Mar 25, 2016

Happy Friday

Facebook has become the new communications medium. It is called a medium, because not much is well done.

I always try to communicate smiles and happy thoughts to share on a Happy Friday!

Happy Easter 2016

Here are a few events that take place around the world leading up to and on Easter.

Semana Santa is held within cities across Spain and Mexico. It means Holy Week, the period leading up to Easter Sunday. All shops and stores except restaurants close and the entire city is transformed. Fifty five different churches take part in the festival, parading large floats that resemble Jesus in some way. The floats make their way from their church of origin to the cathedral, and then back again. It draws tourists from all over the world.

The Epitáphios Threnos is a tradition in Greek Orthodox religions that is held on Good Friday. It means Lamentation at the Tomb, and is in essence a funeral service to respect the death of Jesus by re-enacting the way he was buried after his crucifixion. It takes place in churches, where an epitaphios is placed atop something representing the tomb of Christ. The epitaphios is a highly-adorned piece of cloth that represents the shroud Jesus was wrapped in. The tomb is decorated with flower petals and rosewater. Interactions with this tomb vary depending on tradition. Some will hold it over the church entrance so that believers pass under it, a symbol of entering the grave alongside Christ.

The Easter Ham story states that a wicked queen named Ishtar (became root of Easter) gave birth to a son called Tammuz. This son would become a hunter, but his career was cut short when he was killed by a wild pig. Ishtar then designated a forty day period (the source of Lent) to mark the anniversary of Tammuz's death. During this time, no meat was to be eaten. Every year, on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox, a celebration was made. Ishtar also proclaimed that because a pig killed Tammuz, that a pig must be eaten on that Sunday.

Another theory states that, while lamb was usually the go-to dish for its symbolism with Passover, ham would be used because pigs were considered a symbol of good luck. Another source gives a more practical approach. Before the invention of refrigeration, pigs were slaughtered in the fall and preserved during winter. Should some of the meat not be consumed during the winter months, it would be cured so it could be eaten during springtime around Easter, making it an ideal dish for the season.

In the United Kingdom, a select few people are given money the day before Good Friday. These coins, known as Maundy Money, have a long history. It began when Jesus gave the command, “That ye love one another” after he washed the feet of his disciples. This became a fourth century tradition where the poor have their feet washed and are given clothes. This stopped around the eighteenth century, and was replaced by an allowance to give the poor a chance to buy food and clothing. Today, a selection of elders receive a red and white purse. The red one contains legal currency, while the white one contains special symbolic Maundy coins. The people are selected by the amount of Christian service they have performed. This year, the Queen handed out commemorative Maundy coins in a traditional royal service at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle. Ninety men and ninety women, representing her 90 years, were presented with the coins in recognition of service to the Church and community. The red purse contained a £5 coin, commemorating the Queen's 90th birthday, and a 50p coin commemorating the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings. The white purse contains one, two, three and four silver penny pieces, which add up to the Queen's age.

Haux Omelets are made every year on Easter Monday, the residents of Haux, France create a large omelet. They can be three yards wide to feed 1,000 people. One year’s omelet consisted of 5,211 eggs, 21 quarts of oil, 110 pounds of bacon, onion and garlic.

Every Easter in Bacup, England, The Britannia Coco-Nut Dancers, or Nutters, perform a folk dance from one town boundary to the other. What makes these dancers unique is their blackened faces, but no one is sure of their origins. It might be from medieval times to hide the faces of those who participated to stop evil spirits from getting their revenge, or it may have ties to the mining industry. The Nutters blackened faces have no racial aspect.

Doctor's Day

March 30 is celebrated in healthcare organizations as a day to recognize the contributions of doctors to individual lives and communities.

The first Doctors Day observance was March 30, 1933 in Winder, Georgia. Eudora Brown Almond, wife of Dr. Charles Almond, decided to set aside a day to honor physicians. This first observance included mailing greeting cards and placing flowers on graves of deceased doctors. The red carnation is commonly used as the symbolic flower for National Doctors Day.

Wordology, Egg Someone On

This is one of those idioms where you think the etymology would be obvious, but this phrase has nothing to do with eggs.

