Aug 31, 2010

Brain Myth Debunked

Many still believe that we only use about 10 percent of our brains, even after science has proven otherwise.

Many sources of this misinformation appear to point to an American psychologist of the early 1900s named William James, who said, "the average person rarely achieves but a small portion of his or her potential." The media has long perpetuated that into "only using 10 percent of our brain".

In addition to those 100 billion neurons, the brain is also full of other types of cells that are continually in use. We can become disabled from damage to just small areas of the brain depending on where it's located, so there is no way that we could function with only 10 percent of our brain in use.

Brain scans have shown that no matter what we are doing, our brains are always active. Some areas are more active at any one time than others, but unless we have brain damage, there is no one part of the brain that is absolutely not functioning. Here is an example. If you are sitting at a table and eating a sandwich, you are not actively using your feet. You are concentrating on bringing the sandwich to your mouth, chewing and swallowing it. But that doesn't mean that your feet aren't working -- there is still activity in them, such as blood flow, even when you are not actually moving them. Also true - alcohol does not really kill brain cells.


William Wrigley, Jr. founded his company in 1891 with the goal of selling soap and baking powder. He offered free chewing gum as an enticement to his customers, and eventually the customers didn’t care about the baking powder; they only wanted the gum.

Things To Do


The word 'deadline' originated during the Civil War. It signified a boundary line, generally drawn on the ground, which a prisoner of war could not cross.  If prisoners went beyond the line, they were shot by guards. The POWs were often warned, "If you cross the line, you are dead."

Top Three Most Costly Medical Errors

The following are annual numbers from 2008 for preventable medical errors. The first one is usually from not turning patients in bed.

1. Pressure ulcers - 374,964 errors, $10,288 per error, $3.86 billion total.
2. Postoperative infections - 252,695 errors, $14,548 per error, $3.68 billion total.
3. Mechanical complication of a device, implant, or graft - 60,380 errors, $18,771 per error, $1.13 billion total.

US Employment Numbers

Much talk lately about jobs saved, jobs created, company hiring, etc., but there is one number that is without politics. How many people actually have jobs is answered below. Does not show how many have entered the workforce since 2004, but are currently unemployed. Three tenths of one percent increase since last year.

Employed Americans per US Bureau of Labor Statistics (not seasonally adjusted)
Jun 2004 - 139,861,000
Jun 2007 - 153,072,000
Aug 2008 - 154,853,000
jul 2009    - 139,817,000
jul 2010    - 139,860,000

Aug 27, 2010

How Many Books

How many books have ever been published in all of modern history? According to Google’s advanced algorithms, the answer is almost 130 million books. Yes, that number includes my books.

In order for Google Books to successfully catalog the world’s supply of printed knowledge, the company needed an estimate of the amount of books it needs to scan. That’s why Google set out to find the number.

First it had to define what a book is and agreed on ‘tome', an idealized bound volume. A tome can have millions of copies, like a bestseller or can exist in just one or two copies, such as a rare 'Tom Sawyer' first edition. ISBN, or International Standard Book Numbers, are designed to be unique identifiers for books but have only been around for  about 40 years and are mostly used in Western countries.

The company poured over a billion raw records and used many and various algorithms to determine and discard duplicates. Of course the absolute number needs to be constantly, because new books are being published every day. In fact, I have a new one that should be out within about a month. "Flowers, Foreplay, Facelifts, Flatulence - A humorous romp through the four stages of relationships."

Raleigh Bar

It features a layer of bacon, salt, and fresh caramel on top of pecan nougat, all wrapped up in a thin coating of delicious dark chocolate.

The bacon flavor is subtle and blends deliciously with the salted caramel. Yummm!

Portland Bacon Fest

The second annual Portland Bacon Fest was held on August 21 and was a huge success with all things bacon available. Another city catches the bacon wave.

Global Warming Explained

Finally we have a simple explanation of a global warming cause. The following is from then US Department of State Report - KEY UNCERTAINTIES AFFECTING PROJECTED GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS

"Any projection of future emissions is subject to considerable uncertainty. In the short term (less than 5 years), the key factors that can increase or decrease estimated net emissions include unexpected changes in retail energy prices, shifts in the competitive relationship between natural gas and coal in electricity generation markets, changes in economic growth, abnormal winter or summer temperatures, and imperfect forecasting methods.

