Monthly Archives: January 2014

Book trailer Call Off The Search

Book trailer Call Off The Search.

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Book trailer Call Off The Search

Synopsis: The planet Bhan. For millennia, humanity has persecuted the beautiful and mysterious human-looking comyentis with a deep set envy and hatred; burning their homes, driving them from their lands; murdering and enslaving them wherever they find them. From the outside they look so similar; however comyentis have powers that humans can only dream of.

Sula, one of the last of her great and noble line, has been fleeing for her life, living in hiding for too long. With not just her own life but her whole species’ cupped precariously within her hands Sula is running out of time…
As loneliness and alienation slowly engulfs her, a young attractive human steps forth and reaches out to her…

Should Sula, who is after all half human, trust him? Can she afford not to?

Read “Call off the search” and cling to Sula as she fights for everything she holds dear: her husband, her female lover, her child, her hopes and her freedom.

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January 30, 2014 · 6:25 pm

Really tasty vegan/vegetarian Chilli Con Carne with chocolate and Jalapeno Relish!

This yummy meal is tried out and tested by me and a big succes with many guests (also the non-vegan and vegetarian ones)

With thanks to chef and partner Martine Jackson who really gets all the credit for this! Made and eaten within an hour! Enjoy (-:

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Ingredients:

2 shallots chopped

1 medium onion chopped

1 red pepper – chopped

2 tins tomatoes

2 tins of black beans or kidney beans

½ tube of tomato puree

Pint of veggie stock

2 cloves of garlic – crushed

1/2tsp cumin

1/2tsp chilli powder

1/2tsp smoke paprika

1tsp all spice

1 star anise

2 bay leaves

1 chipotle chilli (deseeded, toasted and then soaked for 15 mins)

¼tsp cayenne pepper

Minced Quorn

2 pieces of 70% dark cholocate

Salt and pepper to season

To garnish

1 medium onion chopped

(Sour cream) non-vegan option

(Grated cheddar cheese) non-vegan option

Jalapeno chutney (2:1 ratio of pickled jalapeno chillies(2 cup)/Pickled gerkins(1 cup),1/4 raw onion,

splash of vermouth, 1 clove of garlic chopped, black pepper, dash of tabasco and blend with a hand

blender)

Method

Add some oil to a large heavy bottom frying pan. Once hot add the onions, shallots and peppers and

fry for 5 mins add the chopped garlic and all the dry spices and the chipotle chilli and fry for a further

few minutes. Add the quorn and stir for 2 minutes. Add the stock, tomatoes, tomato puree and the beans and get

to a simmer. Add the star anise, chocolate, salt & pepper and the bay leaves and continue to simmer

for 45 mins stirring occasionally. Once cooked allow to cool for 15 minutes for the flavours to mature

before serving.

Serve with Boiled rice or crackers, with a spoon full of raw chopped onions, a spoon full of jalapeno

relish, (some cheddar cheese and a spoon of sour cream if non-vegan). Enjoy!!!!

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The Supersenses Of Animals-List of geeky facts-ALL TRUE!

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Super Senses of Animals:

Eyesight: 

Birds of prey such as:

The Eagle and hawk can see details 4 times finer and in a broader vision. Some predator birds can see the ultraviolet range of colours. The hawk uses ultraviolet light to see urine tracks of mice and other animals– it glows in the UV range under sunlight. Also for navigation a hawk can still see the sun even if it’s behind a cloud. Bees can also do this!

Best mammal night vision – Cats

Cats have awesome night vision. This is because their pupils widen until they are large circles letting far more light into their eyes – nearly doubling their ability to see (and hunt) in darkness. Which is very bad news if you’re a mouse.  

Best all-round view – Grazing mammals

It pays grazing mammals, such as horses, gazelles and zebras, to remain vigilant at all times. Because if they don’t a predator will have a free meal ticket. When grazing with their heads down, if these animals had forward facing eyes like us, they would have a large blind spot which could cost them their life.  However eyes that face sideways give them an almost all-round view. And by feeding in herds and taking it in turns to look up, it makes it much harder for a predator to launch a surprise attack.

Goats and rabbits almost have 360 degree vision.

Mountain goats also can see about 8 times as far as humans so goats probably have the best overall vision

Best bird night vision – Owls

Despite their smaller size, owls have eyes almost as big as ours and their huge pupils capture lots of light. In fact, an owl could probably spot a mouse on a football pitch lit by a single candle. Secondly, like other birds, their brains can capture an ‘at a glance’ picture that a human eye would have to scan back and forth to understand. However because their forward-facing eyes are so big, they can’t move them. Which is why, like eagles, they can swivel their heads 270 degrees – allowing them a wide field of vision.

Best underwater vision – Sharks

Never play hide and seek with a shark because you’ll lose. They can detect a glow that is ten times dimmer than anything we are capable of seeing. But just in case that wasn’t good enough, sharks have special cells in their brains that detect electrical fields. These not only help them to navigate like a compass but allow them to detect the weak electrical fields given off by the merest twitch of a muscle. Meaning even a distant fish hiding deep underneath the sand will be found and eaten. Gulp!

Best thermal vision – Snakes

Temperature-sensitive organs located between the eyes and nostrils of pythons, boas and pit vipers allow these snakes to sense the body heat of their prey. There is one located on each side of the snakes’ head, so the animals can perceive depth and strike with deadly accuracy even in complete darkness.

