Feb 26, 2010


Talk into your iPhone and tell Siri what you want. Tickets for a show, reservations at a restaurant, a taxi to pick you up. Siri can arrange to get you what you need. Best of all, Siri learns what you want, and gets better at understanding your commands, just like a human assistant.

It was originally developed as part of DARPA’s CALO project and represents more than five years of research and refinement. The App is sophisticated enough to filter through a sentence and identify the relevant key words and know what to do. It understands to use GPS to determine what “in your area” means. It can handle most any command for six broad categories of interest: restaurants, movies, events, taxis, local information, and weather. Oh, did I mention it is free?
It can understand complicated commands that use unspecific key words. “I’d like a PG-13 movie near my house that’s funny and romantic.” Siri can handle that by using its patented algorithm to learn how to translate words and phrases into commands.

The Siri company has more than $24 million in funding and has plans to expand to include reminders, flight stats, reference questions, and many more tasks. It is currently only available for iPhone 3GS with OS 3.1, but it will eventually be offered for iPod Touch, iPhone 3G, and other smart phones.  I love technology.

Deja Vu

An alleged Florida car thief was ironically arrested while playing the popular video game "Grand Theft Auto." Police say they found a stolen SUV outside the man's home, and when they went inside, he was playing the game. The man has been charged with grand theft auto.

Stan Laurel

Stan Laurel, born June 16, 1890 at Cumbria, England UK Died February 23, 1965. "If any of you cry at my funeral, I'll never speak to you again!" - Stan Laurel

I am a card carrying member of the 'Sons of the Desert', the official fan club of the boys (not the Texas country band). Stan gave his permission to form the group, 'as long as it maintained a certain half-assed dignity.'

Way back when, I was in the Michigan tent (group), called the Dancing Cuckoos (named after the song from one of their movies). Each state had a name taken after a movie and Michigan was the only one to use the name from a song. I had the chance to meet some of the supporting characters from their movies, Stan's daughter Lois and T. Marvin Hatley, who wrote some of the movie songs, including this one from the Sons of the desert movie LINK.

Below is my badge. Oh, and yes, I also have the obligatory fez.

The Sons of the Desert is still going strong and has groups all over the world. The last annual convention (held every two years) was in Amsterdam. This year's convention will be held in June, in Sacramento. Alas, the Texas tent has folded.

Stan Laurel: You remember how dumb I used to be?
Oliver Hardy: Yeah?
Stan Laurel: Well, I’m better now.

PS - It has been confirmed that Clint Eastwood is not Stan's son.

Feb 25, 2010


Beauty is in the sigh of the beholder.

Liquid Glass

A Germany company has come up with Liquid Glass. Also known as SiO2 in ultra thin layering, this transparent film of material is only 100 nanometers thick (1/500 the width of a human hair) but it can repel water, deter bacteria and fungus growth, protect against wear, and still allow the surface underneath to breathe.

It is harmless to the environment and could replace a variety of harsh cleaning chemicals. The coating can be cleaned with water alone, and tests by food-processing companies have shown that a good hot water rinse left liquid-glass-coated surfaces as sterile as normal surfaces doused with strong disinfecting bleach. The coating is also flexible and breathable, so it can be applied to both static and non-static surfaces.

According to a news release, it is in trial use in hospitals in the UK for coating equipment, medical implants, catheters, sutures, and bandages. It is also used on trains and luxury furniture. Germany has approved it for open distribution, and the UK is likely to do so this year. Hopefully it will come to the US soon. Reputable sites have covered this, but it seems like one of those 'too good to be true' so don't get out your wallet, yet.

Hot Dog Nonsense

Here is another way, to scare the public. The American Academy of Pediatrics wants foods like hot dogs to come with a warning label, not because of their nutritional risks, but because they pose a choking hazard to babies and children.

More than half of hot dogs sold in stores already have choking-prevention tips on their packages, advising parents to cut them into small pieces. The Food and Drug Administration, which has authority to recall products it considers "unfit for food," plans to review the new statement, spokeswoman Rita Chappelle says.

Here are the facts, stripped from the other numbers they use to scare us. 'Annually, up to 77 children under the age of 14 who go to the Emergency Room for choking on food, die', says the new policy statement, published online in Pediatrics (Feb 2010). It continues, 'about 17% of food-related asphyxiations are caused by hot dogs'. So 17% of 77 equals 13.09 children die each year from choking on hot dogs.

The academy would like to see foods such as hot dogs "redesigned" so their size, shape and texture make them less likely to lodge in a youngster's throat. I feel bad about 13 children dying, but to change a whole industry for that number seems a bit ludicrous. Maybe the Academy might make better use of its time solving some real childhood diseases that affect more than 13 children each year. A big weenie to the Academy!

