Monthly Archives: February 2016

Salmon Belly Sashimi

iPhoneOgraphy – 29 Feb 2016 (Day 60/366)

The word sashimi means “pierced body”, i.e. “刺身” = sashimi, where sashi (pierced, stuck) and = mi (body, meat). This word dates from the Muromachi period, and was possibly coined when the word “kiru” (cut), the culinary step, was considered too inauspicious to be used by anyone other than samurai. This word may derive from the culinary practice of sticking the fish’s tail and fin to the slices in identifying the fish being eaten.

Another possibility for the name could come from the traditional method of harvesting. ‘Sashimi Grade’ fish is caught by individual handline. As soon as the fish is landed, its brain is pierced with a sharp spike; and it is placed in slurried ice. This spiking is called the lke jime process, and the instantaneous death means that the fish’s flesh contains a minimal amount of lactic acid. This means that the fish will keep fresh on ice for about ten days, without turning white or otherwise degrading.

Many non-Japanese use the terms sashimi and sushi interchangeably, but the two dishes are distinct and separate. Sushi refers to any dish made with vinegared rice. While raw fish is one traditional sushi ingredient, many sushi dishes contain seafood that has been cooked, and others have no seafood at all.

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Some Crayon Story

iPhoneOgraphy – 28 Feb 2016 (Day 59/366)

The history of the crayon is not entirely clear. The word “crayon” dates to 1644, coming from (chalk) and the Latin word creta (earth).

The notion to combine a form of wax with pigment actually goes back thousands of years. Encaustic painting is a technique that uses hot beeswax combined with colored pigment to bind color into stone. A heat source was then used to “burn in” and fix the image in place. Pliny the Elder, a Roman scholar, was thought to describe the first techniques of wax crayon drawings.

This method, employed by the Egyptians, Romans, Greeks and even indigenous people in the Philippines, is still used today. However, the process wasn’t used to make crayons into a form intended to be held and colored with and was therefore ineffective to use in a classroom or as crafts for children.

Contemporary crayons are purported to have originated in Europe where some of the first cylinder shaped crayons were made with charcoal and oil. Pastels are an art medium having roots with the modern crayon and stem back to Leonardo da Vinci in 1495. Conté crayons, out of Paris, are a hybrid between a pastel and a conventional crayon; used since the late 1790s as a drawing crayon for artists. Later, various hues of powdered pigment eventually replaced the primary charcoal ingredient found in most early 19th century product. References to crayons in literature appear as early as 1813 in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Joseph Lemercier (born Paris 1803—died 1884), considered by some of his contemporaries to be “the soul of lithography”, was also one of the founders of the modern crayon. Through his Paris business circa 1828 he produced a variety of crayon and color related products. But even as those in Europe were discovering that substituting wax for the oil strengthened the crayon, various efforts in the United States were also developing.

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Preparing Fusilli Pasta

iPhoneOgraphy – 27 Feb 2016 (Day 58/366)

Fusilli are long, thick, corkscrew shaped pasta. The word fusilli presumably comes from fuso, as traditionally it is “spun” by pressing and rolling a small rod over the thin strips of pasta to wind them around it in a corkscrew shape.

In addition to plain and whole wheat varieties, as with any pasta, other colours can be made by mixing other ingredients into the dough, which also affects the flavour, for example, beetroot or tomato for red, spinach for green, and cuttlefish ink for black.

Fusilli may be solid or hollow. Hollow fusilli are also called fusilli bucati.

The term fusilli is also used to describe a short, flattened, twisted pasta known as rotini in the United States. Short twisted pasta are also marketed as fusilli, as well as a tri-color fusilli which is marketed to consumers who want bistro style salads etc. This type of product is widely seen.

