Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Elections, Volunteering, Dinner, Blue Birds
You should see the lines, they go on for ever. They are expecting a record turnout. At least they have a good day for it, mild and dry so that all these people waiting to vote won't be freezing or wet. Of course there is nothing else being talked about on TV this morning and I am surprised to see there are still ads running. I wonder why they don't stop that on election day? In Europe you will probably find out who won before I do as I will be in bed by the time the results are announced. Today is my volunteering day. I haven't been for a while, first it was our elections, then I was sick, then Matt had to go to the doc and we only have one car. I'll have forgotten what I was taught. Last night I invited some more friends to dinner on Saturday, so we have to put our thinking caps on again. I think we have decided two courses, not sure about dessert yet. On our son-in-law's blog (see link this page) in the comments section, he mentioned that a Kingfisher's colour is actually caused by refracted light, this made me think of the Indigo Bunting which we used to see regularly in North Carolina. That too was a bright blue bird, but it is apparently actually non-coloured, but the refracted light makes it look blue. I don't understand the science behind this, but it is fascinating. We used to spend hours watching the birds in our back yard where we had feeders, nesting boxes and a drip water bowl - the dripping attracts more birds apparently. I don't really understand how a Cardinal can be red with real red feathers and an Indigo Bunting has no colour in its feathers. Now I am looking this up and find that there is no blue on a Blue Jay either. This sounds like refracted light only works in the blue spectrums. I understand refracted light is "bent" light, but how it can produce such beautiful blue colours is beyond me. What about the Eastern Bluebirds I wonder. Having done somemore googling it appears that the blue pigmentation in birds is usually caused by light refraction - a quote from the Shenandoah Audobon page says : As with other blue-hued birds, the Blue Jay's coloration is not derived by pigments, but is the result of light refraction due to the internal structure of the feathers; if a Blue Jay feather is crushed, the blue disappears as the structure is destroyed. This is referred to as structural coloration. The primary comment there is "other blue-hued birds". I guess crushing the feather stops light refracting through it. I understand it is a similar thing to the blue of ocean water which, if you bring up a bucketful is totally clear. I have just finished reading The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, I enjoyed it, but it was slow reading. According to my author friends, it is full of what they call "tropes" i.e. situations which occur again and again in novels. I never knew about tropes, but I think it is what makes me put down a book every so often because I know exactly what is going to happen and I can't be bothered with it right then. I still enjoyed the story and will certainly read part 2 when it becomes available next year. I keep hearing people saying they have bad colds or bronchitis - early this year maybe. I always recommend a hot toddy. I just found a simple recipe for one in the Three and Four Ingredient Cookbook so I thought you might like to have it. Rum and Star Anise Hot Toddy Hot toddies are normally made with whisky but rum works really well too and produces a deliciously warming drink that's perfect for a cold weather evening - or even a winter afternoon after a hearty walk out in the freezing cold countryside. You can also flavour this toddy with different spices such as vanilla pod (bean) or cinnamon stick. Serves Four 1 1/4 cups dark rum 3 Tbs caster (superfine) sugar (in North America regular sugar is fine enough) 1 star anise Pour the rum into a heatproof jug (pitcher) and add the sugar and star anise. Pour in a scant 2 cups of boiling water and stir thoroughly until the sugar has dissolved. Carefully pour the hot toddy into heatproof glasses or mugs and serve immediately. Have a great day.