Tree Saver

Leave it to the Japanese to be this creative. Oriental Company has come up with a machine by the name of ‘White Goat’ recently. It is an innovative machine that converts your wasted office paper into toilet paper in about 30minutes. After you put about 40sheeets of paper into the machine will then shred the paper, dissolve it in the water, thin the paper out, and then dry it into toilet sheets.

The company claims it costs $0.11 to churn out one toilet roll and it will save up to 60 trees a year. The machine is expected to hit the market in Japan in summer 2010, at a price of about $100,000. Ingenious.

Dooley Wilson

Texan “Dooley” Wilson, the piano player Sam and sidekick to saloonkeeper Rick Blaine in the classic 1942 film Casablanca, couldn’t play the piano, but he did do the singing. Sorry, didn't mean to ruin the illusion.

Feb 23, 2010


To keep your marriage brimming,
With love in the loving cup,
Whenever you’re wrong admit it;
Whenever you’re right shut up.

What's in a Name

Have you ever wondered where is Old Zealand? New Zealand is actually named after Zeeland, a major seafaring province of the Netherlands, by Dutch navigator Abel Tasman in 1642. You might also notice the island of Tasmania is named after him. Captain James Cook misspelled it New Zealand and the name stuck ever since. (Tasmania is just below Australia and to the left of New Zealand.)

How about New Amsterdam? New York City was originally settled by the Dutch and named New Amsterdam in 1625. It was situated right outside of Fort Amsterdam. It became New York (after the Duke of York) in 1665. Then it became New Orange after the Dutch took it back in 1673, then finally back to New York in 1674. Wow, New Orange became the Big Apple.


It is also known as the infranasal depression, is the vertical groove in the upper lip. It has no apparent function besides its visual prominence.

Some people have a beautiful philtrum.

Close Buttons

Did you know most elevators built or installed since the early 1990s don’t have close buttons that actually work, unless you use a fireman or repair key? People push them, because the fact that the door eventually closes reinforces their belief that the button works. Doors are set on a delay timer to close. Older ones do work as advertised.

Feb 22, 2010

Coffee's Hot

A little shameless self promotion here. This blog, Shubsthoughts, is featured on Coffee's Hot site this week. LINK

Why not take a break and go check it out and see what some of the other authors, bloggers, and readers are doing. As always, thanks for stopping by.

Feb 19, 2010

Penny for Your Thoughts

The government spends 1.8 cents to make one penny and 9 cents to produce a nickel. Because metal prices have shot up lately, the cost to make these two coins is more than what they are worth as coins. This costs us an additional $100 million a year.

The government is loosening up its rules for what metals can be used to used to make coins. Using cheaper metal should help bring the cost of making one penny closer to one penny. Seems we should have respected the old axiom of 'take care of your pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves'. Now we spend trillions of dollars and the pennies do not take care of themselves. Maybe we should change the politicians instead of changing the metals.

Intel Newest Computer Chip

Intel announced on Feb 8 its newest Intel announced its Itanium 9300 series microprocessor, a high-end supercomputing chip with 2 billion transistors on a single chip. The number of transistors, or basic on-off switches that control the flow of electrical signals in a chip, is about twice as much as what Intel and other big companies normally put in a chip.

Marriage and TV

Ages of Marriage:
Twenty is when you watch TV after.
Forty is when you watch TV during.
Sixty is when you watch TV instead.

Fly Paper

You have heard of fly paper, but have you seen a paper fly?

Feb 18, 2010

Alzheimer's Drink

Rush University Medical Center is leading a nationwide clinical trial of a nutritional drink to determine whether it can improve cognitive performance in people with mild to moderate Alzheimer's. The study follows recently released results from an earlier trial conducted in Europe showing that the drink, called Souvenaid, improved verbal recall in people with mild disease who were followed for three months.

Results of the first European study were released recently, following publication in the journal Alzheimer's & Dementia. In that study, 225 patients with mild Alzheimer's were divided into two groups. Some drank Souvenaid and the others sipped a non-medical drink every day for 12 weeks.

Researchers found that the patients who drank Souvenaid improved in a delayed verbal recall task.

A total of 500 individuals who are taking medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the symptomatic treatment of mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease will be enrolled in the present study at 40 sites across the U.S. In the double-blinded study, half of the participants will drink about four ounces of Souvenaid once a day for 24 weeks. The other half will drink a control product that is similar in flavor, appearance, and composition, but without the Souvenaid nutrients. Neither group will know whether they are drinking Souvenaid or the other beverage.

