Jan 31, 2012

Excess Weight and Acne

Here is another one of those headlines from a national newspaper that is overshadowed by the details in the article.

It begins with the statement that researchers have found that weight gain and moderate to severe acne go hand in hand, particularly among young women.

The most recent study highlighting a link was published this month in The Archives of Dermatology and included roughly 3,600 teenagers. The researchers looked closely at their weight and its relation to their skin, factoring in several variables that could also play a role, including age, puberty and diet.

After adjusting for these and other factors that could affect acne risk, the researchers found that overweight or obese teenagers, particularly young women were significantly more likely to develop acne than normal-weight adolescents.

Researchers have proposed several explanations for the link. One is that an excess of androgen caused by obesity provokes acne. As for why girls would be more greatly affected than boys, it is possible that having bad skin and being overweight cause them greater psychological strain, which in turn prompts the release of stress hormones that only worsen the problem. So the cause is bad skin and hormones, not excess weight. I wonder if bad skin causes acne or acne causes bad skin? Yes someone actually paid them to come up with this stuff.

What's in a Name, Epson

One of the innovations for the Tokyo Olympics was the development of the electronic printer which was used to print the times of results.

The printer was developed by the Seiko Group and the printer was called the “Electronic Printer” or “EP.” The printer module was successful and became incorporated into early calculators.

Years later, Seiko launched a range of dot matrix printers into the US market and the US distributor was named EPSON, or “son” of “EP.” The brand became so established that Seiko renamed itself the Epson Corporation a few years later.

Closet Organizing

Some tips I recently saw on the web that seem to make sense for cluttered closets. Use shower curtain hooks in your closet to hang those things you want to keep off the floor, like purses, gift bags, and other small things that do not fit on a hanger. You can use pants hangers for flat things like wrapping paper and other flat items. A pegboard attached to the inside of your closet door can be used to hang everything from jewelry to watches, and umbrellas.
Those plastic travel soap dishes are great for organizing jewelry, vitamins, or other small small items when traveling.
Try those little magnets to hang stuff on the sides of your medicine cabinet, like tweezers to keep them off the shelf and close at hand when you need them.

Elementary My Dear Watson

IBM's Watson supercomputer, like the one that was used on the TV Show Jeopardy, will be used to evaluate cancer treatment options for Wellpoint, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association's largest health plan. It will be used as an adviser for oncologists at Cedars-Sinai's Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute in Los Angeles.

Cedars-Sinai's historical data about cancer, as well as its current clinical records, will be fed into a version of Watson that will reside at WellPoint's headquarters in Indianapolis. WellPoint will work with Cedars-Sinai physicians to design and develop applications that will help doctors prescribe specific treatments for patients.

Jan 27, 2012

Happy Friday

True happiness involves the full use of one's power and talents.

I know I have the power and talent to have a Happy Friday!

Overdone Bacon

Now I know I must have crossed the line with so many bacon comments. LINK  This site page title from Grupthink is 'Mmmm. . . Bacon' and my Bloginalia 2010 book is posted with two other food books.

One more completely useless bit is a comedian talking about bacon (with no reference to me or the book), just bacon. LINK
Sorry, looks like I might have to tone it down a bit in the future. Oh well, publicity is publicity.

Easter Island

Those famous heads that we have all seen pictures of turn out to have bodies. Many of the 887 moai known to date have been excavated and found to have bodies. The island's real name is Rapa Nui.

These statues ring the island and have been a source of fascination and conjecture for centuries. Contrary to some stories, the majority of the statues face inward, not looking out to the ocean.

What's in a Name, Wilhelm Scream

The Wilhelm scream is a frequently-used film and television stock sound effect first used in 1951 for the film Distant Drums.

The effect gained new popularity (its use often becoming an in-joke) after it was used in Star Wars and many other blockbuster films as well as television programs and video games. The scream is often used when someone is falling to his death from great height.

Two minutes of fun. You will recognize it the first time you hear it. LINK

Toilet Talk

The film “Psycho” was the first movie to show a toilet flushing. The scene caused a huge number of complaints about indecency.

The Roman army didn’t have toilet paper so they used a water soaked sponge on the end of a stick instead.

The toilet is flushed more times during the super bowl halftime than at any time during the year.

