2017-11-27 (Monday)

Today, I learned that:

Last Thursday was celebrated Thanksgiving Day in the USA, when the Americans remember the pilgrims who escaped England in the 17th century for a better life on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean and how they in turn celebrated the first crop of their new fields. But do you know why they choose Cape Cod as their destination for the Mayflower? Well, they did not, their goal was to arrive in Virginia, where they had expectations of obtaining fertile land.

So, why did they disembark in the inhospitable Cape Cod? The answer can be found in a book that Susan Cheever published two years ago. The simple answer was that they had ran out of beer! That fact was only the first one about the American relation to alcoholic beverages. Others, such as the true story about the prohibition time in the decades of 1920 and 1930, can be found in this book. If you are interested in knowing more, hear an interview with the author on the Los Angeles based radio station KCRW, reference #1 below, read the critics published in Vogue, reference #2, and if that thrills you, buy the book and read more, e.g. from Amazon, reference #3.

Speaking about the day succeeding Thanksgiving, called Black Friday, and today, Cyber Monday, did you already suspect that when the stores announce hefty discounts, they have already raised the prices to be used as a base for calculating the discount, aka “fake prices”? Well, here is one proof that it is true. One of Brazil’s biggest newspapers, Folha de S. Paulo, compared the prices of 6.875 different objects at the end of October 2017 to those published for sale during Black Friday one month later. The results showed that all the 9 surveyed stores practised that bad “habit”, the worst one in 12 % of all cases surveyed. See the complete article (in Portuguese) in reference # 4 below.

Cape Cod, Old Harbor Life Saving Station at Sunset

Old Harbor U.S. Life Saving Station at Cape Cod, photo taken on 2011-12-18 by JCefaly


That’s what I learned in school !


1: Guest: Susan Cheever

2: In Drinking in America, Susan Cheever Puts the Bottle Back in the History Books

3: Drinking in America: Our Secret History

4: Comércio eleva desconto sem reduzir preço antes da Black Friday

*: What did you learn in school today ?

2017-10-23 (Monday)

Today, I learned that:

We were very lucky recently to catch the collision of two neutron stars, possibly forming a so called kilonova. It happened 130 million years ago. This kind of event typically happens less than once in a century, and if it had happened only one month later, then we would have missed its ripples completely! The reason for that is that the detector system will then undergo an upgrade which will result in a double precision in the measurements compared to the first generation.

Of course, this is all connected with the recent confirmation that gravitational waves, which were forecasted by Albert Einstein already in 1916, really exist. The first successful discovery was only announced in the beginning of 2016, and more about that event can be found in my post of 2016-02-12.

As you probably know, the Nobel Prize in Physics 2017 has been awarded to the three main scientists behind the detection of gravitational waves, and thus this recent event, which occurred on 2017-08-17 and was announced to the public on 2017-10-16, came at a very good time. You can read (and hear, if you understand Swedish) more about this fantastic event in references #1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 below. In reference #6 there is also an interesting discussion on how the heaviest materials in the universe are formed.


This illustration shows the hot, dense, expanding cloud of debris stripped from the neutron stars just before they collided. This cloud produces the kilonova’s visible and infrared light. Within this neutron-rich debris, large quantities of some of the universe’s heaviest elements were forged, including hundreds of Earth masses of gold and platinum. Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/CI Lab

You have surely heard about “fake news”, but what about “fake food”? Currently, there is a heavy discussion going on in São Paulo, where the mayor, João Doria Jr., has declared that he wants to introduce a low-grade flour called ‘farinata’ to increase the volume of the school lunch in the public schools. Reference #5 below, in Brazilian Portuguese, published by O Estado de S. Paulo last Friday, claims that it is not a bad thing from a nutritional point of view, although there are so called ‘experts’ who argue about that.

This reminds me of a habit in the Nordic countries some centuries ago. If the crop failed, the poor had no alternative than to shred the trees from their bark and grind the material into a powder which was then added to the flour. Of course that was a measure which only served as landfill in the stomachs, without taste and nutrition. Reference #6 discusses that topic in detail and in references #7 and 8 you can listen to a tune which deals with that subject, both sung by Monica Thörnell and in an instrumental version by Kebnekaise.

That’s what I learned in school !


1: Doomed Neutron Stars Create Blast of Light and Gravitational Waves

2: In a First, Gravitational Waves Linked to Neutron Star Crash

3: GW170817

4: Tracking down a kilonova: The story of how thousands of scientists decoded the year’s biggest discovery

5: Ny astronomi såg den enorma stjärnsmällen som gav guld

6: Thanks to the biggest discovery of the year we finally know where all the elements of the periodic table get made

7: Verdades sobre a farinata

8: Bark bread

9: Monica Thörnell – Barkbrödslåten, 1972

10: Kebnekaise – Barkbrödslåten, 1973

*: What did you learn in school today ?

2016-09-11 (Sunday / Dimanche)

Today, I learned that:

So many others are today writing about the distressing moments that happened on this day 15 and 43 years ago, that I would like to show a different side of humanity, culture in its broadest sense. How about calling it ‘les beaux arts’?

The first of those items comes from the culinary world. The other day, my wife wanted to have something fast, good and cheap for the evening meal. So she invented this variant of what the Italians name panini, a grilled sandwich which under other compositions can also be called croque monsieur, quesadilla, misto quente or beirute.

Since it really fulfills all those conditions she set up, I decided to call it Panino Colombo, I hope you can imagine why if you consult reference #1 below. This is how the final sandwich looks:


Voilá, ça c’est le Panino Colombo. Bon appétit!

