Aug 30, 2013

Happy Friday

"There is only one thing more painful than learning from experience, and that is not learning from experience."

I have learned from experience the joy of having a Happy Friday!

International Bacon Day

Bacon Day is an official observance held on the Saturday before Labor Day in the United States. (Labor Day is traditionally the first Monday of September). This year is it celebrated August 31. The first Annual Bacon Day was held about 2005. It's celebrated by having a bacon party and eating bacon in every way imaginable.

Did you know that bacon is a cut of meat taken from the sides, belly, or back of a pig, then cured, smoked, or both? Meat from other animals, such as cow, lamb, chicken, goat, or turkey, may also be cut, cured, or otherwise prepared to resemble bacon, and may even be referred to as "bacon" too, although this is just wrong.

Wikipedia says "Bacon Day is the traditional day on which bacon lovers express bacon mania. This is typically exhibited during social gatherings during which participants create and consume creative dishes containing bacon, including breakfasts, lunches, dinners and desserts. All are welcome at a standard Bacon Day celebration, even vegetarians, with consumption of soy bacon or turkey bacon encouraged for inclusiveness."

Last year Bacon Day was celebrated in the US, Australia, Canada, South Africa, Switzerland, the UK, and more.

Awesome Spoon

Lift Labs has developed patented spoon technology that stabilizes tremors from Parkinson’s Disease to allow patients to enjoy their meals again. According to Lift Labs website: “The Liftware Spoon is the most practical and effective spoon for people living with Essential Tremor, Parkinson’s, or other disorders."

With Liftware, the spoon is kept steady using innovative Active Cancellation of Tremor technology. The Liftware Spoon will be available in September 2013.

Fun Facts About Olive Oil

Calories per tablespoon: 119
Total fat: 13.5g
Saturated fat: 1.82g
Cholesterol: 0mg
Vitamin E: 4% Daily Value

Olive oil comes from California, France, Greece, Italy and Spain. All olive oils are graded in accordance with the degree of acidity they contain. The best are cold-pressed, a chemical-free process that involves only pressure, which produces a natural level of low acidity.

Extra virgin olive oil, the cold-pressed result of the first pressing of the olives, is only 1 percent acid. It's considered the finest and fruitiest of the olive oils and is therefore also the most expensive. Extra virgin olive oil can range from a crystalline champagne color to greenish-golden to bright green. In general, the deeper the color, the more intense the olive flavor. After extra virgin, olive oils are classified in order of ascending acidity.

Virgin olive oil is also a first-press oil, with a slightly higher level of acidity of between 1 and 3 percent.
Fino olive oil is a blend of extra virgin and virgin oils (fino is Italian for "fine"). Products labeled simply olive oil (once called pure olive oil ) contain a combination of refined olive oil and virgin or extra virgin oil.

Light olive oil contains the same amount of beneficial monounsaturated fat as regular olive oil and has exactly the same number of calories. Light" refers to  an extremely fine filtration process and this olive oil is lighter in both color and fragrance. It's rather nondescript flavor makes "light" olive oil good for baking and cooking. The filtration process for the light-style oil also gives it a higher smoke point than regular olive oil. Light olive oils can be used for high-heat frying, whereas regular olive oil is better suited for low to medium-heat cooking, as well as for salad dressings and marinades.

Olive oil can be stored in a cool, dark place for up to 6 months. It can be refrigerated and last up to a year. Chilled olive oil becomes cloudy and too thick to pour. However, it will clear and become liquid again when brought to room temperature.

Olive oil is obtained from the pulp of olives by separating the liquids from solids. To make the finest, or extra-virgin olive oil, the fruit is gathered when fully ripened, ground to a paste under granite or steel millstones, layered over straw mats, and pressed in a hydraulic press. Today, most olive oil is produced by just one pressing. The resulting oil is separated from the juice by settling or by centrifuge and then filtered. Olive oil of good quality is ready to use, without further refinement.

Although olive oil is chiefly used as a food or in food preservation, it is also used in soaps, certain pharmaceuticals, and cosmetics.

Cheery Oats

Cereal companies had wheat, corn, and rice, but none had a cereal with an oat base until 1941. CheeriOats were introduced as a “ready-to-eat” oat cereal. The name emphasized the main ingredient to differentiate itself from the other types of cereals.

Unfortunately for CheeriOats, Quaker Oats took offense to the name, claiming the “Oats” part infringed on their trademark. To avoid a potential lawsuit, the name was changed to Cheerios in 1945. It had a mascot named Cheeri O'Leary, but that was quickly dropped. In 1949, the Lone Ranger radio show needed a sponsor. General Mills obliged and the association with the Lone Ranger lasted for 20 years and helped propel Cheerios into the most popular breakfast cereal.

