pupupu Environment | Weird News

Interesting Usage of Eggshells

I love eggs, and not just because I love the way they taste. Of course, part of my eggophilia is also due to the fact that eggs are an affordable, high-quality protein, usually costing less than twenty cents apiece. Despite much publicized cholesterol warnings, more and more research is revealing the many health benefits of eating eggs — everything from strengthening muscles to improving brain function — with most research now showing that an egg or two a day is just fine for most people.

eggshells Interesting Usage of Eggshells

Plus, eggs have clever packaging. I hate paying for packaging, but when it comes to the uber-chic engineering marvel known as the eggshell, I don’t mind the cost. Madison Avenue marketing gurus or MIT engineering professors could never design packaging as cool and functional as the eggshell. If eggs didn’t come in their own shell we’d probably package them in some form of plastic, which might be recyclable, but would never have the multitude of reuses attributable to Mother Nature’s own packaging.

Take a crack at these eggshell reuses:

1. Compost for Naturally Fertilized Soil
Eggshells quickly decompose in the compost pile and add valuable calcium and other minerals to the soil in the process.

2. Nontoxic Pest Control in the Garden
Scatter crushed eggshell around your plants and flowers to help deter plant-eating slugs, snails and cutworms without using eco-unfriendly pesticides. Also, deer hate the smell of eggs, so scattering eggshells around the flowerbed will help keep Bambi away from your begonias.

3. Less Bitter Coffee
Add an eggshell to the coffee in the filter, and your morning coffee will be less bitter. The spent coffee grounds, eggshell and bio-degradable filter are then conveniently ready for the compost pile.

4. Splendid Seedling Starters
Fill biodegradable eggshell halves with potting soil instead of using peat pots to start seedlings for the garden. And an egg carton on the windowsill is the perfect way to start a dozen tomato seedlings in shells before transplanting to the garden in the spring.

5. Eco-friendly Household Abrasive
Shake crushed eggshells and a little soapy water to scour hard-to-clean items like thermoses and vases. Crushed eggshells can also be used as a nontoxic abrasive on pots and pans.

6. Eggy, Crafty Projects
“Blow out” the inside of a raw egg and paint/decorate the hollow shell to make your Faberge eggs or other craft projects. Pieces of egg shell (plain or dyed) are also used in mosaic art projects.

7. Clever Jello and Chocolate Molds
Carefully fill “blown out” eggshells (above) with jello or chocolate to make unique egg-shaped treats; peel away the eggshell mold before serving, or serve as is and let your guests discover the surprise inside.

8. Natural Drain Cleaner
Keep a couple of crushed eggshells in your kitchen sink strainer at all times. They trap additional solids and they gradually break up and help to naturally clean your pipes on their way down the drain.

9. Membrane Home Remedies
The super-thin membrane inside the eggshell has long been used as a home remedy for a wide range of ailments, from healing cuts to treating ingrown toenails.

10. Treat Skin Irritations
Dissolve an eggshell in a small jar of apple cider vinegar (takes about two days) and use the mixture to treat minor skin irritations and itchy skin.

11. Egg on Your Face
Pulverize dried egg shells with a mortar and pestle, then whisk the powder in with an egg white and use for a healthful, skin-tightening facial. Allow the face mask to dry before rinsing it off.

12. The Fuel of Tomorrow?
Just when your brain was totally fried by all my ingenious reuses for eggshells, researchers at Ohio State University recently discovered that eggshells might be the key to producing affordable hydrogen fuel. I’ve heard of walking on eggshells, but maybe some day we’ll be driving on them too.

Animals on the brink of extinction

Lists 10 animals on the verge of extinction and the reasons behind the reduction in their numbers

1. Iberian lynx

siberian lynx Animals on the brink of extinction

The Iberian (Spanish) lynx lives in very small areas of central and southern Spain (Andalucia). It used to live throughout Spain and Portugal but its numbers have been drastically reduced to the point where it is now one of the most endangered wild cats in the world.

In the early 1950s the myxomatosis virus was illegally introduced by a French scientist to kill the wild rabbits on his estate which were destroying his vegetable patch. The virus spread rapidly, and killed about 90% of the wild rabbits in France. Spanish rabbits also died in huge numbers even going completely missing in some areas, so thousands of lynx starved to death. Habitat loss, hunting and trapping also have decimated the lynx. They are protected now, but they still get caught in fox traps. Another cause of death recently is getting hit by cars in Donana National Park.

Population size:
approximately 100 – 150

Reproduction: Females breed about once a year, with a litter size of 1-3 cubs. In breeding captivity programs, a litter of 3 cubs was born in 2005, and another 3 cubs in March 2009.

What can I do?

Donate to SOS Lynx, a lynx conservation organisation.

2. Saiga antelope

saiga antelope1 Animals on the brink of extinction

Adults can run up to 50mph in bursts, and herds have been known to range hundreds of miles in several days. As recently as 1950 there could have been about 2 million saiga, however, the population since then has been reduced by about 97%. The source of the devastation is a very strong demand for the horns of the males for traditional chinese medicine. Poachers are killing the antelopes in a large numbers steadily. Some believe the horns can be used to treat fevers and they are sold for about $100 per pound.

Traditional medicine often has no basis in science; and is rooted in superstition or anecdotal evidence. It is especially tragic that so many of the antelope are being slaughtered over a misconception. The National Wildlife federation provided an account of the rate of slaughter in one 2004 incident, “some 80,000 saiga crossed from Kalmykia into the neighboring Russian republic of Dagestan to the south. Weeks later, only a few animals returned.”

