Category Archives: Random Connections Thursdays

Soaring through traffic

traffic flowsDriving to work in Southern California frequently results in more time to think. While I don’t trek through the heart of Los Angeles on the I-5, I do get the joy of sitting on another notorious freeway choke point.

The wide open spaces around the freeway make the drive bearable and offer a good view of hawks, eagles, and vultures soaring. The freeway even skirts a river, which provides a sight-line for the water fowl, like egrets and cormorants.

Watching the hawks soar while I’m sitting in traffic started the inquisition into why there seem to be so many birds of prey gilding around the freeway. Hawk watching afternoon trafficDue to the tin can like nature of the vehicles, the hawks can’t possibly be attracted by a potential food source. Vultures might show up to scavenge off those who quit before they reach their destination, but hawks prefer to hunt.

Upon arrival at home, I looked into what kept the birds soaring over the lost souls on the road for great distances. Turns out that what keeps the birds up is the same thing that helps in the creation of clouds – thermals.

Thermals, in this case, aren’t fashionable undershirts, but are movements in the air based on how the heat radiates from the ground. They are the circular movements of hot air up to the cooler air above. As the warm air rises to cool, hawks (and other birds) ride the current to give their wings a break. Once the warm air cools off, it can cause the clouds you see overhead.

Turns out the terrain explains why there are so many hawks hovering over our cars sitting on the freeway. The wide open spaces provide lots of space for the ground heat to dissipate into the atmosphere, offering numerous free rides to the beautiful predators hanging around.

So I guess traffic doesn’t have to be the bane of my existence after work. (Except for those 1 ½ hour treks).

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How language caused the death of a moose burger

My Swiss roommate from my first year in college came to visit. She actually just left, and most of her trip was in the company of one of our other roommates (there were 4 of us in the university dorm room).

What I learned from the Swiss Miss when we were all roommates is that Switzerland has 4 official languages: German, French, Italian, and Romansh (yeah I’d never heard of it either). She’s from the German side of Switzerland and so she speaks German and Swiss-German (which is apparently like German, but if you only spoke German, you’d frequently be confused around Swiss-German speakers).

So when she brought friends along for this visit, I wasn’t surprised that I couldn’t understand them (I barely track with Spanish, and I’ve lived around Spanish-speakers my whole life). She’d also told me that one of her friends had written and published a few books in German in Switzerland. She’d neglected to tell me the title, which would have prevented my snickering.

The book is titled Die Moosburger and it’s by Marco  Rota.

I’ve seen The Simpsons episode where Sideshow Bob explains his tattoo, so I knew “die” wasn’t intended as a command, but “moosburger” was entirely new. And as with all new things, I created a meaning that made me laugh for a long time, mostly because I couldn’t think of any specific thing a burger made of moose meat would do to deserve death. All I had were half thoughts running through my head. Perhaps it was attacking, or cursed, or spoiled, or…? If you come up with a coherent action that would result in a moose burger death, let me know. I’m still snickering and I can’t think clearly through the humor haze.

Turns out, though, that “moosburger” means “Moss Castle” in German, which makes the title very funny in 2 languages. (Maybe the moose burger was haunting a moss castle?) The Swiss Miss was quick to point out that castles in Switzerland are not the fairytale castles many of us in the U.S. think of – they’re stones stacked into the shape of a large house. If you haven’t looked at pictures of real castle’s, or heard Eddie Izzard’s bit about them, ask Google.

The Moss Castle is entirely in German, so if I ever learn how to read German, I’ll post a review of the book here. Same deal if it comes out in English. But that’s the story of how an old college roommate killed a moose burger through language.

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Licorice Eating Rookie

It started with box 11. It traveled in the heat from the Dark Overlord Media. It traveled far enough for the black and white licorice taffy to escape the confines of the plastic bag. And once free, it was hungry.

Mutilated Rookie

The attack made me wonder what licorice was exactly (besides a disgusting candy).

It turns out that licorice is a sweetener, which is why so many candies have it as a primary ingredient. And apparently there numerous types of licorice, providing a choice for what tastes sweetest to the eater. Licorice comes from Europe and the Middle East, with different locations specializing in either fresh, or dried, or extract.

But the coolest thing about licorice is that you can make split pea soup with it or peanut butter sandwiches.

All right, that would actually be the most unappetizing soup and sandwich combo ever. But licorice is a legume, like peas and peanuts. It’s categorized by the pods for the seeds and not taste.

And if you did happen to order that licorice soup and sandwich combo, you could eat a piece of licorice to help ease your stomach, because the chemicals in licorice are key ingredients in that type of medicine.

But if you’re allergic to licorice, don’t try the medicine. The doctor websites also seem to think that perhaps the allergy could be to legumes in general, so if you have a peanut allergy, that’s something to think about. With the proliferation of little kids with peanut allergies, there should be pretty good anecdotal evidence about licorice allergies sometime soon (but that’s probably just my cynical side talking).

Sometimes when  you win a prize, you learn more than you ever wanted to about a candy you don’t like to eat.

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Random Connection Thursdays

I was driving to work the other day when I had a brilliant idea to make myself work consistently.

Which I promptly forgot once I made it to work.

But then I got stuck in traffic (it was a weekday between the hours of 4 and 7 in Southern California, everyone was stuck in traffic) on the way home, and I put Amanda Palmer’s “Runs in the Family” on my radio. Which made me remember what my brilliant idea was.

Every Thursday, until I run out of ideas or life happens or I forget again or the world ends, I am going to post some random connection. These will probably be personal, but I’ll probably research some posts too in an effort to keep my learning skills sharp. But they will all be random and follow a path of connecting. I hope you’ll be interested and welcome Random Connections Thursdays!

It’s going to be a weekly post and has a nifty title because all the cool kids are doing it. It’s Thursdays in honor of Arthur Dent’s inability to get the hang of them in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It’s connections because I like how the world is more connected than we know/realize/are terrified of/hope for.  And it’s random because I’m writing it.

So I hope you make it through your Thursday without too much Earth destruction! And be sure to keep an eye out for more random connections!

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