The egg in this expression is a verb meaning “to goad” or “to incite” which is derived from the Old Germanic dialect word, eggia. The word is related to the Old English word, ecg, meaning “an edge.” It is also related to the Middle Low German eggen, meaning “to harrow.” Therefore, this may suggest that someone is “egged” on in fear of being prodded with something sharp, but this is only a vaguely implied connection.

The word came into English around the year 1200, originally in the sense of provoking or tempting a person. Today, the phrase means to encourage someone to do something, usually of a risky, foolish, or dangerous nature. In other words, people egg one another on to get a reaction.

Looking back to 1932

Elmer Doolin purchased a corn chip recipe during the early 1930s and started mass producing his corn chips in 1932. He also invented Cheetos.

Lay’s introduced its classic potato chip in 1932.

Difference Between French Bread and Italian Bread

Both Italy and France are countries that specialize in bread making. Bread is essential to almost every meal in Italy and France. However, the two countries approach bread-making quite differently from one another.

When we think of French bread, the “the French stick” usually comes to mind. It is a long, thin crusty loaf that is typically referred to as a “baguette,” which directly translates into “a stick.” The Baguette may be the most popular type of bread in France. It is eaten throughout almost every province in the country. Other types of ordinary French white bread include the couronne, which is bread in the shape of a ring, or “country bread” (pain de campagne) that often incorporates whole wheat or rye flour in its ingredients.

In terms of Italian bread making, they allow the yeast to fully rise over the course of a few hours, resulting in a very thin-crusted loaf. The interior of Italian bread is typically extremely moist and absorbent to better to soak up olive oil and tomatoes. Types of Italian bread include ciabatta, made of wheat flour and yeast, piadina, made of flour, lard and slat, and panettone, a bread that is native to Milan.

Both countries make delicious loaves, but the similarities between Italian and French bread end the moment you compare the two side by side. The first way to distinguish Italian from French bread is to simply eyeball the two. To broadly generalize, while French bread is long with rounded edges, Italian bread comes in a more overall circular shape.

French bread is typically baked in a long, thin shape and has become the major food symbol of the country. The baguette can be baked as long as 30 inches and is a staple in almost every region.

Italian bread is known to be baked in more a flat and round shape. Italian loaves are also shorter and typically thicker than their French counterparts. Although it is possible to get baguette-type looking bread in an Italian bakery, on average, most Italian bread is shaped into larger rounds.

There are endless variations in size and shape for bread in each country, but there are indicators that will distinguish the two. In France, breads are usually given as a starter. French brioche, a sweet bread, is sometimes eaten in the morning with breakfast meals. The French also employ the baguette as a multipurpose bread, used for sandwiches and as the base for canapés. Italian breads are usually served as a supplement to pasta or other main courses. Italians eat bread to absorb the flavors of olive oils or thick sauces in a rich meal.

Both are made with the same ingredients in a similar fashion. However, one major difference in ingredients is that bread making in France is more tightly controlled than in Italy. By law in France, bread cannot have added oil or fat. French baguettes, for instance, must be made from water, flour, yeast, and salt. Italian bread often contains a little bit more milk, olive oil, and sometimes sugar in its contents.

Public Policy

A new analysis by the Center for Public Integrity found that between 2010 and 2014, there were six advocacy groups lobbying state legislatures for every single individual lawmaker.

Benefits of Laughter

Laughter reduces the level of stress hormones like cortisol, adrenaline, dopamine, and growth hormone. It also increases the level of health-enhancing hormones like endorphins. Laughter increases the number of antibody-producing cells and enhances the effectiveness of T cells. All this means a stronger immune system, as well as fewer physical effects of stress.
A good belly laugh exercises the diaphragm, contracts the abs and even works out the shoulders, leaving muscles more relaxed afterward. It even provides a good workout for the heart.
Laughter provides distraction and brings focus away from anger, guilt, stress, and negative emotions in a more beneficial way than other distractions.
Studies show that our response to stressful events can be altered by whether we view something as a 'threat' or a 'challenge'. Humor can give us a more lighthearted perspective and help us view events as 'challenges', thereby making them less threatening and more positive.
Laughter connects us with others. Just as with smiling and kindness, most people find that laughter is contagious, so if you bring more laughter into your life, you can most likely help others around you to laugh more, and realize these benefits as well. By elevating the mood of those around you, you can reduce their stress levels, and perhaps improve the quality of social interaction you experience with them.

