Feb 28, 2014

Happy Friday

"Some luck lies in not getting what you thought you wanted, but getting what you have, which once you have got it, you may be smart enough to see is what you would have wanted had you known." - Garrison Keillor

I am very lucky, because I always want and have a Happy Friday!

Chuck Norris Belts

Carlos Ray "Chuck" Norris, born March 10, 1940, is the first Westerner in history to be awarded an 8th degree Black Belt (Grand Master) in Taekwondo. He also has 10th degree black belt in Chun Kuk Do (he is founder of this school); 9th degree black belt in Tang Soo Do and BJJ; and brown belts in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Judo. In 2005, Norris founded the World Combat League, a full-contact, team-based martial arts competition.

What Recycle Symbols Mean

As we approach that time of year when thoughts turn to Spring cleaning, it is probably a good idea to also think about what we might recycle. The original recycling symbol was designed in 1970 by Gary Anderson, a senior at the University of Southern California at Los Angeles. It was submitted to the International Design Conference as part of a nationwide contest for high school and college students sponsored by the Container Corporation of America.

The symbols below show the various types of materials. If there is an R in front of the letters, that means it was already recycled. The numbers range from 1 to 7, defining which type of material it is.

Type 1 PolyEthylene TErephthalate is used for pop bottles. Type 2 High-Density PolyEthylene is used for milk and detergent bottles. Twenty-seven percent of type 1 is recycled, including 41 percent of plastic pop bottles. About 7 percent of type 2 plastic recycled.

Type 3 is used on window cleaner bottles, cooking oil bottles, detergent bottles, shampoo bottles, clear food packaging, wire and cable jackets, medical tubing, and in other household products and building materials, particularly siding, piping, and windows

Recycling types 3 through 7 are rare, because using virgin material is cheaper. Recycling rates for these materials are about 1-2 percent.

The recycling rate for all plastic packaging is about 4.5 percent, compared with 53 percent for aluminum.

 - A container or package, marked with this symbol above was manufactured with at least some materials that have been recycled. Generally, additional information is conveyed with the symbol such as, 'Printed on recycled paper'.

There is a symbol for glass, but usually all glass is recyclable. There are many other symbols used for various materials, and different symbols in different countries. They are all meant to make consumers aware of recycling, even if many of the products are not recycled.

Shaft Tax for 2014

For calendar year 2014, the tax imposed under § 4161(b)(2)(A) on the first sale by the manufacturer, producer, or importer of any shaft of a type used in the manufacture of certain arrows is $0.48 per shaft. It is one of the few taxes that has not changed from 2013.

What's in a Name, Small Fry

Seahorses are one of very few species where the male 'gives birth'. The female deposits her eggs in a brood pouch located on her mate's belly. He fertilizes them internally and carries them until they hatch, which can be anywhere from 9 to 45 days based on species and water temperature. A single male may carry hundreds of eggs in his pouch. Baby sea horses are called fry (singular and plural). Baby big-belly seahorses, aside from being too small to exhibit their distinct characteristic round bellies, are exact miniature replicas of their parents.The picture shows how small a fry is.

When baby seahorses are first born, the fry will gulp air at the surface to help fill their swim bladder. Their diet is usually live brine shrimp called Artemia. Seahorses live among coral reefs and sea grass beds.

Throwing Things

Fans at the University of Pennsylvania throw toast on the football field after the third quarter because the school banned liquor, which was formerly used to toast the team. The students took the toast literally and now throw real toast.

This is much better than the University of New Hampshire fans, who throw a fish on the ice during school hockey games. Also fishy, during 2011, fans of the Nashville Predators threw catfish on the ice.

Speaking of hockey, fans in Detroit have a tradition of throwing an octopus on the ice during Detroit Red Wings home playoff games. It began during the 1952 playoffs, when a National Hockey League team played two best-of-seven series to capture the Stanley Cup. The octopus, with eight arms, symbolized the number of playoff wins necessary for the Red Wings to win the Stanley Cup. Brothers Pete and Jerry Cusimano hurled an octopus into the rink. The team swept the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens en route to winning the championship.

Florida Panthers fans littered the ice with plastic rats during face-offs and regular play during Game 5 of their 2012 playoff series.

Other tosses, that seem mild by comparison, include throwing flowers for figure skaters, or tossing hats when a hockey player makes a hat trick.