Treasury Paper Pay Stubs

The Treasury Department currently mails paper pay stubs to its employees, which will cost $1.5 million in 2011 and will cost $2 million per year after that. By using electronic pay stubs the department will join the 21st century and switch to electronic stubs. Isn't this the same 'green' government that asks us to eliminate paper to save the environment? Reminds me of another axiom, 'penny wise and pound foolish'. This will really help reduce the multi-trillion dollar deficit.

Find Feature

Did you know that most web browsers, such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Crazy Browser, etc have a great, but little used feature. It is the "find" feature, usually located under the "view' button on the top of the page next to "file."

Click on "view" then click on "find" or " find on this page" and type in the word or phrase you are looking for. It moves to that part of the web page you are on and highlights the text for you.

This is great when looking for a person's name or other specific word in long web pages and it saves a bunch of extra reading when you are looking for something specific.

Bubble Wrap

Did you know bubble wrap is 50 years old this year? Now you do. Of course we missed bubble wrap appreciation day, which was Jan 25 (started in 2001 in Bloomington, Indiana).  

Here is a site that lets you pop the stuff online. A total waste of time, but you know you want to pop just a few. LINK

Airborne Snake Oil

Airborne (those little packages you see at the end of store aisles), first claimed to prevent colds, then claimed to boost your immune system. People who travel a lot think it is going to prevent them from catching diseases while on planes, trains, etc.

Last year, 2009, Airborne settled a lawsuit in which it agreed to pay over $23 million in fines for false advertising. The suit said there is no factual evidence to back the company claims, and said it is like a placebo. Caveat Emptor!


Fashion is something that goes in one year and out the other.

Laurel and Hardy?

I have always been a huge fan of the boys and I didn't didn't make this one up. Laurel and Hardy delivered 50 bags of cocaine to a home in Kingston, Pennsylvania, where police arrested them. Hardy was also found to have ten bags of marijuana in his possession. 31-year-old Carlos Laurel and 39-year-old Andre Hardy were held at the Luzerne County Jail on several felony drug charges. Do you think they understand the irony of their partnership?

Feb 15, 2010

Spare Ribs

The term originally came from the German Rippenspeer which literally translates to "spear ribs," as this cut was traditionally roasted on a spit or spear. In English, it became ribspare and eventually sparerib or spare ribs. The name did not come from the Bible, as at least one of you was thinking.

Spareribs are cut from the bottom section of the ribs and breastbone of the pig, just above the belly and include 11 to 13 long bones. Baby back ribs are from the top of the rib area along the back. Spareribs are considered to be more meaty and succulent than pork baby back ribs.

In Western cooking spare ribs are generally cooked on a barbecue or on an open fire, and are served as a slab (bones and all) with a thick barbecue type sauce. St. Louis style ribs are trimmed and have the brisket bone removed, while Kansas City-style ribs are trimmed even further, and have the hard bone removed.

Nice Quotes

Thought you might enjoy some nice quotes.

At home I'm a nice guy; but I don't want the world to know. Humble people, I've found, don't get very far. (Muhammad Ali)

Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one. (Bill Gates)

I've decided to cut out the part of the speech where I say something nice about Democrats. (Ann Coulter)

Nice to be here? At my age it's nice to be anywhere. (George Burns)

Always be nice to people on the way up; because you'll meet the same people on the way down. (Wilson Mizner)

If you live long enough, lots of nice things happen. (George Halas)

Feb 13, 2010

Chinese New Year

Like other lunar dates, the Chinese New Year does not fall on the same date each year, although it is always in January or February. In 2010, it is February 14.

The Chinese New Year is an important celebration all over the world including Canada. There are similar New Year celebrations in Japan, Korea and Vietnam known as the Lunar New Year or the Spring Festival.

Celebrations today are both literal and symbolic. Spring cleaning is started about a month prior to the Chinese New Year and must be completed before the celebrations begin.

Pancake Day

In the United Kingdom, Pancake Day, or Shrove Tuesday is the day before lent. During lent one is supposed to fast, so a day of eating prior to 40 days of deprivation. Pancake day varies in line with Easter. In 2010, it is on February 16.

Pancake day is the last chance to indulge yourself, and to use up the foods that weren't allowed during Lent. Pancakes are eaten on this day because they contain fat, butter, and eggs which were forbidden during Lent. Eating meat was also forbidden.

Pancake races and tossing the pancakes are two traditions that have stayed with us. Women race with pancakes in frying-pans, tossing them as they run. This was one of many merry-making games played at this time.

