Bees - Cucumberic life without bees

The worlds bee population is in the process of being wiped out.

It's called "Colony Collapse Disorder",  which is the kind of name doctors tend to give things when they have no idea what the problem is, but want to be able to refer to it in an unambiguous manner that makes other people feel they know what the're talking about.

 Colony Collapse Disorder, or CCD is wiping out VERY large numbers of honey bee hives. People that keep bees professionally have closed up shop after losing all their bees.

A while ago, a clerk at the patent office named Albert said, "If all the bees were to disappear,  humans would have 4 years before we were wiped out.", but as far as I know he wasn't a bee expert, but was a very clever man.

The reality is that bees make food grow. almost all our food crops rely on the honey bee to make their fruit, nuts and seeds. Without them we will either learn to eat grass and ferns, or die.

In the last half of this summer, we have not seen a single bee.

I've been looking for them, and I'm pretty good at looking.

I hand pollinated half my cucumber flowers with a small artists paint brush, and left the other half to nature, and not one of natures flowers bore fruit.

Not one.

I'm trying to arrange some native blue banded bees to try to fix the problem.

Some time ago I set up a time lapse photography shot of some cucumbers that I thought I had hand pollinated, but half way through the shoot, I realised I had the memory stick that was for the camera on my desk.

Oh well. At least it wasn't as big a fail as the idiot that coded the little beep noise that tells you it's working. Their design work means the device continues to make the I've just taken a picture "beep" even when there's no card in the device.



Here's some time lapse of the second setup where I used the plants that were not being hand pollinated. Pay particular attention to the 3 already formed little cucumbers just to the right of centre. (sorry about all the black dead space at the end, youtube's edit says it doesn't exist so you must be imagining it just like me) ...

youtube is giving me some grief. The clip works around 50% of the time in the different ways I test stuff.

This might work

If it's not fixed soon I'll redo it.

Making smoked foods - Mixed mock bacon results

I made some mock bacon the other day.

Mixed results.

Some of worked really well, and tastes like bacon. The other bit smells like bacon, and tastes like bacon, but it chews like a really thick rubber band.

And the jalapenos that I also smoked were kind of pointless. I think they needed a LOT more smoke.

I think I'm going to have to learn a lot more before trying bacon again.

Thinking - Vacant

Sometimes things conspire in such a way as to make you look blankly at walls for such a long time as to make other parts of you decide to wonder off and ignore those parts of you currently engaged in looking blankly at walls.

This is how we know it's time to change the way we look at stuff.

That's not to say we should actually look away from looking blankly at walls, but rather that we understand there are advantages to looking away.

What you do is up to you.

It's not necessary to look away, only that you should know there are better things to look at, and better things that might be revealed if you were to actually look away.

Currently, I'm failing, but one day I hope to master new methods of looking...


blankly at walls.

Making smoked foods - Mock bacon

I'm not really sure how to make bacon, but I can now smoke stuff, and bacon is smoked pork, so I should be able to get it half right at least.

Hope I don't die!

Actually I've read a lot of safety info, and it seems I can cold smoke stuff at dangerous, bacteria breeding temperatures for less than four hours, without killing myself.

I think.

Don't try this at home.


Go on.

You'll be fine.

Ahgggeh isn't a word in Australia or anything. That's just the sound I made.

I type it as I hear it. And I hear it as I say it.

I have no idea what I'm talking about.


I brined two completely different looking cuts of pork that both claimed to be pork belly.

I added around a 1/2 cup of sea salt, and a half cup of brown(ish) sugar, to a squirt of honey, and some fresh ground black pepper. I also threw in three bay leaves, and I'm pretty sure there was something else as well.

It's late here.

And the people next door have had enough smoke for the day so I'm about to retrieve my smoked stuff.

It looks kind of pallid.

But it has an interesting scent, that might be a little promising.

Whatever happens, this will not be the kind of bacon-like substance that you might be able to put in your cellar for a few weeks. This will be the kind of thing I'll be freezing, then making sure I cook it.

A lot.

Before eating.

Which is fine by me, because I think bacon should be crunchy.

I also smoked some jalapeños in there.

I'm off to retrieve it all now.

I'll let you know if it kills me.

Winner! - Attempt

I totally didn't win a 3D printer!

Sad face.

I really wanted to win a 3D printer.

But I guess everyone else did as well.

Oh well.

I actually voted for someone else.

Perhaps that was the problem.

This really cool barometer entry featured a glass jar with a balloon glued over the top, and a stick glued on top of that so that, when you place the device next to a wall, the stick would move up or down depending on the air pressure of the day.

Very cool.

Very minimalist.

Anyway, I'll just use my 2D printer, but I'll print a lot of copies so I gain some depth.

Or figure out a different way to win a 3D printer.

Or maybe just become a patissier.

Either way, it's all good.

Perhaps I should have posted a link to vote for my entry or something.

Thinking - Stop signs and DNA

If you sail a cardboard crucifix so that the long bit is the front, over the heads of some laboratory hatched goose chicks that have never met an adult goose, they cry out for food because the think it  looks like their mum.

