Dec 31, 2009

New Year Poem

If New Year's Eve night-wind blows south,
    It betokeneth warmth and growth;
    If west, much milk, and fish in the sea;
    If north, cold and storms there will be;
    If east, the trees will bear much fruit;
    If north-east, flee it, man and brute!

Boxing Day

Boxing Day is a holiday in the United Kingdom, Canada, and many other Commonwealth nations. It is a time for family and friends to gather for food and fun. Outdoor sports, such as soccer, horse racing, and hunting are popular on this holiday. Retailers offer huge savings on many items on this day, making it the biggest shopping day of the year in Canada. It is celebrated on December 26th and is a statutory holiday in the federal jurisdiction and Ontario. If it falls on a Saturday or a Sunday, the working day immediately preceding or following Boxing Day is considered a legal holiday.

Boxing Day, also known as the Feast of St. Stephen, after the first Christian martyr, originated in England in the middle of the nineteenth century under Queen Victoria. It originated as a holiday for members of the merchant class to give boxes containing food and fruit, clothing, and/or money to trades people and servants. Many workers were required to work on Christmas Day and took the following day off to visit their families. As they prepared to leave, their employers would present them with Christmas boxes. The gifts were an expression of gratitude similar to the bonuses many employers offer their employees today. These gifts, usually given in wood or clay boxes, gave the holiday it's name, "Boxing Day".

Also related to the origin of Boxing Day is the tradition of opening the alms boxes placed in churches over the Christmas season. The contents of these boxes were distributed amongst the poor by the clergy on the day after Christmas.

When great sailing ships were setting off to discover new land, a Christmas Box was used as a good luck device. It was a small container placed on each ship while it was still in port. It was put there by a priest, and those crewmen who wanted to ensure a safe return would drop money into the box. It was then sealed up and kept on board for the entire voyage. If the ship came home safely, the box was handed over to the priest in the exchange for the saying of a Mass of thanks for the success of the voyage. The Priest would keep the box sealed until Christmas when he would open it to share the contents with the poor.

During the late 18th century, Lords and Ladies of the manor would "box up" their leftover food, and sometimes gifts and distribute them the day after Christmas to tenants who lived and worked on their lands.

Color of the Year 2010

Turquoise. Pantone has announced their selection for Color of the Year for 2010, and the winner is Turquoise. Turqouise, according to the color mavens, "evokes thoughts of soothing, tropical waters and a languorous, effective escape from the everyday troubles of the world, while at the same time restoring our sense of well being.”


Real turquoise (the mineral) was treasured in antiquity for "natural protection against the powers of darkness" and derives its name from the custom of the Turks to wear one in their turbans to ward off the "evil eye".

The Color of the Year for 2009 was "Mimosa". 

Language

There are an estimated 6,500 languages in the world and half or more of them could cease to exist by 2100.

Languages are dying out around the globe through globalization, social change, and a shift in populations from rural areas to cities. Of the 6,500 languages estimated to be still in use, only 11 are spoken by half the world's population, and 95 percent of the languages are spoken by less than five percent of the global population.

A new project, the World Oral Literature Project, by the University of Cambridge's Museum of Archeology and Anthropology, aims to preserve the linguistic diversity being lost. The project is recording and documenting languages that face the prospect of dying out, with the goal of preserving their poems, chants, stories, and anything else that can be recorded. This is somewhat like the Rosetta Stone Project, which began about ten years ago and that has documented 2,500 languages for the same purpose.

The language used by most people is Chinese Mandarin, followed by English and Spanish. The language spoken by most countries is English, followed by French, then Spanish.

1.5  billion people speak Chinese, 1 billion plus speak English, and about 500 million speak Spanish. English is spoken in more countries than any other language.

English is a West Germanic language that developed in England during the Anglo-Saxon era. It has become common as a result of the military, economic, scientific, political, and cultural influence of the British Empire during the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries, and of the United States since the mid 20th century. All y'all listen up?

US and GDP Equivalents


Here is a picture of the US States labeled by the name of the country whose GDP is most equivalent.

Airplanes

The first powered airplane flight by Orville Wright was on December 30, 1903.

Kwanzaa

The relatively new holiday Kwanza was created in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga, professor and chairman of Black Studies at California State University, Long Beach. He saw it as a way to bring African-Americans together as a community. He combined aspects of several different harvest celebrations, such as those of the Ashanti and those of the Zulu. The name was derived from a phrase that means 'first fruits.' Later the second "A" was later added to make 7 letters to coincide with the seven candles he decided should be lit for the holidays.

Kwanzaa is a non-religious African-American holiday which celebrates family, community, and culture. Celebrations often include songs and dances, African drums, storytelling, poetry reading, and a large traditional meal. On each of the seven nights, the family gathers and a child lights one of the candles. It is celebrated for seven days: December 26 - January 1.

New Year Bacon

Took this quote and picture from Life Magazine Jan 1, 1940.



"Frank Sinatra Ate Bacon When He Was Young. That Proves Bacon is Cool."  I didn't make this one up folks.

Dec 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to one and all.

Christmas Wishes

Your friendship is a glowing ember through the year; and each December from its warm and living spark we kindle a flame against the dark, and with its shining radiance light our tree on Christmas eve.

Holiday Town Names

Place names associated with the holiday season include North Pole, Alaska (population 2,212 in 2008); Santa Claus, IN (2,314); Santa Claus, GA (250); Noel, MO (1,608); the village of Rudolph, WI (412) and Dasher, GA (849). There is Snowflake, AZ (5,673) and a dozen places named Holly, including Holly Springs, MS, Mount Holly, NC, and Holly, MI.

Christmas Thoughts

"On Christmas Eve all animals can speak." However, it is bad luck to test this superstition.

"The child born on Christmas Day will have a special fortune." My Aunt Marion was born on Christmas, 1908. She was special. Also, 25th December 1642, Sir Isaac Newton was born. He found white light could be split into the colors of the Rainbow.

Wearing new shoes on Christmas Day will bring bad luck.

Good luck will come to the home where a fire is kept burning throughout the Christmas season.

If a girl raps at the hen house door on Christmas Eve and a rooster crows, she will marry within the year.

A mild December precedes a cold snap later in the winter.

A green December fills the graveyard

A clear star-filled sky on Christmas Eve will bring good crops in the summer.

If sun shines through the apple trees upon a Christmas Day, when autumn comes they will a load of fruit display.

Snow on Christmas means Easter will be green.
A green Christmas; a white Easter.

If Christmas day be bright and clear  there will be two winters in the year.

The nearer the New Moon to Christmas Day, the harder the Winter. 

Best Christmas Gift

Do you know what the cheapest, yet best Christmas gift is?
A smile. It is free, yet timeless and priceless.

Dec 23, 2009

Christmas Facts



$410 million in sales by US Christmas tree farmers in 2007. Of those, $109.3 million were from Christmas tree farmers in Oregon in 2007.

$470.3 million in imports of Christmas tree ornaments from China between January and August 2009. China was the leading country of origin for such items.

Quotable

You can change the present (as in change the present you give), and you can also change the present of the world, by changing the kind of present you give.

Ode to Joy

This is played on a glass harp. Did you know the glass harp (or glass Armonica) was invented by Benjamin Franklin in 1761? Sit back, relax, and enjoy a minute of music HERE.
Some advice for today 'Don't Worry, Be Happy' played on another modern version HERE.

Here is a picture of an original glass armonica.

Santa and Saint Nicholas

What's the Difference Between Santa Claus and Saint Nicholas?

Santa Claus belongs to childhood;
St. Nicholas models for all of life.

Santa Claus was developed to boost Christmas sales, the commercial Christmas message;
St. Nicholas told the story of Christ and peace, goodwill toward all, the hope-filled Christmas message.

Santa Claus encourages consumption;
St. Nicholas encourages compassion.

Santa Claus appears each year to be seen and heard for a short time;
St. Nicholas surrounds us always.

Santa Claus flies through the air from the North Pole;
St. Nicholas walked the earth caring for those in need.

