Dec 27, 2013

Happy Friday

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

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

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

Another use for Salt

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

Benefits of Nuts

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peanuts and Almonds are not Nuts

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

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

Pantone 2014

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

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

Fascinating Reindeer Facts

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

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

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

Difficult to Read

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

Bye Bye Light Bulbs

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

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

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

New Incandescent Light Bulbs

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

Dec 20, 2013

Merry Christmas

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

Happy Friday

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

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

Advent Calendar

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

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

Wordology, Nativity

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

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

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

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

Christmas Wise Men

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

Christmas Tradition, Caga tio

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

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

Holidays and Weight Gain

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

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

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

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

Gingerbread House

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

Blood Vessels

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

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

Boston Tea Party

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


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

Dec 13, 2013

Happy Friday

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

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

Holiday Wordology

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What's in a Name, Kummerspeck

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

Fisher Price

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

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

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

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


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

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

Kitchen Tip

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


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

YouTube Restricted Videos

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

Dec 7, 2013

Happy Friday

Paint is just a pigment of your imagination.

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

Energy Drinks Unmasked

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

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

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

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

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

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

Toilet Tips

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

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

Wordology from the Comics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Google Flight Info

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

X-Ray Vision Glasses

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

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

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

Goodness of Bacon

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

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

American Brands or Not

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

Answer, None.

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

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

Getting Off Scot Free

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

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

Food Myth Debunked

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

Dec 1, 2013

Shameless Self Promotion

Couldn't get enough shopping in on Black Friday?

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

Happy Friday

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

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

Leftovers from Thanksgiving

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Use by/Sell by Dates

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

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

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

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

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

Interesting Use for Black Pepper

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

Most Expensive Beers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hypnagogic Jerk

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

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

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

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

Church Tax

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

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

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