How to Stay Young

It need not take a lot of effort. John Morley, M.D., director of the division of geriatric medicine at Saint Louis University outlines a ten-step program to improve quality of life as we age.

He suggests little changes that involve good eating, such as including dark chocolate in your diet, drinking wine, socializing, adding simple exercises, fidgeting in your office chair to burn calories, spending time walking from your car to the store rather than driving to find a close parking space, working in your garden, taking the stairs instead of the elevator or going dancing once a week. I  already socialize, drink wine, and eat chocolate, but need to practice fidgeting a bit more.

Herbs and Spices

Herbs are only obtained from the leafy part of a plant while spices can come from any other part of the plant. A single plant can be the source of both an herb and a spice, or more than one spice.

The coriander plant, is an example of a plant that produces both an herb and a spice. The leafy green part is known as coriander leaf (typically known as cilantro in the Americas), while the dried seeds are sold whole or ground as coriander. Nutmeg and mace, both spices, are derived from the seed of the fruit of the myristica fragrans, or nutmeg tree. The seed has a waxy red outer layer (called the “aril”) which is carefully removed, dried, and ground to make mace. The rest of the seed is then dried out and sold whole or ground to be used as nutmeg.

Culinary herbs are the leafy portions of a plant that die down after each growing season and can be used as dried or fresh. Examples include basil, bay leaves, parsley, cilantro, mint, rosemary and thyme.

Spices have a much broader spectrum of origin and can be utilized from any other part of a plant such as the roots, bark, flowers, fruit, and seeds.  Examples come from berries (peppercorns), roots (ginger), seeds (nutmeg), flower buds (cloves) or the stamen of flowers (saffron). Spices are always used in dried form and have also traditionally been used as a preservative.  Archaeologists have found evidence in Egyptian tombs of spices used for embalming, dating back to 3000 B.C.

Allspice is not a combination of anything. It is the dried unripe fruit of Pimenta dioica tree. The name allspice was coined by the English, who thought it combined the flavor of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.

Black pepper is a flowering vine, cultivated for its fruit, which is dried and used as a spice and seasoning. Salt is neither an herb nor a spice, because it is an inorganic mineral.

Free Smile Friday

No words needed

Feb 21, 2014

Happy Friday

You can't have the best time of your life if you keep hitting the snooze button.

I never use the snooze, especially when waking on a Happy Friday!

Sports Jerseys

Jersey is a crown dependency island of the UK where the people have been knitting great wool sweaters for centuries. These tight knit warm sweaters were initially used as an inner layer by rural seamen before evolving into common outerwear. Jersey sweaters spread about the UK and northern Europe as the country’s trading industry rose in prominence during the late 17th and early 18th centuries. Their popularity gained so much, the name “jersey” became synonymous with “sweater” in countries as far away as the United States during the 1850s. When American football developed, players needed strong, insular uniforms, and thick wool jerseys did the job..

Athletic jerseys bore increasingly little resemblance to their bulky ancestral tops. Just as the name had become a synonym for sweater, it soon became a synonym for athletic uniform. Lightweight baseball shirts were often called “jerseys” despite being generally made of flannel and incorporating short sleeves, buttons, and collars. Canadian hockey sweaters began being called jerseys. Americans used jerseys when they were playing football, then baseball, then hockey.

Wordology, Campus

A campus is traditionally the land on which a college or university and related institutional buildings are situated. It usually includes libraries, lecture halls, residence halls, student centers, etc.

It comes from a Latin word for "field" and was first used to describe the grounds of the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) during the 18th century. Other American colleges later adopted the word to describe individual fields at their own institutions. A school has multiple spaces, such as a campus, a field, a yard, etc.

Ten More Fascinating Body Facts

From the age of thirty, humans gradually begin to shrink in size.
Most people lose fifty per cent of their taste buds by the time they reach age sixty.
Your body contains enough iron to make a spike strong enough to hold your weight.
The amount of carbon in the human body is enough to fill about 9,000 'lead' pencils.
One square inch of human skin contains 625 sweat glands.
The surface area of a human lung is equal to that of a tennis court.
Give a tennis ball a hard squeeze and you use about the same amount of force your heart uses to pump blood around your body.
When you blush, your stomach lining also reddens.
The human body has less muscles in it than a caterpillar.
Your eyes blink enough times in a lifetime to see blackness for over a year.

