This month we tackle the deception of our eyes and brain (a dastardly duo), meet Adoorabears, celebrate No Diet Day, and dump a lot of data about stools.

The blue and green illusion

green jelly or yellow jellyANZAC Day was an intriguing day for me, quite apart from the commemorative part.

As I was making ANZAC biscuits, my girls asked for jelly and something intriguing happened out the corner of my eye.

I commented, ooh, green jelly and was quickly corrected by the rest of the household.

I challenged my accusers and was then shown the bowl of jelly sitting in the main bowl, rather than in the blue bowl and spoon my 2 year old was using.

Lo and behold, it was yellow jelly.

I shared the image on social network sites, leading my Google+ account to host a global debate with participants in Queensland, South Australia, the UK, Canada and the USA.

Opinions flew and the doubting Thomases were so obstinate I ended up sharing a picture of the jelly in the original bowl AND a video, showing the transition, to protect my honour!

What came out of that hullabaloo was a link to an incredible optical illusion that really gives you proof that you cannot trust your eyes without serious analysis.

The illusion I refer to is the green and blue illusion, which you can see here at Discover Magazine’s, Bad Astrology blog: The Green And Blue Illusion.

In essence, you see a large image with what appear to be pink, blue and green spirals, overlayed with some orange stripes.

What blows everyone away is the fact that the green and blue spirals are indeed the SAME colour.

You can see it via the link above to read more about the science behind this illusion but in essence, the main points are:

  • Spirals are patterns
  • Our brain has a habit of filling in the details when we see patterns
  • Our brain also determines colours by the colours of things around it

This is also why the jelly looked green to me when, in fact, it was a ‘yellow’ jelly in a blue environment, leading it to look green.

As the philosophical debate pointed out on my social networks that day, there is no such thing as ‘yellow’ jelly, only jelly that appears yellow against a white background in white balanced light.

Here is the video to show you what I mean:

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Adoorabears

Adoorabear hanging aroundIf you have ever raised children through their infancy, one of the fears you face as they become toddlers is jamming their fingers in closing doors.

The mere thought of it is enough to make grown people cringe.

Two women in the Northern Territory, Dyna Predebon and Leonie  Wheeler, have turned their minds to the problem and come up with something ingenious; Adoorabears.

The product is quite commonsense and simple, in hindsight.

They’ve created these white, cute, fluffy bears with slightly longer arms that have a hole in the hand area. This lets you hook one hand over each door handle with the body of the bear and its arms and legs, providing a cushion to stop a door closing.

They’ve been quite creative with benefits:

  • allow airflow into room
  • allow quiet and easy means of checking on baby
  • assist in quick intervention in case of house fire
  • enable easy access for arthritis sufferers
  • help prevent injury to little fingers
  • prevent accidental locking

And before you start thinking these mums must be mollycoddling types who protect their children from everything, take a look at their blog.

In one story, Dyna shares a story about 4WD Pramming.

After a bout of weather making mum and bub housebound for a few days, the weather broke so Dyna took Little L out for a stroll. They went down the paddock to see a mare close to having a foal. However, they were not alone. They encountered:

  • Half a dozen horses followed the pram, wondering if there was food in the pram
  • A cow that trotted over rather excitedly, possibly thinking Dyna was smuggling her calf in the pram. Luckily it stopped 10m away
  • A stampede of cows when the inquisitive mum turned back to her herd

Most of the posts contain babyproofing tips like one about doing a Crawl Tour of your house to see what dangers lurk at toddler level:

  • Small items that may be hiding under the sofa or underneath the cushions
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Perfume and mouthwash which contain high levels of alcohol
  • Unsafe plants

And the list goes on. You can read more at the Adoorabear Blog.

International No Diet Day

International no diet dayIn Darwin on Saturday, I went to a high tea put on by the Skin Deep Foundation to mark International No Diet Day (INDD).

The day is actually tomorrow, Monday, May 6, 2013.

The day is an annual celebration of body acceptance, including fat acceptance and body shape diversity.

However, it is not about pigging out on bad foods and to heck with the consequences (although the petite red velvet cupcake from the high tea was delicious).

Rather it is about reminding us all that the so-called ‘normal’ body shape and size the fashion industry promotes, simply does not exist.

It actually stresses that dieting is a very dangerous activity, likely to lead to unsafe weight loss, quick return of weight lost, and damaged self-esteem.

This day is  dedicated to promoting a healthy life style with a focus on health at any size, and is celebrated in the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, Israel, Denmark and Brazil.

The Skin Deep Project in Darwin, is a community group run by people who want us all to take a good look in the mirror and LOVE what we see.

Rachael from the project said the importance of being open about body image issues with people you trust is that it helps you feel better within yourself. And, I know, the better one’s self-esteem, the more likely we are to make better choices.

Potently, Jo, who ran the clothing and gift shop where the event was held, Viva La Body, shared a profound observation: at the end of some days she feels quite heavy, having watched some women leave fitting rooms obviously feeling down on themselves for not fitting the clothes.

Her message was to spin that around: you must realise it is simply that a piece of cloth was not cut right for you, that is all. When there are so many body types and sizes out there, we need to expect that the perfect fit is a rare thing.

So what’s on your menu tomorrow?

A stool by any other name

Bristol Stool ChartI innocently shared this observation on Facebook recently:

My 2yo has started asking to see her stools when we change her dirty nappies. My questions are:

1. Is this normal behaviour, a developmental phase?

2. Do you want me to share a picture too?

It sparked some interest and discussion among parents, many of whom were assuring me that the behaviour was normal.

However, I had one scientist in the conversation who could not help be share something I did not even know existed: The Bristol Stool Scale.

When you think about it, I suppose somebody has to study stools from a health and science perspective but I never imagined an illustrated scale.

Just like Richard Dawkins has a scale from fully atheist to fully religious, so too the Bristol scale goes from fully formed to completely liquid.

The Bristol stool scale is also called the Meyers scale and was developed by Dr Ken Heaton at the University of Bristol in the late 1990s.

The reasoning behind crafting this scale is that ‘the form of the stool is a useful surrogate measure of colon transit time’ – food moves through too quickly or slowly due to different conditions.

However, while the model is not completely well formed, probably rating somewhere near a 5, it is still used as a research tool in the fight against bowel disease.

The seven types of stool are:

  1. Separate hard lumps, like nuts (hard to pass)
  2. Sausage-shaped, but lumpy
  3. Like a sausage but with cracks on its surface
  4. Like a sausage or snake, smooth and soft
  5. Soft blobs with clear cut edges (passed easily)
  6. Fluffy pieces with ragged edges, a mushy stool
  7. Watery, no solid pieces. Entirely liquid

According to the scale, stools 1 and 2 are too hard and suggest constipation, 3 and 4 hit the sweet spot, particularly 4. At the other end, 5 and 6 contain too much liquid while 7 is right at the diarrhoea end of the spectrum.

You can click here to make the stool chart bigger, perhaps even print it out for your bathroom, then you can think of me and Sean every morning 😉

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