meteorologyScience

“It’s not the heat…

…it’s the humidi…oof….OW! HEY, CUT IT OUT!

Sorry. Had to be done. But c’mon, admit it. There are few phrases more annoying than “It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity” (ed. note: Number one: “Looks like somebody has a case of the Mondays”). But with about one in three Americans in the middle of a heat wave, maybe these people are on to something.

The National Weather Service (ed. note: Apparently, they don’t make and deliver the weather, so we recommend “The National Weather Forecast Gang”) warns that most of the northeast and midwest US will be experiencing a heat wave right up until July 4th holiday. Alarmingly, reports of high temperatures plus high humidity will mean reading of over 100 on the heat index.

Wait. What in the name of my broiled sunburn is the heat index? So, answer – What is the heat index and do we care? Well, like most things there’s a short answer and a long answer. The short answer is “it’s how hot it is, and no, you really don’t care much beyond ‘f*ck, it’s hot’, do you?” The long answer is still pretty interesting. All the heat index represents is how hot it FEELS. Think wind chill, but with less wind and definitely less chill.

This chart, handily provided by the good people at NOAA, shows that basically, the more humidity you add to higher temperatures, the more it feel like three rats getting intimate in a wool sock (ed. note: Hot and unpleasant. Especially for the third rat. He’s always left out).

heat index

Note the density of orange and red in the chart. Red and orange never mean good things on a chart; this applies especially to a chart of Starburst flavors (ed. note: Yellow rules. Fight me if you disagree). It also means that if its above 90 degrees (that’s in freedom units…works out to 32 centigrade) and it’s humid, you’re gonna have a bad time. Except this bad time means your dog and/or elderly relative might die of heat stroke.

OK, great. We have a chart that tells us when the outside feels like sitting in a fat man’s armpit. But, I can hear you thinking is there a handy equation I can use to calculate the heat index? No. There most assuredly is not. There IS an equation, but handy it ain’t. Here it is (where T = Temp in Fahrenheit and R = Relative humidity):

Heat Index = -42.379 + 2.04901523T + 10.14333127R – 0.22475541TR – 6.83783 x 10-3T2 – 5.481717 x 10-2R2 + 1.22874 x 10-3T2R + 8.5282 x 10-4TR2 – 1.99 x 10-6T2R

Good lord, that certainly doesn’t help. So, what the heat index tells us, despite the obvious (it’s hot) and its cumbersome math is that prolonged exposure to a mix of high temps and humidity can have a seriously deleterious effect on people and pets (ed. note: this means you can get heat exhaustion or the much more serious heat stroke). A high temp one day can be more or less dangerous than the same temp the following week. Take the right precautions; such as:

  • Hydrate. Lots
  • Light weight, loose clothing
  • Hydrate. That means water, not margaritas, which despite being delicious aren’t helpful here
  • Wear a hat. And would it kill you to wear some sunscreen?
  • Alternate sun time with cooling down in the shade time

And the next time some slack-jawed doofus tries to tell you that it isn’t the heat, it’s the humidity, you can tell them no, it’s actually the heat index. And then you can show them the above equation and then beat them to death with a shovel.

Art

St. George is ready for his closeup…or is he?

For centuries, a small catholic chapel in Estella Spain has featured a wooden statue of Saint George, mounted on horseback and perpetually about to lay some smackdown on his eternal enemy, the dragon. However, recent efforts by a local arts-and-crafts teacher and parish authorities have left old George looking less heroic and more like a cartoon rodeo rider really enjoying his day on the carousel.

St Geo horseback

Photograph courtesy of Twitter user Xavi Escaned

The chapel, built in the late twelfth century has hosted St. George of the Merry-Go-Round  (ed. note:  No. Not his name) since the sixteenth century, making the value of the art hard to quantify. At least it USED to be hard to quantify. Now that he’s had his…what we might charitably call a facelift…it might be easier to put a dollar value on St. George the Bewildered (ed. note: Still not his name. Cut it out), since centuries-old original colors and paints may have been lost in the restoration.

St Geo before and after

Saint Have I Left the Kettle On?

