Jun 26, 2015

Happy Friday

Happiness is more to your mind than sound is to your ears.

I can be perfectly quiet while enjoying a Happy Friday!

Set Your Clocks Back

Tuesday June 30 is the day to adjust your clocks back by one second. At 2359 Greenwich Mean Time on June 30, or 9.59am US EST on July 1, the world will experience a minute that will last 61 seconds. It is called the leap second. That is when timekeepers adjust high-precision clocks so they are in sync with earth’s rotation, which is affected by the gravitational tug of the sun and moon.

The last modification, on June 30, 2012 was disruptive for many internet servers, including Qantas’ online reservation system, which went down for several hours. The leap second is not something that needs to be added to your watch, your stove, the clock on your nightstand, etc.

Canada Day

The birthday of a country is a special day for the citizens of that country. Canada Day was first celebrated on July 1, 1867, commemorating the Constitution Act, 1867, which integrated three colonies into one country named Canada. It was initially called the Dominion Day, but with the approval to pass the Canada Act, it was renamed in 1982. Various activities at the Canada Day include parades, festivals, fireworks, musical performances, and more.

The Calgary Stampede is scheduled for July 3 to 12, 2015, Calgary Stampede is an exciting outdoor show held in Calgary, Canada. It is an annual exhibition and rodeo that helps people re-live the era of cowboys. Over one million people attend this annual festival that features First Nations exhibitions, a parade, rocking stage shows and concerts. The Calgary Stampede is famous for rodeos, and chuck wagon racing, along with competitions.

Horsehoe Crabs and Spiders

Horseshoe crabs were misidentified as crabs hundreds of years ago. They spend most of their time crawling on the sea floor and have a crab-like shell roughly resembling a horseshoe. However, they are grouped with arachnids.

Horseshoe crabs date back 500 million years as a species. These prehistoric survivors, who perhaps never evolved to flourish on land like the rest of their cousins, can grow up to 0.6 meters (2 ft) wide and use their long tails as a tool to dig for food or to turn over. The horseshoe crab has 10 eyes on its back and sides, can replace lost body parts, and has blue blood. The blood is medically valuable and is used to detect bacteria, for cancer research, diagnosing leukemia, and vitamin B12 deficiency.

What's in a Name, Bidet

A bidet is a low, basin-like bathroom fixture, usually with spigots, used for bathing the genital and perineal areas. It is also the French name for a small saddle horse originated during the early 1600s.

The modern bidet that resembles a toilet was developed in the 19th century, and the very popular bidet seat came about in the 1960s, with one of the most popular invented by an American, Arnold Cohen.

Bidet use greatly reduces the need for toilet paper, which in North America is over 36 billion rolls per year.

Incidentally, over 2.6 billion people (40% of the world’s population.) have no access to a toilet.

Take That Gig

Do you have some extra time and want to make a few bucks? Gigwalk is a company with an app that you can use to find work in your area. Some take minutes, like checking a product placement in a local store, to longer ones, such as doing an inventory of a product line. The platform gives brands and retailers on-the-ground visibility and allows them to take action to drive more in-store sales. There are gigs available in sixty cities so far with more to come in the future.

Workers (gigwalkers) look up opportunities on their phone and decide if they are interested. Each individual Gig is represented by a pin on the map in the mobile application. Gigs can take anywhere from 5 minutes to a few hours to complete and pay from $3 to $100. It pays directly to your Paypal account. Here is a LINK to the main site.

New York City Stats

New York City uses more energy, sucks down more water, and spews out more solid waste than any other mega-metropolitan area. There are about 20 million residents, speaking over 800 languages, in the 6,000 square miles that comprise the city’s greater metropolitan statistical area. It pumps out over 33 million tons of waste a year. The next closest offender is Mexico City, which generates 12 million tons of trash.

There are at least 26 other megacities around the world, which, according to new research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, account for 9 percent of the planet’s electricity use, drain 10 percent of its gasoline, and create 13 percent of its trash. There were 27 megacities, worldwide, as of 2010. In 2020 there will be closer to 40. According to the study, New York is more wasteful per capita, than all of them.