THE X RAY MACHINE – THE MANTIS SHRIMP

Short of being able to see sounds, the aquatic mantis shrimp has an extraordinary wealth of vision that allows it to see pretty much everything that we can’t. It can see up to twelve primary colours (we have three), and can see both infa-red and ultraviolet light – types of light we as humans are only ever told about.  Even crazier, however, is the discovery that the shrimp can see light spirals that no other animal can – which may or may not give it a secret communicative device!

Best fire detector – The jewel beetle

Using an infra-red sensor under one its legs, this beetle can detect a fire over 50 miles away. Astonishingly, the beetle then chooses to fly towards it. This is because once the inferno has passed, the burnt tree trunks that remain offer a rare opportunity for the jewel beetle to mate and lay its eggs in a predator-free environment.

Best Smell:

On land: the bear (better than a dog)

In water: The shark (Two-thirds of a shark’s brain is dedicated to smell and it can detect the tiniest drop of blood from more than a mile away. Astonishingly even uninjured fish are not safe from a shark’s surveillance. A merely nervous fish emits chemicals to warn others. Unfortunately for them, these signals can be picked up by…yep, you’ve guessed it.)

Best ‘mate’ detection – The Moth

Imagine being able to sniff your future wife from 6-7 miles away. Well, that’s what a moth does using its feathery antennae.

Best detective – The dog (Bloodhound)

A bloodhound can stay on the trail of a person after several days, even if that person has walked through busy shopping centres and streets. Some dogs can even detect certain types of cancer and they do so with greater accuracy than state-of-the-art screening equipment.

Best bird sense of smell – The albatross. Most birds rely on keen eyesight and have a poor sense of smell. The albatross is one of the exceptions. This great bird spends its time hovering above the ocean on the look out for food. And to help it do this, it has an extra-large nose on top of its beak. This over-sized honk helps the albatross detect food floating on the sea, even when it is dark.

Aphrodisiacs: butterfly, musk deer musk ox, two-lined salamander who inserts a magical potion directly into the female’s bloodstream so that she surrenders herself. The male uses his head to nudge a potential mate, and encircles the female’s head with the front of his body. The male scratches the female’s skin with his teeth to possibly allow secretions from his mental glands to reach her bloodstream. It has been suggested that the secretions stimulate courtship behaviour in the female.

Taste:

Turbocharged taste buds – The catfish

A 6-inch catfish may have 250,000 taste buds. They cover its entire body inside and out including its fins, back, belly and tail – making it literally a swimming tongue. In comparison, we have around 10,000 taste buds. Understandably this makes them exceptional at detecting food. For instance, imagine being able to taste a single drop of coke in an Olympic size swimming pool. A catfish could. 

“I don’t like sweets” – The cat

They might be able to see, hear and smell better than us but when it comes to tasting sweetness – cats are left flummoxed. They have an inability to taste anything sweet which explains why they like more savoury treats such as meat.

Touch: 

On land:

Tapeworms: they use only touch to perceive the world.

 Most sensitive nose – The star nosed mole

This poor-sighted creature’s unique nose has almost six times more touch receptors than a human hand and it uses its nose more for feeling than smelling. As it makes its way down a tunnel, it sweeps its 22 fleshy tentacles back and forth with incredible speed touching 10-12 different objects per second. And as soon as a tasty worm is detected, it’s eaten within milliseconds.

Any animal that digs for a living or must live by night, such as the prairie dog or the Anteater, usually has a great sense of touch.

Woodpecker: uses its tongue to search for insects in the wood it has thrilled.

Penguins: must touch to survive. They love being touched by their parents but it’s also a way of bonding. Rats are the same, they are compulsive touchers.

In the water: Sea turtles enjoy having their shells lightly scratched, and they can feel an object as delicate as a twig moving across it.

Duck: its bill in the water is very sensitive to water vibrations.

Best earthquake detector – The catfish

Catfish are probably the most finely tuned creatures on earth. Unlike most fish, they don’t have scales and their smooth skin gives them a heightened sense of touch. In addition tiny hairs that run along the catfish’s side are very sensitive to vibrations. So much so, catfish are rumoured to be able to detect earthquakes days in advance. 

 Deadly vibrations – In the water: The crocodile & alligator

These deadly predators have 1000’s of tiny receptors – the size of the tip of a pencil -dotted mainly around their jaw line. These receptors enable them to sense the presence, movement and location of animals through vibrations in the water. For instance, they can pick up on the faintest change in their environment such as a when a wildebeest stops to take a drink.

 Vibrations on land: Crabs, ants, moles.

 Best ‘touch at a distance’ – The sea cow (Manatee)

This odd looking sea animal has the ability to ‘touch at a distance’ which means it can feel objects from relatively far away. It can do this because its entire body is covered in tactile hairs whereas most mammals only have facial whiskers. Collectively these hairs enable the manatee to detect a change in current, water temperature and even tidal forces.

 Best whiskers – Under water: The seal

On land: A Cat’s whiskers are incredibly sensitive and help it judge size and distance incredibly accurately. But a seal’s whiskers possess more nerve fibres per hair and are perhaps the most finely tuned whiskers in the animal kingdom. Using them, seals can track fish swimming 180 metres (591feet) away in even the murkiest of water.

Hearing:

Under water sounds can reach further than in air.

Dolphins can send out ultrasounds to ‘see’ past skin and muscles, the sound resonate in the bones, travelling up the spine. In water it’s 60 times more efficient than air (ultrasound resonance).

Whales, low pitched

On land: Bats: sending of sounds (echolocation).

