Dec 27, 2013

Happy Friday

Affliction is the teacher of humility; the parent of repentance; the nurse of faith; the strengthener of patience; and a guide to reflection.

I am constantly afflicted with the desire to celebrate a Happy Friday!

On this last Friday of 2013, be humble, keep the faith, repent if you must, be patient, and reflect on the accomplishments of 2013 as we guide ourselves into the joyous 2014 - Happy New Year!

Another use for Salt

One way to keep your clothes from fading is to turn them all inside-out before putting them through the wash. If yours have already faded, adding a couple of pinches of salt to your detergent will brighten your clothes in just one wash.

Benefits of Nuts

The holidays always include snacks for family and friends and now you can be good to them without cooking. A new study from November, 2013 in The New England Journal of Medicine, come from the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, which together have followed nearly 119,000 women and men from 1980 - 2010. Both studies recorded what the participants ate and analyzed their diets in relation to the causes of death among the 27,429 people who died since the studies began.

The more often nuts ( pistachios, almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, peanuts, and walnuts) were consumed, the less likely participants were to die of cancer, heart disease, and respiratory disease, and not because nut eaters succumbed to other diseases. Their death rate from any cause was lower. Those who ate nuts seven or more times a week were 20 percent less likely to die. Among those who consumed nuts less often than once a week, the death rate was still 11 percent lower than for those who did not eat them.

Of course, moderation is key because an ounce of nuts has 160 to 200 calories. However, findings revealed the more often people ate nuts, the leaner they tended to be. In a Mediterranean study that tracked the effect of nut consumption on weight gain over the course of 28 months, frequent nut consumers gained less weight than those who never ate nuts, and were 43 percent less likely to become overweight or obese. One reason it found may be the fat, fiber, and protein in nuts suppresses hunger between meals. Every study has indicated that nuts make a contribution to health and longevity, even after taking other factors into account.

Nuts provide rich sources of unsaturated fat and also contain protein, fiber, plant sterols that can lower cholesterol, and micronutrients copper and magnesium. Nuts have less cholesterol-raising saturated fat than olive oil. On average, 62 percent of the fat in nuts is monounsaturated, the kind that supports healthy levels of protective HDL cholesterol and does not raise blood levels of harmful LDL cholesterol. Nuts contain omega-3 fatty acids that can lower triglycerides and blood pressure, slow the buildup of arterial plaque, and prevent abnormal heart rhythms. Walnuts contain rich sources of alpha-linolenic acid, some of which is converted to heart-protective omega-3 fatty acids. Almonds are good sources of vitamin E. Peanuts and pistachios are rich in resveratrol.

The nurses’ study also linked tree nuts to a reduced risk of pancreatic cancer. A Taiwanese study of about 24,000 people found a 58 percent lower risk of colorectal cancer among women who ate peanuts, although a similar effect was not found among men. The nurses’ study and a study of 64,000 women in Shanghai found strong evidence that frequent consumption of tree nuts, peanuts, and peanut butter reduced the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

As with all studies, especially many with exaggerated claims, no food is a panacea and eating nuts will not heal the sick or raise the dead. However, there seems to be enough evidence that adding a moderate amount of nuts to your diet is better for you than not.

Peanuts and Almonds are not Nuts

Notwithstanding the above, peanuts are not nuts. They are legumes. The plant has seeds that grow inside pods such as peas or beans. Nuts grow on trees, peanuts grow underground. Peanut seeds flower above ground and then migrate underground to reach maturity. Peanuts are also called goobers, goober peas, groundnuts, earthnuts, monkey nuts, and grass nuts.

Also, almonds are not nuts. An almond is the seed of the fruit of the almond tree. The tree bears fruits with a seed within. Fruits with these characteristics are called drupes. A drupe is a fruit that has an outer fleshy part surrounding a shell that contains a seed. Other drupes include fruits from walnut trees and coconut trees. The seed inside the almond fruit is called an almond nut, even though it is not a nut. A nut is a hard shelled fruit that doesn't open to release its seed.

Pantone 2014

It is that time of year when Pantone decides for us what color we will wear, paint our rooms, buy curtains, add tiles, etc. The color of the year for 2014 is Radiant Orchid, officially PANTONE 18-3224.

Pantone Color Institute says it is "An enchanting harmony of fuchsia, purple, and pink undertones, Radiant Orchid inspires confidence and emanates great joy, love and health. It is a captivating purple, one that draws you in with its beguiling charm." Isn't that special.

Fascinating Reindeer Facts

Reindeer are the only mammals whose eyes are known to change color. The eyes are gold during the summer when the reindeer experience almost constant sunlight. During the darkness of winter their retinas become less reflective and their eyes appear blue.

They are also the only known mammals able to see in ultraviolet. During the Northern winter, when the sun barely rises above the horizon, snow reflects about 90 percent of UV. While that can cause snow blindness in humans, reindeer use it to their advantage.

Reindeer need their excellent eyesight when they run, because they can approach 50 miles per hour (80 km) at full run.

Difficult to Read

When looking up a particularly complex topic on Wikipedia, you might try replacing the “en” (for English) with “simple” in a Wikipedia URL. You will then get information written using simple English words and grammar that should make the most complex topics easy to understand.

Bye Bye Light Bulbs

As we say goodbye to 2013, we also say goodbye to more incandescent light bulb types. On Jan. 1, 2014, the most popular incandescent light bulbs, 40W and 60W will be no more. They join the already gone 75W and 100W incandescent bulbs as their domestic manufacture and import has been legislated away as part of the final phase-out stage of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

An estimated 30 percent of informed consumers will be raiding the aisles of local stores, grabbing all of the 40W and 60W bulbs that they can get their hands on to delay the inevitable - and save big bucks in the process. Maybe by the time their final stash is gone the newer bulb prices will have come down from the stratosphere.

Another icon of the late 19th and early 20th centuries likely to become extinct soon is the landline telephone. This will not need to be legislated out, new technology has rendered them mostly unnecessary, even though the new technology has yet to achieve the clarity and dependability of the landline instruments. The number of home landlines in the US is dropping at a rate of 700,000 per month and currently just five percent of people depend solely on copper phone lines.

New Incandescent Light Bulbs

Fear not the demise of all of our incandescent bulbs, here is a place that makes (almost) the same old incandescent light bulbs many know and love. The bulbs are still available after the new law, because the company changed the way the bulbs are made. The new law says that incandescent bulbs for "rough" use are still allowed, so this company complied with the new spec and makes these bulbs for sale at reasonable prices. The web site is here

Dec 20, 2013

Merry Christmas

I wish each of you, and families, and friends a very Merry Christmas. I try to embrace the following words all year, but for those who only save them for the holidays - eat, drink, be merry, think pleasant thoughts, and enjoy!

Happy Friday

A wise man makes his own decisions, ignorant men follow public opinion.

You would be wise to follow my decision to have a Happy Friday . . .  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Advent Calendar

The origins of this Christmas tradition come from the German Lutherans, as early as the beginning of the 19th century. The calendar started off simple, a written way to count down the days until Christmas. Eventually, lighting 24 candles became popular.

Very early in the 20th century, Gerhard Lang was credited with printing the first Advent calendar. Several years later, he decided to add little doors that would open to reveal the date or a scripture. It wasn't’t until after WWII that the calendars began to be filled with candies and treats for the days before Christmas.

Wordology, Nativity

For many people, the word Nativity is only used this time of year as the birth of Christ and other religious connotations for Christmas. Lately the original definition is being used more often in statistical charting. According to a few online dictionaries, nativity means:

1. Birth, especially the place, conditions, or circumstances of being born.
2. Nativity
    a. The birth of Jesus.
    b. A representation, such as a painting, of Jesus just after birth.
    c. Christmas.

Notice that 'Nativity' as capitalized has a religious connotation, while 'nativity' as non-capitalized is the number one definition. Many population and other economic charts use nativity in conjunction with ethnicity. It is a distinction, for instance 'Hispanic' as natural born or foreign born, when showing statistical differences.

Bottom line, before you wonder, there is no conspiracy theory, there is no anti-religious effort put forth. Statisticians are using the word in its original definition to more specifically segment populations by origin of birth.

Christmas Wise Men

According to the bible - 1. Three in number (the number isn't mentioned at all).
2. Kings (they were “wise” men) – this probably comes from Psalm 71:11 (72:11 in protestant bibles): “And all kings of the earth shall adore him: all nations shall serve him.”
3. Traveling on camels. Matthew 2:1–2 says: “When Jesus therefore was born in Bethlehem of Judah, in the days of King Herod, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem.” It says a little later that they offered Him gifts of “gold, frankincense, and myrrh” – but that is about as specific as it gets. Now we are all wiser for knowing this.

Christmas Tradition, Caga tio

One of the more unusual bearers of Christmas presents, with a unique delivery method, is the Caga tió (pooping uncle or, pooping tree trunk). It is found in the Catalonia region and consists of a hollow log.

Beginning at the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, the family “feeds” the tio and covers him with a warm blanket each night. Then, at Christmas, the family gathers together, sings songs, puts the tio partly into the fire and beats it with sticks, until it excretes presents of candy, nuts or figs. When the tio is finished pooping, it signals this by dropping salted herring, a head of garlic, an onion, or by “urinating”, then the entire log is burned.

