Tag Archives: chocolate

Writing prompt: The special box of chocolates

Time: 7 minutes. Click here to go to my list of prompts.

“The special box of chocolates” (author’s note: I am apparently a terrible Valentine. This was the less horrifying of the two prompts I wrote today. You were warned.)

We’ve come a long way with chocolates, I mused to myself, leaving the confectionary with a gleaming heart-shaped box full of truffles. I’d had the old versions, with just sugar and caffeine as their chemicals of action. They tasted nice, but it was a letdown compared to the modern thrills. I pulled out the guide on the walk home. The one with the ripple caused increased *ahem* blood flow, the one with the white stripe caused relaxation, the triangular one caused a sort of numbness that increased stamina… my favorite was certainly the square dark chocolate one that sort of made you feel like the other person, especially if they had one too. I slipped the guide back into the box, and grinned at the knowing leers as I walked.

My husband’s eyes flickered when I arrived home. “Ha, really John?”

“I get it every year, I know,” I said sheepishly. “But I so look forward to it.”

“I do too,” he said, wrapping his arms around me. For a bit, we needed no chemical excitement at all.

I stumbled out of the bedroom, feeling pleased with myself. But then I saw the beautiful box of chocolates, chewed and gnarled. The dog. Oh my god, he could be poisoned!

The dog, a great, powerful bulldog, came around the corner, and then I realized that poisoning might be the least of my issues. He snorted, and he looked me in the eye. I dashed out the door, half-naked, into February.

Fun Facts 76-100!

A few posts ago, I challenged myself to post 100 facts I found interesting, to celebrate the 100th post of my blog. It was rather hard to do this all for one blog post, so I stretched them across a couple posts. So here they are, the last 25! You can find the first 50 here, and facts 51-75 here.

It was a lot harder goal than I thought it would be, but it was also fun too. Probably it was extra challenging because in the mean time, I was preparing for a huge exam, finishing a novel draft, and on vacation. Now I’m through those, so no more excuses! 25 more facts!

 

76. Iodine is the heaviest element commonly needed by organisms with an atomic weight of 127. Iodine is added to table salt to help people get their daily amount of iodine. Consuming too little iodine can affect the thyroid gland; pregnant women who don’t consume enough iodine can give birth to less-intelligent babies.

77. Baseball player Hack Wilson holds the single season record for RBIs, with 160. His odd physique was considered notable; he had a barrel chest and tiny legs and odd facial features. Scientists now believe he had fetal alcohol syndrome, which results in distinctive facial features.

78. Water is an unusual compound in a number of ways. For one, its most common solid phase is less dense than its liquid phase, thus why ice floats in water. There are actually 15 phases of solid ice. The chart here shows a number of them.

79. Ice XI is found in some Antarctic ice. It’s actually thought to be more stable than regular ice, but it takes millennia to form.

80. A diamond isn’t forever. Solid carbon also comes in several structures, such as diamond, coal, and buckyballs. Diamond isn’t the most stable state at room temperature and pressure, and very, very slowly converts back to coal.

81. There are 109 species of tulips.

82. In the 1630s in Europe, speculation on tulips led to a bubble and then a collapse called the “tulip mania“. It is considered the first speculative bubble.

83. The Sognefjord in Norway is one of the longest and deepest fjords in the world (127 miles long, 4300 ft deep). This is deeper than the adjacent sea.

84. There are coral reefs at the bottom of some fjords, discovered as recently as the year 2000. This is why there is often rich fishing in the fjords.

85. The number of Norwegian descendants living in the United States is roughly equal to the current population of Norway.

86. There are fewer people living permanently in the fjord country of Norway today than there were in the mid 1800’s.

87. To some extent, you can tell when a person’s family emigrated from Norway based upon where they settled. The earliest settlements were in Illinois and Pennsylvania. Settlements then moved west to Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and North Dakota. (This will irrelevant to most readers, but interested me: Westby, WI is the second most Norwegian speaking town in the US, and Vernon county, WI is the 6th most Norwegian speaking county in the country.)

88. The earliest chemical evidence for the existence of beer dates back to 3500 BC, though it may have been produced as early as 9500 BC when the grains were first grown.