Additional factors may influence emission rates over the longer term, notably technology developments, shifts in the composition of economic activity, and changes in government policies." My summary, they still have no idea.

Vice President Song

There is only one song written by a US Vice President. "Melody in A Major" was written in 1911 by Charles Dawes, who became vice president under Calvin Coolidge. Of course that is not the famous part. Words were added in 1951 and it became a hit when it was re-recorded in 1958. If you were not listening to music back then, you can stop here, but if you were - go to the link to find the answer. LINK  Hint, the singer's first name was Tommy.

Johnny Carson

Carson Entertainment Group, which owns the archive of the late-night host's 30 years on "The Tonight Show," is set to announce that it has digitized all 3,300 hours of existing footage from the program and created a searchable online database for producers and researchers. 

The library will initially be available just for professional clip-licensing purposes, but the company also plans to release 50 full-format shows on DVD and post a rotating series of historic clips for public viewing on http://www.johnny There are some clips on the site now for your viewing pleasure.

Aug 25, 2010

Cleveland Recycles

The city plans to sort through curbside trash to make sure residents are recycling and fine them $100 if they don't. The move is part of a high-tech collection system the city with new trash and recycling carts embedded with radio frequency identification chips and bar codes.

The chips will allow city workers to monitor how often residents roll carts to the curb for collection. If a chip show a recyclable cart hasn't been brought to the curb in weeks, a trash supervisor will sort through the trash for recyclables.

Trash carts containing more than 10 percent recyclable material could lead to a $100 fine. It plans to roll out to nearly all of the city's 150,000 residences.

The city stepped up enforcement of ordinances governing trash collection last year by issuing 2,900 tickets, nearly five times more tickets than in 2008. Those infractions include citations for people who put out their trash too early or fail to bring in their garbage cans from the curb in a timely manner. The Division of Waste Collection is on track to meet its goal of issuing 4,000 citations this year. Fines for excessive trash will range from $250 to $500 depending on the amount.

The Washington, D.C. suburb of Alexandria, Va., earlier this year announced it would issue carts to check whether people are recycling.

English School Lunches

The chairman of England's School Food Trust (part of the Department of Education), said parents are hampering efforts to cut obesity in children by sending them to school with crisps (chips), fizzy drinks, and biscuits. He also suggested chocolates, crisps, and sugary drinks could be banned in packed lunches altogether by tightening the rules on what children can bring into school.

The chairman said the best solution would be for parents to pay for their children to eat healthy hot meals in canteens rather than giving them lunch boxes. Stricter measures on what can be included in school dinners were implemented by the Trust five years ago, but he said many middle class parents remain unconvinced that packed lunches are less healthy than canteen meals.

Parents' groups, however, said the Trust and the government should "get off our backs" and stop attempting to prescribe to parents what they can and cannot feed their children.

Ring Finger

The Chinese have a good explanation for what the fingers represent.

The Thumb represents your Parents
The Second (Index) finger represents your Siblings
The Middle finger represents your Self
The Fourth (Ring) finger represents your Life Partner, and
The Last (Little) finger represents your Children

First, open your palms (face to face), bend the middle fingers down and hold them together - back to back.
Second, open and hold the remaining three fingers and the thumb - tip to tip.
Now, try to separate your thumbs (representing the parents). They will open, because your parents are not destined to live with you (or you with them) forever.

Join your thumbs as before and separate your Index fingers (representing siblings). They will also open, because your brothers and sisters will have their own families and will lead their own separate lives.

Now join the Index fingers and separate your little fingers (representing your children). They will open too, because the children also will get married and leave.

Finally, join your Little fingers, and try to separate your Ring fingers (representing your spouse).

You cannot do it, because husband and wife should remain together all their lives.

Cream Cheese

This American invention was developed in 1872 in New York state. Cream cheese is similar to French Neufchatel in that it is made from cow's milk, but differs in that it is unripened and often contains emulsifiers to lend firmness and lengthen shelf-life. USDA law requires standard cream cheese must contain at least 33 percent fat and no more than 55 percent water, although there are low-fat and nonfat varieties now on the market.