The shape inspired the updated name. The “O” shape was made by a specially designed “puffing gun”. Cheerio dough is heated and rapidly and shot out of this gun, which makes the dough puff into the “O” shape.

By 1951 Cheerios was the top-selling cold cereal sold by General Mills. Cheerios continues to dominate the cereal market with about one eighth of all cereal sales in the United States. It is sold in over 130 countries. Other varieties of Cheerios introduced over the years include honey nut, apple cinnamon, multi-grain, berry burst, fruity, banana nut, chocolate, and frosted.

Fairy Floss

William James Morrison was a dentist, lawyer, and author from Nashville, Tennessee in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Because he became President of the Tennessee State Dental Association in 1894 and wrote several children’s books, it might seem a little odd that he would go on to invent cotton candy.

Dr. Morrison patented several inventions. He developed a process for extracting the oil from cottonseeds and converting it to lard substitute, and developed a chemical process to purify the public drinking water in Nashville.

In 1897, he and a Nashville candy maker named John C. Wharton conceived and co-patented an “electric candy machine” which produced what was then called Fairy Floss and today is called Cotton Candy. The product was brought to the public in 1904 and became a huge instant success.


It is one of the 47 prefectures of Japan and is the capital of Japan, the center of the Greater Tokyo Area, and the largest metropolitan area in the world. It is the seat of the Japanese government and the Imperial Palace, and the home of the Japanese Imperial Family.

Tokyo is often thought of as a city, but is commonly referred to as a metropolitan prefecture. The prefecture is part of the world's most populous metropolitan area with over 35 million people and the world's largest urban agglomeration economy. Canada has a fewer people than the Tokyo island metropolitan area.

Watermelon Facts

The watermelon grows on vines on the ground. It is a member of the Cucurbitaceae family and is related to cantaloupe, squash and pumpkin. Some varieties of watermelon come with a variety of rind and flesh colors. The inside flesh of the popular varieties are red or yellow. The watermelon grows in many different shapes. Watermelon has 92% water. Watermelon contains vitamins A, B6 and C. You can eat every part of a watermelon, including the seeds and rinds.

Thought to be the ancestor of the original watermelon, the white-skinned citron first grew in the Kalahari Desert of Africa. Egyptians recorded the earliest harvest of them 5,000 years ago. Watermelons were depicted in hieroglyphics that adorned the ancient walls of their structures. They buried the fruit in the tombs of their kings, because they believed it nourished them in the afterlife.

Watermelons spread by merchant ships to other countries as they traveled to conduct their business. The plants flourished along the Mediterranean Sea, and by the 10th century they made their way to China. Later in the 13th century the Moors helped spread the watermelon throughout Europe.

The watermelon may have made its way to the United States during the African slavery trade via slaves carrying the seeds on the ships. The word watermelon made its first debut in the English Dictionary in 1615. There are five states that currently lead watermelon production in the US - Florida, Texas, California, Georgia, and Arizona. The United States ranks as number four in worldwide production of watermelon. China is number one. 96 countries grow watermelons globally. Chinese and Japanese often give watermelons to the host when they visit. Israelis and Egyptians enjoy salads made with sweet watermelon and salty feta cheese.

Watermelons come in 1200 different varieties. Recent cultivations led to development of several desirable characteristics of the fruit, including seedless varieties and ones with thin rinds.

What's in a Name, Emmy

Harry Lubcke suggested the name “Immy” be used, named after the “image orthicon tube” that was nicknamed the “Immy”. The Academy members liked it, but felt is should be more feminine, to match the statuette, so switched it to the name “Emmy”.

The statuette itself, of a winged woman holding an atom, was designed in 1948 by TV engineer and editor Louis McManus. His wife, Dorothy, served as the model for the statuette. Unlike the Academy Award statuette, where only one design was considered, this design was the 48th looked at by the Academy, with the previous 47 being rejected. The idea behind the design is that the winged woman represents the muse of art and the atom she’s holding represents “the science of television”.

For his design, Louis McManus was awarded a “Special Award” Emmy in the first year the Emmys were given out in 1948. His Emmy was not the statuette he designed, but rather a plaque.

Boy Scouts and Astronauts

Eleven of the twelve men who walked on the moon were Boy Scouts. Boy Scouts and astronauts need similar qualities. They are dependable, responsible, attentive to detail, and respectful. It makes sense that two thirds of all current and former astronauts were also Boy Scouts.

Since 1959, there have been 312 pilots and scientists selected to be astronauts, at least 207 were involved with scouts, as Eagle Scouts, Cub Scouts, Life Scouts, etc. Of the 24 men who traveled to the moon, 20 of them were scouts. All three members of the Apollo 13 mission were scouts. NASA supports both Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts as potential leaders.