Shrove Tuesday gets its name from the ritual of shriving, when the faithful confessed their sins to the local priest and received forgiveness before the Lenten season began.

As far back as 1000 AD, "to shrive" meant to hear confessions. 'Short shrift' is derived from this and means giving little attention to someone's explanations.

Today, the Shrove Tuesday pancake tradition lives on throughout Western Europe, the United States, Canada and Australia, but is most associated with the UK where it is simply known as Pancake Day with a traditional recipe.

In France, as well as in New Orleans it is known as Fat Tuesday which kicks off the Mardi Gras festival with wild celebrations just before the austere Lenten season.  Mardi Gras means Grease or Fat Tuesday.

In Poland, pączki  and faworki are traditionally eaten on Fat Thursday, the one before Shrove Tuesday. However, in areas of Detroit, like Hamtramck with a large Polish  population, they are eaten on "Fat Tuesday" due to French influence. Shrove Tuesday itself is sometimes referred to as "śledzik" ("little herring") and it is customary to have some pickled herring with Polish vodka that day.

Scented Candles

How about this site to get some Bacon, or Pancake, or Coffee scented candles. Mmmm smells so goooood! Gives me a lardon!  LINK


Your nose is not as sensitive as a dog's, but it can remember 50,000 different scents.

Feb 10, 2010

Religious Customs

Many religious customs were borne from necessity, such as Lent or no meat on Fridays for millions of Catholics. In olden times, there was a shortage of meat, so the church declared Friday as meatless days, that way the poorer populations would not be singled out for not having meat as part of the daily meals and they could offer their hardship as penance (to receive blessings).

Lent was that time of year after winter storage was running low and spring harvest was still months away. Fasting was a way to accept the hardship as an offering to please God, rather than to endure because there was little food available.

Iran Banknotes

The picture shows, "Don’t believe what a government says if that government is the only entity that has the right of expression."

Since Iranians can't display opposition publicly, they are writing on the money. Their government tried to have the bills all confiscated, but there were too many of them.  

What a novel idea to get the word out. Maybe we should do our own "vote non-incumbent' on our bills this year.

Pull Out all the Stops

Means to make every possible effort. The popular belief is that this phrase derives from the manner of construction of pipe organs. These instruments have stops to control the air flow through the pipes and pulling them out increases the musical volume.

Prior to the introduction of pipe organs the word 'stop' had, in a musical context, been used to mean 'note' or 'key'. That usage is recorded as early as the late 16th century. The word 'stop' later came to be used for the knobs that control the flow of air in pipe organs, by pushing them in or pulling them out.

House and Home

A house is a place to store furniture. A home is a place to store memories.

Healthy Patch

Japanese venture firm WIN Human Recorder Ltd is set to bring a health monitor patch to market that is capable of keeping tabs on all your vitals. The HRS-I is a small (30mm x 30mm x 5mm) lightweight (7g) device that adheres to your chest and relays the data it collects to a computer or mobile phone via wireless connection.

While the HRS-I only directly monitors electrocardiograph information, body surface temperature, and movement (via accelerometers), it can connect to sensors for heart rate, brain waves, respiration and many other important health indicators.

WIN is selling the HRS-I for around $330 and providing monitoring software for around $110. It moves from clinical trial to market in the next year or so.

Overweight is Good For You

Moderately overweight elderly people may live longer than those of normal weight, an Australian study suggests, but being very overweight or being underweight shortened lives.

The study of 9,200 over-70s found that regardless of weight, sedentary lifestyles shortened lives, particularly for women.
The report, published in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society, said dieting may not be beneficial in this age group.

The team tracked the number of deaths over 10 years among volunteers who were aged 70 - 75 at the start of the study. It found that those with a BMI which classed them as overweight not only had the lowest overall risk of dying, they also had the lowest risk of dying from specific diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and chronic respiratory disease.

Overall death rate among the obese group was similar to that among those of normal weight, but those who were very obese had a greater risk of dying during the 10 year period.

The conclusion of this study is that being overweight may be less harmful for elderly people and it corroborates the findings of previous research.

However, sedentary lifestyles shortened lives across all weight groups, doubling the risk of mortality for women over the period studied, and increasing it by 25% for men. I think I need to go fix a bacon, bacon, bacon and cheese sandwich with potato chips on the side.

Health and Wealth

Whether you think health or wealth is more important depends upon which one you have lost.

Popeye's Chicken

Did you know the name came from Popeye Doyle, from The French Connection, not Popeye the Sailor Man. Now you do.

Google Buzz

This week Google announced Buzz. It is the Google answer to Facebook and it is incorporated right in Gmail. If you have a Gmail (free) email address check it out by clicking on Buzz on the left side of the page. Very easy to add comments, pics, videos, etc. Easier than Facebook. I'm buzzed about this.