Noctuid Moth, Owls. High pitched: Mice and low: Elephants

Sixth Sense:

THE PSYCHIC – THE PLATYPUS

While you might think of the dopey-looking platypus as something of an oddity and nothing more, it actually possesses a brilliant type of internal radar!  As it needs to shut down all of its main senses as it dives for food, its bizarre bill takes on an amazing power all of its own – an electro-sensory power that picks up on tiny electric movements.  This sixth-sense allows the Platypus to hunt with its eyes shut, and instead be led by its psychic beak!

Cold environment, staying warm: 

Something like 80 percent of the calories in food goes towards maintaining a mammal or bird’s body temperature at a constant level. (internally) so it pays off being in reptilemode (they can survive on 10 percent!) See survival skills.

The wood frog’s super abilities kick in without it even trying – and it still has scientists baffled to this day.  This minute Alaskan amphibian is able to withstand being frozen completely solid – and then thaw out again as if nothing had happened!  This unique ability sees the frog’s heart stop beating entirely – and to see it spring back to life from the deep freeze is nothing short of miraculous.  While other animals take time and effort to hibernate, this frog can sit back and let nature take its course.

Some fish have a special protein in their blood which acts like anti-freeze to help them survive very cold water temperatures. Arctic cod. 

Warm environment, keeping cool:

Sweating:

People do it, and so do horses. Sweating helps animals cool because drying sweat cools the skin. Some canines—members of the dog family—sweat from their feet as do cats, but that is not a large enough surface area to cool the whole animal.

Panting:

As we all know, our breath is hot—hot enough to make clouds in winter air. Many animals get rid of excess body heat by breathing rapidly—by panting. Almost everyone has seen dogs do this. Have you ever seen birds walking around in summer with their beaks open? They’re panting. Birds have an elaborate breathing system that includes air sacs in addition to lungs and that helps them get rid of excess heat by panting. Birds have a constant body temperature of 42 degrees, so they can be active in the winter also.

Radiating heat:

Elephants can radiate heat from their ears, which they hold out from their bodies; jackrabbits do the same thing with their long ears. Blood flow into the ears carries heat out of the body, and cooler blood re-enters the bloodstream, reducing the effects of heat.

Estivation:

This is the opposite of hibernation. Some animals, such as toads and snails of various species, will go into a state of dormancy (call it sleep, but it is much deeper than sleep) during hot weather, to avoid heat and drying; they may burrow underground, just like a hibernating ground squirrel (hibernation is a winter dormancy to escape cold and hunger). Probably the most famous estivators are the lungfish of Africa, Australia and South America, which burrow into the mud of drying lakes and create a cocoon of mucus for shelter; they revive when rains refill their lakes.

Sense of time, inner clock: most animals

Sense of direction/navigation, finding their way home through magnetic field of earth and build in magnet in brain: butterfly, turtles, tuna fish, mice and birds of migration. Pigeons use smell as guide to navigation.

Sense of temperature: Malleefowl (uses its bill to determine right temperature in its nest, constant 33 degrees)

Sense of weather: Bees they sense the electrical fields thunderstorms, lightning, build in barometer. Pressure in sky. Birds

Power of regeneration: Cats have another animal super power which is less well known. The power of regeneration and it’s all to do with their purr… A cat’s purr actually gives off a frequency of up to 150 hertz – jargon aside, this vibration has been proven to promote both healing and growth of bone matter!  It’s also said that purring can release endorphins, making a cat calm and content – though as a built-in self repair kit it’s amazing enough!

Octopus: can grow lost limbs back.

Run across water: green plumed basilisk  (a lizard).  The lizard will apply its feet to water with enough pressure and speed to create pockets of air between itself and the wet stuff – allowing it to speedily traverse across ponds and lakes.

 Survival techniques

*Long periods without water: Kangaroo for 3-5 years.

*Long periods without food: cold-blooded animals need less food.

Endothermic (warm-blooded) reptiles:The marine Iguana can survive on 10 percent of the nourishment that a mammal would require. Normal cold-blooded reptiles use the sun (external surroundings) to be active and are sluggish when it’s cold or at night.

Warm-blooded animals survive not only in waterless places, they manage to breed there too and can be active at night when the sun has disappeared and live of vegetation that would not keep a rabbit alive.

Lungfish can live without food for more than 4 years. Crocodile for 2 years.

Turbocharged taste buds to find food – The catfish

A 6-inch catfish may have 250,000 taste buds. They cover its entire body inside and out including its fins, back, belly and tail – making it literally a swimming tongue. In comparison, we have around 10,000 taste buds. Understandably this makes them exceptional at detecting food. For instance, imagine being able to taste a single drop of coke in an Olympic size swimming pool. A catfish could.

Staying warm: best insulating in the air: feathers(birds such as snow goose),

On land: polar bear (4,5 inches of fat under its skin and furcoat), muskus oxen(3-4 inches fur coat) sheep’s wool (hollow hair) which keeps them warm ad waterproof.

In water: fat called blubber seals and walrus( 2-3 inches of insulating fat)

Fish, Artic cod. Water and land: muskrat has a double layer of thick fur to stay warm in icy waters and cold air. The fluffy, inner coat traps warm air and keeps it close to the muskrat. The long, outer guard hairs are waterproof, so the muskrat stays warm and dry even when there’s ice in the water

Best Climber:

Leopard(trees and mountain), geckos, silky anteaters, big-horn sheep, mountain goats, koalas, black bears

Trees: Gibbon and Spider monkey are high level trapeze artists, moving through the rainforest treetops with consummate ease. It uses its tail as a fifth limb (?) so could a comyenti fool their bodies to do this?

Walls: Gecko‘s toes adhere to surfaces via dry adhesion, to allow them to stay firmly attached to a branch or even a flat wall.