If you fly the same cardboard crucifix so the short bit is the front (so it looks like a hawk) the same chicks huddle down quietly in fear.

That's some pretty amazing hard-wired stuff in there.

I wonder how long it would take to ... say... get a hard wired DNA based response to an english  word?

For example the word "Stop" on a stop sign.

This test might seem a little unconventional, but bear/bare with me...

As an experiment, make a device that crashes a truck into people if they don't pay attention to a stop sign.

That's it really.

I find them really annoying.

Photography - Light

I have a photography tip.

Buy old slide projectors whenever you see them in a garage sale or whatever.

They are a really good source of light.

And of a colour, that if you put a slide of a nice day in them, they project something that looks like a nice day.


Natural light


And really bright.

Really less bright, if you drop in a filter or a paper towel, or some coloured cellophane or whatever else you might want to use. They have a purpose built slot that was designed to take a small square of something, and shine it's qualities onto something else.


Or less brilliant.

Totally controllable!


$4 !

$2 if you haggle.

Don't haggle.

$4 is a good price.

They even have a focus dial.

Which is nice.

I guess.

120 Things in 20 years teaches that photography feels better if you give the slide projector guy the extra $2. It was the large flat screen TV of the 50s. He spent a lot on it.

Making smoked foods - Brining and smoking

It seems that brining is really important.

It's soaking food in a salt water solution.

Gratuitous smoked rib shot from last night
From here on in, it gets a little hazy.

Last night I made a brine of water sugar and salt. I'd tell you the proportions, but I don't know what they are. It started with a half cup of rock salt and a half cup of brown sugar, and around two litres of water. But then I added some more water so I really have no idea.

Luckily, my recipe or lack there of isn't the point of this post.

This is...

Apparently brining initially adds salt to the cells in the food, then when the solution is a bit depleted, a cell might have more salt than the surrounding brine, so it starts to draw in water. From what I've read, it might be worthwhile to figure out when that transition takes place, and remove the brine once the cells have started to turn towards taking on water, and replace it with a flavoured liquid instead of just the brine.

With this in mind, I spent a reasonable amount of time probing my whole chicken in brine with the probes of my multi-meter.

It's been an odd night.

It stands to reason that the changing salt content might change the resistance of the chicken. Resistance measures how conductive something is. I'm pretty sure salt water conducts better than pure water, and less sure that perhaps pure water might not conduct electricity much/at all. Either way, there might be something useful to be gained from sticking probes into chicken.

Wikipedia says this on the subject (on conductivity, not on probing chickens)...



Electrical Conductivity

Electrical conductivity of ultra-pure water is 5.5 × 10−6 S·m−1 (18 MΩ cm in the reciprocal terms of Electrical Resistivity) and is due only to H+ and OH- ions produced in the water dissociation equilibrium.[7][8] This low conductivity is only achieved, however, in the presence of dissolved monoatomic gases. Completely de-gassed ultra-pure water has conductivity of 1.2 × 10−4 S·m−1, whereas upon equilibration to the atmosphere it is 7.5  × 10−5 S·m−1 due to dissolved CO2 in it.


I'm not really sure why it says that. I'm guessing it means something to someone, but I think it's roughly agreeing with me.


With this in mind, it might be possible to detect the point at which the food stops taking in salt, and starts taking in moisture.

Currently I'm at the stage in my research where I find it annoyingly difficult to get a good reading. The harder you press the probes, the better chicken conducts. I'm guessing this is just because there's more chicken exposed to the current, because there's more probe exposed to the chicken.

So for my next trick, I'l be concentrating on the brine and it's conductivity because I can completely submerge the probes, and as a result, I might get more consistent readings.

I'm also at two more stages.

One is not being sure what I should be looking for in the readings. ie how what's happening should effect the conductivity of the readings.

And the other is wondering if perhaps I should just have a bit of a lie down, and forget the entire episode.

120 Things in 20 years - Maybe the reason aliens are always probing things is because they are trying to ascertain the correct procedure for brining and smoking everything. Aliens like making smoked foods.

Thinking - Lathes

A device like a lathe seems like a pretty indispensable thing to own if you want to make a lathe.

All those perfect shafts and bearings.

That bothers me a bit.

In a nice way.


Making smoked foods - Luxury Cut Ribs

I have a hot tip for making ribs.

It's very simple, but it always pleases.

I call it Luxury Cut or sometimes Lux Cut.

All that's required is just before serving, you remove every second rib bone, so that the ones on either side get double their share of meat.

Total luxury.

Ask your butcher to do it for you. Tell them to just throw the removed bare bones onto the scales as well so you still pay the correct amount. If you do, they probably wont charge you any more for the preparation time. Turn the bones into stock or whatever. Always go to your butcher during non-peak times.

I promise you will never go back (not to the butcher, you'll go back to the butcher. Just not to normal ribs)

And sorry to any Vegetarians reading.

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