Jan 25, 2013

Happy Friday

Man cannot learn truths which are too complicated; he forgets truths which are too simple.

It is not complicated; I simply always have a Happy Friday!

S.O.S Scrub Pads

S.O.S brand scrub pads stands for “Save Our Saucepans”. The name was originally thought up by the wife of the creator of the S.O.S pad, Ed Cox.

In 1917, Cox was an aluminum pot salesman and when he introduced himself to potential new customers, he would give them a little steel wool pad that he had encrusted with soap as a gift. Eventually, these pads became more popular than the pans he was trying to sell so he began selling the pads.

The last period in “S.O.S” was left off because “S.O.S.” could not be trademarked due to the SOS distress signal often being written as “S.O.S.”.

Origin of Porky Pig

The inspiration was Joe Cobb, Joe in the “Our Gang/Little Rascals” TV Series. Joe Cobb starred in 86 episodes of the series and played the ever smiling yet hapless stereotypical fat kid, who often sets up gags for the others.

During the early 1930s, Leon Schlesinger secured a contract to produce the Looney Tunes series for Warner Bros. He asked animator Robert Clampett and studio director Friz Freleng to design a new series of characters and suggested they do a cartoon version of the Our Gang films.

The first short, I Haven’t Got a Hat, released in 1935 included: Beans the cat, Oliver Owl, a motherly cow named Mrs. Cud, and Porky Pig in the ‘Joe’ role. Porky quickly became the star. Porky’s name came from Friz Freleng, who remembered two childhood friends and brothers nicknamed “Porky” and “Piggy” and decided to put the two names together. His trademark stutter comes from Joe Dougherty, the first voice actor to voice Porky. Joe had a very pronounced stutter and forced director Freleng to go through take after take of uncontrollable stuttering.

Eventually the studio realized the high production cost of the many hours of wasted material, and replaced Dougherty with Mel Blanc in 1937. By this time the stutter had become so associated with the character that Blanc was asked to use it to create a more precise comedic effect.

Had to include this tribute picture to Mel Blanc, man of a thousand voices with some of his favorite characters, including Porky. It is titled "Speechless."

Porky’s legacy continues with his signature line “Th-th-that’s all folks” heard at the end of Looney Tunes episodes. The Warner Bros. other series, Merrie Melodies, which had always used “So Long, Folks” to close its short films, changed to the more catchy Porky line after opinion polls found most people better associated with it.


Do you like to get outside and explore? Want to do something fun? Geocaching is like a scavenger hunt for adults. It is played with your smartphone or GPS device. There is an app for most phones and it works with your built-in GPS on the phone. The phone guides you to the exact location, but then you need to look around to find the treasure.

There are millions of little treasures hidden around the world. Each has an exact location and a short description letting you know what you are looking for, such as a plastic pencil box, tin can, etc. When you find it, you sign the enclosed logbook and if there is a gift, you are expected to replace it with your own item of equal or greater value.

You can also log on to the internet and share your story with the over six million other players. There are even groups in many cities around the world that you can join to share stories.  I looked up my neighborhood and found the location of two caches, less than a half mile away. LINK  Happy hunting.

Shape of the Earth

When thinking of geo stuff, it is interesting to note that the earth is not round. Most people know this, but did you know you weigh more or less depending on where you live?

The Earth’s shape is classified as an oblate spheroid or ellipsoid. The polar diameter of the Earth is about 26.7 miles (43 km) shorter than its equatorial diameter causing a difference of about 0.3%. This very slightly oblate shape affects the weight of an object according to its position on the Earth’s surface. A 20-lb bag of sand would weigh less at the equator than at the North Pole. This is because the further an object gets from the center of the Earth, the less it weighs. Maybe I might move to the equator.

Are We There Yet

We tend to get irritated with traffic jams and long driving trips by car. Here is a picture from 1800 that might put modern travel time in perspective.

Jan 22, 2013

Wordology, Paladin

Someone who fights for a cause.

Some of you might remember the old TV western series 'Have Gun, Will Travel' with Richard Boone.

