Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Go figure! Clapping is contagious

Never really gave this much thought but obviously some people do. According to a study published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, it appears that clapping is contagious. A lot of people including me, assumed that it was merely a means of showing our enthusiasm and appreciation for a performance.

According to Richard Mann, a mathematics teacher at Uppsala University in Sweden, this type of behavior can be initiated by one or two (or more presumably) people who decide to clap for whatever reason. Seems that once a few people begin the clapping process, everyone suddenly feels the necessity to join in. Sort of a giant clap-in. Thinking further about this, one - me - wonders if it would be applicable while clapping to keep one's fingers from going numb in cold weather.

Let's say you're standing at a bus stop in freezing cold weather, waiting in line along with a dozen or so people for the bus or train or whatever to arrive. A clapping motion is initiated by one person to keep the fingers from going numb, would others do the same thing? Is it also applicable to feet stomping? Anyone know? But I digress.

Mann and his colleagues arrived at this conclusion having researched how birds move in flocks and fish swim in schools. Not sure how this is applicable to humans but then who am I. To test the theory, a group of 13 to 20 students were placed in an audience and told to watch a short presentation given by another student (wonder how many of them were texting...just saying). The students were filmed while watching the speech after being instructed to applaud once the speech was over since the speaker was a volunteer. After repeating the experiment six times with different audiences, the conclusion drawn was that the act of clapping is precipitated (love that word) by the amount of people around who initiate the clapping. Furthermore and statistically, the first person started clapping 2.1 seconds following the presentation and the entire room was clapping by 2.9 seconds.

While this is - well - interesting, one wonders how people get grants for this type of study. I mean, in the grand scheme of things, how does human kind benefit? Perhaps theatre producers, TV and film people might find the end results interesting and possibly useful but what does it do for you and me? Thinking further, I've been to theatre performances and movies where a few people suddenly feel the urge to clap and were told by the audience vociferously to refrain from any further clapping movement.

The ultimate goal, according to Mann, is to expand their research to more complex behaviors. Taking it one step further, perhaps at some point in the future, somebody will research the effect of coughing and whether a coughing fit can cause a mass cough-out. We all know - okay... I read it somewhere - that extensive yawning in public causes people within the viewing range of the yawn-er to do the same thing.

Speaking or writing about contagious yawning, Wikipedia shares on their write-up of yawning, "A study by the University of London has suggested that the "contagiousness" of yawns by a human will pass to dogs. The study observed that 21 of 29 dogs yawned when a stranger yawned in front of them, but did not yawn when the stranger only opened his mouth. A recent study from Lund University showed that dogs, like humans, develop a susceptibility to contagious yawning gradually, and that while dogs above 7 months 'catch' yawns from humans, younger dogs are immune to contagion.[The study also indicated that nearly half of the dogs responded to the human's yawn by becoming relaxed and sleepy, suggesting that the dogs copied not just the yawn, but also the physical state that yawns typically reflect." This is stuff you want (not necessarily need) to know, people!

I clap. You clap. We all clap but in the end, do we care why we do?

Monday, June 10, 2013

Tea time with a little ice on the side

It's news to me as it could be for people reading this blog but today is National Iced Tea Day. Furthermore, June has been designated by somebody - maybe the tea manufacturers - as National Tea Month.
In as far as tea consumption is concerned, my personal choice has been and always will be, hot tea. The rationale behind this taste decision is in the preparation of tea in that it begins with boiling hot water that has been at a full boil for a minute or so, never tepid, to bring out the full flavor of tea. Once the water is boiled, it should be slowly poured over a tea diffuser or tea bag (my choice) allowing for the full flavor to be brought out. 
Getting back to iced tea and although I've tasted it a few times, it just doesn't do it for me. Somehow the flavor seems to diminish with the addition of ice cubes. Cold tea is cold tea is... Be that as it may, iced tea is enjoyed by many people.
The site, lists five interesting facts about tea
      -   A cup of black tea has half as much caffeine as a cup of coffee
      -  Drinking milk may mean stronger bones, but the same goes for a cup of tea (go figure)
      -  In one day, an experienced tea picker can collect around 70 pounds of tea, sufficient tea to
         make 14,000 cups

      - A large amount of caffeine is released from tea after the first 30 seconds of brewing.

      - There are four main types of tea: white, green, oolong, and black

In seeking some information about the origins of tea, the Tea Association of the USA has some very interesting tea-related data. For example:

- On any given day, about one half of the American population drinks tea. On a regional basis, the South and Northeast have the greatest concentration of tea drinkers.

