How Tortilla Chips are Made Science, Technology & Curiosity 29 AUG 2015

I’m quite fond of Doritos Tortilla chips, so seeing how these crunchy triangles of flavour are made is pretty satisfying.


If you are not familiar with them at all, then: “A tortilla chip is a snack food made from corn tortillas, which are cut into wedges and then fried—or baked (alternatively they may be discs pressed out of corn masa then fried or baked). Corn tortillas are made of corn, vegetable oil, salt and water.

Although first mass-produced in Los Angeles in the late 1940s, tortilla chips were always considered to be a Mexican food, known as totopos and tostadas. Though usually made of yellow corn, they can also be made of white, blue, or red corn. Some manufacturers include many other ingredients including wheat, sugar, and MSG.”

doritos tortilla chips cool ranch

Related Link: Youtube | Wikipedia

Silent but Violent: Why are Silent Farts worse than Loud Farts Science, Technology & Curiosity 28 AUG 2015

Although embarrassing, loud, explosive farts are generally not that big a problem to deal with. Oh no, it’s those faint, almost unheard ones which cause the most anguish and eye watering.

(And thanks to the AsapSCIENCE team of Mitchell Moffit and Gregory Brown, now we all know why!)

Ah, that… explains a lot then.

Bull Fart Sculpture by Chen Wenling

Related Link: AsapSCIENCE | Youtube

A Week of Chickenpox Quarantine My Life 27 AUG 2015

So Jessica got chickenpox. Luckily for us though (though they say it isn’t so serious in children anyway), very, very mildly. The rash of red bumps spread and did what they’re supposed to do, but thankfully caused no discomfort whatsoever for Jessica – who is pretty ‘kleinserig’ at the best of times!

IMG_20150824_092443 jessica at home during chickenpox quarantine

However, this did mean that she was forced to stay out of school for a week, no big deal because obviously I work from home most of the week anyway – however, the operative word here is ‘work’, meaning that poor Jessica had to entertain herself for five straight days – pretty difficult for a four year old to do!

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Whilst lots of fun in the beginning, the novelty of not going to school rapidly wore off for Jess – five days of movies, toys, puzzles, colouring in books and no friends to play with can become pretty boring, pretty quickly!

IMG_20150827_120949 jessica at home during chickenpox quarantine

Still, at least she was happy about the fact that she got to wear princess dresses all week long! ;)

(Emily might also have had it – possibly. But we base this entirely on a small patch of spots/bumps on her leg that didn’t spread nor go red. So not so sure about that one…)

Related Link: Chickenpox

Things to See in France: Le Palais Idéal (The Ideal Palace) Travel Attractions 26 AUG 2015

If you ever find yourself in Hauterives in southeastern France, chances are pretty good that you are there to see Le Palais Idéal (The Ideal Palace) – the culmination of 33 years worth of work of a single man.

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Ferdinand Cheval is reported to have said: “I was walking very fast when my foot caught on something that sent me stumbling a few meters away, I wanted to know the cause. In a dream I had built a palace, a castle or caves, I cannot express it well… I told no one about it for fear of being ridiculed and I felt ridiculous myself. Then fifteen years later, when I had almost forgotten my dream, when I wasn’t thinking of it at all, my foot reminded me of it. My foot tripped on a stone that almost made me fall. I wanted to know what it was… It was a stone of such a strange shape that I put it in my pocket to admire it at my ease. The next day, I went back to the same place. I found more stones, even more beautiful, I gathered them together on the spot and was overcome with delight… It’s a sandstone shaped by water and hardened by the power of time. It becomes as hard as pebbles. It represents a sculpture so strange that it is impossible for man to imitate, it represents any kind of animal, any kind of caricature.”

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Starting in April 1879, for the next thirty-three years, Ferdinand Cheval (1836-1924), a French postman, picked up stones during his daily mail round and carried them home to build his Palais idéal. He spent the first twenty years alone just building the outer walls! At first, he carried the stones in his pockets, then switched to a basket. Eventually, he used a wheelbarrow. He often worked at night, by the light of an oil lamp.

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The stones bound together with lime, mortar and cement, The Palais is a mix of different styles with inspirations from Christianity to Hinduism. It is as intricate as it is vast, and includes sculptures of exotic animals and mythical creatures, which were said to be inspired by the postcards he delivered.