Wordology Crumb

Bread crust surrounds the inner part of bread, which is called the crumb. As pieces of the crumb break off they are called crumbs.


As far back as 3000-5000 BC, ancient Egyptians were using a tooth cream. This dental cream was comprised of powdered ashes from oxen hooves, myrrh, egg shells, pumice. They used their fingers, instead of a brush. Greeks and Romans improved on the process. Then China and India were using a powder/paste as well. The Chinese were particularly forward-thinking in adding flavoring, such as Ginseng, herbal mints, and salt.

Doctors, dentists, and chemists in Britain  introduced tooth powders (or dentrifice) that included abrasive substances like brick dust and crushed china. Glycerine was added in the early 19th century, transforming the powders into pastes. In 1892, Dr. Washington Sheffield of Connecticut invented Dr. Sheffield’s Crème Dentrifice. It was the first time toothpaste was featured in a collapsible tube. In 1873 toothpaste was first mass-produced.

Tom and Kate Chappell sought to create their own toothpaste. They moved from Philadelphia to rural Kennebunk, Maine, and introduced the first natural toothpaste in 1975. It is still called Tom’s of Maine

Origin of Crest Toothpaste

The major ingredient in Crest was discovered by accident when a student left a sample in the furnace too long and when discovered, found that it made it possible to mix the ingredient with fluoride. At first it used stannous fluoride, marketed as "Fluoristan" (this was also the original brand name it was sold as. Later it changed from "Fluoristan" to "Crest with Fluoristan"). The composition of the toothpaste had been developed by Drs. Muhler, Harry Day, and William H. Nebergall at Indiana University, and was patented by Nebergall.

Procter & Gamble paid royalties from use of the patent and thus financed a new dental research institute at the university. The active ingredient of Crest was changed in 1981 to sodium monofluorophosphate, or "Fluoristat". Today Crest toothpastes use sodium fluoride, or "Dentifrice with Fluoristat". Recently introduced Crest Pro-Health, uses stannous fluoride again and an abrasive whitener together called "Polyfluorite".

How Tall are Hollywood Stars

We have all heard Hollywood stars are shorter than they appear on film. Here is a list that proves that to be true.

Snooki is 4'8"
Paula Abdul 5'0"
Reese Witherspoon, Lady Gaga 5'1"
Salma Hayek, Hillary Duff, and Prince 5'2"
Martin Scorsese, Paul Simon 5'3"
Seth Green, Michael J. Fox, Emilio Estevez 5'4"
Dustin Hoffman, Bruno Mars, Daniel Radcliffe, Scott Cann 5'5"
Jon Stewart, Jack Black, Cheech Marin 5'6"
Robert Downey Jr. (or 5'8"), Tom Cruise, Martin Sheen, Ben Stiller 5'7"

They Quoted Me

One of my books, “Greatest Jokes of the Century, Book 22” is cited on a wiki about president John Adams.   http://simple.wikiquote.org/wiki/John_Adams

Another source, Snopes is a site that debunks the myths floating around in cyberspace. Many of the popular emails asking for money, or promising that Microsoft will donate if you forward this email, etc. This valuable site became even more valuable recently when it cited another of my joke books "Greatest Jokes of the Century, Book 14"  for a story about Nancy Pelosi.  http://www.snopes.com/politics/pelosi/captaincook.asp

Here is another from my "Profound Thoughts, Book 1"  http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Clarity

I just love it. Now I am a credible source. . .  Such a dubious distinction!

Tonight Show Oldies

Now that the torch has been passed again, time to reflect on what Fallon needs to live up to. According to laughspin - the best ten moments from Johnnie Carson's reign as host of Tonight Show. LINK      

Free Smile Friday

No words needed

Feb 15, 2014

Happy Friday

If you want to have a great day, let the sunrise lift your spirits.

The sunrise always lifts my spirits, especially for enjoying a Happy Friday!

Happy Valentine's Day

Today is Saint Valentine's Day, also known as Valentine's Day, or the Feast of Saint Valentine. It is observed on February 14 each year in many countries around the world. It is not an official holiday.

