Oct 29, 2011

Happy Friday

Who has never tasted what is bitter does not know what is sweet.

I have made it past Monday and am enjoying the sweetness of a Happy Friday!

Birthdays Revisited

I was reminded that last week, when I listed the famous people born on October 18, in Friday Thoughts, I missed at least one. Bill MacFarlane, a friend, business associate, and regular reader. Today Mac is even older than he was last week.


I was reading a quote from Joe Biden, “So all this stuff is like so much Fluffernutter out there.” Since I had not heard the term, went to see what he meant.

A fluffernutter is a sandwich made with peanut butter and marshmallow creme. Its name comes from the common use of "Marshmallow Fluff" brand marshmallow creme. It is popular in the Northeastern United States, where Joe is from, and has been proposed as the official Massachusetts state sandwich.

It is made by spreading peanut butter on a slice of bread then spreading an equal amount of some kind of marshmallow (small, large or cream) on another slice, and combining them together to form a sandwich. "Fluffernutter" is a registered trademark of Durkee-Mower Inc., the maker of "Marshmallow Fluff" brand marshmallow creme.

Second Hand TV

Speaking of fluffernutter, some researchers are warning about the dangers of watching TV when very young children are nearby. Recent findings suggest that even casual exposure to TV can harm child development and undermine parent-child interactions.

One study said parents are distracted by TV the same way preschoolers are. Another recent study found that children who watched a short cartoon showed a reduced ability to delay gratification and poorer working memory.  I have some language for them, secondhand science is harmful to real science.

Internet is Growing

If you ate a doughnut a second for the rest of your life you would not grow as fast as the internet. There was more data transmitted over the Internet in 2010 than the entire history of the Internet through 2009.

There are currently 4 billion connected devices around the world, Intel expects that number to increase to 15 billion by 2015 and 50 billion by 2020.

Wow -  48 hours of YouTube videos are uploaded each minute, 200 million tweets sent per day and 7.5 billion photos uploaded to Facebook each month. Also, think about the billions of spams sent each day and billions of emails.

It used to be that the internet added the equivalent of the entire Library of Congress every fifteen minutes and now it does so in less than half that time, and 24 hours a day. I like to think I am doing my share by adding these postings, just to keep the world from taking itself too seriously.

Say Cheese

The Center for Retail Research claims that cheese is the world's most frequently stolen food and it has been labeled a "high risk food." There is growing interest in the more expensive cheese such as Parmesan. Next in line as most stolen are fresh meat, chocolate, alcohol, seafood, and infant formula.

Overall, retail 'shrinkage', which includes theft is up to $119 billion in 2011, up 6.6% since 2010. 35.9% of retailers reported that actual and attempted shoplifting rose last year and 24% had higher employee theft. Shoplifters are highest in the Asia pacific and Europe. Organized crime theft is highest in the US.

Almost four percent of the world's cheese supply ends up stolen, putting cheese on top of the list. Shoplifting rates as a whole are going up, because of the current economic situation. Now we can say with certainty that shoplifting is a cheesy crime.


The new voice application for the iPhone that was just announced is very cool, but do you remember that Feb 26, 2010 Friday Thoughts, I told you it was coming. Wow, what a long gestation. Also, Android phones have had voice response for a long time.

Oct 26, 2011

Canned Food Day

Darn, I missed it a few days ago. We eat what we can and what we can’t we can. Nicolas Appert probably didn't say that, but he did invent the canning process. I know Campbell's likes him.

He was born in Chalons-Sur-Marne, France and was destined to become a great chef and confectioner -- and chemist and inventor. In 1809 the French government awarded Appert with twelve thousand francs for his contribution to the world.

Nicolas Appert had, in his search to preserve food, invented a process of heating foods and sealing them in airtight containers. In 1812 he was bestowed with the title, Benefactor of Humanity. We still use his methods of food preservation today!

Also, can't forget another invention of Appert’s: the bouillon cube.

Rubic's Cube

Just a quick video of a computer, powered by a phone solves a Rubic's cube in just over 5 seconds.It beat the human record of 5.65 seconds. LINK  I love technology.

Fast Computer

A new computer, K, built by Fujitsu and located in Kobe, Japan, represents a giant leap forward in speed.