Immediate comparisons are being drawn between the statue of St. George, the patron saint of England (ed. note: Stop it. Oh, wait. That one is accurate. Carry on.) and another Spanish victim of misguided art restoration, the painting Ecce Homo in Borja. Similar to what happened to our boy Georgie, Ecce Homo was defaced by a well-meaning, but unauthorized touch-up, leading to the painting to be redubbed “Monkey Christ”:

Monkey JC

Photograph: Centro de estudios Borjanos/AP

Considering that the woman who gave Jesus his simian facelift eventually asked to strike a deal with the local church to get a share of the royalties associated with the revised painting, it’s entirely possible that the custodians of St George the Colorful, are going to be looking at his value an entirely new way.

 

BiologyFoodScience

Barbecue season ticks by…

Here in the northern hemisphere, summer officially started this past Thursday. For some people (particularly my kids), the last day of school is the date that gets circled on the calendar to represent the start of summer. And some Americans consider Memorial Day weekend the unofficial start of summertime.

But here at Lamprey Global Headquarters (temporary motto: “We suck everything interesting out of the internet“), summer unofficially starts the very day that evening temperatures allow for the ceremonial grilling of the meats without freezing my delicate bits. Burgers, brats, hot dogs, BBQ chicken, the savory deliciousness of a gigantic slow-cooked sous vide ribeye that crusts up over raging hot coals. All of it in its delicious, meaty goodness. Often in the summer, it’s too hot to cook inside, and it’s just too damn nice to not cook outside. Grilling meats is a summertime tradition dating back to early neanderthal man standing around the fire, arguing about the pros and cons of the designated hitter rule while mammoth steaks roast on the coals (ed. note: Citation needed, but where the f*** am I going to get a neanderthal to ask??).

However, in addition to the threats of eating underdone poultry, disease-ridden mosquitoes, and murderous grill scrapers, there’s a new menace to natural born grillers everywhere. There’s a species of tick in the US called the Lone Star tick and its bite carries with it a VERY unfortunate side effect. When bitten, some people develop an acute allergy to red meat, called alpha-gal allergy…which, contrary to its name is not sneezing a lot when encountering a really cool girl.  According to NPR’s The Salt, cases of alpha-gal allergies have increased exponentially over the past decade, with only a few dozen cases reported in 2007 and 2008 compared to over 5,000 known cases in the US today.

As its name suggests, the Lone Star tick originated in Texas, but its range has expanded annually to include most of the northeastern and central US:

tick range

Picture courtesy US Center for Disease Control and Prevention

There is currently no treatment or preventative for alpha-gel allergies, aside from not being bitten in the first place. Approximately ten to fifteen percent of all sufferers get the double whammy of also becoming allergic to dairy as well, which just goes to show that, yes – it can always get worse. However, some patients have reported that the allergy symptoms abated and people ‘outgrew’ their allergy after a period of time and not being chewed on by hideous spider-crabby things anymore. So there’s that to look forward to. Now we just need to breed a species of insect whose bite improves liver function and reduces the impact of these post-cookout hangovers.

 

Uncategorized

When the moon hits your eye…

…it looks suspiciously like it’s the same size as the sun. What the hell, right? Is it a conspiracy? Is the moon just the sun’s ‘CLOSED‘ sign? Well, it turns out it’s just astronomical coincidence, and it’s one that occasionally makes for some pretty spectacular events.

Let’s start with a couple of basics: D&D. No, not the dice-centric roleplaying game. D&D in this case are of the celestial variety: distance and diameter. Look at the sun. (Ed. note: No…stop that. Don’t look at the sun. It’s bad for your eyes. Jesus. I’ll be more specific.) CONSIDER the sun. It’s about 864,000 miles across, plus or minus the distance between Detroit and Chicago. That’s a lot of miles across the solar equator. But…the sun is also really far away. Like 93 million miles far.  In short, the sun is big and far.

Now, there’s the moon. Also big, also far. Just not as big or as far as the bright shiny thing you use to work on your summer tan. The moon’s diameter is a relatively tiny 2,160 miles across…basically the distance between Philadelphia and Salt Lake City – not even all the way across the continental US. But, it’s closer too. Much closer. Only a short 239,000 miles away (and moving farther away every day; but that’s a story for another time).

So, to sum up: Sun – big and far. Moon – less big and less far. But, there’s a proportional aspect. The sun 864,000 mile diameter is almost exactly 400 times bigger across than our moon (400.3415 times to be exact). However, the distance between the sun and the earth is 389 times the distance between you and the thing that makes tides AND werewolves.

