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.