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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Watermellon Pickles

Actually quite good

  1. Cut a watermelon into slices (for best results, use a melon that's not overly ripe).

  2. Cut the rind off the pink portion and cube the flesh.

  3. Soak the watermelon cubes overnight in brine made by dissolving 2 Tbsp. of pickling salt in 1 qt. water.

  4. In the morning, drain the brine off the melon cubes.

  5. Put a dill head and stem (or a couple of teaspoons of dill seed) in each quart jar. If you desire, also add a hot pepper (chili) and whole allspice and/or mixed pickling spice to each quart.

  6. Bring to a boil 1 cup white vinegar, 2 cups water, and 1/2 to 1 cup granulated sugar (try the smaller amount first and increase the amount if you decide you like your watermelon pickles sweeter).

  7. Pour the pickling solution boiling hot over the melon in the jars, filling them to 1/2 inch of the top of the jars.

  8. Wipe the rims and seal the jars with sterilized lids and rings.

  9. Process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes, just long enough so the contents won't ferment. (If you process the pickles too long, they will be too soft.)
Here's the Volga Deutsch site:

 Getting in a pickle

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Saturday, March 26, 2016

Paper Skyscrapers

Fold your own steamship

This beats paper airplanes. If you order you get hard paper cards with all the pieces.

What exactly is a Micromodel? Micromodels are card or paper models that were originally sold from the 1940's through the 1960's. Most were designed by Geoffrey Heighway.
Each model was made up of several small cards illustrated with the pieces of the model, all wrapped up in a label. You could cut the pieces out and carefully assemble an intricate little three-dimensional model.
Micromodels were known for the amazing details that people would add to customize their models. There were more than 100 original Micromodels of all types.


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Thursday, March 17, 2016

Julian Dates

Gregorian to/from Julian

Julian dates refer to the number of days from the first of the year and the number of days until the end of the year.

The year -45 has been called the "year of confusion," because in that year Julius Caesar inserted 90 days to bring the months of the Roman calendar back to their traditional place with respect to the seasons. This was Caesar's first step in replacing a calendar that had gone badly awry. Caesar created a solar calendar with twelve months of fixed lengths and a provision for an intercalary day to be added every fourth year. As a result, the average length of the Julian calendar year was 365.25 days.

The Gregorian (Pope Gregory XIII) calendar is based on a cycle of 400 years, which comprises 146,097 days. Since 146,097 is evenly divisible by 7. Dividing 146,097 by 400 yields an average length of 365.2425 days per calendar year, which is a close approximation to the length of the tropical year. The Gregorian calendar accumulates an error of one day in about 2500 years.

Calendars by L. E. Doggett

From Chip Pearson's site

"Many applications (especially mainframe systems) store dates in the Julian format, which is a 5-digit number, consisting of a 2-digit year and a 3-digit day-of-year number. For example, 24-August-1999 is stored as 99236, since 24-August is the 236th day of the year. Excel does not support Julian dates directly, but you can use them with only a few fairly simple formulas.

Converting A Standard Date To A Julian Date

The formula below will convert a standard Excel date in A1 to a Julian Date.


This formula takes the 2 right-most characters of the YEAR of the date in A1, and then appends the number of days between the date in A1 and the 0th day of that year. The TEXT function formats the day-of-year number as three digits, with leading zeros if necessary.

Converting A Julian Date To A Standard Date

The formula below will convert a Julian date to a standard Excel date.

=DATE(IF(0+(LEFT(A1,2))<30 data-blogger-escaped-strong="strong">

If the year digits of the Julian date are less than 30 (i.e., 00 to 29), the date is assumed to be a 2000 century year. If the year digits of the Julian date are greater than or equal to 30 (i.e., 30 to 99), the date is assumed to be a 1900 century year. This formula works by taking advantage of the fact that the DATE function can handle days beyond the "normal" days in a month. For example, DATE correctly computes 100-Jan-1999 to be 10-April-1999.

These Julian dates must have the leading zero or zeros for years between 2000 and 2009. For example the 123rd day of 2000 must be entered as 00123. Format the cell as TEXT before entering the data, or enter an apostrophe before the Julian date -- e.g., '00123. This will prevent Excel from treating the Julian date as a number and suppressing the leading zeros."

US Naval Observatory has this definition (and a calculator):

Julian dates (abbreviated JD) are simply a continuous count of days and fractions since noon Universal Time on January 1, 4713 BCE (on the Julian calendar). Almost 2.5 million days have transpired since this date.

CE 2016 March 17 03:00:00.0 is JD 2457464.625000

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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Map Yourself

Make your own

You know you've wanted to play with Google maps on your own. It's not super easy, but here's a description about how to do it.

"One of the great things about Google maps is it has its roots in XML. To translate for the non-web developers out there, it basically means Google maps are user hackable.

This how-to will show you how to make your own annotated Google map from your own GPS data. Plus, you'll be able to tie in images and video to create an interactive multimedia map.

We'll walk you through the steps we took to generate an annotated map of a walk we took recently through our hometown, now that it's actually starting to get warm enough to want to walk about!"

Make your own annotated multimedia Google map

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Sunday, March 13, 2016

The Girl Who Fell to Earth

By Sophia Al-Maria

“When Sophia Al-Maria's mother sends her away from rainy Washington State to stay with her husband's desert-dwelling Bedouin family in Qatar, she intends it to be a sort of teenage cultural boot camp. What her mother doesn't know is that there are some things about growing up that are universal. In Qatar, Sophia is faced with a new world she'd only imagined as a child. She sets out to find her freedom, even in the most unlikely of places.

Both family saga and coming-of-age story, The Girl Who Fell to Earth takes readers from the green valleys of the Pacific Northwest to the dunes of the Arabian Gulf and on to the sprawling chaos of Cairo. Struggling to adapt to her nomadic lifestyle, Sophia is haunted by the feeling that she is perpetually in exile: hovering somewhere between two families, two cultures, and two worlds. She must make a place for herself—a complex journey that includes finding young love in the Arabian Gulf, rebellion in Cairo, and, finally, self-discovery in the mountains of Sinai.”

 “… Matar (Sophia's father) agreed to a trade-off with Gale (Sophia's mother): in exchange for a simple nondenominational ceremony, Gale would quietly convert to Islam and raise their children as Muslims. In the end, the marriage consisted of a civil ceremony performed by a notary public in the kitchen of the farmhouse, and later that evening when the newlyweds were alone, a private circumnavigation of a lilac bush in the backyard.”

  The Girl Who Fell to Earth: A Memoir

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Thursday, March 10, 2016

May I have a Word

Vocabulary game

Sometimes what we know is wrong. Try this puzzle to see if you really know what words mean.

"In this etymology game you'll be presented with 10 randomly selected etymology (word origin) or word definition puzzles to solve; in each case the word or phrase is highlighted in bold, and a number of possible answers will be presented. You need to choose the correct answer to score a point for that question. Beware! The false answers will often also seem quite plausible, and some of the true answers are hard to believe, but we have documentation!

What is arachibutyrophobia?
  1. A fear of spiders.

  2. A fear of ingesting too much margarine.

  3. A fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth.

  4. A fear of butane lighters.

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