The average person spends three years of their life sitting on the toilet.

Over $100,000 US dollars was spent on a study to determine whether most people put their toilet paper on the holder with the flap in front or behind. The results showed that three out of four people have the flap in the front.

The first toilet cubicle in a row is the least used.

How Many People Can Fit on Earth

Many more people can be accommodated on our planet than headlines would have us believe. For starters, there are now six billion people on earth.

The island of Japan has about 143,000 square miles of area. One square mile has 27.9 million square feet. Japan has a total of about 4 trillion square feet, enough to give each person of the earth 670 square feet.

For comparison, if we used the American average of 8,000 square feet to four people, the entire population of the planet would fit into a space as the size of Texas and Nevada combined. That would leave the rest of the world's land for food production, entertainment, and vacations. These calculations do not include the oceans.

Jan 24, 2012

Seven More Uses for Rice

Put it to work doing dishes. You can use rice to get at those hard-to-reach bottoms of narrow-necked milk bottles and flower vases. Add rice, soap, water, and then shake-shake-swirl.

Get your coffee grinder squeaky clean by wiping grinder clear of debris and add enough rice to cover the blades and grind.  The rice will absorb all the lingering oils that carry the coffee aroma.

Use rice water as a facial serum by saving the water from rinsing your cooking rice. Let it cool and use a wash cloth to rub the liquid into your face and rinse clean. Rice is high in vitamin E.

Make an easy heating pad by filling a sock with a couple cups of rice, and then tie the open end. Pop it in the microwave for a few minutes, and you have  an instant heating pad.

When finished with that heating pad, let the kids or pets play with it like a bean bag.

Bury wet electronic devices in  a bowl of rice. It extracts moisture like silica gel.

Make DIY glue by boiling down rice until it degrades and releases the starch.

Bacon Egg Bowls

Here is a nice breakfast treat to serve your guests. I'll have six please.

Of Internets and Webs

The Internet had been around for years before the world wide web and is the set of technologies beneath the web which enable the web to exist. The web cannot function without the internet, but the internet can function without the web.

The Internet technically began to exist the way we know it in 1983 when its predecessor, ARPANET began using TCP/IP. Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol is the framework for the internet system of network communication still used today.

Other programs that use the Internet, but have nothing to do with the web are email, Internet Relay Chat, internet messaging programs, newsgroups, BitTorrent, telnet, FTP, etc.

The web was invented by an Englishman, Tim Berners-Lee in 1990 after years of effort. It did not come into wide-spread use for a few years after that. The World Wide Web is made up of servers, which serve the pages and clients, like Firefox, Chrome, and IE which display the pages. Hey man, I'm on the web tweet me.

Garlic Feet

Garlic is a great food enhancer, but is also a potent natural antifungal, making it ideal for treating fungal infections like athlete’s foot. Add a few cloves of crushed garlic to warm water in a foot bath and soak the affected feet for 30 minutes. I swear it is not trading one smell for another.

Jan 21, 2012

Bloginalia 2011

 As I promised last month, Bloginalia 2011 is now available on Amazon.

A full year of Friday Thoughts in one convenient place. If you forgot any of the tidbits from last year or just want to impress your friends, pick up a copy. This rounds out the trio of Bloginalia 2009 and 2010. Great for Kindle or iPad or Nook reading and they look great on a coffee table. Thanks.
Bloginalia 2011

Happy Friday

The here and now is all we have, and if we play it right it's all we will need.

Right now I have a need for a Happy Friday!

St. Agnes Eve

The night of January 20  is "Saint Agnes' Eve", which is regarded as a time when a young woman dreams of her future husband.


Thursday was National Popcorn Day, today is National Cheese Day and tomorrow is National Hug Day. In my house, we celebrate them all together and we have 'hug some cheese popcorn day'. It is much easier.

Alaska and Calendars

Speaking of days and dates, did you know that Alaska was the last state to adopt our current, Gregorian calendar? Many think our calendar has been around forever, but it is not that old.

In Alaska, the change took place when Friday, 6 October 1867 was followed again by Friday, 18 October after the US purchase of Alaska from Russia. Eleven days were skipped, and the day of the week was repeated on successive days, because the International Date Line was shifted from Alaska's eastern to western boundary along with the change to the Gregorian calendar.

