The exploding cucumber

by Rob on

As a Dutch sayings learns us, you’re never to old learn something new. And well, today I learned something new!

During the holiday on Lésvos (as the residents of Lesbos call their islands themselves) I made quite some photo’s. And among those a number of photo’s of plants that for some reason did draw my attention.

It took some time to find which plant it exactly. The plant growns along Mediterranean of South Europe and in the temperate areas of Asia. Well, maybe here the reason I never seen this plant before.

The Latin name is “Ecballium elaterium”. More commonly known as the “Exploding cucumber” or the “squirting cucumber” (or in Dutch know as “springkomkommer”, “spuitkomkommer” or “ezelskomkommer”). The plant is related to the family of the cucumber (Cucurbitaceae).

It gets its unusual name from the fact that, when ripe, it squirts a stream of mucilaginous liquid containing its seeds, which can be seen with the naked eye.

This plant, and especially its fruit, is poisonous, containing cucurbitacins. In the ancient world it was considered to be an abortifacient.

In my opinion it is very nice to learn this kind of things. To broaden your horizon as they say so nice.

I really can be amazed how people don’t see these kind of things. Some times I think that photography learns you look for details and special things.
And no, you don’t need a macro-objective to make these kind of pictures. Neither a tripod. Just patience, that is all what is needed.

(Credit photo’s: Rob)

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Call of Duty: Black Ops III

by Rob on

As many will know my niece Marissa and I are both into computer games. And mostly at least one evening per week we spent on playing online games. I from Heemskerk and she from the other side of the country. Long live the Internet!

This weekend Marissa is staying at my place, to talk, enjoy nice food and listen to good music.

But (and this is really coincidence) yesterday also a new game was released: Call of Duty, Black Ops III. If I didn’t had read my mail, I would have missed it (there was an announcement mail waiting in my mailbox). So I bought the Digital Deluxe version (including season pass). And I bought the same package for Marissa, so we can team up when she at her home again.

Call of Duty: Black Ops III takes place in a dystopian future set in 2065, 40 years after the events of Black Ops II. Several countries around the world have developed high-tech air defenses that render air assaults useless. As such, most of the warfare between countries is done by covert operatives fighting behind enemy lines. Science and technology have radically changed both the landscape as well as the future of the human race, with society violently protesting and attempting to halt further advancements touted by scientists as “progress”. Military technology has progressed to the point where robotics play a main role in combat, and supersoldiers have been developed to fight in the battlefield. Humans have reached the point where they are considered to be more machine than flesh and blood. As a result, there is speculation and fear about an eventual robotic takeover. The game follows a team of black ops soldiers, like previous installments in the Black Ops series, with supersoldier capabilities.
(Source: Wikipedia)

The game has 3 ways to play:

Campaign: The campaign tells, while you play, the background story of the game. Campaign is fun to play and a great way to learn how to play the game. in my opinion every online FPS (First Person Shooter) must have a good campaign. It adds a lot to the value of the game. As far as I can see now the campaign is huge and that is a good thing.
The campaign is available for solo and public playing.

Zombies: It is tradition that every Black Ops-game has a Zombie-game. In Zombies you have to fight waves of Zombie-attacks. Zombies is available as solo and public game. A great way to practice playing the game. I must say that they made really some effort with the Zombies of Call of Duty, black Ops III.

Multiplayer: This is were you really play against other players. And this will be where Marissa and I pull together as team and work together. With a little luck we can be as successful as we were/are in Titanfall. They added all kind of specialisations to multiplayer, but we first have to dive into that to see what it really is and if we like it.
Multiplayer comes is the normal modes as Team Deathmatch, Free-for-all (Deathmatch), Domination, Kill Confirmed, Capture the Flag and so on.

The graphics are good. I am happy they didn’t follow the graphics of Call of Duty Ghosts, which I didn’t like at all.

In the last year released game Titanfall they added something new. Until now jumping and climbing was mostly the only way to cover heights in a game. Titanfall added wallwalking to change that and people really loved it, so I am not surprised to see it also in this new game.

New weapons, new skills, new tactics and lot more new stuff is added to the game. I think Marissa and I will have lot of fun with it.

I heard problems with performance of the game. I must say that we haven’t noticed anything like that. The game runs fluently with no hiccups or lag.
The only problems I have seen until now is that one time the keyboard configurations didn’t save. Not nice, but really not a big issue.

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About Olives…

by Rob on

I can remember when I younger that I didn’t like olives at all. I really disliked the taste, but I guess it is with olives just as with wine… many people have to learn to appreciate them.

But as time passes by, new people come into your life and they bring new things with them along. And so it happened with Marion, she brought olives into my life (sounds dramatic, but that is how it is). At first I didn’t want to know anything about olives, but over time I started to use them when I prepared food. And now, I really love them.

During our holiday on Lesbos (or Lésvos are they people living there call their island) I learned a lot about olive trees, olives and olive oil…

First of all there many olive trees on Lésvos, around 11 million of them. Nowhere have people struggled so intently to cultivate the olive tree; and nowhere has the olive tree repaid this struggle so fully as in Lésvos. Some people say that the best Greek olive is the Kalamata. I dare to disagree with that.

On Lésvos you will find the Kolovi olive. Sure, the Kolovi olive is smaller and maybe looks a bit less as the Kalamata olive. But in taste the Kolovi olive beats all. Its taste is intense, strong and full. For me it is the best olive I have ever tasted and I prefer to use this olive in the food I prepare (or to eat them just as they are).

On the picture above the Kolovi olive, to the right the normal olive and to the left the dried ones. The olives I buy are with pits, because I learned that olives with the pit removed lose their taste. And it is very easy to remove a pit from an olive.

I also didn’t know that it takes at least 9 months for olives become eatable. During time they’re stored in barrels with water and sea salt (to use lye on olives is forbidden in Greece).

Fact: Green olives are really unripe olives. The darker black/blue one are the ripe olives.

And here the bad news: Rather often black olives are artificial colored. These “fake” black olives can easily be recognized by their unnatural solid black color – it looks like they’re stained with shoe polish. You’re warned!

Anyway, olives are great. And specially the Kolovi olive is truly my favorite.
Next year our friend Mel from Lesbos will take us to one of the oldest olive tree orchard on Lésvos. I am really looking forward to that.

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