What's in a Name

Iowa and DOA: The state changed the name of its Department of Elder Affairs to the Department on Aging, or DOA, in 2009. It has since learned the unintended consequences of the acronym and changed to IDA, for Iowa Department on Aging.

Sioux City and SUX: The Sioux City Iowa Gateway Airport has the FAA moniker of “SUX.” Airport authorities petitioned for a new code, and the FAA (not a joke) offered them “GAY” recognizing the “Gateway” part of the airport’s name. The city declined. Other contenders are Fresno’s "FAT", and Perm, Russia’s is "PEE."

Seattle and SLUT:  In 2007, Seattle opened a new streetcar line connecting the South Lake Union neighborhood to downtown. The project was officially called the South Lake Union Streetcar, but local residents began calling it the South Lake Union Trolley, or SLUT. The city tried to change the opinion, but residents still refer to it as the SLUT. Some local places sell t-shirts that read, “Ride the SLUT.”

Aug 20, 2010

Graham Crackers

The namesake of the graham cracker is a Presbyterian minister who claimed that overeating could not only make you fat, it could make you lecherous, too. Sylvester Graham ran health retreats during the 1830s for like-minded parishioners featuring a strict meat-free, bland diet. It must work, because you do not see many lechers running around eating graham crackers. Although I love them with peanut butter and jelly. Mmmm!

Rum and Tots

For hundreds of years, Royal Navy seamen lined up in galleys from the poles to the tropics to receive their regulation lunchtime tot (about eighth to half pint) of rum, but 40 years ago, the tradition was ended. On 31 July 1970, known in the navy as Black Tot Day, free rum was retired from navy life.

By 1970, the rum bosun's daily doling out of of rum at midday, diluted with water (grog) for junior ratings, neat for senior - was a reasonably gentlemanly affair. A grog was a mixture of two pints water and a half pint rum. The Admiralty took away the rum because it was concerned it would hinder sailors' ability to operate increasingly complex weapons systems and navigational tools.

Beer had been the staple beverage of the Royal Navy until the 17th Century, used as a self-preserving replacement for water, which became undrinkable when kept in casks for long periods. As the horizons of the British Empire expanded, the sheer bulk of beer, the ration for which was a gallon per day per seaman, and its liability to go sour in warmer climates, made it impractical to take on long voyages. Wine and spirits started to take the place of beer place until 1655, after the capture of the island of Jamaica from Spain, the navy introduced rum.

Until 1740 the daily ration was half a pint of neat rum, twice a day. Sailors would check their rum had not been watered down by pouring it onto gunpowder and setting light to it, from where the term "proof" originates. By volume, 57.15% alcohol has been calculated as the minimum required for it to pass the test.

Alcoholic proof in the United States is defined as twice the percentage of alcohol by volume . Consequently, 100-proof whiskey contains 50% alcohol by volume; 86-proof whiskey contains 43% alcohol, etc.


Dentristy is Old

The Indus Valley Civilization has yielded evidence of dentistry being practiced as far back as 7000 BC. This earliest form of dentistry involved curing tooth related disorders with bow drills operated by skilled bead craftsmen. The reconstruction of this ancient form of dentistry showed that the methods used were reliable and effective. Cavities of 3.5 mm depth with concentric grooves indicate use of a drill tool. Ouch!

Aug 17, 2010

New Uses for Silica Gel

Here are several great suggestions for using these packs around the house. They can be found in all sorts of packaging, vitamin bottles, and even new shoes. Some kitty litter is now made with silica to aid absorption. Some folks even use it for the same purposes as listed below.

Silica gel is a desiccant, a substance that absorbs moisture. The silicate is actually a very porous mineral with a natural attraction to water molecules. Manufacturers utilize the gel to keep goods from spoiling, molding, or degrading due to humidity. The gel itself is nontoxic and most silica found in food and household items looks like tapioca beads and is benign unless combined with certain chemicals.

Here are a few interesting uses for the stuff:
    * Put packs in your ammo cans and gun cases/safes to keep dry.
    * Protect personal papers and important documents by putting some gel wherever these are stored.
    * Keep with photos to keep them from humidity. Tuck a small envelope in the back of frames to protect important hanging photos.
    * Store in camera bags and with film. It will also absorb moisture to keep lenses from fogging.
    * Leave a couple packs in a tool box to prevent rusting.
    * Use it to aid in drying flowers.
    * Place with seeds in storage to prevent molding.
    * Slow silver tarnishing by using the gel in jewelry boxes or with silverware.
    * Cut open the packs and saturate the beads with essential oils to create potpourri.
    * Use in luggage while traveling.
    * Put some in your closet in leather goods to help them stay dry.
    * Add to video tape collections to help keep them dry.