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The Palace is regarded as an extraordinary example of naïve art architecture.

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Just before his death, Cheval began to receive some recognition from luminaries like André Breton and Pablo Picasso. His work is commemorated in an essay by Anaïs Nin. In 1932, the German artist Max Ernst created a collage titled The Postman Cheval. The work belongs to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection and is on display there. In 1958, Ado Kyrou made Le Palais idéal, a short film on Cheval’s palace.

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In 1969, André Malraux, the Minister of Culture, declared the Palais a cultural landmark and had it officially protected. In 1986 Cheval was put on a French postage stamp.

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Cheval also wanted to be buried in his palace. However, since that is illegal in France, he proceeded to spend eight more years building a mausoleum for himself in the Hauterives cemetery. He died on 19 August 1924, about a year after he had finished building it, and is buried there.

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Related Link: The Ideal Palace | Wikipedia | Eupedia

Pizza at Wild Clover (2015-08-23) Photo Gallery 25 AUG 2015

With Chantelle now back in the fold, last Sunday saw us braving the now overcast and slightly damp weather (a surprise given that Saturday was such a hot day) with a drive out to Wild Clover, a fantastic spot on a farm that features a indoor/outdoor restaurant, large kids play area, small farmyard, archery butts, model aircraft flying zone, farmer’s market, accommodation, wedding venue, and even a small brewery!

IMG_20150823_140652 chantelle and emily lotter at wild clover farm restaurant

We opted to sit under the roof with the gas heaters turned up high, while Jessica ran around outside and Emily busied herself playing in the drainage chips keeping the floor dry.

The atmosphere was good as always, the music pleasant, and pleasingly, the pizzas that we ordered were divine! (I had some of the local brewery’s ale as well – sadly though, I didn’t enjoy that quite so much).

IMG_20150823_134610 chantelle lotter at wild clover farm restaurant

Following a pleasant lunch, we strolled around the area for a bit, and were treated to quite a nice encounter with a pair of horses and their foal.

After the dad checked us out and made sure that we weren’t a threat, the mother and foal decided it okay to approach, and needless to say, Jess was quite thrilled at seeing these magnificent beasts up so close and personal!

(Plus, the foal was thoroughly entertaining, prancing and running around to its heart’s content!)

IMG_20150823_152925 horses drinking water at wild clover farm restaurant

Emily on the other hand wasn’t quite as thrilled with all this farmyard activity – especially when it came to the noisy (but oh so cute) piglets running around!

IMG_20150823_153154 chantelle lotter at wild clover farm restaurant

What a treat of a Sunday afternoon!

Related Link:

Root 44 and Burger King Ice-cream (2015-08-22) Photo Gallery 24 AUG 2015

It was girls and I again last weekend, so after we did all the chores (that involved riding around trying to source fridge lightbulbs and other odds and ends), I figured it a great idea to take advantage of the unusually warm weather and drive out towards Stellenbosch for a visit at the always super popular and busy Root 44 market at Audacia.

IMG_20150822_130504 jessica at root 44 market on audacia farm

As expected, the vibes were great, The Professors were creating some fantastic music up on stage, and Jessica and Emily enjoyed clambering about the sandpit and jungle gym.

Sadly for me though, Pure Pancakes continues to disappoint with its pancakes that leave that horrible dry, baking soda taste in your mouth once they’re done. Sigh, I really wish they’d fix their recipe! (Or at least copy Catje’s Pancakes of Blaauwklippen Market fame’s delicious recipe!)

Oh, and because I had dressed the girls for Winter and in the end it was more like Summer, I was ‘forced’ to stop for a quick ice-cream at our local Burger King in Somerset Mall – mainly because I wanted to see what their kids play area looks like…

IMG_20150822_141839 jessica eating ice-cream at burger king in somerset mall

Turns out Emily is rather fond of ice-cream…

And thanks to all that… stickiness, it was completely impossible for us to escape bath time come evening! :)

IMG_20150822_191602 emily and jessica lotter in the bath

A Slide for Emily My Life 23 AUG 2015

So despite the fact that I said no more plastic things for the kids following the earlier destruction of Jessica’s playhouse, I couldn’t exactly say no when Michelle Oosthuizen offered to pass on Logan’s slide to us for Emily (because they were taking over Zandea’s bigger slide).