Population size: approximately 42,000 but the rate of slaughter is very high, and constant due to poaching. Even in a protected area, the population has been cut 95% since 1997. The saiga is one of the most rapidly declining mammals in the world.

Reproduction: Females breed about once a year, with a litter size of 1-2 calves.

What can I do?
Donate to the Saiga Conservation Alliance. Even donating $5 helps, which is about the cost of one latte. Alert relatives or friends in China that Saiga horn very likely is not a cure for fevers; any ‘benefit’ observed is most likely just the placebo effect. Traditional medicines can actually cause harm, such as the Mexican folk medicine Greta, which can be 90% lead and lead can cause brain damage. Forward this article to anyone you know who is a teacher so it can be used as part of a class lesson.

3. Sumatran tiger

sumatra tiger Animals on the brink of extinction

The Sumatran tiger is being decreased substantially by poaching and logging of its traditional forest range. Some of the logging is illegal. Recent research has indicated that the clash between tigers and humans in Sumatra that has killed both species is due to the aggressive destruction of forests by Asia Pulp and Paper.

About 100 tigers live in a nature preserve on the island, but poachers are killing them even in protected areas. The Bali, Java, and Trinil tigers which are related to the Sumatran, have all been driven into extinction.

Population: Approximately 400

Reproduction: Females usually give birth once a year to several cubs. Cubs are born blind.

What can I do?
Don’t buy paper products made by Asia Pulp and Paper. If you don’t know if they are, buy only paper products made in your home country, and products made from recycled paper in your home country. Adopt a wild Sumatran via the Sumatran Tiger Trust. (If an individual can not
afford the adoption, it could be more affordable for a class of 20 students each paying 1.50, or a family each paying about 7 dollars.)

4. Silky sifafka

silky sifafka Animals on the brink of extinction

This species of lemur only lives on the island of Madagascar in the northeastern rainforests. Its population is very small and it is hunted by some local people for meat. It is one of the most endangered primates in the world. The silky sifafka has never been bred in captivity, meaning if it is killed entirely in the wild, it most likely can’t be kept alive in a captive breeding program or zoo.

Unfortunately, the species has a low birth rate. Compounding matters, political turmoil has disrupted normal operations at one of the sites where they live. The Marojejy park has closed to tourism because of unsafe conditions created by armed thugs stealing very valuable hardwoods.

Population: approximately 100 – 1000

Reproduction: generally females birth one infant every two years, but there are cases of a female birthing one infant per year.

What can I do?
Contact Erik Patel of Cornell University and ask him what you can do. Show this silky lemur documentary to students when it is available. Visit the lemur park when it is safe to do so, and don’t forget about Madagascar during the political upheaval, as the Marojejy park website says, “While you might not be able to visit some of these beautiful areas right now, we hope you will not forget them, and that you will continue to work for their preservation.”

5. Vaquita

vaquita dolphin 01 Animals on the brink of extinction

Vaquita live in Mexico’s Gulf of California and are the smallest and most
endangered cetacean in the world. About 40 to 80 are killed in gill nets each year. The World Wildlife Fund in both Mexico and the US are collaborating on implementing measures to protect them such as the creation of a marine preserve and banning the use of damaging fishing equipment in their habitat. Without such actions, the animal may not survive much longer. It is the only porpoise adapted to live in such warm water.

Population: approximately 600 or less

Not much is known on this topic. They could have a gestation period of 11 months, and give birth to one calf every two years.

What can I do?
Donate to the World Wildlife Fund specifically for the vaquita. Watch this Vaqita video. Take your camera if you visit the Gulf of California and photograph the porpoise if you can. There aren’t many photos of them alive. Take a legitimate ecotour and view the vaquita in its natural habitat without disturbing it. If local fisherman begin to understand the endangered porpoise has tourist appeal maybe they will be more open to changing.

6. Javan Rhino

javan rhino Animals on the brink of extinction

The large mammal is elusive and is the least studied of the rhinos. They can live 30-40 years and are solitary except for mating and parenting. Two very small populations live in Java in the Ujung Kulon National Park, and in Vietnam’s Cat Tien Park. Javans used to have the largest population of the rhinos, living in Indonesia, China, Southeast Asia and India. But the it has been driven right to the brink of extinction mainly due to poaching. The horn is in great demand for traditional chinese medicine, and one kilogram can bring $30,000. Apparently it is believed the horn when ground up can be used to ‘cure’ a wide range of things, some of which are not medical conditions: “To expel fear and anxiety, to calm the liver and clear the vision.”

At the point of sale, when it has already been powdered it is very difficult to confirm if the actual products contain any true rhino horn because some sellers are substituting the bones of other animals to exploit gullible buyers. (Besides the fact that it has never been validated scientifically).

Population: Less than 60

Reproduction: Females give birth probably every 1-3 years. Gestation lasts 15-16 months.

What Can I Do? Never purchase any products that are advertised as made from Javan Rhino horn, or any rhino. Tell friends and relatives about the perils of those kinds of products made from animals parts. Keep in mind they actually might made be made from dog bones or other more common animals. (Regardless of what the seller says). Donate to the International Rhino Foundation.

7. Cross River Gorilla

cross river gorilla Animals on the brink of extinction

This primate is one of the most endangered in the world. It lives in a region between Nigeria and Cameroon in moist broadleaf forests. About one hundred and fifteen live in two parks created just for their protection: Takamanda National Park and Cross River National Park.

These gorillas are quite wary of humans, and there have been very few direct sightings of them. The main threats to them are habitat loss and death due to the bushmeat trade. They can also contract human diseases.

Population: 250 – 300

Reproduction: Unknown

What can I do?
Donate to the African Conservation Foundation. If it is safe for you to travel there, visit the area where the gorillas are like a British Columbian couple did.

