Binoculars

My in-laws, in support of my growing bird watching fascination, graciously purchased for me a set of binoculars for my birthday.

I have never owned binoculars.

All of my historic magnification viewing has been through telescopes or camera lenses. When I first tried out my new binoculars I was stunned! Depth! There was depth!

I agree that this is really obvious and something I probably should have anticipated. Still, this fascination got me wanting to learn a bit more about the history of Binoculars.

Without looking, take a guess as to when Binoculars were invented! Once you make your guess, proceed to the comments where the rest of this post pans out.

Language Play

Singular masculine Italian words often end in the letter ‘o’. When you pluralize those words the ‘o’ is switched to an ‘i’.

For example, Concerti would be the Italian pluralization of a Concerto.
Nonno (grandfather) becomes Nonni (grandfathers, or grandparents).

Presumably then I am a DiDonato but together my family are DiDonati

Extra credit: Feminine words end in ‘a’ and their plural end in ‘e’. That means you might have a pizza tonight, or you might have four pizze tonight.

Double extra credit: Why is the word ‘beer’ feminine and the word ‘wine’ masculine in the romance languages? This seems backwards to stereotypical beverage choice.

Italian:
Birra
Vino

Spanish:
Cerveza
Vino

French:
Biere
Vin

Other language varieties don’t contain the same gender choices, for example I think Irish languages have both beverages as masculine.

There’s a pretty good wikipedia article on grammatical gender that explains some forms of gender origination, but as to how these particular words claimed their gender? I haven’t a clue.

Car Game

I invented an awesome car game!

Name: Person, Place and Thing
Recommended number of players: Any number that is not divisible by three
Game structure: Letter shift
(Letter shift is a classic car game structure that uses the last letter of a word for the start of the next. This game plays off that general concept, but with a unique twist.)

Game play: Players alternate naming a person, a place and a thing. The last two letters of the previous provided answer must appear in sequence anywhere within the following word.

The following string of words would be acceptable:

Person: Mick Jagger
(letters to use: er)
Place: Nigeria
(letters to use: ia)
Thing: Kia Sorento
Person: Tom Waits
Place: Botswana
Thing: Sonata
etc…

The two letters are allowed to span a space between words.
As with nearly any letter shift game, repeated words are not allowed.

For the more advanced game the group must work together to try and use all the of the letters of the alphabet at least once as the shifted letters. What makes this extra fun is that the easiest words with which to generate crazy letters are the Things. Unfortunately, this will leave the individual who has to come up with a Person’s name (the hardest of the bunch) with the most challenging letters.

Jen and I tried this over the weekend. In a 45 minute drive we could not complete the alphabet. We also had a few stump words, specifically names with J’s: LL Cool J. and Robert Downy Jr.

Can anyone think of places with an LJ and JR sequence?

Monday Morning Musings

If you haven’t tried the Food Should Taste Good Blue Corn Tortilla Chips, I strongly recommend them if for no other reason than Tessellation Nachos.

TessNacho

Nachos

Still, it’s not quite perfect. There are chip gaps through which errant melted cheese oozed.

My idea: Nacho sheets – Perforated nacho chips for perfect baking pan coverage. The logistical challenge of shipping these would certainly add some cost so perhaps the better solution is a baking sheet sized tortilla with a perforation pizza cutter. You cut your perforations, bake the tortilla for crispage, add the toppings, broil for cheese meltage and Ding! Perfect Nachos.

Who’s in on this masterful plan?

Deck Staining!

Before and After! Boom!

Deck

Aside: Do not underestimate a staining event. This took the two of us 4.5hrs to complete. The spindles felt like a marathon.

Please note: Not only did we stain the deck, we spray painted our grass a gross yellow color. Awesome!

The Toddy Coffee

This weekend we cold brewed some Toddy Coffee.

Toddy1

The Toddy Coffee kit consisted of four parts: a large plastic steeping container, a glass carafe, filters and a plug. Per the instructions we started by placing the filter into the steeping container adding water and coarse coffee grinds.

Toddy2

Toddy3

It was a bit of a back-and-forth between the grinds and the water. Ultimately, the recipe called for 6 cups of water and 12 ounces of coffee.

Toddy4

Once everything was in: a 12 hours wait.

The following morning we placed the steeping container over the carafe, pulled the plug out of the bottom and watched the coffee drip through!

Toddy5

Toddy6

Once brewed, Jen and I prepared our blind taste test.

We ended up first pairing the toddy against a Keurig K-cup brewed directly over ice. We let the temperatures stabilize and put the beverages into unmarked glassware.

Screen Shot 2014-05-20 at 12.44.53 PM

We did three tests:
1. black
2. with cream
3. with cream and sugar

Results:
The Toddy Coffee was WAAAY stronger than the Keurig. The internet was all about smoothness of Toddy compared to other brews, but the Keurig tasted so watered down smoothness never entered the picture. Black, with cream, or with cream and sugar the Toddy dominated on flavor.

We’re going to have to try brewing the same beans with traditional methods vs the Toddy.