And that ration of 389:400 is close enough so that our simple vision makes the two seem to be the same size, which in turn makes for really, really cool things like eclipses once in a while. The next really good one will be a total lunar eclipse Friday July 27th (2018), visible to our friends in on pretty much every continent EXCEPT north america. This site helps keep track of any upcoming astronomical events, like eclipses, meteor showers, rise of Cthulhu and the Dark Ones…you know, the usual space stuff.

LOOK TO THE SKIES. …except during the day, because that sh*t will make you blind.

Uncategorized

The Jawless Horror that Killed a King

The what now?

I said the Jawless Horror that Killed a King. No, it’s not a terrible-yet-somehow-terrific CGI movie on the SyFy network, nor is it an episode title from the final season of Game of Thrones (J.R.R. Martin quote: “I’m almost ready to start writing the next book!”). Nope, this particular toothy regicidal maniac is the Lamprey, prehistoric nightmare and our namesake here at Lamprey Online.

Lamprey, and their kissin’-cousin the hagfish, make up an order of parasitic, spineless and jawless fish that use the hundreds of teeth that line their round, suction-like mouths to tear away chunks of flesh from unsuspecting fish and feast on their blood (ed. note: that sentence alone should be responsible for a straight-to-cable CGI-fest of a movie. Contact me to negotiate the story rights).

Lampreys have been considered a delicacy in European cooking for centuries, with Queen Elizabeth II being served lamprey pie at her coronation and in the twelfth century, England’s King Henry I being done in by “a surfeit of lampreys” after the royal doctor told him to cool it with the lamprey snacks because they’re so rich. Preparation for lampreys often includes soaking them in their own blood for several days, which is great to know so you can plan ahead for this year’s Thanksgiving dinner. So, while we can say lampreys did kill a king, it wasn’t during a tremendous battle standing on the rain-soaked deck of a medieval warship.  We’ll save that for the sequel (ed. note: tentatively titled Jawless Horror II: Electric Boogaloo).

The sea lamprey is considered a dangerous (no kidding) invasive species in the US Great Lakes region (much like the staff at Lamprey Online) where they have few predators and high reproductive potential (also like the staff at Lamprey Online).

Botany

The Peculiar Case of the The East African Butt Nut

If someone were to ask you, “What is the world’s largest plant seed?” it would be understandable if your first response was something along the lines of “Who the hell are you and why are you so obsessed with seeds?”.  However, if you aren’t weirded out by random strangers shouting botany-related questions at you, you might also be forgiven if you answered ‘coconuts’ and felt pretty smug while doing so.

You’d also be wrong…  The seed of the coconut palm’s cousin, the coco de mer is approximately twice the size of the coconut, lending it one of its several nicknames, the double coconut. It is a really big nut, weighing in at to 75 lbs, which is equivalent to the size of about nineteen teacup poodles (which is a totally valid size barometer, thank you). It’s also known as the sea coconut, which, as a bit of an aside is odd, since, unlike a traditional coconut, the sea coconut is noteworthy for the fact that it does not float, limiting its range to just to a pair of small islands in the Seychelles, a group of islands off of the East African coast. But it’s not because of any of those boring nicknames that we’re learning about this plant today. It’s the OTHER nickname we’re interested in; the most commonly known nickname in fact. It’s because the coco de mer is most commonly known as…

…The Love Nut.  The seed of the coco de mer is known as the love nut, because it is the approximate size and shape of, well, a person’s posterior.  As you can imagine, just about any organic object that could in any way be described as looking like someone’s naughty bits has some appeal in certain Asian markets as an aphrodisiac and/or sexual enhancement. And naturally, any time Asian dudes are willing to pay a premium price for a little herbal perk in their pencil, it means that there are love nut poachers out hunting the Seychelles in search of some high quality nut booty. This means, that in addition to the fact that the butt nut is legally collected and exported as well as being geographically limited to just two islands because of its inherently un-floaty nature, the love nut is officially classified as ‘endangered’ by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Add to this the fact that the love nut tree is particularly slow growing and slow reproducing, taking up to seven years for individual fruit to mature and ripen followed by another one to two years for the seed to germinate, and it’s possible that we’ll be one of the the last generations to answer the question, “What is the biggest nut?” while giggling.

Save the Love Nut.

 

Uncategorized

The Whole Sort of General Mish Mash (WSoGMM)

With apologies to Douglas Adams, the WSoGMM is exactly what Lamprey Online is all about.

The world is INTERESTING. There are stories to tell and things to ponder. And (surprisingly) very little of it is boring. We live in a fascinating place, and the Lamprey is here to share that with you.

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

post