Holidays and Weight Gain

Postprandial weight gain is especially troublesome during the holidays. In the immediate short term any food and drink that you put into your body will make you exactly that much heavier. Eat a pound of chocolate and you add one pound to your mass, until your body starts to excrete the food or use it for energy.

That gain begins to decrease almost as soon as it begins. The time it takes for food to pass through the digestive tract varies widely. Overall, the journey of a meal takes between 20 and 56 hours. Once it is metabolized and excreted, only excess calories converted to fat remain. If you ate a very salty meal, you tend to retain water, and a greater proportion of the weight temporarily remains. How much remains long term depends on the energy content of the food consumed as excess calories are converted into fat to be used for energy in the future.

In a recent study, a team of Israeli scientists tested different diets on almost 200 obese adults. One group consumed a greater proportion of their calories at breakfast and lost significantly more weight, on average, than the others in the study.

The bottom line is, the net weight gain associated with any one meal will be very small. However, a prolonged series of excess eating can accumulate to have a significant, long-term effect. A few overindulgent meals for the holidays are not a problem, the problem is the three overindulgent meals a day over a long period of time. Just as it takes time to reduce weight, it takes time to gain lasting weight, so enjoy the Holidays.

Gingerbread House

The Gingerbread house was first noted in the Grimm’s Fairy Tale, Hansel and Gretel, and followed in a German opera by the same title. After the show was first produced only days before Christmas, it became a holiday tradition in German Opera houses to build miniature replicas of the gingerbread house from the story. The tradition then spread to bakeries and, eventually, to homes.

Blood Vessels

Forgive me for bringing this up at this time of year, but I found it interesting. Every pound of fat gained causes your body to make 7 new miles of blood vessels. Knowing this, it’s easy to see why obesity and heart disease often go together. Most of the new blood vessels are tiny capillaries, but also include small veins and arteries. This means if you are “only” 10 pounds overweight your heart has to pump blood through an extra 70 miles of blood vessels.

The good news is that this also works in reverse. If you lose a pound of fat, your body will break down and reabsorb the no longer needed blood vessels. This is encouraging to dieters, as one pound does not seem like a lot to lose, but even that little bit of difference will result in a large benefit for your heart.

Boston Tea Party

This week, December 16, 1773, American patriots, protesting the British tax on tea, dumped 342 chests of tea into Boston Harbor. The act is known as the "Boston Tea Party."  It was a nonviolent political protest by the Sons of Liberty in Boston. They were disguised as Indians and destroyed the entire supply of tea sent by the East India Company in defiance of the American boycott of tea carrying a tax the Americans had not authorized.


 In many ancient religions the mistletoe was regarded as a sacred plant. For the Norsemen the mistletoe caused the death of Baldur, the shining god of youth. The Druids believed that a sprig of mistletoe fastened above a doorway would ward off many things, such as witchcraft, disease, bad luck, and fire. In addition, it would enhance the hospitality and fertility of the household. Hence the English Christmas custom of kissing under the mistletoe.  If you see me during the holidays, pretend I have mistletoe in my hair. I can always use another kiss and hug.

Dec 13, 2013

Happy Friday

"A mediocre person tells. A good person explains. A superior person demonstrates. A great person inspires others to see for themselves."

Every week I try to tell, explain, and demonstrate, but mostly to inspire everyone to enjoy a Happy Friday.

Holiday Wordology

As we are between Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, thought I might add some words used often during the holidays, and their origins.

Mirth - Both mirth and merry come from an Old English word meaning “joy” or “pleasure.” These words are themselves derived from an older German root meaning “short-lasting.” Thus, something merry is short-lived—although the consequences may not be.

In the 17th century, the word “merry” could include decidedly earthier connotations, such as a merry-bout of sexual intercourse. Sometimes a merry-bout resulted in a “merry-begot,” an illegitimate child.

Merry - The word merry also gave us the merrythought, which we now call the wishbone. The custom of pulling apart the wishbone dates back at least to Roman times and may have evolved from the Etruscan practice of alectryomancy, the practice of divining the future using rooster clavicles. According to Roman legend, the Etruscans selected the wishbone because its “V” shape resembled a human groin, the repository of life. Thus, the wishbone was seen as an appropriate way to unravel life’s mysteries.

In the 17th century, it was sometimes thought that whoever ended up with the longer piece of the merrythought would marry first. Some believed the person with the longer piece would get whatever wish he chose. English settlers brought the practice with them to the New World, and we still pull the wishbone apart today.  The proper term for the bone we pull apart is “furcula.” It comes from the Latin furca, meaning “pitchfork.”

Fork - It is not particularly a holiday word, but used more often during the holidays. Before becoming the word for what was then a two-pronged utensil, the term was used in England to refer to a forked instrument used by torturers. Although the fork seems like an obvious tool, it was not used for eating until the eighth or ninth century, and then only by the nobility in parts of what is now the Middle East. Popular legend has it that Catherine dei Medici brought the fork to France from Italy when she married King Henry I of France in the 16th century. However, the use of the word to mean a table fork came a hundred years earlier.

Beer and Ale -  The word “beer,” stems from Latin bibere, meaning “to drink.” The Germanic word for beer was aluth, from which we get our English word “ale.” Ale also gave us the English word “bridal,” because in the Middle Ages, ale was a noun that meant a feast. A bride ale was literally a feast in honor of a marriage.

Sage -  The herb sage is associated with Thanksgiving, but historically, sage’s primary use has been medicinal. This is reflected in its botanical name, Salvia officinalis. In Latin, salvus meant “healthy,” a word that also gave us the English “safe.” Sage has been used to treat inflamed gums, excessive perspiration, memory loss, depression, sore throat, swollen sinuses, acne, toenail fungus, hot flashes, and painful menstruation, among others. Because sage is also used to combat diarrhea, gas, and bloating, it is the perfect herb for a holiday that often results in overindulgence.

Tofurky - This relatively new holiday word makes many cringe. It is a turkey substitute created in 2000 by Turtle Island Foods. Tofurky is made from tofu, wheat gluten, oil, and “natural flavors,” which include certain yeasts that lend Tofurky a “meaty” taste. Tofu is fermented soy bean curd valued for its high protein content, as well as its ability to absorb flavors from other foods. Tofu is probably best enjoyed without thinking of the origins of the word, literally “rotten beans,” which come from Chinese dou (“beans”) and fu (“rotten”).

Christmas - This word comes from the Old English words Cristes moesse, 'the mass or festival of Christ'. The first celebration took place in Rome about the middle of the fourth century. The exact date of the Nativity is not known, but even in pre-Christian times the period from December 25 to January 6, now known as "The Twelve Days of Christmas" was considered a special time of year. The abbreviation Xmas, thought as sacrilegious by some, is entirely appropriate. The letter X (chi) is the first letter in the Greek word for Christ.

Reindeer - Did you know this word is actually redundant. Rein is Scandinavian for 'reindeer', so reindeer translates to 'reindeer deer'. It came to English from Old Norse hreindyri.

Mistletoe is thought to be based on a German word for bird excrement (mix) from the fact that the plant is propagated in it. Some think it is derived from another German word (mash) which refers to the stickiness of the berries. It is combined with an Old English word (toe) meaning 'twig'. This shrub usually grows on broad-leaved trees like apple, lime, and poplar.

Christmas Carol is a term which originally referred to a non-religious ring dance accompanied by singing. Eventually it came to mean a merry song with a tune that could be danced to. The Italian friars who lived with St. Francis of Assisi were the first to compose these songs in the early 1400s. Since the nineteenth century, carols have been sung in place of hymns in many churches on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Saint Nicholas was not only wealthy but modest, and he liked to help people in need without drawing attention to himself. Poor families would often find a gold piece or well-filled purse without knowing where it had come from. His American successor, Santa Claus, carried on the tradition.

Poinsettias have been a symbol of Christmas in the United States since the 1820s when it was first shipped to North America by Joel Poinsett, the American minister to Mexico.

Wassail - It comes from the Middle English waes haeil, which means 'be in good health' or 'be fortunate'. Wassailing was the Old English custom of toasting the holiday and each other's health. Wassail is also the name of the spiced apple beverage used in such toasting and has been drunk since around 1300.

What's in a Name, Kummerspeck

This German word means excess weight gained from emotional overeating. Literally, 'grief bacon'. Seems to me, putting those two words together must be an oxymoron.

Fisher Price

The holidays would not be the same without thinking of toys, and one of the largest toy makers is Fisher Price. The company is named after Herman Fisher and Irving Price. The original founders of the toy company back in 1930 were businessmen Herman Fisher and Irving Price, but also a children’s book author and illustrator named Margaret Evans Price, Irving's wife, and a toy store owner named Helen Schelle.

While the businessmen were instrumental in launching the company, it was actually the two women who collaborated on most of the company’s early and successful products, like Dr. Doodle, the duck push-pull toy that was based on a character from Margaret's books. Also, a lot of the early success of the company can be attributed to Helen Schelle, who had many connections in the incipient toy industry.

Fisher came from Pennsylvania and went to Penn State. If you visit the Penn State campus, you may have seen The Fisher Plaza, which was named after him. Before founding Fisher-Price, he worked as Vice President and General Manager of All Fair, Inc., a toy and game manufacturer. When Fisher and a group of investors (including Price) unsuccessfully tried to buy All Fair Inc., they decided to start their own company instead. Fisher is credited with coining the term “preschool toys” in 1934.