Santa Claus isn't bad;
St. Nicholas is just better.

Quotable

A diamond is the only kind of ice that keeps a girl warm.

Christmas 1876

“Christmas and New Year are a very merry time for some people; but for cabmen and cabmen’s horses it is no holiday, though it may be a harvest. There are so many parties, balls, and places of amusement open, that the work is hard and often late.

Sometimes driver and horse have to wait hours in the rain or frost, shivering with cold, while the merry people within are dancing away to the music. I wonder if the beautiful ladies ever think of the weary cabman waiting on his box, and his patient beast standing till his legs get stiff with cold.”

From Black Beauty: The Autobiography of a Horse by Anna Sewell, published in November, 1877. She never wrote another book. She died on April 25, 1878, five months after the publication of her classic horse story.

Christmas 1882

Edward Johnson, who worked at Edison Illumination Company, finds an application for electric lights and becomes the first person to use them as Christmas tree decorations.

He used 80 small red, white and blue electric bulbs, strung together along a single power cord, to light the Christmas tree in his New York home.

Musical Interlude

I couldn't share Christmas without my favorite Christmas music, Mario Lanza's 'O Holy Night' LINK.

If that is too much, here is a youtube of Celine Dione, not my favorite singer, but she absolutely rocks with 'O Holy Night.'

On December 24, 1818, "Silent Night, Holy Night" was first sung. The words were written by Joseph Franz Mohr, a young priest, and the music by Herr Gruber in Oberndorf, Austria.

Dec 18, 2009

Lord of Misrule

In ancient Roman times, December 17 was the beginning of the festival of Saturnalia, in honor of the god Saturn (of agriculture). It was originally just a day event, but eventually grew into a seven day orgy of revelry, feasting, and merrymaking. 


The Saturnalia was a holiday period for all, including the slaves, who changed places with their masters for the duration. Presents were exchanged, especially candles, informal clothes worn, and gambling games permitted. It was also customary to appoint a master of the revels (Saturnalicius princeps), a character that reappeared in England as the Lord of Misrule. The Lord of Misrule formally presided over the Christmas celebrations, or over the entire period from All-Hallows Eve (October 31) to Candlemas (February 2).

It is commonly believed that the church chose this time (Pope Julius I chose December 25) in an effort to adopt and absorb the traditions of the pagan Saturnalia festival. It was first called the Feast of the Nativity, the custom spread to Egypt by 432 and to England by the end of the sixth century. By the end of the eighth century, the celebration of Christmas had spread to Scandinavia. Today, in the Greek and Russian orthodox churches, Christmas is celebrated 13 days after the 25th, which is also referred to as the Epiphany or Three Kings Day, as it is believed then the three wise men finally found Jesus in the manger.

Christmas Advice to Men

To make gifts go farther, wrap the batteries separately (Dave Barry)

Aunt Jemima

Chris L. Rutt of St. Joseph, Missouri and his friend Charles G. Underwood bought a flour mill in 1888. Rutt and Underwood's Pearl Milling Company faced a glutted flour market, so they sold their excess flour as a ready-made pancake mix in brown paper sacks without a trade name. In 1889, Rutt attended a vaudeville show where he heard a catchy tune called "Aunt Jemima" sung by a blackface performer who was wearing an apron and bandanna headband. He decided to call their pancake flour "Aunt Jemima."

In 1890,  R.T. Davis purchased the struggling company. He then brought the Aunt Jemima character to life when he hired Nancy Green as his spokeswoman. The image of Aunt Jemima was so popular that the company was renamed the Aunt Jemima Mills Company.



On November 17, 1834, Nancy Green was born. She was a Black storyteller and one of the first black corporate models in the United States. The world knew her as "Aunt Jemima." The Aunt Jemima character was prominent in minstrel shows in the late 19th century, and was later adopted by commercial interests to represent the Aunt Jemima brand.

In 1893, the Davis Milling Company aggressively began an all-out promotion of "Aunt Jemima" at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Green, as "Aunt Jemima," demonstrated the pancake mix and served thousands of pancakes. Green was a hit, friendly, a good storyteller, and a good cook. Her warm and appealing personality made her the ideal "Aunt Jemima," a living trademark. Her exhibition booth drew so many people that special policemen were assigned to keep the crowds moving. The company received over 50,000 orders, and Fair officials awarded Nancy Green a medal and certificate for her showmanship.

She was proclaimed "Pancake Queen." She was signed to a lifetime contract and traveled on promotional tours all over the country. Flour sales were up all year and pancakes were no longer considered exclusively for breakfast. Nancy Green maintained this job until a car crash in Chicago killed her on September 23, 1923.

In 1925, Quaker Oats purchased the Aunt Jemima Mills Company. Anna (Robinson) Harrington was discovered by the Quaker Oats Company and she played the part 14 years.


During the 14 years Mrs. Harrington worked as Aunt Jemima, she made enough money to provide for her children and to buy a 22-room house with a bungalow behind it. She rented rooms to boarders.

The Aunt Jemima image has been modified several times over the years. In her most recent 1989 make-over, as she reached her 100th anniversary, the 1968 image was updated, with her kerchief removed to reveal a natural hairdo and pearl earrings. This new look remains with the products to this day.

Dec 15, 2009

Smile

Smile - Pass it on.



Toy Imports

$4.3 billion was spent for toy imports including stuffed toys, puzzles and electric trains from China between January and August 2009. China was the leading country of origin for stuffed toys coming into this country, as well as for a number of other popular holiday gifts, including roller skates ($30 million), sports footwear ($120 million), golf balls ($31 million) and basketballs ($29 million).

China leads Canada as the leading supplier of ice skates ($12 million versus $5 million), with Thailand ranking third ($4 million), aye.  Canada is spelled  CA NA DA aye.

Quotable

Kill the Grinch - Give him a smile!

Physician Pay Cuts

This is one more example of the type of change that has been happening for the past few months, and virtually hidden by the healthcare bill debate. As part of the healthcare bill in the Senate now, Medicare would give 10% bonus payments to primary care and family physicians as a workforce incentive, but half of that bonus would be financed by cuts in surgeons' pay. This would have an especially discouraging impact on the workforce of surgeons in underserved and rural areas.

Regardless of whether the bill passes, as of Jan. 1, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services plans to eliminate a series of five-digit CPT codes that specialist physicians, such as cardiologists, oncologists, and surgeons, use to bill for medical or surgical consults. These consults occur at the request of a practitioner who wants a specialist's opinion regarding his or her patient. For example, an internist may want his patient seen by a vascular surgeon, or a family practitioner may want her patient seen by an endocrinologist or pulmonologist.

Under current rules, the CPT code for consultation calls for reimbursement that is between $20 and $50 higher than for a comparable office visit. But by eliminating the CPT codes, those specialists will be forced to bill under a different payment code bracket, which covers for a simple office visit.

First, the patient's condition must have added complexity or it wouldn't have needed referral. Second, the specialist performs an independent physical and often gets a separate history of the patient, spending as much as an hour to set a correct diagnosis and course of care. And third, reimbursement policy requires the specialist physician to return to the referring physician a written report of the findings and course of care. It shows that we do not need a new bill to control healthcare. Some are so set to change the world, that they cannot wait.

Penny for Your Thoughts

Did you know it costs the government 1.4 cents to make a penny. It produces 5.4 billion of them a year. Do you know why the government has to keep producing pennies? It is because of sales tax, which makes purchases cost an uneven amount, because tax is a percent of the price. The coin's name derives from the Old English pennige, pronounced, roughly, penny-yuh.


Can you see those initials under Lincoln's right shoulder? They are the initials of the designer. So, our infinitely wise government makes pennies, which it has to make because of taxes, and it loses money on each one, which cost us more income tax to pay for their production costs. My thoughts are to eliminate sales tax so our income tax will go down and we could get rid of pennies.

Shiver Me Timbers

A shiver is a wood splinter from a broken mast on a ship, sometimes caused by cannon fire from another ship. As the mast shattered, splinters broke off and sometimes flew into an unfortunate sailor caught too close to the action.