In Russia the Gregorian calendar was accepted Wednesday, 31 January 1918, followed by Thursday, 14 February 1918, thus dropping 13 days from the calendar.

The last country of Eastern Orthodox Europe to adopt the Gregorian calendar was Greece on Thursday, 1 March 1923, which followed Wednesday, 15 February 1923. Korea adopted the Gregorian calendar on 1 January 1895. China finally agreed to use the Gregorian calendar 1 January 1929 (Yes, only eighty three years ago).

Many religious sects and countries still use other official calendars, but have unofficially adopted the Gregorian calendar for convenience of doing business. Kind of makes one question the exact dates in many history books. . .


The first shipment of rhubarb was sent to the United States in 1770 from London. Most of the world recognizes it as a vegetable, but the US classifies it as a fruit. There are rhubarb festivals around the country, but mainly in the northeast, where it grows abundantly.

Rhubarb is a perennial and grows rather wild if you do not keep up with it. Easy to grow and exciting to watch it come back each year in the spring. We always had some in the yard along with strawberries, which will also grow wild.

I was in the store last spring, picked up some rhubarb and the person at the register did not know what it was. I had to explain what it was and how it was used. My mother used to make rhubarb pie and stewed rhubarb (cook it down and eat it like applesauce). It also makes great jam. Ah, it has a wonderful tart taste and also good for you.

When taken internally in small doses, rhubarb acts as an astringent tonic to the digestive system, when taken larger doses rhubarb acts as a very mild laxative. It is a useful alternative to prunes to keep things flowing. . . People claim that rhubarb enhances the appetite when it is taken before meals in small amounts, that it also promotes blood circulation and relieves pain in cases of injury or inflammation, inhibits intestinal infections, and can also reduce autoimmune reactions.

If you’re in the vicinity of Knott’s Berry Farm you will get stewed rhubarb with your meal, whether you want it or not. Children in the UK and Sweden dip a stalk in sugar and eat it raw. You do not want to eat the leaves or flowers because they can be toxic. Another delicious reason to look forward to Spring.

What's in a Name, Pumpernickel

Pumpernickel is one of those words that rolls off the tongue and sounds almost playful. It is a a dark coarse sourdough bread made of rye flour and rye berries. The name comes from the German pumpern, meaning to break wind and Nickel meaning goblin or satan. The name stems from its reputed indigestibility and is crudely referred to as 'the devil's fart' by some dictionaries. The long cooking time is what gives it its dark color.

There are stories about the name coming from the French and Napoleon, but they have been debunked.

Pumpernickel is great and commonly found on hors d'oeuvres trays, topped with caviar, smoked Salmon, or other goodies. It is referred to as an 'upscale bread' and you can find it is upscale shops. In the US some add molasses to get the dark color without the long cooking time. It is great eaten in small doses and is also wonderful with strong cold cuts and cheeses.

Jan 17, 2012

Obesity is Shrinking

A new Gallup report shows that obesity in America has declined between 2010 and 2011, from 26.6 percent to 26.1 percent.

The shift is likely caused by more Americans reporting that they were of normal weight, from 35.4 percent in 2010 to 36.1 percent in 2011, according to the report, based on data taken from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.

Lets check the math - 26.1 percent obese, 36.1 normal - that leaves 37.8 percent as either skinny or otherwise abnormal. This is another of those great headline making studies. People are less obese, because they say they are. Hmmm,
Gallup was actually paid to ask people if they were obese, then reported that those people said they were not? Maybe it was a blind study.

Losing Weight

Did you know that it is actually easier to lose weight than it is to gain weight? It is mathematically easier to lose than to gain. For example, if you eat 3,500 calories more than you burn, you will gain 0.3 pounds, but if you burn 3,500 calories more than you eat, you will lose 1 pound.

Also, if you want to lose weight, you can expose yourself to significant changes in temperature which speeds up your metabolism. The above information is based on a pure fat diet.

Purse Germs

One of the most germ infested places many come into contact with is the bottom of a woman's purse. Many women fear the germs of public toilet seats, but don’t think twice about placing their purses down on the floor of the stall.

They also set them on the floor while riding the bus, in the car, at a restaurant, in a bar, or on floor at the office. Then, when they get home and set that same purse bottom on the kitchen counter or the dining room table.

