Jun 24, 2016

Happy Friday

It is easy to say no. Saying yes takes much more courage.

Yes, indeed, Enjoy a Happy Friday!

Wordology, Red Tape

The practice of referring to “excessive bureaucratic rigmarole” as red tape dates back more than 400 years to the court of the Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain, Charles V, 1500-1558, heir to three of Europe’s most powerful dynasties (Habsburg, Valois-Burgundy, and Trast├ímara).

At the time, administrative documents were bound in some fashion, either with rope, string, ribbon, or cloth. During the early 16th century, in order to distinguish the most important documents that required immediate discussion at the highest levels of government from those of less significance, Charles’ ministers began tying important papers together with red string or red ribbon.

Seeing the efficacy of such a system, the method was soon adopted across Europe, and England’s Henry VIII used red string, ribbon, or cloth to secure the petitions he sent to Pope Clement VII requesting annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon in 1527.

The term 'red tape', in reference to this string for important papers dates back to the late 17th century where it was written in Maryland Laws: “The Map . . . upon the Backside thereof sealed with his Excellency’s Seal at Arms on a Red Cross with Red Tape.”

The Oxford English Dictionary dates its current meaning to 1736 and John Hervey’s Poetical Epistle to the Queen: “Let Wilmington, with grave, contracted brow, Red tape and wisdom at the Council show.”

Energy Drink Ingredients

Here are some of the most common energy drink ingredients, and where they rate on usefulness and safety. I covered energy drinks this before, but this offers more detail.

Ginseng is used most commonly in Chinese medicine. Ginseng is an herb that has been used traditionally to treat numerous ailments. It is generally thought to boost immunity and improve overall health. Research does not conclusively back up these claims, but short-term use is thought to be safe.

Taurine is an amino acid found in protein, meat, fish, and breast milk. It helps us maintain neurological function and regulate fluid levels. There are some claims that taking a taurine supplement can improve athletic performance, but not much data exists on its efficacy or its safety as either a supplement or energy drink ingredient.

Guarana is an herb that is often used as a stimulant in teas, either added or naturally occurring. Its major component is caffeine. It has been associated with increased energy and enhancement of physical performance.

Ginko biloba is another herb, added to supposedly increase alertness. It has been used medicinally for thousands of years, according to the Mayo Clinic, and research supports its use for some medical conditions including dementia, anxiety, and schizophrenia. For other uses, evidence is lacking or mixed.

Carnitine is naturally produced by our bodies and is a substance that is used to turn fat into energy. You can also buy it as a supplement, and it claims to boost exercise performance.

Some studies suggest carnitine may be promising in treating various health problems, like certain heart conditions, kidney disease, and hyperthyroidism, but in all cases, more research needs to be done.

Dial-up Internet

According to a study from the Pew Foundation, only 3% of U.S. households went online via a dial-up connection in 2013. Thirteen years before that, only 3% had broadband.

World's Fastest Computer

The Sunway TaihuLight takes the top spot from previous record-holder Tianhe-2, also located in China, and more than triples the latter's speed. It is capable of performing some 93 quadrillion calculations (petaflops) per second and is five times more powerful than the fastest US system, which is now ranked third worldwide. The TaihuLight is comprised of some 41,000 chips, each with 260 processor cores for a total of 10.65 million cores.

Medical July Affect

This documented phenomenon is known as the July Effect: when all the almost-docs get to swap their med school scrubs for white coats and stethoscopes, hospitals are temporarily at higher risk of the sort of silly slip-ups and errors, as well as making hospitals the third leading killer of Americans each year.

The coincidence of med school graduations in the month has been directly linked to a ten percent spike in hospital errors, involving everything from mixing up medications to not knowing how to work a defibrillator. Experts agree that, if at all possible, it is best to avoid hospitals throughout the summer.

Researchers from the University of California at San Diego investigated more than 62 million US death certificates between 1979 and 2006. Of those, 244,388 deaths were caused by medication errors in hospitals.

Month to month, the statistics showed a relatively equal chance for a fatal medication error, except at teaching hospitals in the month of July. The study found that fatal medication errors spiked by ten percent in July in counties with a high number of teaching hospitals, but stayed the same in areas without teaching hospitals. The findings appear in a recent issue of the Journal of General Internal Medicine. Hospital errors are the third leading cause of death in US.

Sweet Urine

In 1647, English physician Dr. Thomas Willis was the first in modern medical literature to discover that urine from those who had diabetes tasted sweet, comparing the flavor to that of honey.

Willis described the flavor as “wonderfully sweet as if it were imbued with honey or sugar.” Although such a discovery is off-putting and disgusting to most, it broke down barriers to the understanding of diabetes. Ultimately, it led to the term “mellitus” as in “diabetes mellitus,” a Latin word for “honey” which Willis coined.

Hurricane Facts

We are not seeing major hurricane increases due to global warming or any other reason. The last major hurricane (defined as a Category 3 or above) to hit the US mainland was  Hurricane Wilma, which made landfall in Florida on Oct. 24, 2005.

Although a major hurricane typically strikes the US about once every two years, no major hurricanes have made landfall in the US for more than 10 years.

The second longest stretch between major hurricane strikes was between the major hurricane that struck in August 1860 and the one that struck in September 1869, NOAA records show. The third longest stretch was between the major hurricane that struck in September 1900 and the one that struck in October 1906.

Easy Life Hacks

Did you make a mistake while leaving voicemail? Hit the # (pound or hashtag) button. It allows you to re-record your message. Works on a majority of operating systems.

Good for insurance claims, if you own some expensive things, they probably have some identification number. If so, write it down and save it in a safe place, preferably outside the house. Another idea is to take pictures or videos of the inside of your house, including TV, furniture, jewelry, etc.

If an anyone calls and asks if you have a security system, the answer is always yes. If they are bad guys, you shut them down and if they are sales people you also shut them down.

Pouring sugar on spilled nail polish helps to make it clump for easier cleanup.