Sunday, June 27, 2010

Why is a sundae called a sundae?

This post was prompted by reading an exchange between two of my twitter friends:
@TweeterWill83 Icecream sundae on Sunday! (@ mcdonalds, Drapery Street, Northampton)
@jennywrenwatts @TweeterWill83 how appropriate!
@TweeterWill83 @jennywrenwatts always wonder why they call it that though.
So do I.

There seem to be a number of stories flying around the internet, which makes picking out the true one (if it is indeed any of them) a little bit difficult, but most of them seem to have a similar theme, and that theme starts off with ice-cream soda.

An ice-cream soda, also known in various parts of the world as a float, brown/black cow or spider*, is a beverage made with any number of scoops of ice cream (of any flavour, though classically vanilla) dolloped into a glass of coke, lemonade or any other soft drink**. Originally, it seems that most were made by scooping ice-cream into plain soda water, and then adding a flavoured syrup.

Various legends (that I can't find any really satisfying evidence for) suggest that ice-cream sodas were banned by local governments for some reason, sometimes entirely, but in many cases just on holy days (including Sundays). It is said that a replacement was required that would enable a similar treat to be supplied on these days without resorting to breaking the law, so the soda was removed, leaving behind a glass of ice-cream served with a flavoured syrup, and was known as a 'sunday'.

This new treat became popular in its own right and started to be requested and sold on days other than a Sunday. The name seems to have been altered to 'sundae' for two reasons: as it was no longer just sold on Sundays, the name 'sunday' didn't fit any more, and apparently a number of religious-types took offence at the name of their sabbath being used as the name for a wickedly pleasurable dessert.

There are a number of American towns that fight for the right to claim invention of the sundae, including Evanston, Illinois (invention claim date: 1890), Ithaca, New York (invention claim date: 1892) and Two Rivers, Wisconsin (invention claim date: 1899), all of which have slightly different stories with their own convincing proofs and dubious inconsistencies!

* And, in the rather specialised parts of the world that contain my immediate family, a 'grandma special'.
** I'm fairly sure that traditionally, coke is used, but a 'grandma special' usually involves lemonade, and some versions even use beer and other alcoholic drinks.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Your Horoscope with our resident Astrologer, Madame Teakay: Cancer (June 22 - July 23)

Cancer - June 22 - July 23

Money woes usually send you scuttling sideways under a rock, but it's about time you sorted yourself out or your usual reserves of back-up wealth are going to run dry.
Your general conduct when out and about is extroverted and often a decibel-powered assault on the tympanic membrane, and you frequently shake the foundations doing something as simple as asking the time. This is at odds with your expected Cancerian nature, so what this means, I guess, is that you should bloody well shut up for five minutes.
Next Tuesday, please make sure you put your most treasured skills to good use doing something or other that is yet to be specified.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Social poll: Fatherses day free polls
Apostrophe dilemma: Which is the correct use of the apostrophe.
Father's day Fathers' day It depends! (Please comment to clarify...)   

Should I hold in a wee to stave off dehydration?

The following question was asked by my dad via the Inspire me! link at the top of this page:

If I was stuck in an arid place, like Mars for instance (or a desert) with no access to water supplies, should I resist the urge to wee so that I conserve the liquid content in my body for as long as possible in the hope that I will find water before I completely dehydrated?

Before I answer please consider that I am not medically trained, so don't take my word as gospel: I'm just researching this with the resources available to me, and it's a little outside of my normal interest-base. I'd appreciate clarification and correction on this issue by anyone who knows better than me!

There are two things that strike me with this one:

  1. As far as I understand it, once your body's waste water collects in your bladder, then that's it. It's there until you pass it out of your body and is just dead weight that you're carrying around; it is put to no further use inside your body, and I don't think that there is a mechanism by which the body draws water back out of the bladder in times of dehydration*.
  2. Again, as far as my understanding goes, the main (if not sole?) purpose of urinating is to get rid of dissolved waste products and substances from the human body. Even if it were possible to reintroduce the contents of your bladder to your blood stream via some internal method, would this potentially be more dangerous than being dehydrated?

So I'd say no, don't hold it in if you're dehydrated. At best, it appears that it would have no effect on your level of hydration whatsoever. At worst, there seems to be potential for it to actually make things worse.