Not that Emily would have let me say no mind you – judging by just how much fun she had it when it arrived home following our visit with Michelle and Logan to the Giraffe House and Wild Clover.

IMG_20150808_180455 emily enjoying her slide

Clambering up like all little girls do:

IMG_20150808_180442 emily clambering up her slide

Sliding down face first because when you’re this small, you fear no heights:

IMG_20150808_180610 emily sliding face first

Thankfully I had the foresight to plonk down some pillows on the tiles, because… faceplant!

IMG_20150808_180614 emily faceplant on her pillow from her slide

Surprisingly enough, Jessica isn’t even particularly jealous over this new addition to our house – she’s far more concerned with playing princess in her new blue princess dress that Chantelle bought for her from the princess shop in Willowbridge:

IMG_20150801_141012 jessica in her blue princess dress bought at willowbridge

So much excitement in the Lotter household – no wonder I tend to find them like this more often than not on our weekends out and about! :)

IMG_20150808_163809 jessica and emily asleep in their car seats

Things to See in Argentina: Floralis Generica Travel Attractions 22 AUG 2015

Argentina. Floralis Genérica is a sculpture made of steel and aluminum located in Plaza de las Naciones Unidas, Avenida Figueroa Alcorta, Buenos Aires, a gift to the city by the Argentine architect Eduardo Catalano. Created in 2002, the sculpture was designed to move, closing its petals in the evening and opening them in the morning.

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The sculpture is located in the center of a park of four acres of wooded boundaries, surrounded by paths that get closer and provide different perspectives of the monument, and placed above a reflecting pool, which apart from fulfilling its aesthetic function, protects it. It represents a large flower made of stainless steel with aluminum skeleton and reinforced concrete, which looks at the sky, extending to its six petals. It weighs eighteen tons and is 23 meters high.

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The enormous metal flower blooms anew each day in the aforementioned reflecting pool next to the National Museum of Fine Arts, revealing four long stamens inside. Its six 13-meter-long petals open, which takes about 20 minutes, at eight in the morning and slowly close again at sunset, mimicking the actions of a real flower.

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The constructed flower reflects the city around it in the aluminum of its petals. When the petals close at night, the flower glows red. On just four nights of the year, the petals of the Floralis Generica remain open: May 25, September 21, December 24, and 31, keeping Buenos Aires in bloom all night long.

According to Eduardo Catalano, the author, Floralis “means belonging to the flora and therefore the flowers”, and Genérica “from the concept of “gender” and indicates that it represents all the flowers in the world”.

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The electronics employed in opening and closing the flower were disabled in 2010 to prevent damaging the sculpture, and it remained permanently open until 2015. This was due to the fact that one of the petals was incorrectly installed during its assembly, as noted by Catalano himself. The company responsible for its construction, Lockheed Martin Aircraft Argentina, provided a 25-year warranty, but as the company was nationalized in 2009 its repair was delayed. The mechanism was functional again by June 2015.

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Related Link: Wikipedia | Atlas Obscura

Things to See in Czech Republic: Holy Trinity Column in Olomouc Travel Attractions 21 AUG 2015

The Holy Trinity Column in Olomouc is a Baroque monument in the Czech Republic, built in 1716–1754 in honour of God. The main purpose was a spectacular celebration of Catholic Church and faith, partly caused by feeling of gratitude for ending a plague, which struck Moravia (now in the Czech Republic) between 1714 and 1716. The column was also understood to be an expression of local patriotism, since all artists and master craftsmen working on this monument were Olomouc citizens, and almost all depicted saints were connected with the city of Olomouc in some way.

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It is the biggest Baroque sculptural group in the Czech Republic. In 2000 it was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List as “one of the most exceptional examples of the apogee of central European Baroque artistic expression”.

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At nearly 115-feet tall, the Holy Trinity Column is topped by a gilded sculpture of the Archangel Gabriel, with the Assumption of the Virgin resting beneath. Three tiers descend on all sides from the pillar, decorated with cartouches, reliefs of the 12 apostles, and 18 stone sculptures of major saints intermingling with Moravian favorites. The base of the column also houses an entire chapel.