Best Jumper: Bharal (blue sheep) live in the Himalayas and are one of the best jumpers among animals. They’re adapted to jump from cliff to cliff and hill to hill.

Chamois mountain goat. They climb and jump with great ease and have sharp eyes and a keen sense of smell. Jump 13 to 16 feet into the air. They seldom loose their footing or fall.

(Hares are one of fastest animals which have great ability to jump. They can run up to 72 km/hr, hard to get caught by predators.)

Tree Frogs can jump 150 times their own body length. They are 2nd longest jumping among animals compared to body size.

Flea: It is usually claimed that the best jumper in the world is the Flea. They are longest and highest jumper among animals compared to body size. Fleas can jump 220 times their own body length and 150 times their own body height. If we were to scale up a flea to our size it would be like us jumping nearly 400m in distance whilst jumping over a 250m high building! Now that’s a big jump! We would however break our legs!

Fastest known animal:

THE HUMMINGBIRD

It’s said that, relatively speaking, the tiny hummingbird is the fastest known animal on the planet – and at a flight speed of up to 60 miles per hour, it’s a wonder it doesn’t tire itself out. This may not sound fast compared to a peregrine falcon but in terms of body lengths covered per minute, this tiny bird which could fit easily into your hand, is in a class of its own.  Indeed it can cover over 9,000 body lengths per minute which is comparable, if not faster relatively speaking, than most jet planes. Perhaps even more astounding is that it has been estimated it can cover 500 miles before needing to refuel!

Fastest land animal: Sprinting:Cheetah can reach up to 60 miles an hour in under three seconds and reach 70-75 miles an hour. Endurance is limited: they can run for 60 seconds at a time. When sprinting they spend more time in the air than on the ground.

Endurance and long distances: The Pronghorn (a type of antelope) is the fastest animal over long distances. 35 miles an hour for 4 miles. 42 miles an hour for 1 mile. 55 miles an hour for 5 miles.

Biggest leap: Jackrabbit: 20 feet in one leap.

Fastest water animal: Billfish

Sailfish  (billfishes family) and swordfish 68 mph over short distances.

Black marlin  (billfishes family) 50mph.

They can cover great distances at 50 mph.

Brown trout can swim nearly 20 mph or stay motionless against the current.

In the air:

Fastest bird (gravity assited) Peregrine Falcon: When in its hunting dive, they stoop, it soars to a great height, then dives steeply at speeds of over 200 mph. Steep power-dive, free falling for hundreds of feet. However, it does not hold first place when travelling in level flight.

Fastest Migratory Bird:

In 2011 The great snipe was tracked from Sweden to central Africa, and found to fly non-stop over a distance of around 6,760 km (4,200 miles) at a 97 km/hr (60 mph). There may be other birds who are quicker, but are yet to be accurately tracked.

Fastest Level Flying bird:

The top of this list, the Spine-tailed swift, obviously gets its name ‘swift’ for being so fast. (106 mph)

Flying soundlessly without flapping: Giant albatross use the ocean’s currents and wind to glide on for long periods of time without flapping.

Griffons, vultures, use the warm air currents (rising air) caused by the sun on clear days to glide. It can cover tens of miles without flapping its wings. It can glide up quite high, usually found at 13.000 ft. to search for a dead animal. It has been seen at 37.000 ft (airplane). A mammal could not survive this for too long but birds have a different respiratory system. Oxygen is used much more efficiently.

Fastest insect: Horse-fly 90 miles an hour

Strongest animal:

Strongest relatively speaking – The rhinocerous beetle

In absolute terms, the African elephant is by far the strongest living animal but it can only lift 25% of its bodyweight. Unlike the mighty rhinocerous beetle who thinks nothing of carrying 850 times its own weight. To put that into perspective that would be like one of us lifting a 65 ton armoured tank

Ants: If you double the length of something, its surface area and cross section increase FOUR times. However its volume and weight go up EIGHT times. Okay, why is this a big deal?

Well, imagine a giant who was ten times taller, wider and deeper than yourself. Because of this simple rule of maths, this giant would be 1,000 times heavier. But because the giant’s legs are a 100 times bigger than yours, they’re only a 100 times stronger – far too weak to take the giant’s huge weight. He would simply topple over. Basically, due to this rule of maths, the bigger we get, the comparatively weaker we become. And this is why insects appear to lift such astonishing weights relative to their size.

Strongest arm wrestler – The gorilla

Whereas we have stronger muscles in our legs, gorillas have much larger muscles in their arms. They use their tremendous arm strength for bending and gathering foliage and, when called upon, for defence.  Based on conservative estimates, an adult gorilla’s upper body strength is around 4-6 times more powerful than that of an adult human – giving them probably enough power to bench press a couple of cars. In our book, that qualifies the gorilla for the super hero alias of Mr. Muscle

Toughest skin – The whale shark

The skin on the back of a whale shark is the thickest and toughest in the world and can be up to 6 inches (15cm) in thickness. The outer layer is covered in tiny tooth-like denticles. These denticles combined with ridges that run along its back make its skin pretty much harpoon and bullet proof. However it is still vulnerable to injury from passing boats.

Strongest air lift – The eagle

Some eagles such as the African crowned eagle can carry around 4 times its weight during flight.

Smartest animal: Elephants:

Their brain is more complex than ours with just as many neurons (compared with dolphins who have very few neurons), they have a deep emotional life and will bury their dead and stand over a body for days and days, they have been known to even bury dead human bodies, they are highly altruistic, they have the lowest birth-to-adult brain ratio indicating they are the animal with the lowest amount of instinctive behaviour and the most learning, they understand syntax, they live in families, they have proven self awareness, they are complex problem solvers and are complex tool users.
They are said to be “the beast which passeth all others in wit and mind.”
And “The Indian Elephant is Said Sometimes to Weep.” Charles Darwin. 

