After the Rain

A couple of shots in the apple tree after today’s half inch rainfall. Shot with the Olympus E-620 using the 14-42mm lens on macro setting, in RAW and converted to JPG after slight color and saturation tweaking.

World’s Fastest Lawn Mower

British driver, Don Wales smashed the previous 80.792mph lawnmower land speed record at Pendine Sands, in west Wales with a verified time of 87.833mph.

To set the record Don – whose grandfather Sir Malcolm Campbell broke the land speed record in 1924 – had to complete two timed runs, just after cutting a patch of grass.

Project RunningBlade converted a regular ride-on mower into the speedy vehicle by using a more powerful engine, stripping the machine of extra weight and adding new wheels… and Don can now mow his lawn in 14.7seconds.

While they had hoped to break 100mph in the drive the 87mph is still a considerable improvement on the previous record set in America four years ago.

A spokesperson for the team said sand conditions had prevented a better time but added: “We have finished the weekend world record holders and have improved on Saturday’s speed so we are happy with that.”

World’s Smelliest Cheeses

One of the oldest and most diverse foods on the planet is cheese. Exactly how our ancestors discovered the making of cheese and why they thought that it would be edible, we don’t know. Especially some of the cheeses below, the smelliest, and in some cases, most unappetizing looking, cheeses on the planet.

It’s not the prettiest cheese to look at but, unlike most stinky cheeses, Taleggio really doesn’t smell so bad. Appreciated for its strong taste and soft texture, this Italian cheese is becoming more and more popular on a national level and it’s even getting ready to make its debut on foreign markets. Taleggio dates back to the 10th century, when its makers left it in caves to mature and washed it with saltwater-soaked sponges. Nowadays modern cheese-makers only reproduce the temperatures and conditions of the grottos, aware that any change could alter the final result. Taleggio has the reputation of a stinky cheese but in recent years it has lost that smelly edge as it moves into mainstream conciousness.

Blue Stilton has been called the king of English cheeses on more than one occasion and if you subscribe to “the smellier the better” school, you’ll definitely want to try it. The texture of this British cheese varies from hard and crumbly to very soft, almost butter-like, depending on how mature it is. The older the cheese the softer and smellier it is.

This smelly French delicacy is one of the oldest known types of cheese, dating back to the 13th century. To be honest, it smells like it’s that old too. This is the kind of food you want to keep wrapped-up in the fridge, unless you want everything else smelling like it. If you can’t handle its pungent smell, all you have to do is get rid of the moist crust. Inside there’s a tasty delight just waiting for you to try it. Pont l’Eveque may be the smelliest cheese on our list but it’s also one of the tastiest.

One of the oldest types of cheese in the world, Stinking Bishop dates back to the time of the Cictercian monks. It’s produced out of pasteurized Gloucestershire-cow’s milk and then washed with Stinking Bishop Pear juice, which makes the rind orange and really sticky. Stinking Bishop matures for 6 to 8 weeks and after that it really lives up to its name. Some compare its powerful odor with old smelly socks so if you plan to buy some, go straight home before people start complaining. The smell is just in the rind though and once removed, a soft and delicious cheese is revealed.

One of Napoleon’s favorites, Epoisses is definitely one of the smelliest cheeses you can find. Just so you get an idea of its repulsive odor, you should know that Epoisses has been banned from public transportation vehicles all over France. It is made from raw cow’s milk and its rind is washed with pomace brandy. Epoisses is a very smelly, runny cheese but if it starts to smell too strongly of ammonia, you should throw it away because it’s no longer edible. If it smells like someone who hasn’t showered in a week, enjoy!

Mainly produced in Germany, Limburger is perhaps the most popular of all smelly cheeses. It is fermented using Brevibacterium linens, a bacterium partly responsible for the smell of the human body. As a result, when people say limburger smells like human feet they are scientifically correct. If you can handle its smell long enough to have a bite you’ll realize this German delicacy is quite tasty. It has a buttery texture and nutty flavor, but to get to it you’ll have to get past the rind. My Dad’s favorite sandwich in the world was Braunschweiger, which is a German liver sausage, with limburger cheese and onion on dark rye bread. Some very powerful odors going on there, to be sure.

