It’s May, and we all know what happens in May. EGS happens in May.

Incoming via Polo Times:

Grass Sickness cases show a spike in May.
Polo ponies that are kept out at grass could be affected this spring by Equine Grass Sickness.

Yep. EGS = Equine Grass Sickness: a sickness of equines that is caused by guess what?

The main risk factor for grass sickness, as the name may suggest, is grass.

Thanks wikipedia. No Jimmy, I’m not donating for stuff like this.

I’m not into ponies and horses (those allegations never even went to court), but I am into microbiology and this does have a microbiological side because the sickness is believed to be caused by a toxin produced by Clostridium botulinum. Yes, what’s killing horses left, right and centre is the same stuff Helen Zille injects into her face.

And it is killing horses. Almost invariably. Let’s look at the mortality rates for a few human diseases:

Influenza A (and by this, I mean actual Influenza, not “‘flu”) kills about 0.1% of people who get it.
Bubonic plague (the “Black Death”) kills about 5% of those it infects.
Mortality in those affected by the recent West African Ebola Epidemic was around 53% (although, it’s complicated).

EGS kills 95% of the horses that get it. Ninety-five!

I’m pretty happy that I’m not a horse right now. Or… in fact… ever.

Brilliantly, according to Polo Times, one of the best ways to limit the chances of your equine getting EGS is not letting your equine eat grass. Who knew? (I bet wikipedia knew.)

PT is equally insightful in their “What to look out for” section on EGS:

  • Peracute: The horse is found dead in the field having presumably ingested large amounts of the bacteria.

That’s hugely helpful. I’ll be sure to keep an eye out for that. Thanks.

Anyway, if you have horses (and I suspect this is mainly aimed at the Northern hemisphere), then apparently it’s well worth your while to be careful what you let them eat in the Springtime.

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Even more miles from civilisation…

If all has gone well (and (at the time of writing this) I have no reason to assume that it won’t have done), I will be enjoying a long weekend break with my wonderful and long suffering wife in celebration of our tenth wedding anniversary.

We’re leaving the kids and the beagle in safe hands and heading out to a private game reserve a few hours inland (obviously) from Cape Town. It’s in the middle of nowhere, and I have no idea what the connectivity will be like from there, although I’m reliably informed that “there is a wifi”.

Readers of 6000 miles… will be glad to know that posts on here will continue over the weekend and (depending on that connectivity) may be supplemented by further ‘tumblr mode’ offerings.

Have a great long weekend. I know I’m going to.

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Is It Ever OK to Drink Wine From Tumblers?

This is the “Are You Beach Body Ready?” question of wine-drinking circles. And, much as some argue that all you have to do to make your body beach ready is go to the beach (and not threaten to bomb the offices of a nutritional supplement company), I would argue that it’s ok to drink wine out of whatever vessel you like.

In fact, I drink all my red wine out of a tumbler. Really.
And it seems that other people also think that’s absolutely fine:

Contrary to what you might expect, wine served in a tumbler isn’t a sign of bad wine or bad service — it’s a sign of tradition. According to chef Matteo Clivati, a Milanese native, currently the chef de partie at A16, and SF’s newest pop-up restaurateur, it’s common to see wine served in short tumblers in Italy, especially if the cuisine is rustic and traditional and if the owner makes his or her own wine. Some might also say that because wine is a part of every meal in the Old Country, serving wine in such a casual way only enforces its impact on Italian culture — wine isn’t as much of a “special occasion” drink as it is here in America.

I’m no hipster. I just prefer drinking wine from a tumbler, so I do. In summer, sometimes I even put it in the fridge first. Purists would spit at me in the street if they only knew.

So let’s leave it our little secret, ok?

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IOM timelapse

It seems like only yesterday we were enjoying Brook Wassall’s work, and there’s some more coming from him on here later this weekend. In the meantime, Brook has just released this timelapse video as a kind of goodbye to the Isle of Man.

Do click HD, Do go full screen.

It’s a good choice of location, because Brook lives there and because, lest we forget, the Isle of Man has the largest concentration of dark skies sites in the British Isles.

Says Brook:

I started this project back in January 2014 to showcase the Isle of Man’s beautiful landscapes, as well as the lit up night sky. This is my first timelapse film and as a result everything has been a steep learning curve over the 16 months making it. I have spent countless hours researching and there were many reshoots and reprocessed clips before I got something I was really happy with, and somewhere around 5,000-10,000 photos must have been taken in the process.

Tomorrow I move to the UK to seek new adventures, therefore it meant a lot to me to finish this before I left, and so I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed making it.

Thanks, Brook. I think I did. It’s pretty special.

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Poorly timed giraffe danger warning

I’m going to look at some wildlife this weekend. I hope, anyway. Wildlife is exactly that: wild, and sometimes it doesn’t want to be looked at. Mostly, when it doesn’t want to be looked at, wildlife hides away, but sometimes, wildlife fights back and even the most unlikely of wildlife can be deadly.

I’m not talking about lions, hippos, rhinos or elephants here – you look at them and you think DANGER! Teeths, tusks, horns, speed, weight, bulk. DANGER!
But tall isn’t scary. When you look at a giraffe, you just see bewilderingly puny looking legs and neck. Giraffes don’t look dangerous. They look like one of those string and wood toys that you push the base on and they collapse. You let giraffes play with your kids’ cuddly toys:

No. Giraffes aren’t dangerous. Or are they? Because here’s what was waiting for me on the pisspoor TimesLive site this morning:

Cyclist trampled to death by giraffe

The giraffe probably got irritated by some typically arrogant RLJ’ing behaviour.

A Sunday afternoon cycle ride for Braan Bosse of Nigel, on the Far East Rand, ended in his death when he was attacked by a giraffe at the Thaba Monata Game Lodge, in Bela Bela, Limpopo.
Lodge owner Marily Abatemarco believes Bosse, 46, was trampled to death.

Rather unusual, though, right? I thought so too.
But then, somewhere deep in my memory, I found this:

Seventy-year-old Schalk Hagen died without telling anyone exactly what happened to him. Now the prime suspect in his death is a giraffe.

I was quite ready to cower away from the lions and the elephants this weekend. Now it seems that I have to hide from the bloody giraffes as well. Seriously?
You don’t get this sort of danger in the UK – sure, you might come across a vaguely irritated badger or a mildly disgruntled fox, but they’re not going to smash your skull in, eat you or jump up and down all over your rapidly spatchcocked corpse just because they’re anxious to be seen to be living up to their “wildlife” moniker. I didn’t move here for this – if I’d wanted constant animal-related danger, I would have chosen Australia. (Spoiler: No, I wouldn’t – it’s full of Australians.)

Anyway, my new plan is to stay in the short scrub, where there is limited danger of unforeseen giraffe attack (aside, of course, from the extremely sneaky limbo giraffe) (but fortunately they’re pretty rare in the Western Cape).

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