Pi Day Fly Day

It’s Pi Day, (because it’s the 14th March, or 14/3, or 3.14 in the American notation). This is clearly not the South African way of doing things. However, on this occasion, I’m willing to overlook this US-based nonsense in the name of education. The school has based an entire Maths Week around today – “It’s all about Maths and Fun” (so clearly not big on Venn diagrams, then) – and it’s been an excellent learning experience for all the kids.

I was asked to help out today with ‘togging one of the events: namely a Pi on the field, made up of all the classes in the keystage, and I was only too happy to help. Here’s one of the lower altitude photos I took:

Obviously, I used the drone: my tripod wouldn’t extend to the required height for even this relatively low level shot.

The students were very patient (although the process really didn’t take very long, thanks to some fantastic organisation), but this is one of those things that won’t mean anything to them until they see the photos, which is why I hurried through the editing as soon as I got home and got them back to the teachers in time for them to see what they were part of today.

Tomorrow: Maths Week Dress Up Day!

Also tomorrow for those wondering: March’s 6000 miles… crossword.

Without Chemicals

Spotted today at my local, terrible Pick n Pay, this stuff:

I will always be attracted by the word “microbe”. And so it was with this product, nestling amongst the cleaning products, with its owl in a nurses hat, studious-looking glasses and a bow tie, carrying a stethoscope. Why does he need the glasses? Don’t owls have amazing eyesight?
And what’s with the stethoscope? Is he a doctor, and not actually a professor? And why does the patient have cardiac or pulmonary problems if they’re using this wonderful product? None of this makes any sense.

But to be honest, it was the blurb below that really caught my eye.

Clean surfaces safely, without chemicals!

Oh really?
Well, if you’re going to do it without chemicals, then I’m guessing that there must be a motherfunning genie in your spray bottle there, because everything is made of chemicals, dahlink (possibly even genies, actually). But we’ll come to that in a second, because wait… there’s more:

Welcome to the new science of cleaning.
Harnessing the power of beneficial microbes to rid surfaces of harmful germs.

Oh really?
Microbes when they’re beneficial, germs when they’re harmful. It’s pure bacterial racism you’re looking at right there, folks.

But would you really want to spray your surfaces with microbes, beneficial or not, and no chemicals?
Well, it seems that actually, you don’t have to do either, because turn the bottle around and there’s this:

See it?

Ingredients: Aqua, Sodium Citrate, Orange Extract

Well, Aqua is just the posh word for water (which is a chemical), Sodium Citrate is the chemical name for the chemical Sodium Citrate, and your orange extract is basically a group of chemicals that comes from oranges.

That’s an awful lot of chemicals for a product which, just a bottle-turn away suggests that you can clean stuff “without chemicals”.

At least it’s halaal. And that’s likely to be because there is no pork in it and no microbes in there either. Beneficial or otherwise.

So I really am left wondering how this product is “harnessing the power of beneficial microbes to rid surfaces of harmful germs”.
Sure, the chemical in this solution might knock out some of the bugs growing on your kitchen surfaces, but it’s likely to be really ineffective when compared with “traditional” (chemical) cleaning agents, because although Sodium Citrate (which is the chemical name for the chemical Sodium Citrate, as mentioned above) might kill some “harmful germs”, a) it’s really rubbish at it, and b) it’ll kill just as many “beneficial microbes” as well.

Obviously, I didn’t buy any of this stuff, but I would fully expect the limited citrus scent to be overwhelmed with the stench of bullshit.

I’m done here for the moment, but visit the Professor Microbe website and you’ll learn that:

Professor Microbe™ uses Nano-Natural technology with Active Nanoids to cut through fat, oil and grease.

u wot m9?

Yeah, remember that BSc you were going to do in Nano-Natural Science? The one that had the foundation course in Active Nanoids?
You know: the one with all the made up words that sound ever so sciencey, but don’t actually exist?

And don’t even get me started on their “The Technology” page. It’s so deeply unscientific on every line that I’d even bet that Tim Noakes is jealous.

I shall return to Professor Microbe™ in a future post, and share more details on their utter nonsense from a considered, scientific point of view.

I gru dis

I’m not into horticulture. (I used to think it was just for superior, disdainful people but that turned out to be haughtyculture – homonyms have never been my thing.)

However, last Autumn, I was given a bulb and I stuck it in the ground in our back garden.

Now, there’s this:

I can’t claim much credit for this pretty March Lily (Amaryllis belladonna). All that I’ve done is prevented the bulb being dug up by the beagle – Nature did the rest, and right on time as well.

Locust housing

…And The Struggle Of Suburban Garden Wildlife Identification (but that wouldn’t fit in the title box).

This thing was in our garden last night. Probably about 90mm in length, sitting first of all on a one of the chairs that we never use, and then hopping/jumping/flying onto some nearby agapanthusesagapanthaeagapanthasueses… plants.

You can see more of it here.

I’m not sure what sort of grasshopper or locust it is, and the information out on the internet about this sort of thing is limited, fragmented and altogether sketchy.  I put it on iSpot, and someone (apparently well-respected and versed in invertebrate identification) suggested it might be a Acanthacris ruficornis subsp. ruficornis, and who am I to disagree?

Acanthacris ruficornis subsp. ruficornis is the Garden Locust, and since this was a locust and it was found in our garden, I’m very willing to take this as a likely ID.

And then this morning, while checking on my March Lily (more of this at a later date) (in March, obvs), a new bird in the back garden (new to me, at least). Too small to be hunting Acanthacris ruficornis subsp. ruficornis, so I don’t think that’s what brought it here, but because I have no idea what sort of bird it was, I don’t know exactly why it was with us.

Sadly, I’m not great at identifying LBJs, and my bird book, which makes me better at identifying LBJs, is down in Agulhas. The bird book app on my phone is better than carrying the bird book around, but is no good for browsing LBJs, which is my standard method of LBJ identification.

And with no photo (yet, at least), I’m just going to have to keep a mental image of this chaffinch-sized, slightly speckled, brown feathered thing until I get back down to my happy place and have chance to look it up.

Unless any of you guys want to hazard a guess, based on my detailed description above? (My current best guess is an African Dusky Flycatcher (Muscicapa adusta)).

Which is better?

Aside from contracting toxoplasmosis in my local supermarket, I also had my hair cut yesterday.

In the chair behind me, a client was having an earnest discussion with his barber as to which musical act was the better:

Local sax-based, electro-house-jazz duo, Goldfish:

…or Paul McCartney.

You might not have heard of Paul: he was mildly successful 50-odd years ago with some other guys.

But despite that historical fame, if we’re going to base success on, say, the number of times the act in question has played at the Kirstenbosch Summer Sunset Concert series, then it’s Goldfish that clearly come out on top.

At least that’s what Mr Haircut was trying to tell us.

Next week, I go to a garden centre to try work out which writer is better: veteran 16th century playwright William Shakespeare, or E.L. James, who gave us the 50 Shades… series.

I’ll probably be looking at how many times they have each done interviews on American late night TV talk shows as my deciding criterion.