Archive for September, 2013

While the rest of us were off doing whatever the rest of us do…

Science geeks and nerdlings the world over have been discovering things that make the world an even more awesome place!


Cancer: http://bit.ly/167lkrE
Whispering: http://bit.ly/1biP5Ke
New form of matter: http://bit.ly/18CYkz3
Climate change: http://bbc.in/19P6vax
Mars: http://bit.ly/1bkPA6A
Oxygen: http://bit.ly/1bUtZkO
Jaw & backbone: http://bit.ly/15Dv3HJ
Solar panels: http://bit.ly/167lCyT



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This photo was taken in a forest in Bulgaria.




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Right now, we are in the middle of the Jewish festival of Sukkot. [1]

Just for the person who has to have lunch on the go, my dear friend Steven Burke has come up with his own clever variation of the sukkah-mobile.

Open two car doors, put two 2x4s over the door tops and rest the s’chach on top of the 2x4s!


sukkah-mobile(Image Credit: Steven Burke)

The chochmah and binah demonstrated here is inspirational!

Once again, Necessity is the Mother of Invention!

Bravo, Steven. Yasher Koach! 


[1]  As commanded in the Bible (Lev. 23:33-44). Christians may know Sukkot by the name Feast of Tabernacles (KJV), Festival of Tabernacles (NIV), Feast of Booths (NASB), etc.

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The World’s Largest Living Christmas Tree (Wilmington, NC)

“The World’s Largest Living Christmas Tree,” shown here on a rare snowy day, was a project of James E. L. Wade, Commissioner of Public Works. He thought the enormous oak on Wilmington’s north side, was appropriate particularly because Hilton Park, where it is rooted, was Wilmington’s first playground for children. “Hugh MacRae’s Tide Water Power Company furnished all labor, most of the wiring and 750 light globes for the tree,” reported the Morning Star, Christmas Eve, 1929. “The moss in the tree, if it were carried away, would take three 2-ton trucks to do the work.”

largest-living-xmas-tree-3(Image Credit: Louis T. Moore)

Prizes were awarded under the tree for outdoor decorations across town, a contest also instituted by James E. L. Wade. In 1929, judges included Mrs. Walter Sprunt, Mrs. J. B. Cranmer, Mrs. Henry Peschau and Mrs. R. C. Cantwell. In 1930, the giant Hilton Christmas tree was declared “the most beautiful of its kind in the state and nation” by the National Federation of Women’s Clubs.

On January 1, 1933, 5000 people gathered at the tree to hear “a program presented by negro residents of the city.” Participants from Williston High School Glee Club and St. Stephen’s, St. Luke’s and Central Baptist churches mesmerized the crowd; city fathers requested an encore performance the following evening.


In 1935, the city added fireworks shows near the tree and strung 2800 25-watt bulbs across town.

Motorists cruised the city, from Dry Pond to Hilton, during New Year’s celebrations in the early 1930s. Celebrants dragged cowbells and tin cans tied to their rear axles and “let them bump deliciously along the streets,” according to newspaper reports. “At midnight, there was the usual wild outburst. Bells clanged, horns tooted, sirens shrieked, firecrackers roared, pistols barked – so did the dogs.”


After eighty years of Yuletide glowing, the World’s Largest Living Christmas Tree was lit for the last time in 2009. Natural elements and concrete encroachments took their toll.


I had the sincere pleasure of visiting this magnificent oak tree several times together with my beloved CBW and, once on New Years Eve, with CBW and our children (her son and my kiddie-winkers). Rest assured, the countdown to midnight was followed shortly thereafter by a hearty stew of kosher hot dogs and black eyed peas. After all, The South IS The South!


The above text (aside from my personal not at the end) is from the ‘Wilmington Outskirts’ section of Wilmington Through the Lens of Louis T. Moore by Susan Taylor Block. Published by the Historical Society of the Lower Cape Fear and New Hanover County Public Library. Mr. Moore’s panoramic photographs of Wilmington, North Carolina and surrounding areas document history; preserve what is lost in terms of people, architecture, and landscapes; and create a mood. Just as his camera was considered hi-tech during the 1920s in Wilmington, we think Louis T. Moore would smile if he knew his photographs were appearing in cyberspace.