Its origins go back to the ancient Roman celebration of Lupercalia, which honored the gods Lupercus and Faunus, and the legendary founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus. Lupercalia festivities and feasts are purported to have included the pairing of young women and men. Men would draw women's names from a container and each couple would be paired until next year's celebration.

It  was not called "Valentine's Day" until a priest named Valentine came along. Emperor Claudius handed down a decree that soldiers remain single, believing that soldiers would be distracted and unable to concentrate on fighting if they were married or engaged. Valentine converted many guards to Christianity and defied the emperor by secretly performing marriage ceremonies. As a result of his defiance, Valentine was put to death on February 14. As Christianity spread through Rome, priests moved Lupercalia from February 15 to February 14 and renamed it St. Valentine's Day.

Cupid became associated with Valentine's day for another reason. According to Roman mythology, Cupid was the son of Venus, the goddess of love and beauty. He caused people to fall in love by shooting them with his magical arrows. He also fell deeply in love with a mortal maiden named Psyche. Cupid married Psyche, but his mother, Venus was jealous of Psyche's beauty and forbade her daughter-in-law to look at Cupid. Psyche couldn't resist temptation and sneaked a peek at her handsome husband. As punishment, Venus demanded that she perform three tasks, the last of which caused Psyche's death. Cupid brought Psyche back to life and the gods, moved by their love, granted Psyche immortality.

Picture of Happiness

This picture seems appropriate for the day. Now we know why those who are happy and in love appear to glow. They are warm all over.

This picture proves that happiness is the greatest emotion and makes your whole body feel good. Second strongest is love.

Wordology, Orchid

Take a look at certain orchids’ roots, and you will notice that they look like testicles. The word, introduced in 1845 for the flower comes from the Greek orchis, which literally translates as “testicle.” Speakers of Middle English in the 1300s came up with a different word, inspired by the same description. They called the flower ballockwort from ballocks, or testicles, which evolved from beallucas, the Old English word for balls.

Four Useful Household Hacks

Spray nonstick spray on the inside of your votive candle holders. Remaining wax will easily slide out. Use newspaper to eliminate odors in Tupperware, or the crisper bin of your refrigerator, or in a purse with lingering smells. Add a few drops of vodka and a teaspoon of sugar to make cut flowers last longer. Rub the cut edge of cheese with butter or olive oil to keep it from getting moldy.

Facts About The Olympics

With the beautiful pictures of the Sochi games blasting at us at all hours lately, I thought it might be interesting to write about the origin of the Olympics. The Olympics got its name from city named Olympia, Greece, where the original games were held. The 1936 Olympics were the first to be televised.

Pierre de Frédy, Baron de Coubertin convened a congress in Paris in 1894 with the goal of reviving the ancient Olympic Games. The congress agreed on proposals for a modern Olympics, and the International Olympic Committee was formalized and given the task of planning the 1896 Athens Games.

The first new Olympic Games featuring athletes from all five inhabited parts of the world was in Stockholm in 1912. This prompted the design of five interlocked rings. He drew and colored the rings and added them to a letter Coubertin sent to a colleague. He used his ring design as the emblem of the Committee's 20th anniversary celebration in 1914. A year later, it became the official Olympic symbol.

The rings were to be used on flags and signage at the 1916 Games, but those games were cancelled, because of the ongoing World War, so the rings made the official debut at the 1920 Games in Antwerp, Belgium.  At the end of each Olympic Games, the mayor of the host-city presents the flag to the mayor of the next host-city. It then rests at the town hall of the next host-city for four years until the Opening Ceremony of its Olympic Games.

Coubertin explained his design: "A white background, with five interlaced rings in the centre (sic): blue, yellow, black, green and red...is symbolic; it represents the five inhabited continents of the world, united by Olympism, while the six colors are those that appear on all the national flags of the world at the present time." He never said nor wrote that any specific ring represents a specific continent. It is a myth that the rings were inspired by a similar, ancient design found on a stone at Delphi, Greece. The stone was made as a prop.

The Olympic motto was also proposed by Pierre, "Citius, Altius, Fortius", which is Latin for "Swifter, Higher, Stronger."

Special Olympics - In 1971, The US Olympic Committee gave the Special Olympics official approval to use the name “Olympics”. In 1988, the Special Olympics was officially recognized by the International Olympic Committee. Special Olympics is the world's largest sports organization for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, providing year-round training and competitions to more than 4.2 million athletes in 170 countries. Special Olympics competitions are held every day, all around the world, including local, national and regional competitions, adding up to more than 70,000 events per year.