The latest ranking of the top 500 computers is determined by running a standard mathematical equation. The winning computer was able to make 8.2 quadrillion calculations per second, or in more technical terms, 8.2 petaflops per second. It makes thousands of calculations faster than you can say calculation.

The performance of K is equivalent to linking about one million desktop computers. Supercomputers are used for earthquake simulations, climate modeling, nuclear research and weapons development and testing, among other things.

The fastest computer in the United States, at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, in Oak Ridge, Tenn., placed third.

Oct 21, 2011

Happy Friday

If you can imagine it, you can create it. If you can dream it, you can become it.

I have imagined and dreamt about having a Happy Friday!

Cloning is Still Alive

Korea has found a useful way to make cloning work. It has been cloning dogs for a specific purpose. Dogs are a integral part of security in airports around the world, helping detect narcotics, explosives, and other banned substances. Inchon Airport in South Korea says some of their best drug-sniffing dogs are clones.

It cloned genes from a prized security dog named Chase and produced seven cloned Labrador puppies. They are part of an ongoing study about how genetic reproductions of prized work animals may revolutionize their use in the field. Only 30% of normal dogs pass the tests to become drug-sniffers, all of Chase’s clones passed.

Here in the US, The Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate is working on a cell phone attachment. It is a sensor capable of detecting deadly chemicals with minimal drain on the phone’s battery life. It works like an antivirus software that bides its time in the background and springs to life when it spies suspicious activity. The device, named Cell-All regularly sniffs the surrounding air for certain volatile chemical compounds and shows an alert.

Facebook Address Book

If you use Facebook on your phone, it is likely that all of the addresses from your phone address book are now on Facebook. This would have happened sometime during the past few months when Facebook changed the software.

Luckily, there is a way to fix it.
1. Visit Facebook.com from a PC and log in

2. in the top-right corner of the screen, click on Account and then Edit Friends

3. In the menu on the left side of the screen, click on Contacts

4. Here, you will see your contacts in Address Book are listed along with their phone numbers

5. On the right side of the screen, click on the “this page” link

6. Follow the instructions on this page — you’ll have to disable contact-sync in Facebook’s mobile app if it’s enabled — Click the Remove button

Some people like phone numbers on Facebook, but I do not. If you don't care one way or another, but my name is on your list, at least please delete it. Thanks.

Caffeine Shots

This is a bit scary. Aeroshots are caffeine inhalers. They contain a quick-dissolving powder.

Take a puff and you get an instant burst of caffeine. Each cartridge contains 100mg of caffeine, or about as much as a large coffee. Each holds about 6 to 8 shots. They look like shotgun shells and the target audience is college students trying to stay up late to cram for exams, or to supplement drinking binges. It is legal, but not what you might want to see around your children.

Birthdays October 18

I was looking at an almanac and saw the number of famous people born on October 18. The list is long, so I won't provide details, but most will know many. Lotte Lenya, Bobby Troup, Pierre Trudeau, Chuck Berry, George C. Scott, Inger Stevens, Mike Ditka, Willie Horton, Laura Nyro, Pam Dawber, Martina Navratilova, Thomas 'hitman' Hearns, Erin Moran, Wynton Marsalis, and more.  The births range from 1898 to 1962. The planets must have aligned.

Blue Angels

The Blue Angels team was formed in 1946 by order of Admiral Chester Nimitz in order to boost morale and demonstrate the Navy's fighting prowess. The original team flew modified Grumman F6F-5 Hellcats and has flown a total of nine aircraft. The F/A-18 Hornet is the latest and has been used since 1986 when it replaced the A-4 Skyhawk.

The Hornets in the Blue Angel Squad have been significantly modified from those that see active combat. In addition to an extra inverted fuel pump allowing for longer inverted flights without the engine becoming fuel-starved. The ultra high-gloss, low-friction paint reduces drag.

The M61 Vulcan machine gun in the nose cone has been replaced with a tank that holds the jet's supply of smoke oil. The colored smoke that the jets produce is made by injecting a biodegradable paraffin-based oil into the plane's exhaust nozzles, instantly vaporizing it. It is not only fun for spectators, the smoke trails increase each pilot's visibility to the rest of the team.

The Blue Angels planes have a small spring on the command stick that applies 40 pounds of nose-down pressure to make the plane easier to fly in formation and upside-down.