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American Ginseng

iPhoneOgraphy – 26 Feb 2016 (Day 57/366)

The English word ginseng derives from the Chinese term rénshēn (simplified: 人参; traditional: 人参). Rénmeans “Person” and shēn means “plant root”; this refers to the root’s characteristic forked shape, which resembles the legs of a person. The English pronunciation derives from a southern Chinese reading, similar to Cantonese yun sum (Jyutping: jan4sam1) and the Hokkien pronunciation “jîn-sim”.

The botanical/genus name Panax means “all-heal” in Greek, sharing the same origin as “panacea” was applied to this genus because Linnaeus was aware of its wide use in Chinese medicine as a muscle relaxant.

Besides P. ginseng, many other plants are also known as or mistaken for the ginseng root. The most commonly known examples are xiyangshen, also known as American ginseng 西洋参 (P. quinquefolius), Japanese ginseng 東洋参 (P. japonicus), crown prince ginseng 太子參 (Pseudostellaria heterophylla), and Siberian ginseng 刺五加 (Eleutherococcus senticosus). Although all have the name ginseng, each plant has distinctively different functions. However, true ginseng plants belong only to the Panax genus.

Ginseng is any one of the 11 species of slow-growing perennial plants with fleshy roots, belonging to the genus Panax of the family Araliaceae.

Ginseng is found in North America and in eastern Asia (mostly northeast China, Korea, Bhutan, eastern Siberia), typically in cooler climates. Panax vietnamensis, discovered in Vietnam, is the southernmost ginseng known. This article focuses on the species of the series Panax, which are the species claimed to be adaptogens, principally Panax ginseng and P.quinquefolius. Ginseng is characterized by the presence of ginsenosides and gintonin.

Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus) is in the same family, but not genus, as true ginseng. Like ginseng, it is considered to be an adaptogenic herb. The active compounds in Siberian ginseng are eleutherosides, not ginsenosides. Instead of a fleshy root, Siberian ginseng has a woody root.

Over centuries, ginseng has been considered in China as an important component of Chinese traditional medicine, but there is no scientific confirmation of it having any benefit to human health.

Control over ginseng fields in China and Korea became an issue in the 16th century. By the 1900s, due to the demand for ginseng having outstripped the available wild supply, Korea began the commercial cultivation of ginseng which continues to this day. In 2010, nearly all of the world’s 80,000 tons of ginseng in international commerce was produced in four countries: China, South Korea, Canada, and the United States. Commercial ginseng is sold in over 35 countries with sales exceeded $2.1 billion, of which half came from South Korea. China has historically been the largest consumer for ginseng.

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Ring The Bell

iPhoneOgraphy – 25 Feb 2016 (Day 56/366)

A bell is a simple idiophone percussion instrument. Although bells come in many forms, most are made of metal cast in the shape of a hollow cup, whose sides form a resonator which vibrates in a single tone upon being struck. The strike may be made by a “clapper” or “uvula” suspended within the bell, by a separate mallet or hammer, or—in small bells—by a small loose sphere enclosed within the body of the bell.

Bells are usually made by casting metal, but small bells can also be made from ceramic or glass. Bells range in size from tiny dress accessories to church bells 5 metres tall, weighing many tons. Historically, bells were associated with religious rituals, and before mass communication were widely used to call communities together for both religious and secular events. Later, bells were made to commemorate important events or people and have been associated with the concepts of peace and freedom. The study of bells is called campanology.

The earliest archaeological evidence of bells dates from the 3rd millennium BC, and is traced to the Yangshao culture of Neolithic China. Clapper-bells made of pottery have been found in several archaeological sites. The pottery bells later developed into metal bells. In West Asia, the first bells appear in 1000 BC.

The earliest metal bells, with one found in the Taosi site and four in the Erlitou site, are dated to about 2000 BC. Early bells not only have an important role in generating metal sound, but arguably played a prominent cultural role. With the emergence of other kinds of bells during the Shang Dynasty (c. 1600 – c. 1050 BC), they were relegated to subservient functions; at Shang and Zhou sites, they are also found as part of the horse-and-chariot gear and as collar-bells of dogs.