Brie de Meaux is one of France’s most appreciated cheeses but if your nose is ammonia-sensitive you don’t want to get too close, especially if it has been left to mature too long. We’re talking about the original, raw cow’s milk Brie that the French love so much, not the American pasteurized milk version most of us think of when we think of brie. It’s a very creamy cheese, covered by a thick, white mold crust which true cheese-connoisseurs say should be eaten, not thrown away.

Rich in chemicals like ammonia, sodium chloride and succinic acid, Camembert de Normandy smells like the secret project of a chemical company. Made from unpasteurized cow’s milk and left to mature for 3 weeks, Camembert is a soft, runny cheese normally eaten with a spoon. Despite smelling like “God’s feet”, Camembert is France’s favorite cheese and the bestseller after Emmental. It is now a subject of a war between the small traditional producers and the country’s industrial dairies who want to use pasteurized milk instead of raw.

Indiana’s Job Numbers are a Fraud: We Need Accountability

Many of the business expansions the administration of Gov. Mitch Daniels has funded with state dollars through the Indiana Economic Development Corporation sit empty after much fanfare when they were originally announced. There are empty fields where we are told factories exist, or are supposed to exist. Do you want to know the specifics on how your tax dollars were spent? That information is strictly off limits according to the Daniels administration. Those were some of the findings of an investigative report by WTHR television’s Bob Segal that aired this week.

Frustrated by months of stonewalling on open records law requests, Segal confronted Daniels on camera, not once but twice about the requests. The second time Daniels stormed out of the room without responding. As Segal’s report discovered, the reason the administration is keeping the public information secret is because the job claims being made by the IEDC–over 100,000 jobs created–are simply not true.

A former member of Daniels’ Office of Management and Budget is blowing the whistle on the fraudulent job claims of IEDC. Tad DeHaven served as Deputy Director of OMB’s Government Efficiency and Planning Office. DeHaven told Segal that the administration’s secrecy claims to the public records is specious.

“I can tell you if they have the numbers and they were good, you’d have them by now,” said Tad DeHaven. “If they don’t the numbers, it means either they’re bad or they don’t have them.” He continued, “IEDC was one of those programs we consistently laughed at because we knew that their numbers were ‘wave their magic wand and, poof, up they came,'” he said. “No one in their right mind would have believed the numbers coming out of IEDC because these state agencies would just submit whatever numbers they wanted to: real, fake…who knew? We didn’t audit it, and whenever we’d suggest an independent auditing process, it was always shot down.”

Mitch Roob, the guy who handed the failed multi-million dollar contract to his former employer to manage the state’s welfare programs while serving as Secretary of FSSA in the Daniels administration, wants you to believe him when he says 87% of the jobs are on track, even if he won’t release any numbers to substantiate that claim. Segal’s investigation suggests the actual percentage is below 60%. Roob conceded that his agency had no way of tracking whether all of the business firms awarded state incentives actually produced the jobs promised.

Although Segal’s investigation found that every other state and city that he contacted made this kind of information available to the public, Roob insists the information must remain confidential under Indiana law. “That’s not a mistake,” Roob said. “That is a competitive weapon that companies believe can be used against them by their competitors.”

What is particularly embarrassing about Roob’s claim is that his counterpart agency in Illinois, the Department of Commerce and Community Affairs, makes all of this information public. Roob served as a member of former Gov. James Thompson’s administration before moving to Indiana.

DCCA Director Warren Ribley was puzzled by Roob’s claims. “I don’t understand that philosophy, particularly if a state is using public funds and state tax dollars to pay the bill for those new jobs,” Ribley said in response to Segal’s inquiry. “We need to hold [companies] accountable to make sure they do create those jobs, and the public also has the right to hold us accountable” said Ribley, adding that publicly releasing corporate job numbers has not discouraged companies from bringing jobs to Illinois. “We’ve never had a single company express concern or raise the fact that they did not want to choose Illinois because they were going to have to report that information,” he said. In the case of Illinois, they provide to the public the number of jobs promised, the actual number of jobs produced and the wages paid on those jobs, among other information.

