Jan 29, 2016

Happy Friday

"There are two distinct classes of what are called Thoughts:
those that we produce in ourselves by reflection and the act of thinking,
and those that bolt into the mind of their own accord." ~Thomas Paine

Thoughts from reflection and thinking make up my Friday Thoughts blog entries.
Happy Thoughts immediately bolt into my mind when I wake up on a Happy Friday!

Ivrea Festival

It is celebrated during the first week of February in Piedmont, Italy. It is a huge food fight, consisting of men and women throwing oranges at each other.

The purpose is to pay tribute to a battle that happened in 1194 when the Mugnaia (miller's daughter) decapitated Raineri di Biandrate, the town Count. It may have begun with the tossing of beans, but somewhere along the way changed to oranges. Sounds like great fun.

Happy Anniversary Al Gore

Bad News: It’s been 10 years since Al Gore predicted in “An Inconvenient Truth,” we had just 10 years to save the planet. I think we are still here.

Time and Time Zones

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, time is the most frequently used noun in the English language, and year is the third most frequently used noun. Person is the second most used noun.

The world is divided into about 40 time zones, including 27 hourly time zones. In addition, there are several time zones of just 30 or 45 minutes apart.

China and time zones - Despite being larger than mainland United States in terms of land area, China has one single time zone (UTC+8).

Mainland United States is divided into four time zones.

France has 12 time zones, most of which are in its overseas territory. The country of France itself observes a single time zone.

Russia, The world's largest country has eleven time zones. Daylight saving time is not used in Russia.

Canada, the world's second largest country, has six time zones.

Antarctica and the Arctic are the only areas where all standard time zones currently followed in the world, converge. Amundsen–Scott Station on the South Pole however uses New Zealand time (UTC+12 and UTC+13 during DST).

Wordology, Eschatology

It is a sub-field of a variety of disciplines including Theology, Philosophy, and Physics that deals with the end of the World or end of time.

Robot Progression

According to a research study by Tractica, annual shipments of consumer robots - a category that includes robotic vacuums, lawn mowers, and pool cleaners as well as social robots - will increase from 6.6 million units in 2015 to 31.2 million units worldwide by 2020 with a cumulative total of nearly 100 million consumer robots shipped during that period.

The fastest growth will occur in robotic personal assistants, a category that is nascent today. According to the report, "the next 5 years will set the stage for how these robots could fundamentally transform our homes and daily lives."

China, Japan, and South Korea are responsible for 40% of all new robot installations. China has more than 25% of all annual installations. The world market for robots grew 17% during 2015 and has had steady growth since 2009. Indications are that this growth rate will continue.

It used to be that the largest market for robotics was the United States. By 2014 China took over as the single largest market. During the past two years it had 50% annual growth in terms of new robot installations. China still has much below average installations of robots per capita. The maturity of a market is typically compared by number of robots installed per 10,000 workers in the manufacturing industry. Mature industries, such as automotive, will typically have 1 robot for every 10 workers.

South Korea has the most robots for manufacturing with 478 robots per 10,000 workers. Japan is second with 314 per 10,000 workers. Germany is at 292, USA is at 164. The world average is 87. China is currently at 36. Even with twice as many robots sold, China would still be below average in its use of robots.

Calories are Calories

A few years ago, for a class project of 10 weeks, Mark Haub, a professor of human nutrition at Kansas State University, ate sugary foods for his meals. To add variety in his stream of Hostess and Little Debbie snacks, he munched on Doritos chips, sugary cereals, Oreos, Twinkies, Nutty bars, and powdered donuts.

His daily intake included : Doritos Cool Ranch: 75 calories; 4 grams of fat,
Kellogg's Corn Pops: 220 calories; 0 grams of fat,
whole milk: 150 calories; 8 grams of fat,
baby carrots: 18 calories; 0 grams of fat,
Duncan Hines Family Style Brownie Chewy Fudge: 270 calories; 14 grams of fat,
Little Debbie Zebra Cake: 160 calories; 8 grams of fat,
Hostess Twinkies Golden Sponge Cake: 150 calories; 5 grams of fat,
Centrum Advanced Formula From A To Zinc vitamin: 0 calories; 0 grams of fat,
Little Debbie Star Crunch: 150 calories; 6 grams of fat,
Hostess Twinkies Golden Sponge Cake: 150 calories; 5 grams of fat, and
Diet Mountain Dew: 0 calories; 0 grams of fat.

