Small Bulbous Cactus, Big Surprise


One and half year ago, I occasionally picked up a bulbous cactus, which was so small and no larger than half of a ping-pong ball. When I got home, I packed it in paper and conveniently put it aside. Then I totally forgot about it until two days later I saw it when tidying up a bit. I have never grown flowers or other plants. Therefore, I made a simple flowerpot by cutting a plastic bottle and filling it with soil and then planted this cactus.

At first, I doubted the viability of this cactus, which lately dispelled my suspicions and proved its doggedness. Although it didn’t grow large in a year, it gave me a so big surprise by blooming. I seldom see cactus that can bloom, never to mention a ping-pong-ball-sized cactus yet with so large flower, really a big surprise.

This life interlude reminds me of the lines in Forrest Gump, “Mama says life is a box of chocolate, you never know what you are gonna get”. “Miracles happen every day” if we are in love with life.


Houttuynia Cordata: One of Plants That You Would Hate or Love Imo Pectore the First Time You Eat It

H. cordata

Houttuynia cordata, or H. cordata, has a few Chinese names.

蕺菜: one of its traditional Chinese
岑草: H. cordata’s another traditional name recorded in an ancient Chinese historical book
折根草: one name that we cannot track its origin now
鱼腥草: the most common Chinese name of H. cordata; means fish smell grass translated literally, due to H. cordata’s smell of fish
猪鼻孔: means pig’s nostril, due to the shape of the H. cordata’s leaves

H. cordata has a queer taste. People either deeply fall in love with it or deeply hate it the first time they taste it. Many Chinese people may never have eaten H. cordata. However, they may take the H. cordata troche when they catch cold. In addition, H. cordata is widely used in making medicine and in traditional Chinese medicine. Besides its medical value, H. cordata is eaten by people in some places of China as a kind of vegetable.

H. cordata has a strong fishy smell. However, people in southwest area of China like to eat this weed and its root as everyday vegetable. To tell the truth, H. cordata tastes bad if not added other seasoning. Except the people in southwest China, people in other places of China would not eat H. cordata raw. People in other places would process H. cordata to remove its strange smell before eating it.

Until now, I still cannot understand why some people like the foods with strange smell, just like H. cordata. Maybe just different people have different tastes.

The smile of shark

Oceans Winner of Nature's Best 2008/Lemon Shark by Bruce Yates

In the summer of 2007, Bruce Yates, an amateur eco-shutterbug, was shooting lemon sharks on the Caribbean Sea. Among the photos, he found a lemon shark posing opening its mouth full of sharp teeth and smiling astutely. Smiling? Yes, I say the shark is smiling. We put aside the question that whether it is a real smiling expression or not, the shark really seems being smiling.

Let us pretend that the shark is smiling. However, why? It may be a little difficulty to answer. Even the gelotologists (the first time I see this world) haven’t reached a consensus on the laughable question that why people smile. You may be smiling now, however, being serious, there is really a study called gelotology, which is

a study of laughter and its effects on the body from a psychological and physiological perspective.

We sometimes simply think that we smile because of being happy. However, the truth about smiling is complex in fact.

Smiling without showing teeth was required for Chinese anicent women

In Chinese traditional culture, it was forbidden to grin and you should smile without showing your teeth. Accurately, this etiquette was only applicable to Chinese women. In fact, within the most mammals’ “languages”, showing teeth is the signal of terrifying or attacking. Wolf often shows its teeth before prey or enemies, which is the same as dog.

According to the research and observation on the babies, we humankind smiles for the first time about 3 to 4 months after our birth and we only smile to mom for the first time. The best way to make baby laugh big is to throw him/her up and then catch him/her. Why we cannot help laughing if someone tickles us? The truth is that the laugh is just the fear coming from the unfamiliar touch. You would not laugh if you tickle yourself unless you have a rich imagination.

Whether the animal can smile or not depends on how we define the smile. The zoologists have already found that large primates such as apes and monkeys have the similar reaction like the smile of human beings. The same as human beings, chimpanzees like to tickle the armpit and belly. Due to the different structure of vocal cord, the chimpanzee smile with different sound from human beings. If you really want to know what the chimpanzee’s laughter sounds like, you can listen to the laughter by Sheldon in the The Big Bang Theory. In addition, you may have heard your dog’s laugh and you didn’t realize it. Dog’s laughter just likes the stronger and faster breath.

In fact, the animals that can “smile” are more low-grade than we imagine, just like the mice, they would be addicted to tickling and do the rough-and-tumble play just like the children. However, we cannot hear the laughter of mice because it is ultrasonic wave.

Getting back to the shark above, we can be sure that its smile is just like the style of Obama’s ceremonial smile. It means that the expression of the shark is just like smiling. In addition, we are easily cheated by the animals with smiling appearance just like dolphin. Nature gives the dolphin a curved mouth which looks like a fixed smile, which make dolphin popular in human culture. However, the fact is that promiscuity and indiscriminately slaughter are common among dolphins.

Dolphin has a natural smiling expression

Basil: King of Herbs

Basil: King of the herb

Basil, once sacred and divine, is respectfully called as King of herbs. More than five thousand years ago, people began to grow basil in Persia, which was used as medicine or food. Basil was also used to prevent epidemic and sacrifice. Basil is sacred, but we can’t tell how does basil relate to the king.

Until Byzantine period in about sixth century, basil was recorded in the Christian literature and became the earliest herb growing on the cemetery of Jesus. Until now, basil is still indispensible in some sacraments of Orthodox Church.

As a kind of food,

Basil, originally from India, is best known as a culinary herb prominently featured in Italian cuisine, and also plays a major role in the Northeast Asian cuisine of Taiwan and the Southeast Asian cuisines of Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. Depending on the species and cultivar, the leaves may taste somewhat like anise, with a strong, pungent, often sweet smell.

Basil is indispensible in Italian food

In the literature of Han Dynasty of China, basil was recorded that it was coming from West Region and its Chinese name came from Sanskrit. However, it is still a riddle how basil reaches China in about two thousand years ago. In addition, basil has many other Chinese names.

Basil is also used in Chinese food