Other questions that enter my mind on this subject include:
  • Would the act of urinating in such a situation have any measurable contributing to lowering your body temperature?
  • Is it safe to drink your own urine, and would this be a viable option for prolonging your life in a dehydration situation**?
  • Would it be worth the time and effort filtering or otherwise attempting to purify your own urine before drinking it?
Before I go I'll say once more: in all honesty, I don't know what I'm talking about. These are just comments on what feels logical to me after a bit of research here and there. If you know better, please feel absolutely free to comment below and correct me.

* To people with cleverness in relevant fields: I'm assuming that the bladder collects water by an osmosis-type process, so if the relative water content of the water in your bladder and wherever it usually comes from to get there is reversed, would the direction of osmosis be reversed? And if so, would it be the case that you'd already be thoroughly dead by the time it got to this point?
** opinion seems to be divided on this matter- the most convincing sources I've found suggest that it's fine to drink your own urine for a couple of days as healthy wee is 95% water, but each time you urinate the concentration of waste products gets higher, resulting in eventual dehydration and/or renal failure

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Social poll: Kettle fillage

From the status update of one of my Facebook friends: free polls
Does it annoy you when the person who uses the kettle before you doesn't fill it up again afterwards?
Yes No It depends on my mood...   

Saturday, June 5, 2010

AMEF's legacy still standing!

We, as part of the unfortunately now demised AMEF project, built these willow sculptures at Fineshade Woods near Corby around three years ago now. I'm chuffed to bits to find that not only are they still standing, they are actively being maintained and have had a proper path built through them!

I'd like to think that the one I made, the scruffiest, most dilapidated one, is that way because it's closer to the main path than the other neater ones.

At least you can tell which one's mine!

Someday I'll be Saturday Gigs

One of my favourite bands that no-one's heard of is Mott the Hoople. In 1974, frontman Ian Hunter and guitarist Mick Ronson (having recently replaced Ariel Bender in the role) left Mott the Hoople to form a duo, and the band shortened its name to Mott. The last single to be released by the 'original' Mott the Hoople, then, was Saturday Gigs which reached the dizzy heights of #41 in the UK singles charts in October 1974. The song is a fittingly wistful look back over the difficult career of a rock band that, although not the longest lived (they released their first album, Mott the Hoople, in 1969 and did very little beyond 1974's The Hoople) were able to take the mick out of themselves (the theme and lyrics of Saturday Gigs does that well) and still have a fairly strong, almost cult following of fans to this day.

The video below was recorded by a fan at a concert of Ian Hunter and his Rant Band in 2009. At the end of Saturday Gigs, it goes into what is probably the best known of all Mott the Hoople songs, All the Young Dudes.

If you're into any British rock bands from the '60s and '70s, I recommend looking out some 'Hoople. They are mentioned in a few tracks from bands as diverse as Queen*, Reunion**, and R.E.M***.

And because it's my blog and I can, and because someone asked me to, here's one that more of you will have heard. It's Someday I'll be Saturday Night by Bon Jovi. It hit #7 in the UK Top 40 in 1995, and is about things being generally crap but hoping and believing that one day things will get better.

* Now I'm Here ("... down in the city just Hoople and me...")
** Life is a Rock (But the Radio Rolled Me) ("... B Bumble and the Stingers, Mott the Hoople, Ray Charles Singers ...")
*** Man on the Moon ("Mott the Hoople and the game of life, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah...")

Friday, June 4, 2010

Friday Night I'm in Love

Friday's difficulty lies in choosing just one song from the many Friday-themed numbers available. I'm going to overcome this difficulty by choosing two songs. Neither will be particularly new to most readers, I don't think, but both of them are great nostaligic-yet-upbeat gems.

The first is arguably the Cure's most famous song, the second single from their 1992 album Wish. The only vaguely interesting snippet I've managed to find out about the song is one that will only interest the more musical variety of geek amongst us: Anyone who's tried to play along with the recording will know that it's slightly off-key. This is allegedly due to frontman Robert Smith fiddling with the recorder's variable tape speed before recording. Anyway, the song is Friday I'm in Love, and the video below is from a live 2008 performance. Incidentally, the original promo video is worth a watch, but I'll leave that as a reader exercise.