His premise was, "In weight loss, pure calorie counting is what matters most - not the nutritional value of the food." (Not the best for lifelong intake, but an easy diet.)

A man of Haub's pre-dieting size usually consumes about 2,600 calories daily. So he followed a basic principle of weight loss and consumed less than 1,800 calories a day.

The result - Haub's 'bad' cholesterol, or LDL, dropped 20 percent and his 'good' cholesterol, or HDL, increased by 20 percent. He reduced the level of triglycerides, which are a form of fat, by 39 percent. In addition, the premise held up as he dropped 27 pounds during the course of his diet.

Cemetery and Graveyard

Graveyard and cemetery do not mean the same thing. From about the 7th century, the process of burial was in the hands of the Church (the organization), and burying the dead was only allowed on the lands near a church (the building), the churchyard.

The part of the churchyard used for burial is called a graveyard. As the population of Europe started to grow, the capacity of graveyards was no longer sufficient. By the end of the 18th century, the unsustainability of church burials became apparent, and completely new places, independent of graveyards, were devised. These new places were called cemeteries.

Cemetery comes from Old French cimetiere, which meant graveyard. The French word originally comes from Greek koimeterion, meaning 'a sleeping place'.

Bottom line, a graveyard is a type of cemetery, but a cemetery is usually not a graveyard.

World Population

This picture depicts the population of earth divided in half.

Jan 22, 2016

Happy Friday

Happiness and infinity are uniquely limitless.

There is no end to happiness that can be had on a Happy Friday!

Peanut Butter Day

Peanuts are native to the Americas and since Aztec times have been made into a paste to be eaten. Modern peanut butter originated in the late 1800’s with the first patent dating back to 1884, but it was much runnier than modern versions.

Dr. John Harvey Kellogg patented another paste in 1895 that is much more similar to what we see today and served it to patients at the Battle Creek Sanitarium as a health supplement. It was originally so expensive that it became a staple of luxury in the early 1900’s and was commonly served in upper class tearooms that populated New York and was paired with a wide array of foods such as cheese, celery, watercress, pimento, and crackers.

The first reference of peanut butter paired with jelly is from a recipe by Julia Davis in 1901, and by 1920 the sandwich caught the attention of less wealthy members of society and spread peanut butter around the nation.

As the price of peanut butter lowered, it became extremely popular with children and today it is one of the most widespread food items in America. In fact, the spread is so popular there is even a National Peanut Butter Day on January 24th.

Happiness is Physical and Emotional

Japanese researchers have mapped, using MRI where happiness emerges in the brain. The study, published in Scientific Reports, paves the way for objectively measuring happiness and provides insights on a neurologically based way of being happy.

A team at Kyoto University has found an answer from a neurological perspective. Overall happiness, according to their study, is a combination of happy emotions and satisfaction of life coming together in the precuneus, a region in the medial parietal lobe.

People feel emotions in different ways; for instance, some people feel happiness more intensely than others when they receive compliments. Psychologists have found that emotional factors like these and satisfaction of life together constitutes the subjective experience of being happy. The neural mechanism behind how happiness emerges, however, remained unclear. Understanding that mechanism will be a huge asset for quantifying levels of happiness.

Their analysis revealed that those who scored higher on the happiness surveys had more grey matter mass in the precuneus. In other words, people who feel happiness more intensely, feel sadness less intensely, and are more able to find meaning in life.

"Several studies have shown that meditation increases grey matter mass in the precuneus. This new insight on where happiness happens in the brain will be useful for developing happiness programs based on scientific research." Am thinking my precuneus must be enlarged, especially on a Happy Friday.

Every Day vs. Everyday

Every Day means each day. Everyday means commonplace, ordinary, typical.