Microsoft Word Tip

Don't know if you write large documents in Word, but this works even for short documents. The next time you open a document that you have saved, hold down the shift key and press the f5 key. This will take you back to the last spot you typed in the document before it was closed or saved.

Oyster Herpes

Is nothing free from the effects of global warming? True - National Geographic has found that a new strain of herpes in oysters is supposedly caused by global warming.

The new strain, which is named Ostreid herpesvirus 1 ╬╝var, was first detected in 2008 among breeding Pacific oysters in France. Since then, the virus has wiped out 20 to 100 percent of oysters in the French beds, and this year it appears to have spread to United Kingdom waters too. They say it infects the shellfish during breeding season.

Although reasons behind the recent emergence of herpes in oyster beds across Europe are still a mystery, many researchers have not been surprised to find a correlation with global warming. Hmmm. Does that mean the 20% that didn't get infected were ugly. And what the heck are Pacific oysters doing in France? Maybe those Pacific oysters that caught herpes were just too promiscuous.

Edison Sounds

Here is an interesting site LINK that has some recordings from 1899 forward. Interesting funny bits, songs, educational lessons, etc. Fun diversion for the nostalgically inclined., brought to you by the National Park Service and Thomas Edison's recordings.

Ceasar Salad

Caesar Salad is not named for the Roman Emperor, but is named after Caesar Cardini, a Mexican restaurateur in Tijuana, Mexico. On the weekend of July 4th in 1924 Caesar served finger foods by placing garlic-scented leaves on platters. He eventually started shredding the leaves into smaller pieces and it evolved into a salad. The salad became famous when it was a big hit for Hollywood stars who visited Tijuana. Soon it was added to the menus of many famous restaurants such as Romanoff’s and Chasen’s.

Aug 13, 2010

Ketchup, Catchup, or Catsup

Ketchup appears to be the original term which is derived from the Chinese condiment ke-tsiap, a pickled fish sauce. A version in Malaysia then became kechap and ketjap in Indonesia.

The word ketchup was first mentioned in Charles Lockyer’s book of 1711, An Account of the Trade in India: “Soy comes in Tubbs from Jappan, and the best Ketchup from Tonquin; yet good of both sorts are made and sold very cheap in China”.

The modern version of ketchup saw many changes before tomatoes finally became a main ingredient in the late 1700′s. In the 1800s, ketchup was also known as tomato soy.

F. & J. Heinz Company began selling tomato ketchup in 1876. Heinz brought the preferred term to the forefront with what is one of the most successful versions of the condiment. Heinz once offered ketchup in various colors, including purple.

The confusion about names started even before Charles Lockyer wrote about it, since there is an entry dated 1690 in the Dictionary of the Canting Crew which gives it as catchup. Catchup was used much more in North America than in Britain, but catchup is not used much these days.

The term catsup first appeared in a quote by Jonathan Swift in 1730: “And, for our home-bred British cheer, Botargo (fish relish), catsup, and caveer (cavier)”.

Hunt's goes three ways by having Hunts Catsup (east of the Mississippi), Hunts Ketchup (west of the Mississippi), and Hunts Tomato Cornchops (in Iowa only).

The term catsup has since been used by major manufacturers, but most eventually changed to ketchup. Catsup is an acceptable spelling used interchangeably with ketchup. However, ketchup is the way you will find it listed in the majority of cookbooks.

Ketchup Tidbits

Unopened bottles of ketchup may be stored up to one year in a cool, dry place. Once opened, you may store it in a cool environment, away from sun and/or heat, for about 1 month. For longer shelf life after opening, refrigeration is recommended.

The world's largest ketchup bottle is proudly displayed in Collinsville, Illinois on top of a water tower. It stands 170 feet tall.

Ketchup can be used to clean copper utensils, because the acid removes tarnish and shines it.

One tablespoon of ketchup has 16 calories and no fat.

