’t know what is.


  • Each time a user clicks on your generated link, there is a 50% chance that they will be rickrolled.

The True Story of the Blue People of Kentucky

  • Genetics, man.

Photos of the world above and below the sea by David Doubilet

  • Nature, man. These images are amazing.

Periodic Table of the Elements, in Pictures and Words

  • How many of these have you used today?

How to Identify that Light in the Sky

  • Brought to you by NASA and The League of Lost Causes, which is just about the most awesome name ever.

Scientists Create 3,000 TB Simulation of the Universe You Can Download

  • I don’t have the space for this, but maybe you do?

And since I’m a baker, here’s one last link:

All You Could Ever Want to Know About a Pumpkin Slingshot

  • I dunno, I want to know A Lot.

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Photo by Robert Katzki on Unsplash

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photo by Chris Willis

photo by Chris Willis

It’s Tulip Festival time here in Ottawa, and despite the unseasonably cold weather we’re having right now the flowers are beautiful. They also got me asking questions about the Festival specifically and about tulips in general. (If you are Canadian and a gardener feel free to stop here, you probably already know what I’m about to say. I’m neither and was happy to learn something new.)

Why tulips? Sure, the Festival is designed to promote trade and tourism, but there’s a nice story behind its origin. The tulips were “given as a gift in perpetuity to the Canadian people for having provided safe harbour to the Dutch Royal Family during the German occupation of the Netherlands”* during World War Two.

Princess Juliana was about to give birth in Ottawa but being born in another country would have affected the child’s succession status. Fair enough, but it’s not like the Princess could go home. So, in typically awesome Canadian style, when Princess Margriet was born in 1943 the Dutch flag was flown from the Peace Tower. Succession issue solved. How neighborly is that?

Wait, you may ask, isn’t this the same flower whose bulbs were once worth more than their weight in gold (and, not incidentally, also sparked the “Tulip Mania” market crash in the 17th century)? How do I get more of them? You may already know this but I didn’t, at least not in detail.

How do tulips propagate? As in, I’ve got this shallot-like bulb I picked up at the store and the package swears that if I put it in the ground I’ll get a tulip next Spring. Great. But what if I didn’t have this little net bag from the supermarket? If the Apocalypse comes tomorrow tulips are on their own. What then?

It turns out that tulips are well positioned to survive a catastrophic event because they are designed to propagate in not one but two ways. If you want to make more tulips, come Autumn you can either dig up the bulb or collect the seeds. The original bulb will have grown a number of little satellites, or offsets. The largest of the bulbs will flower the next year but the smaller ones will need extra growing time. Bulbs are exact genetic replicas of the original, while seeds will give you a hybrid plant with more genetic diversity, and the potential for new colors and characteristics.

This could be critical if the Apocalypse does come and you need new, pretty ways to match your landscaping with brimstone or mask the odor of zombie. Just saying.

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