"The New York metropolis has 12 million fewer people than Tokyo, yet it uses more energy in total: the equivalent of one oil supertanker every 1.5 days,” according to study author Chris Kennedy, a professor of civil engineering at the University of Toronto.

Butt Biometrics

A team of engineers in Japan is working on a device that can recognize your butt.

A few years ago, a mechanical engineer named Shigeomi Koshimizu, along with his team at the Advanced Institute of Industrial Technology in Tokyo, designed a biometric cover for car seats. The sheet of fabric, with 360 embedded sensors creates an individual profile of each driver’s bum, based on size, shape, weight distribution, and pressure points. That profile could be stored in the car’s computer system, and only drivers with registered bums would be able to start the car.

The sensor sheets recognized drivers correctly about 98% of the time in lab tests. Koshimizu had also considered using facial recognition or palm scanners on the steering wheel to identify drivers, but found those methods “overbearing,” according to the Wall Street Journal. It will likely be a few years before they would be ready for a commercial product.

Lefties and Digits

Kangaroos prefer to use one of their hands over the other for everyday tasks in much the same way that humans do, with one notable difference, generally kangaroos are lefties. A study found that wild kangaroos show a natural preference for their left hands when performing particular actions, such as grooming the nose, picking a leaf, or bending a tree branch.

Psychologist Eliza L. Nelson observed several monkeys using individual fingers to grab food. The spider monkeys also were able to insert one or two fingers into a tube to grab a serving of peanut butter. It is the first time this type of independent digit control has been reported for this species.

The unexpected observation occurred during Nelson's research study evaluating measures of handedness in nonhuman primates, the tendency to use one hand more naturally than the other. Spider monkeys' hands have four fingers and no thumb. "We collected a large number of data points on each measure to allow for analyses. The team analyzed reach and coordination, both of which are difficult for spider monkeys given their unique hand structure. Comparing results of both tasks is critical for understanding the evolution of hand-use preferences in primates.

Contrary to predictions and previous findings, Nelson's research shows multiple measures are needed to fully characterize the concept of handedness as a single handedness test cannot effectively predict hand preference in nonhuman primates. The findings were recently published in the journal Animal Cognition.

Infants who exhibit a consistent right hand preference are more likely to develop advanced language skills by age two, according to another study by Nelson. The findings were recently published in the Journal of Developmental Psychology.

In the study, Nelson measured handedness in different ways according to the age-appropriate motor level. She looked at how infants used their hands to pick up toys and compared it to how they used their hands in combination to manipulate toys as toddlers. The study results suggest there may be an advantage to having consistent hand preference as an infant. Results showed children who had clear early hand preference performed better on language skills tests than those who did not develop handedness until toddlerhood. Those who were inconsistent in their hand use as infants, but developed a preference for the left or right hand as toddlers, had language scores in the typical range for their age. We should give her a hand for these interesting studies.

Jun 19, 2015

Happy Friday

Life is not meant to be drilled, but fracked until every last beautiful ounce spews out.

I always try to have a fracking good Happy Friday!

What's in a Name, eBay

When it was first created, eBay was called AuctionWeb. The original look for the site was very similar to Craigslist. AuctionWeb was one of four sites Pierre Omidyar ran under his eBay Internet, a domain he purchased before coming up with AuctionWeb. He originally wanted to call this “EchoBay,” but the domain was already taken by a Canadian mining company, so he shortened it. The other things you could find under the eBay umbrella were a page on the Ebola virus, a small travel agent site, and a personal shopper site. Within seven months of launching AuctionWeb, revenues coming in were out earning Omidyar’s day job at General Magic, so he quit to devote himself full time to his side project. About a year and a half later, general users and many in the press had been calling it “eBay,” instead of AuctionWeb, so he switched the name. In September of 1997, he also switched the look of the site to be much more graphically based.

