Battery Powered Locomotive

This looks pretty exciting. They say it has a thousand batteries, runs 24 hours on a single charge, and does the same work as a gas-powered locomotive.

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A Walk Through the Year

October 10th,

“One day when Henry Thoreau was digging for fish worms at Walden Pond, he uncovered a string of tubers he called ‘the potato of the aborigines, a sort of fabulous fruit’- the groundnut, Apios tuberosa. This same groundnut of Indian potato or traveler’s delight- but now with its scientific name changed to Apios Americana– I find rooted in moist ground in several places at Trail Wood.
During late-summer days, I see its slender vines entwined in the higher vegetation. At times they extend to a length of seven or eight feet. I sometimes catch in passing the strong perfume of the brownish-purple flowers.
And toward the end of summer I notice small pealike pods maturing where the flowers had been.
All this aboveground activity is obvious. But unseen, below-ground, there is the development of a succession of tubers strung along the roots like round pearls on a necklace. These are the so called nuts of the groundnut. The plant is able to reproduce either through the tubers or through the seeds within the pealike pods.
Late on this October morning I start out with a pail and a small spade to harvest a crop I have not planted. Near the rustic bridge over Stepping Stone Brook, groundnut vines are wound in and out among the sweet fern. There I begin my digging.
Only a few inches below the surface I unearth the first several strings of tubers. Each tuber, looking like a small rounded potato, is an inch or an inch and a half in diameter. A few are twice that size. With a quart or more in my pail, I climb the path to the house.
Nellie washes and boils them and we dine at noon on this favorite food of the New England Indians, the same wild tubers that helped the Pilgrims survive their first bitter winter in America. Eaten hot, salted and buttered and mashed like potatoes, the groundnuts have a pleasing flavor of their own, perhaps a trifle turnip like.
Sometimes they are eaten roasted, sometimes raw, sometimes sliced and fried in butter, sometimes cooked with other vegetables.
The Indians and early pioneers dried them and stored them for winter. Also they collected the pods, the seeds being boiled and eaten like peas.
The groundnut is, in fact, a member of the pea family. Some of its other common names are trailing pea, ground pea, and potato pea…
Throughout the world, there are only five species in the genus to which our groundnut belongs. Two are found in the United States. The other three are widely scattered. One is native to the region of the Himalaya Mountains, the other two to China. The giant of them all is the highly restricted American species, Apios priceana. Its range is confined to parts of Kentucky and Tennessee. Instead of a necklace of small tubers along the roots, this groundnut produces a single irregularly shaped turniplike tuber. In extreme instances, it has attained a diameter of as much as half a foot.”

(From Edwin Way Teale’s A Walk Through the Year.)

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Nod Plays With The Pirate

Our little ‘godsons’ are here again for another weekend. There were also here the weekend the Pirate was born and they got to go see him when he was just an hour old. Blynken was not so impressed, but Nod was deeply interested.

He still is. He has run his chubby little hands all over the Pirate, announcing as he does so,

“Him has soft hands. Him has soft ears. His head is soft. And him is iddle. Him has iddle arms. Him has iddle legs. Him has iddle hands. And his arms is soft.”

Oooh, is he crying? Him is crying a iddle because him is iddle. Not me. I a big boy.

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Aretha Franklin Sings Hush Little Baby

Much too lively for a lullabye, but quite suitable for a dance around the living room with the baby in your arms.

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People Who Did Not Get the Nobel Peace Prize

Listed here.

And I like Greg Mankiw’s snortworthy spoof of Obama’s Nobel.

Pfuffnick’s Nobel Economics Prize triumph hailed by many

LONDON — The surprise choice of first-year grad student Quintus Pfuffnick for the Nobel Prize in Economics drew praise from much of the world Friday even as many pointed out the youthful economist has not yet published anything in scholarly journals.

The new PhD candidate was hailed for his willingness to tackle difficult problems, his commitment to improving the economic system, and his goal of bringing efficiency and equality into harmony.

Professor Paul Krugman of Princeton, who won the prize in 2008, said Pfuffnick’s award shows great things are expected from him in the coming years.

“In a way, it’s an award coming near the beginning of the first year in grad school of a relatively young economist that anticipates an even greater contribution towards making our economy a better place for all,” he said. “It is an award that speaks to the promise of Mr Pfuffnick’s message of hope.”

He said the prize is a “wonderful recognition of Pfuffnick’s essay in his grad school application.”

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