Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Well Hung Bananas

I recently received an unusual present, a banana stand.

It looks like a miniature gallows, with the noose replaced by a hook, from which one is bidden to hang a bunch of bananas. It is supposed to stop the bananas trurning to brown sludge as quickly as they usually do.

A little to my surprise, it seems to work.

My only guess at a possible mechanism, is that the arrangement allows the dispersal of ethylene.

Ethylene is alleged to be emitted by ripening fruit, and to speed up ripening, and bananas are regarded as a potent source of the gas. Adding a ripe banana is often recommended as a way of getting unripe tomatoes to ripen.

Ethylene (C2H4) has molecular weight 28, the same as nitrogen and a little lower than oxygen, so it should have a density close to that of air, suggesting that it would tend to hang around in an enclosed space, but draughts in the air should disperse the ethylene emitted by a hanging banana. However, that is just my speculation.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Redcurrant Jelly

I recently used up the last of my homemade redcurrant jelly, and I see no prospect of making any more.

In the previous house I grew my own fruit, but if shops sell redcurrants at all, they do so only in minute quantities at extremely high prices. I should need about 30 100 gram punnets costing more than a pound each to make a reasonable batch of jelly. As making jelly is the only use for redcurrants, I don't see the point in selling them in such small quantities.

I therefore bought some redcurrant jelly. It was most disappointing. It was extremely sweet, lacked the sharpness I expert from redcurrant jelly, and the texture suggested that the setting agent was gelatin, not pectin.

I miss my old fruit garden.

Friday, 24 February 2017

A neglected Garment

Many years ago, most likely in the late 1970's, I decided to get a new overcoat capable of keeping me warm in the coldest weather. At the time it was fashionable for overcoats to be just rather large jackets, reaching down no further than the lower boundary of the buttocks, and leaving legs exposed to the freezing blasts of the Winter winds. So I went to a shop offering made to measure overcoats. Having extracted an assurance that the cost would be the same however long the coat, I specified that it should reach well below my knees.

Staff in the shop were so shocked that they made me sign the order form to signify my consent to the length.

Thus was born my Harris Tweed overcoat.

I used to wear it for about six weeks each year, in the very cold spells we used to have in January and early February, when the insulation it provided more than compensated its weight.

I can't remember when I last wore it, but I sure It must be more than four years ago, and probably a lot longer.

So far this Winter I've encountered only two brief flurries of snow, and in both cases the snow melted within an hour or two of falling, and there has been no frost severe enough to last all through the day. The temperature has always been above freezing by noon.

I firmly believe in climate change !!!

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Living Dangerously in my Youth

I've just read the warnings on a packet of aspirin tablets. Apparently aspirin should not be  taken by anyone under the age of 16.

In my schooldays anyone indisposed was sent to the school secretary, who gave them an aspirin. No matter what the ailment, it was always an aspirin !  How did we survive!

Saturday, 11 February 2017

The Telephone Directory

A new Telephone Directory arrived today, and I wonderd how long it is since I used one.

I'm fairly sure I haven't looked up any  number in a directory since I moved house rather more than two years ago, and suspect I didn't use one for several years before that. Who, if anyone, still uses directories ?

Thursday, 2 February 2017

An Innumerate Minister

Christ Grayling, interviewed on BBC Radio 4 this morning, responded to concerns about the possible extension of Heathrow Airport by saying that there has been a quantum change in the noisiness of planes.

As a quantum is the smallest change physically possible, that doesn't reassure me at all.

It often happens that dim people hear clever people using some word and think they can make themselves look clever by using it too, and do so without first finding out what the word in question means. It worries me when such people somehow get into the Cabinet.