Here are some examples for using every day and everyday correctly: Jane takes her dog out for a walk every day. It is important to floss every day.

Jack did not take very good care of his everyday shoes.

An "everyday occurrence" does not necessarily mean it occurs every day. It only means means it is an ordinary, commonplace occurrence. It is not something unusual. Everyday is an adjective, so it describes an attribute of the occurrence.

If something occurs daily, you say it "occurs every day" or that it is a daily occurrence. Since "every day" is an adverb, it cannot be used as an adjective to describe the occurrence.

Smart Light Bulbs

The next big deal may be the smart bulb. Sony last week launched a connected light bulb that contains everything needed for Artificial Intelligence. It goes on sale in Japan this year. Think of a smart house linked with a number of these lights in different rooms, unobtrusively sitting there, waiting for your beck and call.

Sony's Multifunctional Light works like other smart lights. It can be automated or can be controlled with a smartphone. It has built-in Wi-Fi and a dedicated app. It also has a motion-detector, brightness meter, temperature and humidity sensors, an infrared sensor and a memory card slot, plus a built-in speaker and microphone. Wouldn't it be nice to control the temperature for the room you are in vs. the temperature down the hallway.

Not a stretch to think of adding smoke/gas detectors. Wouldn't it be also be great to have it speak in addition to smoke alarm and call the fire department and send pictures for you. I imagine it could turn itself on or off under any range of circumstances, like if someone comes into a dark room or leaves a room. Nice to have a built in intercom so you no longer need to yell upstairs to bring more beer and chips. How about being able to replace the baby monitor with a smart monitor or having it turn on in the morning along with the alarm clock. Think of it turning the stove off if your food is beginning to boil over. Add a fire extinguisher in the ceiling and it could selectively put out small fires at the source.

It is a step up to think of speaking to a light from clapping to turn on, along with telling it to dim a bit more. It could even be programmed to automatically dim when a TV is turned on. Easy to think of it as a replacement for the Amazon ECHO. Have a question, ask it out loud and the light will search the net and speak back with an answer.

I can also envision it to be programmed to know when you are away, so the motion detector will know that no one should be there and to turn on, give an audible alarm, and call the police, or just call the police with no alarm. Heck, a video camera could send a pic of the culprit to the police along with the call.

Devices need electricity, whether by battery or from the wall. Light bulbs are always plugged in directly and fixed, so no battery needed.

It would also be easy to take it with you and just change apps so it works in your cabin, camper, or hotel room. Ah, technology, how the mind wanders.

New Way to Slice Pizza

For those who have friends or family who love crust and some who do not, here is a novel way to satisfy both.

Make a few gently curved lines and join corners to middles. Six slices each, with crust and no crust.

Screen Resolution Evolution

Now that the 2016 Consumer Electronic Show has ended, it seems appropriate to recap where we are with TVs and how we got here.

First, 3D TV is dead. Curved screens remain a hard sell. 4K TV is looking at a short life span as it is already being usurped by 8K TV. 8K may suffer the same fate unless TV and movie producers begin to crank out content capable of utilizing the new standards. In times past, we always waited for hardware to catch up to our needs, now we are waiting for content to catch up to hardware.

Sharp released its first 8K TV in 2015. The 85-inch LV-85001 costs $133,000. Samsung showed its 110-inch 8K TV in January, 2016. It also announced that a 11K TV is being developed for the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. LG also showed off a 98-inch 8K TV in January, 2016. All of this advancement comes amid a current dearth of 4K content. These advances may still prove to be more resilient than the 3D revolution that never happened.

Advances in hardware and software continue to outrun battery capacity and bandwidth speed. Although bandwidth is less of an issue in Europe and other countries as the US continues to lag, mostly due to politics, not capability.

How we began the race comes from early television. For the first half-century of television, resolution was measured in lines per screen rather than pixels. TV resolution in the 1930s and 1940s had 240 to 819 lines per screen, improving upon previous resolutions. The new resolution used a display method known as progressive scanning, where each line of an image is displayed in sequence, in contrast to the traditional analog method where first odd and then even lines are drawn alternately.

