Mar 16, 2018

Happy Friday

Smiles are like music to soothe a happy soul.
I love a good tune, especially on a Happy Friday!

World Happiness Day

Tuesday, March 20, 2018 is International Happiness Day. Don't worry, be happy!

Happiness is Contagious

A joint venture study by Harvard University and the University of California at San Diego, followed 5,000 people over a 20-year period. The family, coworkers, and neighbors of these individuals were also followed, involving at least 50,000 people in the process. The researchers determined how happy the participants were by administering standard happiness assessments, where subjects responded to statements, such as "I feel hopeful about the future," "I feel I am just as good as other people," and "I am happy."
According to the results, if a friend who lives within a mile of you gets happy, your chances of happiness increase by 25 percent. If that happy friend lives closer to you, you have a 42 percent chance of being happy yourself, showing that proximity to happy people makes a difference. In fact, neighbors of happy people feel the effect more than family members do. Siblings who live close to a happy sibling increase their likelihood of happiness by 14 percent, while next-door neighbors of the happy individual have a 34 percent benefit, even if the neighbors are not friends. The happiness effect lasts up to a year. "We know it's not a 'birds of a feather flock together' effect," said one of the study authors, Nicholas A. Christakis of Harvard University.
Your happiness can affect the happiness of someone you have never met. However, work colleagues seem immune to the benefit. Partners and spouses are less receptive than friends, with only an eight percent benefit from a happy spouse. Good news the researchers found was that while happiness spreads, unhappiness does not spread as much.
"You would think that your emotional state would depend on your own choices and actions and experience," said Dr. Christakis. "But it also depends on the choices, and actions, and experiences of other people, including people to whom you are not directly connected. Happiness is contagious."

Happiness has a significant impact on health. All of which means that it pays to live next to healthy, happy individuals. This study indicates that when you do something right for yourself, the ripples of that positive choice extend farther out into the world than you might have thought.

World Happiness Report

The United States has dropped four spots in the latest World Happiness Report ranking. It has now dropped to 18th spot (from 14th) in the annual ranking, which is published by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, a United Nations initiative.
The new report lists 156 countries by their happiness levels. The rankings are based on results from Gallup World Poll surveys. Researchers used factors including income, healthy life expectancy, social support, freedom, trust, and generosity to measure happiness.

Finland was ranked number one, with Norway second, and Denmark third. Rounding out the top ten are Iceland, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Sweden, and Australia. 


Caffeine is an odorless alkaloid. It is a natural ingredient that is found in the green coffee bean. It is also found in a number of other plants, including tea, cocoa, kola, guarana, and yerba mate. Caffeine, used by people is the largest psychoactive stimulant, which speeds up the central nervous system.
Caffeine affects all of us differently. Where some might be able to fall asleep soon after drinking coffee, some might not.
Recent international studies have shown that caffeine has demonstrated protective effects against Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease when consumed in moderation.
Caffeine enters your blood stream through the lining of your mouth, throat, and stomach. Your stomach contents can account for different effects of caffeine. It can take up to forty-five minutes for the majority of caffeine to be absorbed and the effects can last up to three hours.
A cup of coffee contains 98.6% water, which means 1.4% of that cup is dissolved coffee solids.  Caffeine is 1.2% of that 1.4% coffee.

Incidentally,  the US, drinks the most coffee, 400 million cups per day.

Coffee Bean Types

The two species of coffee beans most widely cultivated commercially are Coffea arabica (Arabica) and Coffea canephora (Robusta).

The coffee that most are accustomed to is made from arabica beans which typically have better flavor. Arabica comprises about 75-80% of world production.

Estimates of caffeine content average about 1% for Arabica beans and 2% for Robusta beans by weight.

Starbucks advertises that it only uses arabica beans, Even though its coffee consistently is rated with higher caffeine than Dunkin Donuts, McDonalds, etc.

There are a number of techniques in brewing coffee: concentrate brewing, Turkish or Greek, vacuum brewing, percolating, the French press (also called press pot or plunger coffee), and drip or filter coffee. Assuming that the brewing method stays the same, the finer you grind coffee, the more caffeine it will release.

Temperature is also an important factor. Proper coffee extraction happens between 195-205 degrees, however most drip brewers only reach about 190 degrees. Espresso machines usually brew at near boiling temps. With French press coffee, you have total control over the temperature with the option of pouring boiling water (212 degrees) over the grounds. Water temperature can vary by brewing method, with the hotter the water, the better the extraction. With better extraction comes better tasting coffee and caffeine extraction.

Brewed coffee requires that the water is in contact with the grinds for a long time, this leads to a higher caffeine concentration. Espresso actually has the lowest caffeine content at 100 mg per 2 ounces. However, if you consider the amount of caffeine per ounce, espresso has more caffeine than drip coffee. Coffee brewed in the French press has 107.5 mg per 7 ounces. Drip brewed coffee is highest, with 145 mg of caffeine per 7 ounce cup. Generally, for brewed coffee, two tablespoons of ground coffee is used per 6 fluid ounces of water.