Knives with no handles are shaped like those broken shards and are hence called shivs. Arrgh, that's the truth, matey.

Keeping Notes

If you are like me and need to write notes to yourself about some web site or other tidbit of info you don't want to lose. Try this. I write an email to myself and save it as draft. I usually have only a few emails in my draft folder, so it is easy to find. The worst thing that can happen is that you hit 'send' by mistake and it is mailed to yourself.

Winter Solstice

In the Northern Hemisphere, the Winter Solstice marks the first day of the season of winter. It falls on or near December 21.

The Pagan celebration of Winter Solstice (also known as Yule) is one of the oldest winter celebrations in the world. It is a celebration of the shortest day and longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, when the North Pole is at its furthest point away from the sun.

The Druids (Celtic priests) would cut the mistletoe that grew on the oak tree and give it as a blessing. Oaks were seen as sacred and the winter fruit of the mistletoe was a symbol of life in the dark winter months.

Yule logs are traditionally lit on the first day of the Solstice and are burned throughout the Solstice night for 12 hours as a symbol of hope and belief that the sun will return. The Celts thought that the sun stood still for twelve days in the middle of winter and during this time, a log was lit to conquer the darkness, banish evil spirits,  and bring luck for the coming year.

Land Ownership

The United States government has direct ownership of almost 650 million acres of land, or nearly 30% of its total territory. These federal lands are used as military bases or testing grounds, nature parks, and reserves and Indian reservations, or are leased to the private sector for commercial exploitation (e.g. forestry, mining, agriculture).  (Red is Fed owned)


They are managed by different administrations, such as the Bureau of Land Management, the US Forest Service, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the US Department of Defense, the US Army Corps of Engineers, the US Bureau of Reclamation or the Tennessee Valley Authority.

Sheep

How do sheep in Mexico say Merry Christmas?
Fleece Navidad!

Dec 11, 2009

Christmas Shopping

The value of retail sales by electronic shopping and mail-order houses in December 2008 was $24 Billion.

New Way to Fight Cancer

Cell>Point is a company that plans to deliver a cheaper and more effective way to detect tumors in 2010.

Doctors currently rely on positron-emission tomography (PET) scans to see tumors. But PET machines cost more than $2.5 million apiece and are usually found only in major medical centers. MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, had developed a chemical that could light up a tumor on a common SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography) camera. They wanted Cell>Point's owner to help turn it into a product.

More affordable at about $800,000, SPECT cameras are found in six times as many US hospitals as PET scanners and Cell>Point's isotope uses 70% less radiation than PET isotopes and should cost about half as much, about $800 per scan.

Doctors can determine within about two weeks whether a cancer treatment was working, instead of waiting for months with PET scans. Now it is time to begin the costly FDA approval process, but don't expect that to be accomplished next year.

Christmas Post Office Offer



The following is taken directly from the Post Office web site and  thought I would share.
"Camcorder. Check. Toy train. Check. Cuckoo clock. Check. No matter what’s on your holiday wish list, if it fits, it ships, with Priority Mail Flat Rate Boxes, only from the U.S. Postal Service. Priority Mail Flat Rate Boxes let you ship nearly any gift for a low flat rate,” said Robert F. Bernstock, president, Mailing and Shipping Services.

Four box sizes are available to fit holiday gifts:

    * Small Flat Rate box, 8 5/8" x 5 3/8" x 1 5/8", shipping starts at $4.95
    * Medium Flat Rate box, 11" x 8 1/2" x 5 1/2", shipping starts at $10.35
    * Large Flat Rate box, 12" x 12" x 5 1/2", shipping starts at $13.95 ($10.95 when shipping to military personnel at APO/FPO addresses overseas)
    * Medium Flat Rate box, 13 5/8" x 11 7/8" x 3 3/8", shipping starts at $10.35.

Prices are even lower when you pay online at usps.com. “Order Flat Rate boxes now, and we’ll deliver them to you at no charge in time to ship for the holidays,” said Bernstock. “We’ll even pick up your packages for free, saving you a trip to the Post Office.” I think they are really interested in some business this year.

Mircrosoft Maps

Microsoft is trying to get in on the Google action of taking pictures of streets, so you can actually see store fronts on the map as you move down the street. Just tried it at LINK and it has a ways to go before catching up with Google.

If you have not tried the Streetview when using the Google map, just click on the outline of a man on the view bar on the left side of the map and drag him the the street you are looking at. You will see a photograph of the buildings. Google has also done many neighborhoods and I tried my own house and the pictures are reasonable.

To try it, look up your own address on Google maps LINK
Type in your address and zoom in to your house. Then hold down the left mouse button and drag the little man to your street. It will turn the map into a photo. Click on the left or right arrows to move up and down your street.

Singularity

I haven't written much about this lately, but recently IBM scientists built the biggest artificial brain of all time, (now as smart as a house cat), using a supercomputer powered by 147,456 processors and 150,000 gigabytes of memory.

It appears we are on the way to realizing Ray Kurzweil’s prediction made in 1999 that by the year 2020, the power of a $1,000 PC will match the computing speed and capacity of the human brain. He had a follow-up 2005 work, 'The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology', in which he talked more about how the exponential growth of computing will enhance human intelligence far beyond anything imaginable today.

Many scholars believe that because of this rapidly accelerating convergence, a technological event called the SINGULARITY will occur. The amount and rate of change resulting from it, will cause such vast difference in how we work, live, and play that we can't possibly conceive of the changes that will come about after that time. Think of it as the  new industrial revolution on steroids, Viagra, and hallucinogens all at the same time. These scholars are talking about positive, not negative affects of technology.

Kurzweil says that computers are rapidly gaining intelligence, are acquiring humanlike intelligence, and will eventually, collectively exceed human intelligence. Computers will be able to gather knowledge on their own. On the human side, new technologies will be increasing our health and mental capabilities, thanks to nanotechnologies and knowledge systems. By the 2020s, “it will become increasingly difficult to draw any clear distinction between the capabilities of human and machine intelligence,” he wrote.

Kurzweil also went on to predict that by 2029, the power of a $1,000 PC will grow to approximately 1,000 human brains. By that time, “automated agents are now learning on their own, and significant knowledge is now being created by machines on their own.” Several decades later, by the end of the 21st century, there will be more software-based “humans” than carbon-based humans.

The world is already different than what it was just five years ago. Think iPod and the touch screens they use on news programs. I love technology and I know I can always pull out the plug or hit the off switch. Wish I could do that with some. . . Oh, that's a different story.

Alcohol Protects Men's Hearts

Just in time for the holidays. Drinking alcohol every day cuts the risk of heart disease in men by more than a third, a major study suggests and the type of drink did not appear to change the results

The Spanish research involving more than 15,500 men and 26,000 women found large quantities of alcohol could be even more beneficial for men. Female drinkers did not benefit to the same extent.

The study was conducted in Spain, a country with relatively high rates of alcohol consumption and low rates of coronary heart disease. The research involved men and women aged between 29 and 69, who were asked to document their lifetime drinking habits and followed for 10 years.

The researchers, led by the Basque Public Health Department, placed the participants into six categories - from never having drunk to drinking more than 90g (3 oz.) of alcohol each day. This would be equivalent to consuming eight bottles of wine a week, or 28 pints of beer.

For those drinking less than a shot of vodka a day, the risk was reduced by 35%, and for those who drank anything from three shots to more than 11 shots each day, the risk worked out an average of 50% less risk of heart disease.

The exact mechanisms are as yet unclear, but it is known that alcohol helps to raise high-density lipoproteins (HDL), sometimes known as good cholesterol, which helps stop so-called bad cholesterol from building up in the arteries.

The Stroke Association meanwhile noted that overall, evidence indicated that people who regularly consumed a large amount of alcohol had a three-fold increased risk of stroke.

In the UK, the recommendation is no more than two to three units of alcohol a day for women - the equivalent of one standard glass of wine - and three to four units for men. So, drink lots and save your heart, but ruin your brain and liver. Drink less and save your liver and brain, but risk a heart attack.  Hmmm. Decisions, decisions. . .