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Unfortunately the Holy Trinity Column’s visionary architect creator, Wenzel Render, died not long after work began. A builder named Franz Thoneck took up Render’s mantle, only to die himself while working on the column. Then came Johann Wenzel Rokický, who passed away before its completion, as did Augustin Scholtz.

After claiming the lives of four master craftsman, a fifth man named Johann Ignaz Rokický was finally able to complete the divinely-inspired monument to perseverance in the face of Death… though not before the man in charge of gilding the Virgin Mary perched atop the column would fall irrecoverably ill from his contributions to the project.

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Related Link: Wikipedia | Atlas Obscura

Building up to Easter at Bossa Social Cafe (2015-04-03) Photo Gallery 20 AUG 2015

Oops, stumbled across another small set of photos that I completely neglected to post way back in April. I’ve already mentioned what a nice Easter we enjoyed this year, complete with excited Easter egg hunt and visit to the legendary Scratch Patch, but these photos were grabbed at the start of the long weekend, when we paid a family food visit to Bossa Social Cafe, a pretty hip and popular hangout spot in Somerset West that doubles as a pretty good place for families with kids to visit as well!

IMG_20150403_125133 chantelle lotter at bossa in somerset west

Big grass lawn, sandpit, two jungle gyms, and plenty of outdoor seating, means that Chantelle and I can laze behind some tall refreshing glasses of whatever tickles our fancy on the day, while the kids run wild.

In other words, highly recommended if you’re looking for something local that caters for kids, but isn’t exactly aimed at kids either!

(That said, Emily’s favourite part of Easter Weekend 2015 must have been the impromptu visit to Funky Frogs in Tygervalley for a play session – she had an absolute ball!)

(However, my favourite part of the weekend might just have been the special Easter cookies Chantelle surprised me with!)

IMG_20150402_083524 easter cookies

Kore: How to Solve Can’t Find Kodi Media Center on Windows 10 Tips, Tricks and Tutorials 19 AUG 2015

I’ve mentioned the official Kore Android remote control for Kodi media centers before, and it remains my favourite Kodi/XBMC remote by far!

I did however encounter a small problem.

I’ve moved things around a little, shifting the Kodibuntu linux box away from the TV and closer to the router so that a) it’s out of the way, and b) it gains from the better Ethernet connection. This simple old PC box hosts all of our media content, which is then shared via UPnP and Samba shares. I’ve installed Kodi on both Chantelle and my laptops (both are Windows 10), and set their movie and TV sources to the SMB shares. (Works a charm!)

Also, the two laptops and one desktop all have static IPs assigned through my ancient Mega 105WR Telkom router (you know, I really should get that upgraded some day…).

Anyway, the problem is that Kore can see the Kodibuntu box with no hassle, but not a chance can it spot either of the Windows 10 laptops on the network – which is exactly what this post is all about solving then!

eminence theme on kodi xbmc media center

Kodi and Kore require Zeroconf (aka Bonjour), a group of technologies to “automagically” discover systems and services on a local area network, to communicate with one another, and naturally (because Bonjour is an Apple implementation) Windows doesn’t have Zeroconf support out of the box.

Now some popular applications ship with it slipped in for their own purposes, and installing them should technically grant you access to Zeroconf on your system (like Skype, iTunes and Photoshop), but if you’re just looking for a basic, older version without the need to install yet another unused full application on your system, your best bet would be to download the small Bonjour Print Services for Windows v2.0.2 package from Apple.

Install that, ensure that the Zeroconf option is enabled under Kodi’s services/network menu option, and you should be good to go: Kore will now quite helpfully pick up your Kodi instances in its search!

Related Link: Kore | Kodi | Zeroconf | Bonjour Print Services

When Jessica Goes to Hospital… My Life 18 AUG 2015

Amazingly, given her history as a prem baby, and unlike Emily, Jessica has never been back to hospital for an illness-related matter.

However, that’s not to say she hasn’t been back to hospital. Having chipped her teeth as a toddler by falling on tiles whilst crawling (and being chased by a tickling daddy also on all fours), the combination of the sharp edges and her overbite meant that action needed to be taken, and as such it was finally off to the dentist for Chantelle and Jessica.