MR. UNCRUSHABLE  – THE HERO SHREW

When you’ve got the word ‘hero’ in your name, you’ve got some living up to do – and this tiny, seemingly unassuming rodent goes above and beyond the call of duty.

It has the strongest spine in the animal kingdom and its intricate interlocking nature gives the hero shrew’s skeleton a protective mechanism so strong – a grown man can stand on it and it will not be crushed!  While not completely indestructible, some tribes have previously worn dead shrews about themselves to promote invincibility!

THE DUPLICATOR – THE PLANARIAN FLATWORM

While not exactly immortal, the flatworm is probably as close as you’ll get to finding an animal that can fraction itself off into miniature versions of itself.  While regenerating super-animals like cats and octopuses can re-grow parts of themselves, this weird worm can be split in two and survive as two completely new creatures!  It can then be split again, and again, and again – though this process can’t last forever due to inevitable cell decay, it’s able to seamlessly regenerate thanks to an incredibly basic organ system.

 Weapons:

Stunning with electricity: Electric Eel is an electric fish, and the only species of the genus Electrophorus. It is capable of generating powerful electric shocks of up to 600 volts, which it uses for hunting and self-defense. Can kill a human being. When the eel locates its prey, the brain sends a signal through the nervous system to the electrocytes. This opens the ion channels, allowing sodium to flow through, reversing the polarity momentarily. By causing a sudden difference in electric potential, it generates an electric current in a manner similar to a battery, in which stacked plates each produce an electrical potential difference. In the electric eel, some 5,000 to 6,000 stacked electroplaques are capable of producing a shock at up to 500 volts and 1 ampere of current (500 watts). They need to recharge every 20-50 seconds. When agitated, they are capable of producing smaller voltages of 100 V, intermittent electrical shocks over a period of at least an hour without signs of fatigue.

Strongest bite: In water: Great White Shark

On and water: Saltwater Crocodile  

On land: Hyena great jaw strength

Most poisonous bite: Black Mamba snake with the most lethal bite and an alarming turn of speed (12mph so it could outrun a human). Can kill people.

Platypus has venom glands that feed poisonous spurs on its hind ankles. Its poison can paralyse a human.

Strongest claws: Tiger

Strongest arms: Gorilla

Best Defense: Tortoise their horny plates and below with bone to become a virtually impregnable box

Pangolin is an ant eater, no tooth, very long tongue. He’s got scales but soft belly so not as well protected as a turtle but it can shut its nostrils and ears with special muscles! It is now indifferent to insect bites.

 Tracking skills: wolf

 Longest living animal:

 Giant Tortoise: 255  years

 Best animal mind controllers:

 THE WALKING INCUBATOR – JEWEL WASPS AND COCKROACHES

The female jewel wasp is a true cowgirl – when she’s ready to lay her young she will hijack an innocent cockroach and inject poison into its brain to impair its thought processes and ability to move.  What then, you ask?  The wasp will lead the docile cockroach back by its antlers to her nest, where she will then lay an egg on the dawdling beast – before sealing the best away.  The egg will develop into a larvae that will eat the cockroach alive, eventually emerging from it as a developed wasp. Lovely.

THE PIED PIPER – TOXOPLASMA AND RATS

Like any good parasite, toxoplasma’s first host is never its ideal one.  This cunning mind-controller will infect a rat’s muscular system and its brain, where it will amazingly convince the whiskered host to go in search of cat urine – without knowing for why – and, naturally, the rat will be eaten, and the parasite will get new nutrients out of a new predatory host to start its life cycle!

Best animal memories

 FLIP A CARD – THE SEA LION

While many know sea lions as animals that can be taught balancing tricks, it’s only within the last few years that it’s been discovered that they have some of the strongest long-term memories in the animal kingdom.  One such creature, called Rio, was able to not only intelligently match a pair of picture cards, but also repeat the same trick ten years later – without having done the puzzle since!

 DEEP SEA SCHOLAR – THE OCTOPUS

The octopus is regarded as something of an aquatic Einstein – as it’s an expert problem solver.  This is mainly down to its incredible use of both short and long term memories (which the majority of animals aren’t blessed with), meaning that not only do they learn life skills and show great interest in learning new ones, but they are extremely gifted at getting out of a fix – they simply think logically about the situation, applying reason and previous experience!

BIG GREY MATTER – THE ELEPHANT

As the saying goes, an elephant never forgets – and believe it or not, there’s actually a fair bit of truth in that!  Research suggests that adult pachyderms are able to calculate and memorise the whereabouts of up to thirty of their family members purely by the smell of their urine!  This helps them stick together, and upholds their reputation for being animals that roam in large groups – as well as being amazing memory machines. They also recognise other elephants after having been apart for more than twenty years!

FOCUSED FELINE – THE CAT

Believe it or not, your pet cat is probably far better at focusing on short-term tasks than you’ll ever be.  Tests have proven that domesticated felines can perfectly recall their last ten minutes of history, even if they’re being distracted from something else.  Comparatively it’s unlikely any other animal can match this impressive span of self-awareness – it even outlasts a human’s.

PHOTOGRAPHIC PRIMATE – THE CHIMPANZEE

The chimpanzee in general is one of the world’s most intelligent creatures, and is one of the human race’s closest relatives.  Its brainy reputation stems from its innate ability to recall images from memory in very little time, which has been tested via number tests and counting puzzles run via computer screens.  Such photographic memory also allows chimps to be extraordinary quick at learning the visual cues in sign language – making them one of very few animals we can directly communicate with!

