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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Dragon Fish

   Today I was eating this strange fish. I had eaten it for years, yet I have never figured out what it really is called. The only name I knew to call it by was the "dragon fish." Of course, it just happened that hundreds of species of fish are called dragon fish, though there are a few that are traditionally cooked in China.
   The Chinese call dragon fish xia chan (虾潺) beacuse of the relation of its massive mouth to its body while the Cantonese call it Bean Curd Fish due to the incredible softness of the meat and bones. There is no need to debone the fish before cooking. Some restaurants cook the fish into fried puffy fish sticks, though other places put it into soups.
   Apparently, the English equivalent to the name is Harpadon nehereus, or Bombay Duck. It is a type of lizardfish found in tropical and subtropical waters. They are caught in great numbers in the the China Sea. No one knows why the fish is called the Bombay Duck, because it definately isn't a duck. Some writers say that, during the British Raj, the fish were transported on trains after drying. They say that the compartments of the Bombay Dak would reek of the fish smell. Consequentally, the British would refer to the peculiar smell of Bombay Dak, eventually evolving into the name Bombay duck. According to Bangledeshi tales, the first person to use the name "Bombay Duck" was Richard Clive, after tasting a piece of the fish during his conquest of Bengal.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Life of Fred

   Recently, I've come across a mathematics series entitled, "Life of Fred." It could possibly be the most interesting math textbook I've ever come across. The series is written by Dr. Stanley Schmidt. It chronicles the life of Fred Gauss, a mathematical genius only about five years old who teaches at KITTENS University. He uses math to solve problems in his life and along the way the reader can learn, too!
   One attractive thing about the series is that it's entertaining, not one of those dry math text books that give an example and require you to do tons of problems identical to it or force you to memorize boring lines of text. No, this book actually puts you into the action—no more, "When will I ever use this information?" or "Math is boring." The funny storylines are entertaining, plus, there are also parts where the subject meanders for a bit and you can learn interesting irrelevant facts. It's actually a self-taught course, as you can teach yourself everything the books have to teach you—it's that clear! The books range in level from beginning fractions to college level linear algebra. It's also cheaper than some other text books (not saying that it's the cheapest book there is).
      http://movingbeyondthepage.com/curriculumMathFred.asp has short samples of the first three books, or you could visit the website: http://lifeoffredmath.com/index.php.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Fruits

To put it in a nutshell, a fruit is the part of a plant that contains the seeds.
Of course, it can be argued that nuts contain the seeds of oak trees and so forth, but that definition is only put to the broadest terms. In nontechnical terms, such as in food preparation, fruits are the fleshy, seed carrying parts of certain plants that are sweet and edible in their raw state, such as apples, pears, grapes, and bananas. The seed associating parts that do not fit these descriptions are called by other names, such as pod, beans, nuts, and vegetables.
According to biologists, a fruit is a part of a flowering plant that derives from specific tissues in the flower, mostly one or more of the ovaries. Strictly speaking, this definition takes off many foods that would be considered "fruits" in the more sensible term, such as those produced by nonflowering plants (juniper berries) and those produced by parts close to the fruit (cashew fruits and accessory fruits). Most often, the botanical fruit is just part of the common fruit, or just adjacent to it. On the other hand, the botanical fruits would include many other parts that typically aren't considered fruits, e.g. bean pods, corn kernels, wheat grains, tomatoes, cucumbers, and many others.
By either term, fruits are simply the way plants spread out their seeds, their offspring, out into the wide world. The fleshy part was probably created to attract animals to help in seed dispersal and even today many animals, and humans, depend on fruits as a source of food. Fruits have since acquired extensive cultural and symbiotic meanings.
I hope this clears things up a bit. Tomatoes are fruits, people! :)
 

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