Jul 9, 2013

On July 12

Bill Cosby, George Washington Carver, Richard Simmons, R. Buckminster Fuller, Van Clyburn, and Milton Berle, among others were born on this day.

This Day in:
1290  Jews are expelled from England by order of King Edward I
1630  New Amsterdam's governor buys Gull Island from Indians for cargo, renames it Oyster Island, now known as Ellis Island
1843  Mormon leader Joseph Smith say God OKs polygamy
1901  Cy Young wins his 300th game
1914  Babe Ruth makes his baseball debut, pitches for Red Sox
1921  Babe Ruth sets record of 137 career home runs
1962  Rolling Stones 1st performance at Marquee Club, London

Jul 5, 2013

John Adams and Independence

After the members of the Second Continental Congress approved and signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776, John Adams wrote about the occasion in a letter to his wife Abigail, "I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding Generations as the great anniversary Festival." He suggested that it should, "Be commemorated as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shows, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more." It would be nice if some of our current batch of politicians would read the words of who came before them.

AstroTurf Facts

It was originally named “ChemGrass” before being used by the Houston Astros Major League Baseball team in the Astrodome.

Contrary to popular belief, AstroTurf was not first used or invented for the Houston Astros.  It was originally invented in 1964, two years before the Astros would use it, by Donald L. Elbert, James M. Faria, and Robert T. Wright, working for Monsanto Company.

In 1965, the Houston Astros attempted to use a special type of natural grass on the indoor field, but the semi-transparent ceiling panels did not let in enough sunlight and the grass died within a few months.  This resulted in the Astros organization having to paint the dirt field green, to make it appear more like a normal baseball field.

By the start of the 1966 season, the Astros decided to go with ChemGrass. Due to a limited supply, though, they were only able to get the infield covered for the first half of the season and the outfield was still painted green dirt.  Shortly after the All-Star break, the entire field was covered in ChemGrass and this artificial surface received national attention for the first time.

Soon after other sporting teams began using ChemGrass up for outdoor stadiums, particularly those in colder climates. The product was renamed AstroTurf by John A. Wortmann, an employee of Monsanto.  By 1987, AstroTurf had become so popular that Monsanto made it an independent subsidiary, named AstroTurf Industries, Inc.

AstroTurf eventually became unpopular in outdoor fields, despite the cost benefit, mostly due to the extra wear on player’s bodies. It was typically installed over cement and provided little cushioning compared to real grass and dirt. Currently, over 160 million square feet of AstroTurf is being used on sporting fields and for home use worldwide.

AstroTurf eventually lent its name to the political and business term 'AstroTurfing', where a business or political group will attempt to create an artificial 'movement' to sway public opinion about a topic by making people think 'regular' people are behind the movement.

The US government hired a software company in 2011 to develop special AstroTurfing software, partly by using Facebook, Twitter, and by social engineering that would help the government sway public opinion on various topics. Among other things, the software would scan for online articles written by people with opposing views to what the Administration wanted people to think. It would then create fake accounts and automatically post made up, discrediting information about the authors.

Wordology, Eavesdrop

Eavesdropping originally came from Anglo-Saxon laws against building too close to the border of your land, so the rain running off your roof would not run on to your neighbor's property. The eavesdrip is the width of ground around a house or building which receives the rain water dropping from the eaves.

The primary function of the eaves is to throw rain water off the walls, prevent erosion of the footings, and reduce splatter on the wall from rain as it hits the ground.

Eavesdropper became the word for a person who stands within range of the eaves drip in order to listen to what is said inside the house. Now it has evolved to the act of secretly listening to the private conversations or reading online records of others without their consent. The word eaves is both singular and plural.

Top Ten Web Facts

There are 14.3 trillion web pages on the World Wide Web.

68.8% of all email traffic is spam. (back in 2008, 53.8 trillion spam emails were sent)

51% of all spam is about pharmaceuticals, the top category of all spam.

30.8% used Internet Explorer in 2012 (in 2008 it was 70%)

43% of the top 1 million websites are hosted in the U.S.

44.8 % of internet users live in Asia

11.4% of internet users live in North America

68.4% of smart phones use Android operating system (introduced Sept 2008) vs. iPhone (introduced June 2007) 19.4%

4 billion hours of video are watched on YouTube each month

In 2012, there were 2.7 billion likes on Facebook each day and 5 billion Google's +1 button  each day.

Blood Types

There are 8 main types of blood separated into 4 groups. The groups are A, B, AB, and O. They are grouped together by the presence or absence of an antigen. Antigens are substances within the blood that cause our immune systems to create antibodies. These antibodies kill anything the immune system thinks is a threat.

The specific antigens that create the different blood types are found on the surface of red blood cells and are known as type A and type B. They are separated by the presence of another type of antigen known as rH factor. If this rH antigen is present, blood is considered positive, if absent, negative.

Someone that has type A antigens and rH factor is considered type A+. If someone has both types of antigens and no rH factor would be type AB- blood. If no A or B antigens then it is type O.

All of this matters because of those antibodies your immune system creates. Someone with type A blood will have antibodies for type B, and someone with type B will have antibodies for type A. Type O has antibodies for both A and B. If you were to give type B blood to someone who was type A, their antibodies would attack the type A red blood cells causing very unwanted side effects, including possible death.

The two main types of cells within the blood are red and white. Red blood cells make up nearly 45% of your blood volume. White blood cells make up less than 1%. What is left over is blood plasma at approximately 55% of blood volume.

Red blood cells and most white blood cells are predominantly created within the bone marrow of large bones. White blood cell production is controlled within the immune system.

Flying the Philipines Flag Fact

The flag of the Philippines has three stars, the Sun, and two stripes. One stripe is blue and the other is red.

Which stripe is on top is dependent on whether the nation is at war. As stated by law, “the flag, if flown from a flagpole, shall have its blue field on top in time of peace and the red field on top in time of war."

On July 5

Born 1709: Etienne de Silhouette, French minister of finance and outline portrait artist

Born 1810: P.T. Barnum American showman who formed the Barnum and Bailey Circus

Salvation Army founded this day 1865 by William Booth in London

1979: President Carter delivered his "malaise" speech in which he lamented what he called a "crisis of confidence" in America.

Drying Clean Hands

There are different ways of drying your hands in public places: paper towels, continuous-loop towels and warm-air dryers.

Washing the hands, and then using paper towels or continuous-loop cotton towels reduced the bacterial count by about 45 to 60 per cent, but washing, and then using a warm-air dryer actually increased the bacterial count by an average of 255 per cent.

The bacteria are already inside the warm-air dryers, due to the warm moist environment. Every warm-air dryer they tested had high bacterial counts on the air inlet and 97 per cent had them on the outlet nozzle surfaces as well. In most cases it doesn't matter, because our immune systems are resilient enough to keep the numbers of these bacteria low and the majority of these bugs are fairly harmless.

With a towel (paper or cloth) you can apply some decent mechanical friction to your hands. This is an important part of the hand-cleaning process. A towel soaks up the water, and the bacteria end up in the bin. You can dry 90 per cent of the surface area of your hand within 10 seconds with a towel. A warm-air dryer cannot dry your hands within 10 seconds. On average, it takes 50 seconds to dry 90 per cent of your hands.

Jet-air dryers have come on the market in the last few years. They blast air at enormous speed. If you can apply some mechanical friction, and rub your hands together, you can dry 90 per cent of your hands within 10 seconds. If the jet-air dryer has a good intake filter, it will stop the bacteria that are already floating in the bathroom air from getting sucked in and blown around. Warm-air dryers were not installed to improve hygiene, but to cut costs.