The motto for the Special Olympics is "Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt."

I have the honor and privilege to assist in presenting medals to Special Olympians today at our
Special Olympics of Texas Developmental Skills Competition.

Bang for Your Buck

'Bang for your buck' means 'value for the money spent' or 'excitement for the money spent' and is based on the slang meaning of bang (excitement ) and buck (money).

Finland had one of the highest-ranked education system for many years, but came in #2 in 2013, behind to Japan. The UK #3 in 2013; Canada #7; Estonia #17 and the United States #18, out of 200 countries considered.

Japan spends an average of $10,596 per student and Finland $10,157. The US spends $15,172 per student, the highest of any country and 2.5 times more per student than #17 ranked Estonia. The US does not appear to be getting a bang for its bucks.

What Causes Tornadoes

The first four months of the year brings risk for tornadoes in the southern US. From April through June, the biggest tornado threat shifts to the Plains, Upper Midwest, and Great Lakes. The main tornado risk then stays along the northern tier of the country through much of summer, while tropical storms and hurricanes increase back in the South as they move inland. These are followed in November and December with more chances of tornadoes moving back to the South.

About ninety percent of US twisters occur in a 300-mile wide corridor extending from West Texas to Canada. Warm, moist surface winds blow up from the Gulf of Mexico, while cool high-altitude winds blow over the tops of the Rockies. The cool air wants to sink while warm air wants to rise. However, the mountain air causes a temperature inversion, which prevents the warm surface air from rising. It is like clamping the lid on a pressure cooker. The surface weather systems build up a big head of steam until they break through the inversion and shoot up to towering heights and the violent updrafts and downdrafts lead to form tornadoes. Tornadoes occur most frequently in the central plains of the US. Australia has the second most tornadoes each year.

Google Site Search

Did you know that Google has a feature that allows you to search a specific site for information. Here is how it works: To search a single website -
1. Type "site:" into the Google search bar (without the quote marks).
2. Type the name of the website you want to search without the "http://" and the "www."
3. Type the search term you are looking for.
For example, use Google to search my blog for peanuts, you would type this - site:shubsthoughts.blogspot.com peanuts

Free Smile Friday

Baby laughing at dog


Feb 7, 2014

Happy Friday

Those who wake up in the morning and think, 'this is going to be the best day of my life' usually make it so.

I always wake up thinking that. It makes for a special Happy Friday!

Be Positive Stay Healthy

A recent study analyzed data on 3,199 people, 60 and older, including their attitudes about how much they enjoyed life, problems they had with basic daily functions such as dressing and bathing, and how mobile they were.

About 21 percent were deemed to have a high level of enjoyment about life, 56 percent a medium level and 23 percent a low level of enjoyment. In an eight-year span, problems with day-to-day tasks generally increased and mobility declined. About 4 percent of those most upbeat about life developed two or more new functional impairments, compared with 17 percent of those who enjoyed life the least. People assessed as enjoying life at a medium or low level were about 80 percent more likely than their happier counterparts to have developed mobility and functional problems.

There is growing evidence that optimistic people not only tend to live longer, but may enjoy physical benefits as well. As the song says, "Don't worry. Be Happy!" (Bobby McFerrin with Robin Williams and Bill Irwin)

Ten Amazing Body Facts

  • An average red blood cell lives for 120 days.
  • There are about 2.5 trillion red blood cells in your body at any moment.
  • A red blood cell can circumnavigate your body in under 20 seconds.
  • Nerve Impulses travel at over 400 km/hr (25 mi/hr).
  • A sneeze generates a wind of 166 km/hr (100 mi/hr), and a cough moves out at 100 km/hr (60 mi/hr).
  • Our heart beats about 100,00 times every day.
  • Our blood travels about 60,000 miles each day.
  • When we touch something, we send a message to our brain at 124 mph
  • The life span of a taste bud is ten days.

  • There are more living organisms on the skin of a single human being than there are human beings on the surface of the earth.
  • Origin of the Bra

    Wearing a specialized garment to support a woman’s breasts dates as far back as the 14th century BC in Greece where women wore a band of wool or linen that was wrapped across the breasts and tied or pinned in the back.