What Causes Gray Hair

A few of these gray things have begun to sprout and it made me wonder why. A person’s hair color is the result of pigments known as melanin produced by a specialized group of cells known as melanocytes. Melanocytes are found throughout our body and the melanin they produce is what gives our skin, hair, and eyes their color. Scientists can determine what color your eyes and hair are from DNA.

The melanocytes responsible for hair color are found in the bulbs of your hair follicles.
There are two main types of melanin. Eumelanin produces dark browns and blacks, and pheomelanin produces reddish/yellow. How these cells blend together determines what color hair will be. It is not fully known what makes the melanocytes blend together in the ways they do, but it appears to be genetic.

Once melanin is produced, their granules are transferred to adjacent keratinocytes, also found in the bulbs of your hair follicles. Keratinocytes are what produce keratine, the dead protein cells that make up our visible hair. Gray hair is the result of less melanin within the keratin. The less melanin, the more gray your hair will be and white hair has no melanin.

As we age our melanocytes decrease in number. The result is less and less melanin, until none are present, so hair slowly turns gray, and then white.

In 2009, scientists in Europe found that hair follicles produce small amounts of hydrogen peroxide. Normally this small amount of hydrogen peroxide is broken down by an enzyme called catalase. As we age, catalase production is reduced and there is a build up of hydrogen peroxide, which blocks melanin production by melanocytes.

There are several other things that can cause our hair to turn gray, including: genetic defects; abnormal hormone production, such as stress; abnormal body distribution of melanin; and climate factors, such as pollutants, toxins, and chemical exposure. The time and speed at which you will gray varies greatly.

As an aside, in Britain, Canada, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, and South Africa, the spelling is commonly grey. In the United States, the preferred spelling is gray, but grey is accepted.


Gratuitous picture of bacon. A few readers complained that I have not mention bacon for a long time.

Jan 18, 2013

Happy Friday

"The more you sweat in practice, the less you bleed in battle."

That's why I always practice having a Happy Friday!

Pop Goes The Weasel

Pop Goes the Weasel - There are dozen versions of "Pop Goes the Weasel" around the world. Many are similar, but in North America, the opening line is generally "all around the mulberry bush," possibly due to confusion with a similar tune, "Here we go round the mulberry bush."

In the UK it is usually "All around the cobbler's bench." Most authorities think "Pop Goes the Weasel" describes the acts of weaving, spinning, and sewing. A weasel was a mechanism used by tailors, cobblers, and hatters that "popped" when the spool was full of thread.

A version popular in 19th-century English music halls includes "Up and down the City Road / In and out the Eagle / That's the way the money goes," etc. The Eagle was a London tavern and the song describes the consequences of spending too little time at the cobbler's bench and too much on a bar stool. Some suggest that  “Pop” means to pawn and “weasel” is Cockney rhyming slang, “weasel and stoat” for coat. So pawning a coat to pay for drinks.

 All around the cobblers bench,
 The monkey chased the weasel.
 The monkey stopped to pull up his sock,
 Pop! goes the weasel.

Good Tech, Bad Tech, Cool Tech

Last week the annual Consumers Electronic Show happened in Las Vegas. As usual, there were thousands of whizzbang gadgets that will never hit the store shelves. Car makers were out in force with devices to tech-up new cars and take our minds off of driving. Hundreds of toys, games, bots, and tablets were on display, but almost no PCs. The buzz is that PCs are so yesterday.

According to Cisco, 1 trillion devices will be connected to the Internet in 2013. Interesting note that Apple iPhones only made a bit over 14% of smartphone shipments during the last quarter of 2012. How far it has fallen from leader of the pack.

TVs - Of course, there was a plethora of 4K and OLED TVs that are amazing in clarity (4k is four times the definition of your HD TV, OLED is same definition as current HD, but much better quality), size (up to 100 inches), and price (up to thirty+ thousand dollars). Only thing small on them is the width of the screen at just 23mm. Samsung introduced a TV that can display two shows simultaneously. The 3D TVs that were supposed to be the next best thing to sliced bread last year were said to be dead on arrival this year.

Here are a few of my other observations:

Bad Tech, iPotty 

This is a training potty for youngsters with an ipad to distract them while they are supposed to learn what to do on the potty.