8. South China Tiger

south china tiger Animals on the brink of extinction

The big cat is considered to be the species other modern tigers evolved from. It is currently thought to be extinct in the wild, and only live in nature preserves managed by humans, and a captive breeding program. The population is so tiny some assume the species will be completely extinct in about a decade. As recently as 1959 there may have been about 4,000 of them living in the wild. Mao Zedong declared them a ‘pest’ and ‘enemies of the people’ so campaigns to eliminate them were enacted. By 1982 only about 200 were left. The Chinese government recently has been working to save them.

An innovative captive breeding program was started in South Africa, by a non-profit organization. Li Quan started Save China’s Tigers and has had some success in birthing cubs in captivity. The hope is the cubs can be taught to hunt in the South African preserves and they can be returned to live in nature preserves in China.

Population: Approximately 60 in captivity. No confirmed wild sightings in 20 years.

Reproduction: Females can mate any time of year. They usually have one litter per year of 1-3 cubs.

What can I do?
Donate to Save China’s Tigers. Never buy any products that advertise as containing tiger parts.

9. Amur Leopard

amur leopard Animals on the brink of extinction

This wild cat lives in the Far East of Russia and faces an extremely high risk of extinction.
It is mainly threatened by habitat loss due to deforestation and development. Poaching also kills them. A coalition of 13 conservation organizations has banded together to implement public education campaigns, anti-poaching measures, and a raft of other actions to prevent the leopards from being lost forever. They live about 10- 15 years in the wild.

Population: Approximately 135 or less in the wild.
Reproduction: Females birth about 1 litter per year of 1-6 cubs. Gestation is about 100 days.
Cubs live with the mother for 18-24 months.

What can I do?
Donate to ALTA Amur Leopard Conservation or contact them about possible eco tours if you can travel there.

10. Frogs, and other amphibians

Frogs are not one animal, but so many of them are under threat they fit the definition of endangered for this list. In 2009 a study reported that 200 million to one billion frogs are killed every year for frogs legs consumption. Australian researcher Corey Bradshaw, who is one the study’s authors said: “About half of all listed amphibians are threatened with extinction”. Amphibian Ark states 50% of amphibians could go extinct. “50%: of ~6,000 described amphibian species, are threatened with extinction. 32% known to be threatened + 23% data deficient but believed threatened”. The percentage quoted here from Conservational International is 40%.

The chytrid fungus is the main killer of frogs currently. It is thought it was introduced by the importation of African Clawed Frogs who carried the fungus out of Africa. The African frogs were used decades ago to determine if a woman was pregnant. The african frogs carry the fungus but are immune to it. Unfortunately they continue to be sold as pets. Some are released into the wild and spread the fungus to native frogs. They also eat almost anything that moves including native frogs. (Never release an African Clawed Frog into any body of water or any other place.) Recently it was reported on this site that scientists are working together to save frogs from the fungus.

Population: Numbers are not known. Populations are dwindling rapidly.

Reproduction: Unknown due to the fungus.

What can I do?
Consider getting a different type of pet than an African Clawed Frog. If you already have one, never release it into the wild. If you know someone who has one or more, tell them not to release them ever. If you are able, consider reducing your consumption of frogs legs, or not eating them ever. The frogs of the world could use a break. Donate to the Amphibian Conservation Alliance. Watch this documentary about frogs under siege and efforts being made by scientists to protect and restore them. See how to swab a frog for the deadly fungus.

This list of animals is only an introduction to a very large number around the world under threat of extinction. For a more comprehensive examination visit the Edge of Existence.

The 25 Most Bizarre Travel Insurance Claims Ever

What links a tourist who lost 84 kilograms of Bombay mix on holiday with another who had his camera stolen by a monkey? Both are among the more unusual claims received by travel insurance companies. Times Money has trawled through the files of some of the UK’s biggest insurers to bring you the 25 most bizarre travel insurance claims ever. Here they are…

monkey 4 The 25 Most Bizarre Travel Insurance Claims Ever

1. One thing you don’t expect when you go on holiday is to be harassed by a monkey. One British traveller in Gibraltar, however, was so besieged by the attentions of an over-friendly primate that he asked his insurer to refund the cost of his trip. The insurer refused but did pay out for his camera, which the monkey had run off with one evening.

2. Monkeys also blighted the romantic getaway of a couple in Malaysia, who foolishly left the window to their chalet open during the day. They returned to find their underwear, clothing and belongings strewn across the resort and neighbouring rainforest. Luckily for the clothes-less couple, their insurer paid the claim.

3. One unlucky pensioner managed to lose his false teeth after throwing up over the side of a cruise ship on the choppy seas of the Bay of Biscay. Thankfully for the squeamish septuagenarian, his misplaced dentures were covered in his travel insurance policy under lost baggage, so his claim was paid.

4. Another unfortunate pensioner had to make an even more embarrassing travel claim after a stroll on the deck of a cruise ship went disastrously wrong. The poor gentlemen was chatting with friends when a strong gust of wind lifted his toupee off his head and blew it into the sea. He never got over the shame but at least his travel policy reimbursed the cost of his hairpiece.

5. It is all too easy to lose your sunglasses, or even your passport, on holiday. Less easy, you might think, to misplace 34 large bags of Bombay mix. Yet one holidaymaker claimed he had lost £300-worth of the spicy snack while in Europe. At roughly 89p for a 250g bag, the misplaced mix would have weighed a hefty 84 kilograms. Needless to say, his insurance company turned him down.

