Nov 29, 2011

Honest Abe

As election seasons go on, many like to quote the great presidents from the past. Here is something about Abraham Lincoln. He delivered his Gettysburg Address on November 19 1863. The speech was considered so insignificant at the time that coverage was not even front page news.

A few months before, the fields outside Gettysburg, Pennsylvania had one of the bloodiest battles in the Civil War between the states. The Union forces held their positions against Confederate advances. The Confederates, under Robert E. Lee, retreated to Virginia, ending their attempt to invade the North. The battle was the turning point of the war.

President Lincoln traveled to the site of the battle to designate it as a national cemetery. While on the train, he wrote his speech on a small piece of paper. It only took three minutes to deliver the entire speech, which is now considered one of the greatest speeches in American history.

“Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth upon this continent a new nation: conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war - testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated - can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war.
We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that this nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate - we cannot consecrate - we cannot hallow this ground.

The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.

It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us - that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion - that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain - that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom - and that government of the people - by the people - for the people - shall not perish from this earth.”


Google(plus) is like the new Facebook. It has new and different features, like circles. Circles lets you segregate your friends, family, business associates, etc so that your postings can be sent to one or more groups, rather than everyone sees all. It reached 50 million subscribers in 88 days. Facebook took two years to reach that number. Also, since Google+ has been open to the public, it has been adding about two million new users a day.

Hand Held Super Computer

ASCI Red supercomputer, the first computer capable of doing one trillion calculations per second. Now Intel says that it can put the processing power of ASCI Red in the palm of your hand. Literally.

Intel does this with a new chip, code-named Knights Corner. It crams more than 50 general-purpose Pentium microprocessor cores onto a single chip. All by itself, Knights Corner can perform about 1 trillion mathematical calculations per second. In 1996, it took 72 cabinets of servers for ASCI Red to pull off the same feat.

In June 2011, 17 of the world’s top 500 supercomputers used these graphical processing units, but now that number has jumped to 39

Intel is building a massive 10 petaflop (10 thousand trillion calculations per second) supercomputer called Stampede, out of these next-generation Intel chips. It takes server cards that have a Xeon and Knights Corner processor and slides them into specially designed 7 inch tall server boxes. They expect to get 8 petaflops of performance from the Knights Corner chips and another 2 from the Xeons when Stampede goes live. The 4U servers hold just one card now, but they are designed to eventually hold two, which means Stampede could double its power.

When it goes online in January 2013, Stampede will have 10,000 times the processing power of ASCI Red. As Tim Allen used to say, "Arrrgh, More Power!" Isn't technology wonderful!

Rocky Musical

 I don't even know why this deserves mentioning, but I can't help thinking how odd it is. Sylvester Stalone was in Germany for the announcement that he is producing a Rocky musical to be debuted in Hamburg next year. 

Why a musical and why Hamburg are the questions that make it so strange. It might be in case it bombs, we will never hear about it in the States. Of course, you did read it here.

Flush This

I am not a greenie or enviro agitator, but this caught my eye last week. It turns an ordinary toilet into a dual flush toilet, like those costing hundreds of dollars. The article had an eight-year-old install one in a few minutes with no tools. In full disclosure, I have no financial interest in this product.

The dual-flush technology allows lower water volumes for liquids and paper. A second, full-flush uses the standard amount of water for solids. It is estimated that 80 percent of flushes do not need the full amount of water. This thing costs $19.00 on Amazon. It has a piece that replaces the flapper and an extension that replaces the handle.

Read the customer reviews. It is not a panacea, but seems like it is worthwhile to consider saving a few bucks on your water bill. It is called HydroRight. LINK

Nov 26, 2011

Happy Friday

Impromptu thoughts are like mental wild-flowers.
I just occurred to me that I need to have a wild and Happy Friday!

Does Size Matter

You might not care one iota about size, but we live with small things every day. For instance, an iota is the smallest letter in the Greek alphabet. Maybe you have wondered why Yoda, in the movies was so small. A Yodh or Yodr is the smallest letter in the Hebrew and Aramaic alphabets.

The phrase 'not one jot or tittle' comes from the 15th century bible translation. A tittle is the small mark above the letters i and j. Tittles have been around since the 11th century Latin manuscripts to distinguish those letters from the ones next to them and making reading text easier. The Irish may tipple, but do not bother with small things like tittles and do not use them for their letter i. A jot is the name of the least letter of an alphabet or the smallest part of a piece of writing. So, jots and tittles are small things. We have a thought and jot it down. We dot an i, but Chaucer would have tittled his. Size matters and small is important.