This is what you need to make the sandwich. It is good for feeding 4 people and takes only 15 minutes to make:

  • 2 cups of wheat flour
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 3 soup spoons of oil
  • 1 dessert spoon of chemical yeast
  • salt according to your wish
  • tomato sauce, either your own or a ready one

Suggested ingredients for the topping, but you can choose whatever you like most and have at home:

  • mozzarella cheese
  • ham
  • oregano
  • basil

Put all ingredients in a bowl. Mix and knead everything well together, until it forms a smooth dough. See reference # 2 for all the succeeding steps. Bon appétit!

After having cared about the body, now let us concentrate on the soul. Thank you, Patricia, for giving me this great hint about a lovely subject.

The Art Institute of Chicago recently held an exhibition with original paintings by the great Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh. Of the total of 36 objects shown, there were especially three of them which were put in focus. The motif of all is the same, his bedroom in Arles. At first glance, they all look alike, but if you get closer, then you can see subtle changes in colors, lighting, texture, etc. All paintings were made within a time lapse of roughly one year, and the three originals are now spread out in museums in Amsterdam, Chicago, and Paris. Enjoy the paintings below and learn more about them and the artist in references #3 and 4, below.


These are all original paintings by Vincent van Gogh, painted in 1888 and 1889.

And while we are in Chicago, why not visit the gallery of local artist Daniel Cleary, a big admirer of van Gogh? You can see one of his works here, and more details about him and his art in reference # 5 below.


Excerpt from a drawing by the Chicago artist Daniel Cleary, undoubtedly inspired by both Vincent van Gogh and Henri Matisse.

And last, but not least, I dedicate this post to my friend Giulia on her birthday today, long may she live!

… That’s what I learned in school !


1: Uovo di Colombo

2: Panino Colombo

3: Van Gogh’s bedrooms

4: Vincent van Gogh

5: Daniel Cleary Fine Art Gallery

+: What did you learn in school today ?

2016-06-25 (Lördag)

Idag lärde jag mig, att:

Det finns ett bevingat uttryck om att alla har rätt till sina 15 minuter av berömdhet. Exakt varifrån det kommer är inte helt klart, men bl.a. sägs den amerikanske konstnären Andy Warhol ha varit inblandad.

I alla fall, just idag för exakt två år hade min tur kommit, och jag måste ha gjort något extra fint, för jag förärades med övertid, 16 minuter! Mitt under brinnande fotbolls-VM så blev jag intervjuad om mitt liv och situationen i Brasilien av Sveriges Radio Jämtland. Om du blev nyfiken nu, så kan du se mer och höra intervjun i referens nummer 1 nedan.

Här följer två foton från just fotbolls-VM 2014:

Copa 2014

En stor livmedels- och grönsaksmarknad i São Paulo hyllar de japanska och portugisiska landslagen under mästerskapet. Fotot togs 2014-06-09.

Costa Rica

Costas Ricas delegation tränade i Santos under VM. Denna bild, från 2014-06-20, togs på entrén till deras hotell.

Apropå mat, förmodligen blev det hel del igår, inte sant? I vilket fall som helst, här blir det ännu mer av den varan:

Tycker du om choklad, men är rädd för att få i dig för mycket fett om du äter den? Forskare vid Temple University i Philadelphia, PA, USA, har kommit på ett sätt att minska fettet i choklad med 10 … 20 % genom att under tillverkningsprocessen lägga på ett starkt elektriskt fält. Smaken sägs dessutom vara underbar och framhäva kakaons kvaliteter. Om allt går väl så kan sådan choklad dyka upp i affärerna redan om ett år. Mer om detta i referens nummer 2 nedan.

Men mat kan också inspirera snabbmatsleverantörer till unika reklamkampanjer. KFC (ex-Kentucky Fried Chicken) och Pizza Hut har under den senaste tiden haft dessa intressanta idéer, se också referenser 3-6 nedan, med videoklipp från kampanjerna:


Fyra intressanta matrelaterade kampanjer. I övre raden, från vänster till höger: Ett Bluetooth tangentbord som kommunicerar med en smartphone, från KFC i Tyskland; och Nagellack med kycklingsmak, från KFC i Hong Kong. I nedre raden, från vänster till höger: En kycklinglåda med inbyggd batteriladdare, från KFC i Indien; och slutligen En filmprojektor, från Pizza Hut i Hong Kong.

Slutligen, den kärva ekonomin, kombinerad med torrt väder, har lett till att en fundamental ingrediens i de brasilianska maträtterna, bönor, har försvunnit från mataffärernas hyllor. Detta föranledde följande teckning i Folha de S. Paulo:


“Men mamma, vart har bönorna tagit vägen ?” “Jag sålde dem för att kunna köpa middagsmat.” Teckning av Benett i Folha de S. Paulo, 2016-06-23

… Tack för idag, slut för idag!

(This all-Swedish post deals with an interview by Radio Sweden with yours truly during FIFA World Cup in 2014, and various items of food.)


1: Stefan Johansson berättar om livet som svensk brasilianare under VM

2: Chocolate makers cut fat with electricity

3: KFC’s Tray Typer keeps you clicking even with greasy fingers

4: KFC-flavored nail polish gives new meaning to ‘chicken fingers’

5: Charge your phone with KFC’s new take-out box

6: This pizza box doubles as a movie projector

+: What did you learn in school today ?