- Approximately 85% of tea consumed in America is iced

- Historically, tea is nearly 5,000 years old and was discovered in 2737 BC by Chinese Emperor Shen-Nung, known as the "Divine Healer"

- Anna, Duchess of Bedford, is credited with creating Afternoon Tea in 1840. Good thing she did since 'tea time' usually between three and four in the afternoon is a wonderful habit to acquire...really.

This site, is an interesting source of facts and data related to tea and is a worth-while visit. There is also a fun section devoted to the art of tea leaf reading:

Now that that the origins of tea have been explored, let's get down to the basics of the actual creation of a pitcher of the liquid. Here is the basic recipe:

8 cups water
3 orange pekoe tea bags
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup lemon juice
Slices of fresh lemon to garnish

In a large saucepan, heat water to a rapid boil. Remove from heat and drop in the tea bags. Cover and let steep for 1 hour.

In a large pitcher, combine the steeped tea and the sugar. Stir until sugar is dissolved, then stir in lemon juice. Refrigerate until chilled. Before serving, garnish with thinly-sliced lemons in the pitcher or on the rim of the glass.

Simplicity personified for iced tea aficionados especially since it's iced tea day. Enjoy a glass - or cuppa as the Brits say.


Friday, June 07, 2013

Yet more stuff to make you ponder, "why?"

In the beginning whenever that was, somebody decided that breast milk could have other applications other than for babies. There was breast milk ice cream - remember that - followed by breast milk cheese and now something completely different has come along, but related.

Recently, a mom of three found yet another use for breast milk by creating a jewelry line called, "Mommy Milk Creations." Don't bother blinking and/or cleaning your glasses you read it right. This definitely falls into the category of "but why?"

So the way it works is that the jewelry artisan, one Allicia Mongevero, will plasticize a sample of someone's breast milk when sent to her, mold it into shapes that include hearts, moons, flowers or tiny hands, and fashion it into a pendant to be worn a chain or ribbon around the neck. The cost of creating said pendants run between $64 to $125.

Maybe it's just me but I'm wondering the attraction in wearing mother's milk, in any shape or form, as a jewelry ornament. Going out on a limb, perhaps it's a means for some females to retain and remember their baby nursing period, or maybe merely to make a fashion statement. Go know. Moving on...

More recently, a company is using the flavor of breast milk in lollipops. The company, Lollyphile, based in Austin, Texas, has managed, at least that's their claim, to duplicate the taste of breast milk in a vegan-based liquid according to the creator, Jason Darling. Not sure if this is aimed strictly for infants. Personally and for what it's worth, I'll pass. You?

A pack of four lollipops costs $10, $24 for a dozen and a case of 36 is sold for $58.

A catty proposal

Not sure about this one-sided relationship being that the recipient is a cat, a specie that is known to be indifferent to human affection. Be that as it may, designer Karl Lagerfeld is making it public that he is seemingly enamored with his one-year-old white Siamese cat, Choupette. It has to be love since Choupette has its (no mention as to 'its' gender but then it really doesn't matter) own staff, which includes three maids who are responsible for keeping tabs of Choupette's activities throughout the day when the designer is away from their home in Paris. Perhaps the maid's diary could but not necessarily, read:

"Monday/lundi, 9:30 a.m. Coupette is sleeping. 10:30 a.m. 10:45 a.m. Choupette woke up and yawned. 11:30 a.m. Choupette made a pee-pee in her/his designer kitty toilet, 1:45 a.m. Coupette meowed."

Something to that effect.

According to Lagerfeld, the feline is his most precious possession. Aside to Lagerfeld: I'll be glad to take your designer fashions off your hands so you can focus solely on the pussycat. Not surprising, Choupette has its own pillow and dines with Lagerfeld twice per day, eating food specifically created for its culinary tastes.

"There is no marriage, yet, for human beings and animals… I never thought that I would fall in love like this with a cat," Lagerfeld is quoted as saying during an interview backstage at a fashion show.

As a matter of interest and in the "sure- why not" category, the cat flies by private jet no less. Furthermore, the now famous feline is on Twitter and provides tweets to her 28,998 followers (while we dull normals struggle to keep followers from dropping us), under the name,  Choupette Lagerfeld and Choupette's Diary: "I'm a famous beauty who refuses to eat on the floor & my maids pamper my every need. I am Choupette Lagerfeld and I am a spoiled pussy." To say the least.

Thinking further...the kitty could (but not necessarily, obviously) be the inspiration for a line of feline fashions. The fashion line could (not necessarily but might be a good idea)  be called, "Les modes de Choupette, mon petit chat" , which will have Lagerfeld's signature as a cat's paw drawing in the way of an endorsement. Stretching the idea further (you know I will), there could be Lagerfeld Kitty Litter "for the cat who demands luxury when making le pee-pee." I mean, why not?

How was your week? Change the cat litter?