    It is not clear who was the first to invent the modern bra, as numerous patents in various nations were filed in the mid-19th to early 20th centuries. However, Caresse Crosby, born Mary Phelps Jacob, invented her design in 1910 and was among the first to patent her 'backless brassiere'. She got the idea for her bra when she was just 19 years old and going to a ball. Her dress for the evening was a sheer gown. She, with the help of her maid, took two handkerchiefs and some ribbon and sewed them together to make something like a modern day bra, so she could have support, but not need to wear a corset.

    Frederick Mellinger, founder of Frederick’s of Hollywood, introduced a padded bra, a push-up bra, a front hook bra, and more colorful bras. The most expensive bra in history, valued at $15 million, was modeled in 2000 by Gisele Bundchen and made from red satin and hand-cut Thai rubies and diamonds.

    Corsets dominated the undergarments of wealthier women in the Western world for centuries, until WWI required quite a bit of metal. In 1917, the US War Industries Board asked American women to help their 'men win the war' by not wearing or buying corsets. During the war it is estimated that they freed up around 28,000 tons of steel that could be used for other types of heavy lifting.

    Who Were Procter and Gamble

    William Procter was a candle maker from England, and James Gamble was a soap maker from Ireland. They settled in Cincinnati and met when they married sisters, Olivia and Elizabeth Norris. They began business as Procter and Gamble, October 31, 1837. Their first product was a floating soap called Ivory.

    During the 1920s and 1930s, the company sponsored a number of radio programs. As a result, these shows often became known as 'soap operas'.

    Disposable Diaper Double Duty

    Procter and Gamble may have developed disposable diapers, but now they have found a new life. Diapers keep baby bottoms dry because they absorb liquids. They can also be used in planters. Cut strips of unused diapers and place on the bottom of the pot before adding soil. They absorb water and keep plants hydrated longer as they slowly release the water to the soil on top.

    Porcelain, Fine China, and Bone China

    Exported Chinese porcelains were held in such great esteem in Europe that in the English language china became a synonym for porcelain.

    Bone china is made from cow bone ash and other ingredients. The addition of animal bone ash gives bone china a warm color, while fine china is a brighter white. Bone china has a translucent quality compared to fine china. Fine china is made the same way, replacing bone with kaolin clay. 

    Spone china - American artist Charles Krafft replaced cow bone ash with human bone ash, retrieved from a crematorium.

    Porcelain is fired at a higher temperature and is much harder. Porcelain gets its name from old Italian porcellana (cowrie shell) because of its resemblance to the translucent surface of the shell. The raw materials are finely ground, cleaned, formed in a mold, and then fired.

    If the temperature is high the finished product is more durable and known as porcelain. If it’s fired at a lower temperature it becomes fine china. Fine china is much softer than porcelain, making it suitable for plates and cups. Porcelain is strong enough and durable enough for a wide range of products, such as electrical insulators and toilets. Bottom line, all china is porcelain, but not all porcelain is china.

    What's in a Name, Harvard

    Harvard was founded mainly by a bequest from John Harvard, along with his extensive library in 1636. The iconic statue of him is really not him, because they could not find a real picture of him so the artist had another person sit in. That guy was a student, Sherman Hoar.

    Moravec's Paradox

    Hans Moravec, adjunct faculty member at the Robotics Institute of Carnegie Mellon University, pointed out that machine technology mimicked a savant infant. Machines can do long math equations instantly and beat humans in chess, but they can't answer a simple question or walk up a flight of stairs (until recently). He, along with many others has been working to solve that paradox and help computers evolve on their own.

    Early artificial intelligence (AI) researchers believed intelligence was characterized as the things that highly educated scientists found challenging, such as chess, symbolic integration, and solving complicated word algebra problems. They thought, if those could be done so easily by computers, things that children of four or five years could do effortlessly, such as visually distinguishing between a coffee cup and a chair, or walking around on two legs, or responding to words would be infinitely easier for computers to learn.

    Computers/robots are finally beginning to move and think like people. Narrative Science can write earnings summaries that are indistinguishable from wire reports. We can ask our phones, 'I'm lost, help.' and our phones can tell us how to get home. (The smartphone was introduced in 2007, just seven years ago.)

