Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Today I learnt...that Blogger.com...was broken

OK, this is a belated post and you may also have noticed that I'm 5 posts behind on my 'what I learnt today' experiment.  I would like to point out that the last 5 days have been a feast of trivia but unfortunately Blogger.com was caput and so I couldn't update you.

So a summary:

Thursday May 12th
Today I learnt that the 'political unrest' in the Middle East was provoked by a incident in Tunisia in which a young graduate, Mohamed Bouazizi, set fire to himself in protest after fruit and vegetables, which he was attempting to sell from a small cart, were seized by police.

This sad and baffling event reminds me of Jan Palach a Czech student who, 42 years ago, also set fire to himself.  Jan's protest was alledgedy against the continued soviet occupation of, what was then, Czechoslovakia and was followed by the similar deaths of 2 other students in the same spot in Prague within 2 months of his death.

These young people are not the only deaths by self-immolation but I wish that they could be the last.

Friday May 13th
Today I learnt that no one that I know actually knows why Friday the 13th is unlucky.  You may argue that this doesn't count as having learnt something new but it was news to me and therefore counts!

Saturday May 14th
Today I learnt that fir cones show us the direction in which new branches of the tree will grow.

Sunday May 15th
Today I learnt that there is such a thing as a Duct tape fashion.

Today I learnt...that Marshmallows grow on trees.

As a dorky girl Guide I roast them on the camp fire.  As a sulking teenager I added them to ice cream and cakes.  As a, supposed, grown up I guiltily add them to hot chocolate at any given opportunity and just last week I popped a few into to cookie mix as an experiment*.

Until today I didn't know the truth and quite frankly I'm shocked.  Had I been asked in a pub quiz if this was true or false I would have most definetley have been kicked off my team or stunned into a contemplative silence, which is exactly what happened to me today.

Here's how I found out...

I recently realised that one of my favourite plants had died over the winter due to the unusually heavy snow fall.  This plant was a Althaea officinalis more commonly known as a marshmallow plant.  Now, the clues in the name and in hindsight I could have possibly looked into the origins if it's common name instead of assuming, as I did, that it was due to the 'marshmallowly' flower.

Whilst discussing the death of my plant our friend Wayne commented on 'growing marshmallows' we laughed - ok fine I did!  I also mockingly said something along the lines of "ha ha, that's funny"/"don't be daft"/"marshmallows don't grow on trees".  I was wrong, wrong and wrong again.  Wayne was right!

It turns out that marshmallows haven't always been (and in fact aren't always still) made from just sugary stuff and pink food colouring. There was/is a medicinal confection made from a substance found in the root of the Althaea officinalis and used to help sore throats.  Marshmallows as medicine - now tha'ts a dream I never thought would come true!

So, whilst we won't see bushes of budding flumps lining our country lanes.  Nor are we likely to see homegrown marshmallows at this weekends farmers market,  We could, if we wanted to make our own delicious marshmallows.  Well, if we still had a marshmallow plant we could.

*A successful experiment I might add....

...Ever expanding brain biscuits:
  • 6 oz flour 
  • 4 oz butter 
  • 2 oz castor sugar  
  • Handful of Marshmallows.
  1. Mix and bake until golden.
  2. Leave for a minute to set.
  3. Enjoy with hot chocolate!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Today I learnt...how to how to recall an email!

So, there I was at 5 o-clock thinking to myself "My god, i have learnt nothing today".  I racked my brains for something anything that I might have learnt and promptly forgotten...there was nothing!

Then something happened.  Something that happens to most people with an office job and an email account.  Something I am usually so vigilant about. Something that I was determined not to fall foul off.

I sent an email to the wrong person.

Not any old wrong person where a 'whoops, silly me' follow up email would have sufficed but to a CUSTOMER!  There was nothing particularly bad in the email.  In fact there was just one word (not a profanity I might add).  I had meant to forward it to a colleague as an FYI but failed miserably!  Without thinking I hit reply typed my one syllable message and hit send and flicked back onto the news web page I had half read earlier in the day.

That's when instinct kicked in, something didn't feel right.  All the blood in my body seemed to have shifted to my face.  I grabbed the mouse opened the sent folder and there it was, proud as punch at the top of my sent items TO:'Customer' - oh s***!

I don't do well with panic so my reaction was to get into a fluster and fire questions at my poor, unsuspecting, colleague in a tone that can only be described as - military.
"How do I recall an email?..quick, oh sh**!"
Her reply "Oh yes, I know you can do that"
"Yes, but how, oh sh**!"
"Wait one second - I'll Google it"
As she Googled I desperately scanned any outlook tab that looked remotely hopeful.  I found nothing.
"OK, click on actions"
"where's actions"
"wait i'll try it first"
"No, oh s***, I'm going to die!"
An outlook message flashed on the bottom of my screen letting me know my colleague was indeed having a run through of how to do it as I played through conversations with my Manager in my head.
"Is my message in your inbox?" she asked
I checked "no"
"OK, open sent items, open the email, select 'Recall this message'"
I did as she said.
"How will I know if it worked?"
"It tells you" The strain of knowing that I had failed was already showing on her face.
"And if it tells me nothing?"
"Ehm, then they've read it and you can't call it back."

Oh Sh**!

Today I learnt...how to how to recall an email! (note to reader - be quick!!)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Today I learnt...That cats have thumbs #Mashmedia

At #Mashmedia today I learnt that cats have thumbs...

...no really they do.  At first I was skeptical "surely not" "why would that even be necessary?"
So, I headed home with these questions swirling round my head.  Wondering what oracle to consult.

Sharing stories of geek wonder from my day at the conference with my friend Holly the conversation naturally turned to the hilarious Cravendale cat videos, which @Rooreynolds had shown at #MashMedia.  I explained to Holly that the idea was inspired by one cat, of YouTube fame, who had thumbs and could give things a 'thumbs up' - if he felt inclined to that it is.

Then the clanger, "my cousin bred those" said Holly.
"Thumbs?!" said I.
 "No, said Holly* Maine Coon cats."

So thanks to Holly, today's Oracle, I learnt that Maine Coon cats have an extra digit sometimes known as a thumb.  According to wikipedia this is congenital physical anomaly called polydactyly (or polydactylism, also known as hyperdactyly), a type of cat body type genetic mutation, that caused the cat to be born with more than the usual number of toes on one or more of its paws

Apparently this helps them balance on the snow!

So that's today's lesson - Cats have thumbs.

* tactilely ignoring the daft question.