Aug 23, 2013

Happy Friday

Loneliness expresses the pain of being alone and solitude expresses the glory of being alone.

It is not loneliness, but solitude if you celebrate a Happy Friday by yourself!

How to Repair a Credit Card

The dark stripe on the back side of the credit card is made up of a bunch of tiny magnetic particles bound in plastic. The particles are arranged in magnetic and non-magnetic “zones” to encode the data, like your account number, expiration date, etc., that the card reader needs to process the transaction. When you swipe the card, the card reader reads the information by detecting the changes between the zones.

The strip is delicate, and the data on it can be corrupted by exposing it to a strong magnet or scratching it. Some of the magnetic particles can get dragged out of position. If enough magnetic bits move into a non-magnetic space to create a weak signal, the data gets corrupted and the card reader gets an error.

Applying Scotch tape to the magnetic stripe, encasing the card in a plastic baggie, rubbing the card on clothing, or wrapping the plastic in a dollar bill or a register receipt may enable a cashier to complete the transaction. Also, licking the mag stripe, applying and removing Scotch tape, or rubbing it on your clothes can remove dirt and debris that may be preventing the reader from accepting the card.

When the cashier puts the card in a plastic bag, it creates a spacer so the card slides through the reader with a slight separation between the data stripe and the stripe-reading head. The separation weakens the signal and cleans it up. With just a little bit of magnetic material in them, the contaminated non-magnetic zones still have a much lower magnetic strength than the parts that are supposed to magnetized. Increasing the distance between the card reader and the corrupted zones is enough to get the reader to read those weak parts as non-magnetized again.

Eight Coffee Facts

A coffee bean tree takes five years to mature.
It takes the yield of a complete coffee tree to make one pound of coffee.
There are fifty species of coffee, but only two, Arabica and Robusta are used for commercial coffee.
The first coffee house opened in Venice in 1683.
Starbucks uses about 2.3 billion paper cups each year.
Coffee is the second most traded commodity after oil.
Americans drink an average of 450 million cups of coffee per day.
The name java comes from the place, Java, Indonesia, which was the primary source of coffee in the nineteenth century.
One of my favorite old songs is Manhattan Transfer singing Java Jive LINK

Latinizing Words

For a while, it was popular to change the spelling of ordinary words to make them appear more Latin to increase their stature. Receipt is a victim of the Latinizing craze. When the word came into English from French it had no ‘p’, and no one pronounced it as if it did. Enthusiastic Latinizers later added the ‘p’ on analogy with the Latin receptus. This is also how debt and doubt got their ‘b’s, salmon and solder got their ‘l’s, and indict got its ‘c.’

Most of the words that were Latinized did have some distant connection, through French, with the ancient Latin words that dictated their new spellings. However, sometimes a Latin-inspired letter got stuck into a word that had not come through Latin. “Island” came from the Old English íglund, and was spelled illond, ylonde, or ilande until someone picked up the ‘s’ from Latin insula and stuck it where it had never been meant to be.

Drain the Mediterranean

During the 1920s, Herman Sorgel, a German architect, proposed creating a dam across the Strait of Gibraltar, turning the area into a massive hydroelectric plant, creating enormous amounts of renewable energy. A natural byproduct of the dam would be to drain much of the Mediterranean Sea by restricting the flow of water into it. The idea was to create much new land for Germany to grow into. They called the project Alantropa.

During the early 1900s, many German leaders were espousing a political science theory called Lebensraum, literally “space of life.” Lebensraum advocates argued that overpopulation required a solution, and that solution should simply be to acquire more space. While the easiest and most straightforward way to spread is to take over the land of others, there could be another way, to create new land. Doing so would require a public works project larger than anything the world has ever seen, like draining the Mediterranean Sea.

Sorgel’s top objective was to stem the flow of water into the Mediterranean and over time, the water level would drop, creating more inhabitable land in both Southern Europe and Northern Africa. Low-lying lands would emerge basically everywhere, as hundreds of square miles of habitable space would be reclaimed from the sea. Europe and Northern Africa would, effectively, merge.

The Atlantropa Project’s support was strongest toward the end of the 1920s and into the 1930s, but waned as Hitler rose to power and in 1942, the Nazis banned Sorgel from publishing his plans further. Atlantropa was dead.

Wordology, Piggyback

Back in the 16th century, goods were transported in packs that people carried on theirs or animals backs. The term used to describe this was “pick pack” because you would pick up a pack in order to carry it on your back.