His partner, Irving Lanouette Price married into the wealthy Evans family of New York. His wife Margaret was a rich and well-known children’s author. Irving had a long career as an executive with Woolworth before retiring young and becoming Mayor of East Aurora, New York. His wealth helped start Fisher-Price.


Many times there are words we see online or in the paper and we might know what they mean, but do not know how to pronounce. Here is a site that can assist

The site has many languages and the words are not pronounced by a robotic sound, rather by a human sounding voice. Unless you have a program like Wordweb, that lets you highlight any word, click to see a definition, and hear it pronounced, this is the next best thing.

Kitchen Tip

Use a cheese grater for easier spreading of cold, hard butter. When you are buttering bread, pastries, etc., it is difficult when the butter is hard. Rather than waiting for the butter to soften, you can quickly solve the problem with a cheese grater. Grate the butter over whatever you are making. This process generates a little bit of heat and the smaller pieces of butter will melt faster and spread better when they hit a warm piece of toast or while mixing dough for pastries.


If you like jazz, you will love this web site Jazz on the Tube. According to the site, it has thousands of jazz videos from many of the great legends of jazz from Art Blakely to Wes Montgomery and more. One of my favorites -The Girl from Ipanema with Astrud Gilberto and Stan Getz  Enjoy.

YouTube Restricted Videos

 For those YouTube videos that have age restrictions which require you to be logged in to an account to view, just change “watch” to “v” in your YouTube URL to bypass these restrictions.

Dec 7, 2013

Happy Friday

Paint is just a pigment of your imagination.

I imagine painting a smile on my face by having a Happy Friday!

Energy Drinks Unmasked

A friend of mine, Jeff wondered what is in energy drinks that makes them work and are they safe. That sent me scouring my personal stash and the web for answers. The following excludes the larger volume drinks, such as Monster, Red Bull, etc., and offerings from Pepsi, Coke, and others. Those all have their own host of reasons to avoid, but that is for another discussion.

Most of the two ounce shot energy drinks contain varying amounts of taurine, caffeine, sucralose (splenda), niacin, vitamin B12, B6, folic acid, sodium, acai fruit extract, guarana, and many other ingredients that are almost impossible to spell or pronounce. Others have green tea, L-carnitine, ginseng, yohimbine, and all contain water and natural and artificial ingredients (whatever that means). Most have zero calories listed. Many have warning not to take more than one every four or six hours (likely in self defense from the FDA).

Many are described as an energy shot to enhance concentration and improve performance. They do not specify what performance. A number of them are designed specifically for hangover relief, and a few diet suppression. The only difference I could find in these ingredients was more vitamin B12 (in one type 10,000% of the daily value). Some of the names are 'pure energy, 5-hour energy', 'eternal energy, 'extra energy', 'Extra strength energy', 'java-mite', 'XX Energy', 'high energy', 'hangover recovery, 'diet aid', etc.

The majority of the dozen I checked come in little white two ounce bottles covered with shrink wrap covers. Interesting that so many have the identical bottle (with the exception of the bottom indents) and wrapper type regardless of manufacturer. Could find no common denominator other than that. Prices ranged from as low as $.88 to $3.98 for the same size. Interesting to note that one of the most popular and most expensive, 5 hour energy has the least liquid at 1.93 ounces.

Most sites agreed the biggest reason for the jolt is the large amount of caffeine, about as much as two cups of coffee in a small two ounce dose. Studies show they are no better as a pickup than coffee, although they are concentrated in less liquid as well as more convenient and quicker to drink. Annual revenues for energy drinks is about 13 billion dollars.

Bottom line, the caffeine is the kicker, the vitamins go out in the urine, the other ingredients are for flavor, preservatives, and color. None have proven to be bad for us, probably due to the trace amounts contained. None are good for children for the same reasons as coffee. In spite of a few rantings by the usual fear mongers, these have yet to be proven unsafe, with the exception of occasional jitters common to those who do not well tolerate caffeine. In my case, they seem to work as advertised and do not provide any physically noticeable high or low.

Toilet Tips

After analyzing 51 public restrooms, experts found that the stall closest to the restroom door consistently had the lowest bacteria levels (and the most toilet paper). The first stall probably sees less traffic because it's near the door and people want privacy. When you are finished, stand before you flush. When toilets are flushed, a fine mist of water containing contagious bacteria sprays up. You can catch intestinal bugs and hepatitis from it.

Relieve yourself and relieve some stress at the same time. Before you go to bed, put some small strips of flushable paper and a pencil in the bathroom. In the following morning, take a seat and write down the names of all the people or situations in your life causing you angst. When finished with your business, throw the paper in the bowl and flush. You will be amazed at how great this makes you feel.

Wordology from the Comics

Many words we use actually came from newspaper comics. Here are a few:
Goon - The word “goon” to describe a simpleton or stupid person dates back to the 16th century, when sailors sometimes compared folks to the albatross, often colloquially referred to as a “gooney bird.” However, “goon,” when used to describe a muscular, not-so-bright, hired thug, comes from the Popeye comic strip, notably Alice the Goon, an eight-foot tall giantess with hairy forearms.

Wimpy - J. Wellington Wimpy was a hamburger loving soul and also a character in the Popeye comics. While the word “wimp” is from World War I, the soft-spoken, intelligent, cowardly Wimpy gave us a way to describe being a wimp.

Dagwood Sandwich - A Dagwood is any stacked sandwich that consists of a variety of meats, cheeses, and other condiments. Dagwood Bumstead, husband in the Blondie comics built the piled-high wonders out of anything and everything he could find in the refrigerator.

Milquetoast - Someone who is even wimpier than Wimpy is a total milquetoast, as in Caspar Milquetoast, a character from a one-panel comic strip by H.T. Webster called The Timid Soul. Caspar’s surname was a play on the bland dish called milktoast that was often served to invalids or folks with “nervous” stomachs. Caspar Milquetoast was a guy who would buy a new hat rather than trespass when his blew off his head and onto a lawn with a “Keep Off the Grass” sign.

Mutt and Jeff - Mutt and Jeff were two comic strip characters created by Bud Fisher in 1907. Augustus Mutt was a tall, lanky ne’er-do-well who liked to bet on the ponies, while his pal Othello Jeff was short, rotund, and shared Mutt's passion for “get rich quick” schemes. The strip became so popular that “Mutt and Jeff” is used to describe any duo displaying opposite physical characteristics.

Keeping up with the Joneses - You have likely wondered who are these Joneses. In the comic strip of their origin, they were never seen. Keeping Up with the Joneses was written and drawn by Arthur “Pop” Momand and was first published in the New York Globe in 1913. The strip followed the daily life of the Aloysius P. McGinnis family, and Mrs. McGinnis’ envy of their wealthy neighbors, the Joneses. Al endured his wife outfitting him in “trendy” clothing like lime-green spats and lemon-colored gloves, because that is how Mr. Jones dressed.

Dinty Moore - Both the Hormel canned stew and the triple-decker corned beef/lettuce/tomato/Russian dressing sandwich that bear this name were inspired by the tavern owner in the popular George McManus comic strip Bringing Up Father. Maggie and Jiggs were Irish-American immigrants who won a million dollars in a sweepstakes. Maggie eagerly adapted to their new lifestyle, but former bricklayer Jiggs missed his boisterous pals and frequently sneaked off to hang with them at Dinty Moore’s, where they would feast on corned beef and cabbage and Irish stew while enjoying a few toddys.

Whammy and Double Whammy -  According to the comic strip Li'l Abner, Evil-Eye Fleagle was a zoot-suited hood who came from Brooklyn, New York. He could shoot beams of destruction from his eyes. A regular whammy could knock a dozen men unconscious and the double whammy could collapse a building. I trust these provided a 'Linus blanket' for your curiosity.

Google Flight Info

Enter your airline name, flight number, and city of departure or arrival (separated by commas) into the Google search box and it will give you current information, including gate information. As mentioned in another post, you can enter your shipment number into the search box for status of your package from UPS and Fedex.  I love this.

X-Ray Vision Glasses

Another of those inventions, which started out in comic books has just been announced. Evena Medical just unveiled its new Eyes-On Glasses System that helps clinicians see vasculature below the skin and deliver needles safely on the first try. Hard to locate veins are easier to see and access.

The glasses are based on Epson's technology like Google Glass, that can display graphics for the wearer to see, and has a pair of forward facing cameras for 3D imaging along with illumination to brighten the target. It uses multi-spectral lighting and the infrared and near-infrared frequencies the cameras uses are tuned for looking at vasculature.

In addition, the glasses include digital storage to enable verification, documentation, and telemedicine capability to share images remotely. The glasses also interface with hospital electronic medical records systems for documentation.

Goodness of Bacon

Traditional pork bacon has many good points. It is high in protein, vitamins, and minerals, including B6, B12, niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc, as well as choline, a nutrient which helps improve cognitive performance, memory, mood and mental alertness. Bacon has about 30 calories per regular slice.

Bacon flavored salt is low in sodium, zero calories and fat, kosher and vegetarian. It allows bacon lovers to enjoy all the flavor of their beloved treat without a side of guilt. Sprinkle it over eggs, potatoes, meats, baked beans, soups, salads and sandwiches.