6. It is a good idea to keep your wallet secure at all times when you are away, as one careless Briton discovered to his cost in Israel. The holidaymaker accidentally dropped his wallet down a drain in Natanya. However, his claim wasn’t for his lost credit cards or cash. It was for hospital treatment after being stung by a poisonous scorpion while reaching down into the drain to get his possessions back. Thankfully, his travel insurance covered the cost of treatment.

7. A holidaymaker in Spain lost his camera after setting it down beside him on a park bench. The strap, hanging tantalisingly down over the edge of the seat, caught the attention of a passing dog, which grabbed it and ran off with the camera. His insurer paid for a new camera under accidental damage.

8. One family camping in a remote field in Wales had their peace disturbed when a parachutist from a nearby airbase missed his target and scored a direct hit, landing on their tent and destroying their camping equipment. Sadly, the family weren’t covered for accidental damage so their insurer didn’t reimburse them.

9. It’s every parent’s nightmare. Your children are playing on the beach and they think it would be fun to bury your camcorder worth £600. Thankfully, when this happened to a family in Cornwall, their insurer saw the funny side and refunded the cost.

10. Police in a holiday resort in France were on the lookout for a wrinkle-free burglar after a woman who had her cosmetics bag stolen from her hotel room admitted that she had transferred medical-strength haemorrhoid cream into an empty tub of moisturiser earlier in the holiday. Her claim for make-up, lotions and perfume was paid.

11. A holidaymaker who was refused entry to a plane at Manchester Airport had his travel-insurance claim for holiday cancellation declined after it emerged that he had actually booked a flight from Manchester, New Hampshire, USA.

12. Mis-reading your flight details is easy to do, usually necessitating a frantic rush to the departure gate. But one family that turned up late for their flight had no such panic. Their plane had departed the previous month. They were denied compensation from their travel insurer.

13. A holidaymaker who arrived in a ski resort only to find that there was not enough snow, claimed for the cost of the brand new skis she had bought before leaving the UK. Unsurprisingly, the insurer rejected her claim.

14. A man walking along the street in Greece became so transfixed by two bikini-clad girls that he walked straight into a glass-panelled bus shelter and broke his nose. He successfully claimed on his travel insurance for his hospital bills.

15. The fairytale wedding day for a British couple on a West Indian beach went up in smoke after the bride’s dress caught fire from a brick of coal that fell from the BBQ. The quick-thinking groom picked up his now blazing bride, ran along the beach and tossed her into the ocean. They were able to claim on their travel insurance policy for the ruined wedding outfits as they had taken out wedding cover before jetting off.

16. Another couple stayed in a Parisian hotel room infested with fleas. After two days of itching and scratching, the pair cut their trip short and returned home, where they hastily burnt all their clothes on a bonfire. However, their claims for replacement wardrobe were rejected.

17. A traveller who lost his bag on holiday claimed only for its contents: a bottle of water, a newspaper and a packet of mints. With an excess on his insurance policy of £50, his claim was rejected.

18. When you’re holidaying in the Black Forest, it’s not thieves that you need to watch out for. One family left the door to their chalet open and came home to find that their wallets and passports had been eaten by a greedy goat, who had also chomped through some sandwiches that had been sitting on the kitchen table. The family’s claim for cost of new passports and wallets was rejected.

19. Sometimes Dads don’t always know best. A resourceful father whisked his teenage daughter to a local hairdresser, after she frazzled her hair on the oven in their holiday apartment in Spain. The result was hardly the work of Mr Toni and Mr Guy, leaving the girl running in tears from the salon. The dad tried, but failed, to claim the cost of the disastrous haircut from his insurance policy.

20. A chilled-out traveller in Sri Lanka needed £400 worth of hospital treatment after a large, ripe coconut fell from a tree and landed squarely on her head while she was peacefully reading below. She was knocked out cold, which is hardly surprising. Fresh coconuts weigh roughly 2 kilograms, and the trees grow up to 30 metres tall. The coconut would have been falling at 53 miles per hour when it hit the poor woman on the skull. Her insurer covered her medical expenses.

21. Meanwhile Direct Line received a claim for two lost coconuts from a couple who returned home from a holiday in Mauritius. As a coconut costs just 69p (from your local Tesco), the claim was rejected. The couple’s excess on their policy meant they would have paid for the first £50 of the cost of any claim.

22. A customer submitted a claim for a “guitar made out of a pumpkin”. The slightly baffled staff at Direct Line were forced to reject the claim.

23. The clue was in neon lights above the door. A young party animal in Greece got badly burnt when she tried to order a cocktail in local hangout called “Fire Bar”. Ignoring the loud warning buzzer, and the disappearance of her fellow drinkers, she stood firmly at the bar waiting to be served when it suddenly became engulfed in flames. She received third degree burns to her hands, and successfully claimed £300 worth of medical expenses.

24. A British backpacker was chased down the street by an angry bull in Kerala, Southern India. It wasn’t clear from his claim whether he provoked the animal, but he did require £2,800 worth of hospital treatment after the attack, which was reimbursed by his travel insurer.

25. Finally, according to one long-serving insurance underwriter, there have been more Rolex Oyster watches, worth upwards of £1,000, recorded as lost in the Costa Del Sol in the Spain than have ever been manufactured.

Top Poisonous Foods We Love To Eat

Everyday we chow down on food produced from plants that carry deadly poisons. Most of the time we don’t need to be concerned with this as the mass production of fruit and vegetables ensures that we are usually safe, but from time to time people accidentally kill themselves by unwittingly eating the wrong part of a plant. In order to ensure that this never happens to you, I have put together a list of the most commonly seen poisons that we come in to contact with in our kitchens.

