Sticky rice – you could build houses with it!

Posted by jerry on March 1st, 2005 — Posted in History, Journal, Technology, Travel

What an amazing find! Apparently some archeologists became curious at the longevity of China’s ancient walls – especially as the country is somewhat prone to earthquakes. It seems that the answer lay in the glutinous starch in rice porridge which was added to the mortar according to a report by Xinhua news agency. During recent maintenance work on the city wall of the Shaanxi provincial capital Xi’an in the north-west of mainland China, workers found that plaster remnants on ancient bricks were quite hard to remove… and tests showed the mortar reacted to reagents consistent with the reaction of rice, and the molecular structure was consistent with the presence of rice starch. At the molecular level, sticky rice displays good adhesion and flexibility due to the length and quantity of molecular filaments – the very thing that makes rice (and rice glue) sticky.


The wonder of English

Posted by jerry on February 24th, 2005 — Posted in Journal, Technology, Writing

The other day I was confronted with a message on my computer:

“Please do not press any keys or move the mouse while the installation completes…
… Click to continue”

now, what are we to make of this? Should I collapse in a heap of indecision? If I click the mouse will I damage the installation process? *sigh* I sat immobilised for perhaps five minutes before deciding that the click was designed to continue the process, and that – as long as I refrained from other mouse moves or further key strokes – the installation of the offending software would be unaffected.

But supposing English were not my first language, and that I had not had the benefit of a university education in the subject – this contradiction (literally speaking in opposite directions) would at best be confusing, and at worst would decrease my confidence in my competence at operating a computer. If it were an isolated case, it might pass off as a minor aberration, but it was from the same software company that insists we click to shut down. . . Need I say more?


Model plane crosses Atlantic

Posted by jerry on February 16th, 2005 — Posted in History, Journal, Technology

Okay it’s old news – but it was news to me that in August 2003 a small team managed to fly a model plane across the Atlantic Ocean from Newfoundland to Ireland! Called the TAM-5 (Trans-atlantic Model number five) this tiny plane had a 1.83metre (six foot) wingspan, weighed 5kg (half of which was fuel) and was powered by a 10cc engine running on camping stove fuel. Guidance was by GPS connected to flight servos and radio control for takeoff and landing. The flight lasted 38 hours 52 minutes (they had calculated the fuel to last 36 hours – but it ran lean). Reading the account of the flight, I was on the edge of my seat as it became clear how tenuous this whole project had been. The plane flew a total distance of 3030km (1888 miles).

An amazing achievement for designer Maynard Hill


Da Vinci’s blog

Posted by jerry on February 7th, 2005 — Posted in Journal, Writing

Some people have WAY too much time on their hands – and I love em for it! You may have heard that Samuel Pepys’ diaries are being fed as a blog one day at a time, well, now this creative person (aka Matt Webb) has done the same for Leonardo da Vinci’s notebooks – yup – a page a day by rss feed – all 1600+pages! – A minor pity it doesn’t have images, but the text is quite tantalising 🙂

Click here to see it in blog format


Moleskine notebooks in Canberra

Posted by jerry on February 5th, 2005 — Posted in Journal, Writing

Happy Birthday Sharon! kissing smiley and Happy Birthday Greg

Now to a little tale that I’ve waited a couple of days to tell…

The other day I went hunting for Moleskines – you know those perfect notebooks I’ve raved over before? Well it turns out that Pepe’s Paperie in Woden (Canberra, Australia) has a whole new stock of them!

Not only that, but the whole staff is totally potty over them 🙂 I was buying one as a gift for you-know-who and I got chatting with the assistant who announced that she had one of the Moleskine stands as her CD shelf at home! Anyhow I told her all about the Moleskinerie site and she quickly wrote it down and said she’d pass it around the whole shop 😉

And I was introduced to a new range of Moleskines – the pocket music moleskine and the storyboard one…

It was a great way to buy a moleskine – and I’ll be back there (as always) for my next moleskine 🙂