American Brands or Not

Do you know which of these ten brands are American owned?
Lucky Strike, Budweiser, Vaseline, Good Humor, Hellman's (mayonnaise), Purina, French's (condiments), Frigidaire, Popsicle, 7-Eleven

Answer, None.

Lucky Strike, England
Budweiser, Belgium
Vaseline, England
Good Humor, England
Hellman's, England
Purina, Switzerland
French's England
Frigidaire, Sweden
Popsicle, England,
7-Eleven, Japan

Kind of looks like England is buying the US back, one brand at a time. It has made its strike to take our good humor and other things to just rub it in and on us. At least we have Krafted a way with some Mondelēz to get back some sweets by taking over Cadbury a few years ago.

Getting Off Scot Free

Many think these words have some vague reference to Scottish people. It actually does not. In the thirteenth century, scot was the word for money you would pay at a tavern for food and drinks. It was also used when they passed the hat to pay an entertainer.

Later, it came to mean a local tax that paid the sheriff’s expenses. To go scot-free literally meant to be exempted from paying this tax.

Food Myth Debunked

The myth is that adding salt to water changes the boiling point and cooks food faster. This is one of those food myths that doesn't want to die. You hear it repeated by home cooks and professional chefs, but any first year Chemistry student can show you how minor the effect is to alter the boiling point. In order to change water's boiling point appreciably, you would have to add so much table salt that the resulting salt water would be nearly intolerable. In spite of the boiling point myth, adding salt to pasta water makes the pasta more tasty.

Dec 1, 2013

Shameless Self Promotion

Couldn't get enough shopping in on Black Friday?

Here is a way to keep the shopping spree going. You can beat the rest of the seasonal rush by clicking on this AMAZON link to my books and shop from home to pick up some sweet smiles for family and friends. It will also make me smile. Thanks, I really do appreciate it.

Happy Friday

"For what I give, not what I take,
For battle, not for victory,
My prayer of thanks I make."

Today is a day to give and take a Happy Friday!

Leftovers from Thanksgiving

For those who still have an appetite, here is a bit of brain stuffing for the day.

In the US, about 280 million turkeys are sold for Thanksgiving celebrations.
Each year, the average American eats between 16 - 18 pounds of turkey.
Californians are the largest consumers of turkey in the United States.
Thanksgiving Day is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November in the United States.
Although, Thanksgiving is widely considered an American holiday, it is also celebrated on the second Monday in October in Canada.
Black Friday is the Friday after Thanksgiving in the United States, where it is the beginning of the traditional Christmas shopping season.

More Fun Turkey Facts
The average weight of a turkey purchased at Thanksgiving is 15 pounds.
The heaviest turkey ever raised was 86 pounds, about the size of a large dog.
A 15 pound turkey usually has about 70 percent white meat and 30 percent dark meat.
The five most popular ways to serve leftover turkey is as a sandwich, in stew, chili, soup, casserole, and as a burger.
Turkey has more protein than chicken or beef.
Turkeys have about 3,500 feathers at maturity.
Male turkeys gobble. Hens do not. They make a clucking noise.
Commercially raised turkeys cannot fly.
Turkeys have heart attacks. The United States Air Force was doing test runs and breaking the sound barrier. Nearby turkeys dropped dead with heart attacks.
Turkeys have poor night vision.
It takes 75-80 pounds of feed to raise a 30 pound tom turkey.
A 16-week-old turkey is called a fryer. A five to seven month old turkey is called a young roaster.


There are multiple stories concern the cornucopia’s origins. The first begins with Zeus, the greatest of all the Greek gods. Cronus, his father, wanted to kill Zeus, so his mother Rhea hid him in Crete to protect him. The king of Crete had several daughters who raised him, and their goat provided milk for the child. When Zeus grew older he broke off one of the goat’s horns and gave them the magic power to fill up with whatever the owner of the horn desired. Zeus gave the horns to the king’s daughters to thank them for caring for him. According to legend, whoever owned the horn would never go hungry.

An alternate story involves the goat giving Zeus one of her horns in reverence. Zeus repays her by placing her image in the sky. We know the image as the constellation Capricorn.

Another story in Greek mythology concerns Hercules’s role in creating the cornucopia. A feud erupted between Hercules and the river-god Achelous. The two competed for the love of Dejanira, a young woman of breath-taking beauty. The two fought in a colossal wrestling match and Hercules began to get the better of Achelous. Achelous, a shape-shifter, changed into a serpent and then into a bull in an effort to gain leverage against Hercules. Hercules broke off one of Achelous’s horns, and when he did the river changed course. The water-nymphs came upon the horn in the river and treated the horn as a sacred object. They filled the horn with flowers and took care of it. Later Copia, the Goddess of Plenty, adopted the horn. Hercules married Dejanira and they had a family.

Mythological beings and deities illustrate a theme in classical paintings, and the cornucopia became a popular design element. Artists often painted the curved goat’s horn filled with fruit and grain, and thus it came to symbolize wealth and plenty. Tyche, the goddess of riches and abundance, also became associated with the cornucopia. It also became the emblem for several other deities.

Modern design for cornucopias usually involves the use of it as a fall decoration. A favorite of florists, they often act as a vessel for containing bright, decorative flowers, fruits, gourds and many other decorative items that make a pretty table ensemble.

The cornucopia symbolizes riches and plenty in some folklore, art and mythology, so the decoration rightfully belongs on the table at which you plan to have a meal while enjoying the company of family and friends.

The cornucopia has a close association with Thanksgiving, but people considered it symbolic before the holiday existed. The word originated in 1508 and comes from the Latin cornu, meaning horn, and copia, meaning plenty. Thus some also call it the horn of plenty.

Use by/Sell by Dates

Holiday feasts are usually followed by leftovers and the trick is to consume the leftovers before they go bad. Below are some tips to help. The only food federal law that says must have a use-by date is infant formula.

Some states also have their own rules about dates for bottled water or foods, such as milk. Other dates are voluntary by manufacturers to tell consumers when the food tastes best, not when it’s going to make a person sick. The ‘use by,’ ‘sell by’, ‘code dates’, and ‘best by’ dates are all used for quality reasons not for safety reasons.

One group, the Natural Resources Defense Council, a New York City-based, non-profit environmental advocacy group, report calls for putting sell-by dates meant for businesses, into code so they are invisible to consumers, although I do not understand how that will help.

A few guidelines follow. Bagged produce, such as spinach and lettuce should be tossed by the dates on the package. Bacteria does not grow in condiments such as mustard and catsup. It is OK to cut the mold off hard cheese, cured meats, and hard vegetables such as bell peppers and carrots.

Additional foods and their shelf lives, according to the USDA. Every food product listed should be stored at a refrigerator temperature of 40 F and below for the following shelf life to pertain.
Eggs 21 to 35 days
Lunch meat 14 days [unopened]; 3 to 5 days [opened]
Bacon 14 days [unopened]; 7 days [opened]
Cured Ham 5 to 7 days
Beef, Veal, Pork and Lamb 3 to 5 days
Apples 90 to 240 days
Grapefruit 28 to 42 days
Strawberries 5 to 7 days
Raspberries 1 to 2 days
Grapes 56 to 180 days
Carrots 28 to 128 days
Cherries 10 to 21 days
Asparagus 10 to 20 days
Bunched Broccoli 10 to 14 days
Celery 3 to 5 days
Lettuce 14 to 21 days

Interesting Use for Black Pepper

Next time you nick yourself in the kitchen, reach for the black pepper. Run cold water over the wound to clean it, using soap if you were handling meat. Then sprinkle on pepper and apply pressure. In no time, the bleeding will stop. Black pepper has analgesic, antibacterial, and antiseptic properties. In addition, pepper doesn't sting.

Most Expensive Beers

For those still celebrating, here are a few beers to pick up or discuss and impress the relatives.
1. Sapporo's Space Barley, Price: $110/six-pack - The barley was actually grown about the International Space Station.

2. Crown Ambassador Reserve, Price: $90/750ml - It is aged in French oak barrels for 12 months and packaged in a champagne bottle.

3. Tutankhamun Ale, Price: $75/500ml - Developed from residue found in Queen Nefertiti's Royal Brewery. No longer available.

4. Brewdog's Sink the Bismarck, Price: $80/375ml - Also one of the worlds strongest at 41% abv and extremely bitter.

5. Samuel Adams' Utopias, Price: $150/700ml - America's most expensive by the second largest brewer in the US. It is actually banned in 13 states due to its high alcohol content at 27%.

6. Schorschbräu's Schorschbock 57, Price: $275/330ml - Only 36 bottles made and claims to be the world's strongest with 57.5% abv.

7. Carlsberg's Jacobsen Vintage, Price: $400/375ml - Limited to 600 bottles per year from 2008 to 2010.

8. Brewdog's The End of History, Price: $765/330ml - Only 12 bottles (or less) still exist and is 55% abv.

9. Pabst Blue Ribbon 1844, Price: $44.00/720ml - Sorry, not sold outside of China.

10. Nail Brewing's Antarctic Nail Ale, Price: $800-$1815/500ml - Made with water from an Antarctic iceberg.
I do not usually drink beer, but if I did a few of these would be on my list.