In 1953, analog color TV had 525 lines, establishing the NTSC color standard. Europe followed up in the 1960s by introducing the 625-line standards. However, bandwidth barriers limited widespread adoption of analog HDTV.

In 1977, the Apple II introduced color CRT display to home computers by adapting the NTSC color signal. The Apple II achieved a resolution of 280 pixels horizontally by 192 pixels vertically. By the 1980s, home computer makers began using pixels (picture elements) as a unit of measure.

IBM introduced a VGA standard display of 640x480 in 1987. Since then, demand for digital videos and video games has driven resolution to greater and greater density. Desktop monitors are now a standard resolution of 2560x1600. Mobile devices range lower from 240x320 for the smallest devices.

During the 1990s, plasma TVs and LCD TVs moved toward thinner and lighter TVs. During 1996, digital was officially mandated by the US FCC as a new standard for future DTV/HDTV broadcasting. By 2006, LCDs became more popular due to better daytime viewing and lower prices. LCDs created colored images by selectively blocking and filtering a white LED backlight rather than directly producing light.

HDTV uses a resolution of 1920x1080p, equivalent to 2,073,600 pixels per frame, and known as 1080p. The 4K Ultra HDTV uses 3840x2160p, known as 2160p. This amounts to four times the amount of pixels and twice the resolution of HDTV, hence 4K. The newer 8K increases this eight times to 7680x4320.

OLED improved color by directly producing colored light, allowing for greater contrast. OLED TVs are also extremely thin, measuring in fractions of an inch.

When the iPhone 4 was released, Steve Jobs claimed that the human eye cannot detect smartphone resolution beyond 300 pixels per inch (Apple's limit at the time). However, many others have proven the eye can actually detect at least 900 or greater PPI.

Incidentally, it is the relationship of HD, 4K, 8K, etc., to screen size that makes the difference. Phone screens are small, so HD, 4K, etc., are a waste, as our eyes cannot perceive the difference. Distance between our eyes and the screen is also a factor, that is why many TV manufacturers show the optimal distance for viewing.

As TV sets grow, it takes more pixels to see the same clarity of picture that are needed on a smaller screen. The arguments of not being able to tell the difference between HD, 4K, and 8K are relative to size and distance from the screen. However, 8K is likely beyond the average household to notice any perceptible difference vs. 4K.

Stroma Procedure

There is a laser treatment, pioneered by California-based Stroma Medical and it is currently available in several countries. It is undergoing human testing in Costa Rica that turns brown eyes blue. The Strōma laser disrupts the brown layer of pigment, causing the body to initiate a natural and gradual tissue-removal process. Once the tissue is removed, the patient’s natural blue eye is revealed. The procedure is totally non-invasive and takes about 20 seconds to perform, but takes two to four weeks to see final results. Current cost is about US $5,000. Reminds me of a song by Crystal Gale. LINK             

China's Wealth

China has 190 billionaires, more than two million millionaires, and ranks a bit behind the US in number of high-net-worth individuals, according to research from Forbes magazine and Boston Consulting Group. Not bad for a communist country.


The science of timekeeping is known as horology.
Nanosecond and Picosecond - A nanosecond is one billionth of a second, and a picosecond is one trillionth or 0.000 000 000 001 of a second.

Planck time - Planck time is the shortest known time span. It is the time it takes for light to travel a Planck length or 1.616199 × 10-35 meters in vacuum.

Easter celebration date - Easter is normally celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon that occurs on or after the Spring Equinox.

Light year - A light year is not a unit of time, but a unit of distance. The International Astronomical Union defines a light year as the distance light travels in vacuum in one Julian Year. In astronomy, a Julian Year corresponds to exactly 365.25 days.

Fortnight - A fortnight is a unit of time that refers to 14 days. It comes from an old English word, fēowertȳne niht, meaning fourteen night. It is commonly used in the UK, Ireland, and many commonwealth countries. People in the US and most parts of Canada use the term biweekly to refer to the time period of two weeks.

