Saturday, July 12, 2014

Mind-Blowing Fact Of The Day - Why Tomatoes Were Thought To Be Poisonous ...

Discovered this fact on a random site now lost to the ether.

It's well known that tomatoes are from the Nightshade family, and thus needed to be viewed with suspicion when they first came to Europe from the Americas about 1500.

Many people became ill eating them - despite the fact that native Americans had been eating loads of them for centuries. It's only recently that scientists and historians have realised the reasons behind these illnesses - and it's not the tomatoes.

The reason is this: American natives ate tomatoes with their hands. In Europe, tomatoes were a luxury, afforded by the very few, who tended - and this is important - to use plates. Pewter plates. Actually, pewter plates with a quite high lead content.

Add a foodstuff with a relatively high acid content - like a tomato - and some of that lead leeched into the food, causing illness, and sometimes death. Hence, poor, innocent tomatoes were viewed with suspicion for 400 years until they were actually proven safe.

Actually, red tomatoes were initially a rarity in Europe, they wouldn't ripen properly as the varieties brought over from South American were always yellow in color, hence the italian name pomodoro - from 'pomi d’oro' - 'golden apple'.

And yes, of course, tomatoes are botanically, a fruit, as are green beans, aubergines, cucumbers, courgettes and all squashes such as pumpkins. Except not. Legally, they are all actually a vegetable under US and EU law, for food distribution and storage legislation purposes. So there.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Separated At Birth? How Did I Miss This ... ?

Two of my favourite things - epic TV and cycling - have thrown up a puzzle over the last few months for me.

Everytime I see Tom Wlaschiha, (below left) alias Jaqen H'ghar in Game Of Thrones. he reminds me of someone. And I just today worked it out - step forward, Cannondale sprinter Peter Sagan (below right, winner of 2 Tour De France Green Jerseys, no less)

Uncanny.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Joni Mitchell's 'Both Sides Now' - 30 Years Apart ...

Joni Mitchell, 1970
Sometimes a song matures, sometimes it's the artist.

On occasion, it's both.

Joni Mitchell wrote and released the wonderful 'Both Sides Now' in 1969 on the 'Clouds' album. It's a simple but haunting song about learning the lessons of life.

Her original, uptempo version has always been a classic, and has been covered by 100s of artists. It's come perhaps to more attention since the release of 'Love, Actually', from the scene with Emma Thompson.

But the version used in the film was very different from the acoustic guitar pop hit of 1969 - it was re-recorded, transformed into a soft and mellow jazz ballad. Joni's voice has changed a lot, the arrangement is unique, and it ends up a whole different experience.

1969 Version 2000 Version

Testament to the beauty of the song is that - uniquely - both versions won Grammy Awards. 31 years apart.

Joni MItchell, 2000

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Retweeting Compliments, And Other Ways You're Doing Twitter Wrong ...

Oh. This. Is. Good.

And yeah, I do some of this. (My bad. So, I'll learn) But this set-piece by Tripp And Tyler, between two friends (IRL) is funny, but makes a good point about Twitter etiquette, which is constantly changing. So keep up, eh?


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Police Run #Cycle Marking Event in #Surbiton ...

Police checking
my bike out ...
Police were very interested in my cycle today - but for a good reason - they were running a Cycle Marking Session at Surbiton Station, and after seeing a tweet about it, I thought I'd pop down and get mine done.

The process was pretty quick - fill in a small form, look up the frame number, get your security code put on the bike, get a small infopack with a pair of stickers in it, and that's it, you're done.

It took so little time, I'd encourage everyone to get it done.

Applying the number. Once
the white strip comes off
it's just a black digital code. 
The security code can be put anywhere on your cycle. Last time I had it done (to Frankenstein, who sadly was crushed under a Mini Cab at Waterloo Station) I had it put under the downtube, thinking it would stand out *too* much.

But in the end the code is quite subtle, so this time I had it put on the main toptube of my Carrera Subway - the 'Fin', hoping that it would also be a visible deterrent. It's still subtle, though, but visible, which is how I wanted it.

The supplied infopack
and stickers.
Along with the marking comes a little infopack, with two stickers to put on the bike to warn potential thieves. I haven't decided where I'll put the stickers yet - they're a bit garish, frankly. Have to think about it.

However, I'd criticise the local Police (who organise this) for one important point: I'm a person who keeps track of local issues and cycling, so why didn't I know about this event until today's Twitter message?

Fortunately I had time off work today to get this done, but a few days notice would have been much better for others. Perhaps the Met Police Cycle Prevention Social Media Team need to work on this.