“Pick pack” eventually became “pick-a-pack” as in pick a pack and carry it on your back. Eventually, because an individual was picking a pack to carry on his back, the term “pick-a-pack” became “pick-a-back”.

Turns out, though, that the insertion of the “a” caused a problem and ultimately paved the way for the original phrase “pick pack” to become “piggyback”. Due to the pronunciation of the term as a whole, “pick-a-pack” often sounded like “pick -i-back” which sounded like “picky back”. This ultimately gave rise to the term “piggyback” around this time for people carrying a pack on their back and by the 1930s, the definition further progressed to describe riding on someone’s back and shoulders.

The pig was the only animal that sounded like “picky” and “pickyback” became piggyback.


The artificial sweetener in "Sweet'N Low," is somewhere around 400 times sweeter than sugar. It was discovered in 1879 by Constantine Fahlberg who was actually working on substitution products of coal tar.

After a long day in the lab, he forgot to wash his hands before eating dinner. When the bread and everything he touched tasted sweet, he remembered he spilled a chemical on his hands earlier.
Fahlberg patented saccharin in 1884 and began mass production.

The artificial sweetener became widespread when sugar was rationed during World War I. In 1907 diabetics started using the sweetener as a replacement for sugar and it was soon labeled as a noncaloric sweetener for dieters. Because the body can not break it down, we do not get any calories.

Ten Interesting Facts About Humans

  1. The surface area of a human lung is equal to a tennis court.
  2. Sneeze outputs usually exceed 100 mph.
  3. Approximately 75% of human waste is made of water.
  4. The average person expels flatulence 14 times each day.
  5. Earwax production is necessary for good ear health. It protects the delicate inner ear from bacteria, fungus, dirt and even insects. It also cleans and lubricates the ear canal.
  6. Babies are always born with blue eyes. The melanin in a newborn’s eyes often needs time after birth to be fully deposited or to be darkened by exposure to ultraviolet light, later revealing the baby’s true eye color.
  7. Every human spent about half an hour as a single cell.
  8. After eating too much, your hearing is less sharp.
  9. Women can smell better than men. (which is different than women do smell better than men.)
  10. Your nose can remember 50,000 different scents.

Electronic Bubbles

Here is one of those captivating, but useless devices to have fun with and annoy your friends at the same time.

Pressing any key produces the sound of bubble wrap popping. When sitting with someone who constantly is playing with their smartphone, it is the perfect foil. Let them know why what they are doing is the same as what you are doing - mildly satisfying for them, but irritating their companions.

Clarence Leonidas “Leo” Fender

He invented of  one of the most popular electric guitar brands in the world, Fender Guitars, but never learned how to play guitar.  He was an accountant before losing his job during the Great Depression. When he lost his job, he decided to turn his hobby of tinkering with electronics, radios, amplifiers,etc., into a business, “Fender Radio and Record Shop”. This eventually led to what is now known as the “Fender Musical Instruments Corporation” and the creation of his famous guitars and amplifiers.

Despite designing the first commercially successful solid-body electric guitar, the Telecaster, and the most influential of all electric guitars, the Stratocaster, and inventing the solid-body electric bass guitar, the Precision bass, Leo Fender was an engineer, not a musician. He had to bring in musicians to properly test the prototypes of his guitars.

Fender’s fascination with electronics started when he was 14 years old. His uncle built a radio from spare parts and the loud music coming from the speaker impressed Leo. Later, repairing radios became a hobby for Fender.

He convinced Clayton Orr “Doc” Kauffman, an inventor and lap steel guitar player, to start “K & F Manufacturing Corporation”, which would design and build electric Hawaiian guitars and amplifiers. Fender began to design steel guitars that rested in the musician’s lap while being played with a metal slide. In 1944, Leo and Doc patented a lap steel guitar that had a special electric pickup also patented by Fender. Fender’s guitar “Broadcaster” was steadily improved over several years to become a Telecaster, which in turn led to “The Esquire Model” in 1950, the first six string one pickup Fender guitar.

Fenders designs helped turn electric guitars, which weren't very popular at the time, into the dominate type of guitar used by performing artists. His Telecaster design particularly has seen minor changes during the decades that followed. The ultimate goal for Fender was to create an electric guitar which would have no feed-back, even in small settings, and which would be easy to play and to tune. The Fender Stratocaster is still the most popular and copied electric guitar in the world.

Aug 16, 2013

Happy Friday

He who thinks he knows doesn't know. He who knows that he doesn't know, knows.

I think I know that I don't know how I could not have a Happy Friday!

Atoms, Particles and Molecules

Atoms are the smallest pieces of matter; they are made of particles (protons and electrons). When atoms are grouped together, the groups are called molecules, which are the smallest bits of compounds.