Cool Tech, Papertab - a tablet as flexible as paper and has a 10.7in plastic touchscreen display

It is as thin as a piece of paper with a fully interactive plastic touchscreen display. The tablet is powered by a second generation Intel Core i5 processor and aims to replace the need for paper. A few phones and pads will have bendable screens in the not too distant future. This technology has been discussed for a number of years, but finally has reached the demo stage and it is impressive. Samsung, who has been outselling Apple three to one has this 'Youm Flexible Display'. Awesome!

Dumb Tech, HAPIfork - This little device starts to vibrate if you are eating too fast.

Good Tech, Leap - My personal favorite (and I will be getting one when they come out in next few months) is a $69 sensor from Leap Motion that enables full control of PCs or other devices using hand and finger gestures.

The 3D motion control technology has the ability to track the movement of the user's hand (including all 10 fingers) at 290 frames per second, tracking movements to 1/100th millimeter. It will make any screen react as if it was touch screen, so you do not need to go buy a touch screen.

My observations and prognostications for the next few years: ubiquitous wireless everything, smartphones getting larger toward the 5 - 6 inch sweet spot, smartphones as the universal controller for everything from TV to stoves to robots, Apple needs a new device to remain competitive, the mouse will begin to go the way of the PC as new technologies, like touch screen and Leap become more common, personal privacy is dying faster than the rotary dial telephone, devices controlled by the mind are progressing beyond games and will continue to go mainstream, smaller proved to be not better as we went too small with phones, thinner is the new 'better'.

Wordology, Junkie

Early heroin users supported their habits by collecting and selling scrap metal, hence the name ‘junkie’.

Jan 15, 2013

Happy Birthday to You

AOL Time Warner owns the copyright of “Happy birthday to You” and will do so until 2030 when the copyright expires. For this reason movies often use different songs, which are not in copyright or are owned by the studio for birthday scenes. AOL Time Warner earns over $2 million per year from royalties for the song.

Three Types of Burn Relief

Milk is an excellent compress for minor burns. Soak the burned area in milk for about 15 minutes or apply a milk-soaked cloth to the area. Whole milk's fat content soothes burns and promotes healing. Of course, rinse your skin and the cloth in cool water after or the milk will begin to stink.

A less known option is to use Preparation H, the hemorrhoid treatment cream for treating minor burns. Pat it on the area and you can reduce a few days off the healing time. This is because it contains a yeast derivative that speeds healing.

The most common option is to use cold water to soothe a new burn. However, using ice water can risk making the burn worse, because extreme cold can kill just as many skin cells as extreme heat. Cool water will stop the burning from spreading through your tissues and will act as a temporary painkiller.

Pantone Colors 2013

Pantone has chosen Monaco Blue as the top fashion color for spring 2013.

Other shades listed on the Fashion Color Report include: Emerald, Dusk Blue, Tender Shoots, Lemon Zest, Linen, Poppy Red, Nectarine, African Violet and Grayed Jade.

Wearable Drums

Here is an interesting concept bound to upset all those around.

It is a functional drum set built into a t-shirt. The drum pads on the front of the shirt let you tap out a beat using your fingers. The shirt also comes with a mini amplifier that clips on to your pants. It is cheap way at $29.99 to irritate everyone in close proximity. The one redeeming feature might be to start drumming when the irritating person next to you starts loudly talking on their phone. LINK

Jan 11, 2013

Happy Friday

"When you do the common things in life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world."

It is common for me to have an uncommonly Happy Friday!

New Moon

With the first new moon of the year coming today, January 11, here is an interesting moon fact. Have you ever wondered why the Moon looks bigger on the horizon? Well, it turns out it’s not because it is closer to you or anything of the sort. It’s an illusion, known as the Ponzo Illusion. What’s happening is actually something that your brain does all the time. The lines are the same width, but the converging lines trick our brain to make the further line appear larger.

Think about what happens when you see one of your friends on the horizon. Although they appear to be really small, your brain doesn't     actually interpret them as being that tiny. Something similar is going on with regards to the Moon. Your brain inflates the size of the Moon to make it appear larger than it really is. Don’t believe it? Next time you’re looking at an over-sized moon, block everything else out with your hands and watch it shrink.

