Sep 2, 2016

Aussie Father's Day

In Australia and New Zealand, Father's Day is celebrated on the first Sunday of September.

Labor Day and Labour Day in Canada

This is observed on the first Monday in September.

What's in a Name, Stetson

John Batterson Stetson came from a long line of hatters, and when he was diagnosed with tuberculosis, he headed west during the 1860s. After setting up shop in Missouri, Stetson created the original cowboy hat - the Boss of the Plains hat.

It looks little like what we might imagine for the typical cowboy hat, with a round brim and uncreased crown. Originally made from beaver fur and designed to be lightweight and waterproof, it was not until the Boss of the Plains hat was already popular that it began to morph into something closer to the cowboy hats we think of today.

Wearers in different areas started customizing their hats, and the creases and folds of the hats developed into their own type of language. They defined status, occupation, and where a person was from, until Stetson adopted the five most popular creases into his official line.

Notable people who wore Stetson hats included Colonel William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody, Calamity Jane, Will Rogers, and Annie Oakley.

Robotics is Growing

An analysis of 752 of The Robot Report's global database of robotics-related startup companies shows that 25% of the startups were focused on industrial robotics and 75% address new areas of robotics such as: unmanned aerial, land and underwater devices for filming, marketing, delivery, surveillance, security, surveying, and for the military, science and oil and gas industries (25%); robotics for the agriculture industry (6%); mobile robots as platforms for various uses (7%); personal service bots (3%); professional service bots (7%); medical, surgical and rehabilitation robots (7%); consumer products such as for home cleaning, security, remote presence and entertainment (9%); educational and the hobby market (5%); etc.

Support businesses such as AI and software, engineering and design, component manufacturing, 3D printing, vision systems and integrators make up the remainder. More than half of the startups are predominantly software based and indicative of the new metric that the hardware component represent less that 1/3 of the overall cost of the product.

The industrial robotics sector, whose revenues have represented 75% of the industry's overall sales for the past few years, is forecast by various sources to have double-digit compounded annual growth for the remainder of this decade. However, when one studies the figures for the biggest five user-countries, all except China are projecting CAGRs of 6% to 9% while China is expected to exceed 25%. Service robots are also expecting double-digit growth with over 80% of those new companies located in Europe and North America. This explosive growth shows that the next 5-10 years will all be double-digit years for the industry as a whole.

Incidentally, Oxford Martin School researchers estimate that robotics and artificial intelligence are on track to take over 40% of the US workforce within 15-20 years.

Caterpillar Club

Membership is involuntary in this club that has been around since 1922. It is so named as parachutes were made of silk at the time. The sole requirement for joining the Caterpillar Club is to make an emergency escape from a failing aircraft, then plummet to earth with the aid of a parachute. If you survive, you automatically become a member.

If you qualify, contact  Airborne Systems, which owns the parachute producers Irvin Aerospace, GQ Parachutes, Para-Flite and Aircraft Materials, Ltd. In accordance with the Irvin protocols established in the 1920s, the company still issues gold pins and membership cards to Caterpillar Club members.

Incidentally, Charles Lindbergh was a member of the Caterpillar Club.

Point Roberts Double Currency

Point Roberts is a little tract of land attached to a suburb of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. It is officially part of Washington State, US, but inhabitants must cross through Canada to reach the rest of Washington State. Point Roberts has a small airport and a large marina for air and water access. These two point facilities allow the fourteen mile direct access to the rest of Washington State without the need to enter Canada.

Point Bob, as it is called, has a post office, with the ZIP code of 98281 had a population of 1,314 on the 2010 census. The US portion of the peninsula is about 2 miles (3 km) from north to south and about 3 miles (5 km) from east to west. It has a total area of 4.884 square miles (12.65 km2). From fourth grade on, American children must take a 40-minute ride through British Columbia, crossing back into the United States at Blaine, Washington.

It assumed its present political status in 1846, when the Oregon Treaty extended the 49th parallel as the boundary between American and British territory from the Rocky Mountains to Georgia Strait.  Later, as the Boundary Commission was surveying the line, the British government realized that the peninsula of Point Roberts would be an isolated part of the United States.

Incidentally, The cash registers have two drawers in one. One side dispenses Canadian funds, the other side American. The registers are updated daily to properly calculate the current exchange rate.

Google Games

Did you know you can play some games with Google? If you want to play Solitaire, search for "solitaire" on Google. Or you can search for "tic-tac-toe".

To settle an argument, search for "flip a coin". To hear animal sounds, ask Google something like, "what sound does a cow make?" It will play the sound, and you can choose from a selection of other animals, including pig, horse, owl. zebra, dog, cat, and duck. Caveat Emptor, it can be addicting.

National Biscuit Month

September is National Biscuit Month. A biscuit is a kind of small, flat-baked bread product that is usually made with a chemical leavener such as baking powder. The exact meaning varies in different parts of the world. A biscuit can be a hard baked sweet or savory product like a small, flat cake, which in North America may be called a "cookie" or "cracker". The term biscuit also applies to sandwich-type biscuits, where a layer of cream or icing is sandwiched between two biscuits. Some of the original biscuits were British naval hard tack.

In American English, a biscuit is a small bread made with baking powder or baking soda as a leavening agent rather than yeast. This roughly corresponds to a scone in British English usage.

Biscuits have a firm browned crust and a soft interior, similar to bannock from the Shetland Isles. A sweet biscuit layered or topped with fruit, typically strawberries, juice-based syrup, and cream is called shortcake. In Canada, both sweet and savory are referred to as biscuits, baking powder biscuits, or tea biscuits, although scone is now also used.

Biscuits are a common feature of Southern US cuisine and are often made with buttermilk. They are traditionally served as a side dish with a meal. As a breakfast item they are often eaten with butter and a sweet condiment. With other meals they are usually eaten with butter or gravy. However, biscuits covered in country gravy are usually served for breakfast, sometimes as the main course.

Origin of Unlucky Thirteen

Fear of the number 13, known as "triskaidekaphobia," has its origins in Norse mythology. In a well-known tale, 12 gods were invited to dine at Valhalla, a magnificent banquet hall in Asgard, the city of the gods. Loki, the god of strife and evil, crashed the party, raising the number of attendees to 13. The other gods tried to kick Loki out, and in the struggle that ensued, Balder, the favorite among them, was killed.

Scandinavian avoidance of 13-member dinner parties, and dislike of the number 13 itself, spread south to the rest of Europe. It was reinforced in the Christian era by the story of the Last Supper, at which Judas, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, was the thirteenth guest at the table. See also LINK