89. The first addition of hops (the agent which adds bitterness and also acts as a preservative) to beer was mentioned in the year 822. The India Pale Ale is known as a bitter beer because many hops were added for its journey from Britain to India. They preserved the beer and helped to conceal bad flavors too.

90. Lagers are produced by bottom-fermenting yeasts, while ales are produced by top-fermenting yeasts. Lagers also are fermented at lower temperatures. Bottom-fermenting yeasts are a relatively recent innovation, and lagers weren’t mass-produced until the mid 1800s. The world’s top-selling beers are now all lagers.

91. Hops are being investigated as possibly useful in hormone replacement treatments. They are currently used in preparations for treating menstrual cramps.

92. The Czech Republic drinks the most beer per capita of any country in the world. Beer in CZ can be bought for 28 Kr at a restaurant. The exchange rate today is 19.6 Kr to the US dollar, or $1.43 for a pint. The US is 12th per capita.

93. Cashews are a relative to poison ivy and poison sumac. The irritant is contained in the skin of the fruit. This is why they aren’t sold in their shells. People who are sensitive to poison ivy can react to contact with cashews or mangos, which are also related.

94. Coffee first arrived in Europe in the 1500s. In 1600, the pope declared it a “christian drink”, settling concerns of its Muslim origins. Some have speculated that the arrival of coffee in Europe brought about the Renaissance.

95. Finland drinks the most coffee per year, at over 12 kg of beans per person. Most of the top of the list is dominated by Scandinavian countries, doubtless to fight off the long winter nights. The US is way down at #26, with 4.2 kg per person per year.

96. The earliest recording of tea drinking was in China in 1000 BC. Tea first reached England in 1660, but it took awhile before it was an everyday drink.

97. The greatest per capita consumer of tea is Paraguay, at 11 kg per year per person. The US is way down at #70, consuming half a kilogram a year. I am doing my part to bring our average up.

98. Chocolate was cultivated at least as early as 1100 BC in central america. Most of it is produced now in West Africa, specifically Côte d’Ivoire.

99. White chocolate does in fact contain derivatives of the cocoa plant. In the US, it is required to have at least 20% cocoa butter by weight. Since it does not contain cocoa solids, it doesn’t contain caffeine.

100. There is a strong correlation between a country’s chocolate consumption and the number of Nobel prize winners it has. This result was published in the New England journal of medicine.

Thanks for reading! I hope you found the facts as interesting as I did to find them, but boy and I glad I’m done with them. =)

Valentine’s Thoughts

I never understood the fuss about Valentine’s Day. In elementary school, it was a day that ostracizing the odd kid was officially approved of in the form of who didn’t get valentines. As the kid who claimed to be a cat (and later an alien), that kid was me. It didn’t get me down. It instilled a sense that I was in charge of my own happiness every day of the year. Just as every day, I’d try to bear the knocks and celebrate the compliments. I try to do my best every day of the year. Some times I’m going to have a bad day. Perhaps as a practical pessimist, I don’t have use for a day that is awful unless it’s wonderful.

But let me celebrate what I do like about Valentine’s:

  • Chocolate: Seasonal candy makes every holiday better. Cadbury eggs and candy corn and Valentine’s truffle boxes on sale after the holidays are awesome. As a kid I used to go to the chocolate shop the day after every major holiday and score some 75% off candy. 
  • Flowers: Not so much purchasing them, because they get kind of ragged and expensive this time of year. More that they are popping out of the ground. Here the crocuses are erupting by the hundreds now. The daffodil greens are up. The lenten roses are blooming. The little spring snowflakes are out. The world is at last offering up its bouquets after the winter.
  • Hand-made valentines: I feel like a genius when I make valentines out of doilies and construction paper. I always think they look awesome, and they definitely look more awesome than the pre made ones. Years ago a good friend made me one and I think it made my decade.

Also, it’s finally February! Today the sun sets at 5:50 PM. Every day has an extra hour of better sunshine than this day last month. The world teases with little flowers. Soon the sun will come out and all the trees will bloom. Baseball returns! Soon we shall be wearing short sleeves again. 

Cheer to your Monday and Valentine’s Week!SONY DSC   SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC