Jun 29, 2013

Not so Sandy Deserts

Believe it or not, most of the Earth’s deserts are not composed entirely of sand. Much, about 85% of them, are rocks and gravel. The largest, the Sahara, fills about 1/3 of Africa and still growing, which would nearly fill the continental United States.

Happy Friday

"Life is a quarry, out of which we are to mold and chisel and complete a character."

Each week I strive to mold and chisel a Happy Friday!

Wordology, Booze

As we approach the July 4 Holiday, I thought a bit of drinking history might be interesting. The first references to the word “booze” meaning “alcoholic drink” in English appeared around the 14th century, though it was originally spelled 'bouse'. The spelling, as it is today, didn't appear until around the 17th century.

The word 'booze' appears to have Germanic origins, though which specific word it came from is still a little bit of a mystery. The three main words often cited are more or less all cousins of each other and are very similar in meaning and spelling. One of the words came from the Old High German 'bausen', which meant “bulge or billow”. This was a cousin of the Dutch word 'búsen', which meant “to drink excessively” or “to get drunk”. The Old Dutch language also has a similar word 'buise', which translates to “drinking vessel”.

It is thought that the word “bouse” in English, which later became “booze”, has its origins in one or more of those three words, with most scholars leaning towards it coming from the Dutch word 'búsen'.

The origin of the word “booze” does not come from E. C. Booz, a 19th century distiller in the United States.

Archeological evidence suggest that the earliest known purposefully fermented drink, beer, was made around 10,000 BC.

Native American tribes had numerous forms of alcoholic beverages they brewed, long before the “white man” came to the Americas.

The Greek followers of Dionysus believed intoxication brought them closer to their god. Some current imbibers still believe this.

Nothing Festival

The annual Teluride, CO Nothing Festival is being held in mid-July. Here are the exciting activities for the locals in addition to eating and drinking too much.

Sunrises and sunsets as normal.
Gravity continues to be in effect.
The earth’s rotation will be increased to add a few thrills.
The laws of physics will be on display.
Duct Tape Seminar: How to defeat weapons of mass destruction for under $10.
How we use old Volkswagens.
Sense of humor search. Am sure a fun time will be had by all.

Ambient Sound

When thinking of nothing, there is a site that does no more than provide ambient sound. The idea is that you can be more productive if there is commotion going on around you. LINK

Choluteca Bridge

The Choluteca Bridge was built by the US Army Corps of Engineers with such design strength, it could withstand the worst of hurricanes that affected the area. When Hurricane Mitch came in 1998, it destroyed 150 Honduran bridges, but not the Choluteca Bridge.

However, the storm rerouted the Choluteca River. So now, the Choluteca Bridge is still standing, but useless. Hmmm

Ten Weird Fast Foods

Here are a few weird fast food menu items from around the world.
1. Pork and seaweed doughnut (Dunkin' Donuts China)
2. Darth Vader burger (Quick, France) all black bun
3. Kimchi croquettes (Dunkin' Donuts Korea) made with real kimchi
4. Bacon Potato Pie (McDonald’s Japan) mashed potatoes and bacon deep-fried in the familiar apple pie shell Mmmm!
5. Shrimp burger (McDonald’s Japan) fried shrimp patty
6. Chicken Nugget burger (Burger King, Poland) ground chicken with curry sauce
7. Coffee Jelly Frappuccino (Starbucks, Japan) a regular Starbucks Frappuccino (frozen coffee drink) with coffee jelly, made from actual brewed coffee.
8. Cheese and marmite panini (Starbucks UK) Marmite is a brown, sticky spread made from yeast byproduct.
9. Tuna Pie (Jollibee, Phillipines) the tuna, pie comes stuffed with cooked tuna and vegetables
10. Winter double king pizza (Pizza Hut, Japan) a pizza topped with mayonnaise, king crab, shrimp, beef, broccoli, onion, corn, egg, and potato and a removable crust made of fried, mayonnaise-stuffed shrimp that look like little pigs in blankets.
Jollibees is a chicken and burger franchise like McDonalds. It is also in a number of states including California, New York, and Nevada. Mascot is Jolly bee.

Oysters Alive

Did you know that most oysters are served while still living? Oysters are generally served live because they deteriorate much faster than most other animals when dead. When their shells are cracked open, they can survive for a significant amount of time.

It is only when the flesh is actually separated from the shells that they begin to die; this is why oysters are almost always sucked directly out of their shells.

Bloody Good Story

When James Harrison had chest surgery at age 13, he resolved to begin donating blood to help others in need. When he did so, doctors realized that he carries a rare immune globulin that can prevent unborn babies from suffering attacks by their mothers’ antibodies, a condition known as Rhesus disease.

In the 59 years since this was discovered, Harrison has given blood more than 1,000 times, an average of once every three weeks for five decades, and his donations have saved an estimated 2.4 million babies. Harrison holds a spot in Guinness World Records. He calls this, “The only record that I hope is broken".

Canada Facts

Canada is the world's second-largest country by total area, and its common border with the United States is the world's longest land border. It has ten provinces and three territories located in the northern part of North America. It extends from the Atlantic to the Pacific, northward into the Arctic Ocean (just south of Greenland), and borders on the south with The US. Its capital is Ottawa and its population of about 35 million is about one tenth the size of the US population. The top five largest countries in order are: Russia, Canada, China, United States, Brazil.

The current Canadian flag is less than fifty years old. On December 15, 1964 the Canadian Parliament voted to accept the current maple leaf design. The official flag was hoisted for the first time February 15, 1965. Two years later, Canada celebrated its 100th anniversary and used the occasion to promote the new flag.

The maple leaf design by George Stanley and John Matheson is based on the flag of the Royal Military College of Canada. February 15 is now celebrated annually as National Flag of Canada Day.

Canada is a federal state governed as a parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy, with Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state. However, Canada has complete sovereignty as an independent country and the Queen's role as monarch of Canada is separate from her role as the British monarch or the monarch of any of the other Commonwealth realms.

The Canada Act of 1982, among other provisions formally ended the British parliament having power to pass laws extending to Canada at its own request.

In 1958, a US high school student, Bob Heft designed the current US flag for a class project and received a B- grade. He also designed a flag with 51 stars, just in case. The current US flag has been used since July 4, 1960.

Air Force One

Air Force One is not a single plane. There are a number of planes that are outfitted the same way and they are housed at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland. The second official presidential plane used, in 1945 was named the 'Sacred Cow', although presidents had used other special planes since 1933.

In March 2012, President Obama took the British Prime Minister David Cameron to a basketball game in Ohio aboard Air Force One.

The planes are only designated as Air Force One when the president is on board.

A VC-9C that was once used as Air Force One and Air Force Two (vice president) went on auction sale in June with an opening bid of $50,000.

Jun 21, 2013

Happy Friday

The clever understand your words. The wise understand your silence.

It is both clever and wise to have a Happy Friday. . . and scripturient to write about it!

Quantum Computing Explained

Today's computers rely on electrons to deliver information in binary bits, or yes/no, 1/0, on/off.

Laws of quantum physics allow bits to be in multiple states simultaneously so it has the potential to be millions of times more powerful than today's most powerful supercomputers.

Quantum bits, or Qubits are more versatile than standard bits because they can exist in three states instead of two. Current computers represent things as a one or zero, but a quantum computer can render a qubit as representing a one, a zero, or every fraction between one and zero at the same time.

An interesting thing about qubits is that by just looking at one, it changes its state, so scientists had to devise a way to look without the qubit knowing it was being looked at. (Long story, but fascinating)

A 30-qubit quantum computer is approximately as powerful as a 10 teraflop computer. It can solve 10 trillion floating point operations every second vs. an average computer, which performs about seven gigaflops (seven billion) per second. Quantum computers process multiple calculations at once vs. current computers, which process one at a time.

Google and NASA have a 512-qubit quantum computer housed in a 10 foot black cabinet, but do not expect to buy one for your home in the near future. The NASA Ames machine may be upgraded to a 2,048 qubit chip in the next year or two. There are 25.4 million nanometers in one inch and fingernails grow one nanometer every second.

Gorilla Glass

Most of us know that Gorilla Glass is used as part of a touch-screen for hand-held phones and tablet computers. It was chosen because it is lightweight, durable, resistant to scratches, and tends to crack, rather than shatter when stressed, as Annie, a friend of mine recently found out.

Gorilla Glass, which is made by Corning is currently estimated to be in use by over a billion and a half devices and still growing. Corning makes the glass using a propriety chemical process that causes more than the normal number of ions to be introduced into the glass.

Now Corning has a deal with at least one car manufacturer to begin using the glass for windshields, likely as early as next year. The beauty of this glass is that it would cut down on the weight of the vehicle. It would also promote better gas mileage and better noise suppression.

Corning is working on another glass with unique properties, microbiological glass, which can kill bacteria on contact. Another exciting glass it is also working on is called Willow Glass, which is a bendable type of glass that is about as thin as a dollar bill. Bendable screens have been touted for use in foldable tablets for the past few years. Samsung has one in the lab now, but I do not know if the screen is glass or plastic.

What's in a Name, Crayola

Crayola means “oily chalk.” The name combines “craie” (French for “chalk”) and “ola” (short for “oleaginous,” or “oily”).

Exploding Phone Myth Debunked

As long as we are discussing cell phones, might as well dispel another myth. A popular myth hanging around since at least 1999 is that explosions in gas stations have been caused by cellphone use. Emails were purported to have been sent by Shell Oil and others, but this was proved false.

There never has been a documented case of a cellphone causing an explosion at a gas station, no one has been able to prove that it is even possible in scientific testing. The American Petroleum Institute said, "We can find no evidence of someone using a cellphone causing any kind of accident, no matter how small, at a gas station anywhere in the world." Mythbusters TV program tried and could not find a way to make it happen.

Police and firefighters often assume a connection between the two to be valid, but have never followed up with proof. The city of Cicero, Illinois (with no evidence to back it up) has made the use of cellphones at gas stations illegal. So, is it possible, yes it is possible, but it has not happened yet with over five billion phones in use.

Get Free Directions

Many people do not know that most email programs and contact lists on PCs and smart phones what the symbol next to the address is used for.

The purpose of this icon is to give you a map and/or directions. Simply click on the icon and your device will ask if you wish to see a map and/or to get directions. Very informative and great help if you need quick directions. Also, on your smart phone, you can save the map for offline use, in case you are in an area without GPS coverage.


Sugar used to be refined into what was called a sugarloaf, a tall cone shape with a rounded top. People have been making sugarloaves since at least the 12th Century.  Raw sugar was refined by a series of boiling and filtering processes. When, at the final boiling it was considered ready for granulation it was poured into a large number of inverted conical molds. The popularity of sugarloaves declined as new processes were invented making it easier to refine and be sold as the small cubes and granulated sugar we are familiar with.

Pieces were cut from it by hand using sugar nips, pliers-like cutters. Typically, the bigger the sugarloaf, the lower the grade of sugar.

Portuguese explorers who discovered Rio de Janeiro in 1502 named Sugarloaf Mountain, due to its resemblance to a sugarloaf cone.

Ten Oreo Cookie Facts

More sweet stuff. Oreos are the world’s best-selling cookie. The first Oreo cookie was made in 1912 in two flavors, original and lemon meringue at the original Nabisco bakery in New York City

The origin of the name Oreo is unknown, but a leading theory is that the name was derived from the French word “Or”, meaning gold (the early packaging was gold tin).

The cookie-to-creme ratio of an original Oreo cookie is 71% to 29%.
Double Stuf Oreos were introduced in 1974.
Big Stuff Oreos were introduced in 1987, and were about 10 times larger than a regular Oreo. They were discontinued in 1991.
Oreos became kosher in 1998.
50% of all Oreo eaters pull apart their cookies before eating them. Also, women twist them open more often than men.
In 1998, they introduced Oreo’Os cereal. The cereal was discontinued because Post and Kraft are no longer co-branding. Post owns the recipe to the cereal and Kraft owns the rights to Oreo

Wordology, Scripturient

I have been afflicted with scripturience for a long time. These Friday Thoughts and my many books are symptoms of my affliction. Scripturient means having a desire or passion, and sometimes violent or overwhelming urge to write.

Jun 14, 2013

Happy Friday

A smile is a sign of joy and a laugh is a sign of happiness.

I have both a smile and laugh while having a Happy Friday!

Father's Day

Father's day is coming up this Sunday. In Germany along the River Elbe, a special Father’s Day tradition is upheld. It is the tradition of Christi Himmelfahrt.  The fathers pull wagons full of alcohol through the streets to celebrate their day. They fill a hand wagon, large enough for a few coolers and maybe small keg with locally crafted hefeweizen, Gewürztraminer, and schnapps, then pass through the city into the forest, walking slowly until the sun has set and the wagon’s contents have been drained. For luck, they also carry bratwurst, mustard, pretzels, Ritter chocolate, and a small hookah.

It is an important tradition to specific places within Germany and will often get out of control with drunken mayhem. Father's day always coincides with Ascension Thursday, a holiday whens all the stores are closed. The men get their beer and later use their wagons to be dragged home after getting drunk. Happy Father’s Day to all the Germans and everyone else who knows how to party.

What's in a Name, Couch

Father's Day for some is spent reclining on a couch. How many ways can you say couch? I can think of Couch, Canape, Chesterfield, Divan, Davenport, Loveseat, Sofa, Sectional, and Settee. Variations include sofa bed and futon.

A couch or sofa is a piece of furniture for seating two or more persons in the form of a bench, with or without armrests, that is partly or wholly upholstered, and often fitted with springs and tailored cushions.

The term 'couch' is used in North America, Australia, and New Zealand. The term 'sofa' is generally used in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

The most common types of couches are the loveseat, designed for seating two persons, and the sofa, with two or more cushion seats. A sectional sofa, often just referred to as a sectional, is formed from multiple sections and usually includes at least two pieces that join at an angle of 90 degrees or slightly greater, used to wrap around walls or other furniture.

Other couch variants include the divan, the fainting couch (backless or partial-backed), the canapé is an ornamental 3-seater. To conserve space, some sofas double as beds in the form of sofa-beds, daybeds, or futons.

In the United Kingdom, a Chesterfield is a deep buttoned sofa, with arms and back of the same height. It is usually made from leather and the term Chesterfield in British English is only applied to this type of sofa, but others use the term more generically. The first leather chesterfield sofa, with its distinctive deep buttoned, quilted leather upholstery and lower seat base, was commissioned by Phillip Stanhope, the 4th Earl of Chesterfield.

In Canada, the term chesterfield is equivalent to a couch or sofa. The use of the term has been found to be widespread among older Canadians, but is vanishing from Canadian English. Northern California is the only place in the US where chesterfield is a synonym for couch or sofa.

Making Cotton Candy

This guy takes it to a whole new level. Fascinating to watch. I love to watch an artist at his craft.   http://www.wimp.com/likeflower/

George Washington's Teeth

Here is something for fathers day from the father of our country, his teeth.

George Washington suffered from poor dental health and spent his life in frequent mouth pain. He used a variety of tooth cleaners, dental medicines, and dentures. Dr. John Baker fabricated a partial denture with ivory that was wired to Washington’s remaining real teeth. When Washington was inaugurated President in 1789, only one real tooth remained in his mouth.

Dr. Greenwood fashioned a set of dentures of hippopotamus ivory and gold wire springs and brass screws holding human teeth. Greenwood left a hole to accommodate Washington’s single tooth. When Washington finally lost this final tooth, he gave it to Greenwood who saved it in a special case.

Jun 11, 2013

Web and Internet Defined

Internet technically began to exist in the form we know it on January 1, 1983 when its predecessor, Arpanet began using TCP/IP – the system of network communication still used today.

The web was invented by Englishman Tim Berners-Lee in 1989. The World Wide Web is made up of servers (which serve the pages) and clients (like Firefox, Safari, and IE) which display the page.

The Internet is the set of technologies beneath the web which enable the web to exist. If the Internet did not exist, the web would not function. If the web did not exist, the Internet would still function.

Other programs that use the Internet and have nothing to do with the web are email, IRC (Internet Relay Chat), most internet messaging programs, newsgroups, BitTorrent, telnet, FTP, etc.

What's in a Name, Lacrimal Caruncle

The lacrimal caruncle, or caruncula lachrymalis, is a small triangle-shaped pink bump located in the corner of the eye. Within it are sweat and oil glands. Some accessory lacrimal glands, hair follicles, and tiny pieces of fat are also contained inside this small cutaneous mass.

The purpose is to lubricate, cleanse, and moisturize the eye, along with serving as an antibacterial.

The glands in it secrete a thick whitish oily substance that is sometimes seen in the corner of a person’s eye after sleeping. On each side of the lacrimal caruncle are two tiny openings called lacrimal puncti that suction tears by vacuum each time the blinking motion of the upper eyelid has ended.


Soccer is the national sport of Greenland, but Greenland is not a member of FIFA. Greenland cannot grow or support a grass field, due to its harsh climate. All soccer matches in Greenland are played on artificial turf.

A grass field is a requirement of FIFA, but FIFA's recent approval of FieldTurf may allow Greenland to create FIFA-standard playing pitches and apply to play full internationals.

Wordology, Ironic

Often the word 'ironic' is much misused to remark on a coincidence, such as, “This is the third time today we have run into each other. How ironic.” It is also mistakenly used to describe something out of the ordinary or unusual, “Yesterday was a beautiful, warm day in November. Truly ironic.” It is also wrongly used to emphasize something interesting. For example, “Ironically, it was the best movie I have seen all year.”

A true ironic remark conveys a meaning that is the opposite of its literal meaning, so in an ironic statement one thing is said, while another thing is meant. For example, it would be irony on a  nasty stormy to say, “What wonderful weather.” If you were suffering from a bad cold you might say, “I feel like a million dollars.” These are both examples of verbal irony.

Irony is also often confused with sarcasm. The two are similar, but in sarcasm there is an intent to ridicule or mock, often harshly or crudely.

Dramatic irony is inherent in speeches or a drama and is understood by the audience, but not grasped by the characters in the play.

Jun 7, 2013

Happy Friday

Respect is earned, honesty is appreciated, trust is gained, loyalty is returned.

I earn, gain, appreciate, and love to return a Happy Friday!

Happy Donut Day

The Salvation Army is behind the creation of this holiday. According to its website, "the first National Donut Day was celebrated in Chicago in 1938 to help raise needed funds during the Great Depression and commemorate the work of the “donut lassies” who helped make the donut what it is today by feeding the tasty confection to American soldiers during WWI." In modern times, companies like Entemann’s are donating a portion of their donut profits to the Salvation Army. Canadians eat more donuts per capita than any other country.

Snake Charm Myth Debunked

Snakes do not hear and react to music. Snake charmers play their flute and snakes appear to sway to the music, charmed by the soothing notes. Snakes can feel vibrations, but while the sway appears to be from the music, they are actually responding to the movements made by the snake charmer and not the sound of the flute.

Chicken Noodle Soup

"Chicken with Noodles" soup was a variety introduced to the public by Campbell's in 1934. It is now considered a comfort food, but sales back did not pick up until the product's name was misread during an episode of the popular Amos 'n' Andy radio show.

Once listeners heard the words "chicken noodle soup," and consumer interest was captured. Folks began to ask Campbell's about the "new" soup. It quickly renamed the soup to match the blooper.

I make no bones about adding the following to the discussion about soup. To make no bones about a matter means to speak frankly and directly. A form of this expression was used since the 1400s, meaning to have no difficulty. The allusion is to the occurrence of bones in stews or soup. Soup without bones would offer no difficulty, so one would have no hesitation to swallow soup with no bones.

Robot Grill Cleaner

Grillbot sits on your dirty grill and cleans it. Just press a button to set the amount of time you want it clean and place it on a hot or cold grill. A built in alarm tells you if the grill is too hot for the device. A built-in mini-LCD screen lets you to choose a light or deep clean.

Three motors power three wire brushes. The brushes should be good for one complete BBQ season and are replaceable. The Grillbot comes with a rechargeable battery pack, charger, AC adapter and a hanging storage case. Something to consider for Father's Day www.grillbots.com

Take a Raincheck

This phrase is usually meant to mean “I won’t do it now but I will later”. This is the commonly accepted meaning (and has been for a long time) so it is now considered to be correct. It is included here merely out of interest because its original meaning was slightly different. Initially, a raincheck was offered to people who had tickets to a baseball game that was rained out. They would offered a “raincheck” which was a ticket for a game at a later date to make up for the missed game.

This eventually found its way into shopping jargon in general where a raincheck was an offer to sell an out-of-stock good when it arrived back in stock. The meaning has eventually broadened to a point that it is not an offer any longer, just a response.

Jun 4, 2013

Seven Random US Facts

The seven rays on the crown of the Statue of Liberty represent the seven continents. Each measures up to 9 feet in length and weighs as much as 150 pounds.

Broken shackles lie at the feet of the Statue of Liberty, signifying freedom from oppression and tyranny.

More breakfast cereal is made in Battle Creek, Michigan than in any other city in the world.

Montana has three times as many cows as it does people.

Alaska is 429 times larger than Rhode Island, but Rhode Island has a significantly larger population.

Louisiana has 2,482 islands that cover nearly 1.3 million acres.

Although Ohio is listed as the 17th state in the U.S., it is technically 47th because Congress forgot to vote on a resolution to admit it to the Union until 1953.

Rapture Myth Debunked

The “Rapture” is not in the Bible. Despite being believed by a large number of protestants (many of whom also believe that only that which is in the Bible can be true) it was actually invented in the 1600s by Cotton Mather, otherwise famous for murdering women by hanging them during the Salem witch trials.

The term in the Bible commonly mistranslated to the word “rapture” comes from the Greek ἁρπάζω (harpazo) which actually means “caught up” or “taken away” and it refers to one person only (Philip).

Wordology, Golacher

The term French kiss is commonly attributed to American soldiers returning from World War I, who apparently picked up the technique from the adventurous French maidens.

France has never had a word for "to French kiss" until now. The verb “galocher” meaning to kiss with tongues had just been added to the Petit Robert 2014 French dictionary. It is pronounced ga luh shay

It comes from 'La galoche' an ice-skating boot, so the new term plays on the idea of sliding around the ice. Also,  "galosh" or "overshoe" was used for hundreds of years before that, giving galocher a sort of onomatopoeic connection between the sound that galoshes make on a wet street and that tongues make during a French kiss.

Ten Ideas for Your Smartphone

Your phone is a great place to keep information that you may need to access quickly. Here is a list of things to consider.
• A picture of where you parked your car.
• Printer cartridges showing refill numbers
• Any replaceable items around the house, like battery sizes, light bulb watts, air filter sizes, etc.
• Travel confirmation numbers. It may be quicker than sorting through a few hundred emails. (Another trick is to forward the confirmation email to yourself just before you leave, so it is on the top of the stack.)
• Pictures of current medications including prescription names and dosages.
• Pictures of furniture or wall paint cans to remember colors.
• Recipes or ideas from a magazine that you find while waiting for your doctor or dentist.
• Things that you might want to buy, like the brand of perfume or shampoo you saw.

Another smartphone trick is to add one or more phone contacts or notes with phone numbers to call in the event your wallet, passport, credit cards, etc., are stolen. You do not need to keep the actual credit card number (in case your phone is stolen), the company can look it up.

Take a video of the inside of your home and save it in the cloud. This is what an insurance company would love to see, in case of fire, flood, robbery, or other disaster.

Bonus Idea - Add an ICEmergency contact to your contact list for the person to be notified in case of an accident or medical emergency. You can also add an ICEmergency note with doctor names and numbers, allergies, medications, etc. There are also free applications (Apps) for this on iPhone and Android. If you are a caretaker for others, keep their info on your phone, also.