THE FLYING LIBRARIAN – CLARK’S NUTCRACKER

The Clark’s nutcracker is a common North American bird currently being studied due to its intensely powerful memory.  It stores nuts for the winter in thousands of places, and it is apparently able to exactly recall the location of up to 30,000 different nuts!  Evolution has allowed the nutcracker to depend on its flawless recall strategy to survive the harsher months, making it a popular resource in studying human memory diseases.

CLEVER COUSINS – THE RHESUS MONKEY

The rhesus monkey is a primate often used in different areas of scientific research and has been studied massively over the years – mainly due to both its incredible power of recall and emotional intelligence!  Unlike many animals that have to be conditioned or have to evolve to avoid repeating their mistakes, Rhesus Monkeys are among very few creatures in the world that can learn from past experiences, and as a result are amazingly self-aware – some having even shown suicidal tendencies.

MOTORMOUTH OR MOTORMIND?  – THE PARROT

Domesticated parrots are often stereotyped as being repeating machines, copying the speech of their owners and repeating it later on.  There’s actually a bit more to it than that – African grey parrots in particular have shown an amazing ability to not only remember and mimic speech and noise, but also to pick up on body language and use certain phrases to convey emotions!  It’s also possible to have a conversation with a parrot – but only if it’s been around people for a considerable amount of time.

 

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Books that inspired me as a writer and as a person Part 2, Tanith Lee

 

Tanith Lee

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Tanith Lee (born 19 September 1947) is a British writer of science fictionhorror and fantasy. She is the author of over 90 novels and 300 short stories, a children’s picture book (Animal Castle) and many poems. She also wrote two episodes of BBC science fiction series Blake’s 7.

She was the first woman to win the British Fantasy Award best novel award (also known as the August Derleth Award), for her book Death’s Master (1980).

She also writes under the pseudonym Esther Garber.

Her books are to be compared with those of C. L. Moore, Leigh Brackett, or Andre Norton. Marion Zimmer Bradley and Jack Vance.

Tanith Lee for me was an important early influence.

When I was about sixteen or so and desperately looking for good intelligent novels to read I was more than pleased I came across The Winterplayers in the local library.

This is a Young Adult Fantasy so it is safe to say this is the first real Fantasy I’ve ever read, even before I heard of C.S. Lewis and Tolkien. I’ve always loved fairytales, especially by the brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson, but felt they lacked something. Adult content? That’s where Miss Lee comes in. Even though this is suppose to be a young adult story it has the feeling and ‘complexity’ (which I think is a good thing) of an adult story.

The heroine in The Winterplayers is a priestess who protects three precious Relics. No one knows of them until one day a grey- haired young man comes, a steely- eyed stranger clad in a great wolf’s skin. He wants one of the Relics and stops at nothing to get it. When they are stolen, she has to follow the thief to try to retrieve them.

This story is breathtaking and the ending so cleverly done it leaves you in awe. I remember it’s the style I just loved in this book, the descriptions, the realistic characters but most of all the plot and ending as it involves time travel!

I was hooked from then on and started reading more of her books, but struggled to find them in my native language, Dutch. I’ve moved on to Cyrion, which is an anthology of short stories around one character which I enjoyed.

Another book which for me stands out and I enjoy re-reading every so often for it’s beauty and symbolism is The Birthgrave. This is a book of self discovery and inner strength and beauty of one person against the rest of the world.

I just love the opening line: “To wake, and not to know where, or who you are, not even to know what you are-whether a thing with legs and arms, or a beast, or a brain in the hull of a great fish-that is a strange awakening.”

The place: the heart of a rumbling volcano.
The person: a woman awakening from a deathlike sleep.
The time: unknown, far from today.
The problem: her identity. Who is she? What are her powers? Who or what is he? What is to be her relation to the world in which she finds herself … slave girl, goddess, nomad, or warrior?
Author Marion Zimmer Bradley, who wrote a special introduction, says, “It’s filled with adventure and beauty, rich alien names, half-sketched barbarian societies, ruined cities, decadence and wonder”; As I read this I thought most often of “The Dying Earth” stories of Jack Vance. THE BIRTHGRAVE has something of the same color and wonder… You can get involved, learn to know the people, get fully submerged in the colorful and fascinating world Tanith Lee presents. And I predict that when you, satisfied but regretful, turn over the last page, you too will wish there were more.”

By no means have I read all of her work and I personally am not too keen on her horror stories and stir away from those. For me her ‘Birthgrave Trilogy’ and ‘Tales Of Flat Earth’ series still stands out, but I’m still trying to catch up!

Bio

Tanith Lee was born on September 19, 1947 in London, England to professional dancers Bernard and Hylda Lee. Despite a persistent rumor, she is not the daughter of Bernard Lee (the actor who played “M” in the James Bond series films between 1962 and 1979). According to Lee, although her childhood was happy, she was the “traditional kid that got bullied,” and had to move around frequently due to her parents’ work. Although her family was poor, they maintained a large paperback collection, and Lee actively read weird fiction, including “Silken Swift” by Theodore Sturgeon and “Gabriel Ernest” by Saki, and discussed such literature as Hamlet and Dracula with her parents. Lee attended many different schools in childhood. She was incapable of reading due to a mild form of dyslexia which was diagnosed later in life, but when she was aged 8, her father taught her to read in about a month, and she began to write at the age of 9.