Vending Machines

Did you know the first vending machines were invented in the first century in the city of Alexandria. The only goody sold was holy water. When a coin was dropped into a slot, its weight would pull a cork out of a spigot and the machine would dispense a trickle of holy water.

During the early 1880s, the first commercial coin-operated vending machines were introduced in London, England and dispensed post cards. An English publisher and bookshop owner invented a vending machine for selling books.

In 1888, the Thomas Adams Gum Company introduced the first vending machines to the United States and installed them on the elevated subway platforms in New York City. Naturally they sold Tutti-Fruiti gum. Round candy coated gumballs and gumball vending machines were introduced in 1907.

Polyvend introduced the first glass front snack machines in 1972 and the first frozen food vending machines are introduced in 1987. Coffee machines didn't appear until 1991.

Today vending machines sell everything from live bait to hot and cold full meals, including one that actually mixes ingredients and bakes a pizza while you wait. Australians love the machines that make fresh french fries while you watch. Mmmm!

Japan has the highest number of vending machines per capita, with about one machine for every twenty-three people.


A system of government where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of producing, and where the members of society least likely to sustain themselves or succeed, are rewarded with goods and services paid for by the confiscated wealth of a diminishing number of producers.

Bacon Turkey

In case you missed it, here is a nice pic to make your mouth water all over again. 

Also, warm up your leftover turkey in the oven with a few strips of bacon draped on top. It enhances the flavor. Partially cook the bacon first, so you do not overheat the leftover turkey.

Update - Bud sent this along to one-up me -  Bacon covered Turducken, chicken stuffed in duck stuffed in a 15 lb. turkey, all nicely packaged in pork bacon. The bacon isn't just on the outside. The chicken pieces were wrapped in it then the duck was bundled in bacon, and then the turkey was lovingly covered in more bacon, resulting in a total of five pounds of the porcine product. Mmmm!

Recruiting With Bacon

Another reason why I love Google. This week, it set up tables outside of Amazon headquarters to recruit new employees.  It hired the ad agency Wexley School for Girls to find a solution.

They set up a food cart outside of’s headquarters and invited workers there to have some free bacon. A bunch of bacon lovers braved the rain for free strips of pepper bacon. They also had toppings of spray cheese, peanut butter, maple syrup and chocolate sauce.  Serious candidates can even get a bacon air freshener. How can you not appreciate the unique way to steal employees.

Shameless Self Promotion

Shameless Self Promotion - Last year I promised that I would put all my Friday Thoughts for the year in a book. I have been very busy until lately, but have finally managed to finish a book with all of the  2010 Friday Thoughts and another from 2009. Bloginalia 2010 and bloginalia 2009 are available on Amazon now. These facts never grow old, so don't let the title throw you.

In addition, Bloginalia 2011 will be out no later than February, as I have been adding to it weekly. Anyway, if you want a whole collection of interesting tidbits and facts to read while you are having a bacon sandwich, these might be just for you. Fun stuff and great Christmas stocking stuffers for kids and adults of any age. They will also be available on Kindle for those who need a bit of light reading while on the go. Thanks

Nov 22, 2011

Buying Technology

As we approach the buying season, here are a few tips to remember when buying technology. Memory (RAM) is more important than speed. Most do not use the full capacity of their computer, so getting more memory actually translates to more speed than chip speed.

Texting is more expensive than voice time, so watch your contract for cost of messages.

Buy the best components, and the cheapest cables, because all those claims about gold cables, ultra cables are almost meaningless.

When looking at cable plans, buy speed, not channels, because hundreds of those channels have nothing worth watching. Plus if cable internet is fast enough, you can watch more TV and videos on your PC for free. You can do like my brother and hook up your laptop to TV for Netflix movies. Wouldn't you like a 50 inch monitor to surf the net?

When it comes to TVs, remember that size really does matter. A larger screen is more enjoyable to watch than paying for faster refresh rate. Technology has come a long way and refresh rate is way less important than it used to be. Also, LED LCD is much better than LCD alone.

3D TV is an immature technology waiting for an audience, which will not likely happen until at least the next one or two generations. Save your money and wait.

Camera lenses are more important than the camera and most lenses can be re-used on next year's wizbang camera model.

Mark Twain

Happy Birthday next week to Samuel Langhorne Clemens, who was born on November 30, 1835.

