Another use for used inner tubes

Tree staking 3


Even after one too many flats, a used bike inner tube has plenty of uses. One more to add to the list: it can be used as a cushion between a tree trunk and a staking wire.

Tree staking 1


Cut the valve section out and cut the tube in half. For extra padding, use a double layer of tubing by pulling a section of tube through itself.


Tree staking 2


One regular bike tube makes two generously sized padding pieces, even after doubling them over. You’re ready to thread your wire through and stake up your tree!


You can also trim off a few pieces to make bike tube rubber bands.

Another oddity of lotus roots

Lotus Rootlets 2

Nelumbo Nucifera, also known as the Sacred Lotus (amongst other names) is a magnificent oddity of a plant. It roots in the mud of shallow lakes and ponds, growing leaves that float on the surface as lily pads lily pads or rise up above the water on hard stalks. The lotus flower itself is the model of a classic and gracefulwater lily flower, where both the flower and resulting seed pod have a characteristic pattern of holes.

 

Lotus Rootlets 1   Lotus Rootlets 3one rootlet   Thin Section

The hole patterns continue throughout the plant, showing up in in the stalks and underground stems (rhizomes) of the lotus plant. The rhizomes, usually just referred to as “lotus root” are prepared as vegetable in many types of asian cuisine. Typically you’ll find them served as thin slices through the root (a couple of inches in diameter), showing the distinctive pattern and prepared in many different ways– I’m partial to tempura. (If you haven’t had them, the taste is a bit like a more substantial and nutty version of a water chestnut.)

Another way that you can sometimes find lotus root prepared is as pickled lotus rootlets, which are immature and more tender lotus roots in brine (pictured here). You might find these in a salad or Vietnamese sandwich– they are tasty like their bigger friends.

Appearances aside, the first bizarre thing about the Sacred Lotus is that it’s one of only a handful of known plants that displays “warm-blooded” behaviour: It actively regulates the temperature of its flower to be at a near-constant temperature, even as the ambient temperature varies by a much larger amount. (

The second thing, which I haven’t seen written about anywhere, has led me to ask: how can a lotus root be like a spider?

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The Ducklings go to the Pond

Wake up

While staying in Sydney last month, I spent a lot of time at the botanical gardens, and, since it was spring, there were ducklings. I watched one family go from sleeping under the tree to swimming in the pond one morning, and I took a lot of pictures.

What follows after the jump is an annotated photo essay in which one duckling is forced to answer the question, “If your siblings all jumped off a cliff, would you do it, too?”
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Just in time for halloween: Bats

bats hanging like fruit

The animals that everyone hears about from Australia are things like koalas, wallabies and platypuses. But the real stars, as far as I’m concerned, are the bats. We saw a few bats in the zoos we went to, including ghost bats and flying foxes. But just walking along in the afternoon in the botanical gardens in Sydney, we looked up and happened to notice that what was hanging from the trees wasn’t leaves or fruit – it was bats. Hundreds of flying foxes. They chattered at each other and flew from one roost to another. While the echidnas were awfully cute bumbling along at the zoo, and the cockatoos were fun to watch at the park, it was the bats in the garden that stole the show.

Video: Hummingbird preens like he means it.

We set up the camera pointing at the hummingbird feeder on our front porch to try and take pictures of the birdies as they perched. But, holy smokes were we surprised to see a bird perch on a nearby vine and begin its performance, going through his checklist and pre-flight maintenance routine.

Embedded above, watch on YouTube or download the high-resolution Quicktime Version (3 MB).

This isn’t a time-lapse movie, this is real time.
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Cute baby animals

While we ponder the excellent selection of entries to the Supercapacitor Contest, it’s time that we do something far more important: look at pictures of baby animals. While we’re not Cute Overload, we do occasionally accumulate pictures of baby animals, and right now they’re burning holes in our proverbial pockets.

We might as well get this over with. Let’s start with the baby egrets:

Baby egrets!
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