Those who dunk into a well of ketchup are methodical and trustworthy, but may also be control freaks who are afraid of change. Ambitious people drop their sauce in the middle of their food. Creative types squirt and swirl their sauce in thin lines, but deep down are impatient. Those who dot their ketchup are friendly, but live conservatively and dream of adventure holidays. Smotherers are the life and soul of the party, while artists who draw faces and words on their food have an easy-going approach to life. Gourmets who keep ketchup in a cruet appear charming, but deep down may be snobbish.

On average, each person consumes about three bottles of ketchup a year.

Reign or Rein

Many people presume 'free reign' to means a person has the 'royal' power to do anything they want.

Actually, the correct phrase is 'free rein'.  It comes from the days before cars, when horses were used for transportation. When navigating a steep or winding path, the rider would relax the reins so the horse could pick the safest path on its own.

Checks Going Away in UK

Paper checks, or Cheques (as they spell it) are scheduled to be phased out by October 2018, according to the BBC. The board of the UK Payments Council has set the date in a bid to encourage the advance of other forms of payment.

The first cheque was written 350 years ago and the decision will be greeted with disappointment by some small businesses and consumers.

The target date for the closure of the system that processes cheques has been set for 31 October 2018, after the board described the payment method as in "terminal decline".

However, there will be annual checks on the progress of other payments systems and a final review of the decision will be held in 2016. "The goal is to ensure that by 2018 there is no scenario where customers, individuals or businesses, still need to use a cheque," the Payments Council said in a statement.

Personal cheque payment volumes reached a peak of 2.4 billion in 1990, and have since fallen steadily to 663 million in 2008.

What's in a Name

Sam Goldwyn changed his name from Samuel Goldfish.

Alcohol and Arthritis

Drinking alcohol can not only ease the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, it appears to reduce disease severity too, research suggests.

Scientists at the University of Sheffield asked two groups of patients with and without the disease to provide details of their drinking habits. They found that patients who had drunk alcohol most frequently experienced less joint pain and swelling.

In the study, 873 patients with rheumatoid arthritis were compared to 1,004 people who did not have it. Both groups were asked how often they drank alcohol in the month running up to the start of the study. Patients completed a detailed questionnaire, had X-rays and blood tests, and a nurse examined their joints. The patients in the study did not drink more than the recommended limit of 10 units of alcohol a week.

It's possible that the anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects of alcohol may play a role in reducing the severity of symptoms, according to Dr James Maxwell consultant rheumatologist.

Patients who drank alcohol most frequently had less severe symptoms than those who had never or infrequently drunk alcohol. X-rays showed there was less damage to their joints, blood tests showed lower levels of inflammation, and there was less joint pain, swelling, and disability in those patients, the researchers found.

The study showed non-drinkers were four times more likely to develop RA than people who drank alcohol on more than 10 days a month. Previous studies have shown that alcohol may reduce the risk of developing the disease initially.

However, they do not yet understand why drinking alcohol should reduce the severity of RA, and people's susceptibility to developing it, but there is some evidence to show that alcohol suppresses the activity of the immune system, and that this may influence the pathways by which RA develops.

Aug 10, 2010

Land Line Telephones

According to the latest survey from the National Center for Health Statistics, nearly 25 percent of Americans have given up their landlines for a cell phone. Another 22 million Americans pay for a VoIP service like Vonage for calls. That leaves over 100 million households still plugged in.

Only 5 percent of adults age 65 or older live in wireless-only households. Last year AT&T petitioned the government to set a date for the removal of all land lines in the US.

Block That Call

There are many ways to block calls using the various carriers, but some are difficult and some cost a monthly fee and some smart phones have apps to do it.

If you have a regular cell phone and there is someone you just do not wish to talk to, use the call ringing feature. Just put in the offending number and assign a no ring-tone, so when that person calls, your phone will not ring.

Zenith Space Command

In 1956, the first widely used TV remote control had four buttons (power, volume, channel up, channel down) but no batteries. Press a button, and a tiny hammer inside the remote would strike an aluminum rod, transmitting an ultrahigh-frequency tone to control the set. They were affectionately known as clickers, because they actually clicked when you pressed the buttons.

Pictured remote outside and inside. Back then they only had a few channels to scroll through, and all TVs were black and white, so it was not a big deal.