Light, medium, and dark flavors are an indicator of flavor strength, with the dark roasts having the boldest tastes. The darker the beans, the longer they have been roasted. The loss of caffeine from light to dark is minimal, regardless of what many web sites show.

Factors, in addition to brewing process that affects the amount of caffeine: variety of coffee bean, roast level, temperature of water, amount of coffee, brew time, grind level, and beverage size.

Bottom line - longer brewing time, fine ground, robusta equals more caffeine.
Shorter brewing time, course ground, arabica, (light, medium, or dark roast) equals less caffeine.

Snooze Your Facebook Friends

After all that caffeine, maybe you need a snooze. Facebook has a feature that you can shut down a friend's posts for thirty days. They will not be notified. Great for someone who is inundating everyone with the latest adventure, vacation, election, new baby, new car, etc.

When you see a post in your feed from a friend, whom you want to snooze click or tap the three dots in the top right corner of the post. In the menu that opens, click or tap the option that says Snooze [Name] for 30 days. You can also snooze your friend's friends the same way. Think of it as temporary relief. Also, if you change your mind, you can unsnooze. I have not found the option in my feeds, but many say it works great.

You can do the same procedure if you decide to unfollow someone. Unfollowing a friend is permanent, until you go to their page and change it. Also, it does not notify them either way.

Jelly Bean Winner

Easter is coming and one of the popular treats for Easter is jelly beans. A new survey by says it surveyed over ten years of sales data and over 12,000 people to reach its standings of favorite jelly bean flavors by state and then an overall winner and new jelly bean champion.

Cherry jelly beans are favored by five states, black licorice jelly beans are favored by seven, and the winner, butter popcorn is favored by ten.
The overall winner by count is also butter popcorn. The sweet and salty flavor beat last year’s winner, (my personal favorite) black licorice.

Saving Money in a Hospital

If you need to go to the hospital, voluntarily or otherwise, be sure that you, or whoever is with you tells Admitting or Check-in that you do not want to be seen by "out-of-network" physicians or staff.

I recently had a very expensive surprise of multiple doctor bills from consultant physicians, who were not in my network. I had no way of knowing until I started receiving bills. By then it was too late to fight the charges. Adding insult to injury, at least two of them came in and spoke to me (no medical service provided), offering their services after discharge. I was billed for a consultation - for them to sell their services to me. Grrr!
Caveat Emptor.

TV Compensates for Bad Quality

Just like with current TVs, which upscale the low quality cable pictures, 4K TVs upgrade the same pictures to an even higher quality.

However, until the US catches up with other countries and really delivers at least HD quality, we will all continue to buy TVs to compensate for the cable companies unwillingness to upgrade the signal. It is no wonder Netflix, and Amazon Prime are doing so well. They deliver quality pictures to let our 4K TVs show how awesome watching TV can be.

Mar 9, 2018

Happy Friday

Joy lives on the corner of happiness and smiles.
There is no stop sign for happiness and smiles on a Happy Friday!

Daylight Not Saving

This weekend March 11, Sunday morning 2am for most of the US. This is that fretful time of year where we declare that the sun and the moon and the stars are out of alignment with our laws. Since it has proven futile to change the universe to our bidding, we are compelled to change our clocks forward by an hour for a few months until we take up the battle again in the fall and change them back to once more align with the universe. This is our government version of Charlie Brown, Lucy, and the football.

Picture of three types of DST observing countries.

Pi Day

Pi Day was invented by physicist Larry Shaw and the first Pi Day celebration was held at the San Francisco Exploratorium in 1988. In 2009 the US Congress officially recognized March 14 as Pi Day in the United States. The 6-trillionth, 8-trillionth, 9-trillionth and 10-trillionth digits of pi, are all fives.

Innies and Outies

Scar tissue development. "Inny" and "Outie" belly buttons are not caused by where the umbilical cord is cut (contrary to a popular misconception). It is dependent on how scar tissue develops as the remaining tissue dries and falls off. This process is random, though "inny" tends to be a more common result.

Coffee Beans, Light vs. Dark Roast

Caffeine is extremely stable during the roasting process. A change in caffeine depends on how you measure your coffee.
There is an estimated ninety bean difference between a pound of dark and light roast coffee, with the dark roast higher. During the roasting process, a bean loses its mass. The density of the bean changes; beans that are roasted longer are less dense. That is why you have more beans by mass of dark roasts.

If you measure your coffee by scoops, light roasted coffee will have more caffeine, since the beans are denser than a darker roast. However, if you weigh your scoops, darker roasts will have more caffeine, because there is less mass. Depending on how ground coffee is measured, there is only a minimal variance in caffeine content with dark and light roasts. Unlike Marijuana,  people have died from caffeine overdose.