Hypnagogic Jerk

After that post-Thanksgiving leftover indulging as many sneak to the couch for a bit of a nap, you might have a hypnagogic jerk. Most of us have had them but few know the proper name. It is an involuntary muscle spasm that occurs as a person is drifting off to sleep. The phenomenon is so named in reference to the hypnagogic state, or the transitional period between wakefulness and sleep. Hypnagogic jerks are also commonly known as hypnic jerks or sleep starts.

The muscle spasms may occur spontaneously or may be induced by sound, light or other external stimuli. Some people report hypnagogic jerks accompanied by hallucinations, dreams, the sensation of falling, or bright lights or loud noises coming from inside the head.

Sleep starts are quite common, with some research suggesting 60 to 70 percent of people experience them. Many individuals may be visited by nightly hypnic jerks without even knowing it, as the twitches often go unremembered, particularly if they don't cause a person to wake up.

Some scientists believe certain factors, such as stress, anxiety, fatigue, caffeine and sleep deprivation, may increase the frequency or severity of hypnagogic jerk. Researchers are also unsure exactly why hypnic jerks occur. One hypothesis is that hypnagogic jerks are a natural part of the body's transition from alertness to sleep, and occur when nerves "misfire" during the process.

Church Tax

Did you know a church tax is imposed on members of many religious congregations in Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Sweden, some parts of Switzerland and several other countries? The Roman Catholic Church, Church of Denmark, Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland and the Finnish Orthodox Church, Protestant, Church of Iceland, Jewish Communities, Baptist, Buddhist, Hindu, etc. are all included in the tax collection from their respective members.

The tax was introduced by Hitler in Austria. Oxymoronically, after World War II, the tax was retained in order to keep the Church independent of political powers. Typically the tax is usually between .5% and 2.5%. Some countries even pay the salaries and retirement benefits of clergy, as well as upkeep for the buildings and grounds.

Recently many members have been going to their city halls to opt out of religious groups, which has significant ramifications for declining taxes.

Nov 23, 2013

Happy Friday

Gratitude is the least of the virtues, but ingratitude is the worst of vices.

No ingratitude next week as we get to celebrate a holiday of gratitude followed by another . . . Happy Friday!

Black Friday

* * * OOH, Black Friday is fast approaching. You can beat the rush by clicking on this AMAZON link to my books and shop from home and pick up some sweet smiles for family and friends.

Thanksgiving Terms

There was not always a choice of dark meat or white meat after carving the turkey. These terms have nothing to do with the color of the meat as they were euphemisms for the leg and breast of turkey and other fowl. In the Victorian times, the words “leg” and “breast” were considered fowl, so they awkwardly decided to call the leg “white meat” and the breast “black meat.”

Did you know Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be the national bird of the US. or that Abraham Lincoln issued a 'Thanksgiving Proclamation' on third October 1863 and officially set aside the last Thursday of November as the national day for Thanksgiving? He was persuaded by Sarah Josepha Hale, an American magazine editor to declare Thanksgiving a national holiday. She is also the author of the popular nursery rhyme "Mary Had a Little Lamb".

Wordology, Turkey

In the 16th century, when North American turkeys were first introduced to Europe, there was another bird that was popularly imported throughout Europe, called a guinea fowl. This guinea fowl was imported from Madagascar via the Ottoman Empire. The merchant importers were known as “turkey merchants”. The guinea fowl themselves eventually were popularly referred to as “turkey fowl”, similar to how other product imported through the Ottoman Empire acquired their names, such as “turkey corn”, “turkey wheat”, etc.

The North American turkey was first introduced to Spain in the very early 16th century and later introduced to all of Europe. The North American turkey was thought by many to be a species of the type of guinea fowl that was imported from the Ottoman Empire and also were called a “turkey fowl” in English and later shortened to just turkey.

Turkey Pickings

A group of turkeys is technically called a “rafter”, though they are often incorrectly referred to as a “gobble” or a “flock”.

Due to the reputation of turkeys being thought of as stupid, the term turkey began being used as a slang, derogatory term meaning dumb or idiot in the early 20th century. Of course, domestic turkeys are stupid, but wild turkeys are not.

The phrase “Turkey Shoot” comes from the mid-20th century practice of tying turkeys behind logs, with only their heads exposed, and then holding a marksmanship competition, trying to shoot the turkey’s head off.

Due to the white meat being the most popular part of a turkey, turkeys have been bred to have huge breasts. Because of this, modern domesticated turkeys are no longer typically able to mate, due to the breasts getting in the way of a male mounting the female. Most hatcheries use artificial insemination to fertilize the eggs of the domestic turkey.

Pilgrims and Thanksgiving

Pilgrims did not celebrate the first Thanksgiving in America. In fact, the particular Pilgrim event that is often cited as the first Thanksgiving was not even the Pilgrim’s first Thanksgiving. They had several before at various times and none were celebrated annually. The days were merely a particular time when people had something significant to thank God for, so would set aside a day to do so.

Around the time the Pilgrims came to America in 1620, it was common in England and many parts of Europe to frequently set aside days for giving thanks to God. In the New World, where life was harsh in the beginning, there were numerous opportunities to hold such days of thanks, such as any time a particularly good crop would come in, when drought would end, when a particularly harsh winter was survived, when a group repelled an attack by Native Americans, when a supply ship arrived safely from Europe, etc. Seems like they had many reasons to party.

These celebrations remained fairly common up until the time when Thanksgiving became a national holiday. Most of these celebrations bore little resemblance to what we think of as Thanksgiving. The Pilgrims celebrations bore little resemblance to what is depicted now.

No one knows for sure who actually celebrated the first actual Thanksgiving in America. The most popular examples often referenced as the actual “firsts” include:

  • The day of thanksgiving celebrated in September 1565 by a group of Spaniards lead by Spanish explorer Pedro Menéndez de Avilé, in Saint Augustine, Florida. Pedro invited the Timucua tribe to dine with them on that Thanksgiving.

  • The group led by Spanish explorer Juan de Onate in 1598 in San Elizario, Texas held a Thanksgiving festival after successfully crossing 350 miles of Mexican desert.

  • The thirty-eight settlers who landed on James River by Jamestown in December 1619. Their charter required that the day of landing be set aside as a day of thanksgiving both on that first date and every year after.

  • The Pilgrim’s Thanksgiving that took place sometime between September and October of 1621.

Thanksgiving Traditions Origin

The Pilgrim Thanksgiving that happened in the fall of 1621 is the most popular reference to the first Thanksgiving in the US. This is largely because of Sarah Josepha Hale, author of the nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and one of the most influential women in American history.

She was particularly enamored with the Pilgrim event she had read about in a passage by William Bradford in 'Of Plymouth Plantation' as well as the particular Thanksgiving tradition which was somewhat common in New England at the time. She tirelessly campaigned for over 20 years to have Thanksgiving become a national holiday with a set date.

Through her highly circulated editorials, she was largely responsible for much of why we view the Pilgrim’s 1621 Thanksgiving how we do and was also largely responsible for many of the traditions we now tend to attribute to that Thanksgiving, even though there are actually only two brief passages that record what happened during the Thanksgiving celebration in 1621.

Things like the tradition of eating turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving were all popularized by her while it is unlikely that the Pilgrims ate any of those things.

Seventeen Beer Facts

Much beer is guzzled during the holidays so here are a few beer facts that can be used  to impress the relatives.

After he won the Nobel Prize, Niels Bohr was given a perpetual supply of beer piped into his house. (He lived next to a brewery).

The Code of Hammurabi decreed that bartenders who watered down beer would be executed.

At the Annual Wife Carrying World Championships (in Finland), the first prize is the wife's weight in beer.

The builders of the Great Pyramid of Giza were paid with a daily ration of beer.

The top five states for beer consumption per capita: 1. North Dakota, 2. New Hampshire, 3. Montana, 4. South Dakota, 5. Wisconsin.

Germany is home to a beer pipeline. Taps in Veltsin-Arena are connected by a 5km (3 mile) tube of beer.

Thomas Jefferson wrote parts of the Declaration of Independence in a Philadelphia tavern.

George Washington insisted his continental army be permitted a quart of beer as part of their daily rations.

At spas in Europe, you can literally bathe in beer as a physical and mental therapeutic treatment.

In the 1990s, the Beer Lovers Party ran candidates in Belarus and Russia.

J.K. Rowling, of Harry Potter fame invented Quidditch in a pub.

Beer helped Joseph Priestly discover oxygen. He noticed gases rising from the big vats of beer at a brewery and asked to do some experiments.

A Buddhist temple in the Thai countryside was built with over a million recycled beer bottles.

The moon has a crater named Beer.

Beer soup was a common breakfast in medieval Europe.

At the start of Bavarian Beer Week in Germany, an open-air beer fountain dispenses free beer to the public.

In the 1980s, a beer-drinking goat was elected mayor of Lajitas, TX.

Nov 15, 2013

Happy Friday

A bad cause requires many words.

A good cause is just two - Happy Friday!

Difference between Turtle, Terrapin, and Tortoise

All three animals come under the class of reptiles, in the taxonomic order of Testudines or Chelonia. They all have the major characteristics of reptiles as they are cold-blooded, have scales, breathe air, and lay eggs on land.

