Petricor

Right.
Before you dive down my throat, that’s the way it’s spelled in the title of this Ludovico Einaudi offering.

You and I would spell it Petrichor, wiv an aitch.

Petrichor is the earthy scent produced when rain falls on dry soil. The word is constructed from Greek petra, meaning “stone”, and ichor, the fluid that flows in the veins of the gods in Greek mythology.

Yeah, like that.
But either way, you can hear the rain and smell that scent in this energetic yet beautifully relaxing song:

Petrichor happens (exists?) as the result of a two separate chemical processes triggered by the rain.

Firstly, oils – palmitic acid and stearic acid – secreted by during dry periods, and when it rains, these oils are released into the air. The second reaction that creates petrichor occurs when a chemical called geosmin (you may remember it from such post as Safe To Drink) produced by soil-dwelling bacteria called Actinomycetes is released. Geosmin and these plant oils combine to create the pleasant petrichor scent when rain hits the ground.

Actinos – great to look at under a microscope, absolute bastards to grow in the lab.

Add to those two the “pre-rain” ozone smell you get ahead of storms and you’ve got the most evocative odour outside of cut grass and freshly baked bread.

Gorgeous.

The War On Bugs

Spotted this week on the BBC News website:

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It’s not a bad idea. It’s just a 15-years-too-late idea.

(I’ve been saying.)

Zuma on Trump

All-round nice guy and democratically elected President of the Republic of South Africa says “well done” to all-round nice guy and democratically elected President of the United States of America.

I think that’s what’s happening, anyway…

A transcript of the video, including JZ’s words, may assist you in comprehending the depth of his feelings for Mr Trump.

[Microsoft Movie Maker titles and intro]

For now, it… it is a report that have come.
If he has won, the Americans have felt that this is a man.
I don’t think anyone could have anything.
We are saying congratulation to him.

[CGI SA flag]
[Fade to 15 seconds of silent darkness]

Eish.

The problem with Buster and Bridget

The new John Lewis Christmas ad is out, and after Lunar paedophiles, lovesick penguins and Lily Allen musically narrating the unlikely scene of a hibernating bear being awoken, this year, we’re being given a Boxer dog and a trampoline:

This is the story of a little girl called Bridget who loves to bounce. When her mum and dad buy her a trampoline for Christmas, they soon discover that she isn’t the only one with a passion for jumping.

Without further ado or spoilers, here’s the ad. Have a watch.

Link to video

It’s lovely, isn’t it?
But, perhaps predictably, I have a few issues with it.

First off, the weather. As I’m sure we’ve reported somewhere elsewhere on here (can’t find it), you’re more likely to have a white Easter than a white Christmas. Still, it could happen, it’s just really unlikely.

Equally, it’s possible that a pair of urban red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) might wander onto an unattended trampoline and quietly bounce up and down for a while. Much more likely, however, is the possibility that they will shit everywhere and wake dear Bridget up with their incessant, irritating barking.
I’ll overlook it. It’s just an ad.

They are joined by a badger. The European Badger (Meles meles) is Britain’s largest native carnivore. I know that’s it’s not quite as big as a lion, but I once saw a contest between a badger and an Austin Metro and it was a close run thing, with both sides almost instantaneously losing quite heavily. When not lying under the crumpled front of small hatchbacks, badgers in the UK are known primarily for their scarcity and their propensity to spread TB. Nice.
European Badgers hibernate from late October to mid-November and emerge from their setts in March and early April, comprehensively including Christmas. I’m just saying.

They’re then joined by some Eastern Grey Squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis) – which are listed as one of the main dietary items of the Red Fox and which are diurnal – and a Common (European) Hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) – listed as one of the main dietary items of the European Badger.
But apparently it’s not suppertime. Odd.
How the hell did the hedgehog get up onto the trampoline? We’re asked to conveniently ignore this limiting factor. There are 4 legs on the unit in the advert, so it must be the Plum® Space Zone II 12ft Trampoline at £289.99. The mat therefore sits at ±80cm above ground level. For a hedgehog to jump that high (hedgehogs can’t jump, by the way) would be the same as me leaping onto the roof a three-storey building.
(And then not being eaten by the non-hibernating lion that was waiting there for me.) It’s implausible impossible.

How rubbish is Buster? There’s a improbable animal party going on in the back garden, including (but not limited to) several potential prey items – right in the middle of his territory and he is watching and almost imperceptibly growling. That’s it? What happens when the burglars come over the fence (using the phone box door as a handy step-up)? A little whimper? Pathetic. Get a proper dog. (Not a beagle – we’ve warned you about this.)

How rubbish are Bridget’s parents? (I’m saying this quietly though, because her Dad just assembled and then moved a huge, awkward 3.5m trampoline all by himself.) They don’t notice the miniature zoological carnival going on outside. They don’t notice their dog’s unusual (but admittedly near silent) behaviour. And they have their living room curtains wide open, despite the fact that it’s clearly FLIPPEN’ FREEZING outside. That’s not what happens in Britain. We’re not namby-pamby about the cold, but we’re not bloody stupid either. What of heating bills and draughts? No, these people are clearly not with the programme.
It’s almost as if this whole thing isn’t actually real.

Christmas morning dawns, and little Bridget emerges from her slumbers rather later than most kids would, and with more perfect hair than most kids would and hurries downstairs, ignoring her mother and father and heading out into her snowy garden and not slipping on the icy patio. But she is beaten to the new toy by Buster. How cute! And how weird that the sun moves through more than 90° to the north as we see the man walking past on the pavement, before returning to its original early morning position in the final shots.
This effectively means that the Earth spun about 6 hours backwards and then forwards again within 7 seconds. The consequences of this would be instantaneously apocalyptic.

I mean… really?

Look, by all means, enjoy this advert. By all means buy a trampoline at John Lewis for Christmas. But don’t tell me that this sort of thing could actually happen. It’s simply too far-fetched for words, even though I seem to have written 750 of them all about it.

Next year, I want something more down to earth.

Bah. Humbug.

Don’t blame Donald

Some of the adjectives used to describe Donald Trump in the lead up (and now aftermath) of the US Election have been… “choice”, shall we say?

But what if there was a hidden side to President Elect Trump?
What if his seemingly angry, outward persona is merely as a result of deep, lasting trauma?

I’m certainly not saying that the manifestation of that persona is excusable, merely that it might be more understandable if we could pin it on some difficult experience he had suffered.

I’m talking about this photo, obviously.

4ebbc8ab-1334-4759-b388-46f59f49acac

This is the side of Donald Trump that no-one has ever seen. This is the moment that has scarred him for life. See how he tries to pose for the cameras, tries to appear cool, attempting to grasp a probably-wriggling beagle.
See how it refuses to look anything but profoundly disappointed.
See how it has (almost certainly) chewed something important of his.

This isn’t behaviour specific to its proximity to Donald Trump.
We’ve all been there.

And these things can affect a man. I don’t profess to wanting to build a big wall or have individuals of a certain religion removed from my presence. And I’m certainly not defending those views. Not at all.

I’m merely suggesting that being near a beagle can change a person.
And not in a good way.

Those commentators concerned over Trump’s new democratically-given access to the “Big Red Button” controlling America’s significant nuclear arsenal (and the implications thereof) would do well to glance to the bottom right of the image above and the wide selection of baseball bats. None of which he has used on the beagle. This sort of evidence of extreme restraint will obviously come as some comfort to you hysterical individuals.

Like it or not (and I suspect I could likely gauge the majority public response from my readers) Donald Trump is the new POTUS.

But don’t ever be fooled: the beagles are still in charge.