When eBay went public with a suggested price of $18 per share (but surged to $53.50 on the first day), the 30 employees of the company at the time did a conga line around the office. The biggest recipients of that public offering were Omidyar, who today is worth about $8.7 billion, and the first CEO of the company, Meg Whitman, who has a net worth of just under $2 billion today.

The section eBay 'Deals' is a part of eBay where it highlights the best deals at a given time on eBay, saving you the effort of sifting through to look for them. It also breaks up the deals in various categories, such as Technology Deals, Fashion Deals, Home Deals, etc.

Ten Salt Types

Salt is the most important ingredient in cooking. Without it, most meals would taste bland and unexciting. Salt is a crystalline mineral made of two elements, sodium (Na) and chlorine (Cl). Sodium and chlorine are absolutely essential for life in animals, including humans. They serve important functions like helping the brain and nerves send electrical impulses. The main difference between the salts is the taste, flavor, color, texture and convenience.

Refined Salt (table salt) is the most common. It is usually highly refined. It is heavily ground and most of the impurities and trace minerals are removed. The problem with heavily ground salt is that it can clump together. For this reason, various substances called anti-caking agents are added so that it flows freely. Food-grade table salt is almost pure sodium chloride, at 97% or higher. Iodine is often added to table salt.

Kosher Salt is used for all cooking. It dissolves fast, and its flavor disperses quickly, so chefs recommend tossing it on everything from pork roast to popcorn. Kosher salt got its name because its craggy crystals make it perfect for curing meat, a step in the koshering process. Cooks prize crystals like these, because their roughness makes it easy to pinch a perfect amount.

Himalayan Pink Salt is harvested in Pakistan. It is mined from the Khewra Salt Mine, the second largest salt mine in the world. Himalayan salt often contains trace amounts of iron oxide (rust), which gives it a pink color. It also contains small amounts of calcium, iron, potassium and magnesium, and slightly lower amounts of sodium than table salt.

Black Salt, also known as Kala Namak, is actually a pinkish-grey color. It is mined in India and has a strong sulphuric smell. It is commonly used to spice food in Southeast Asia and has recently become more popular in the US among vegan chefs who use it for the flavor.

Flaked Sea Salt adds a complex flavor to steamed vegetables or shellfish. This salt adds a hint of briny flavor. It comes from England's Essex coast. Its texture is soft, with sheer, pyramid-like flakes. This is the fastest-dissolving of all of the salt grains.

Celtic Salt is a type of salt that originally became popular in France. It has a greyish color and also comes from and contains a bit of water, which makes it quite moist. Celtic salt contains trace amounts of minerals and is a bit lower in sodium than table salt.

Rock Salt is used for making ice cream and de-icing. Rock salt is paired with ice in old-fashioned hand-cranked ice cream makers to regulate the temperature. It is also used to de-ice sidewalks and driveways during the winter. It is not sold for use directly on food. It is usually packaged in an organic, unprocessed form. It has large, chunky, non-uniform crystals. Minerals and other harmless impurities can give it a grayish color.

Crystalline Sea Salt is used for adding a pungent burst of flavor to just-cooked foods. These crystals can complement anything from a fresh salad to a salmon fillet. It comes from coasts from Portugal to Maine, California to the Pacific Rim. It can be either fine or coarse. The size of the irregular crystals affects how fast it dissolves. It varies in color, depending on the minerals it contains. These natural impurities can add subtle briny, sweet, or bitter flavors to the salts.

Fleur de Sel is a special-occasion table salt. It is delicately flavored and adds a perfect hint of saltiness to freshly sliced tomato or melon. It comes from coastal salt ponds in France. Some call it the caviar of sea salt and it is hand harvested. It is crystalline and melts slowly in the mouth.

Pickling Salt is used for brining pickles and sauerkraut. It is also used to brine a turkey, and is more concentrated than kosher salt. Pickling salt may come from the earth or the sea. It is almost one hundred percent sodium chloride and is the purest of salts.
Bottom line, the main purpose for salt is to add flavor, not nutrition.