Dos Equis

Now that the most interesting man in the world (Jonathon Goldsmith) is going to Mars and not coming back, thought it is time to look into him and the brand. Two interesting abilities he has, among many others, are parallel-parking a train, and slamming a revolving door. "His only regret is not knowing what regret feels like."

Dos Equis (XX) Mexican beer was first brewed in 1900 and was originally named “Siglo XX” to signify the new millennium. It is brewed in the Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma Brewery. Now it is simply called Dos Equis “XX.” Dos equis translates to two X's.

Mar 18, 2016

Happy Friday

There is no shadow of doubt in the bright light of a smile.

I always double the lights by smiling in the mirror on a Happy Friday!

March Equinox, Spring, Easter

March Equinox in Plano, Texas, U.S.A. is on Saturday, March 19, 2016 at 11:30 PM CDT. The March equinox or Northward equinox is the equinox on the earth when the Sun appears to leave the southern hemisphere and cross the celestial equator, heading northward as seen from earth. In the northern hemisphere the March equinox is known as the vernal equinox, and in the southern hemisphere as the autumnal equinox. On the equinoxes the Sun shines directly on the equator and the length of day and night is nearly equal. This also signals the first day of Spring for the Northern Hemisphere or the first day of Fall in the Southern Hemisphere.

In 325CE the Council of Nicaea established that Easter would be held on the first Sunday after the first full moon occurring on or after the vernal equinox.

Spring Sunshine

The Sun's light reaches the surface of Earth about 8 minutes after it left the surface of the Sun. It takes 3 minutes to reach Mercury and about 4 hours to reach Neptune.

International Day of Happiness

It is typical for politicians to take such a subject as happiness and make it serious. In 2012 the first ever UN conference on happiness took place and the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution which decreed that the International Day of Happiness would be observed every year on 20 March. It was celebrated for the first time in 2013.

The UN General Assembly adopted a resolution which recognized happiness as a “fundamental human goal” and called for “a more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach to economic growth that promotes the happiness and well-being of all peoples.” “We need a new economic paradigm that recognizes the parity between the three pillars of sustainable development. Social, economic, and environmental well-being are indivisible. Together they define gross global happiness,” the Secretary-General told the meeting’s participants.

Denmark and Switzerland were closely followed by Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland, for the top five happiest countries, according to the World Happiness Report Update 2016, released by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network for the United Nations. The US came in thirteenth.

March 20 is the day to share videos, happy photos, and thoughts celebrating International Day of Happiness. For me, I will be passing out free smiles and hugs - all welcome.

Club Soda, Mineral Water, Seltzer, and Tonic

Club Soda is often mistaken for and swapped out for seltzer water. The two are similar, but different. Club soda contains sodium salts and/or potassium salts. Like seltzer, it makes a good addition to batters, and makes matzo balls extra fluffy.

Mineral Water or sparkling water also contains minerals. Sparkling mineral water gets both its effervescence and minerals from the natural spring it is drawn from. The US FDA states mineral water must contain "no less than 250 ppm total dissolved solids that originates from a geologically and physically protected underground water source." Mineral water, because of its salt content, tends to be more acidic and while the carbonation is often added to mineral water during its plant treatments, the carbonation is often collected from natural sources. Mineral water is generally not used as a mixer and is best complemented by just a squeeze of citrus. Mineral water contains higher amounts of magnesium and calcium.

Seltzer Water is artificially carbonated water with no added ingredients. The beverage got its start (and name) in the German town of Selters, which was known for its sparkling springs that supposedly had remarkable healing powers. Seltzer is a cheap alternative to designer mineral waters.

Tonic Water is carbonated water to which quinine has been added to give it a characteristically bitter taste. Quinine was originally created from the bark of the cinchona tree that is native to South America and has been used to treat malaria since the 17th century. Its taste was so bitter and unpalatable that the medicine, while effective, was unpopular. British officials in the 19th century decided to add soda water in an attempt to make quinine easier to take. British soldiers found that gin was also great to mask the taste, making the gin and tonic a popular drink. Quinine glows in UV light, so you can use a black light to show off glowing drinks using tonic water.

