About Loulou

A self-imposed deadline is, I think, the worst sort. I set my phone to alert me once a week to blog something. And it just went off. I have no definite plan so this is going to be off the top of my head. Call it “philosophy” or call it “miscellaneous”. I don’t care!

An interesting fungus

Today my daughter texted me a picture of a smallish fungus. (Aside – the spell checker doesn’t recognise “texted”. The spell checker needs to be updated!) Apparently my grand-daughter, who knows of my interest in fungi, thought that Grandad might like this “interesting fungus”. Who knows, because of me she might grow up to be a famous mycologist, the one who saves the human race from the mutant spores. Hmm!

Which made me wonder about the effect we have on our descendants. Obviously there are two ways we can do that -the genetic and the environmental. Our genes may predispose our offspring to certain tendencies and our personal influences plus the environments (in the widest sense) in which we live effect the way that we and our children behave.

This image shows the coding region in a segmen...

Of course I don’t know where Loulou will head in life, but I do recognise some traits in her which I see in myself, but I can’t tell whether or not these are inherited traits or learned ones. Computers are no mystery to her, and she knows that it is possible to take a photo (on a phone) and send it to Grandad. She knows how to unlock the iPad and has no fear of the Android tablet. She and I have a liking for a particular on-line game.

Loulou’s Dad works with computers. She has two older brothers who are computer literate. Her mother grew up  with Commodore 64s and computer games loaded from tape. Loulou’s mother’s Dad (me!) worked in computers from before Loulou’s mum was born, but I don’t think I bought the job home, though we did get a Vic 20 and later a Commodore 64.

Commodore VIC-20 Computer with later revision ...
Vic 20

But Loulou is not a geek. When we went on a walk Loulou decided that tights, t-shirt, a tutu, and gumboots were the appropriate wear. (I think that, stylistically, it worked). She’s a fan of Dora the Explorer but is not a fanatic. Maybe she will grow into that. However, her Mum and Auntie weren’t particularly doll orientated.

Hmm, this article seems to be all about Loulou. It’s too early to tell, but I won’t be disappointed if she goes down the geeky route. I’d be interested in how she gets on in that world. I won’t be disappointed if she *doesn’t* either. Either way she’s the most wonderful granddaughter.


Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring

Revolving earth at winter solstice on the nort...
Northern winter solstice

On 21st June we in the Southern Hemisphere get our shortest day of the year. This corresponds to the longest day in the Northern Hemisphere of course, and my wall calendar, which originates from the Northern half of the planet says that 21st June is the start of summer. I believe that the official start of winter, here in New Zealand, is 1st June.

That started me thinking. One would expect that 21st June, the southern winter solstice, would be the middle on winter, since the earth is tilted furthest away from the sun in southern latitudes at that date, and that the seasons would change mid way between the solstices and the equinoxes in both hemispheres for similar reasons. The equinoxes are the days when the night and days are the same length in both the northern and southern hemispheres. (Pedants will notice that I’m not being precisely correct in my explanations of equinoxes and solstices, but that doesn’t matter for my purposes.)

English: Two equinoxes are shown as the inters...

It is obvious to anyone who has reached a sufficient age that the warmest and coldest parts of the year don’t correspond to the solstices and that the change from higher than average temperatures to lower than average temperatures and vice versa don’t happen at the equinoxes, though these latter events are probably not that noticeable. There is obviously some seasonal lag.

Image representing Wikipedia as depicted in Cr...

So I browsed to Wikipedia, which is a useful place to start, even if some people question its accuracy and veracity. I’ve not found it too bad, myself. Sure enough, there is an article on seasonal lag, and I’ve no reason to doubt the information there. To summarise, the authors of the article attribute the lag to the oceans which, because of the latent heat of their water absorb heat energy and release energy as the seasons change. I’m not sure that I completely understand the reasons for this, but there are undoubtedly deeper analyses on the Internet. The Wikipedia article contains one reference.

Apparently the seasonal lag is different in each half of the year. I believe that means that the four seasons are not all equal in length. Hmm, summer does seem shorter than the other seasons, but that may be only subjective. However, our shortest day is only four weeks away, so we will at least be seeing more daylight each day from then on. We will be on the upwards slide to Spring and Summer, even though Winter will not have bottomed out, and we can look forward to barbecues and a summertime Christmas!

Pohutakawa flowers. They bloom at Christmas, in early summer.

Back to the beginning – Cheese Scones.

Cheese scones
Cheese scones

I think that the first thing that I ever cooked was cheese scones. They are an ideal project to start cooking on as they are so simple. I’m not going to mention the actual recipe that I used since there are probably millions of them and they all work pretty well. Basically cheese scones are made from flour (usually self-raising), some shortening (butter, margarine, oil), a small amount of liquid (water or milk), some baking soda (to give the typical scone ‘tang’), salt and a little mustard to taste and of course cheese, usually a fairly strong variety.

They are simple and quick to make and cook and equally simple and quick to eat! I like them hot with butter and apparently so do most people, and in fact I doubt that many scones get to cool to room temperature! If you fancied it, you could add a touch of chili I guess, or some ham or prosciutto. Of course, they don’t have to be cheese scones – I’ve always liked date scones. I suspect that with sweet scones you’d need to reduce or remove the baking soda though.

Anyway my efforts are shown above and below. The pictures don’t really show how toasty brown they were. They look a little pallid in the pictures. I can assure you that they tasted great!

Cheese Scones
Cheese Scones

(I intend to try to post to this blog at least once a week – I haven’t posted since the end of last month and that is not good!)