Education

Because Lee’s parents had to move for jobs, Lee attended numerous primary schools including CatfordGrammar School. Three subjects inspired Lee: English, history, and religion. After high school, Lee attended Croydon Art College for a year. Realizing that was not what she wanted to do, she dropped out and held a number of occupations: she has been a file clerk, waitress, shop assistant, and a librarian.

Career

Her first professional sale came from Eustace, a ninety-word vignette at the age of 21 in 1968. She worked various jobs such as file clerk and assistant librarian due to rejection of her works for almost a decade. 

Her first novel (for children) was The Dragon Hoard, published in 1971 by the publisher Macmillan. Many British publishers rejected The Birthgrave thus she wrote to DAW Books. Her career really took off with the acceptance in 1975 by Daw Books USA of her adult fantasy epic The Birthgrave – a mass-market paperback. Lee has since maintained a prolific output in popular genre writing. The Birthgrave allowed Lee to be a full-time writer and stop doing “stupid and soul-killing jobs.”

Major publishing companies are less accepting of Lee’s works today. The companies which Lee has worked with for numerous years are even refusing to look at her proposals. Smaller publishing companies are just doing a few of Lee’s works. The refusals do not stop her from writing and she has numerous novels and short stories which are just sitting in her cupboard. Mail from fans even asked if she was dead because no new Lee works had been released. Lee even tried changing her genre, but to no success.

Works

Lee’s prolific output spans a host of different genres, including adult fantasy, children’s fantasy, science fiction, horrorGothic horror, Gothic romance, and the historical novel. Her series of interconnected tales called The Flat-Earth Cycle, beginning with Night’s Master and Death’s Master, is similar in scope and breadth to Jack Vance‘s The Dying Earth. Night’s Master contains allegorical tales involving Azhrarn, a demonic prince who kidnaps and raises a beautiful boy and separates him from the sorrow of the real world. Eventually, the boy wants to know more about the earth, and asks to be returned, setting off a series of encounters between Azhrarn and the Earth’s people, some horrific, some positive. Later tales are loosely based on Babylonian mythology.

In the science fiction Four-BEE series, Lee explores youth culture and identity in a society which grants eternally young teenagers complete freedom. They are even killed and receive new bodies, gender and/or identity over and over again.

Lee has also dabbled in the historical novel with The Gods are Thirsty, set during the French Revolution.

A large part of her output is children’s fantasy, which has spanned her entire career from The Dragon Hoard in 1971 to the more recent The Claidi Journals containing Wolf TowerWolf StarWolf Queen and Wolf Wing in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Lee has been published in various imprints, particularly depending on whether she is offering adult fiction or children’s fantasy. Her earlier children’s fantasy novels were published in hardcover by MacMillan UK and subsequently printed as paperbacks in the US often by DAW, with occasional hardcovers by St. Martin’s Press. Some of her work was only printed in paperback, mainly in the US by DAW in the 1970s to the early 1980s. She has received some small press treatment, such as the Arkham House edition of short stories Dreams of Dark and Light: The Great Short Fiction of Tanith Lee in 1986, and in the first “Night Visions” instalment published by Dark Harvest. Some of her work has been released exclusively in the UK with US publications often pending.

Writing style

Lee’s style is frequently remarked upon for its use of rich poetic prose and striking imagery. Critics describe her style as weird, lush, vibrant, exotic, erotic, rich, elegant, perverse, and darkly beautiful. The technique she uses is very descriptive and poetic which works well with the themes she uses in her mythical stories. She has been praised for her ability to balance her weird style with the challenges of writing a faraway world, but some critics counter that her style is not always easy on the reader; she sometimes leaves the reader with unanswered questions that could have easily been answered if she had gone into greater detail.

Themes

Lee’s writing frequently feature nonconformist interpretations of fairy talesvampire storiesmyths, and the fantasy genre; as well as themes of feminism and sexuality. She also writes lesbian fiction under the pseudonym Esther Garber. Other than feminism and sexuality, Lee uses a wide range of other themes in her stories.

From 1975-80, she began writing gothic science fiction; her first gothic novel Sabella or The Bloodstone features themes of loneliness and fear. Lee’s most celebrated story Elle Est Trois, which examines the relationship between self-destruction and creativity “has themes of psychosis and sexuality, the subjugation of women, and the persuasive power of myth interwoven through it”. You will see myth again (along with race) in her stories The Storm Lord, Anackire, and The White Serpent

Three unique Horror series were produced by Lee in the 90’s; the first story, The Book of the Damned, features themes of body thievery and shape-shifting. Themes of Homophobiaracism, and sexism are seen in Lee’s sequence The Blood Opera, and The Venus Cycle features themes of love, loss, and revenge. Her collection “Disturbed By Her Song”, features themes of eroticism, despair, isolation, and the pressure of an unforgiving and unwelcoming society. These themes reoccur in her 1976 novel Don’t Bite the Sun where the characters are involved in a very erotic lifestyle and the protagonist experiences despair. 

Eroticism shows up again in her novel “Death’s Master” which examines the childhood origins of eroticism and the “later conflicts that arise from it”. The sequel to Don’t Bite the SunDrinking Sapphire Wine, is thematically similar to her other works, whereas it features themes of Death and renewal, sexuality, and love. The theme of recognition also appears in Drinking Sapphire Wine, where the characters are forced to recognize others and themselves in a world where physical form is so readily alterable.

 

Tanith Lee Quotes

 

“Are not all loves secretly the same? A hundred flowers sprung from a single root.”

TANITH LEE, Delirium’s Mistress

“People are always the start for me…animals. When I can get into their heads, gods, supernatural beings,immortals, the dead…these are all people to me.”