The distinction between them comes mainly from what living habitat they are adapted for, though the terminology differs slightly in certain countries. In Australia, other than marine sea turtles, they are all called tortoises. In the United States, the term ‘turtles’ is given to chelonians that live in or near water.

In general there are a few commonly accepted distinctions between turtles, tortoises, and terrapins. Turtles may be completely aquatic, like sea turtles, which rarely come up onto land, except to lay eggs. Other types of turtles are semi-aquatic and live by fresh water ponds or lakes. They tend to swim, but also spend a lot of time on land, basking in the sun and occasionally burrowing in the mud. Turtles have adapted to an aquatic life and are streamlined for swimming with webbed feet, or in the case of sea turtles, long flippers. Turtle are omnivores. Depending on the type of turtle, they may eat jelly-fish, small invertebrates, sea sponges, and other sea-vegetation. In the case of fresh water turtles, they may eat plants, insects, and small fish.

Tortoises are almost exclusively land-dwelling, usually with stubby feet, and are not good swimmers. They occasionally enter water to clean themselves off or drink water, but can easily drown in the deep or in strong currents. Their bodies are adapted to living on land and have high domed shells and column shaped feet much like elephants. They also sometimes have sharp claws for digging . Tortoises are mostly herbivorous and primarily eat low-lying shrubs, cacti, grasses, weeds, fruit, and other vegetation.

The term terrapins is sometimes used for turtles that are semi-aquatic and live near brackish waters or swampy regions. They are sort of like a mix between a turtle and tortoise, as they spend most of their time divided between water and land. They are also usually small and have a hard-shell that is shaped somewhere between a turtle’s streamlined one and a tortoise’s rounded dome shaped one.

Eleven Benefits of Chocolate

As we approach the holidays, let me make it easier for you to indulge on a traditional holiday treat. A recently completed European study of chocolate eating among teens showed those who regularly consumed chocolate have less total and abdominal body fat than those who do not. The findings are based on data from 1,458 youths ages 12 to 17, who were part of the Healthy Lifestyle in Europe by Nutrition in Adolescence study, which examines lifestyle habits among youths in nine countries in Europe. The study did not differentiate between dark or light chocolate.

Although most studies claim dark chocolate is better for you, there is no need to rule out light chocolate.
Benefits of eating chocolate show:
A 20% reduced risk of stroke,
Lower blood pressure,
Lower risk of heart attack,
Helps keep you feeling fuller longer,
Increases insulin sensitivity (reducing risk of diabetes),
Dark chocolate flavonoids are good for your skin,
Theobromine in chocolate reduces activity of the vagus nerve to ease coughing,
Increases a positive mood and reduces stress,
Cocoa has blood thinning properties,
Improves vision.

White chocolate is really not chocolate, because it does not contain cocoa solids. It is a chocolate derivative and usually consists of cocoa butter, sugar, milk solids, and salt.

Baked Eggs

Baked eggs are better because they are less sulfurous smelling and the texture of the finished eggs is creamier. Try baking them at 325 degrees for 30 minutes. You might enjoy the difference.

Even More Inventions from Women

Patsy Sherman's role in the invention of Scotchgard™ was a "happy mistake". As a research chemist with 3M in 1953, a lab mishap with fluorochemicals lead her to a new discovery. An assistant accidentally dropped a bottle of synthetic latex that Sherman had made, it splashed onto the assistant's white canvas tennis shoes. The substance did not change the look of the shoes it couldn't be washed away by any solvents, and it repelled water, oil and other liquids.

In 1813, Tabitha Babbitt created the circular saw. It was circular so that the teeth would continue cutting, unlike the straight saws that only cut on the pull and not the push motion. Her other building innovations, like machine-cut nails instead of individually hand-crafted nails. As a Massachusetts Shaker community member, she helped create tool innovations for furniture making. She lived a simple Shaker life and never applied for patents.

The inventor of "Liquid Paper" or "White-Out" was Betty Nesmith Graham. Graham got an idea she had seen done by sign painters, which was to add another layer of paint to cover-up mistakes. She used a kitchen blender to mix-up her first batch of substance to cover-up over mistakes made on paper at work. After much experimenting and then being fired for spending so much time distributing her product as a trial, she received a patent in 1958.

Google Package Track

Here is a Google feature that may come in handy around the holidays. Track your packages by entering any tracking number into Google search and it will show you where your mail is. No need to login to USPS or FedEx.

200 Types of Cancer

The reason is that there are over 200 different types of cells in the human body with each of these having the potential to become cancerous. Cancer can develop in any of the over 60 organs in the body. Cancers are named for the part of the body where it started and the type of cell that has become cancerous. All cancers start because abnormal cells grow out of control. There are two general categories of cancer. Carcinomas are cancers that develop on the surface linings of the organs. Sarcomas are cancers that develop in the cells, and they affect solid tissues, such as muscle and bone. They can also develop in the blood vessels. Cancer tumors can either be malignant or benign.

Normal healthy cells divide and die as they should. The average number of times normal healthy cells divide is known as the Hayflick Limit. It was named after Dr. Leonard Hayflick, who in 1965 noticed that cells divide a specific number of times before the division stops. The average was between 40-60. (There is one woman who had tissue in her body that could divide apparently forever: The Woman with Immortal Cells)

If you took every cell in your body, at the time you were born, and accounted for all the cells they would produce and multiplied that number by the average time it takes for those cells to die, you get what is known as the ultimate Hayflick limit or the maximum number of years you can theoretically live. This is how researchers come up with the theoretical life limit of 120 years.

For the first time since the government began collecting mortality data early in the last century, cancer death rates began to decline in 1993. It significantly declined from 1994 to 1998 with a non-significant decline from 1998 to 2001 and falling death rates from 2001 to 2008. In 2008, the death rate for all cancers was 175.67 per 100,000 people in the US. Cancer is not contagious.

Future of the Internet

Cisco does annual predictions about the internet and here are few interesting predictions for the year 2017.
  • In the year 2017 more data will move on the internet than the beginning of the internet.
  • The Asia pacific region will generate 36% of all internet traffic by 2017.
  • There will be 3.6 billion internet users.
  • There will be over 19 billion connection.
  • Internet speeds will be 3.5 times faster than 2012.
  • Almost half of the world's population will have internet access.
  • Personal tablet access will increase from 27 million 2012 to 190 million.
  • Overall tablets will be about 425 million.
  • More than 827 million TVs will have internet access.
  • Average household internet traffic will increase from equivalent 13 hours of HDTV to 30.
  • Smartphones and tablets will increase to 29% of all usage and PCs will slip from 88% to 57%.
Cisco has proven to be very accurate in its past predictions about the net.

Twelve Famous Firsts

Thomas Jefferson 1801 --- First US president to be inaugurated in Washington, D.C.

Sam Patch 1829 --- First first known person to survive the jump off of Niagara Falls.

Edward Smith 1831 --- First indicted bank robber in the US. He was sentenced to five years hard labor on the rock pile at Sing Sing Prison.

William Henry Harrison 1841 --- First US president to die in office. At 32 days, he also had the shortest term in office.

Elizabeth Blackwell 1849 --- First woman to receive medical degree in US. (from the Medical Institution of Geneva, N.Y.)

Jefferson Long 1870 --- First African American elected to U.S. House of Representatives, Georgia.

Victoria Woodhall 1872 --- First woman to run for President of the US.

Grover Cleveland 1886 --- First President married inside the White House.

William Kemmler 1890 --- First criminal to be executed by electrocution (in Auburn N.Y. Prison)

Annie Moore 1892 --- First immigrant to pass through Ellis Island. She was 15 years old and from County Cork, Ireland.

Queen Isabella of Spain 1893 --- First woman to appear on a US postage stamp.

John J. McDermott 1897 --- First annual Boston Marathon winner - the first of its type in the US. (Winning time was 2:55:10 vs. 2012 winning time of  2:3:2.

Nov 8, 2013

Happy Friday

In the endless war between trees and matches, trees always win because they have learned to grow.

We also grow as we strive to enjoy a Happy Friday!

Laser Headlights are Coming

BMW is working on laser (Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation) headlights to be introduced on selected 2014 models. They promise to be much better than the relatively recent LED headlights. The laser lights will put out more light and use two-thirds the power of LEDs, which use one fourth the power of ordinary headlights. They are also much more efficient and brighter than the current Xenon headlights used on some cars. In addition, they are just 10 square micrometers and 1/10,000th the size of a 1-square-millimeter LED.

The inventor of the headlights says Laser lighting may even do away with household LED and CFL lighting before either takes off. These new Laser lights are also ideal for businesses, signage, and projectors used in movie theaters, as well as smartphone projectors. The Laser lights are different than you might think of a laser beam. These lights are diffused blue beams and reconstituted to a white specific width for use. There is no danger of an accident creating a beam that could be harmful to the naked eye.

Einstein came up with the theoretical foundation for lasers in 1917 and they were first demonstrated in 1947. They have been in use since then for various applications, but almost always as a concentrated beam.

It took from 1879, when the incandescent light began until a few years ago for radical change, now we have another whole new generation of lighting in about five years. In spite of the hype from manufacturers, it will likely be a few more years before we can buy one for our homes.