Speaking of Drinking

A friend of mine, Joe Dougherty sent me this one and I couldn't resist sharing. LINK It is about how to make bacon infused vodka. The Allston Yacht Club bar serves a bacon and egg martini. It shows how to infuse vodka with bacon, then serve with a quail egg. Oh, yes, the site also shows 1,001 things to do with bacon. Yumm!

Founding Fathers Papers

LINK  thousands of unpublished documents from our nation’s founders in a free online resource. Collected over many years by the Founders Documentary Editions, these letters and other papers penned by important figures such as James Madison, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson offer Americans of all ages and interests, a unique view of the early Republic.

College Football

Unlike the original Founding Fathers, our current batch of politicians have more important stuff to discuss. The link below shows what they have been up to while debating the wars, National Health Care, the waning economy, etc. Cars and banks are not enough, now they get into football. http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5isQ1DkWtlreF6Tk2_...

A House subcommittee has approved legislation aimed at forcing college football to switch to a playoff system to determine a national champion.

The bill would ban the promotion of a post season NCAA Division 1 football game as a national championship unless that title contest is the result of a playoff.  The measure passed by a voice vote Wednesday by a House Energy and Commerce Committee subcommittee. That should solve the current economic crisis.

Garlic and the Flu

If you want to get stinking rich in China today forget real estate, gold, or silver, because garlic has outperformed all of them. As fears of swine flu grow, traders are hoarding garlic and watching the price of the pungent vegetable go through the roof. Prices have risen sharply since unscrupulous investors began buying up all the garlic available.

According to China's Ministry of Commerce the average price for a kilogram of garlic has risen from 14p in March to 54p and in some markets the price has reportedly risen 40-fold.

Jerry Lou, an analyst for Morgan Stanley, said dealers can make millions. "You need a warehouse, a lot of cash and a few trucks," he told the Washington Post. Basically, you buy as much supply as possible, then bid up the price.

The reason for this is many people believe garlic can protect against the H1N1 virus.

In one high school in Hangzhou, staff bought 200kg of garlic and fed it to their luckless pupils every lunchtime for the good of their health.

China produces three times more garlic then the rest of the world combined, but anticipating falling prices during the world recession, its farmers planted less garlic last year. Speculators made fortunes by moving in and buying up the harvest before it was ripe.

Dec 4, 2009

Inspiration

To many, the holidays are a time of loneliness instead of joy and celebration. If this helps one person feel better, it is worth it. When you are feeling down, don't give away your frowns. They will only beget more frowns.

Give away a smile and see what you get back. It is impossible to give away a smile without getting one back.

Saint Nicholas Day

St Nicholas died on December 6, 343 and is remembered every year on the 6th of December. It continues in many places, and some cultures still use this occasion to give gifts to children. There are still celebrations in Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Milwaukee also has a strong tradition of celebrating "St Nick’s Day," due to its large immigrant German community.

The Dutch celebrate the 'Feast of Sinterklaas', (Santa Claus is a variation of the name), as we celebrate Christmas. Some celebrate on December 5 (like Christmas eve). The myth  involving Sinterklaas is that he rides on his white horse across the roofs of houses, and that his small helpers, who are entirely black and called Zwarte Piet (Black Pete), climb down the chimneys and put presents in people's shoes. Children leave a carrot in the shoes for his horse.

St Nicholas (or St Nickolas) was Bishop of Myra (Turkey) and remains the Patron Saint of sailors, fishermen, the falsely accused, pawnbrokers, thieves and a number of cities.

You can see from the picture why old pictures of Santa Claus show the bishop's miter (hat) and staff.



Many miracles and good deeds are attributed to St Nicholas. One relates how a father, who could not afford a dowry for his three daughters (which would mean they were unable to marry, and might have been sold), would find little bags of gold coins thrown through his window, under cover of night. The bags landed on stockings left to dry before the fire. This is why people hang stockings on the fireplace at Christmas, hoping for them to be filled with goodies.

Growing up, we celebrated St. Nicholas day by throwing small bags of candy on neighbor's porches at dusk, then running away. We were always home in time to enjoy the candy treats thrown on our porch.

Frogs

The name frog comes from the Old-English 'frogga', which means, to jump. There are over 5,000 varieties of frogs.

* From a taxonomic perspective, all members of Anura are frogs, but only members of the family Bufonidae are considered toads. Frog usually refers to species that are aquatic or semi-aquatic with smooth and/or moist skins, and the term 'toad' generally refers to species that tend to be terrestrial with dry, warty skin. 




*  A group of adult frogs is referred to as an Army of frogs and also a colony or a knot.

* Frogs legs are considered a delicacy in China, Greece, New Orleans, and France. 

* Frogs will only eat something that moves; in nature that would be insects or spiders. Tadpoles are vegetarian.

* Amphibians, such as frogs, always return to water to breed.     However, there is a midwife frog where the male carries the frogspawn around on his body.  When he senses the time is ripe, he swims out into the water and the tiny tadpoles emerge from their egg-jelly and swim away.

* Frogs, can change their color to suit their background; not as spectacularly as chameleons, but enough to save them from a casual predator.

* Ranidaphobia means fear of frogs. Touching frogs will not give you warts, that's just a myth.

Farming

37.5% of the US population was involved in agriculture in 1900 and today less than half of one percent are in that business. We still have all the food we need, as well as supply other parts of the world.

There are 2.2 million farms and 50.4% of farms are less than 99 acres in size, with the average age of a farmer at 57.1 years old.

We export $115.5 billion of farm products a year. The top five farming counties in the US are in California. All data taken from the census.

Escape for iPhone

With this handy program you can have an excuse to get off the phone every time and no one needs to know about it. Just set it to anyone in your contacts list, select a delay time (up to two hours) and press the sleep button on the top of your phone. Escape Call Free for iPhone will sit silently until the timer has run out, at which point you will get an urgent call and you can decide if it is time to leave.

Chipotle

A chipotle (chi-POET-lee) is a smoked, dried jalapeño chili used primarily in Mexican, Mexican-American, Tex-Mex, and Mexican-inspired cuisine. The deep red jalapenos are smoked for days until completely dry. It takes about 10 pounds of jalapenos to make a pound of chipotle.

Until recently, chipotles were almost exclusively found in the markets of central and southern Mexico. As Mexican food became more popular, it expanded into Northern Mexico and eventually the United States and other places, such as China.

Most chipotle chiles are produced in the Northern Mexican state of Chihuahua. This variety of chipotle is known as a morita (Spanish for blackberry or black raspberry; literally "little purple one"). This is a description of how the chipotle looks.

Quotable

On the keyboard of life, always keep one finger on the escape key.

Post Office

The US Postal Service delivered 19 billion cards, letters, and packages between Thanksgiving and Christmas last year. I wonder how many trees that is?

Post Office Two

Couldn't resist this one. The Post Office has another official web site http://www.usps.com/green/  Seems like an oxymoron to have a 'green' website for a business that deals in delivering paper. Here is a clip from the site -

"did you know…We're building new postal facilities with the environment in mind. We use recycled fiberglass, natural lighting, thermal windows and solar electric and thermal systems. And water tanks to harvest rainwater."

Sheep Burps

I first thought this was a hoax, but it is from a reputable scientific organization, and I verified it with other publications. Australian scientists are looking for ways to reduce harmful methane emissions from the country's woolly flocks, a researcher said Nov 29, 2009.

Twelve percent of Australia's total greenhouse gas emissions originate with agriculture, and some 70 percent of that amount is blamed on livestock, with most of it coming from burps, study leader John Goopy said. (Yes, that is his real name)

With sheep, almost all of the methane produced comes out of their mouths. "There's not very much passed out the animal's anus at all," said Goopy, from the New South Wales Department of Industry and Investment.

Scientists measure the sheep's methane emissions by herding them into a specially designed booth shortly after they eat and then calculating the amount of gas belched. They hope to find whether there is a genetic link between the sheep that produce the least methane, which could then be exploited to breed low-emissions sheep.

Sheep produce about seven kilograms (15 lb) of methane a year while other cattle produce ten times that amount. Cows, sheep, goats, camels, buffaloes, and termites release methane.

"Of the 200 sheep so far tested, about half produced much more than average while the other half belched considerably less methane." (Hmmm, real science here)

Methane has about 17 to 21 times the environmental warming capacity of carbon dioxide. However, methane lasts only 12 years in the atmosphere vs. CO2, which lasts 100 years in the atmosphere. Wikipedia says the main greenhouse gases in the Earth's atmosphere are water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone.

Let's sum this up - most of 70% of 12% comes from all livestock, of which sheep are some part of, and half of them produce more burps than the other half, so let's change nature and breed out the burping half. - We will deal with farting cows later.

 And these people actually get paid by the government for these kinds of goopy studies. Of course, half get paid more and half get paid less than average.

Mark Twain

Happy belated Birthday to Samuel Langhorne Clemens, who was born on November 30, 1835.

School Facts

In 1990, 24.8% of people 25 and older did not complete high school. In 2000, 19.6% did not complete high school. This is down from 33.1% in 1980

In 1990, 20.3% of people over 25 completed college. In 2000, 24.4% completed college. This is up from 16.2% in 1980. Finally some numbers are going in the right direction.

Nov 27, 2009

Men at Work

I'll take X.

Trees

A mature tree can produce as much oxygen in a season as 10 people inhale in a year. It takes 12 trees to produce a ton of printing paper—24 trees for higher grade writing paper. Emails are treeless.

Five Old Wive's Tales Debunked

Chocolate causes acne
The American Academy of Dermatology says acne is not caused by any specific type of food, including chocolate. The adolescent affliction is linked to the levels of testosterone in your body.

Sitting too close to the TV will ruin your eyes
According to WebMD.com, the worst thing that can happen as a result of sitting too close to the screen is a nagging headache.

Carrots improve your eyesight
The American Optometric Association found that 48% of Americans still believe carrots are the best food for eye health. And though it does have beta-carotene and Vitamin A.
Dark leafy greens like spinach are even healthier for the eyes.

Taking a swim less than one hour after eating will give you cramps
The Mayo Clinic says it is perfectly safe to swim after you eat a light meal or snack. The site does recommend taking a break after eating a big meal, not because of cramping, but due to lethargy.


Lightning never strikes the same place twice
According to the National Weather Service, lightning can strike the same place numerous times. In fact, the Empire State Building is hit an average of 25 times a year.

Quotable

When a defining moment comes along, you define the moment, or the moment defines you.

Good Advice


Amazon PayPhrase

Amazon's latest payment technology, PayPhrase, lets customers buy from Amazon and affiliated merchants by using two or more words and a four-digit password. The technology, which was announced last Thursday, accesses information stored in the customer's Amazon account to pay for purchases and to identify the shipping address. Like PayPal, PayPhrase is designed to work on Amazon's own site and on third-party sites that use the payment technology.

Amazon wants PayPhrase to compete directly with eBay's PayPal and Google Checkout.

Analysts worry that the combination of a memorable phrase and a simple four-digit PIN may not be secure enough for financial transactions, even if Amazon promises to freeze an account when the wrong information is entered too many times. More ways to spend money in the airways

Quotable

Dogs look up to us, cats look down on us, but pigs treat us as equals.

Look Close



Everything is not always as it appears.

Nanotechnology

The term 'nano-technology' was first coined in a paper by Norio Taniguchi at the University of Tokyo, in 1974 and the term 'nanotechnology' by K. Eric Drexler in 1986.

Albert V. Crewe, the University of Chicago physicist who developed the high-resolution electron microscope that captured the first image of an individual atom picture in 1970, passed away last week. The significance of his finding is that the diameter of an atom ranges from about 0.1 to 0.5 nanometers

The term nanometer, abbreviated nm, is derived from the Greek word for midget and  nano is a metric prefix and indicates a billionth part. A nanometer is about the width of six bonded carbon atoms, and approximately 40,000 are needed to equal the width of an average human hair. Looking at it another way, 1 inch = 25,400,000 nanometers.

DNA width is 2 nm and common bacteria range from 1,000 to 10,000 nm. A nanometer is the length a man's beard grows in the time it takes him to raise the razor to his face.

Quotable

It is better to deserve honors and not have them than to have them and not deserve them.

Egg Fun Facts

The word egg tracks it name back to a prehistoric Indo-European source related to words for bird. The Old English term was oeg, which survived in Middle English as ey, but in the fourteenth century the related egg was borrowed from Old Norse. For a time the two forms competed with each other until the late sixteenth century, when egg won.

Eggs are a good source of protein, vitamin D, vitamin A, riboflavin, folic acid, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, choline, iron, calcium, phosphorus and potassium.


Current studies show most of the cholesterol formed in the human body results from saturated and trans-fats, and not the cholesterol in the egg. Eggs have no trans-fat and only 8% of the daily value for saturated fat.

The color of the egg shell is not related to quality, nutrients, flavor, or cooking characteristics. White shelled eggs are produced by hens with white feathers and white ear lobes. Brown shelled eggs are produced by hens with red feathers and red ear lobes. Brown egg layers usually are slightly larger and require more food, so brown eggs usually cost more than white eggs.

China produces the most eggs, at about 160 billion per year. In the US, about 65 billion eggs per year.

A hen can lay about 250 eggs per year.

There are 150 species of chicken. A rooster is a male, a hen is a female, and they are both chickens.


When a hen lays an egg it will only hatch into a chick if a rooster has fertilized the egg by mating with the hen. The hen and the rooster must mate before the egg is laid in order for the egg to be fertilized. Hens will lay eggs even if a rooster is not present. If you crack a raw egg and there is a red dot inside the egg, that means the egg was fertilized.

A fried egg is golf slang for a ball half-buried in a sand bunker.

Adam and Eve on a raft, and wreck ‘em is diner speak for
scrambled eggs on toast.

Eggs Benedict origins can be traced to many sources, but two are most popular.
The most popular legend of the dish's origin says that it originated at Manhattan's famous Delmonico's Restaurant when regular patrons, Mr. and Mrs. LeGrand Benedict, complained that there was nothing new on the lunch menu. Delmonico's maitre d' and Mrs. Benedict began discussing possibilities and eggs Benedict was the result. The second
The dish was inspired by Harry Benedict, a customer at the Waldorf Astoria in New York who wanted a meal to help him overcome a hangover.

Eggs Pope Benedict substitutes German pumpernickel bread for the muffin and German bratwurst sausage for the ham. It was created when Benedict the XVI became Pope in 2005.

Omelet come from the French, and Deviled comes from the Ancient Romans.

Souffles do not fall if there is a loud noise. The folklore is not supported by science. The rise and and fall of every souffle is a direct result of temperature. Heat expands the air in the egg whites and coolness deflates it.

Eggs usually can last six to 8 weeks if refrigerated. To find out if eggs are bad, you can always use the "float" test. If they float in salt water, they are bad, or crack one open and the smell will tell.

Nov 19, 2009

Quotable

You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice.

Bacon Salt

You probably know that I enjoy a good piece of bacon every now and then, and this new product grabbed my attention.


The ad says it is zero calorie, zero fat, vegetarian and kosher seasoning that makes everything taste like bacon. There are even more flavors than shown, including Applewood, Jalapeno, Mesquite, Cheddar and Maple. Alas, I read the ingredient list and there is nothing close to bacon in the list. They also have bacon flavored sunflower seeds and bacon flavored lip balm for those dry winter days. Nice try guys, but I want real bacon.
The web site is http://www.baconsalt.com

Quotable

Familiarity breeds attempt.

USB Drive

A new USB 3.0 drive was announced last week by Super Talent Technology and it should be available next month. It can support data transfer rates up to 5Gbit/sec or 10 times faster than current USB 2.0 products. It fits into the current 2.0 ports, but would be limited to those slower speeds. The price wasn't announced yet, but I would think the largest size would be many hundreds of dollars and the smallest about two hundred bucks.


It comes in 32GB, 64GB and 128GB capacities and is 3.7 inches by 1.4 inches by half inch thick. The drive can deliver data transfer speeds up to 200MB/sec in USB 3.0 ports. To compare size, it can likely hold about 35,000 songs or about 500 half hour TV shows.  I love new technology.

Quotable

No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.

Eight Teeth Facts - some might surprise you

     1. All Teeth Whiteners Are The Same: No, they are not. The choices between teeth whitening systems include toothpastes, gels, rinses, strips, trays, prescribed whitening agents, and even laser treatments. Each has its own pro’s and con’s other than price and speed of results.

   2. Not Brushing Causes Bad Breath: Partially true, there are also many other factors for bad breath. Eating unpleasant smelling foods like garlic or onions, the odor remains until the body passes the food. Drinkers, smokers, and dieters can also have chronic bad breath.

   3. Breath Into Your Hand To See If You Have Bad Breath: Not true. This practice will only tell you if your hand smells or not. Because different muscles are used to breath and talk, the hand test isn’t exactly accurate.

   4. ADA Approved Gum Can Be Substituted for Brushing: Not true, but it can help. Chewing it in between brushing may help for conditions such as reducing plaque, promoting tooth enamel, reducing cavities, or combating gingivitis.

   5. Put Aspirin On An Aching Tooth: Not true. Placing it next to the tooth and gums can actually burn the gum tissue. Swallowing aspirin for pain is OK. Rinsing your mouth with warm water or an over the counter antiseptic containing benzocaine is also effective.

  6. Pregnant Women Should not Go To The Dentist: Not true. New studies show that gum disease can affect the unborn baby. Women who are pregnant or considering it should definitely see a dentist. Pregnant women can safely see the dentist and even have local anesthetics at 13 to 21 weeks gestation. Caution is advised for X-rays and some drugs.

   7. It is OK To Swallow Mouthwash: Not really. About 90 percent of mouthwashes contain high levels of an alcohol, which is not meant to be swallowed. It is also more dangerous for children and should not be given to those under twelve. The long terms affects of swallowing mouthwash can be dangerous.

   8. Mostly The Elderly Get Gum Disease: Not true. About 80 percent of Americans can have some form of gum disease. It can range from inflammation, to periodontitis that can result in damage to the bone. Most cases of gum disease can be reversed with brushing and flossing.

Nov 17, 2009

Mini Printer

It is the size of a computer mouse. PrintBrush is the smallest printer in the world. It is Powered by rechargeable batteries and wirelessly connected via Bluetooth. It can be used on any surface and prints full 8 1/2 by 11 pages at 600 dpi. It also features an optical sensor that helps to ensure a high image quality. Cool stuff should be available the beginning of next year for $199.

Russian Sand Art

Here  is an interesting diversion. It is long, but you don't have to watch the whole thing to enjoy.

Ford

Hard to believe Ford is doing so well when you read the following. A husband and wife went to their local Ford dealership in Canton , Mississippi to pick up their car.  When they arrived,they were told the keys had been locked in it.

They went to the service department and found a mechanic working feverishly to unlock the driver's side door. As the wife watched from the passenger side, she instinctively tried the door handle and discovered that it was unlocked. She told the repair man that the door was open and he replied, "I know. I already got that side."

Having a Bad Day

Couldn't resist sharing this. I know could not have been taken on Friday, because everyone has a Happy Friday.

Nov 12, 2009

Sex Cures Headaches

Endorphins released into our bloodstream when we have sex not only give us pleasure, but also act as painkillers. Useful information for the next time your partner uses a headache as a reason to say no.

Quotable

Age is a relative thing - think about dead fish and good wine.

Border Patrol in Action

35 seconds of fun. Click here

My mother said, "Take your Asprin."

She must have known something. Aspirin may be good for your liver, protecting it against damage from too much Tylenol and possibly even from obesity and alcohol abuse, according to a new study by a Yale physician, Dr. Wajahat Mehal of Yale, published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. It shows liver damage can be prevented by low doses of aspirin and has a protective effect, preventing inflammation of the liver caused by many medications.

Liz Taylor

In a controversial new biography, Liz Taylor reveals she likes her lovemaking loud, rough, and frequent.
Coincidentally, looks like that's also how she likes to eat.

Friday the Thirteenth

Triskaidekaphobia (from Greek tris meaning "3," kai meaning "and," and deka meaning "10") is fear of the number 13.

It is a superstition and related to a specific fear of Friday the 13th, called friggatriskaidekaphobia.  That is the truth!

PS - See October post about Friday.

More Superstitions About Thirteen

The Turks have virtually removed 13 from their vocabulary.
Another superstition is that if 13 people sit down to dinner together, all will die within the year.
Beware naming your children with 13 letters in their name, they may be cursed, for example, Jack the Ripper, Charles Manson.
Why are there are 13 witches in a coven?
In a 'Baker's Dozen' the extra loaf was baked as a special bribe for the devil not to spoil the batch of loaves.

Engrish?

I think someone is saying to have a Happy Friday in Chingrish or Engrish.

Al Gore

The self-proclaimed, and debunked 'inventor of the internet' now wants his organization, the Alliance for Climate Protection, to support creating a .eco domain to promote environmental causes.

The idea comes from Dot Eco LLC, which claims they will donate some of the cash from registration fees of .eco web addresses to green initiatives. Dot Eco plans to file an application for the .eco top-level domain later this year with ICANN, the non-profit organization that coordinates website names.

Problem is, they have not yet been able to define what the criteria is for distributing the web addresses. Even with his Nobel, he can't seem to define 'eco' anything.

Quotable

It is harder to prove a truth than a lie because of the requirement that a proof be true.

ECO Myths

Here are some eco myths to think about.
Myth: The Earth is warmer than it was 100 years ago.
Truth: At most it’s risen by 0.3 Celsius, less than 0.003 degrees annually.

Myth: Global Warming must be happening, it’s warmer here in Small Town.
Truth: It is global averages that matter (see above)

Myth: Carbon dioxide levels and average global temperatures are at a record high
Truth: No, they are among the lowest determined over the last few million years.

Myth: Rising carbon dioxide levels are directly linked to rising global temperatures.
Truth: Not necessarily, there is a 400-4000 year timelag

Myth: Receding ice sheets prove anthropogenic (man made) Global Warming is happening
Truth: Some ice is melting, other areas are actually growing

Myth: Carbon dioxide is the most potent greenhouse gas
Truth: No, that would be water vapor of which there is an abundance in the atmosphere, then there is methane, and nitrogen trifluoride used in the manufacture of flat screen TVs.

Myth: If we accept it as real, we can do something about it.
Truth: We cannot even control local weather, what makes us think carbon sequestration and seeding the oceans, etc. will allow us to affect the climate. These come from a science web site.

Piano Stairs

Here is a novel way to get people to take the stairs, replace them with piano keys. Looks like great fun.  LINK

Human Egg

Here is a picture of a human egg and of sperm trying to invade it. This is an actual photograph of the sperm trying to neutralize the outer yellow protective layer so they can get in. Amazing picture.

Speaking of Cells

Robert Hooke (1635 - 1702) was an English physicist. He was the first to coin the word “cell” to describe the basic unit of life (he thought that plant cells, when magnified through a microscope, looked like “cellula,” the living quarters of monks).

Instant Rice

Also known as minute rice, is rice that has been precooked and dehydrated so that it cooks rapidly. Regular rice requires approximately 20 minutes to cook while instant rice usually needs between five and 10 minutes, or 90 seconds in a microwave. Because it has already been cooked, all that is necessary to prepare instant rice is to re-hydrate it with hot water.

Instant rice is made by using several methods. The most common is similar to home cooking. Rice is blanched in hot water, steamed, and rinsed. It is then placed in large ovens for dehydration until the moisture content reaches approximately twelve percent or less. The basic principle involves increasing moisture of the milled white rice by using steam or water to form cracks or holes in the kernels.

The fast cooking properties happen at recooking. Water quickly penetrates into the cracked grain.

Kellogg's Cocoa Krispies

The nation's largest cereal maker, is being called to task by critics who object to the swine flu-conscious claim now bannered in bold lettering on the front of Cocoa Krispies cereal boxes: "Now helps support your child's IMMUNITY."  What a load of rice that is, unless it means the chocolate covering, which is good to cure most everything.

Dagwood and Bacon

A friend of mine, John Chapman sent me this from Monday's paper. Seems even Dagwood likes bacon. Of course the clock is not as sophisticated as the one I mentioned last year that actually cooks a slice of bacon, so you wake up to the wonderful aroma.



PS - Chapman is the author of "Men are from Mars, Women are from Hell." Hilarious book available on Amazon.

Limerick

There was a Young Person of Bantry,
Who frequently slept in the pantry;
When disturbed by the mice,
She appeased them with rice
That judicious Young Person of Bantry.

Health Insurance Myths

On the Fortune 500 list of top industries, health insurance companies ranked 35th in profitability in 2008; their overall profit margin was 2.2 percent. They lagged far behind such industries as pharmaceuticals,  profit margin 19.3 percent, railroads (12.6 percent), and mining (11.5 percent). Among health insurers, the best performer last year was HealthSpring, which showed a profit of 5.4 percent. “That’s a less profitable margin,’’ AP noted, “than was achieved by the makers of Tupperware, Clorox bleach, and Molson and Coors beers.’’

For the most recent quarter of 2009, health-insurance plans earned profits of only 3.3 percent, ranking them 86th on the expanded Yahoo! Finance list of US industries. Makers of software applications, by contrast, are pulling in profits of nearly 22 percent.

Bread Shoes

True - Not to be outdone by the above. Here are a pair of bread shoes. They can be made to size and can be shipped to the US at a cost of 17 Euros. Looks like they are soft. No, not going to waste your time with this link either.

Target

Check out Target's Black Friday sales for $3 toasters, coffee pots, crock pots, and sandwich makers. Digital picture frames for $29. HDTV LCD 1080p 40 inch $449.  Wow, it is really pushing for traffic this year.

Picnic Truck

Who couldn't use one of these for the ultimate tailgater. It has a BBQ grill, a beer tap, an ice box, a 42″ HDTV and a kick butt sound system.  Toyota is at it again.

Nov 6, 2009

Fun With Words

Here is a fun sight for those who like anagrams, crossword puzzles, or just word games. Type in a word and you get a definition, words found within the word, anagrams, words beginning and ending with the word, words beginning with the same letters, etc. Handy reference site to put in your bookmarks.

Here is another site, Ninja - a dictionary for your iphone.

Bus Stop

Here is a unique bus stop. It is in England. Seems the woman did not like the looks of the stop in front of her house, so she decorated it herself.

Quotable

Men do not make beds when they get up for the same reason they do not tie their shoes when they take them off, to make it is easy to get back into.

Nov 5, 2009

Healthcare Bill

I just finished reading the healthcare bill, HR3962 or the Affordable Health Care for America Act.

Have attached a link to my 19 page summary for those who might be interested in a snapshot view that you won't get from TV or the newspaper.

Click on the link below. It is best viewed in full screen mode. Comments welcome.


Shubnell_latest_healthcare_bill_summary

Heads I Win, Tails You Lose

Most people think that a coin toss is completely random and the odds of it landing on heads or tails is equal.  Recently, a three-person team of Stanford and UC-Santa Cruz researchers produced a study that challenges conventional wisdom.

The researchers concluded that a coin is more likely to land facing the same side on which it started. If tails is facing up when the coin is on your thumb, it is more likely to land tails up.

They used a high-speed camera that photographed people flipping coins and found that from 51 to 60 percent of the time, depending on the flipping motion of the individual, it landed on the side that was facing up when the flip began.

Most people count how a coin lands, but do not check how it started and that has led to some common misconceptions. It is also not how high a coin is flipped or other variables, such as wind speed, air temperature, phase of the moon, or size or the weight of the coin. Knowing how it starts slightly increases the odds in your favor.

The researchers used the camera to show that coins flipped from a thumb don't just rotate around their axis, but they also spin like a Frisbee and that is caused by the motion of the thumb. They found that there is always bias and some people have more bias than others due to the way they flip, but the bias is always toward the side facing up before the flip.

The landing surface also has an influence, like a hard surface changes the equation. Bottom line call it as you see it and always for a soft surface, like grass. I wonder how many coins they spent paying for this 'scientific research'?

Quotable

Did you ever stop to think that worrying works? 90% of the things you worry about never happen.

Jack Benny

Jack Benny was born Benjamin Kubelsky in Chicago on Valentine’s Day, 1894. His parents lived in nearby Waukegan. Jack worked there as a violinist in the pit band of a local Vaudeville house and that was his beginning in show business.

He toured working with a female pianist in an act known as "Salisbury and Kubelsky - From Grand Opera to Ragtime", but when concert violinist Jan Kubelik’s lawyer objected to the comedic violin-playing and similarities in name, Benjamin changed his name to Ben Benny.


With a new partner, “Benny and Woods” continued, but when World War I broke out, Benny enlisted, working in a Navy-sponsored revue touring the Midwest. After the war, Benny went back to vaudeville, doing a monologue as “Ben K. Benny, Fiddleology and Fun.”

Although he changed the spelling to “Bennie,” Ben Bernie, an entertainer (also a violinist-bandleader who did monologues), had been doing a similar act longer, so his lawyer contacted young Kubelsky objecting to the similar names. This time, Benjamin changed his stage name for the last time to Jack Benny.

Notice To Die

True - When Arthur Zissen died in his Florida apartment in late September 2007, he failed to give the landlord 60 days advance notice he was going to die.

The manager at the Sun Harbour Yearly Residences sent the family a bill demanding rent for October, November, and December, and telling them Art forfeited his security deposit and last month's rent for failing to give 60 days notice.  It said it was "just following the letter of the lease."

The family took the case to court and won, but then the landlord appealed and the family had to wait for another decision from the judge in the appellate court. A $2,000 bill for court costs and lawyers fees of $17,000 was added.

Luckily, the family was awarded attorney fees in the first case and asked for attorney fees in the appeal. The entire estate was on hold until the case is resolved. Finally the landlord lost the appeal in 2008. Might be a good idea to check your lease or ask your landlord, so your estate doesn't have this problem when you die.

Quotable

Life does not cease to be funny when people die any more than it ceases to be serious when people laugh.

Name That Tune

Did you ever forget the name of a tune, or the words to a song, or you can't remember the artist. Midomi is a site that will help you. Sing the words and it will tell you the tune and artist.

Question

Did you ever stop to think that memes are just mini morēs.

Tissue Dispenser







Here is a unique Kleenex dispenser.

Human Filters

Generally speaking, the key is sensory awareness. Humans have kind of evolved to fit into their environment by filtering out information they don't need. If you actually look at the amount of data coming in through all your senses, there's something like 100 million bits of information coming in every second through your visual system and another 10 million bits coming through your auditory system and another one million bits coming through your tactile system.

We are at any given time, absorbing hundreds of millions of bits of data per second through our senses. We can manage this, because our conscious stream is only aware of a very tiny fraction of that sensory input, maybe a few hundred bits per second. Most of our intelligence is really a filtering process, determining which of those bits are most relevant at any instant. Our sensory awareness is really much higher than we perceive. I knew that I knew more than I thought I knew.

Quotable

"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few are to be chewed and digested." - Sir Francis Bacon 

Bacon Cookies

Never thought of it until I read the quote above, but you can think of my books like bacon cookies, sweet and salty. Mmmmm!

Swiss Steak

Swiss steak, the bane of school cafeterias everywhere, has nothing to do with Switzerland. Instead, the term “Swiss steak” refers to the meat having gone through a process called “swissing” before being cooked.