Two Car Part Inventors

Early automobiles had tillers, similar to the tillers used to steer boats. The tiller was attached to a simple mechanism that made the car’s front wheels turn when the tiller was pushed to the left or right. During 1894, a French engineer named Alfred Vacheron modified his Panhard runabout, replacing the tiller with a wheel attached to a shaft that went through the floor of the vehicle at a nearly vertical angle, where it attached to a mechanism that turned the front wheels.

Packard likely came up with the glove box. An article in a 1900 edition of The Horseless Age magazine describes the Model B: “The body of the carriage shows the best possible coach work and upholstering, and the aim has been to get rid of the ‘horse wanted’ appearance. The leather dash is not used, but instead a boot or box forms part of the body. In this is ample space for parcels, waterproofs, etc.” Other automakers soon started adding compartment-like features in place of old-fashioned dashes. The modern-looking glove compartment, with a drop-down door, first appeared during the 1920s.

Costco Ink Refills

Bring any supported, empty cartridges to the Photo Center at your local Costco. Your cartridge will be refilled while you shop. The system cleans, refills, and tests your cartridge. Receive your quality inkjet refill in an hour. Cost varies by location, but is cheaper than new cartridges.

Download, Sideload, and Upload

Many get these confused, but is easy to tell the difference once you understand.

The term "sideloading" is very similar to the more common terms "downloading" and "uploading," and it is much easier to understand what sideloading means if you are already familiar with those terms. Sideloading does not make use of the internet, it requires you to use some other method to transfer files. This can be accomplished with a physical connection between the two devices, like a USB cable, or via a wireless method like Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. If the mobile device has a memory card slot, sideloading can also involve copying files from a computer to an SD card and then inserting the card into the mobile device.

Downloading involves transferring a file from a remote location, like the internet, to a local device like your computer. Uploading is the opposite, since it involves transferring a file from a local device, like your computer, to a remote location like a file hosting service on the internet.

Bottom line, Think of the internet as a cloud. You upload to the cloud and you download from the cloud. Think of another device sitting beside yours. You sideload from it.

Keyboard Cleaners

Clear tape, the kind you find in the office or use to wrap presents is an ideal choice, since it is thin and easy to manipulate. Sticky notes work too.

Cleaning your keyboard with tape is fairly simple. Tear off an inch of tape and fold it in half so that the non-sticky sides are facing together and the sticky sides are facing outward. Slip the tape underneath the edges of the keys and rub back and forth a few times. Pull the piece of tape out and prepare to be disgusted at the amount of grunge. Repeat until all of your keys are clean.

Mar 2, 2018

Happy Friday

Smiles are like Spring to Winter.

Your smile will warm up everyone, especially on a Happy Friday!

Amazon Fire TV Screensaver

If you or someone you know has an Amazon Fire TV you likely came across the beautiful landscape pictures that show as the screensaver. I was wondering about some of them and came across this site LINK that shows each of the 182 pictures, along with a description.

Incidentally, if you have a fire TV and an Amazon Prime membership, you can upload your own photos for free and watch them on the big screen, and/or use them to replace the generic screensaver.

Accent vs. Dialect

The words "dialect" and "accent" are often used interchangeably, but they have different meanings. An accent might be described by muddling up the difference between words people use and the sounds they make, their pronunciation. It is the distinct way that a group of persons or even one particular individual speaks with distinctive phonetics and phonology. Groups sharing an identifiable accent may be defined by any variety of common traits, such as regional, the socio-economic status of its speakers, their ethnicity, their caste or social class, their first language (when the language in which the accent is heard is not their native language), etc. In the US, think Boston, New Orleans, etc.  For example, the Southern accent might refer to the pronunciation of the vowels like fire to 'fahr' or stress shift like 'po lice versus po 'lice.

A dialect is a variation in the language itself and not only in the pronunciation. Dialect is a type of language that is derived from a primary language. A dialect is a variety of language differing in vocabulary and grammar as well as pronunciation. Dialects are usually spoken by a group united by geography or class. It is a geographically or ethnically restricted form of a language characterized by a combination of distinctive phonetics (individual sounds), phonology (sound system rules), syntax, grammar, and vocabulary. The major native dialects of English are often divided by linguists into three general categories: British Isles dialect, North America dialect, and those of Australasia.

If someone from India were to move to London and start speaking English, we would refer to the speech as foreign accented speech, not a dialect.

IRS Scams

This time of year in the US there are many IRS scams due to tax season. If you receive an IRS scam call or a fraudulent tax refund call, never return a phone call from someone claiming to be with the IRS. Instead, individuals should call the IRS directly at 800-829-1040, and businesses should call 800-829-4933.
The US Department of Justice says the IRS never discusses personal tax issues through unsolicited emails or texts, or over social media. Always be wary if you are contacted by someone claiming to be from the IRS who says you owe money.