World Toilet Day

The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution to mark "World Toilet Day." The day will be celebrated November 19. "The amusement and laughter likely to follow the designation of 19 November as 'World Toilet Day' would all be worthwhile if people’s attention was drawn to the fact that 2.5 billion people lacked proper sanitation and 1.1 billion were forced to defecate in the open, the General Assembly heard today," a U.N. press release reads.

“Ending open defecation will lead to a 35 per cent reduction in diarrhea, which results in over 750,000 deaths of children under five years of age every year,” Singapore’s representative said. Apart from establishing World Toilet Day, the text also urged Member States and the United Nations system to encourage behavioral change, to introduce policies that would increase sanitation among the poor.

India's novel approach is to encourage families not to let their daughters  marry if the potential husband does not have a toilet. The initiative from the government is called "No toilet, no bride". There are more temples than toilets in India, said Union Minister Jairam Ramesh.

The Indian state of Madhya Pradesh pays for a wedding and provides qualifying couples with housewarming gifts totaling 15,000 rupees (about $270) if they can prove the husband-to-be's house has a toilet.

Over 75 per cent of the 1.2 billion Indian population currently have a mobile phone subscription, but only 50 per cent of households have a toilet and only 11 per cent have one connected to the sewerage system, according to the 2011 Indian census. I love the headline from the Washington Post, "In India, New Seat of Power for Women".

Four More Inventions by Women

Stephanie Kwolek invented Kevlar, a tough durable material now used to make bulletproof vests. For years she'd worked on the process at DuPont and in 1963, she got the polymers or rod-like molecules in fibers to line up in one direction. This made the material stronger than others, where molecules were arranged in bundles. In fact, the new material was as strong as steel! Kwolek's technology also went on to be used for making suspension bridge cables, helmets, brake pads, skis, and camping gear.

Patricia Bath, MD - Patented in 1988, a new method of removing cataracts. The medical laser instrument made the procedure more accurate and is termed the cataract Laserphacoprobe. As a laser scientist and inventor, she has 5 patents on the laser cataract surgery device covering the United States, Canada, Japan, and Europe.

What is the Blissymbol Printer? It's a software program invented by a Canadian 12-year-old in the mid-1980s. Rachel Zimmerman's printer enables those with severe physical disabilities like cerebral palsy, to communicate. The user records their thoughts by touching symbols on a page or board through the use of a special touch pad, the printer then translates the symbols into a written language. Zimmerman's system started as a project for a school science fair, but ended up competing and winning a silver medal in a nationwide contest, as well as gaining her the YTV Television Youth Achievement Award.

Before the paper bag, the first version was shaped like an envelope, with no flat bottom.  Margaret Knight created a machine to cut, fold, and glue square bottoms to paper bags and gained a patent for it in 1871, but not without a lawsuit against a fellow who stole her idea. His defense was "a woman could never design such an innovative machine," but she had the drawings to prove the invention was hers and she won the case. Knight's career with inventions started at age 12, when she developed a stop-motion device that immediately brought industrial machines to a halt if something was caught in them. Over the course of her lifetime, she was awarded over 26 patents.

Top Ten Vitamin C Foods

Top ten foods that have more vitamin C than oranges. Guava with 376 mg of vitamin C for 1 cup. Next are red bell peppers followed by lychee, a small Asian fruit, followed by parsley, kiwi, broccoli, brussels sprouts, papaya, strawberries, and pineapple. Bringing up the rear are oranges.

What's in a Name, White Elephant

Sacred white elephants were and are kept by some Southeast Asian monarchs. Possessing a white elephant was regarded, and still is in Thailand and Burma (Myanmar) as a sign that the monarch reigned with justice and power, and that the kingdom was blessed with peace and prosperity.

It derives from stories that the kings of Siam would make a present of one of these animals to courtiers who were obnoxious or unpleasing, in order to ruin the recipient by the cost of its maintenance. A white elephant was a valuable, but burdensome possession, which its owner could not dispose of and whose cost and upkeep was out of proportion to its usefulness or worth.

These days a white elephant can mean an object, business venture, etc., that is without practical use or value. The term is used in business and even more frequently used during the gift-giving holiday season as friends and relatives strive to find unique gifts to give. Many people consider dried fruit cakes as white elephants.

Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is the intrinsic pressure within your arteries and veins. Your body needs this pressure to adequately supply all your tissues and organs with nutrients. Like the plumbing in your house, adequate pressure is needed, but if that pressure gets too high it causes problems.

High blood pressure is a combination of environmental risk factors and genes. High blood pressure is defined as any systolic pressure (top number) above 140 or diastolic (bottom number) higher than 90.

High blood pressure is not a disease itself, but indicates a risk factor for several other conditions like heart attack, stroke, and kidney failure. The most beneficial way to control blood pressure is naturally. This is because medications that control blood pressure come with serious side effects. These side effects can sometimes be more harmful than the high blood pressure itself.

Things like lack of exercise and bad eating habits can cause a buildup of plaque inside your arteries. Excessive plaque on the interior walls of your arteries makes them smaller, known as “Atherosclerosis”. When the pipes that transport fluid get smaller, the pressure that same volume of fluid exerts goes up. If the blood pressure gets too high, arteries have a greater chance of bursting. Arteries get larger or smaller depending on the needs of the body. Excessive plaque makes this increasingly more difficult for a body to achieve.

A person’s blood pressure can also be too high due to genetics. A landmark study published in Nature in 2011 found 29 genetic variants that affected blood pressure. The authors found any one variant in a gene did not increase risk of hypertension, but people with multiple variants were much more likely to have high blood pressure.

Bat Myths Debunked

Bats eyes are very functional. Bats' retinas have an abundance of rods (a prerequisite for night vision) and also two types of cones: the ordinary, that serves them well in daylight conditions, and UV-sensitive that gives them night vision. Bats use, but do not depend exclusively on their sonar. Some bats can see better than others, but none are blind. Some varieties of bats can see color and others can only see black and white.

Bats groom themselves by meticulously licking and scratching themselves and each other for hours. Bats are the only mammals that can fly. An average bat lives about thirty years.  Out of the 900 species of bats, there are only three vampire bats in the entire world and they are generally found in South America. The remaining species of bats over the world feed off of fruit, nectar, pollen, and insects.

Wayback Machine

Did you know there is a site that serves up web pages that are no longer active? The site is and is known as the Wayback Machine, because it goes way back to show pages that have long since been gone. It works kind of like Google, but for old, rather than current web pages. Interesting place to go if you are looking for old facts or to check how a story changes over time. It is especially interesting to see how politicians change their story depending on which way the wind blows.

Nov 1, 2013

Happy Friday

All things grow with time -

Especially the joy of a Happy Friday!

Daylight Savings

Nov 3, 2013 is time to turn back your clocks. Benjamin Franklin often gets credited with the idea, but he only mentioned it in jest in a satirical essay. The idea was never seriously pushed until 1895 when George Vernon Hudson, presented the idea as a way for people to have more daylight and consequently more leisure time after work. While there was interest in Hudson’s idea, it still didn't catch on until 1916 when Germany adopted DST as a method to save fuel during World War I. Others, including the US and Great Britain, used DST during World War I and II, yet reverted to standard time during peace years.

It wasn't until about 40 years ago, during the energy crisis of the 1970s, that Daylight Savings Time was made permanent in many areas.


 I find it fascinating how some words can be a definition of themselves, such as 'word' is a word that tells us it is a word. Here are a few more self explanatory words:
English - Not German
Erudite - Scholarly word that means scholarly.
Noun - Is a noun
Used - This word has been used
Polysyllabic - This word has multiple syllables
Common - This word is
Unhyphenated - This word is
Floccinaucinihilipilificatious - A worthless word meaning to estimate worthless
Obfuscatory - Is and means not easy to understand
Suffixed - Has a suffix
Hyphen-bearing - Contains a hyphen
Monepic - Describes a one-word sentence
Cacophony - Sounds like and describes disagreeable sounds
Parallel - The Ls are

Texas Motor Speedway

Last chance, NASCAR is out with a beer-and-bacon milkshake combining real bits of bacon with vanilla ice cream and half a bottle of Rahr & Sons Ugly Pug Black Lager. It is a 16-ounce drink, dubbed the "Shake'N Bacon Brew," and will be available for NASCAR's AAA Texas 500 races (Fort Worth, Texas) until Nov. 3. The bacon bits are candied and bacon-flavored syrup is also added into the mix. The whole thing is topped with whipped cream. Thought you might like to know.

What's in a Name, Snake Oil

Snake oil is now a generic term meaning a substance with no medicinal value sold as a remedy for physical ailments. The term most likely comes from the use of oil derived from Chinese water snakes as a topical lotion. Chinese immigrants working on the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad in the 1860s would use it to alleviate joint pain. This ancient Chinese remedy was laughed at by other medicine salesmen, who called it a scam. In time, the term “snake oil” developed a negative connotation.

In the mid-1980s, a California psychiatrist named Richard Kunin decided to explore the question if snake oil was quackery or was it a legitimate treatment for joint pain, like the Chinese laborers claimed it was. He shared his findings in a 1989 letter to the Western Journal of Medicine.