The decision was made to fix the teeth regardless of them being milk teeth, and as such, November 2014 saw Chantelle escorting Jessica to the Mediclinic Strand Hospital for the dental procedure to happen under anesthetic.

(Booked in at the hospital for medical aid purposes.)

jessica lotter getting her teeth fix at mediclinic strand hospital

The dental procedure was a success, Jessica seemed to rather enjoy her hospital trip, and at last the teeth were back to being as good as new.

Sadly though, that didn’t last very long, and after a couple more rounds of fix, chip, fix, chip, we’ve pretty much decided to wait and let the tooth fairy take charge on this one…

When Emily Goes to Hospital… My Life 17 AUG 2015

I never got around to posting this, but seeing as I came across the photos, I may as well put it up here. Back in May of this year Emily got particularly sick. A nasty virus (which I can no longer remember the name of) was doing the rounds, and it hit poor Emily hard, so much so that it became literally impossible for her to keep any food or fluids down.

It was more serious than what we could handle, and so after a trip to the doctor for diagnosis, Emily was immediately booked in for observation and drip feeding at Mediclinic Vergelegen Hospital.

IMG_20150516_133900 emily lotter in vergelegen hospital

Obviously, Chantelle opted to stay at hospital with her baby, leaving me and Jessica to fend for ourselves back home.

The end result?

Three days and two nights of extreme boredom for Chantelle, a slightly better (but at least out of danger) Emily, and a hospital bill of R9,500.

(And a slightly worried Jessica who couldn’t understand why Mommy and Emily weren’t home and why we had to drive over to visit them each and every evening after work/school!)

However, it was her later trip (in June) to the emergency room at Vergelegen’s Hospital that is far more embarrassing for me.

One evening I was playing roughly with Emily on our bed as I always do, when she decided that she had enough of her daddy’s relentless tickles and clambered off over the edge of the bed. However, in doing so, she grabbed at the blanket on her way down (we have a very high bed), and the result was her doing an awkward swing and landing on her bum.

It was immediately apparent that something had gone wrong, because it was tears, howling, and holding a very limp arm at her side, completely unable to lift it up in order to ask for a consoling hug like she always does.

Frantically I tried to figure out what was wrong, but eventually admitting defeat, I phoned Chantelle and told her to come home immediately, which she did, gave me a stern talking to, and then rushed Emily off to the emergency room at Vergelegen hospital.

Our suspicions were confirmed by the doctor on duty – definitely a pulled elbow (also known as Nursemaid’s elbow). He popped her little arm bone back into the socket/joint, and after a bit of an observation period (in which she was apparently very cute, marching up and down and interacting with everyone else in the emergency room), Chantelle and my baby girl returned home.

Oops. Needless to say, this wasn’t the proudest moment of my parenting journey!

How Gummy Bears are Made Science, Technology & Curiosity 16 AUG 2015

In case you skipped childhood and don’t know what a gummy bear is: “A gummy bear (which originated in Germany) is a small, fruit gum candy, similar to a jelly baby in some English-speaking countries. The candy is roughly 2 cm long and shaped in the form of a bear. The gummy bear is one of many gummies, popular gelatin-based candies sold in a variety of shapes and colors.”

Needless to say, as a kid, these things were awesome (and still are) to play with before gobbling up!

And now that we’re all grown up, it’s nice to know how gummy bears are actually made!

So, so much sugar.

pile of gummy bears

Related Link: Wikipedia | YouTube

How Stained Glass Patterns are Made Science, Technology & Curiosity 15 AUG 2015

I remember that my friend Terrance’s dad used to make beautiful stained glass patterns as a hobby, and although I doubt he still does to this day, the art of producing a stained glass piece remains something rather special.

The following video (from How Its Made) gives a great overview of the process of putting together a stained glass panel, showing how the pieces of glass are cut, combined with lead, and then soldered and finally puttied to leave us with the final product:

Clever. (Particularly that last part on how one adds shading to stained glass pieces!)

stained glass window created by Louis Comfort Tiffany in Arlington Street Church (Boston) depicting John the Baptist

Related Link: Youtube | Wikipedia