Home Robots

Still time to buy a robot for Christmas. While Roomba vacuums your living room, Scooba is scrubbing the bathroom floor, Verro is power washing your pool, and Looj is clearing out your gutters. You can kick back, catch the game, and the house will be spic-and-span just in time for the party. Prices are coming down, too. A few hundred bucks for many and up to a few thousand for the really slick and sophisticated ones.

Millions of home robots have been sold and are busy every day. Ava, an autonomously-guided, mobile robotics platform that has a PC tablet, a smart phone, etc. for its brains. This mobile interface will allow us to become a night watchman, or see things that we currently can not, or anything we can think of, only limited by developers’ imaginations. This and others are all open platform, which means we can do our own programming and teach our bots to do our personal bidding. The home bots are coming and the next generation will be absolutely amazing. We will likely have to wait for a few years, but the trend is up.

Google and Facebook

Google will now begin adding Facebook comments that are public and your comments could end up in a Google search. One more reason to watch what you type on Facebook, especially when you type personal information or names. This stuff lasts forever on the web, so it pays to think ahead before you type.

Nov 18, 2011

Grating Butter

When you're buttering your bread, or other goodies, it is a pain when the butter is cold and hard. Instead of microwaving or waiting, you can solve the problem with a cheese grater. Grab your butter brick and grate it over whatever you're going to eat. This process generates a little bit of heat, but mainly the smaller pieces will melt faster and spread better when they hit your warm piece of toast or muffin. It works on bread for sandwiches and is also a good idea for baking.

Fenelon Funicular

The Fenelon Place Elevator in Dubuque, Iowa is an incline railway running 296 feet from bottom to top. It first went into business in 1882, and has been owned by the same family since 1912. It was originally built so workers could get up the hill quickly to go home for lunch. Now visitors take the one dollar ride up the hill for the scenic views.

This year, four inspectors from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) arrived in black vehicles to secure the 'railroad' and conduct inspections and investigations to prevent attacks.

To give you an idea of how far 296 feet is, the farthest baseball throw was 445 feet 10 inches by Glen Gorbous of Canada August 1, 1957 while playing with the St. Louis Cardinals Triple A team.

A funicular is a railway up the side of a mountain pulled by a moving cable and having counterbalancing ascending and descending cars. Yep, that's our government dollars at work. Oh, we are safe. They did not find any security threats or WMDs.

Organic News

True and funny. Nebraska troopers patrolling the state fair grounds in September told a woman that she had an "illegal" message on her T-shirt and that if she wished to remain at the fair, she would have to either change shirts or wear hers inside out. The message was a marijuana leaf picture with the slogan "Don't panic, It's organic." She was at the fair to attend the night's live concert starring self-proclaimed marijuana user Willie Nelson.


Don't forget next week is Thanksgiving. Happy Thanksgiving to all.

PS - Here is a site for bacon wrapped turkey recipe.  LINK  Also, I read where some folks are beginning to add bacon and sausage to the stuffing for Turducken. Mmmm!

Who is Watching You

Each minute, 24 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube, and it is only one of many video sites. There are millions of photos uploaded to Facebook each month. Flicker has 5 Billion photos and there are hundreds of photo sites like it. Millions of people have iPhones and Androids with video and still cameras. Google Earth is constantly scanning the globe from satellite and you can actually zoom into a view of your own home. I found one site where you can compare pictures from today, side-by-side with the same location from many years ago.

There are many thousands of cameras in public places around the world. One site that I enjoy has a collection of cameras available from around the world and it has a search capability LINK. Earthcam has locations of cameras that you can watch what is going on in full detail, live, up-to-the-minute color, and in full screen. Get a view from the Statue of Liberty, or Trafalgar Square. Check out the ski conditions in Switzerland. How about a live view of Hong Kong, or Melbourne? There is even a camera to watch the penguins in Sarasota, Florida.

Dallas has hundreds of traffic cameras that you can click on and watch traffic and weather. If you know someone it going to work on I75, you can actually watch them drive all the way to work, using the many traffic cameras. You can even set up a list of personal cameras that you want to watch. If a spouse or friend calls and says there is an accident, you can check the cameras and tell them what happened. Of course, if they have their iPad, they can look it up themselves while they are at a dead standstill.

Be careful if you call and tell your boss you are stuck in traffic, he or she might just check the cameras to make sure you are telling the truth.

Planning a trip, check the weather and traffic cams set up in the city you are going to and get a close up look at weather and traffic conditions. Tie these together with Google Streetview and you can look up pictures of the building, neighborhood, or house you are looking for. If you are going on vacation almost anywhere in the world, let your family back home know where you will be and they can watch you on a local camera. Of course, you can just stream your own video from your phone.