Hugs are like pancakes - much better when very warm.

Feb 5, 2010


A rainbow is not the flat two-dimensional arc it appears to be. It appears flat for the same reason a spherical burst of fireworks high in the sky appears as a disk-because of a
lack of distance cues.  The rainbow you see is actually a three-dimensional cone with the tip at your eye.

Consider a glass cone, the shape of those paper cones you sometimes see at drinking fountains.  If you held the tip of such a glass cone against your eye, you would see the glass as a circle. All the drops that disperse the rainbow's light toward you lie in the shape of a cone of different layers with drops that deflect red to your eye on the outside, orange beneath the red, yellow beneath the orange, and so on all the way to violet on the inner conical surface.  The thicker the region containing the water drops, the thicker conical edge that you look through.

Your cone of vision that intersects the cloud of drops that creates your rainbow is different from that of a person next to you. Everybody sees his or her own personal rainbow.

If the Earth were not in the way, a rainbow would be a complete circle.  This is why you will never find the golden pot at the end of the rainbow.


Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.

Swan Song

A final gesture or performance, given before dying. This term derived from the legend that, while they are mute during the rest of their lives, swans sing beautifully and mournfully just before they die. This isn't actually true, swans have a variety of vocal sounds and they don't sing before they die. The legend was known to be false as early as the days of ancient Rome, when Pliny the Elder refuted it in Natural History, AD 77:  "Observation shows that the story that the dying swan sings is false."

Poetic imagery proved to be more attractive than science and many poets and playwrights made use of the fable. Shakespeare even used the image in The Merchant of Venice. Portia: "Let music sound while he doth make his choice; then, if he lose, he makes a swan-like end, fading in music."

The actual term 'swan song', seems to have begun in print in the 18th century. The Scottish cleric Jon Willison used the expression in one of his Scripture Songs, 1767, where he refers to "King David's swan-song".

Samuel Taylor Coleridge  turned this around in the poem 'On a Volunteer Singer'.

    Swans sing before they die; ’twere no bad thing
    Did certain persons die before they sing.

Swan-song is now commonly used to refer to performers embarking on farewell tours or final performances.

Feb 4, 2010


Each year, Ikea sends out 180 million catalogs. That means there are more of them printed annually than bibles.

Feb 3, 2010

Bacon Tuxedo

Here is something for the man who has everything. You can also get it as a puzzle.


"Looking for an ethic in Congress is as foolish as looking for a virgin in a bordello.” Wesley Pruden, retired editor-in-chief of “The Washington Times”


No moving parts, no batteries.
No monthly payments and no fees;
Inflation proof, non-taxable,
In fact, it's quite relaxable;
It can't be be stolen, won't pollute,
One size fits all, do not dilute.
It uses little energy,
But yields results enormously,
Relieves your tension and your stress
Invigorates your happiness;
Combats depression, makes you beam,
And elevates your self esteem!
Your circulation it corrects
Without unpleasant side effects
It is, I think, the perfect drug:
May I prescribe, my friend,....the hug!
(and of course fully returnable!) 


Words fall like dew upon a thought and produce that which makes millions think.

The Day the Music Died

Feb 3 1959, Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper, and Richie Valens had their swan song in Clear Lake, Iowa. Been there and it is a beautiful lake in the middle of miles of cornfields. There is a super steak joint at the edge of the lake with pick-your-own and they grill each to order.

A long, long time ago…
I can still remember
How that music used to make me smile.
And I knew if I had my chance
That I could make those people dance
And, maybe, they’d be happy for a while.

But February made me shiver
With every paper I’d deliver.
Bad news on the doorstep;
I couldn’t take one more step.

I can’t remember if I cried
When I read about his widowed bride,
But something touched me deep inside
The day the music died. Don McLean

Feb 2, 2010

Happy Palindrome Day

Feb 1, 2010 is officially a palindrome day.

A palindrome is a word, phrase, number, or other sequence of units that can be read the same way in either direction. The word "palindrome" was coined from Greek roots palin "again" and dromos "way, direction") by English writer Ben Jonson in the 1600s. Huh!

Feb 1, 2010


A hug is a handshake from the heart.

How many Faces?

How perceptive are you? How many faces can you see in this tree?

There are 10 faces.

English Genealogy

Do you have ancestors from England, Scotland, or Wales? If so, there is a site that allows you to look them up by simply entering their last name. It shows births and marriages. You can find the records for free, but there is a subscription if you want more details. It also has a free 14 day trial to get all the info you want. LINK