Friday, March 30, 2007

inch by inch, row by row....

Peppe in the rain... now that's dedication!for those of you interested in the growth... here's your update!

little baby basils ... aren't they cute??

Fraggle radishes:Tomatoes:Round zucchini:Roman zucchini:

We also started a bunch of mint inside and planted a few plants outside. peppe made this whole little mint and rosmary "area" which i think is totally awesome! or rad even.
Tara and i made a little plan to plant a little flower area over by the shed and try to tame the crazy jasmine. So that may be what happens this weekend. depending. i'll keep ya'll posted cause i'm sure someone out there is very interested in all the goings ons.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Grow baby grow!

there is news in the seeds. i think we're getting close to putting them in the real dirt.
little basils...
bigger zucchini:
other bigger zucchini:
bigger radish:there's not too much else to report. things are looking good in the greenhouse though.

i'm throwing this video that i found on youtube on here because time lapse never got old and watching things grow will always be cool.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

you laughing at me, or with me?

March 13, 2007

What’s So Funny? Well, Maybe Nothing

So there are these two muffins baking in an oven. One of them yells, “Wow, it’s hot in here!”

And the other muffin replies: “Holy cow! A talking muffin!”

Did that alleged joke make you laugh? I would guess (and hope) not. But under different circumstances, you would be chuckling softly, maybe giggling, possibly guffawing. I know that’s hard to believe, but trust me. The results are just in on a laboratory test of the muffin joke.

Laughter, a topic that stymied philosophers for 2,000 years, is finally yielding to science. Researchers have scanned brains and tickled babies, chimpanzees and rats. They’ve traced the evolution of laughter back to what looks like the primal joke — or, to be precise, the first stand-up routine to kill with an audience of primates.

It wasn’t any funnier than the muffin joke, but that’s not surprising, at least not to the researchers. They’ve discovered something that eluded Plato, Aristotle, Hobbes, Kant, Schopenhauer, Freud and the many theorists who have tried to explain laughter based on the mistaken premise that they’re explaining humor.

Occasionally we’re surprised into laughing at something funny, but most laughter has little to do with humor. It’s an instinctual survival tool for social animals, not an intellectual response to wit. It’s not about getting the joke. It’s about getting along.

When Robert R. Provine tried applying his training in neuroscience to laughter 20 years ago, he na├»vely began by dragging people into his laboratory at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, to watch episodes of “Saturday Night Live” and a George Carlin routine. They didn’t laugh much. It was what a stand-up comic would call a bad room.

So he went out into natural habitats — city sidewalks, suburban malls — and carefully observed thousands of “laugh episodes.” He found that 80 percent to 90 percent of them came after straight lines like “I know” or “I’ll see you guys later.” The witticisms that induced laughter rarely rose above the level of “You smell like you had a good workout.”

“Most prelaugh dialogue,” Professor Provine concluded in “Laughter,” his 2000 book, “is like that of an interminable television situation comedy scripted by an extremely ungifted writer.”

He found that most speakers, particularly women, did more laughing than their listeners, using the laughs as punctuation for their sentences. It’s a largely involuntary process. People can consciously suppress laughs, but few can make themselves laugh convincingly.

“Laughter is an honest social signal because it’s hard to fake,” Professor Provine says. “We’re dealing with something powerful, ancient and crude. It’s a kind of behavioral fossil showing the roots that all human beings, maybe all mammals, have in common.”

The human ha-ha evolved from the rhythmic sound — pant-pant — made by primates like chimpanzees when they tickle and chase one other while playing. Jaak Panksepp, a neuroscientist and psychologist at Washington State University, discovered that rats emit an ultrasonic chirp (inaudible to humans without special equipment) when they’re tickled, and they like the sensation so much they keep coming back for more tickling.

He and Professor Provine figure that the first primate joke — that is, the first action to produce a laugh without physical contact — was the feigned tickle, the same kind of coo-chi-coo move parents make when they thrust their wiggling fingers at a baby. Professor Panksepp thinks the brain has ancient wiring to produce laughter so that young animals learn to play with one another. The laughter stimulates euphoria circuits in the brain and also reassures the other animals that they’re playing, not fighting.

“Primal laughter evolved as a signaling device to highlight readiness for friendly interaction,” Professor Panksepp says. “Sophisticated social animals such as mammals need an emotionally positive mechanism to help create social brains and to weave organisms effectively into the social fabric.”

Humans are laughing by the age of four months and then progress from tickling to the Three Stooges to more sophisticated triggers for laughter (or, in some inexplicable cases, to Jim Carrey movies). Laughter can be used cruelly to reinforce a group’s solidarity and pride by mocking deviants and insulting outsiders, but mainly it’s a subtle social lubricant. It’s a way to make friends and also make clear who belongs where in the status hierarchy.

Which brings us back to the muffin joke. It was inflicted by social psychologists at Florida State University on undergraduate women last year, during interviews for what was ostensibly a study of their spending habits. Some of the women were told the interviewer would be awarding a substantial cash prize to a few of the participants, like a boss deciding which underling deserved a bonus.