It is fun, interesting, distracting, and a bit scary at the same time. Big brother, big sister, and their nieces and nephews, cousins, and neighbors are all watching. Smile, you are on camera!

Baconator Dumpling

Just saw this on the web, peanut butter baconator dumpling. Put a gob of peanut butter and some cooked chopped bacon in a potato dumpling and deep fry. Am searching to see if the cook is a long lost relative.

What's in a Name, Leotard

In 1859, twenty one year old Jules Leotard, made a public appearance as the world’s first flying trapeze artist. He was first to turn a somersault in mid-air and the first to jump from one trapeze to the next. He died at 28, likely from smallpox, typhoid, or cholera.
He also designed the eponymous piece of apparel for men. He called it a maillot, and the name leotard did not come into being until years after his death. The original leotard design was a skintight, one-piece garment with the lower portion resembling tights. Current designs do not have legs, but may be worn with tights. Unitards cover the torso and legs.

Jules had been practicing since he was a little boy. He would swing from a trapeze hanging over the swimming pool in his father’s gymnasium. The leotard is still worn by acrobats, dancers, skaters, and exercise enthusiasts throughout the world.

In 1867 George Leybourne wrote lyrics to the song "The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze" about Leotard,

iPad Apps

App is short for application and an application is a program or bunch of programs that make iPads and other computers do things. Here are a few interesting apps people have found for iPads, Playing piano LINK,  Play drums LINK, a review of ten book reading apps LINK, many are talking about Alice for the iPad, fast, but shows it well LINK, and finally, we find out if it will blend with a blendtec that is a favorite for teens LINK.

Nov 12, 2011

Unelectum All

I am so excited. It is official! My latest (45th) book "Unelectum All" is available on Amazon, Barnes, etc. The stores do not yet stock it, but it can be ordered at the counter. The title says it all. Obviously it is political and is packed with facts, figures, and quotes from some of the good, bad, and ugly politicians that we are responsible for voting into office. This is all tempered with my opinions and a bit humor thrown in. We can correct our errors next year by serving up our own form of term limits - not re-electing any incumbent from either party.

Amazon has the 'search inside' feature turned on, so you can take a peek before you buy a few dozen for Christmas gifts. LINK With each gift you make three people happy, the receiver, me, and yourself for being such a good person. Thanks!

Nov 9, 2011

Lady Godiva and Lady Gaga

It just occurred to me that we should send Lady Gaga to Washington and she can do for us what Lady Godiva did for Coventry. Hey, it worked before. I am sure Budweiser would lend her a horse. Then we could decide what to do with our tax money and eliminate the middlemen, who have not been doing a very good job lately.

Bad Guys Release Bad Guy

A Mexican member of online hacker group Anonymous was released by the Zetas drug cartel ahead of a threat by the Web group to expose details of the crime ring's activities. The kidnapped man was released ahead of a November 5 deadline set by Anonymous, after which it planned to divulge the Zetas' links to politicians and others.

The US released a video in which a masked individual claiming to be part of Anonymous had threatened to make some information public about the Zetas in retaliation for the kidnapping of one of his associates.

Salty Thoughts

Adding salt to water changes the boiling point and cooks food faster is a myth. You hear it repeated by home cooks and professional chefs, but any first year chemistry student knows how little salt affects the boiling point. You need to use at least an ounce of salt per quart of water to raise the temperature one degree. Of course, adding salt to your pasta water makes the resulting pasta tasty.

Other Uses for Wine

A nice glass of wine with dinner is always appreciated, but what happens when dinner is over and there is still wine in the bottle? We all know wine does not last forever, so here are a few tips to make use of the last bit of wine in the bottle. Pour leftover white wine onto grease and oil stains on garage floors and driveways, and the alcohol and acidity will help them dissipate.

Just like baking soda, wine can be used as a natural fruit and vegetable cleaner. The alcohol in the wine dissolves impurities on the surface, and according to a 2005 study by Mark Daeschel of Oregon State University, components in wine kill several types of foodborne pathogens like salmonella and E. coli.

Spoiled white wine is on its way to being vinegar, so naturally it works like a charm on dirty glass. Add a few tablespoons to a spray bottle of water, apply to windows and mirrors and wipe with a newspaper.

Nov 5, 2011

Happy Friday

We can be knowledgeable with other folk's knowledge, but we cannot be wise with other folk's wisdom.