Nelson Laboratories tested a random selection of ladies’ purses and found Pseudomonas, staphylococcus aurous, salmonella, and e-coli. Many of the handbags also had fecal contamination. Something to think about.

Jan 14, 2012

Happy Friday

Taste everything a little, study everything for a while, but live life a lot.

I have tasted some and studied some more, but am living life for a lot of  Happy Fridays!

Tax Changes from Inflation for 2012

The value of each personal and dependent exemption, available to most taxpayers, is $3,800, up $100 from 2011.

The new standard deduction is $11,900 for married couples filing a joint return, up $300, $5,950 for singles and married individuals filing separately, up $150, and $8,700 for heads of household, up $200.

Tax-bracket thresholds increase for each filing status. For a married couple filing a joint return the taxable-income threshold separating the 15-percent bracket from the 25-percent bracket is $70,700, up from $69,000 in 2011.

For tax year 2012, the maximum earned income tax credit (EITC) for low- and moderate- income workers and working families rises to $5,891, up from $5,751 in 2011. The maximum income limit for the EITC rises to $50,270, up from $49,078 in 2011.The credit varies by family size, filing status and other factors, with the maximum credit going to joint filers with three or more qualifying children.

Where's the Beef

This week in 1984 marked the beginning of a new commercial for Wendy's. Clara Peller was first seen by TV viewers in the famous and successful commercial campaign for Wendy’s fast-food chain.

Dave Thomas spent $8 million on the ads that promoted hamburger sales plus T-shirts, baseball caps, records, greeting cards and many other items bearing her picture and the famous question. I think the new ads with the real Wendy are boring, but I really do like the new fries they are now selling.

Jan 13, 2012

Unwanted Calls

I have begun receiving calls on my cell during the past month and it is irksome. Some texts have also been coming through. It seems the scammers are losing too many home phone numbers as so many people are eliminating them to save money. Now they are attacking cell phones.

There is a web site you can use to look up numbers LINK. It asks for a name, but no email address and you can type in your first name as many folks seem to do. Type in the number and you can see if anyone else has been called, plus details. I have used this before and it has very interesting information. The home page shows examples of comments.

There is also the government National do-not-call Registry, LINK which I signed up for, but it seems some scammers ignore it. I just registered again.

PS - Some scammers call and claim to be from the registry and want to help you sign up. Do not fall for it. Go to the site and sign up for free directly.

Turquoise McDonald's

 Only one McDonald’s in the world has turquoise arches. Officials in Sedona, Arizona, thought yellow would clash with the natural red rock.

The first color McDonald's offered was turquoise and the city accepted.

Butt Detector

Here is an interesting development. Apparently butt prints left on car seats are like finger prints. The University of Tokyo has already developed a prototype smart car seat capable of detecting when its occupant is on the verge of falling asleep. The seat features respiration-monitoring sensors and pressure sensors that monitor the pulse. The system can identify the physiological changes that occur 10 minutes before a driver actually falls asleep.

A new company is hoping to use pressure sensors built into car seats to help detect when a car is being driven by an unauthorized person. The seats will use 360 sensors to measure a person’s bum in order to confirm their identity.The system tested was able to identify drivers with 98% accuracy during experiment. The company will with car companies to commercialize it as an anti-theft system. It will be interesting to see how it measures the same person who adds or loses some weight.

Jan 10, 2012


If a bridge is two, then a tridge must be three. These are usually called tri-bridges, There are twelve in the world.

This Tridge is the formal name of a three-way wood footbridge above the confluence of the Chippewa and Tittabawassee Rivers near downtown Midland, Michigan. It opened in 1981 and consists of one 31-foot tall central pillar supporting three spokes. Each spoke is 180 feet long by 8 feet wide.

BTW tridge also refers to three player Bridge (cards).

TV Types

LG just announced a new TV that has a 55 inch screen, is a bit less than one quarter inch thick (less than the width of a pencil) and weighs about 16 pounds. OLED means Organic Light Emitting Diode. It is the newest technology for TVs. It produces a picture far brighter than anything on the market. OLED emits light as opposed to LCD TVs which reflect light. This means that they are not good for outdoor viewing, but the picture is truly eye-popping good. Watch for much bigger screens with OLED displays in malls and other places.