“For me, everyone I write of is real. I have little true say in what they want, what they do or end up as (or in). Their acts appal, enchant, disgust or astound me. Their ends fill me with retributive glee, or break my heart. I can only take credit (if I can even take credit for that) in reporting the scenario. This is not a disclaimer. Just a fact.”

TANITH LEE, Innsmouth Free Press interview, Nov. 17, 2009

“If you run away from trouble, it always follows.”

TANITH LEE, Wolf Tower

“The bitterness of joy lies in the knowledge that it cannot last. Nor should joy last beyond a certain season, for, after that season, even joy would become merely habit.”

TANITH LEE, Delusion’s Master

“How massively the mountains stand, while low to the ground the sand blows. The sand blows on and on. And then there are no mountains, none at all, the sand has kissed and whispered them away. And still, the sand blows on.”

TANITH LEE, Delirium’s Mistres

 

Bibliography

Works of Tanith Lee arranged by date of publication:

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New Novella Chained Freedom update

 

My upcoming novella has been sent to the first editor!

Release date: Febr/March. Stay tuned!

Synopsis:

“This is not a fairytale, but a true story,” storyteller Tana Woodwolf tells the audience.

One day she finds herself transported to a tower and from that day on is entrapped within the grasp of a cruel wizard.

She and the other prisoners don’t have a clue as to why they’re there. They wear no chains, there are no locks and the surrounding fields are enclosed by an invisible impenetrable wall no one has ever managed to break through.Added to that, people on a regular bases are dragged up the stairs by an invisible hand.

One day Tana hears a mysterious voice, “Look and be free…-You’ll have to let go of what you know.”

But how does she escape? Who does that voice belongs to that is trying to help her?Image

Read page-turning, ‘Chained Freedom’ and cling to Tana and her efforts to free herself and the others and won’t rest until she does.

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Yummy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip-pea Cookies (gluten free and vegan) made and eaten within 20 mins!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip-pea Cookies made and eaten within 20 minutes (-:

Prep time
5 mins
Cook time
10 mins
Eat time
5 minutes (depending on how many cookies you’ll eat)
Total time
20 mins
The secret ingredient to these grain-free chocolate chip cookies are chickpeas. They taste amazing! And chickpeas have great health benefits and are considered as one of your five a day!

Health Benefits of Chickpeas

  • Fiber Advantage and Weight Loss: Like other beans, Chickpeas, are rich in both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber. Soluble fiber forms a gel-like substance in the digestive tract that snares bile (which contains cholesterol) and ferries it out of the body. Research studies have shown that insoluble fiber not only helps to increase stool bulk and prevent constipation, but also helps prevent digestive disorders.
  • Protein for Vegetarians: Chickpeas are a good source of protein. Combined with a whole grain such as whole-wheat protein, they provide amount of protein comparable to that of meat or dairy foods without the high calories or saturated fats.
  • Manganese for Energy Production: Garbanzos are an excellent source of the trace mineral manganese, which is an essential cofactor in a number of enzymes important in energy production and antioxidant defenses. Just one cup of garbanzo beans supplies 84.5% of the daily value for this mineral.
  • Iron Boost: Garbanzos can boost your energy because of their high iron content. This is particularly important for menstruating women, pregnant or lactating women and growing children. Iron is an integral component of hemoglobin, which transports oxygen from the lungs to all body cells, and is part of key enzyme systems for energy production and metabolism.
  • Stabilizing Blood Sugar and Low Glycaemic Index (GI): Soluble fiber helps stabilize blood sugar levels. If you have insulin resistance, hypoglycemia or diabetes, beans like garbanzos can help you balance blood sugar levels while providing steady, slow-burning energy. They have low GI value of 28 – 32 means the carbohydrate in them is broken down and digested slowly. This is helpful for weight loss as it controls appetite.
  • Heart Healthy: Regular intake of Chickpeas can lower LDL (bad) and total cholesterol. Garbanzos contain the significant amounts of folate and magnesium. Folate lowers the levels of the amino acid, homocysteine and strengthens the blood vessels. Studies have found chickpeas lower the risk of heart attack
  • For Women: Garbanzo contain phytochemicals called saponins, which can act as antioxidants. It could lower the risk of breast cancer, protect against osteoporosis and minimizes hot flushes in post-menopausal women.
  • Weight Loss: Due to high fiber content and low GI, chickpeas are excellent for weight loss diets. Salad with chickpeas are tasty and can keep you full longer, controlling the appetite.
(updated recipe by Megan – The Gluten Free Vegan)
Recipe type: Cookies
Serves: 24 cookies
Ingredients
  • 1 x 19 oz can chickpeas, drained, rinsed and patted dry
  • ¾ cup natural peanut butter (see note)
  • ¼ cup maple syrup or agave nectar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of sea salt, optional
  • ¼ – ½ cup vegan chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In the work bowl of your food processor combine all ingredients except chocolate chips. Blend until completely smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed.
  3. Add in chocolate chips and pulse a few times.
  4. Drop by teaspoonfuls on prepared baking sheet. You don’t need to leave a lot of room between the cookies as they don’t spread out or rise up much at all.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for about 5 – 10 minutes before removing from baking sheet.
  6. Cookies can be eaten when warm and can be frozen.

Note: I used fresh ground peanut butter which has very little oil (like none, basically) and no salt. If your natural peanut butter has a lot of oil you may only need 1/2 cup of peanut butter. Start with less and add more by the tablespoonful as needed. If your peanut butter is salted you may omit the pinch of sea salt.

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