By way of example, within the element copper, a copper atom is the smallest piece of copper that exists. Hydrogen is an element; two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom combine to form a molecule of water, which is a compound.

Element - a basic substance that can't be simplified, such as copper
Atom - the smallest amount of an element, such as copper atom
Molecule - two or more atoms that are chemically joined together, such as hydrogen or oxygen
Compound - a molecule that contains more than one element, such as water

Socks and Sox

The Red Sox and White Sox baseball teams have the “Sox” spelled that way, because they were named during the time when there was a movement to simplify the spelling of many English words. Socks became sox, but tradition won and the spelling of sox did not catch on as part of the language.

Four Most Crowded Islands

Santa Cruz del Islote, located off the Caribbean coast of Colombia, is one of the most densely populated islands on Earth. The 2.4-acre island, home to about 1,200 people or population density of 103,917 people per sq km, was first settled in the late 19th century as temporary housing for fishermen and coconut plantation workers. It sits on a shallow reef and has since grown in landmass to accommodate a growing population. Residents expand the island by adding to the shoreline, using coral, shells, rocks and other fillers to provide a foundation for another home. The only unoccupied space on Islote is a public square about half the size of a tennis court.

Ap Lei Chau or Aberdeen Island, an island of Hong Kong, was a fishing village before the First Opium War. It shelters Aberdeen Harbor, providing excellent protection for fishing boats during a typhoon. The population was 86,782 as of 2007, and its area is 1.30 square kilometers, giving it a population density of 66,755 people per sq km.

Male in the Maldives is one of the most low-lying islands in the world and locals say this is one of the most idyllic places to live. The capital of the Republic of Maldives covers an area of 1.77 square kilometers and is home to about 100,000 people, or 47,415 per sq km. It serves as the political, economic and cultural center of Maldives.

Manhattan island has 2012 population of 1,619,090 that live on a land area of 22.96 square miles (59.5 sq km). This makes 69,464 residents per square mile, or 26,924 per sq km, more dense than any other American city.

Iodized Salt is Good

The "iodized" emblazoned on the vast majority of salt sold in the US might go by largely unnoticed, but it turns out that it may have had such a profound effect on public health that it raised the national IQ.

Iodine deficiency is the number one cause of preventable mental retardation, and a new paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) shows that after iodized salt was introduced in 1924, the most deficient quarter of the US population saw its IQs rise by a full 15 points, or one standard deviation. Averaged over the entire country, that equates to a 3.5 point bump per person — the equivalent of a whole decade’s worth of IQ growth according to the Flynn effect, which holds that IQ tends to increase over time. While salt has virtually extinguished iodine deficiency in the US, it remains a problem in much of the developing world, where some 30 percent of citizens do not have access to it.

Chemotherapy and Hair Loss

Chemotherapy, sometimes referred to as chemo is the use of medicines or drugs to treat cancer. There are more than 100 chemo drugs. Chemo may be used to: Keep the cancer from spreading, slow the cancer’s growth, kill cancer cells that may have spread to other parts of the body, relieve symptoms such as pain or blockages caused by cancer and, in some cases, cure cancer. Different types of chemotherapy work in different ways and have different side effects. It can be administered as a pill, liquid, shot, IV, or rubbed on the skin.

Most cells in the human body divide using a process called mitosis. When a cell reaches the end of its lifespan, it gets destroyed in a pre-programmed process called apoptosis.

There are over 200 many types of cancer. All types are a result of unregulated cell growth. Cells that divide more rapidly than apoptosis can regulate is simply too much mitosis. The result is excessive tissue, known as tumors. Tumors can be localized or spread through the lymphatic system or blood stream.

Many chemotherapy drugs are administered in combinations and work by interrupting mitosis and most cannot differentiate between abnormal cancer cells and normal healthy cells. Because of this, any cells that multiply rapidly can also be affected by chemotherapy.

Fast growing cells are found in hair follicles, lining of the mouth, stomach, and bone marrow. Since these fast growing sites are also affected by chemo, the result can be hair loss, decrease in production of white blood cells, and inflammation of the digestive tract, etc. Luckily, healthy cells, like hair follicles and the others usually repair themselves, so hair loss temporary. Radiation can cause some of the same symptoms, but that story is for another day.

Wordology, Jail and Prison

These two words do not mean the same thing. In the US, jails are run by county sheriff’s office and prisons are run by the state. In Canada, jails are run by the provincial government and prisons are run by the federal government.

Battery Facts

A major site compared 40 batteries using fast drain and slow drain technology. Its findings mimicked other findings from a number of other tests. 