New York minute - The phrase in a New York minute refers to a very short period of time or an instant. Legend has it that the phrase originated in Texas in the late 1960s. The phrase was popularized by TV personality Johnny Carson who joked that a New York minute was the time between a traffic light turning green and the car behind one's car honking.

Jiffy - Jiffy is usually used to indicate a very short period of time, but it is formally defined in the fields of Physics and Chemistry as the time required for light to travel a centimeter. Also known as a light centimeter, a jiffy is equal to about 33.3564 picoseconds.

Friday 13th - Any month in the Gregorian Calendar that begins on a Sunday will have a Friday, the 13th, and there is at least one Friday the 13th in every year. A single calendar year can have up to 3 Friday the 13ths.

Jan 15, 2016

Happy Friday

Laughter increases the activities of antibodies in the body by twenty percent, helping destroy viruses and tumor cells.

I always increase my laughter while enjoying a Happy Friday!
Looney Tunes wanted to add a rabbit to their lineup and animator Ben "Bugs" Hardaway had a sketch of the proposed bunny. When the drawing was finished, he labeled it as "Bug's Bunny," his nickname and bunny.

Later the studio was looking for a name, saw the caption at the bottom, so just eliminated the apostrophe from bug's and the new name was born.

Physian's Changing Attitudes

Doctors have always encountered the problem of how to best tell their patient of a terminal sentence. Recently, medical professions have been more upfront about tragic news such as this. Physicians used to think that by not telling a person they were dying, it would boost their moral and increase their hope.

During 1961 only 10% believed it was correct to tell a patient of a fatal diagnosis. This changed after studies were done that revealed nearly 90% of patients said they would like to know the truth of their prognosis.

By 1979, physicians had completely reversed their beliefs and a survey revealed that 97% felt full disclosure was the correct course to take.

Thought for the Day

“Murder is a crime. Describing murder is not. Sex is not a crime. Describing sex is.” — Gershon Legman

Origin of Bloody Mary

This drink is believed by many to be the perfect hangover cure. A Bloody Mary is made up of vodka, tomato juice, and cayenne pepper and Tabasco or Worcester Sauce.

The drink is said to have been named after the Catholic Queen Mary I (1516-58), nicknamed Bloody Mary due to her relentless pursuit of Protestant dissenters, of whom nearly 300 were burned at the stake. The tomato juice is thought to resemble the blood she spilled.

Congress Schedule 2016

Thought you might enjoy this. As of Jan 11, this is the planned schedule for 2016. The dates with a line through are actual sessions. The dates with boxes around are planned days off. These do not count individual persons vacations, sick days, or other days off, such as campaigning, etc.

Happy People

Frying, Sauteing, Searing, Simmering, and Stir Frying

Most people know there is a difference between sautéing and frying, but not exactly what the specific difference is. The same is true for “searing” and simmering, or stir frying and pan frying. Frying is the generic term for cooking any type of food in oil or fat. It is all-encompassing.

Sautéing involves cooking food in a shallow pan with a little oil or fat, over high heat. Usually you only sauté with thinly cut or sliced food, little to no liquid, and for relatively short periods of time.

Searing is similar, but only refers to the process of browning the surface of food. This means you can get the job done with any cooking instrument and any cooking method, whether it is sautéing, grilling, roasting, or something else. When you put a steak in a screaming hot pan and try to get that tasty crust on the outside, you are searing it.

Simmering refers to the process of cooking liquid-heavy dishes on the heat just below the boiling point. To do this, you specifically bring the liquid to a boil, and then reduce the heat until it almost stops bubbling, and maintain that heat.

Stir frying traditionally involves a wok or a high-walled pan, and involves cooking food in very hot oil while constantly moving the food around to ensure even cooking. Stir frying is similar to sautéing, but traditionally refers to cooking more food and constantly moving it to make sure it cooks through, but does not brown or burn.

Shallow and deep frying are generic terms and refer mostly to the amount of oil used to cook the food. For example, you can interchange sauté and shallow fry, but since sautéing refers to cooking with a small amount of fat or oil, deep frying is different because it involves submerging your food in hot fat or oil.

