amazing Peacock spider

Sometimes I become complacent and start to think nothing can amaze me anymore, until I stumble across images like those of the amazing tiny Peacock spider and some extremely good video footage showing the spider doing his “thing”. What is his thing? Well it’s a truly incredible display by male Peacock spiders designed to attract female Peacock spiders and lure them to mate. For the male, it’s a ritual that’s very dicey and if you watch the video to almost the finish you’ll see why.

_X8A6285 peacock spider Maratus speciosus

Two major things fascinate me about these spiders. First off, given they are found in my native country Australia and not in some remote (to me) wilderness, how is it this is the first time I’ve ever seen or heard of these colourful little guys? The answer is to be found in a couple of the related articles below. Secondly, how is it that the decor of their abdomen decorations bear striking resemblances to masks that could have been fashioned by some South American or African culture? (My second question is purely rhetorical, but the resemblance is weird nevertheless).

_MG_2945 (4) peacock spider Maratus volans

_MG_3961 peacock spider Maratus amabilis

These images and the video footage are the work of “Peacockspiderman”, aka Jurgen Otto. Jurgen’s work can be found on FaceBook, YouTube, and a great collection of Peacock spider images on Piccsr.

_MG_8696 peacock spider Maratus volans

Watch the video, and go cruise through Jurgens great images, you won’t be disappointed I assure you.

we successfully completed the design course

I’m happy to report that last December we both successfully completed the Coursera course from the University of Pennsylvania, “Design: Creation of Artifacts in Society”. We attained 96% and 97% overall grades and both agree that it was an enjoyable experience.

There were few technical hitches during the course, the lecture videos were of high quality and always seemed to load ok. There were some problems with the peer review process but our grades indicate these were ironed out.

Unfortunately I had to cancel my enrollment in the physics course, “How Things Work” as the start date has been put back to March which is not suitable for me.

I’d highly recommend a Coursera course and I’ll certainly be looking to take another in the future.

design certificate

design certificate


The Best City Time-Lapse Videos of 2012

Time Lapse Contraption

Time Lapse Contraption (Photo credit: garryknight)


Worth taking the time to view these time-lapse videos, they’re truly great!


Another year, another great batch of time-lapse videos with cities as their subject. Kuala Lumpur, Chicago, Toronto, and San Francisco are new to the ranks in 2012. The only repeat from 2011 is New York — though this year’s video focuses only on that part of Lower Manhattan where Hurricane Sandy made landfall. Here are this year’s five best, once again presented in no particular order.


The Best City Time-Lapse Videos of 2012 – Arts & Lifestyle – The Atlantic Cities.

the word from above

The word from above has been given, “Though shalt have a minimum two plants outside your house, or else”. By this time last Thursday that decree was to have been observed and it was amusing to watch the activities in our hem from Tuesday evening until late on Thursday as evaluations were done, observations made, doorbells rung, visitations visited, neighbours clucking, pots appearing, pots being shuffled, plants copping fertiliser, and so it went.

For us it made no difference cos we’ve had two plants outside our house for some time now…

word from above

For others who’ve been enthusiastic pot plant outside the front doorites it was a non-event…

word from above

Others made an effort…

word from above

Well, sort of an effort…

word from above

word from above

word from above

But some just haven’t got into the spirit of the whole thing at all…

word from above

christmas is upon us

Last night I realised I was hearing christmas carols playing from houses around the neighbourhood. They were in both English and Vietnamese, but of course the melodies are unmistakeable no matter what language the lyrics. Later in the evening while sitting at a small pavement style seafood place I even noticed the CD vendors are using christmas carols to broadcast their presence at warp 10 through junky speakers mounted on bicycles with cart attached. In yet another sign that christmas is upon us, decorations are going up here and there. I’m very impressed with the effort the people from this small house near ours have put in, this nativity scene is hand crafted from alfoil and to my untrained eye they’ve done a great job.

christmas is upon us

christmas is upon us

the bean store – on Vo Van Tan

There are so many new food/coffee shops opening around Vo Van Tan and Cao Thang Sts in District 3 these days that it’s hard to keep up with them. But in the interests of my stomach I keep trying to update constantly. The Bean Store is yet another new one, clean, quiet, sensible background music,nice decor, friendly staff, great menu, good food, reasonable prices, what more need I say?? Give it a try!

The Bean Shop

The Bean Shop

chocolat de vietnam

Somebody once said that you learn something new every day, and today I learned that Viet Nam is producing some first class chocolate, first class that is if you enjoy proper dark chocolate that doesn’t contain so much sugar that it becomes sickly sweet. It just so happens that I enjoy dark and slightly bitter chocolate and today I came across some chocolat de vietnam that makes my taste buds really happy.

This is a really high class product produced by Marou, just take a look at the detail that’s gone into the wrapping, it was shameful to mess with the beauty of it all. But… lets face it folks, it is all about the chocolat de vietnam waiting to be disrobed and feasted upon… am I right? Oooh la la, sexy chocolat!

The thing that took my eye with this brand of chocolat was the way that Marou promote the fact that it’s made wholly from produce grown in Viet Nam, but even more pleasant is the fact that they promote the styles of chocolat produced from different provinces close to Sai Gon. The map below borrowed from the Marou web site shows that chocolat de vietnam is available from Dong Nai, (the first style I’ve tried), Baria, Tien Giang, Ben Tre and Lam Dong.

Bliss, I have four styles yet to try. Where did I buy it you ask? Well… I bought this block at Mekong Merchant in An Phu, but it seems to be available worldwide.

[Click on a thumbnail to witness a shameless disrobing of chocolat de vietnam]