I read that you could sometimes drop a coin on it and it would change channels. The Space Command lasted more than 25 years before being replaced by remotes using infrared technology. Before these slick devices, they actually had a remote that was physically wired directly to the TV. . . and before that they had kids that they would tell to go change the channel, or turn up the volume.

Bacon Lunch Box

Speaking of way back when, do you remember when people actually took lunch boxes to work? Here is one I will bet you never saw, a bacon lunch box. Makes me hungry just looking at it. Ha!

Aug 6, 2010

Billboards Read You

In Tokyo, Japan, there are digital advertising billboards being trialled. They are fitted with cameras that read the gender and age group of people looking at them to tailor specific commercial messages.

A consortium of 11 railway companies launched the one-year pilot project in June and has set up 27 of the high-tech advertising displays in subway commuter stations around Tokyo.

The camera can distinguish a person’s sex and approximate age if the person walks in front of the display looks at the screen for a second. If data for different locations is analyzed, companies can provide interactive advertisements "which meet the interest of people who use the station at a certain time," the project said in a statement. Scary when pictures you are looking at look back at you.

Water Painting or Painting Water

Just came across this video of the Turkish art of painting water. It is a bit long, but you can skip a few parts if you want to see it in a hurry. The end is amazing. LINK

What's in a Name

Richard Gere's real middle name is Tiffany.


Chief Seattle (more correctly known as Seathl) was the leader of the Suquamish and Duwamish Native American tribes and was known for his daring courage and leadership. He gained control of six of the local tribes while maintaining a good relationship with the Europeans.

In 1852 out of respect, the early settlers at Duwamps renamed the town Seattle.

More Water Art

This has been around for a while, but you may not have seen it. It is a fountain in a Japan mall that actually paints pictures and letters in the spray. A bit long, but fantastic technology taken to a new level. LINK

Roy Rogers' Horse Trigger

The stuffed animal brought in $266,500 at a Christie's auction in July. Many fondly remember the movies or the TV shows featuring Roy Rogers (King of the Cowboys), Dale Evans, Gabby Hayes, Pat Brady, and the Sons of the Pioneers singing group. Dale Evans wrote the theme song used in the fifties TV series. 

Quick, what was the name of Dale Evans Horse? Do you remember the name of the jeep form the TV series? Hey, do you remember the Roy Rogers' fast food chain?

OK, Buttermilk, Nellybelle, and Roy Rogers, respectively. Roy's real name was Lenoard Slye. Somehow that just doesn't have the same ring to it. Happy trails to you.

Aug 3, 2010

Value of a College Degree

Unemployment percent as of June, 2010

Total, 25 years and over. . . . . . . . . . . 8.2

Less than a high school diploma. . . . 14.1
High school graduate, no college. . .  10.8
Some college or associate degree.  .  .8.2
Bachelor’s degree and higher. . . . . . . 4.4

Handy Uses for the Windows Key

Do you use that 'Windows Key' on the lower right of your keyboard? It has many uses.

For instance, if you just hit it, it brings up your programs from the start button. If you hold it down and hit m it takes you to your desktop. Hold it down and hit e and it opens up the computer screen. Hold it down and hit f and you go directly to the search screen.

Bacon Lettuce Tomato Monster

One pound of fried bacon on a toasted Italian bread, sans lettuce and tomato. Haven't tried it, but it is on my ToDo list.

Interesting Misnomers

Arabic numerals originated in India.

Tin cans and tin foil are constructed from aluminum, not tin.

Danish pastries were invented in Austria.

Dry cleaning is really liquid cleaning and uses naphtha to clean your clothes.

Pencil lead is really graphite, not lead.

Koala bears are marsupials, not bears.

Panama hats originate from Ecuador, not Panama.

Peanuts are legumes, not nuts.

Cataract Surgery

The earliest records of cataract surgery are from the Bible as well as early Hindu records. Cataract surgery was known to the Indian physician Sushruta, 6th century BC. In India, cataract surgery was performed with a special tool called the Jabamukhi Salaka, a curved needle used to loosen the lens and push the cataract out of the field of vision. The eye would later be soaked with warm butter and then bandaged. Though this method was successful, Susruta cautioned that cataract surgery should only be performed when absolutely necessary.