Pan frying is characterized by the use of just enough oil to lubricate the pan during the cooking process. With greasy foods that produce their own oil or fat, like bacon, you do not need oil. It also usually refers to the use of shallow, low-walled cooking pans, unlike deep frying or stir frying.

Jan 8, 2016

Happy Friday

"Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering, 'It will be happier.'" ~Alfred, Lord Tennyson

I always smile and am happy at the threshold of a new year and a Happy Friday!

Spoiling the Bunch

 One bad apple can really spoil the bunch and the same may be said for bananas, cantaloupes, and a number of other fruits and vegetables. It is all due to a plant hormone called ethylene.

Ethylene is a natural plant hormone released in the form of a gas. It triggers cells to degrade, fruit to turn softer and sweeter, leaves to droop, and seeds or buds to sprout. While some fruits and vegetables are high ethylene producers, others are more sensitive to it.

You can use this knowledge to extend the life of your produce by keeping certain items separate in the fruit bowl or refrigerator drawer. Ethylene is the reason you should not store onions and potatoes together. Ethylene may also be used when you want to accelerate ripening. This is the principle behind placing unripe fruit inside a paper bag or other closed container, which concentrates the ethylene. Adding another high ethylene fruit, such as a ripe apple or banana, may also speed up the process.

Ethylene producing foods include: apples, apricots, avocados, bananas, blueberries, cantaloupe, cranberries, figs, green onions, guavas, grapes, honeydew, kiwifruit, mangoes, nectarines, papayas, passion fruit, peaches, pears, persimmons, plums, potatoes, prunes, quince, and tomatoes.

Ethylene sensitive foods include: Asparagus, blackberries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, chard, cucumbers, eggplant, endive, garlic, green beans, kale, leeks, lettuce, okra, onions, parsley, peas, peppers, raspberries, spinach, squash, strawberries, sweet potatoes, watercress, and watermelon.

Bottom line, separate your fruits and veggies to let them ripen naturally, unless you are in a hurry, then pair them up to speed the process.

Honey vs. HFCS

High-fructose corn syrup has recently been touted as the bad kind of sweeteners, while honey has sailed by on its natural and healthy origins. According to a recently-released study, it turns out that sugar is sugar, no matter what you eat.

Both honey and HFCS contain similar ratios of fructose and glucose; the largest difference between the two is the origin. Because their compositions are similar, they cause the same effects in people who ingest large quantities of either.

Incidentally, you are better off getting the full-fat versions of your favorite cookies, chips, and other snacks. Low-fat foods have been found to have five times the amount of sugar that their full-fat counterparts do, largely because manufacturers were under pressure to keep the products' taste and texture as similar as possible. Since higher levels of sugar over time in the body lead to an increased chance for diabetes, heart disease, and more, it turns out that low-fat is likely the worst option you can choose if you are trying to watch your health.

Plaid vs. Tartan

Tartan is the specific pattern unique to each Scottish clan or region. The term plaid comes from the Gaelic word, plaide, which referred to the actual blanket or outer layer the Scots wore during harsh weather. The terms are now often used interchangeably, even though they are different. There are many plaid designs that are not tartan. All tartans are plaid, but not all plaids are tartans.

US to Drop Warning Against Cholesterol

Every five years, the United States government updates a set of Dietary Guidelines intended to help its citizens make healthier food choices. These guidelines also help inform how companies package and market their products. The 2015 edition of the DGAC says that, "cholesterol is not considered a nutrient of concern for over consumption."

The DGAC is now more concerned that Vitamin D, Vitamin E, potassium, calcium, and fiber are under-consumed in the US. It is placing a greater emphasis on pushing people toward healthy choices like nutrient-dense vegetables.

The human body makes far more cholesterol than it takes in. The liver adjusts its cholesterol production to account for what we eat, and will get rid of any cholesterol it does not need. Eating much cholesterol has little to no effect on what is in your blood.

Science Advice, Ten Things to Make You Happier

These may seem more common sense than science, but scientists have been paid big money to research the topic and feed back the obvious.

Exercise more - It can help you to relax, increase your brain power, and improve your body image, even if you do not lose any weight.