Dead as a Doornail

Many years ago, doors were built using only wood boards and hand forged nails, the nails were long enough to nail the vertical wooden panels and horizontal stretcher boards securely together and protrude out the back.

By pounding the protruding point of the nail over and down back into the wood it was almost impossible to pull out and said to be dead. It was called dead, because it could not be used again. This technique was called clinching the nail.

So the saying dead as a doornail became to mean can't be undone. Also clinching something means finishing it.

Shampoo Myth Debunked

Speaking of dead as a doornail, hair products, like shampoo and conditioner are mostly useless and cannot physically change your hair. The hair that is visible on the human body is dead hair and live hair is beneath the surface of the skin. Nothing you add to the visible hair can actually make it healthier. Also, no hair products can repair split ends.

Some hair products may add the artificial appearance of shine or color and for most, that is sufficient.

Computer Generated Books

The first book completely written by computer was published in 2008, in Russia and was a love story.

Now, Philip M. Parker, Professor of Marketing at INSEAD Business School, has created a computer system that can write books about specific subjects in about 20 minutes. The patented algorithm has so far generated hundreds of thousands of books. Amazon lists over 100,000 books attributed to Parker, and over 700,000 works listed for his company, ICON Group International, Inc.

Although his work is more of a compiler rather than writer, the end result is written and published books. The book categories include specialized technical and business reports, language dictionaries, rare disease overviews, and crossword puzzle books for learning foreign languages. They are automatically generated by software.

The system automates this process by building databases of information to source from, providing an interface to customize a query about a topic, and creating templates for information to be packaged.

A US patent was issued in 2007. The invention provides for the automatic authoring, marketing, and or distributing of title material. A computer automatically authors material. The material is automatically formatted into a desired format, resulting in a title material. The title material may also be automatically distributed to a recipient. Meta material, marketing material, and control material are automatically authored and if desired, distributed to a recipient. Further, the title may be authored on demand, such that it may be in any desired language and with the latest version and content.

To avoid copyright infringement, the system is designed to avoid plagiarism, but the patent aims to create original, but not necessarily creative works. In other words, if any kind of content can be broken down into a formula, then the system could package related, but different content in that same formula.

I looked at a number of the (expensive) books and they follow the same formula of headline lists followed by scores of reference sites. The problem is, as with all printed material the content is static as the world moves on. Think of the books as Google searches as of a specific date and time.

Wordology, Idiot

This word has its origins in the ancient Greek word idiōtēs, meaning a private person, a person who is not actively interested in politics. The word is now commonly used to mean someone of relatively low intelligence.

It seems to have come full circle from its original meaning. Because of the word’s negative connotations, ‘idiot’ slowly changed how it is used today. Ironically, many people now use that word to describe politicians, who are always interested in politics. 

Jan 8, 2013

Third World Countries

They are not primitive, underdeveloped, or poor, as many believe. A third world country is just a country that is not considered a capitalist country (first world) or a communist country (2nd world). The terms “first world” and “second world” virtually disappeared from usage after the fall of the Soviet Union.
The terminology came about just after WWII with the “first world” countries that were aligned with the United States common political and economic structure (capitalists). Second world countries were those that aligned with the Soviet Union in terms of their political and economic structure (communists and socialists). Third world countries were the rest that were not aligned with either, whether poor or not.

Correct term to refer to poor or underdeveloped countries is “Developing World”.

Pacemaker Origin

Wilson Greatbatch was working on a device that would record human heart beats when he accidentally inserted an incorrect resistor. It ended up perfectly mimicking the heart’s rhythm and led to the first implantable pacemaker.

Two Shows One Screen

This week at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) Samsung announced a feature that allows two people to watch completely different Full-HD content simultaneously on the same TV screen with corresponding audio and controls.

The two viewers must wear special 3D glasses, which come with personal speakers built in to deliver the stereo audio directly to them. Bringing people together to share. . . the couch. Hey, did you see that play? Shut up you're ruining my movie.

Christmas Tree Reuse

The last seasonal item from the holidays comes from a team of researchers  in Allahabad, India that are in the process of developing a compound derived from the needles of the Douglas fir to help coat nano medical devices and combat infection.

One of the largest hurdles for biomedical devices is that bacteria invade implant sites, prosthetics, and tissues. The bionanocomposite from the Douglas fir could potentially cover implants and ward off microbial growth. Combining an extract from from the Douglas fir needles with silver nitrate solution, the team has created silver nanoparticles that can make a coating. The needle extract serves as a natural chemical reducing agent that converts silver ions in the nitrate solution into tiny nanoscopic silver metal particles

Jan 4, 2013

Happy Friday

The meaning of things lies not in the things themselves, but in our attitude toward them.

I mean to keep a positive attitude toward a Happy Friday!


The new year is a good time to think about time. In 1903, the Wright brothers performed their first successful flight.

In 1941, 38 years later, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. (Mount Rushmore was completed in 1941).

In 1969, just 28 years after that, man landed on the moon. In 66 years man went from flight a few feet off the earth to flying to the moon.

In 2012, 109 years after the Wright brothers flight we landed a craft on Mars and it is communicating back to us with pictures.

Wikipedia lists the names of 41 people born during or before 1903 that are still living.

Life Span vs. Life Expectancy

There are two kinds of life span. One is maximum life span, the greatest age reached by any member of a species. In humans this is currently about 120 years. (The oldest confirmed recorded age for any human is 122 years). The other is average life span, the average age reached by members of a population.

Life expectancy is the number of remaining years an individual can expect to live, based on his or her current age and average life spans. Life expectancy generally quoted is the ''at birth'' number which is an average that includes all the babies that die before their first year of life as well as people that die from disease, war, etc. For example, the Life Expectancy table at the University of Texas shows ''at birth'' the life expectancy was 25, but at the age of 5 it jumped to 48. So life expectancy changes with your age.

Mozambique has the lowest life expectancy for its population at 39.2. Japan is the highest at 82.7 and the US is 38th at 78.2 years.

Quirky Idea

Here is something to get your creative juices flowing in the new year. A website, quirky.com will accept your idea for an invention, vet it, and if it makes sense will produce the product and get it sold in thousands of stores. Check the site at the link below and you can see some of the items it produces as well as take a look at the invention submission process.

It costs ten dollars to submit an idea and this pays for evaluation and suggestions. If they like your idea, just sit back, relax, and wait for the royalty checks to begin pouring in.

Three Kings Debunked

Since the feast of The Three Kings, or Epiphany is coming up this Sunday, January 6, I thought this might be interesting. Oh the heresy - The famous “three kings” from the Biblical birth of Christ narrative were not:

1. Three in number - the number isn’t mentioned.

2. Kings – Likely 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 Juda, 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." Since there were three gifts, the number of wise men has been assumed to be three. In the East, the number is twelve.

Historical references depict the three variously as scholars, or noblemen, or kings.

Incidentally, Magi is the origin of the word magic.

Jan 1, 2013

New Year Resolution

Here is a good resolution for the new year. Consider reviewing your will.

The Internet has complicated things for family and executors of wills. Many of us have multiple online accounts spread across the web and they should be dealt with if something unforeseen happens. If you have multiple online accounts, make sure your online friends are notified of your death and your accounts and email accounts are handled the way you want them to be handled. The best way to do that is to update your will and provide information about your multiple accounts and how you would like them dealt with.

There are many online services now that allow people to register an account, and safely store all their passwords, account information and more so that when they die, a copy of a death certificate to that company will allow all the information to be released to the next of kin or estate executor.

Facebook allows three methods. The first is easy, if you have the account name and password, you can log in and delete it. Second, you can have the account memorialized, meaning it will not change, but specific information will be removed. Third, you can have the account removed by sending a copy of the death certificate to Facebook and ask that it be deleted.

Most other online services offer the same types of options. Too many to get into here, but check the 'Help' files and you can find what you need. Let's hope none of us need to use this info for a long time.


These are words that change their meaning based on whether the first letter is capitalized or not. Capitonyms are particularly troublesome when they appear at the beginning of a sentence, as there is no way, based on the single word alone to tell which meaning is being referred to.