    Computers that can drive cars were never supposed to happen and ten years ago, many engineers said it was impossible. Navigating a crowded street requires a combination of spacial awareness, soft focus, and constant anticipation. Yet, today we have Google's self-driving cars and they have been approved by some states as allowable on city streets. Ten years from impossible to common.

    IBM, working with Memorial Sloan-Kettering cancer information is using its computers to diagnose diseases and the Cleveland Clinic to help train aspiring physicians. It just invested a billion dollars to set up 'Watson' into a separate business unit for medical and other complex decision making activities.

    Bottom line, we are experiencing solutions to the paradox and it is very exciting, although I am not sure machines will ever replace the following or that we will ever want to.

    Free Smile Friday

    No words needed

    Feb 1, 2014

    Happy Friday

    Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word.

    I never need to hunt for the meaning of having a Happy Friday!

    Kosher Salt Facts

    Kosher salt is not kosher, does not come from the Dead Sea, is not necessarily blessed by a rabbi, and may contain additives, although it is usually free from iodine.

    Kosher salt refers to any coarse-grain salt that is used to make meat kosher. Kosher salt usually is mineral salt, which may mined anywhere. A rabbi does not "bless" the salt to make it kosher (although Morton's Coarse Kosher Salt in the past has claimed to be packaged under Rabbinical supervision). As with any other salt, some commercial Kosher salt, uses anti-caking additives to make it free-flowing.

    Seven Types of Twins

    There are seven different types of twins: Identical, Fraternal, Mirror-Image, Polar Body (Half Identical), Mixed Chromosome, Superfecundation, and Superfetation. Some are obvious, such as identical and fraternal.

    Mirror-Image twins occur only in identical twins. In approximately 23 percent of identical twins the egg splits later than usual, most often day seven or beyond. The original right half of the egg becomes one individual and the original left half becomes the other. These twins will often have "mirror images" of their features, such as hair whorls that run clockwise in one and counter clockwise in the other, a birthmark on the right shoulder of one and the left shoulder of the other, etc. The determination is made by observation only, and the twins must be identical.  One twin will be right-handed, while the co-twin is left-handed. This may be a partial explanation for the fact that a little over one third of identical twins are left-handed, double the rate in the general population. In extreme cases, all of the internal organs are reversed in one of the twins, with the heart on the right, the liver on the left and the appendix on the left.

    Polar Body or Half Identical twins are unusual and rare. The polar body appears when the egg has been developing, even before fertilization. It is a small cell that does not function and will usually degenerate and die. It is thought that in some cases, when the egg is old, the splitting off of the polar body takes place in an abnormal way. It then becomes larger, receives more nourishment, and does not die as it usually does. Instead, it acts as a second egg. The polar body and the egg share identical genes from the mother, but they may then be fertilized by two separate sperm from the father. This will result in twins who share half their genes in common (from the mother) and the other half different (from the two sperm). They share some features of identical twins and some features of fraternal twins and thus are called half-identical twins.

    Mixed Chromosomes or Chimerism is thought to occur if two separate sperm fertilize two separate eggs which then fuse, producing individuals with different sets of chromosomes. Some have been identified that have more than one distinct red blood cell type and individuals who are both XX and XY (the sex chromosomes - XX being female and XY being male.) This phenomenon might also be associated with fused placentas causing intermixing of the circulations. It is extremely rare and fewer than twenty-five cases have been identified.

    Superfecundation Twins can have different fathers. It happens when the mother ovulates more than one egg and has more than one partner during her fertile period. One egg is fertilized with sperm from one partner, and the other egg from sperm of the second partner. These types of twins are always fraternal or dizygotic.

    Superfetation occurs when a women ovulates more than one egg, but the eggs are released at different times, sometimes up to 24 days apart, and they are fertilized when they are released. The resulting twin pregnancy has different conception dates, so the babies may be quite different in size. Days or weeks may separate the births. It is quite an unusual event. This is called interval birth.

    Wordology, Smithereen

    It is the smallest particle that results from exploding an object.

    Venomous or Poisonous

    Fish, snakes, and spiders are often described as either being venomous or poisonous. The difference is in the delivery system. Those that are venomous inject their target with their toxin through a bite, sting, or sharp body protrusion. Those that are poisonous have toxins that must be swallowed or inhaled in order to be dangerous.