Because of space restrictions in the cockpit the Blue Angels pilots don't wear G-suits, but since the flights are coordinated, the pilots know when high G maneuvers are coming up and can perform the same task manually by clenching their stomach and leg muscles to prevent blood from rushing from their heads to their lower bodies, causing them to black out.

The Angels run on a 50-50 mix of plant-based bio-fuels and conventional fuel, making it the first and only full Navy squadron to fly with biofuels.

3D Printer for Home

Origo may be the last toy you ever have to buy for your child. The prototype 3D printer under development by Artur Tchoukanov and Joris Peels allows children aged ten and up to design figurines and shapes on a computer, and then print them out to play with.

It will likely have a USB port, wireless connectivity, a price around $800, and it will use 3Dtin as its design software. The printer will be able to produce objects about the size of a large mug. Depending on complexity, Origo should be able to produce a small object (like a ring) in a manner of minutes, but larger objects, like a baseball could take a few hours.  Material costs for 3D printing are high as you might imagine. Instead of buying your children more toys, let them make their own.

Google Flights

This is very interesting. Go to LINK and check prices from airlines, all in one place. This is sure to provide some competition from other sites that do the same. I would think Google has more sources. Anyway, good way to get fast comparisons and hopefully save a few bucks.

Oct 14, 2011

Happy Friday

The old believe everything, the middle-aged suspect everything, the young know everything.
I suspect that I believe and know I will have a Happy Friday!

Fast Food Surprise

Many of us suffer the guilty (not me) pleasures of enjoying fast food. Some try to make up for it by buying the wonderfully healthy salads that have been added to the menus for those trying to watch diets. However, many fail to watch the real facts. For men, you can feel vindicated that meat is better for us.

Wendy's Mandarin Chicken Salad has more fat, sugar, carbs, and total calories than a quarter pound Wendy's Double Stack cheeseburger. No wonder they taste so good.

McDonald's Double Cheeseburger has less calories, less sugar, less sodium  as the Asian Chicken Salad w/Crispy Chicken and Newman's Own (Low Fat) Sesame Ginger Dressing.

Taco Bell Fiesta Taco Salad has more calories, more carbs, more sugar more fat than a chicken grilled stuffed burrito.

Wendy's Garden Sensations Mandarin Chicken Salad has more sugar than 8 ounce Coke.

Burger King's Tendercrisp salad has 210 more calories than a Whopper Jr.

Touching Braille

Louis Braille invented Braille, an alphabet using raised dots, at the age of 15. Prior to that, each letter was raised and to read, one had to feel out each letter. The books were heavy and took a long time to read.

Braille was actually born with sight, but became blind at age three after an eye injury. At the age of 10, he entered the Royal Institute for the Blind in Paris and five years later, invented Braille. He was offered a full-time teaching job at the institute at age 19. The Braille method didn’t become widely used until after he died at the age of 43.

What's in a Name, Spooning

When Welsh couples talk about “spooning,” they’re not discussing cuddling. Since at least the 17th century, the Welsh have exchanged “lovespoons,” intricately hand-carved wooden spoons, as signs of romantic intentions. Young men spent hours meticulously crafting their spoons so they could offer their favorite girl the most magnificent utensil imaginable. If she accepted the spoon, the courtship was on.

The courtship aspect of the spoons has since faded, but lovespoons are still given on special occasions as tokens of admiration and affection.

Natural Flavors

'Natural flavor' can, literally be anything. It can be made in laboratories, like chemicals or gasses, or taken from animals, or boiled from bats.

Here is the actual definition from the federal regs, “The essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional.”

That was a mouthful. No wonder we get full when foods and drinks have natural flavors. The natural flavoring in orange juice could actually be pigs feet, as long as they were ground, distilled, etc. The good news is that anything not listed in the reg above must be listed as 'artificial'. I feel so much better.

Artificial flavorings are safety tested and natural flavorings are not. This is our government at its finest. For the curious, there are more FDA definitions here LINK

if you have children in school and they are looking for jobs for the future, tell them to become a 'flavorist'. It is more fun than being just a chemist and pays well, especially for flavorists in the perfume industry. The need for flavorists is growing. Luckily, bacon still does not contain any natural or artificial ingredients.

Winnie the Poo

Honey is a natural flavor as any Poo Bear knows. A.A. Milne's book, Winnie-the-Pooh, about the adventures of his son, Christopher and his stuffed animals made its debut on this day in 1926. The great actor Sterling Holloway was Winnie's voice for years, among the many other voices he did for Disney.