Google Timer

You can set a timer for yourself for free. Type any time into Google, such as ten minutes timer. Adding the word timer after the time period sets the timer countdown and Google will play a sound when time is up. Great way to set a break time for yourself or reminder that coffee is done.

Nine Shopping Myths Debunked

Myth, You Should Always Buy in Bulk
When confronted with a big package and a small package of the same item, cost-conscious shoppers often reach for the larger of the two, assuming a bulk discount. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. If you want to know whether you are getting a good value, calculate what you are paying per unit or per ounce. You may be surprised to find smaller packages can be just as or more economical than larger ones.

Myth, You Don’t Have to Pay Sales Tax for Online Shopping
While some retailers do sell goods online without charging state sales tax, this is not always the case. “These days, that myth boils down to a mix of misinformation and misunderstanding,” says Ryan O’Donnell, director of marketing for a sales tax software company. “While it is true online shoppers can search and find options for tax-free purchases, in most cases, these amount to the seller failing to collect the sales tax.”

Myth, Sports Fans Buy New TVs Just for the Super Bowl
Another myth that is pushed by the wave of hype surrounding a big event is the idea that everyone rushes out to buy the biggest big screen they can afford before the Super Bowl. Polling shows the majority of TV buyers said they bought their set in November or December, likely taking advantage of pre-Christmas sales to get TV deals. Every other month of the year, TV sales are fairly evenly distributed.

Myth, Black Friday Is the Best Day to Shop
This is not always true. Black Friday has some of the best deals of the year, but only on certain products. Do not get so caught up in the shopping holiday hype that you forget to consider whether you are getting a great buy or just an okay buy.

Myth, After Christmas Sales Can’t Compare to Holiday Shopping
While it might not always qualify as the best time to shop, the week after Christmas generally offers very good deals. After holidays, retailers use steep discounts to bring shoppers into stores to clear out holiday inventory. Some of these post-Christmas sales actually start just before Christmas.

Myth, Retailers Always Clear Out Old Inventory in January
Though it is true that retailers are eager to get rid of old, outdated inventory when new products come out, not all products have straightforward release schedules. Consider cars, which have new models every year. The 2016 models were released in the fall of 2015, and by January those models were likely long gone.

Myth, If It is On Sale, Buy It
Not all sales are created equal. You have probably noticed that in certain stores things seem to be always on sale. When goods are always on sale, the sale price is really just the retail price under a different name. Be wary of these always-on-sale items. Think mattress, there seems to be a 'huge' mattress sale every day of the year.

Myth, Outlet Stores Have the Best Prices
Outlets suggest they are offering steep discounts on brand-name merchandise, with labeling that says you are paying $100 for something that sold for $300 at a flagship store. According to some estimates, more than half of merchandise at outlet stores was made specifically for those stores, using lower-cost materials and designs. Much of outlet stores also sell 'seconds' and discontinued items. Be aware that you are not getting as much value as the tag suggests. In addition, sales at the regular retailer sometimes beat outlet prices.

Myth, The Cheapest Retailer is Always Best
The best price is not always the best deal. A recent study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Wisconsin School of Business suggests that shoppers consider a retailer’s reputation as well as its prices. Savvy shoppers will think twice before buying from a less reputable merchant. Will that seller not honor the price, not have the item in stock, add on extra shipping fees?

American Radio History Magazines

The web site has searchable scanned copies of hundreds of old magazines about the radio industry, popular electronics, audio engineering, regulations, yearbooks, etc. It also has magazines from specific radio stations, television, engineering, and more. Great site to look at old magazines from the 1940s forward. It is like going up to your grandparents attic and sitting for hours reading old magazines (ads included). LINK

Mar 11, 2016

Happy Friday

A smile can light up the darkest soul.

Eliminating dark souls is a great way to enjoy a Happy Friday!

Daylight Saving

Remember to set your clocks forward one hour before you go to bed Saturday night March 12.

