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From the Archives: Edibles of a different colour...

Today I was reading about carmine and Cochineal extract, two lovely pinkish-red-purple colourings made from powdered beetle shells, from a blogger who uses Cochineal to dye her wool. What I found surprising is that the colourings are used in a vareity of cosmetics but also fruit or alcoholic drinks, candy, yogurt, and ice cream! If you want to know if you are eating these beetles, carmine and Cochineal usually only have to be labelled as "artificial color" or "color added". 

So for people who are already worried about the urban legend that you will eat over 8 spiders in your sleep during your lifetime, guess what, you are already eating bug bits!

Apparently the FDA may soon require that these colourings are labelled as "animal derived" to be more informative for those with allergies or who are vegetarian. 

PS - Knitting Iris is one of the neat crafty websites I found out about from Jill. I think it's amusing how the Lava Lizard drinks in her post are the same colour as her wool!


From the Archives: BBC has the scoop on hamsters!

This post was originally published on Friday, January 12. 2007. 

Someone has tracked all the hamster related stories in the BBC news since 1998. Some of them are quite hilarious! My favourites are:
- 2000: Apparently deceased hamster revives; gnaws hole in coffin, tunnels out of grave, and finds its way home. 
- 2001: Hamster in plastic exercise ball found rolling along the M6 motorway at Spaghetti Junction in Birmingham.
- 2005: Hamster virus kills three people. 
- 2004: Fat hamster cheats vacuum death.


Dominican Republic 2006: Larimar & Amber

Larimar Brooch. Originally uploaded by Lynn Bowes :: SilverWork.We travelled to the Dominican Republic for our Christmas 2006 vacation. This post was originally published Tuesday, January 9. 2007. 

The national stone of the Dominican Republic - at least according to the tourist industry - and found only in the Dominican Republic, is Larimar. Larimar is a rare variety of pecolite, a crystalline mineral, that is blue or blue-green with white veins. 

Whenever we visited some shops or a jewelry stall, one of the first things out of the vendors' mouths would be "Larimar! National stone of the Dominican!" There would be several pendants and bracelets made out of larimar. I found out later that the more blue stones are the more valuable. 

We also saw a lot of what the vendors called "red coral" and "pink coral", though I'm not sure if that's what actually was... And errrr would it be illegal to bring to Canada?

One of my coworkers told me that the Dominican Republic is well known for its amber. I also found out today that the Dominican is one of the few places that has blue amber, huh! We didn't see amber as much at the stalls; it tended to be sold at the upscale stores we saw. I would have liked to see blue amber - this stuff looks cool! When you hold it in your hand, it looks almost like a blue or purple glass, but when you hold it up to the light it's transluscent yellow-orange, like regular amber. 


Ferret in Large Hadron Collider

News flash: The LHC experienced problems today, requiring shutdown, due to a ... a ... WHAT in the accelerator tunnel?



Book illustrator & artist: Dave McKean

Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast (a blog about books) features an wonderfully image heavy interview with Dave McKean. This fellow does everything - he's best known for his illustration work with Neil Gaiman, but he also does graphic novels, writing, photography, music, and film. 

Tree, by Dave McKean

Interviewer: What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Dave: Probably something in the sciences, trying to understand and uncover the mechanics of existence, how the brain works, especially. But, to paraphrase E. L. Wisty, I never had the Maths for the Sciencing. (They’re very rigorous, those science exams; they’re noted for their rigor). 


Dementor, by Dave McKean

Interviewer: What’s one thing that most people don’t know about you?

Dave: I met the emperor Haile Selassie when I was eight and gave him a map I had drawn of Ethiopia.