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El Árbol del Tule (“The Tule Tree”) is an especially large Montezuma cypress (Taxodium mucronatum) near the city of Oaxaca, Mexico.

El Árbol del Tule

This tree has the largest trunk girth at 190 feet (58 m) and trunk diameter at 37 feet (11.3 m). The Tule tree is so thick that people say you don’t hug this tree, it hugs you instead!

Tule-Tree-Oaxaca-Mexico(Image credit: jubilohaku)

For a while, detractors argued that it was actually three trees masquerading as one – however, careful DNA analysis confirmed that it is indeed one magnificent tree.

Tule-Tree-2(Image credit: Gengiskanhg)

In 1994, the tree (and Mexican pride) were in jeopardy: the leaves were sickly yellow and there were dead branches everywhere- the tree appeared to be dying. When tree “doctors” were called in, they diagnosed the problem as dying of thirst. The prescription? Give it water. Sure enough, the tree soon recovered after a careful watering program was followed.

tule-knot(Image credit: jvcluis)

Amazing. And… awesome!


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I had the pleasure of seeing this tree in 1985 when going down the coast road from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

Lone Cypress, Monterey, California

Lone_Cypress_Sunset(Credit: commons.wikipedia.org)

Buffeted by the cold Pacific Ocean wind, the scraggly Lone Cypress (Cupressus macrocarpa) in Pebble Beach, Monterey Peninsula, California, isn’t a particularly large tree.

Lone Cypress, sunset, seventeen-mile drive, Pacific Grove. California, USA

It makes up for its small size, however, with its iconic status as a stunningly beautiful tree in splendid isolation, framed by an even more beautiful background of the Pacific Ocean.

It’s not the biggest tree in the world. It’s not the most beautiful.

But it is… awesome!


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You’ve got to love a dish that requires two days to prepare!

Gravlax Tartine with Dill Caper Slather

These lovely open-face sandwiches can be served on a variety of breads, but a sourdough rye or rye crisp bring the flavours to life. If you wish to some of the salmon for later, it will keep, scared of the curing mixture, tightly covered and refrigerated for 2 weeks.



3 tbsp (45 mL) sugar
2 tbsp (30 mL) fine sea salt
1 tbsp (15 mL) cracked coriander seed
1 tsp (5 mL) cracked black pepper
1 tsp (5 mL) crushed pink peppercorns
1¼ lbs (625 g) centre-cut salmon fillet, pin bones removed
1 cup (250 mL) chopped dill


½ cup (125 mL) mayonaise
½ cup (125 mL) spreadable cream cheese
1 tsp (5 mL) whole-grain mustard
⅓ cup (80 mL) chopped dill
½ tsp (2 mL) finely grated lemon zest
2 tbsp (30 mL) chopped capers
2 tbsp (30 mL) chopped dill pickle

8 rye crisps or slices sourdough rye
½ red onion, thinly sliced
Additional dill for garnish

1. For the gravlax, combine sugar, salt, coriander seed, black and pink peppercorns in a smal bowl and set aside. Rinse salmon and pat dry.

2. Select a glass baking dish large enough to hold salmon and line with plastic wrap. Lay half of dill on wrap. Sprinkle flesh side of salmon with half of the sugar mixture and place flesh down on top of dill. Sprinkle skin-side of salmon with remaining sugar mixture and top with remaining dill. Enclose salmon snugly in wrap, cover and refrigerate for 24 hours. Turn salmon over, and continue to cure in refrigerator for an additional 12 – 24 hours (the longer the cure, the drier the flesh becomes).

3. Meanwhile, prepare the dill-caper slather. Whisk together mayonnaise and cream cheese in a medium bowl. Stir in mustard, dill, lemon zest, capers and pickle. Refrigerate overnight or up to 2 days, to allow flavours to develop.

4. To serve, unwrap salmon and discard liquid. Scrape curing mixture and dill from salmon and thinly slice. Spread slather on crisps or bread, top each with 4 – 5 pieces salmon; garnish with red onion and additional dill.

Makes 8


From the Autumn 2013 20th Anniversary edition of the LCBO’s Food & Drink magazine.

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