Pi Approximation Day

Yes, 3/14/16 it is Rounded Pi Day, because it is closer to 3.1416 (not just 3/14), usually rounded for Pi. Traditional Pi Day activities include eating pizza, fruit pies, doughnuts, pancakes, and other circular food.

How to Clean a Cheese Grater

Remove Cheesy Residue from a Grater with bread. If you have residue on your box grater after grating soft cheese, grate a piece of stale bread to get rid of it and make clean up easier. (via Paula's Weekly Kitchen Tip on Facebook -The trial: I grated 4 ounces of Monterey Jack cheese, leaving the expected cheesy mess on my metal box grater. I then took the stale heel of a loaf of sourdough and raked it over the same side of the box grater, making sure to cover the entire surface. It worked.

Microwave Myth Debunked

The myth is, people do not need to worry about getting their food to proper temperatures throughout after a run through the microwave, because the radiation will kill bacteria.

This is an erroneous assumption and could lead to food poisoning. All microwaves do is make food hotter. The heat itself is the only thing killing germs. Microwaves are also notorious for cooking food unevenly. Experts recommend using food thermometers and checking various spots on the food when using a microwave, in order to ensure avoiding food poisoning issues.

Most microwave meals now contain similar instructions for their own legal protection and to avoid consumer complaints. The truth is that microwaves are perfectly safe in terms of radiation, but they are also not a magic box that will destroy all bacteria.

Expired Sunscreen

Spring is almost on us and it is time to get organized for yard work. One thing to keep in mind as we brave the new season is sunscreen. According to the Mayo Clinic, most sunscreen works at full strength for about three years. So, if you are not sure how old those tubes and sprays are, toss them and replenish.

Incidentally, an SPF 15 product blocks about 94% of UVB rays; an SPF 30 product blocks 97% of UVB rays; and an SPF 45 product blocks about 98% of rays. Most experts tell us to save our money and do not pay for SPF above 30.

Aluminum Foil Facts

A friend of mine, Jeff was wondering whether to cover pans with the shiny side or dull side of aluminum foil out.

Some background, the difference in appearance between dull and shiny is due to the foil manufacturing process. In the final rolling step, two layers of foil are passed through the rolling mill at the same time. The side coming in contact with the mill's highly polished steel rollers becomes shiny.

It makes no difference which side to use when wrapping, covering, draping, or using as a guard for drips.

However, when using non-stick aluminum foil place the non-stick (dull) side toward the food.

Aluminum foil has the lowest moisture-vapor transfer rate of all wrapping materials and is the most effective in preventing the loss of moisture and vapor from food, especially for long-term food storage or freezing.

Heavy duty aluminum foil is better for wrapping meats and poultry for the freezer, lining roasting pans for easy cleanup, lining the inside of a charcoal barbecue grill to keep it clean, tenting roasted turkey to prevent oven spatters and over-browning, also for making an oven packet for cooking chicken, fish, and vegetables.

Do not use aluminum foil to line the bottom of your oven. Place a sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil on the oven rack beneath a pie or casserole. The foil should be only a few inches larger than the baking pan to allow for proper heat circulation.

The argument of shiny side out to reflect heat is a myth as shiny reflects light, not heat. Bottom line, according to Reynolds Aluminum no difference, except appearance. If you like shiny side up do it. If you like dull side up, do it.

Population Disparity

Rhode Island, the smallest US state has a larger population than the largest US state, Alaska. Rhode Island has 1.055 million and Alaska has 736,732 people.

How to Disinfect Sponges

Quickly heating up your sponge in the microwave can kill bacteria, including E. coli, and refresh it for longer use. Just make sure the sponge is damp and free of any cleaners before you pop it in the microwave. A dry sponge can catch fire, while heating up a sponge that has been soaked in soap or other industrial cleaners could cause it to emit unhealthy fumes.

Instead, soak your dirty kitchen sponges in water and a small amount of lemon juice or vinegar, both of which have anti-bacterial properties. Microwave them for up to two minutes on full power (the heat does the killing). The bonus is that the steam from the wet sponge will actually clean your microwave, too.