The women put in the underling position were a lot more likely to laugh at the muffin joke (and others almost as lame) than were women in the control group. But it wasn’t just because these underlings were trying to manipulate the boss, as was demonstrated in a follow-up experiment.

This time each of the women watched the muffin joke being told on videotape by a person who was ostensibly going to be working with her on a task. There was supposed to be a cash reward afterward to be allocated by a designated boss. In some cases the woman watching was designated the boss; in other cases she was the underling or a co-worker of the person on the videotape.

When the woman watching was the boss, she didn’t laugh much at the muffin joke. But when she was the underling or a co-worker, she laughed much more, even though the joke-teller wasn’t in the room to see her. When you’re low in the status hierarchy, you need all the allies you can find, so apparently you’re primed to chuckle at anything even if it doesn’t do you any immediate good.

“Laughter seems to be an automatic response to your situation rather than a conscious strategy,” says Tyler F. Stillman, who did the experiments along with Roy Baumeister and Nathan DeWall. “When I tell the muffin joke to my undergraduate classes, they laugh out loud.”

Mr. Stillman says he got so used to the laughs that he wasn’t quite prepared for the response at a conference in January, although he realizes he should have expected it.

“It was a small conference attended by some of the most senior researchers in the field,” he recalls. “When they heard me, a lowly graduate student, tell the muffin joke, there was a really uncomfortable silence. You could hear crickets.”

Monday, March 12, 2007

it's been a while

since i boasted about my cat being the best cat and ect. and on and on. so i thought it might be an appropriate time... but i don't want to rub it in or make anyone's cat feel not-so-fluffy, but, well, anyway, here's peppe and simon hanging out and simon on her own being just about the cutest, fluffy, orange cat to hit town since garfield... sorry, but it's true!
in other completely unrelated news, i thought i'd share with you the size of this ginormous locust/beast (or "grasshopper" as my favorite entomologist has informed me... yes friends, a locust is just a glorified grasshopper - hard to belive but supposedly true) that i caught hanging out on the famous orange tree while picking oranges for my numerous orange projects.


why not?? Or rather, why...? because, as i've recently found out, it's delicious!! so that's what i'm gonna do with my orange tree.... i'm going into liqueur business. i like it. thanks to our extremely pregnant friend who has "a lot of time on her hands" the idea has come to fruition. yes, she walked to the FAO to buy me and her 2liters a piece of pure alcohol while being just three days away from her due date... now that's what puts the fun in bitter orange liqueur. and in return she got a bag of oranges... fair trade? ... hey no one thought she'd walk it.
did i already ask if anyone wants any oranges? right. sorry.

Here we have the trusty ingredients of the amarancello (yes, i made that name up, i think.)

you basically cut off the rinds of 8 oranges and let it soak in pure DRINKING alcohol for 5 days or so...

then it'll look like that. you then remove the rinds and add a syrup made of 1L of water and 800g of sugar. I added more water after cause i got nervous it would be too strong. but i think it'd be just about right that way. that's why i'm giving myself a second and third chance... always room for improvement in the liqueur business.second and third chance. i wish i could have you all over for a nice chilled glass of amarancello. it rocks.

Growth update with shorter hair

Ah!!! Hair!! i'll leave ya'll with this interesting image and save the surprise for next week... that's how ya keep 'em coming back! it's the suspense factor...
So the seedlings are doing well and that's much more important. it's been two weeks now and their progress is coming along nicely. you can see our roman zucchini are loving life. the baby basils are just sooo cute!!
the radish was specifically for peppe's mom who loves it and for all those fraggles out there cause i associate them... mystically.

Friday, March 02, 2007

U Grow Gurl!

It's growing time! I started the process out by going through the "BIBLE" of planting. it's in italian, so i mostly skim. i picked things out and looked at when they had to go in, and was reminded of all the things out there to plant. i made a little sketch of a possible garden. and i rather liked it. and then peppe reviewed it and most of the original plan passed step one. i felt proud. my first garden design. i rock. Step two was a second inspection of the gardening area and a redrawing of crop boundaries. and then the next step was to bring said proposal to parental units for final approval. We were very happy when the garden plan was given full approval and even talk of a pumpkin and watermelon patch was included. this part especially excited me as pumpkin is in my veins. or something. it at least gave me big ideas for pumpkin pie.

The next thing i had to do was to buy the seeds. i was sent alone on this mission and found it a bit daunting. there was a whole isle for seeds! ok. relax. different brands. but how do you know? different types of zucchini... they all look the same? roman, milanese, sicilian. ahhhhh!!! what do i like? what do we like? how do i know???? so i think i spent two hours there, pacing the seed isle like a lunatic and i came back with most of what we needed. and a serious case of the dizzies. i even picked out some fun ones - i like my round zucchini.

then the planting started. t and peppe spent sunday organizing the greenhouse and making cute little planters with all the things that wanted to start now.