Examples of these include: August vs. august (month vs majestic or venerable); Calorie vs. calorie (1000 calories (food) vs. 1 calorie); Divine vs. divine (related to God vs. to discover by intuition or insight); etc.

Visions of Sugar Plums

Left over thoughts of holiday sweets led me to wonder about some familiar candies.

The 3 Musketeers bar was originally split into three pieces with three different flavors – vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry. When vanilla and strawberry flavoring became hard to come by during WWII, Mars decided to go all chocolate.

When M&Ms were first introduced in 1941 they were red, brown, yellow, green and violet. The first M&Ms came in a cardboard tube and were given to soldiers in their rations, because the chocolate was a good energy source, and the candy-coated shell kept the chocolate from melting in their hands.

Milky Way was the first commercially distributed filled candy bar in 1923. It came in chocolate and vanilla flavors. The vanilla version came covered in dark chocolate. They were sold separately for several years, then sold as a two-piece candy bar just like 3 Musketeers was sold as a three-piece candy bar. Mars continued to sell the vanilla and dark chocolate version under a new name – the Forever Yours bar. It was rebranded again as the Milky Way Dark, and these days you’ll find it on shelves under the name “Milky Way Midnight.” The name of the bar was inspired by the flavor of a milkshake.

Starbursts were originally named Opal fruits and came in four flavors: orange, lemon, lime, and strawberry. When the name switched to Starburst in 1967, lemon and lime were combined into one flavor so blackcurrant chews could be added to the mix.

When Jelly Bellys were first launched, there were eight flavors; Very Cherry, Tangerine, Lemon, Green Apple, Grape Jelly, Licorice, A&W Root Beer, and A&W Cream Soda. Now Jelly Bellies have 50 official flavors, nine rookie flavors, five Cold Stone Creamery-inspired flavors, and lines that include soda flavors, sour beans, sport beans, Harry Potter’s Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans, and smoothie blends.

Life Savers first came in Pep-O-Mint when they were introduced in 1913 Later they added Wint-O-Green, Cl-O-ve, Lic-O-Riche, Cinn-O-Mon, Vi-O-let and Choc-O-Late. The familiar fruit flavors of today were developed in 1925: grape, orange, lemon, and lime.

PEZ gets its name from the first flavor it ever came in – Pfefferminz, German for peppermint. They came in little cigarette lighter-like cases to conveniently dispense mints to smokers. In the 1950s PEZ decided to expand their market to children and used the fun dispensers to do so. Santa, a robot, and a Space Gun were the first dispensers for children.

Tootsie Pops started with Chocolate, Cherry, Orange, Grape and Raspberry. There is a sixth flavor that alternates between Lemon Lime, Blue Raspberry, and Banana.

The first Mentos flavor was a peppermint flavored caramel candy when it was introduced in 1932. Cinnamon Mentos in the US and fruit-flavored Mentos in Europe came 40 years later. Mentos around the world now come in raisin, lemon yogurt, cola, grape ‘n’ cream, black licorice, red orange and others.

Drone Delivered Food

It will take all of this year and maybe next, but drone delivered food is coming to your house. Tacocoptor was never meant to be more than a concept, but before the end of 2012, it inspired Leonardo the Pizzacoptor and the Burrito Bomber, as working drones that could do food delivery.

In a video posted on YouTube, an engineer sets a location for the Burrito Bomber to drop its payload and another loads a burrito into a drop canister with a parachute. Within minutes, the bomber flies to the GPS-set location and drops the burrito, where a happy recipient opens the canister and takes a bite.

Drones have been increasingly used by government and military for many uses, like checking on fishing hatcheries, border surveillance, specifically directed bombs, search and rescue, and more. Sizes range from mere inches to larger ones that can fly thousands of miles at heights of 15,000 feet.

Delivering food by drone is still prohibited by the FAA, but the recently signed FAA Modernization and Reform Act requires the FAA to allow drones built by private companies to fly in US airspace, and could open up a pathway for drone delivery of parcels, mail, and food. Gives a whole new meaning to home delivery.