Mar 4, 2016

Happy Friday

"Unless  someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
nothing is going to get better. It’s not." ~Dr. Seuss

I always care a lot about celebrating another Happy Friday!

New Zealand Flag

New Zealand may be changing its national flag. The silver fern will face off against the status quo in the second round of voting between March 3 and March 24. 2016.

Aspirin Origin

On March 6, 1899 acetylsalicylic acid, was patented by The Friedrich Bayer & Co. under the trade name Aspirin at the Imperial patent office in Berlin. For over a century, it is still one of the most effective, versatile, and commonly used medications in the world.

Its active ingredient, salicin, had been used for many centuries to alleviate pain and fever. Hippocrates is known to have used it, and it had been used in modern medicine since the 19th century. As effective as it was, willow bark and salicin were used sparingly, because the taste was so bad, its use caused a severe upset stomach, and in extreme cases could even damage a stomach.

This changed when Bayer chemist Felix Hoffman created a form of the drug that was just as effective, but much better tasting and drastically easier on the stomach. Three years after Hoffman’s death in 1949, another scientist at Bayer, Arthur Eichengrün came forward claiming responsibility for Hoffman's work.

Eichengrün, who was imprisoned in the Theresienstadt concentration camp during World War II, maintained he was denied his due because he was Jewish.

Either Hoffman or Eichengrün also perfected another medication around the same time as Aspirin. Heroin was was believed to have even greater potential. It was created to be a non-addictive alternative to morphine for such ailments as labor pains and curing heavy coughs.

When Aspirin was first recommended to Heinrich Dreser, head of the pharmacological laboratory at Bayer, he rejected it, supposedly stating “The product has no value.” Once Heroin quickly began to fall as people realized how addictive it was, he revisited his decision regarding Aspirin and it quickly became Bayer’s best selling product. After World War I, Bayer had to give up its  trademark on Aspirin as part of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919.

Aspirin sales slumped with the introduction of other over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen, but sales rebounded when clinical trials showed that a small daily dose of Aspirin could lower the risk of heart attack and stroke. Today, approximately 40 billion Aspirin tablets are consumed annually.


Ten Steven Wright Quotes

This is one funny guy that makes us think. Here are a few:

  1.     I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize.
  2.     Borrow money from pessimists - they don't expect it back.
  3.     Half the people you know are below average.
  4.     All those who believe in psychokinesis, raise my hand.
  5.     The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.
  6.     I almost had a psychic girlfriend, but she left me before we met.
  7.     OK, so what's the speed of dark?
  8.     Hard work pays off in the future; laziness pays off now.
  9.     I intend to live forever. . . So far, so good.
  10.     If your car could travel at the speed of light, would your headlights work?

Coffee and Cirrhosis

According to new research published online Jan. 25, 2016 in the journal Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, drinking more coffee could lower the risk of alcohol-related cirrhosis.

While there are observational studies that have already been reported regarding the link between coffee and cirrhosis, the researchers wanted to conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis to establish the inverse relationship between the two.

They found that by adding two or more cups of coffee a day, a person can reduce the risk of developing liver cirrhosis by 44 percent. The inverse association continues as the number of cups increases. For every additional three cups, the risk was reduced 57 percent; and for every four cups added, the risk was further reduced to 65 percent.

"Cirrhosis is potentially fatal and there is no cure as such," said lead study author Dr. Oliver Kennedy of Southampton University in the U.K. "Therefore, it is significant that the risk of developing cirrhosis may be reduced by consumption of coffee, a cheap, ubiquitous, and well-tolerated beverage."

According to the National Institution of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, cirrhosis is a condition in which the liver, the body's largest internal organ, gradually gets worse and is unable to perform its normal functions, because of chronic damage.

There are some limitations to the study as it was not able to account for other risk factors of liver disease, such as obesity and diabetes. The study also did not mention whether the type of beans or brewing method is significant to the results.

According to one expert, while the findings of the study showed positive effects of drinking coffee on the risk of cirrhosis, it should not give people the false hope that coffee can lessen the seriousness or extent of the liver damage.
"Unfortunately, although coffee contains compounds that have antioxidant effects and anti-inflammatory properties, drinking a few cups of coffee a day cannot undo the systematic damage that is the result of being overweight or obese, sedentary, excessive alcohol consumption or drastically mitigate an unhealthy diet," said Samantha Heller, a senior clinical nutritionist at New York University Langone Medical Center in New York.

