Friday, 28 September 2012

Whose Birthday Is It Anyway?

I started writing this post about a month ago on my birthday (thanks to everyone who sent me a card or present), but somehow I never finished it, and it ended up banished to the drafts folder. Anyway....

Rarely does a day go past when I don't do a Google search for something or other. And even though today is my birthday it isn't one of those rare none Google days. I usually search Google directly from the address bar in Firefox so rarely see the main search page, but I do keep an eye on the top left corner of the result pages for interesting doodles (you can browse past doodles if you don't know what I'm talking about) -- I wouldn't want to miss a doodle as good as the PAC-MAN one for instance. Anyway, I noticed that there was a doodle today so I went to the main search page to see a larger version and find out what it was about. Bizarrely though the doodle on the main page didn't match the one on the results page.

On the left is the doodle from the result page, and on the right is the doodle from the home page. Clearly they aren't the same. Often the reason for a doodle is obvious from the doodle itself, but if you hover the mouse over the doodle on the home page you'll get a tooltip explaining the occasion. So imagine my surprise when I hovered over the doodle and saw that the tooltip read Happy Birthday Mark!

The explanation was, of course, obvious; I was logged into my Google account which, since I signed up for Google+, includes my birthday. Now I'm not one of the people who are overly worried about the amount of information Google knows about me, and I'd freely made the decision to include my birthday in my profile, but still I was rather surprised that they would use that information to show me a birthday doodle.

Oh and if you were wondering the actual doodle for today, that everyone else saw, was to celebrate Maria Montessori's 142nd birthday.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Colour Coded Pipes

While holidaying on Skye, and dodging the frequent rain showers, we managed to accidentally time a shopping trip to Portree with the Lifeboat open day. I've never needed to be on a lifeboat (thank goodness) or had the opportunity to wonder around one before so I made full use of the chance.

I didn't take too many photos while on board as it was quite cramped, both as the inside is remarkably small, but also because of the number of people looking around. Strangely my favourite, albeit slightly blurry, photo is of a simple sign showing the colour coding scheme used for the pipework. I'd never really thought about it before but having a standard colour coding scheme makes perfect sense, although I don't know why some of the colour swatches were missing, unless they are for pipes that aren't actually present on this specific lifeboat.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Deilephila Elpenor

Seen as I didn't receive any complaints about the Latin titled blog posts I'm going to continue with a post about Deilephila elpenor; more commonly known as the Elephant Hawk Moth.

As you can see from the photo today's post is actually about the caterpillar rather than the adult moth. If you want to see what the adult looks like then you can see a dead specimen in one of my previous blog posts.

Last Saturday was the 140th Penistone Agricultural Show and while taking the scenic route from our house to the show ground, along the old railway line, we passed a large group of willowherb plants which were covered in Elephant Hawk Moth caterpillars; so of course I stopped to take lots of photos.

Unlike many moths the Elephant Hawk Moth gets it's name from the caterpillar instead of the adult moth. This photo doesn't show the elephants trunk particularly well but you can see that the caterpillar has a pointy nose (bottom of the photo) which supposedly resembles an elephants trunk. When threatened the caterpillar retracts the trunk like portion into it's body which apparently makes it look like a snake with a large head and four eyes; the one at the back is in this pose.

Friday, 7 September 2012

A Single Scotch

As well as drinking a far amount of single malt Scotch Whiskey while on Skye (Laphroaig Quater Cask if you're interested) we also saw another form of Scotch; a single specimen of a Scotch Argus (Erebia aethiops) butterfly.

This is only the second time I've ever seen a Scotch Argus even though I've had a number of holidays throughout Scotland over the years. I almost didn't recognize it as this specimen is very brown compared to the ones I've seen before which were almost black. This one was sunning itself just outside Portree, while I've previously seen them under Glenfinnan Viaduct.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Known Unknowns

It's been a bit quiet on the blogging front for the last week or so as we've been away on holiday, visting friends who own a house on Skye (I've blogged about previous holiday's to Skye before). Holidays always produce lots of fodder for blog posts and this one was no different.

I still have to sort through all the photos, but I'll start with two caterpillars and to paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, there is a known known and a known unknown.

Lets start with the known known. I believe that the photo on the left shows a Knot Grass (Acronicta rumicis) caterpillar, although if you think I'm wrong please feel free to correct me. The photo on the right, however, is a known unknown. In other words I have no idea what it is and any suggestions would be more than welcome.