Swissing, which also has applications for textiles, refers to a process of hammering, pounding, or rolling a material to soften it up. With Swiss steak, butchers take tough cuts of beef and pound them or roll them to make them tender and more palatable.

Oct 30, 2009

Talk to Your Coffeepot

Voice Interactive Coffee Maker.


This is the first voice-interactive coffee maker that asks, "Would you like to set the clock or set the coffee brewing time?" and operates in response to your verbal commands. Simply saying, "Set the coffee brewing time," or "Set the clock," will prompt the machine to reply, "Please say the time, including AM or PM."

It uses an advanced voice recognition system to identify any time of day you speak, eliminating the hassle of fussing with buttons. It brews up to 10 cups at once and allows you to remove the carafe during brewing to pour a cup. For the Luddites, it can also be operated manually. Of course, why would you buy it to operate it manually. Talk about a deal, it cost less than a hundred bucks.

Oct 29, 2009

Chameleon

Here is a great short video of a chameleon changing colors. A guy puts different colored sunglasses in front and each time the chameleon touches one, the color changes.

Oct 28, 2009

Stimulating Stimulus Study

As part of the stimulus this past Spring, Kaiser Permanente received 25 million dollars and is embarking on a two year genetic analysis of 100,000 older Californians. Genetic data from a diverse group of California patients will be gleaned from samples of saliva.

Doesn't look like any new jobs were created, but researchers will be able to study the data and seek insights into the interplay between genes, the environment, and disease, along with access to detailed electronic health records, patient surveys, and records of environmental conditions where the patients live and work.

The object is to produce a very large amount of genetic and phenotypic (what organisms look like) data that investigators and scientists can begin asking questions of. Researchers will look for genetic influences that determine why some people suffering from cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes deteriorate more rapidly than others, and find which genetic factors reduce the effectiveness of various drugs or make them hazardous. How stimulating. I thought the stimulus money was to be spent to stimulate jobs?

Pork

The term, pork is sometimes used to describe legislative appropriations meant to favor specific projects, to gain favor, or repay political debts for legislators. Now we have something new - stimulated pork.

The USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service spent $24.3 million of stimulus funds for pork. It bought $16.9 million of canned pork, $2.6 million of ham, and $4.8 million of sliced ham. The Agriculture Department is sending the meat to food banks as part of a $150 million effort to feed hungry Americans.

Top 11 Bread Facts

Here are some scary facts about bread that you might not know and an interesting measuring cup.


  1. More than 98 percent of convicted felons are bread users.
  2. Half of all children who grow up in bread-consuming households score below average on standardized tests.
  3. In the 18th century, when virtually all bread was baked in the home, the average life expectancy was less than 50 years; diseases such as typhoid, and yellow fever ravaged whole nations.
  4. More than 90 percent of violent crimes are committed within 24 hours of eating bread.
  5. Bread is made from a substance called 'dough'. It has been proven that as little as one pound of dough can be used to suffocate a mouse. The average person eats more bread than that in one month.
  6. Primitive tribal societies that have no bread exhibit a low incidence of cancer, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease, and osteoporosis.
  7. Bread has been proven to be addictive. Subjects deprived of bread and given only water to eat begged for bread after as little as two days.
  8. Bread is often a 'gateway' food item, leading the user to 'harder' items such as butter, jelly, peanut butter, and even cold cuts or bacon.
  9. Bread has been proven to absorb water. Since the human body is more than 90 percent water, it follows that eating bread could lead to your body being taken over by this absorptive food product, turning you into a soggy, gooey bread-pudding person.
  10. Newborn babies can choke on bread.
  11. Bread is baked at temperatures as high as 400 degrees Fahrenheit. That kind of heat can kill an adult in less than one minute.
Most bread eaters are unable to distinguish between real scientific facts and useless statistical babbling. Maybe I should have saved this for April 1.

Jokes Pay

I love reading studies about odd things. For instance, if you are a waitperson you probably are concerned about the tips that you receive from customers. One way to increase tips might be to leave a joke on a card with the bill.

Someone conducted a study about tipping at a bar. Each person in the study was randomly assigned to one of three conditions, no card with the bill, an advertising card with the bill, and a card with a joke on it with the bill.

They found that a higher percentage of customers gave a tip in the joke card condition than in the other two conditions. In contrast, the difference between the advertisement card and the no card, the percentage of people tipping was not statistically significant.

These findings indicate that humor may increase tips. One possible explanation of the effect of humor on tipping is that it reflects the reciprocity principle, which suggests that we should help someone who helps us. Providing a joke on a card can be viewed as helping the customer and it may make the person more happy and cheerful. The customer, in turn may wish to reciprocate by providing a tip. That reminds me of a joke about the waiter and a spoon. . .

New Halloween Costume

This is featured in Target, Toys ’R’ Us, Walgreens, Amazon, and several other retailers. It comes with a relatively large green card that read “Green Card”.


 The description on the costumes packaging reads “He didn’t just cross a border, he crossed a galaxy!” “He’s got his green card, but it’s from another planet! Sure to get some laughs”.

Now the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights and several other pro-illegal immigration rights groups have stepped in and cried foul. They claim that it is inappropriate. Notice it doesn't say "legal aliens." If the shoe fits. . .

Sugar and Hyperactivity

Sugar does not cause hyperactivity in children. Double blind trials have shown no difference in behavior between children given sugar full or sugar-free diets, even in studies specifically looking at children with attention-deficit / hyperactivity disorder or those considered "sensitive" to sugar. In fact, it was found that the difference in the children's behavior was all in the adults' minds. Isn't that sweet.

Smart Choices

Speaking of sugar, do you remember a few weeks ago I posted an article about the green checkmark 'Smart Choices' logo that was supposed to indicate that the food was healthy? In my post, I wrote, "Sounds like green checks are the new green stamps, but with no value." Seems the Food and Drug Administration agrees with me and said it "could be misleading to consumers."

The food industry group is voluntarily halting promotion of its nutrition labeling program due to the regulators comments. Of course, I am sure my blog didn't help the cause either. Ha.

They launched the "Smart Choices" program in August to identify foods that meet certain nutritional standards and then highlight them for consumers with a green label on package fronts.
Smart Choices, has been criticized for handing its green seal to processed foods that are high in sugar.

Pass The Buck

Some card games used a buckhorn knife marker called a buck. Players took turns acting as dealer with the buck marking the next dealer. When the buck was passed to the next player, the responsibility for dealing was also passed.


There is also widespread belief that as time went on, silver dollars were used, and the use of 'buck' as slang for a dollar originated. The phrase "The buck stops here" was popularized by President Harry Truman.

A buck-slip is also a small piece of paper that is sometimes preprinted, or hand-written, and included the names of the people who were to receive a memo or report. It is a routing list.

In the days before copy machines and computers people typed one memo, with a carbon copy, then passed the one copy of the memo around to the people listed on the buck slip. Each person initialed next to their name on the buck slip and passed the memo on to the next person on the buck slip.

Friday

Did you ever wonder where the word Friday came from? Friday is Freya's day.

Freya (Fria) is the Teutonic goddess of love, beauty, and fecundity (intellectual productivity and prolific procreation). She is identified with the Norse god Freya. She is leader of the Valkyries (maidens who chose heroes to be slain). She is confused in Germany with Frigg. Now we know where the recent 'Valkryie' movie with Tom Cruise got its title.

Frigg (Frigga) is the Teutonic goddess of clouds, the sky, and conjugal (married) love. She is identified with Frigg, the Norse goddess of love and the heavens and the wife of Odin. She is confused in Germany with Freya.

Old English is frigedæg "Freya's day" composed of Frige plus dæg "day"

Germanic is frije-dagaz "Freya's (or Frigg's) day"

Hmmm! One would think I could be more intellectually productive on Fridays, instead of putting out this Freyan and Friggin blather.

Oct 26, 2009

Daylight Savings Time

A wise Indian Chief described Daylight Savings Time as cutting one foot off the top of a blanket and sewing it back on the bottom.

Oct 25, 2009

Glasses

I saw your new girlfriend last night. She dropped her glasses.