1 mushrooms Top Poisonous Foods We Love To Eat


We have all heard of toadstools – and know that they are poisonous, but what many people don’t know is that a toadstool is actually a mushroom, not a separate type of plant. Toadstool is slang for “poisonous mushroom”. While there are some useful signs that a mushroom is poisonous, they are not consistent and all mushrooms of unknown origin should be considered dangerous to eat. Some of the things you can look for to try to determine whether a mushroom is poisonous are: it should have a flat cap with no bumps, it should have pink or black gills (poisonous mushrooms often have white gills), and the gills should stay attached to the cap (not the stalk) if you pull it off. But remember, while this is generally true of many types of mushroom, it is not always true.

3 elderberry Top Poisonous Foods We Love To Eat


Elderberry trees are very attractive and quite large. They are covered with thousands of tiny flowers which have a delicate scent. The flowers are used mainly for making elderflower liqueur and soda. Sometimes the flowers are eaten after being battered and deep fried. But beneath the pretty surface lurks danger! The roots and some other parts of the elderberry tree are highly poisonous and will cause severe stomach problems. So next time you decide to pick some elderberry flowers for eating, be sure to eat just the flowers.

4 castor oil Top Poisonous Foods We Love To Eat

Castor Oil

Castor oil, the bane of many of our childhoods, is regularly added to candies, chocolate, and other foods. Furthermore, many people still consume a small amount daily or force it on their unwilling children. Fortunately the castor oil we buy is carefully prepared, because the castor bean is so deadly, that it takes just one bean to kill a human, and four to kill a horse. The poison is ricin, which is so toxic that workers who collect the seeds have strict safety guidelines to prevent accidental death. Despite this, many people working in the fields gathering the seeds suffer terrible side-effects.

5 almonds1 Top Poisonous Foods We Love To Eat


Almonds are one of the most useful and wonderful of seeds (it is not a nut as many people would have you believe). It has a unique taste and its excellent suitability for use in cooking have made it one of the most popular ingredients in pastry kitchens for centuries. The most flavorsome almonds are bitter almonds (as opposed to “sweet” almonds). They have the strongest scent and are the most popular in many countries. But there is one problem: they are full of cyanide. Before consumption, bitter almonds must be processed to remove the poison. Despite this requirement, some countries make the sale of bitter almonds illegal (New Zealand regretfully is one of them). As an alternative, you can use the pip from an apricot stone which has a similar flavor and poison content. Heating destroys the poison. In fact, you may not know that it is now illegal in the USA to sell raw almonds – all almonds sold are now heat-treated to remove traces of poison and bacteria.

6 cherries Top Poisonous Foods We Love To Eat


Cherries are a very popular fruit – used in cooking, liqueur production, or eaten raw. They are from the same family as plums, apricots, and peaches. All of the previously mentioned fruits contain highly poisonous compounds in their leaves and seeds. Almonds are also a member of this family but they are the only fruit which is harvested especially for its seeds. When the seeds of cherries are crushed, chewed, or even slightly injured, they produce prussic acid (hydrogen cyanide). Next time you are eating cherries, remember not to suck on or chew the pip.

7 apples Top Poisonous Foods We Love To Eat


Like the previous two items, apple seeds also contain cyanide – but obviously in much smaller doses. Apple seeds are very often eaten accidentally but you would need to chew and consume a fairly high number to get sick. There are not enough seeds in one apple to kill, but it is absolutely possible to eat enough to die. I recommend avoiding apple eating competitions! Incidentally, if you want to eat an apple and find a worm in it (and hopefully not half a worm), you can drop it in a bowl of salt water which will kill the worm.

8 rhubarb Top Poisonous Foods We Love To Eat


Rhubarb is a very underrated plant – it produces some of the nicest tasting puddings and is incredibly easy to grow at home. Rhubarb is something of a wonder plant – in addition to an unknown poison in its leaves, they also contain a corrosive acid. If you mix the leaves with water and soda, it becomes even more potent. The stems are edible (and incredibly tasty) and the roots have been used for over 5,000 years as a laxitive and poop-softener.

9 tomatoes Top Poisonous Foods We Love To Eat


First off, a little interesting trivia: in the US, thanks to a US Supreme Court decision in 1893, tomatoes are vegetables. In the rest of the world they are considered to be fruit (or more accurately, a berry). The reason for this decision was a tax on vegetables but not fruit. You may also be interested to know that technically, a tomato is an ovary. The leaves and stems of the tomato plant contain a chemical called “Glycoalkaloid” which causes extreme nervousness and stomach upsets. Despite this, they can be used in cooking to enhance flavor, but they must be removed before eating. Cooking in this way does not allow enough poison to seep out but can make a huge difference in taste. Finally, to enhance the flavor of tomatoes, sprinkle a little sugar on them. Now we just need to work out whether they are “toe-mah-toes” or “toe-may-toes”.

10 potatoes Top Poisonous Foods We Love To Eat


Potatoes have appeared in our history books since their introduction to Europe in the 16th century. Unfortunately they appear largely due to crop failure and severe famine, but they will be forever the central vegetable of most western families daily diet. Potatoes (like tomatoes) contain poison in the stems and leaves – and even in the potato itself if left to turn green (the green is due to a high concentration of the glycoalkaloid poison). Potato poisoning is rare, but it does happen from time to time. Death normally comes after a period of weakness and confusion, followed by a coma. The majority of cases of death by potato in the last fifty years in the USA have been the result of eating green potatoes or drinking potato leaf tea.