I have some knowledge and wisdom to enjoy a Happy Friday!

Daylight Savings Time

It looks like we saved enough time this year. This weekend, at 2:00 AM on Sunday, November 6th, Daylight Savings Time will end, and revert back to Daylight Standard Time (turn your clock back to 1:00 AM). Actually, the debate is still raging, whether clock shifting is a benefit or curse. It seems to me that all the debate, clock changing, and missed appointments more than offsets the benefit. Am reminded of the Indian wise man who said that changing the clock was like cutting the bottom of a blanket off and sewing in on the top.  If you live in Arizona, Hawaii, or parts of Indiana, and other parts of the modern world, please disregard this message as you are smart enough not to believe in hobgoblins or time monsters.

Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty, was presented to the American people by the French and unveiled in October 1886. The statue in New York Harbor is the work of French sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi. He called it Liberty Enlightening the World.

Inscribed on a tablet inside the pedestal of ‘Miss Liberty’ is a poem by Emma Lazarus. It describes the statue of a woman holding a book and torch. The symbol of freedom, she waits for immigrants who must pass by her on their way to Ellis Island and admission to America.

“Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, with conquering limbs astride from land to land; here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand a mighty woman with a torch, whose flame is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command the air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame. Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp! cries she with silent lips. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost [sic] to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

The 152-foot high statue, weighing 225 tons sits on Liberty Island. On August 3, 1957, U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower changed the name from Bedloe’s Island to Liberty Island.

Freezing Candles

Candles will last almost twice as long if they are placed in the freezer for a day before using them. For some candles this will also cause them to drip less and burn straight down without burning through the side of the candle. If you have the kind in a glass, freezing them when done will make it easier to get the remaining wax out of the bottom.

Really Rich People

Who are the wealthiest people in the US and where did they get their money? Half of the top 20 are from the computer industry and 9 of the top 25 are family heirs.

Four Waltons (stores) $80B, Gates (Microsoft) $59B, two Kochs (energy) $50B, three Mars (candy) $41B, Buffett (conglomerate) $39B, Ellison (Oracle) $33B

These few distort the numbers so greatly because their wealth is so great. Over a quarter trillion dollars with just that handful of people. Add the next bunch and there is another quarter trillion dollars. The top 25 added together are worth over half a trillion dollars.

The technology folks make up half of the top twenty and are all new wealth, made from working for a living. Their hard work and ideas created hundreds of thousands of jobs. Jeff Bezos $19B, Sergey Brinn $16.7B, Mark Zuckerberg $17.5B, Larry Page $16.7B, Michael Dell $15B, Steve Balmer $13.9B, Paul Allen $13.2B. Steve Jobs is way down the list with only $7B. Facebook produced 5 billionaires, Microsoft at least three and hundreds of millionaires. Apple also produced at least 300 millionaires.

Only 4 of the top 25 richest people in America made it from investing - Buffett companies and stocks, Soros and Paulson hedge funds, and Icann leveraged buyouts. Buffett and Soros are in their 80s, Kochs are 75, Mars are in their 70s and 80s.

It is difficult to estimate how many millions of people are employed by these few and how many lives have been made better by them. Difficult to fault them for being wealthy when we buy their stock, which accounts for the vast majority of their wealth.

Nov 1, 2011

Explosive Pumpkin Carving

This is very interesting video of a teacher showing how to carve a pumpkin instantly using gas. It is only 45 seconds long. LINK

Earmarks and Pork Barrels

Earmarks are defined as "Provisions associated with legislation that specify certain congressional spending priorities or in revenue bills that apply to a very limited number of individuals or entities."

Pork Barrel usually refers to "Spending that is intended to benefit constituents of a politician in return for their political support, either in the form of campaign contributions or votes." It supposedly originated in a pre-Civil War practice of giving slaves a barrel of salt pork as a reward and requiring them to compete among themselves to get their share of the handout.

Both terms are derogatory and used interchangeably. Either are requested by only one chamber of Congress; not specifically authorized; not competitively awarded; and serve only a local or special interest. Below are a few examples.

$1,800,000 was earmarked for a climate model evaluation program.  This is on top of the $2 Billion in stimulus money for the climate science program, and another half a billion in stimulus money that the White House directed to global warming. I am getting warm just thinking about it.

Online Dictionary

If you use Firefox to read newspapers and other articles online, there is a great tool to help. Highlight a word that you do not understand, and a little question mark appears above the word. Just click on it and you will be taken to a dictionary with that word defined. Technology is great.