If you receive an unexpected and suspicious email from the IRS, forward it to

Four Google Tips

If you are searching and want to eliminate a word, put a minus - sign before it as in "cowboys -dallas" (without the quotes). It will get you the information about cowboys, but very few results about the football team.

Use an asterisk * to search and find the word you cannot remember, such as the "* of march" (without the quotes) returns results for the ides of March.

Looking for pictures, type in your search then click images on the top row. It will load your page with (mostly related) pictures. If you want animated pictures, click on search tools and choose "animated pictures".

The Google tool I use most is to filter by time. After you type in your search, click Tools, click "Anytime", then choose the time period. Many sites become outdated over time, and it is important to get the latest information. At the very least, choose "Past Year" for more recent information.

Monkey and Banana Myth

Monkeys actually prefer leaves and insects rather than bananas. In fact, bananas are not healthy for monkeys. Bananas are too sweet for them. The UK has banned them from its zoos. They love eating ripe fruits, seeds, vegetables, honey, and flowers.

Incidentally, goats do not eat tin cans.

Draught Guinness

Draught or draft Guinness is special. There is a precise, elaborate, and time-consuming art-form of pouring the perfect pint of Guinness beer. Bartenders around the world are given instructions for the proper pouring process, including details about the type of glass used, the angle the glass is held at during the different states of pouring, the precise length of time the pint must be left to settle, and the force with which the draught Guinness is poured from the tap.

During the 1950s, Guinness scientist Michael Ash was tasked with solving the 'draft problem'. At the time, dispensing a draft pint of Guinness was very complicated, and the company was losing market share to draft lagers in Britain that could be easily dispensed with CO2. “The stout was too lively to be dispensed with CO2 only,” Brady said. “Ash worked on the problem for four years, working long hours day and night, and became a bit of a recluse apparently. A lot of doubters at the brewery called the project ‘daft Guinness'.”

Then Ash attempted dispensing the beer with plain air. It worked. The secret ingredient, he discovered, was nitrogen. The air we breathe is 78 percent nitrogen. Today, a Guinness draft contains 75 percent nitrogen. Not only did the discovery make dispensing the beer easier, it created a creamy mouthfeel that has been the signature of Irish stouts since.

Nitrogen forms tighter bubbles than carbon dioxide when put under pressure in a solution and has a different appearance and texture. The bubble is a pocket of released gas that becomes trapped inside of a thin membrane of beer. There are many more little bubbles in a nitrogen pour.

Incidentally, Draught Guinness, as it is known today, was first produced in 1964. Bottled Draught Guinness was formulated in 1978 and launched into the Irish market in 1979.

Live to 90 With Booze

If you want to live into your 90s, booze actually beats exercise, according to a long-term study. The research, led by University of California (no surprise) neurologist Claudia Kawas, tracked 1,700 nonagenarians enrolled in the 90+ Study that began in 2003 to explore impacts of daily habits on longevity.
Researchers discovered that subjects who drank about two glasses of beer or wine a day were 18% less likely to experience a premature death. Meanwhile, participants who exercised 15 to 45 minutes a day, cut the same risk by 11%.
“I have no explanation for it, but I do firmly believe that modest drinking improves longevity,” Kawas stated at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual conference in Austin, Texas.

Other factors were found to boost longevity, including weight. Participants who were slightly overweight, but not obese, cut their odds of an early death by 3%. “It’s not bad to be skinny when you are young, but it is very bad to be skinny when you’re old,” Kawas noted in her address.

Also, subjects who kept busy with a daily hobby two hours a day were 21% less likely to die early, while those who drank two cups of coffee a day cut that risk by 10%.

God's Aging Plan

Related to the above, most seniors never get enough exercise. In His wisdom God decreed that seniors become forgetful so they would have to search for their glasses, keys and other things, thus doing more walking. And God looked down and saw that it was good.

Then God saw there was another need. In His wisdom He made seniors lose co-ordination so they would drop things, requiring them to bend, reach, and stretch. And God looked down and saw that it was good.

Then God considered the function of bladders and decided seniors would have additional calls of nature, requiring more trips to the loo, thus providing more exercise. God looked down and saw that it was good.

God saw that the knights of the round table were getting weak, so he took the wheels off the chairs, thus causing them to actually pull on chairs before sitting down to stuff their faces. God looked down and saw that it was good.

So if you find as you age, you are getting up and down more, remember it is God's will. It is all in your best interest even though you mutter under your breath.

Calculate Anything

We all need to calculate things from time to time. Here is a site that has almost 400 different free calculators. There are calculators for business, health, finance, statistics, construction, and more. LINK