Spiders – Guide

Food and Water

Tarantulas mainly attack live prey but will occasionally accept a piece of raw fat free beef if it is dangled from a piece of string to simulate movement. Tarantulas gain a lot of nourishment from beef and even the largest spider will spend 24 hours consuming a piece. Their main prey, however, is small invertebrates such as crickets, moths and flies etc.

CRICKETS: These are probably the most widely used source of live food by keepers as they are nutritious and fairly easy to rear. The cricket container must be well ventilated as they are extremely susceptible to damp conditions. In the bottom of the container there should be some screwed-up newspaper and old egg cartons for the crickets to hide in. Food consists of fish pellets, dry dog biscuits or cereal – the better the diet of the crickets, the better the diet of the tarantula. Water should be provided by either using a shallow container with damp tissue paper or freshly cut potato which must be replaced daily. A temperature range between 20 – 30oC is ideal for breeding your own supply of crickets but they will survive at lower temperatures. If a large number of adult crickets is kept, breeding is a simple affair. Shallow containers should be filled with damp compost and placed in the container allowing females to deposit their eggs. These containers should be removed on a regular basis and placed preferably in a heated area. After a few weeks, the tiny micro crickets will emerge and these can then be housed in a smaller container. Water is essential for micro crickets as they are prone to desiccation. Repeating this process for a few months will result in a constant supply of crickets of varying size to suit the size of your spiders. A well kept cricket culture will last for many weeks and provide a highly beneficial food source.

FLIES: These are eagerly accepted by arboreal species as in their natural environment, flying insects would form a large part of their diet. The fly larvae (maggots) are commercially available from fishing bait stores and are relatively inexpensive. The maggots should then be placed in a large jar with a tight fitting ventilated lid and fed on a mash of dog biscuits. Eventually the maggots will pupate and then can either be put into a fly cage until emerging or be placed into a well ventilated box in the refrigerator – this allows their development to be slowed and they can be used when required. Different species of fly should be provided depending on the size of the tarantula. For example: blow flies (blue bottles) for large juveniles to adults and house flies and fruit flies for spiderlings.

MEALWORMS & WAXWORMS: These make a good additional food source. Care must be taken as they can sometimes burrow into the substrate if the spider doesn’t accept them immediately and may cause problems when the spider is moulting. Adult beetles and moths of these worms can also be used. Mealworms have a long shelf life but as they don’t contain much nutrition, they should only be used as a supplement to the usual cricket diet.

OTHER FOOD SOURCES: Defrosted newborn mice (pinkies), rats (fuzzies) and raw, fat-free meat can also be used but be aware that it is illegal in the UK to feed live mammals to your spider. Although not necessary, they can be useful for times when the spider needs additional nutrition (in preparation for egg laying etc). Sometimes placing the defrosted pinkie or meat in front of the spider is all that is needed, but some need to be stimulated before accepting the prey. This is easily achieved by threading the mouse etc. with a long piece of thread and trailing it in front of the spider. Once the spider accepts the prey, the thread must be removed as it can cause the spider problems around the fangs. Be aware that this food source will attract mites and phorid flies so all remains must be cleaned up thoroughly afterwards.

You can collect other insects from outdoors such as moths but it is best to keep them for at least 24 hours before feeding them to the spider. This is because a food source collected from the wild may have been in contact with pesticides which could harm your spider. Obviously bees, wasps and anything that can fight back should be avoided.


This depends on the individual. I offer one or two crickets to my tarantulas once a week but bear in mind that a hungry tarantula will take four or five crickets in one feeding so the amount offered should be according. Tarantulas can sometimes go through periods of fasting (when approaching a moult, for example) and this is especially true in adult specimens. It is not uncommon for a spider to stop feeding for several months but if it is plump and active, there is little cause for concern. Fresh water must always be available however, especially when the spider is in pre-moult.


The tarantula must have access to clean drinking water at all times. This can be provided using any shallow container. Lids from small jars or screw tops from bottles are adequate but the container must be left open so that the spider can drink freely. Do not use items such as tissue or cotton wool in the dish as these can cause problems for the tarantula. Place some pebbles in the dish to prevent any prey items from drowning and regular cleaning of the dish is important, to remove substrate and food remains etc. Having an open water dish in the tank also helps with humidity and although they can survive long periods without food, without water they will soon die. The container should be shallow enough for the spider to immerse its entire ‘chest’ in order to drink. Arboreal species prefer to drink from the tank walls so a weekly spray of the surrounding container is necessary. Always ensure that the water dish is topped up regularly as tarantulas may drink a surprising amount in one sitting.


Before you actually buy your tarantula, its permanent accommodation has to be prepared. This means that the correct environment has to be constructed depending upon the type of spider you wish to own. Some form of heating and a suitable food source have to be arranged and if the tarantula is to be arboreal, then the tank must be of the correct dimensions, arboreal tarantulas rarely visit the ground so a taller tank is preferable but terrestrial species need more floor area. Fossorial species require custom-made tanks that allow them to construct their deep burrows but, as a guide, a good container size for most tarantulas is 12″x12″x12″ but this size can vary according to the dimensions of the spider. A large species such as the Goliath Theraphosa blondi will need a larger area, nearer 24″x15″x12″ to be comfortable. Although the aquarium is the most suitable form of housing for a tarantula, there are a lot of alternatives which will suffice. Different sizes of plastic boxes can be used as well as sweet jars provided they are stood in a heated area. Two or three tarantulas can be housed in a large tank by using dividers, but make sure these are very secure to prevent one spider climbing over, or breaking through to the other compartments. Spiderlings should be housed in smaller containers relative to their size. Too large a container and the spiderling will have trouble finding it’s food and too small, growth rates may be restricted. Juveniles and sub-adults should also be housed in appropriate containers (see photos below for a more detailed view of container options).