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Ant At Work

iPhoneOgraphy – 24 Feb 2016 (Day 55/366)

Ants are eusocial insects of the family Formicidae and, along with the related wasps and bees, belong to the order Hymenoptera. Ants evolved from wasp-like ancestors in the mid-Cretaceous period between 110 and 130 million years ago and diversified after the rise of flowering plants. More than 12,500 of an estimated total of 22,000 species have been classified. They are easily identified by their elbowed antennae and the distinctive node-like structure that forms their slender waists.

Ants form colonies that range in size from a few dozen predatory individuals living in small natural cavities to highly organised colonies that may occupy large territories and consist of millions of individuals. Larger colonies consist mostly of sterile, wingless females forming castes of “workers”, “soldiers”, or other specialised groups. Nearly all ant colonies also have some fertile males called “drones” and one or more fertile females called “queens”. The colonies are described as super organisms because the ants appear to operate as a unified entity, collectively working together to support the colony.

Ants have colonised almost every landmass on Earth. The only places lacking indigenous ants are Antarctica and a few remote or inhospitable islands. Ants thrive in most ecosystems and may form 15–25% of the terrestrial animal biomass. Their success in so many environments has been attributed to their social organisation and their ability to modify habitats, tap resources, and defend themselves. Their long co-evolution with other species has led to mimetic, commensal, parasitic, and mutualistic relationships.

Ant societies have division of labour, communication between individuals, and an ability to solve complex problems. These parallels with human societies have long been an inspiration and subject of study. Many human cultures make use of ants in cuisine, medication, and rituals. Some species are valued in their role as biological pest control agents. Their ability to exploit resources may bring ants into conflict with humans, however, as they can damage crops and invade buildings. Some species, such as the red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta), are regarded as invasive species, establishing themselves in areas where they have been introduced accidentally.

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What Is Your Favorite Alphabet? 

iPhoneOgraphy – 23 Feb 2016 (Day 54/366)

The history of alphabetic writing goes back to the consonantal writing system used for Semitic languages in the Levant in the 2nd millennium BCE. Most or nearly all alphabetic scripts used throughout the world today ultimately go back to this Semitic proto-alphabet. Its first origins can be traced back to a Proto-Sinaitic script developed in Ancient Egypt to represent the language of Semitic-speaking workers in Egypt. This script was partly influenced by the older Egyptian hieratic, a cursive script related to Egyptian hieroglyphs.

Mainly through Phoenician and Aramaic, two closely related members of the Semitic family of scripts that were in use during the early first millennium BCE, the Semitic alphabet became the ancestor of multiple writing systems across the Middle East, Europe, northern Africa and South Asia.

Some modern authors distinguish between consonantal scripts of the Semitic type, called “abjads”, and “true alphabets” in the narrow sense, the distinguishing criterion being that true alphabets consistently assign letters to both consonants and vowels on an equal basis, while in an abjad each symbol usually stands for a consonant. In this sense, the first true alphabet was the Greek alphabet, which was adapted from the Phoenician. Latin, the most widely used alphabet today, in turn derives from Greek (by way of Cumae and the Etruscans).

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Show Me The Way

iPhoneOgraphy – 22 Feb 2016 (Day 53/366)

Lighting or illumination is the deliberate use of light to achieve a practical or aesthetic effect. Lighting includes the use of both artificial light sources like lamps and light fixtures, as well as natural illumination by capturing daylight. Daylighting (using windows, skylights, or light shelves) is sometimes used as the main source of light during daytime in buildings. This can save energy in place of using artificial lighting, which represents a major component of energy consumption in buildings. Proper lighting can enhance task performance, improve the appearance of an area, or have positive psychological effects on occupants.

Indoor lighting is usually accomplished using light fixtures, and is a key part of interior design. Lighting can also be an intrinsic component of landscape projects.