    Venomous animals need to get their toxins beneath the skin and then into the bloodstream to be effective. Some have a venomous bite, but are safe to eat. Many caterpillars have defensive venom glands associated with specialized bristles, known as urticating hairs, which can be lethal to humans. There are about six venomous snake and about seven venomous spider fatalities in the US each year. Venoms are usually not lethal if swallowed.

    Poisonous fish can be potentially deadly if eaten. Poisons work mostly through the digestive system and mucous membranes of the body. Some poisons can be transferred easily to humans by merely touching or handling.

    The yellow-bellied sea snake has both a venomous bite and poisonous flesh.

    There are several types of venom. Neurotoxins attack the brain and the nerves. Animals whose bite results in paralysis use this type of venom. Cytotoxins are a type of venom that causes the most pain, as this venom attacks cells directly, causing them to rupture and release their contents into the body. Hemotoxins attack blood cells directly and most kill red blood cells, which interrupts the flow of oxygen throughout the body. Not all poisonous or venomous creatures are fatal to humans, but they are all discomforting.

    Stamp Price Increase

    In case you did not notice, the price of a US stamp went up 6.5% to 49 cents on January 27. Slipped past me this past week.

    IKEA Naming System

    The system was created by dyslexic founder Ingvar Kamprad, who wanted to avoid relying on numbers. Here is the system for naming items:
    Upholstered furniture, coffee tables, rattan furniture, bookshelves, media storage, doorknobs: Swedish place names
    Beds, wardrobes, hall furniture: Norwegian place names
    Dining tables and chairs: Finnish place names
    Bookcase ranges: Occupations
    Bathroom articles: Scandinavian lakes, rivers, and bays
    Chairs, desks: men's names
    Fabrics, curtains: women's names
    Garden furniture: Swedish islands
    Lighting: terms from music, chemistry, meteorology, measures, weights, seasons, months, days, boats, nautical terms
    Children's items: mammals, birds, adjectives
    Curtain accessories: mathematical and geometrical terms
    There are too many more to mention here, but if you want to learn the rest, you can go to http://lar5.com/ikea/ and peruse the IKEA Dictionary.

    Double Meaning Animals

    We do not often think of the question of which came first, the chicken or the egg, and we ignore how many times we egg someone on by calling them chicken. Here are a few more ways we use animals in discussions.

    Someone tried to buffalo me into this.
    She double dog dared me
    And hounded me for no good reason.
    I knew it was a bunch of bull
    And was not sheepish in telling her,
    But still, I tried to ferret out some information,
    Because I could not weasel out of it.
    I also could not worm my way out of it.

    I was fishing for how to begin this
    Without being a leech or trying to sponge off of anyone.

    Too often we wolf down food or just plain pig out.
    We feel playful and horse around or monkey around.
    When we get caught, it is time to pony up.
    Children often ape their parents and may parrot what they say.
    When someone gooses you, it is time to duck out, but most often they just do it as a lark.

    You probably think it is time for me to clam up, but I am not done yet.
    I have a few more squirreled away, just to badger you a bit more.
    Luckily there were no moles in the crowd to give away my secrets.

    Did you ever notice how some people cat around,
    Even the coyote ugly ones.
    Of course, I am not a social butterfly.

    Quit carping, you know I out foxed you.
    I led you down the rabbit hole
    And snaked my way through another post.
    I did not rat anyone out and am still crowing that I managed to finished this
    Even if many think the whole thing is for the birds. (OK, so the egg part was a stretch, but it seemed to work.)

    New Way to Achieve Goals

    Came across an interesting idea this week. If you really want to accomplish something, the normal process is to set a goal by making it a TODO item, such as: 'Lose five pounds in one month'.

    An alternative idea is to turn that goal into a question, such as, 'How can I lose five pounds in one month'? The ideas quickly come, because our mind needs to solve the puzzle we posed. People have a built in need to come up with an answer to a question. It has less need to accomplish a goal.

    That question, "How can I drink more water?" might spark all kinds of follow-up questions and ideas. What if I connect drinking water to certain triggers, e.g. taking a swig of water every time I check my email? What if I put a desired amount of water in a bottle each day? The various what, if, and how questions may help you arrive at a concrete plan, instead of just a goal.

    Free Smile Friday

    No words needed