Sleep more - Sleep-deprived people fail to recall pleasant memories, yet recall gloomy memories.

Move closer to work - People never get accustomed to their daily slog to work because sometimes the traffic is awful and sometimes it’s not. Over time the negative outweighs the positive.

Spend time with friends and family - Friends and family reinforce positive feelings and increase happiness. Not staying in touch with friends and family is one of the top five regrets of the dying.

Help others -  Volunteering is rewarding in terms of higher life satisfaction. Performing a kind act produces the single most reliable momentary increase in well-being of any exercise.

Get outside - Studies found that spending 20 minutes outside in good weather not only boosted positive mood, Substantially increased happiness, broadened thinking, and improved working memory.

Plan a trip - The act of planning a vacation and the positive anticipation actually can increase happiness for up to eight weeks, while after taking the vacation, happiness drops quickly.

Meditate - It has long been known to help us be calm, improve focus, increase clarity and attention span. It  is also useful for improving happiness. Brain scans show it is the single most effective way to live a happier live.

Be grateful - Simple things like keeping a journal of things you are grateful for, sharing three good things that happen with friend or family, and going out of your way to show gratitude when others help you all contribute to increased happiness. A study asked people to write three letters of gratitude over a 3 week period. Results indicated that writing letters of gratitude increased participants’ happiness and life satisfaction, while decreasing depressive symptoms.

Practice smiling - Saved the best for last. Smiling (and backing it up with positive thoughts) improves mood, reduces stress, and increases happiness.

Difference between Burka, Hijab, Niqab

The burka is the most concealing of all Islamic veils. It is a one-piece veil that covers the face and body, often leaving just a mesh screen to see through.

The word hijab describes the act of covering up generally, but is often used to describe the headscarves worn by Muslim women. These scarves come in many styles and colors. The type most commonly worn in the West covers the head and neck, but leaves the face clear.

Burka and niqab are often incorrectly used interchangeably. While a burqa covers the whole body from the top of the head to the ground, a niqab is a veil for the face that leaves the area around the eyes clear, but may be worn with a separate eye veil. It is worn with an accompanying headscarf. The half niqab is a simple length of fabric with elastic or ties, worn around the face. It typically leaves the eyes and part of the forehead visible.

A full niqab completely covers the face. It consists of an upper band that is tied around the forehead, together with a long wide piece of fabric which covers the face, leaving an opening for the eyes.

In Iran, the wearing of niqab is not common and is only worn by certain ethnic minorities. On 8 October 2009, Egypt's top Islamic school banned the wearing of the niqab in classrooms and dormitories of all its affiliate schools and educational institutes. In Syria in the summer of 2010, students wearing the niqab were prohibited from registering for university classes. The niqab is outlawed in Azerbaijan, Tunisia, and Turkey and banned in Cameroon, Chad, Congo, Netherlands, Yugoslavia, France, Belgium, Norway (Schools and some municipalities), Canada (selected bans), Italy (selected municipalities).

Other coverings: The al-amira is a two-piece veil. It consists of a close fitting cap and a tube-like scarf. The shayla is a long, rectangular scarf popular in the Gulf region. It is wrapped around the head and tucked or pinned in place at the shoulders. The khimar is a long, cape-like veil that hangs down to just above the waist. It covers the hair, neck, and shoulders completely, but leaves the face clear. The chador, worn by many Iranian women when outside the house, is a full-body cloak. It is often accompanied by a smaller headscarf underneath.

Sliced Bread

Bread is an ancient food that has been eaten for tens of thousands of years. However, pre-sliced bread, which would make a bacon butty a convenient task, did not happen until the early 1900s, when a man named Otto Frederick Rohwedder of Davenport, Iowa invented a device to automate this process. He solved part of the staleness problem by wrapping the thinly sliced loaves in wax paper immediately after slicing was complete. Pre-sliced bread was a hit and within a decade people who had access to it were eating more bread per person than before. Then they began experimenting with various new ingredients and spreads to put on the thin bread slices.

