For anyone curious about COL in different cities – I found this neat tool that compares it in selected cities around the world (no southern European ones though 😔). I do disagree with it comparing mean salaries instead of median ones – median salaries are much closer to “typical salaries”, as they’re more resilient against being thrown out by crazy outliers. To put it this way: half a dozen billionaires in a given city doesn’t make the minimum wage any higher. That said, just ignore the “income” numbers and you still get interesting info on costs of housing, utilities, groceries etc. around the world.

🐈 So, Gidget loves hot weather. Give her a heatwave and she has the time of her life, snoozing outside in temperatures of 36°, 38°, even 40°C. (That’s 97–104°F for the Americans.) I was remarking on this to my family and my sister mentioned that cats’ thermoneutral zone (i.e. the temperature range where the body doesn’t have to expend any extra energy maintaining the right body temperature) is much higher than humans’, at around 32°C (compared to humans’ 21°C, so long as you wear clothes!). This stunned me so much I had to look it up, but yup, it’s true: this veterinary researcher vouches that cats’ thermoneutral zone is around 30–38°C. Suddenly, all cats’ wintertime behaviour makes sense: obsessively seeking out sunbeams, sleeping on humans’ laps, or curling up as close to the heater as they can possibly get… (one of my childhood cats even managed to singe her whiskers this way, and wound up with a Salvador Dalí moustache for a few months). Of course, I’m not going to crank my household heating up to cater to this (I found one page, clearly written by a cat, which suggested keeping your house a toasty 30°C at a minimum at all times), but it’s a good thing to be aware of. If nothing else, it means I can quit worrying about her welfare just because she’s gone out on a scorching hot day.

Ever read Harry Potter and found yourself longing for the delicious-sounding beverage Butterbeer? Well have I got good news for you: this YouTube video walks you through making it, from an old Elizabethan recipe. Nothing like that creamy soda crap at Universal Studios, either.

Here’s an interesting map of what’s considered the first day of the week in different countries. FWIW I wasn’t sure what it’d say for Australia – in unofficial use I’ve seen both, like calendars usually start with Sunday while weekly planners usually start with Monday. My own personal instinct has the week starting on Monday, so that’s how I set up all my devices, but my partner feels like it starts on Sunday (and likes to tease me some Saturdays by going, “next week…” when what he really means is, “tomorrow…”).

photo of Jessica Smith is a left-wing feminist who loves animals, books, gaming, and cooking; she’s also very interested in linguistics, history, technology and society. See her homepage here.