With the discovery of fire, the earliest form of artificial lighting used to illuminate an area were campfires or torches. As early as 400,000 BCE, fire was kindled in the caves of Peking Man. Prehistoric people used primitive lamps to illuminate surroundings. These lamps were made from naturally occurring materials such as rocks, shells, horns and stones, were filled with grease, and had a fiber wick. Lamps typically used animal or vegetable fats as fuel. Hundreds of these lamps (hollow worked stones) have been found in the Lascaux caves in modern-day France, dating to about 15,000 years ago. Oily animals (birds and fish) were also used as lamps after being threaded with a wick. Fireflies have been used as lighting sources. Candles and glass and pottery lamps were also invented. Chandeliers were an early form of “light fixture”.

Major reductions in the cost of lighting occurred with the discovery of whale oil and kerosene. Gas lighting was economical enough to power street lights in major cities starting in the early 1800s, and was also used in some commercial buildings and in the homes of wealthy people. The gas mantle boosted the luminosity of utility lighting and of kerosene lanterns. The next major drop in price came about with the incandescent light bulb powered by electricity.

Over time, electric lighting became ubiquitous in developed countries. Segmented sleep patterns disappeared, improved nighttime lighting made more activities possible at night, and more street lights reduced urban crime.

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I Need Water…

iPhoneOgraphy – 21 Feb 2016 (Day 52/366)

A fire hydrant is a connection point by which firefighters can tap into a water supply. It is a component of active fire protection.

The user attaches a hose to the fire hydrant, then opens a valve on the hydrant to provide a powerful flow of water, on the order of 350 kPa (this pressure varies according to region and depends on various factors including the size and location of the attached water main). This user can attach this hose to a fire engine, which can use a powerful pump to boost the water pressure and possibly split it into multiple streams. One may connect the hose with a threaded connection, instantaneous “quick connector” or a Storz connector. A user should take care not to open or close a fire hydrant too quickly, as this can cause a water hammer, which can damage nearby pipes and equipment. The water inside a charged hose line causes it to be very heavy and high water pressure causes it to be stiff and unable to make a tight turn while pressurized. When a fire hydrant is unobstructed, this is not a problem, as there is enough room to adequately position the hose.

Most fire hydrant valves are not designed to throttle the water flow; they are designed to be operated full-on or full-off. The valving arrangement of most dry-barrel hydrants is for the drain valve to be open at anything other than full operation. Usage at partial-opening can consequently result in considerable flow directly into the soil surrounding the hydrant, which, over time, can cause severe scouring. Gate or butterfly valves can be installed directly onto the hydrant orifices to control individual outputs and allow for changing equipment connections without turning off the flow to other orifices. These valves can be up to 12 inches in diameter to accommodate the large central “steamer” orifices on many US hydrants. It is good practice to install valves on all orifices before using a hydrant as the protective caps are unreliable and can cause major injury if they fail.

When a firefighter is operating a hydrant, he or she typically wears appropriate personal protective equipment, such as gloves and a helmet with face shield worn. High-pressure water coursing through a potentially aging and corroding hydrant could cause a failure, injuring the firefighter operating the hydrant or bystanders.

In most jurisdictions it is illegal to park a car within a certain distance of a fire hydrant. In North America the distances are commonly 3 to 5 m or 10 to 15 ft, often indicated by yellow or red paint on the curb. The rationale behind these laws is that hydrants need to be visible and accessible in an emergency.

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Balance Between Good & Evil 

iPhoneOgraphy – 20 Feb 2016 (Day 51/366)

“In this world, there is no absolute good, no absolute evil,” the man said. “Good and evil are not fixed, stable entities but are continually trading places. A good may be transformed into an evil in the next second. And vice versa. Such was the way of the world that Dostoevksy depicted in The Brothers Karamazov. The most important thing is to maintain the balance between the constantly moving good and evil. If you lean too much in either direction, it becomes difficult to maintain actual morals. Indeed, balance itself is the good.” – Haruki Murakami

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