Nat Geo Photos

View twenty of the best National Geographic photos of the day from 2015. Stunning photography and only takes a few minutes to view them. LINK

Fried Chicken Tips

Vodka is much more volatile than water, which is the main component of buttermilk, pickle juice, or pretty much any other fried chicken marinade. As such, it evaporates much more rapidly and violently. This helps drive moisture off the crust of the chicken faster, while also creating bigger vapor bubbles, adding surface area to the crust. Both of these mean crisper, lighter fried chicken. Only about two tablespoons of vodka is needed.

Brine helps chicken retain moisture. As chicken sits in a brine, the salt dissolves proteins in the meat's muscle structure, loosening it and allowing it to retain more moisture as it cooks. Brined chickens lose 30 to 40% less moisture than un-brined chickens. Add half an ounce of salt for every cup of marinade.

For each cup of dredging flour called for in the recipe, drizzle about two tablespoons of marinade/liquid into it. After drizzling, work it into the flour with fingers or a whisk then add the chicken pieces to coat. This process makes little chunks, which make chicken crispier.

Thought for the Voting Season

"Politics is not the art of the possible. It consists in choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable." ~ J. K. Galbraith, Letter to Kennedy, 1962

Hoverboards and Batteries

Lithium-ion batteries serve as the power source for everything from smartphones, laptops, hover boards, to electric cars such as the Tesla. They are rechargeable and have four to six times the energy of standard nickel-cadmium batteries.

Lithium-ion batteries in those technologies are made by experienced and highly reliable manufacturers. They know how to construct them in a way that balances the amount of power produced with the amount of power consumed by the device during operation.

This type of battery has three primary parts: Two electrodes, an anode made of graphite, and a cathode made of lithium cobalt oxide or a similar metal oxide. Between is a thin, but porous polyethylene separator that keeps the two apart.

The electric current flows between the anode and the cathode via a liquid, called the electrolyte. If the anode and cathode are not engineered correctly for the power draw or the separator is imperfect, a short circuit can result. When that happens, the electrolyte heats up, the cathode and anode become unstable, and the two react violently with the electrolyte. The temperature may cause the battery to eject its hot internal contents, which catch fire or explode when they come in contact with oxygen in the atmosphere.

Hoverboard  manufacturers had many less-than-expert battery suppliers using possible defective materials or improper engineering of parts. Hoverboards pose additional risks. They draw energy from batteries much faster than cellphones and laptops do, which strains the electrodes and raises the internal heat. They are also subject to more mechanical abuse. When they fix the battery problem, I still want/need one.

Font Types and Buying

The type font used by marketers to convey a price promotion affects our perception of the product and purchase behavior.

It is widely accepted that non-serif fonts, such as Helvetica or Arial, are easy to process and should create a positive effect that consumers generally mis-attribute to the quality of the related product. As a result, many companies including Target, Mattel, Staples, and The North Face use Helvetica in their brand logos. Helvetica was also used in the posters for the television show Mad Men. From this, some could assume that when fonts are easier to read, they are more liked by consumers, who would increase purchases.

However, in a new paper, coming in the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, a team of researchers took a closer look at how consumers' buying decisions are influenced by fonts. They argue that when product and price information appears in difficult to read fonts, customers take more time to read and process the information, which should induce greater recall of that information and may lead to a perception that the product in question is a better value for their money. "Simply stated, we suggest that marketers might think that simplifying a consumer promotion might help increase sale. However we show that, in fact, a harder-to-read font makes them more likely to purchase a product, hence the paradox."

The researchers found that if a marketer wants consumers to notice the value communicated by a lower price, a difficult to read font might be beneficial and more effective. Even though consumers say they do not prefer difficult to read fonts or advertisements, the research shows they are actually more likely to purchase the related promoted offers.

Bottom line, when offers are monetarily similar, consumers prefer fluent fonts. However, even though consumers find prices in fluent fonts easier to grasp, prices promoted in harder-to-read fonts increase sales.