Casmir Pulaski Memorial Day

I hope you celebrated General Pulaski Memorial Day this past Tuesday. It is a United States holiday in honor of General Kazimierz PuĊ‚aski, a Polish hero of the American Revolution. This holiday is held every year on October 11 by Presidential Proclamation, to commemorate his death from wounds suffered at the Siege of Savannah on October 9, 1779 and to honor the heritage of Polish Americans.

It is also celebrated as a legal holiday in Illinois on the first Monday of March with street parades and celebrations. Illinois has a large Polish population.

The observance was established in 1929 when Congress passed Public Resolution 16 of 1929 designating October 11 as General Pulaski Memorial Day. Every President has issued a proclamation for the observance annually since (except in 1930). His death was October 11, 1779 and he was buried at sea.

Bacon Candy

Speaking of natural flavors, for the true bacon lovers, bacon candy has arrived. 

If you want something smoky, meaty, and sweet you should try Bacon Candy. 12 bacony treats for $5.95. Mmmm.

Oct 11, 2011

Solar Windows

3M has developed a see-through film that turns ordinary windows into solar panels. It will go on sale next year.

The solar film, on display at the Ceatec electronics conference in Japan, is arrayed in narrow, translucent green strips with clear gaps between and then glued to windows in large patches. A square meter of the film can generate roughly enough electricity to charge an iPhone under peak sunlight, but still allows for high visibility.

The film might cost about half as much as solar panels, but will produce less electricity. It is easier to install and takes up no additional space.

"An average person could go to the store, buy some of this, and then bring it home and install it themselves," said Yasuhiro Aoyagi, a senior manager in the company's construction markets division.

The film blocks or absorbs about 80% of visible light and over 90% of infrared light, so it also acts as a sunshade. Demonstrations showed a difference of 10 degrees Celsius between two sides of a window it was attached to.

What's in a Name, Pennsylvania

William Penn was born in London.  He studied briefly, was thrown in jail a few times for his religious beliefs and became a Quaker. He sailed to America, while still in his thirties, along with others searching for religious freedom.

By coincidence, he later received a large piece of land as repayment for a debt that King Charles II owed his father, Admiral William Penn. The King's charter named the piece of land Pennsylvania. He preferred the name Sylvania so that people didn't think he chose the name after himself.

He was a prolific writer and many of the ideas in Pennsylvania's constitution found their way into the US Constitution.   Sylvania means 'forest land' in Latin.

Oct 7, 2011

Happy Friday

Give a man health and a course to steer, and he'll never stop to trouble about whether he's happy or not.
I am healthy and steering in the direction of a Happy Friday!

Bacon Bandages

A friend of mine, Jeff Flanagan came back from a recent trip and gave me a gift he picked up along the way. (Likely after a few beers.) Anyway, the gift was a tin of real bandages. These are no ordinary bandages, these are bacon bandages.

I quickly went home to administer a small cut to test the 'die cut sterile strips' and see how they worked. Below is a picture of my hand with the beautiful medical strip attached.

It really is a good mini bacon replica. Alas, it does not have the bacony goodness smell, but it is a true bandage. However, it also makes me hungry just looking at it. Time for breakfast. Thanks Jeff.

IgNobel Awards

Each year for the past 21 years, the Ig Nobel Prizes are given. Last week, they were presented at Harvard University, 10 awards in the fields of Physiology, Chemistry, Medicine, Literature, Biology, Physics, Mathematics, Peace and Public Safety.

It points out the ridiculousness of real research that we have to scratch our heads and wonder why would anyone actually spend money to study that. Naturally, much of it is government funded and that should end the lingering doubt about why.

Winners researched such areas as a safety alarm that sprays wasabi and beetles that mate with beer bottles. One study was conducted to find out about contagious yawning of red footed turtles. Another all wet study sought to uncover why people make better decisions about some kinds of things, but worse decisions about other kinds of things when they have a strong urge to urinate.  If you are truly curious you can read more at the following link, or just be happy that somebody else studies these studies.  LINK 

Record and Record

The TV show House has the largest audience in the world of all TV shows. 81 million people from 66 countries watch it. That's a prescription for success, especially for an English actor that uses a fake American accent.