The resulting data yielded some interesting results. First, highest price is not highest value, and second, zinc batteries, although usually the cheapest are poor value as they drain faster than alkaline and lithium batteries. Brand name has no relation to quality, but are usually higher priced.

Bottom line is that buying the cheapest non-brand-name alkaline battery is almost always the best value. Lithium batteries last the longest, but are almost always not the cheapest. In the tests, Ikea alkaline batteries blew away the competition for best value.

Think about how often you change batteries for every day use items, such as TV remote, computer mouse, clock, smoke detectors, flashlights, etc., it is usually once every year or two, or even longer.

My advice - if you need long stable battery life (such as for a good camera), pay more and buy lithium. If you want the best value and do not mind changing batteries a bit more often, buy the cheapest alkaline you can find.

What Color is Crude

Crude oil is not always black as is often depicted in movies. Petroleum is another name for crude oil, which is unprocessed oil. The outputs of processing crude oil are called petrochemicals. The color varies greatly from clear to black, and and in viscosity, from water to almost solid, based on the concentration of hydrocarbon molecules and other compounds in the mixture. For instance, Pennsylvania grade crude oil is typically greenish in color.

Gas Facts

Gas is one derivative of crude oil. Heat from one gallon of gas is enough to power a 1,500-watt space heater on full blast for 24-hours. If it were possible for humans to digest gasoline, a gallon would contain about 31,000 food calories. That is about equivalent to the energy in about 110 McDonald's hamburgers.

Aug 9, 2013

Happy Friday

Today I am thankful for all the wonderful things in my life: my family, my friends, my work, and enjoying a Happy Friday!

Pills and Pencils

Pills go back thousands of years. They were often squished up bits of plant matter. During the early 1800s, attempts to produce pills with specific chemicals had many problems. Coatings would often fail to dissolve, and the moisture required in pill production could often deactivate ingredients.

In 1843, English artist William Brockedon was facing similar problems with graphite pencils. To get around this, he invented a machine which was able to press graphite powder into a solid lump and produce high-quality drawing tools.

A drug manufacturer saw that the device had potential for other uses, and Brockedon’s invention was soon being used to create the very first powder-based tablets. This technology was adapted to mass manufacturing for medicines. Since then there have been many other ways of produce pills, but the original is still in use.


Typewriters were the ancestors to today’s keyboards, and they are indeed relics. The first typewriters were massive contraptions that operated slowly and frequently malfunctioned, but they were nonetheless one of the single most important innovations in history. The first typewriter was built by Italian inventor Pellegrino Turri, who designed and built the device for his blind friend.

Google Timer

If you type in "set timer for x minutes" using the quote marks and replacing x with the number of minutes, Google will create a timer for you and begin counting down.

Gluten Myth and Facts

We read about way too many headlines and diets about gluten these days. It appears to be the latest fad ingredient to pick on. It is serious for some, but less than one percent of the population may have Celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder. Some people have been found to be allergic to wheat only, but not gluten.

Gluten is a naturally occurring protein composite found primarily in wheat, but may also be found in rye, barley, and some types of oats. The US FDA considers foods containing less than or equal to 20 ppm to be gluten-free, but there is no regulation or law in the US for labeling foods as 'gluten-free'. There still is no general agreement on the analytical method used to measure gluten in ingredients and food products.

Gluten may be added as a stabilizing agent or thickener in products such as ice-cream and ketchup. It is also found in  ingredients of many over-the-counter and prescription medications and vitamins. Items such as lipstick, lip balms, lip gloss, soy sauce, barbecue sauce, salad dressings, gravy, canned soups, ground spices to prevent clumping, instant powdered drinks, and imitation and pasteurized cheeses, as well as glue used on envelopes may also contain gluten.

Many types of alcoholic beverages are considered gluten-free, provided no gluten colorings or other additives have been added. Distillation removes proteins, including gluten in bourbon or corn whiskey. Spirits made without any grain such as gin, vodka, scotch, rye, brandy, wine, mead, cider, sherry, port, rum, tequila, vermouth, and some beers generally do not contain gluten.

Gluten consists of gliadin and glutenin. Gliadin is one of the proteins that forms gluten. Doctors test for anti-gliadin antibodies if celiac disease or gluten hypersensitivity is suspected. Gliadin triggers immune response in celiac disease. Glutenin is the other protein of gluten. It is responsible for the strength and elasticity of dough.

Several grains and starch sources are considered acceptable for a gluten-free diet, such as corn, potatoes, rice, some oats, tapioca, quinoa, sorghum, taro, chia seed, and yam. Flours, such as bean, soybean, almond, gram derived from chickpeas, and buckwheat are used as alternatives to wheat flour.