Peat free compost: This is probably the most widely used substrate by tarantula keepers as it is the ideal medium for burrow construction. It holds water well helping to maintain humidity and is pleasing from an aesthetic point of view. This substrate can harbour mites and mould may be a problem but with regular housekeeping, this is minimised.

Vermiculite: Again, very popular as it is sterile, inorganic and light weight. Its high water holding capacity makes it ideal for the hot and humid environment of the spiders tank. Being inorganic, mites aren’t a problem. Tarantulas find it almost impossible to burrow into so this substrate should only be used in arboreal set ups or mixed 50/50 with compost.

Bark chips or cedar chips: These should be avoided as they promote mould growth and some types even give off fumes that may harm your tarantula. Spiders also find this substrate difficult to walk on so although aesthetically pleasing to the eye, this substrate isn’t much use.

Sand: Again, this should be avoided as it can soon turn messy and once damp, can be excessively heavy.


Most terrestrial tarantulas will burrow into the substrate but there is no evidence to suggest that they cannot survive without them. A retreat should be provided however, to allow the spider a place to hide and this can be either a piece of curved cork bark placed in one corner of the tank or half a flower pot resting on its side. Providing a deep substrate provides the perfect opportunity to observe burrow construction but the tarantula will remain hidden for most of the time. Arboreal species will eventually conceal themselves in a sock-like web between suitable objects so a piece of cork bark should be provided and placed vertically against the tank wall to act as a retreat (black card should be placed against the back of the container to restrict light as all tarantulas abhor bright light. Live plants should generally be avoided as they can fail to thrive without the correct lighting (tarantulas don’t require any form of special lighting) and more often than not, the spider will uproot these with it’s digging habits. On the other hand, tank decoration can be as elaborate as you wish. Large enclosures featuring waterfalls, special lighting and plastic or real plants make interesting displays too but remember that your spider may spend long periods hidden from view and cage maintenance will be higher.

The tarantula tank doesn’t need to be cleaned out every day but there will come a time when this needs to be done. The old substrate should be replaced and any decorations thoroughly cleaned. On a daily basis food remains must be removed as these will attract mites and mould. The total elimination of mites is impossible so the keeper shouldn’t worry until they reach infestation proportions. Mites will always be present in the hot and humid environment of the tank but with regular cleaning and maintaining a clean cricket culture should keep them under control. Tarantulas are generally clean animals and they will deposit their food remains (sometimes called a food bolus) and defecate in the same corner. The water dish should be cleaned and topped up regularly (see chapter on food and water requirements).

Why Keep tarantula as a pet
.Well, the good points definitely out weight the bad. A tarantula requires little attention, doesn’t need to be taken for walks, doesn’t make any noise, doesn’t smell or carry any diseases communicable to man or domestic livestock. They are long lived so give many years of pleasure and fascination.

A few points have to be taken into consideration before you purchase your first tarantula -whether you want an adult, sub adult, juvenile or spiderling and is it to be an arboreal (tree dwelling) or terrestrial (ground dwelling) species ?
There are many different tarantula species to choose from for the beginner and this section gives a description of the easier species to maintain. Arboreal species tend to be more brightly coloured of the two but terrestrial tarantulas usually make up for their less attractive appearance with a formidable leg span. All tarantulas are cannibalistic and will definitely attack each other so they must be either housed separately or in a securely divided tank.


Brachypelma smithi (red knee):

The abdomen is black with long reddish hairs as is the cephalothorax and tan hairs surround the carapace. The legs are also black with red and orange hairs on the “knees”. This species is the one everyone knows and wants and is now widely available as captive bred stock although its popularity may affect the price. A docile species which tolerates being handled.
Size: Up to 15 cms leg span and slow growing, maturing at around six years. Habitat: A terrestrial burrowing species from Mexico.

Brachypelma albopilosum (curly hair):

The basic overall colouration is brown/black with light brown hairs on the legs. These hairs have a definite curl, especially on the rear legs.
Size: Up to 15 cms leg span and quite docile. Habitat: A terrestrial burrowing species from the West Indies.

Brachypelma vagans (red rump):

The colour is uniform black with long red hairs covering the abdomen and the legs have pale lines running down their length. This species has been available as captive bred stock for many years and is one of the most attractive.
Size: Up to 15 cms leg span. Habitat: A terrestrial burrowing species from Mexico.

Grammostola rosea (Chile rose):

The basic colouration is rich brown with long reddish hairs on the legs. The carapace has a striking pink tinge. This species is very docile and considered the ideal beginners tarantula. Captive bred stock is readily available.
Size: Up to 15 cms leg span. Habitat: Terrestrial burrowing species from Chile.

Avicularia avicularia (pink toe):

This species is very attractive having a blue/green tinge to the carapace. All the legs are covered in dense black hairs and the “toes” have a distinct pink tip. Spiderlings and juveniles of this species are the complete opposite – having pink legs and black tipped toes.
Size: Up to 15 cms leg span. Habitat: An arboreal species from South America.

Psalmopoeus cambridgei (Trinidad chevron):

The adults are strikingly coloured with various shades of grey, olive green and brown. The legs are covered in dense hairs and there is a small rust-red patch on each toe. The abdomen has a dark median line with five bark bands projecting off. This is an ideal first arboreal tarantula – extremely fast growing (maturing in 12 months or so) and is very hardy, able to withstand some of the problems first encountered when beginning. Widely available as captive bred stock.
Size: Up to 15 cms leg span. Habitat: An arboreal species from Trinidad.