At the Consumer electronics show (CES), beginning this week, Samsung introduced an LED TV, which is .3 inch thick. LED is newer than many of the current flat screen TVs and is brighter. Think of it as better than LCD, but not as good as OLED.

Am sure there will be many more goodies at the show and I will let you know if there is any wizbang technology ready to hit the street. In the meantime, do not buy a new tablet, like the iPad until the new models come out, because it always drives the price of the old ones down. That is not always true for TVs, because dealers are already marking down last year's models to make room for the new ones. TVs are not susceptible to new features every few months like other technology and we usually keep them longer than a few years.

Last year I got rid of a 30-year-old TV and it cost me ten dollars to have it recycled. None of the new TVs will last a third of that time, but each new one will be more exciting to watch. Already in the labs is the next generation AMOLED (Active Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode) which claims to be viewable in direct sunlight.

3D TV is still a technology in search of an audience. It will not be ready for prime time until the producers make 3D content, we do not need to wear dorky glasses, and the quality gets better. Watch for sports to be among the first to adopt the technology. I am still waiting for glasses to replace the screen. They are almost ready for prime time and I hope to be first on my block to own a pair.

Color of the Year

OK, here it is, Pantone's color of the year for 2012, Tangerine Tango.

Look for all sorts of things in this color, from napkins to women's clothes, to whole rooms. Looks like Pantone has been visiting too many fast food joints.


Had to add this last one about the PC TV from this weeks Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Google's Android operating system version 4.0, better known by as "Ice Cream Sandwich" (an alternative to Microsoft Windows), is used in a smart television, a 55-inch 3-D (240Hz refresh rate) LED.

The TV lets you switch among video on demand, Internet apps, and regular TV. You can share music, videos, pictures, etc., from tablets and phones and computers. It has a dual core processor, 1 gig of RAM, a hard drive and 2GB SD card. There is also a built-in 5 megapixel camera for video chats. The remote control features a touchpad, 5-way keys and a motion sensor. It can also respond to voice commands.

Jan 6, 2012

Happy Friday

The secret of man's being is not only to live, but to have something to live for.

I am alive and live for having a Happy Friday!

Twelve Days of Christmas

Today is officially the end of Christmastime and is the Epiphany, also Theophany, and the day that the three kings, Caspar (sometimes Gaspar), Melchior, and Balthazar showed up in Bethlehem after following the star. I find it interesting while searching my family genealogy, all three names are found, although not recently. OK, now get back to work.

Leap Year This Year

Hurray! We get an extra day to play this year. For those born on February 29, you finally get another birthday after having a few years with no presents.

Of course, if we ever adopt the new calendar proposed you will have a birthday every year. The Hanke-Henry Permanent Calendar has at least 30 days in every month and an extra week at the end of every five or six years. An interesting concept that has the same date on the same day every year. Seems too practical to ever be adopted, but it is a nice concept. You will probably be reading more about it soon. LINK

Samoa skipped Friday December 30 in 2011 and went from Thursday to Saturday so it could be moved to the other side of the international date line. It decided it was losing two business days a week with its favorite trading partners in Australia and New Zealand. American Samoa, an hour away by plane, will remain on the other side of the international dateline. That will be some time travel. You can go there and celebrate two birthdays every year. 

Video Glasses

Finally this technology is getting closer. I have been waiting for this since they first were developed a number of years ago. It was the same old story, high prices and low quality. Now, we are so close. The only thing missing is that they do not yet support wireless technology. Wouldn't it be nice to eliminate that monitor or TV screen and just wear cool glasses?

Vuzix has updated its line of video eye-wear and is compatible with both 2D and 3D content, the glasses can display an equivalent of up to 75-inch screen as seen from a distance of 10 feet and feature separate focus adjustment for each eye as well as adjustable eye distance and viewing angles. The lenses also come in different colors for the fashion conscious.
Weighing approximately 3oz with twin 1280 x 720 LCD, 16 million color displays with 35 degree diagonal field of view and 16:9 / 4:3 aspect ratio. Brightness, contrast, hue and color saturation are adjustable via on-screen controls and eye separation is also adjustable. It even has an adjustable nose bridge for folks that have a nose like mine.