Next up is a track from the Darkness's first and penultimate album, Permission to Land. The album itself reached #1 in the UK album charts. Four singles were released from the album, none of which was Friday Night, so the most interesting thing about that song in my opinion is the fact that they made a video for it.

It carries on directly from the promo video for I Believe in a Thing Called Love (which reached #2 in the UK singles charts and was the Darkness's most successful single) and sees the band crash landing on a desert island having thwarted an attack from a giant pink space-squid at the end of the previous song. I haven't seen this video anywhere other than YouTube, so as far as I'm concerned at least, it counts as 'rare'. Consider yourselves treated.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Thursday Afternoon

With a break from tradition, this post is being written too early.

Thursday Afternoon is an album from Brian Eno. It consists of one sixty-one minute track of ambient music and is a rearrangement of the soundtrack of a 'video painting' with the same title. The video below is a 5 minute* excerpt from the track put to a video of some waves.

Sit back, relax, hit play and immerse yourself in the music, man. If you gain any sudden insights or messages about/from the future, please remember to credit me and the originator of this video in any subsequent press releases.

A few ideas for Friday leap automatically into my head**, but feel free to make suggestions anyway.

* And 22 seconds.
** Not the case with Thursday: today was hard.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Waiting for Wednesday Morning

Hello and welcome to Wednesday! A bit later than intended, again, but never mind!

I couldn't find any interesting information about the song I originally chose, so instead of waffling I'll give you two videos...

First up, it's Simon & Garfunkel's Wednesday Morning 3 a.m, from their debut album of the same name released in October 1964. The album was originally a flop, but proved popular when it was re-released in 1966. I couldn't find a live video for it, but here's an audio recording from New York 2009.

Next up is an artist I hadn't heard of until this song was suggested to me for Wednesday's music video. The song is Waiting for Wednesday, and the artist is Lisa Loeb. Loeb launched her music career in 1994, and the song comes from her 1995 album Tails. The video is of a 2008 performance in a Borders Books shop.

Any suggestions for Thursday?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Tuesday's Gone...

Oops, I forgot about today's song, which actually works out as being quite apt now I think about it, so maybe I should just shut up and say I did it on purpose...

Yes. Tuesday's Gone, by Lynyrd Skynyrd, purposefully and (if I do say so myself) humorously left until later than intended on a Tuesday to post it.

Tuesday's Gone was the second track on Lynyrd Skynyrd's first album, helpfully entitled "(pronounced 'lĕh-'nérd 'skin-'nérd)", and is similarly themed to their much more famous track Free Bird: it appears to be about the business of rock 'n roll getting in the way of a relationship, so bye-bye relationship. The video below was recorded at their 11th September 2008 concert during their "Lyve: The Vicious Cycle Tour".

Just because this post doesn't yet seem to be following the precedent of total morbidity as set by Monday's song, I'll mention that the guys who are playing the song in this video are not the same bunch of guys who recorded the original song. This is due to various line-up changes, but arguably most influenced by a plane crash in 1977 which took the lives of a number of Lynyrd Skynyrd's personnel including founder-member Ronnie Van Zant, and caused the surviving members to disband. Other original members not in this performance include Allen Collins who died in 1990 from complications arising from injuries sustained in a car accident in 1986; Ed King, who left the band in 1975 and is now 'happily retired'; Leon Wilkeson, who was found dead on July 27, 2001 having apparently been suffering from chronic liver and lung disease.

On a lighter note, I've just found out that the name Lynyrd Skynyrd came about as a 'mocking tribute' to a P.E. teacher* called Leonard Skinner who was notorious for his strict enforcement of the school's hair-length policy** for boys. I wonder if I will ever be immortalised in a band's name... though I don't think I'm particularly notorious for making kids do their ties up.

* There is not enough P.E. teacher mockery in the world, in my opinion. Why do maths teachers get it all?
** Not long.

The newest member of the family...

It's a 2010 nonvintage Westfield somethingorother in the Les Paul styling, and will be taking up residence in my classroom cupboard. It has cool pearlescent fretmarker inlays, 0-carat gold hardware, and is satisfyingly heavy.
It has just occurred to me that it (she?) needs a name. Suggestions?