More Sandwich Origins

It is difficult to think of sliced bread and not think of sandwiches.
Monte Cristo - The precise origin of the Monte Cristo is unknown, although most experts believe that it was an Americanized version of the Croque Monsieur. Versions of it appeared under other names in the mid-20th century, and by 1966, it was found on menus in Disneyland with its romantic-sounding name.
Although there are variants today, typically a Monte Cristo will have either turkey, ham or chicken and sliced cheese between two pieces of white bread, dipped in egg and pan fried until golden. It is said that, to be traditional, it should be served with jelly on the side (it takes all kinds).

Patty Melt - The Patty Melt is said to have originated in Southern California in the restaurant chain of William “Tiny” Naylor in the 1940s or 1950s. The traditional recipe has a ground beef patty topped with either American, Swiss or cheddar cheese and grilled onions on rye bread, pan fried in butter.

Po’ Boy - Originating in New Orleans, Louisiana, the Po’ Boy Sandwich can be made a number of ways. The Roast Beef Po’ Boy has mayonnaise and shredded lettuce, roast beef and debris gravy on top of a long white roll or baguette. Other versions, such as the Oyster and Shrimp Po’ Boys, have the seafood battered and deep fried, then served atop baguette with a selection of mayonnaise, hot sauce, tomato, lettuce and dill pickle. One story of its name comes from the labor movement lore. In 1929, NOLA streetcar workers went on strike; to help support them, the Martin Brothers offered to feed the strikers. So many took them up on their offer that, as strikers entered their shop, supposedly one brother would say, “here comes another poor boy.”

Reuben - Although many attribute the origin of the name of the Reuben Sandwich to Reuben’s Restaurant in New York, experts were persuaded by the claim of Reuben Kulakofsky of Omaha Nebraska. Using old copies of menus and a sprinkling of folklore, they determined that Kulakofsky, a grocer, invented the sandwich in the first half of the 20th century. Traditionally, a Reuben has a thick pile of corned beef, a slice of Swiss cheese, and a pile of sauerkraut on grilled rye bread.

Sloppy Joe -  It is made by mixing and cooking tomato sauce, ground beef, onion, salt, pepper, and spices then heaping on a soft white bun. Like so many others, the exact origin of this sandwich is contested, probably because it evolved over time. There are claims that it originated at Sloppy Joe’s Bar in Old Havana, Cuba during the 1920s.  Others claim it was from a different Sloppy Joe’s restaurant in Key West, Florida, known to have been frequented by Ernest Hemingway. By the 1950s, the Sloppy Joe sandwich became popular, particularly in the Midwest.

S’more - It is technically a sandwich, made with two graham crackers sandwiching a thick piece of chocolate and a melted marshmallow. The S’more was named from people asking for 'some more', which appears to be the original name. The origin is typically credited to the Girl Scouts who included the recipe for 'Some Mores' in their 1927 publication Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts.

Decanting Wine and Whiskey

According to the Scotch Whisky Association, whiskey, once bottled, is a finished product, “If you keep a 12 year old bottle for 100 years, it will always remain a 12 year old whisky.”

The reasons whiskey remains basically the same while wine changes have to do with a couple factors: tannins and alcohol content. Wine has much more tannin content than whiskey. Whiskey has no innate tannins, and only gets a small amount from the barrel in which it ages. Tannins can cause change in a bottle of wine over time, for better or worse.  Whiskey has less tannins, it does not have much chance for major evolutions in flavor.

More important than tannins: alcohol content. Wines may have between 11 and 15%, or higher but almost all whiskeys are bottled at a minimum of 40% ABV. With such high alcohol content, the possibility for a dramatic chemical reaction from oxidation is much lower.

Whiskey can change at all over time, especially if it has been exposed to sunlight or temperature fluctuations.

Wine decanters are specifically designed to encourage interaction between liquid and air, always without a cap.  Whiskey decanters tend to be built for stability, have glass tops, and usually have a wide bottom. Air is not a factor in whiskey decanters, because it does make much difference.

So, wine is decanted for flavor and whiskey is decanted for looks. Incidentally, do not use a lead crystal decanter, because over a long period of time it could leach into the whiskey.