If Gov. Daniels is planning to run for president, he had some moments in Segal’s report that could come back to haunt him and don’t bode well for the scrutiny presidential candidates often face. He reacted angrily when Segal first asked him about his own report’s finding that less than 60% of the jobs claimed to have been produced never materialized. “You seem to have a blindingly clear view of what is perfectly obvious,” the governor said of the Eyewitness News investigation. “In a recession, a lot of businesses have to change their plans.” Daniels directed Segal to attend an IEDC board meeting if he wanted the specific information he requested, which are open to the public. So Segal took him up on his offer and this was what transpired:

WTHR attended IEDC’s spring board meeting, where board members reviewed charts and graphs showing summary job information. But despite the governor’s invitation, the board offered no job realization numbers to support specific job commitments previously promoted by Daniels and the IEDC. So after the meeting, WTHR again asked the governor to provide that information and, this time, he simply walked out.

IEDC director Mitch Roob explained the governor and IEDC will not release Indiana’s detailed job numbers to anyone. While the state uses Hoosier tax dollars to help attract new jobs, Hoosier tax payers do not get to see what they’re paying for.

“We don’t share it with the public. We don’t release it to the news media. That’s confidential information,” Roob said.

Political advisers to Daniels must have cringed after watching Segal’s report. I’m sure Democratic operatives are storing away the video footage from this investigative report, particularly the part where Daniels stormed out of the room to avoid Segal’s questioning. Nationally, Republicans should be having second thoughts about what kind of a candidate this guy would make.

Weird Facts

The cigarette lighter was invented before the match.

The average chocolate bar has 8 insect legs in it.

Every drop of seawater contains approximately 1 billion gold atoms.

During World War II, IBM built the computers the Nazis used to manage their death/concentration camps.

The total combined weight of the worlds ant population is heavier than the weight of the human population.

The deadliest war in history excluding World War II was a civil war in China in the 1850s in which the rebels were led by a man who thought he was the brother of Jesus Christ.

The number of people alive on earth right now is higher than the number of all the people that have died. Ever.

The average American consumes 1.2 pounds of spider eggs a year and eat 2.5 pounds of insect parts a year.

Honey is the only food that does not spoil. Honey found in the tombs of Egyptian pharaohs has been tasted by archaeologists and found edible.

Let’s Lose Weight and Get Healthy the Easy Way

Dr. Dennis Burkitt, the famous English physician, studied the differences between indigenous African bushmen and their “civilized” western counterparts. The bushmen seemed to be free of the scourges of modern life — including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity.

Dr. Burkitt found that the average bushman had a daily stool weight of two pounds and the “civilized” men had a stool weight of only four ounces – that’s 87.5 percent smaller!

The difference was in the amount of fiber they ate.

Today, the average American eats about 8 grams of fiber a day. But humans evolved eating 100 grams from all manner of roots, berries, leaves and plant foods. And the fiber is what helped those ancestors of ours stay healthy.

You need fiber to keep you healthy, and to provide food for the healthy bacteria that work within you to promote health.

Fiber can prevent obesity and all the chronic disease of aging. This is because fiber slows the rate at which food enters your bloodstream and increases the speed at which food exits your body through the digestive tract. That keeps your blood sugar and cholesterol in ideal balance — and quickly eliminates toxins from your gut and reduces your appetite.

Research shows that fiber can lower blood sugar as much as some diabetes medications, lower cholesterol, and promote weight loss.

One recent study showed that butyrate, made by intestinal bacteria from certain types of fiber, acts as a switching molecule that turns on an anticancer gene, and turns off colon cancer. In fact, fiber has been shown to reduce the risk of colon cancer by as much as a third and breast cancer by almost 40 percent.

It also lowers cholesterol and reduces the risk of heart disease by as much as 40 percent.

If you already have diabetes, adding fiber to your diet may even help you use less insulin. Plus, it’s a great natural cure for constipation and irregularity, as we probably all know by now.

You should shoot to get 30 to 50 grams of fiber into your diet every day. The type of fiber you choose is important, too.

