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11 Non-Rose Flower Bouquets For Valentine’s Day

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Valentine's Day is just around the corner. Skip the red roses and try these unusual flower arrangements instead.

1. Holly and Tarragon

John Chofee / Sharon M Leon

If you really want to surprise your significant other—and have a ring in mind—try a batch of holly, which means you’re offering your beau a lifetime of domestic happiness, and mix it in with some tarragon—this means you have a lasting interest, and you’re sure to impress.

2. Tuberose

Carolyn Jewel

If you want to be passionate without that special someone thinking you’re head over heels in love, be sure to send over a fresh bouquet of tuberose, which signifies that you’re down for some pleasure.

3. Striped Flowers

Renee Silverman

If you’re getting paired up with your friend’s ugly cousin or acting as wingman or woman for your roomie, be sly and classy and show up with a bouquet of striped flowers, which means “thanks, but no thanks.”

4. Amaryllis

Dwight Sipler

Have a drama queen on your hands and you’re just not sure you want to continue the relationship? Gather up a batch of Amaryllis and tie it together with a black bow for what is sure to spell out “dramatic.”

5. Yarrow

John Flanery

What happens if your love is in the hospital or gets the flu on the most romantic day of the year? OK, you should probably him/her some roses, but mix in a few yarrow flowers, which signify good health as well.

6. Cumin and Passion Flowers

Herbolario Allium / Andre Zehetbauer

You and your partner have been embracing the free love spirit of the '60s, but now you're finally ready to commit. Let that person know with a bouquet of cumin and passion flowers, which means you’re not only passionate about that person, but ready to stay faithful.

7. Nasturtium and Thyme

Catie K / Klearchos-kapoutsis

For the patriot in your life, send a bundle of nasturtium flowers along with some ginger to show you are proud of him/her. Make sure to add a dash of thyme, which means courageous and full of strength.

8. Tansy


Someone dump you on Valentine’s Day? Send the jerk a nice batch of tansy, a less psychotic way to show you are having hostile thoughts than a voodoo doll filled with pins.

9. Dill and Stephanotis

Emilian Robert Vicol

Help ward off that dark cloud following your loved one with a batch of dill that’s powerful against evil. Add some good luck-bringing stephanotis flowers for good measure.

10. Lavendar


Has your significant other been running around on you and he/she doesn’t know you know yet? Surprise your double-crosser with a lonely vase of lavender outside their front door, which should fill the guilty party in on your distrust (and perhaps a link to this article so they can figure it out).

11. Heliotrope and Violets

Les Serres Fortier / ThinkStock

And if on the day of romance your heart is filled with magical love and desire, let your heart be known with a giant bouquet of heliotrope and violets, which signify your eternal love and fidelity.

Meanings compiled from the Society of American Florists and the Old Farmer’s Almanac online.

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
May 21, 2017
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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva

Jacques Mattheij made a small, but awesome, mistake. He went on eBay one evening and bid on a bunch of bulk LEGO brick auctions, then went to sleep. Upon waking, he discovered that he was the high bidder on many, and was now the proud owner of two tons of LEGO bricks. (This is about 4400 pounds.) He wrote, "[L]esson 1: if you win almost all bids you are bidding too high."

Mattheij had noticed that bulk, unsorted bricks sell for something like €10/kilogram, whereas sets are roughly €40/kg and rare parts go for up to €100/kg. Much of the value of the bricks is in their sorting. If he could reduce the entropy of these bins of unsorted bricks, he could make a tidy profit. While many people do this work by hand, the problem is enormous—just the kind of challenge for a computer. Mattheij writes:

There are 38000+ shapes and there are 100+ possible shades of color (you can roughly tell how old someone is by asking them what lego colors they remember from their youth).

In the following months, Mattheij built a proof-of-concept sorting system using, of course, LEGO. He broke the problem down into a series of sub-problems (including "feeding LEGO reliably from a hopper is surprisingly hard," one of those facts of nature that will stymie even the best system design). After tinkering with the prototype at length, he expanded the system to a surprisingly complex system of conveyer belts (powered by a home treadmill), various pieces of cabinetry, and "copious quantities of crazy glue."

Here's a video showing the current system running at low speed:

The key part of the system was running the bricks past a camera paired with a computer running a neural net-based image classifier. That allows the computer (when sufficiently trained on brick images) to recognize bricks and thus categorize them by color, shape, or other parameters. Remember that as bricks pass by, they can be in any orientation, can be dirty, can even be stuck to other pieces. So having a flexible software system is key to recognizing—in a fraction of a second—what a given brick is, in order to sort it out. When a match is found, a jet of compressed air pops the piece off the conveyer belt and into a waiting bin.

After much experimentation, Mattheij rewrote the software (several times in fact) to accomplish a variety of basic tasks. At its core, the system takes images from a webcam and feeds them to a neural network to do the classification. Of course, the neural net needs to be "trained" by showing it lots of images, and telling it what those images represent. Mattheij's breakthrough was allowing the machine to effectively train itself, with guidance: Running pieces through allows the system to take its own photos, make a guess, and build on that guess. As long as Mattheij corrects the incorrect guesses, he ends up with a decent (and self-reinforcing) corpus of training data. As the machine continues running, it can rack up more training, allowing it to recognize a broad variety of pieces on the fly.

Here's another video, focusing on how the pieces move on conveyer belts (running at slow speed so puny humans can follow). You can also see the air jets in action:

In an email interview, Mattheij told Mental Floss that the system currently sorts LEGO bricks into more than 50 categories. It can also be run in a color-sorting mode to bin the parts across 12 color groups. (Thus at present you'd likely do a two-pass sort on the bricks: once for shape, then a separate pass for color.) He continues to refine the system, with a focus on making its recognition abilities faster. At some point down the line, he plans to make the software portion open source. You're on your own as far as building conveyer belts, bins, and so forth.

Check out Mattheij's writeup in two parts for more information. It starts with an overview of the story, followed up with a deep dive on the software. He's also tweeting about the project (among other things). And if you look around a bit, you'll find bulk LEGO brick auctions online—it's definitely a thing!

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Nick Briggs/Comic Relief
What Happened to Jamie and Aurelia From Love Actually?
May 26, 2017
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Nick Briggs/Comic Relief

Fans of the romantic-comedy Love Actually recently got a bonus reunion in the form of Red Nose Day Actually, a short charity special that gave audiences a peek at where their favorite characters ended up almost 15 years later.

One of the most improbable pairings from the original film was between Jamie (Colin Firth) and Aurelia (Lúcia Moniz), who fell in love despite almost no shared vocabulary. Jamie is English, and Aurelia is Portuguese, and they know just enough of each other’s native tongues for Jamie to propose and Aurelia to accept.

A decade and a half on, they have both improved their knowledge of each other’s languages—if not perfectly, in Jamie’s case. But apparently, their love is much stronger than his grasp on Portuguese grammar, because they’ve got three bilingual kids and another on the way. (And still enjoy having important romantic moments in the car.)

In 2015, Love Actually script editor Emma Freud revealed via Twitter what happened between Karen and Harry (Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman, who passed away last year). Most of the other couples get happy endings in the short—even if Hugh Grant's character hasn't gotten any better at dancing.

[h/t TV Guide]