Another Brit, Adele, claimed the World Guinness Record for her music topping the British records list for 11 weeks in a row. If you have not heard her,  it is worth a listen, she is great.

Easier Pancakes

What could be easier than mixing pancake mix and water to make pancakes. There is a product called Batter Blaster that comes in a can, like whipped cream that you just shake and squirt for pancakes and waffles. It squirts out propelled by CO2.

The website has bunches of ways to use the product. It is listed in this month's 'Women's Health' as one of 125 best packaged foods for women, along with 'unsweetened blackberry essence water, rythm superfoods bombay curry kale chips, and applegate the great organic uncured hot dog. I am not kidding. Batter Blaster is even advertised as "USDA-certified organic and Kosher." Sorry, I had to share.

Vitamin C Facts

It has been talked about as a cure-all for everything from preventing colds and AIDS to curing cancer. The death of its biggest proponent and Nobel prize winner in Chemistry (not medicine), Linus Pauling died of cancer. Reminds me of the eye doctor on TV pushing his weight loss pills.

Vitamin C, ascorbic acid, does slow down and prevent some cell damage. It really does prevent scurvy and anemia. It is essential for the repair of bones and teeth. It helps to produce collagen and cells are held together by collagen. Collagen is found in your skin, bones, ligaments, tendons, liver, cartilage, bone marrow and blood vessels.

Occurrence of cataracts, hay fever, and asthma can be reduced, to some extent, with daily doses of the vitamin and its role in reducing common cold is known, but sometimes debated about dosage required. The body eliminates vitamin C rapidly, so it is better to take a lesser amount more often to keep it in your body.

it is not usually mentioned, but meat and potatoes both contain vitamin C. It is a preservative that can be used in jams and pickles. Kiwi has almost twice as much vitamin C as an orange.

Too much Vitamin C can cause kidney stones and also cause diarrhea.

What's in a Name, Soapbox

I tend to be a bit outspoken on many more subjects that I should and sometimes hear my friends say, "Oh, he is on his soapbox again." Of course, that just makes me talk faster and louder. Ha.

Younger folks have no idea where that saying comes from. The term originates from the days when speakers would elevate themselves above the crowd by standing on a wooden crate originally used for shipment of soap or other dry goods. A person would stand on the box to make an impromptu speech, often about religion, politics, or any other topic about which they wanted to have their opinion heard.

Many times hucksters would get on their soapbox to sell any number of things from snake oil and wonder potions to books. Central Parks were favorite public areas to get on your soapbox and be heard in the days before television and the internet.

Today's equivalent of a soapbox is a blog, or facebook, or twitter, etc. and soap is no longer shipped in wooden crates. Some of us send out regular 'soapbox' emails to anyone willing to 'listen'. Please don't throw rotten tomatoes.

BTW, the original soapbox derby encouraged the use of soap boxes and orange crates to make the cars. Also, 'snake oil salesman' is a derogatory term for people who sell quack medicine or any product with exaggerated marketing, but questionable quality or benefit. I'll bite my tongue on further commentary about that.

Oct 4, 2011

Vitamin Water Facts

The original Vitamin Water, owned by Coke, and Sobe Life Water, owned by Pepsi are two of the biggest. Others with light to clear colors and healthy sounding names are all over the food and drink shelves.

Vitamin Water and Life Water both contain 32.5 grams of sugar per bottle, about the same as a Snickers bar (30 grams of sugar). Others

Origin of the Trampoline

It was 1930 and 16-year-old George Nissen, a member of his high school gymnastics and diving teams, was goofing off in his parents’ garage when he decided to stretch canvas over a rectangular steel frame, using materials he found in a local junkyard, according to MIT . Seven years later when he was in business school at the University of Iowa, he and his gymnastics coach refined the invention with nylon and started a traveling acrobatics troupe called the Three Leonardos.

They initially called it a “bouncing rig,” but after traveling through the Midwest and Southwest, they learned the Spanish word for diving board, “el trampolin” and changed the name to Trampoline and got a patent.

Bacon in Your Pocket

Now you can carry that magnificent bacon flavor in your pocket. Here are some effervescent bacon tablets and they make regular water taste better than vitamin water.

They act like Alka Seltzer. Just drop a few in a glass of water or any other favorite beverage and swoon to the bacony goodness. how about a sparkly Bloody Mary with a hint of bacon, or vodka rocks sparkle. The possibilities are endless.