Most humans naturally digest gluten. The human mouth contains symbiotic bacteria colonies that help break down gluten. Gluten allergies and sensitivities are different. Celiac disease sufferers are allergic. Others may have similar symptoms, such as bloating, flatulence, irritable bowel syndrome, and abdominal pain, but these same symptoms may also be caused by any number of other dietary items.

Another Use for Basil

You already know that fresh basil is delicious is many of your favorite recipes, but did you also know it's great for repelling bugs naturally? Snip a few fresh leaves and hang them in doorways or put on top of an outdoor table to repel mosquitoes and flies.

Aug 6, 2013

The Theremin is an original electronic instrument invented in the 1920s by Russian musician and engineer Leon Theremin. Its antenna sends out electromagnetic waves and the pitch the instrument produces is changed by moving your hand to and from it.

The sound of the Theremin is familiar from Hitchcock and science fiction soundtracks, and a version features on 'Good Vibrations' by The Beach Boys and 'Echoes' by Pink Floyd, and by Nine Inch Nails. It has also been seen played by Dr. Sheldon Cooper on Big Bang Theory. The new Leap Motion 'no touch' controller even has an application to play a digital Theremin on your PC.

Japan's musicians recently set a new world record for the most players on the Theremin - the musical instrument used without being touched. In the central city of Hamamatsu, 272 people performed at a concert.

This is totally different from the few year old Eigenharp, which seems to have more buttons and levers than any other instrument.

Theremin taught Lydia Kavina, his grand-niece how to play this interesting, simple, and eerie instrument. Here is a demo of the instrument LINK

Waterfall Art

These have been around for a few years, but always a treat to watch. The one in the link is located in the South Gate Building of the Osaka Station City in Japan. Four minute video, but you will get the idea during the first few minutes.

As the video shows a digital time readout, scrolling patterns including floral motifs, text, and interesting water patterns. The printer emits illuminated water droplets in controlled patterns to reproduce images that are stored on a PC.

Size of England and UK

England makes up about half the total area of the UK. It is also about the size of the state of Alabama. You could fit about three of the entire United Kingdom in the state of Texas.

Dog Days of Summer

The earliest reference to this expression goes back to the Ancient Egyptians. They noted that the rising of the star Sirius began the hottest part of the summer. The star’s hieroglyph is a dog. Sirius would appear in Egypt, after about a 70 day absence, just before the season where the Nile typically floods, so it is thought the star’s hieroglyphic symbol 'watchdog'.

Romans and Greeks also referred to dog days and would often make sacrifices to Sirius, including sacrificing dogs to appease Sirius with the hope it would result in a mild summer and protect crops from scorching.

Sirius is the brightest star in the Canis Major (Latin for “Greater Dog”) constellation.

Aug 2, 2013

Happy Friday

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

I use always use my full power and talents to have a Happy Friday!

Four Cookie Facts

The Fig Newton is named for Newton, Massachusetts where it was originally made.

Lorna Doones  were introduced in 1912. The shortbread biscuits were considered a product of Scottish heritage, and back then, Lorna Doone character was symbolic of Scotland.

Nabisco created 'Barnum's Animals' in 1902 and sold them in a little box designed like an animal cage with a string attached to carry and hang on Christmas trees. In 1948, the company changed the name to its current 'Barnum's Animal Crackers'. Fifty Four different animals have been represented by animal crackers since 1902. Currently, each package contains 22 crackers consisting of a variety of animals. The newest, a koala was added in September 2002, but later retired. Current animals include bear, camel, crocodile, elephant, giraffe, gorilla, horse, lion, seal, tiger, and zebra.

The name Oreo was inspired by the gold color used on early package designs. The French word for gold is Or. A number of other versions for the name persist, but this is most widely accepted.

The original name was Oreo Biscuit. It was renamed in 1921, to "Oreo Sandwich. In 1948, the Oreo Sandwich was renamed the "Oreo Creme Sandwich." It was changed in 1974 to the Oreo Chocolate Sandwich Cookie. Oreos are a knockoff of the Sunshine Hydrox cookie invented two years earlier.

Today, China has become the second largest Oreo market, after the United States.

Sugar and HFCS

According to a report published by The American Council on Science and Health, "Since the 1970s, the use of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in the US food supply has increased dramatically, typically as a replacement for sucrose (table sugar) in soft drinks and many food products.

The prevalence of obesity has also increased substantially between the 1970s and the early 2000s. Because of this coincidental timing, HFCS has been erroneously demonized as a unique cause of the obesity epidemic in the United States.

Sucrose and HFCS have essentially the same composition, and thus it would be highly unlikely for them to have different effects on body weight or metabolism. Experimental evidence, as well as analyses of epidemiological data, indicate that sucrose and HFCS have equivalent effects on food intake and therefore on body weight. Scientific evidence does not support the notion that HFCS is responsible for the American obesity epidemic."

