No Politics Monday #3

So here we are again.  Monday.  Blah. The weekend is over, it’s back to the grind, and there are approximately 108 hours until Friday night when we can start next weekend.  As promised, this is another “No Politics Monday”, and I hope everyone realizes just how difficult this is!  I have about 100 ideas jotted down on post-it notes, in notebooks, in pockets, and throughout my computer, but 99 of them are about either social or political issues.  So, I went trolling for fun things to write about and this is what I came up with.

To begin, yesterday was the first day of spring.  Really?  It was colder than … well, suffice it to say that it was cold, albeit sunny.  100 miles to the south, it snowed.  It did not feel like spring.  Sadly, I must report that my crocuses, the ones I was so proud of last week, froze to death Saturday night.  I am heartbroken.  I am also confused.  My neighbor, Maha, and I planted our crocuses (actually her son and my granddaughter did the planting, but Maha and I supervised) at the exact same time on the exact same day back in September.  Her crocuses and mine came from the same packets of bulbs.  They came up and bloomed on the exact same day.  Mine froze to death.  Hers did not freeze to death.  Sigh.  Have I mentioned before that I do not have a green thumb?

I have written a couple of times about driverless cars, but here’s a new one:  driverless bicycles!  A group of engineering students in India developed the driverless bicycle, called the i-bike.  The bike, designed with disabled riders in mind, can pedal itself, steer itself, or both.  “But the i-Bike’s appeal is its multi-mode function: the bike switches between automatic locomotion, automatic steering and manual mode. This gives the rider total control of how they want to use the bike. An arm amputee can manually ride the bike but utilize automatic steering, a leg amputee could steer themselves while the bike propels itself, and a blind rider could use both automated systems. The bike has retractable training wheels, as well, for auto-locomotion.”  (Turner, The Washington Post, 18 March 2016)  The bicycle is in prototype phase, but the students hope to have it available on the market within a year at a cost of $500-$750.  It runs on “wireless phone networks”, using GPS and smartphone technology.  I was convinced it was a great idea up to that point.  If the wireless phone network the bike uses is no more reliable than the one my cell phone uses, anybody riding these bikes is doomed to be stranded in no-man’s land for eternity!

Question for you:  What do you do with your utensils, you know … fork, spoon, knife, chopsticks … when you have finished eating?  I usually put mine in the dishwasher (or the sink for handwashing in the case of chopsticks), although sometimes I accidentally toss them in the trash as I am scraping plates.  Well here’s an idea:  edible utensils!  Narayana Peesapaty, of Hyderabad, India (are all the innovators from India these days?) has developed edible spoons, forks and chopsticks you can eat with and then eat them.  Made from a mix of millet, rice and wheat flours, they come in three flavors:  plain, sweet, or spicy.  I am a nickel-squeezer and refuse to buy paper plates, plastic utensils, or other “throw-aways”, but I am picturing Thanksgiving dinner, when everyone sits back and says “what’s for dessert?”  You reply, “eat your silverware”.

Some of you may already know that I have long hoped to earn a Ph.D. in International Relations sometime before the end of my lifetime.  In the past year I more or less gave up on that dream, for a number of reasons.  Today, I saw this headline:

French Student Who ‘Took Some Breaks’ Earns Doctorate at 90

Her name is Colette Bourlier and last Tuesday, after 30 years of work, she earned a Ph.D. in Geography from Université de Franche-Comté in Besançon, France.  In itself, that is an amazing story, but what makes it even more so is that Ms. Bourlier wrote all 400 pages of her thesis, titled “Immigrant Workers in Besançon in the Second Half of the 20th Century”, by hand!  This is an amazing story and I am not certain if it inspires me or makes me feel like a loser. Maybe a bit of both.

And that about wraps up another “No Politics Monday”.  Just one more little thing … despite the fact that it is about … well, you-know-who … it is not political … just a fun little app.  Be sure to turn your speakers on, wait a minute for it to load, then move your mouse around, clicking at will.