Most people think that bran is the best type of fiber to eat. But bran (wheat fiber) is mostly insoluble and doesn’t get digested. Think of it as more of a scouring pad for your intestines.

That’s good for getting you regular, but it doesn’t help your health the way that soluble fiber does.

You’ll find soluble fiber in fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds and most whole grains. The bacteria in your gut metabolizes the soluble fiber in these foods, and that’s when the benefits start.

Soluble fiber helps lower cholesterol, blood sugar, and insulin, prevent cancer, balance hormone levels, remove excess estrogen and reduce the risk of breast cancer, make vitamins and minerals, provide food for the colon cells, and more.

Glucomannan (GM) is a soluble, fermentable, and highly viscous dietary fiber that comes from the root of the elephant yam, also known as konjac (Amorphophallus konjac or Amorphophallus rivieri), native to Asia. The konjac tuber has been used for centuries as an herbal remedy and to make traditional foods such as konjac jelly, tofu, and noodles. More recently, purified konjac flour, or GM, has been used as a food stabilizer, gelling agent, and supplement.

What makes this fiber so super is the fact that it can absorb up to 50 times its weight in water, making it one of the most viscous dietary fibers known.

That means that GM can help you shed pounds. In many studies, doses of two to four grams of GM per day were well-tolerated. This amount also resulted in significant weight loss in overweight and obese individuals.

GM works by promoting a sense of fullness. Plus, it pushes more calories out through your colon, rather than letting them be absorbed. It also lowers the energy density of the food you eat. In other words, it bulks up food in your gut, creating a lower calorie content per weight of food you eat.

And since fiber has almost no calories but a lot of weight, adding it to your diet lowers the energy-to-weight ratio of the food that you eat. Studies show that the weight of food controls your appetite, so the fiber increases the food’s weight WITHOUT increasing calories — a critical factor in weight control.

This powerful fiber may also control your appetite in other key ways.

For example, it sends signals to your brain that there is a lot of food in your gut and tells it to slow down on stuffing food in there.

GM also leaves your stomach and small bowel slowly because it is so viscous. By slowing the rate of food absorption from the gut to the bloodstream, GM reduces the amount of insulin produced after a meal, which also controls your appetite.

It may also increase the level of hormones in the gut (such as cholecystokinin), which is another way to control your appetite.

And finally, you lose more calories through stool because GM soaks up all those extra
calories!

GM can also help your health in other ways. In addition to weight reduction, GM has been studied for its effects on constipation, serum cholesterol, blood glucose, blood pressure, and insulin resistance syndrome.

Here are some simple suggestions for increasing fiber in your diet.

1. Get the flax. Get a coffee grinder just for flax seeds, grind 1/2 cup at a time, and keep it in a tightly sealed glass jar in the fridge or freezer. Eat 2 tablespoons of ground flax seeds a day. Sprinkle it on salads, grains, or vegetable dishes or mix it in a little unsweetened applesauce.
2. Load up on legumes. Beans beat out everything else for fiber content!
3. Bulk up on vegetables. With low levels of calories and high levels of antioxidants and protective phytochemicals, these excellent fiber sources should be heaped on your plate daily.
4. Go with the grain. Whole grains like brown rice or quinoa are rich in fiber, too.
5. Eat more fruit. Include a few servings of low-sugar fruits to your diet daily (berries are the highest in fiber and other protective phytochemicals).
6. Go nuts. Include a few handfuls of almonds, walnuts, pecans, or hazelnuts to your diet every day.
7. Start slowly. Switching abruptly to a high-fiber diet can cause gas and bloating. Increase your fiber intake slowly till you get up to 50 grams a day.
8. Consider a good fiber supplement. If you’re have trouble getting your fill of fiber, choose a supplement that contains both soluble and insoluble fiber and no sweeteners or additives.
9. Choose GM. Many companies sell it in capsule form. You can take 2 to 4 capsules with a glass of water, 30 to 60 minutes before eating. Don’t take any medications within 1 hour before or 2 hours after taking it because the fiber may absorb the medication.