Whichever species you decide upon I recommend that it is purchased from a specialist breeder and supplier because this enables you of having a better chance of knowing more details about the spider (age, sex etc.) and captive bred stock should be bought to relieve the importation of wild specimens.

Secret Societies

For centuries, humans have been trying to keep information froscretsoc4 Secret Societies m other humans. Paradoxically, many have come to the conclusion that the best way to keep a secret is to tell it to a bunch of other people and then swear them all to secrecy.

When this effort is unsuccessful, we call the result a “secret society.” When the effort is successful, we don’t call the result anything, because we plebians never hear about the effort to begin with.

In short, the society part is easy. The secret part is hard.

Nevertheless, secret societies have become deeply embedded in the zeitgeist. In some cases, their secrets are so poorly kept that a quick run through Google will yield nearly anything you could possibly want to know. In other cases, the society manages to keep some of its secrets secret, but the group itself becomes known to a greater or lesser extent.

There are many different ways to structure a secret society, but there are a few specific models which recur fairly often. In order to qualify as a secret society, a group generally has to be based around initiation rituals, degrees of authority and dramatic oaths of silence. [Read more…]

How to Survive (Almost) Anything 14 Survival Skills

The tips assembled here will change the way you approach each and every day—and help you survive a particularly bad one.
by Laurence Gonzalessurvival 425 How to Survive (Almost) Anything 14 Survival Skills

1. Do the Next Right Thing

“Debriefings of survivors show repeatedly that they possess the capacity to break down the event they are faced with into small, manageable tasks,” writes John Leach, a psychology professor at Lancaster University who has conducted some of the only research on the mental, emotional, and psychological elements of survival. “Each step, each chunk must be as simple as possible…. Simple directed action is the key to regaining normal psychological functioning.” This approach can sometimes seem counterintuitive. And yet almost any organized action can help you recover the ability to think clearly and aid in your survival. For example, Pvt. Giles McCoy was aboard the U.S.S. Indianapolis when it was torpedoed and sank at the end of World War II, tossing some 900 men into the black of night and the shark-infested Pacific. McCoy, a young Marine, was sucked under the boat and nearly drowned. He surfaced into a two-inch-thick slick of fuel oil, which soaked his life vest and kept him from swimming—although he could see a life raft, he couldn’t reach it. So he tore off his vest and swam underwater, surfacing now and then, gasping, swallowing oil, and vomiting. After getting hoisted onto the raft, he saw a group of miserable young sailors covered in oil and retching. One was “so badly burned that the skin was stripped from his arms,” Doug Stanton writes in his gripping account of the event, In Harm’s Way. McCoy’s response to this horrific situation was telling. “He resolved to take action: He would clean his pistol.” Irrelevant as that task may sound, it was exactly the right thing to do: organized, directed action. He made each one of the sailors hold a piece of the pistol as he disassembled it. This began the process of letting him think clearly. Forcing your brain to think sequentially—in times of crisis and in day-to-day life—can quiet dangerous emotions. [Read more…]

Secret Archives of the Vatican

vaticansecret7 Secret Archives of the Vatican

You would think that the Vatican’s Secret Archives would be some dumb conspiracy theory. I mean, it sounds ridiculous. The Vatican’s Secret Archives. Let it roll off your tongue. Surely, we’re into serious conspiracy weirdness here.

Except, of course, that there really is such a thing. And it’s pretty much exactly what you think it is.

There are a lot of reasons for an organization like the Catholic Church to have Secret Archives. After all, they’ve been in the conspiracy business for millennia longer than Majestic-12. They’ve been in the disinformation business for about 18 times as long as Donald Rumsfeld has been alive. They were taking secret vows when the Masons were just a bunch of architects. And they have more to hide that Richard M. Nixon on his worst day.

The Catholic Church first officially started keeping a library around the fourth century. Formed at the height of the first great heresy craze, the contents of this library included a lot of attacks on heretical branches of Christianity and the documents and scriptures used by these heretical branches (which the Church fathers admitted to having read).

The entire contents of the pre-eighth century archives, presumably including all these fascinating heresies, mysteriously disappeared, according to the Vatican’s official account of the library’s history, “for reasons not entirely known.”

The library was strictly closed to the public until around the 15th century, when the church decided to open its contents for the masses. OK, not all of the contents. Starting in the fourth century, the Catholic Church, in a position of political power for the first time, had been ruthlessly suppressing what it saw as heresy: [Read more…]

Moscow Air Pollution

For the second year in a row Moscow has been the world’s most expensive city. After calculating the cost of housing, transportation, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment Moscow is 34.4 percent more expensive than New York. The Russian capital is choked with luxury cars, upscale construction projects and a new financial self-esteem. If Lenin had ever been buried he’d be rolling in his grave now.

Moscow Life by Alexander Petrenko Moscow Air Pollution

But all of the economic progress is coming at what cost? Over the past two years escalating numbers of vehicles on the roads put a stifling strain on the environment. Today Moscow has nearly 3,000,000 cars. Gray-brown noxious haze of smog covers the streets filled with jam-packed traffic, which blows out tons of unhealthy exhaust fumes of carbon monoxide and other harmful chemicals. Additionally there are 12 huge heat power stations, 53 district heating stations and 3,000 industrial enterprises still operating within the city borders. As a result concentrations of harmful substances often exceed maximum allowable by 10-20 times.

The level of air pollution varies from one neighborhood of the city to another. This accounts for the variability of child health levels. In the most severely polluted areas the prevalence of childhood bronchial asthma is much higher, and the cases of disharmonious physical development among children are more frequent.

Several government programs were designed to combat air pollution with a target to bring Moscow back down to EU standards by 2010. But those are just optimistic plans considering the severe present conditions

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