Silicon vs. Silicone

Silicon is a naturally occurring chemical element, and silicone is synthetic.

Silicon has properties of both metals and nonmetals and is the second most abundant element in the Earth's crust, after oxygen. It  is rarely found in nature in its pure form. We usually find silicon dioxide or silica, better known as quartz, the most common component of sand.

As silica, silicon is a key ingredient in bricks, concrete and glass. As silicate, it is used to make enamels, pottery and ceramics. It is also used widely in modern electronics, because it is an ideal semiconductor of electricity. When heated into a molten state, silicon is formed into semi-conductive wafers, which serve as the base for integrated circuits. Silicon Valley, California was named due to the high concentration of computer and electronics companies in the area producing silicon-based semiconductors and chips.

Silicone is a synthetic polymer made up of silicon, oxygen, and other elements, typically carbon and hydrogen. Silicone is generally a liquid or flexible plastic. Its useful properties are low toxicity and high heat resistance. It also provides good electrical insulation.

In the medical field, silicone can be found in implants, catheters, contact lenses, bandages and more. It is also contained in items, such as shampoos, shaving cream, non-stick kitchenware, personal and automotive lubricants, sealants, and sex toys. Silicone is heat resistant and slippery.

Silicone is also used in electronics to make casings that can shield sensitive devices from electrical shocks and other hazards.

Internet Usage

Iceland (96%), Norway (95%), and Sweden (94%) have the highest percent of populations using the Internet. The Netherlands, Denmark, Luxembourg, Bermuda, and Finland all have over 90% of their respective populations using the net.

Canada is 16th with 86% of its population using the Internet. The US ranks 28th, with 78% (244 million people) online.

China has 591 million people using the Internet, but that is just 44% of the country's 1.3 billion population.

Wine Colors

Red wine and white wine do not come from red and white grapes. The color in wine comes from the inclusion of the grape skins. White wines are made from just the pulp.

Zinfandel is a variety of red grape. Red zinfandel and other red wines are made from it as well as white zinfandel and rosé (by using the pulp and not skins).

Why Number 2 pencils

Pencil makers manufacture No. 1, 2, 2½, 3, and 4 pencils, and sometimes other intermediate numbers. The higher the number, the harder the lead and lighter the markings. Number 1 pencils produce darker markings, which are sometimes preferred by people working in publishing.

The current style of production is profiled after pencils developed in 1794 by Nicolas-Jacques Conté. Before Conté, pencil hardness varied from location to location and maker to maker. Earliest pencils were made by filling a wood shaft with raw graphite.

Conté’s method involved mixing powdered graphite with finely ground clay, shaped into a long cylinder and then baked in an oven. The proportion of clay versus graphite added to a mixture determines the hardness of the lead. Although the method is usually the same, the way companies categorize and label pencils isn't.

Today, many U.S. companies use a numbering system for general-purpose, writing pencils that specifies how hard the lead is. For graphic and artist pencils and for companies outside the U.S., systems use a combination of numbers and letters known as the HB Graphite Scale.

Testing centers prefer Number 2 pencils, because their machines use the electrical conductivity of the lead to read the pencil marks. Early scanning-and-scoring machines couldn't detect marks made by harder pencils, so No. 3 and No. 4 pencils usually resulted in erroneous results and softer pencils like No. 1 smudge. Because of this and general wide acceptance, No. 2 pencils became the industry standard.

Data by the Numbers

Humanity produces more data each two days than it has from the beginning of time up to 2003.

Wordology, Apron

An apron is an outer protective garment that covers primarily the front of the body. It may be worn for hygienic reasons as well as to protect clothes from wear and tear.

The apron was traditionally viewed as an essential garment for anyone doing housework until the mid-1960s  in the United States. Wearing aprons remains strong in many places.

A pinafore is a full apron with two holes for the arms that is tied or buttoned in the back, usually just below the neck. Pinafores have complete front shaped over shoulder while other aprons usually have no bib, or only a smaller one.

Cobbler aprons are a type of apron that covers both the front and back of the body. It is fastened with sides ties or with waist bands that tie in the back. It covers most of the upper part of the body and is often made of leather.

The Salon Apron protects clothing from hair color stains and hair clippings while serving as a place to keep tools quickly accessible. A Salon Apron is typically water repellent.

Barbecue aprons are fashionable for the back yard chef (with at least one pocket to hold a beer), while white half aprons are still used by serious chefs.

Apron is a corruption of the original old French word “naperon,” a change that likely occurred when people misheard “a naperon” as “an apron.”