Connectivity options include composite AV cable, component video cable and AV cable for most videophones, portable DVDs, and camcorders, but there's no HDMI input or wireless connectivity. These can also connect to PCs and laptops for game playing with VR head tracking. Using them with a camera is cool for those high, low, or behind shots where you do not have to keep your eye in the viewfinder.

Two rechargeable AA batteries provide up to three hours of video playback and reportedly can be replaced with lithium ion batteries offering up to seven hours. The video-glasses are available now from $169 - $499. I love technology.

Moverio is an alternative $770 pair of glasses that sports a 80 inch 3D experience and has a slot for a picture card and plays music. Not quite HD quality, but close. LINK   2012 may be the year for a breakthrough.

What's in a Name, Belsnickel

German for "fur-Nicholas," is a fur-clad Christmas gift-bringer figure in the folklore of southwestern Germany, where my family is originally from. The figure is also preserved in Pennsylvania Dutch communities.

Belsnickel's fur covers his entire body, and he sometimes wears a mask with a long tongue. He is a companion of Saint Nickolas, a bit scary, and visits children at Christmas time to deliver socks or shoes full of candy, cakes, nuts, and fruit, but if the children are not good, they will find coal and/or switches (stick) in their stockings instead. Other traditions had him strewing those goodies on the floor and if an adult bent down to pick up something they were hit on the back from Belsnickel with a switch.

In many places, Belsnickel was a precursor to Santa Claus or St. Nickolas and the popularity in the US faded in the early 1900s. Many of the old traditional Santa equivalents always had coal and a switch for bad kids along with the goodies. Alas, many good life lessons have been replaced with the current - everyone gets everything attitude.

Jan 3, 2012

More Robots in our Future

Hon Hai, the world’s largest contract electronics manufacturer and owner of Foxconn, recently announced that it intends to build a robot-making factory and replace 500,000 workers with robots over the next few years.

It already has 10,000 robots busy at work in its factories, and the plan is to increase the number of robots to one million by 2013.

Hon Hai now has about 800,000 employees and a yearly revenue of about $60 billion. The company signed a letter of intent to invest $3.3 billion in robots for its Taiwan factories. He said the robots will increase the production value of Foxconn by about $4 billion over the next three to five years and create about 2,000 new jobs. It plans to build most of the robots itself, due to lack of production speed from some suppliers. Seems like some of the science fiction stories of robots making robots are coming true. The name Singularity leaps to mind.

Russian Dancers

These women may look like robots, but they have just perfected a smooth step. When they join the Berezka Dance Troupe, they are forbidden to tell anyone, including family how the 'floating step' is performed. This video shows off the beauty. Starting at about 1:30 it is really evident. LINK

Cheapskate Michelangelo Buonarroti

Michelangelo actively deprived himself of any comfort he saw no need for. He told his workshop assistants and friends that he didn’t care what food tasted like. He knew of no food that was not palatable, and only ate what was cheapest in providing him a balanced diet. He preferred to drink water, but understood the health benefits of wine and drank only the cheapest he could find.

His house was modest and squalid and infested with rats. In the coldest weather, he would simply put on another coat, or go for a jog. He once stated that because he had never been bitten by a flea, the rats did not seem a nuisance to him. He wore the same old dirty clothes, day after day, washing them and himself about twice a month in the nearest river or lake. He wore a pair of shoes until the soles nearly came off. Good thing he treated his art better than himself or we would all be deprived of the beauty.

A Look Back to 1912

How have things changed in the past one hundred years?
New Mexico and Arizona joined the US as 47th and 48th states.

Here is a political quote from that year, "Former U.S. president Theodore Roosevelt wins all the Republican primaries, but party bosses beholden to Wall Street block his nomination by the convention."

Here are a few prices from 1912:
Federal spending 690 million dollars
World Series tickets box seat $5 (Bleacher seats 50 cents)
Chevy six cylinder $2,150
gas 7 cents gallon
Loaf of bread 8 cents
Pound of coffee 15 cents
Dozen eggs 22 cents
Pound of butter 35 cents
Milk 12 cents quart
Ham 15 cents pound
Bacon 16 cents pound
Oreo cookies came to market in 1912


Did you know that "Noel" entered English in the late 14th century and is from the Old French noël or naël, which itself is from the Latin nātālis (diēs), and means "day of birth".