Snake oil, especially the oil from the fatty tissue found in Chinese water snakes was unusually high in omega-3 fats. Kunin concluded, this meant that it could actually do what its advocates claimed, "snake oil is a credible anti-inflammatory agent and might confer therapeutic benefits. Since essential fatty acids are known to absorb transdermally, it is not far-fetched to think that inflamed skin and joints could benefit by the actual anti-inflammatory action of locally applied oil just as the Chinese physicians and our medical quacks have claimed.”

Kunin believed that snake oil actually worked. Subsequent research suggests that he was right. Unfortunately, while Kunin’s conclusions are mostly correct, there is one significant omission. The Chinese snake oil came from water snakes, which, perhaps coincidentally fed on fish which themselves contained high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. American-sold snake oil came from rattlesnakes, which do not have anywhere nearly the omega-3 amounts needed to provide the promised therapeutic benefits.

A Diversion

This guy moves like Mercury. If you want to give your mind a break for a few minutes, watch this video.   LINK

Still More Inventions by Women

In 1949, Marion Donovan's first successful invention called "Boaters" was a waterproof baby diaper cover that prevented diaper rash. She also created the disposable diapers, Pampers in 1961.

Hedy Lamarr the actress, patented a secret communications system in 1941. The system manipulated radio frequencies with an unbreakable code to prevent classified messages from being intercepted by enemies. The device was meant to be used against the Nazis in WWII, but in actuality it came into use 20 years later. Lamarr was raised in Austria, grew to despise the Nazis and eventually escaped to London and then to the U.S.

African American, Alice H. Parker filed the first U.S. patent for the precursor to a central heating system in 1919. The system was able to regulate the temperature of a building and carry heat from room to room. The drawings included for the patent show a heating furnace powered by gas. An entire house required several heating units, each controlled by individual hot air ducts. The ducts directed heat to different parts of a building structure.

BMI and Life Expectancy

A comprehensive review published in 2013 in the 'Journal of the American Medical Association' examined the relationship of BMI (Body Mass Index) to death rates. The study researchers found that increasing levels of obesity were associated with progressively higher premature death rates.

Mildly obese people, however, did not have a significantly greater risk of death compared to those with a normal BMI. In fact, the finding that people classified as overweight but not obese had a lower overall death rate compared to those with a normal BMI. Researchers are exploring possible reasons for this finding.

The 'International Journal of Obesity' published a study in 2012 comparing BMI and waist circumference as predictors of life expectancy. The authors reported that waist circumference is a better predictor of death from any cause than BMI. The researchers also found that adults with a high waist circumference had an increased risk of death regardless of BMI. Although neither BMI nor waist size can accurately foretell the life expectancy of any individual, waist circumference may be a better tool for estimating longevity. In other words, they are saying 'we cannot accurately tell life expectancy with either of these measurements, but it does help get us grants and headlines'.

New Potato Chip Flavor

Starting this month, Lay's Canada has a new flavor, 'Maple Moose'. Trying them will not be on my to do list.

Six Cooking Tips from HGTV

When you deep-fry, hold each piece of food with long tongs as you add it to the oil. Hold it just below the oil's surface for five seconds before releasing it. This will seal the exterior and stop it from sticking to the pot or the other food.

If you need more oil in the pan when sautéing, add it in a stream along the edges of the pan so that by the time the oil reaches the ingredient being cooked, it will be heated.

Do not use oil in the water when boiling pasta, because it will keep the sauce from sticking to the cooked pasta. Also, After you drain pasta, while it's still hot, grate some fresh Parmesan on top before tossing it with your sauce to give the sauce something to stick to.

When making burgers, add in a bit (or a lot) of bacon bits or pork bits while mixing for added flavor.

When making mashed potatoes, after you drain the potatoes, return them to the hot pan, cover tightly and let steam for 5 minutes. This allows the potatoes to mash with a beautiful texture and soak up the butter and cream more easily.

New Non Religion

The Jedi census is a grassroots movement that was created in 2001 for citizens of a number of English-speaking countries to record their religion as "Jedi" or "Jedi Knight" on the national census. The campaign was loosely organized by circulating e-mails claiming that if enough people entered "Jedi", it would be recognized as an official religion by the government. The emails also implored people to report their religion as "Jedi", "Because you love Star Wars" or "just to annoy people".

If Jedi had been counted as an answer in the 2001 census it would have been the second largest religion in New Zealand.

Oct 25, 2013

Happy Friday

"Love enters a man through his eyes, woman through her ears."

My eyes and ears both appreciate a Happy Friday!

Halloween Stuff

Halloween is next week, so I thought I would add a few thoughts about it, beginning with a real tombstone and apt epitaph.

Eight Brain Myths Debunked

Many myths persist even after being thoroughly proven to be incorrect. Here are some myths that are incorrect, but still linger:

  • It has been sci­en­tif­i­cally proven that fatty acid sup­ple­ments (omega-3 and omega-6) have a pos­i­tive effect on aca­d­e­mic achieve­ment. Wrong
  • We only use 10% of our brain. Wrong
  • The brains of boys and girls develop at the same rate. Wrong
  • Indi­vid­u­als learn bet­ter when they receive infor­ma­tion in their pre­ferred learn­ing style (audi­tory, visual, etc.). Wrong
  • Men­tal capac­ity is hered­i­tary and can­not be changed by the envi­ron­ment or expe­ri­ence. Wrong
  • Brain train­ing does not work. Wrong
  • Dif­fer­ences in hemi­spheric dom­i­nance (left brain, right brain) can help explain indi­vid­ual dif­fer­ences among learn­ers. Wrong
  • Chil­dren are less atten­tive after con­sum­ing sug­ary drinks and/or snacks. Wrong

New Types of Glass

At a recent industry show, Nippon showed off some new glass that is amazing. It first seemed like a joke as a sign said "Invisible glass" with arrows pointing into thin air. Visitors were asked if they could see the glass and many could not. There really was glass, but it didn't become apparent until viewed from the side. The glass reflects just 0.08 percent of the light that travels through it. A normal sheet of glass reflects about 4 percent of light. Nippon Electric Glass said it is targeted at museums where items need to be displayed, but protected.

It also showed off G-Leaf glass, which is so thin and flexible that it is supplied on a roll to customers. It looks exactly like a roll of plastic film, but the 35-micron thick sheet is actually glass. It has been used in flexible display panels and can be gently curved around corners.

Nippon also showed the impact resistance of its chemically strengthened glass that is already used in smartphones and tablet PCs. A sheet of Zero glass was on display and every thirty seconds a one pound steel ball dropped from a height of three feet onto a sheet of the glass the size of a small TV screen. Every time the ball fell, it bounced off the glass with no damage to the glass. Sorry, no picture available for the invisible glass.

Food for Thought

Kiwifruit was once called Chinese Gooseberry, but changed for marketing reasons. Kiwifruit has more vitamin C than oranges and about as much potassium as a banana. Kiwi also tastes great.

More Inventions by Women

Mary Phelps Jacob was awarded a US patent in 1914 for a Brassiere that supported the breasts up from the shoulders and separated them into two individual shapes. People had experimented with making Brassieres before, but it was the idea of separating the breasts, that made her design unique. Prior to Brassieres, women’s undergarments were uncomfortable, containing whalebones and steel rods. They virtually squeezed the wearer into shape. Jacobs' design was soft, light, and conforming to the wearer’s anatomy. During WWI her bra design became popular when the U.S. government requested that women stop purchasing corsets in order to conserve metal.

Sarah E.Goode was granted a U.S. patent in 1885 for the invention of the Foldaway Bed. The bed could be tucked-up into a cabinet while it wasn’t in use. It made an attractive piece of furniture that could also be used as a roll top desk or a stationary shelf. Bibliographies speculate that Goode was born a US slave and emancipated after the Civil War. Versions of her original bed design are still made today.

Dr. Maria Telkes was a biophysicist who invented the first home solar heating system. She grew up in Hungary and moved to the US in 1925. She became an American citizen after receiving her Doctorate in physical chemistry. Telkes’ other solar-powered inventions included a distilling system for life rafts and a solar oven.


Dysania means having difficulty getting out of bed in the morning. Griffonage means illegible handwriting. Acnestis is the area between your shoulder blades. Semordnilap is a word or phrase that reads one way forward and another backward (parts/strap). Scroop is the sound produced by the movement of silk, as in long dresses. Penthera phobia is fear of your mother-in-law.

Punt is the indent on the bottom of a wine bottle. Agraffe is the wire that keeps the cork on a bottle of champagne. Barm is the foam on the top of a glass of beer. Box Tent is the little plastic piece used in pizza boxes to keep the top from smashing the pizza. Kemmerspeck is the weight gained from emotional overeating (literally grease bacon).

String is a group of ponies. Business is an assembly of ferrets. Smack is a group of jellyfish. Gam is a group of whales. Murder is a group of crows. Trip is a group of goats. Parliament is a group of owls. Pass is a group of donkeys. Prickle is a group of porcupines.

Bionic Man

For those who missed the Smithsonian 'Incredible Bionic Man' show this past Sunday, here is a LINK to watch it online, sans commercials. This is a fascinating look at an attempt to combine the best of current artificial body parts into a functioning bionic man. Don't want to give any secrets away here. Suffice it to say it is well worth a viewing if you are interested in modern bionics and robotics, including artificial heart, kidneys, limbs, etc. The length is 46 minutes.