Smart Phone Hack

When going out of town, or to a large mall, finding your car when you come back can be a hassle. Take out your phone and take a picture of any landmark, especially if the lot is color coded, or numbered/lettered close to where your car is parked. Might save a bunch of time wandering around looking for your car.

Google Ocean View

If you think Google street view is cool, you will love street view/ocean. I like to use street view to see what a house, or building, or block looks like, so when I drive there I know what to look for.

Now we can do the same under the sea. Thinking of going somewhere warm to do some snorkeling? Try ocean view to see what types of fish you might encounter or take a tour of sunken ships. Street view/ocean has wonderful photography and all the features of street view, plus video. Caution, the views can be addicting. LINK

Humans and Wallabies Share DNA

A tammar wallaby is a small- or mid-sized macropod found in Australia and New Guinea. They belong to the same taxonomic family as kangaroos. One of them, Mathilda, became the first kangaroo to have her genetic code mapped.

The Australian researchers were shocked when they compared her code with a human’s. They had expected the comparison to be a mismatch, but it turned out that the genomes of the two species were more than just similar. Apart from a few differences, the genes were identical, and many of them were arranged in the same order. Both species hold large pieces of genetic information about the other.

It made more sense when the researchers also discovered that people and these bouncy marsupials had a common ancestor that lived at least 150 million years ago. Mice separated from humans only 70 million years ago, but scientists feel that kangaroos can provide more answers about human evolution when it comes to why some DNA remained the same for eons while other DNA changed. By comparing different genomes from species, unknown genes can be identified, and Matilda revealed 14 new genes never before seen in kangaroos, which might possibly also be present in humans.

How to Move a Mountain

Mother Nature can do in seconds what mankind has never been able to do. Geologists in China announced the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck Nepal in April caused Mount Everest to move three centimeters (1.2 inches) to the southwest.

The world's highest peak had been moving northeast at a pace of four centimeters (1.6 inches) per year during the past decade and China's national surveying administration said the height of the mountain has risen by three centimeters (1.2 inches) from 2005 to 2015.

The April 25th earthquake, which triggered an avalanche on Mount Everest, was one of two major quakes that struck Nepal this spring, leaving more than 8,700 people dead.

Quick Number Fact

 Forty is the only number whose letters are in alphabetical order.

Bad Fats

Not all trans fats are bad fats. Generally, bad fats are manufactured trans fats. They are also known as hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. Manufactured trans fat is a heavily processed vegetable oil. All hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils are trans fats. Partially hydrogenated vegetable oil is one of the top ingredients in most packaged foods: cookies, snack chips, pretzels, most peanut butter, and shortening. Many fast food chains fry their foods in partially hydrogenated oils.

Natural trans fats are found in dairy products and certain other foods. They have not shown to be harmful.

Vegetable shortening and most margarines contain trans fats. Trans fats begin as natural, polyunsaturated fats that are then exposed to chemical processes that change the molecular structure by artificially saturating the fat with hydrogen in the manufacturing process. Manufactured trans fats are synthetic saturated fats.

Manufactured trans fat raises LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and lowers HDL (good) cholesterol levels. It raises levels of triglycerides, another form of lipid, which can increase the risk of heart disease.

Commercial baked goods such as crackers, cookies, cakes, and many fried foods like doughnuts and French fries may contain trans fats. Shortening and margarine may also be high in trans fats. In the United States, if a food has less than .5 grams of trans fat per serving, the food label can read 0 grams trans fat.

According to the Mayo Clinic, in a healthy diet, 25 to 35 percent of your total daily calories can come from fat, but saturated fat should account for less than 10 percent of your total daily calories.

Monounsaturated fat, found in olive, peanut, and canola oils is a healthier option than saturated fat. Nuts, fish, and other foods containing unsaturated omega-3 fatty acids are also good choices of foods with monounsaturated fats. Consumption of bad trans fats has gone down in recent years and decades.

Jun 12, 2015

Happy Friday

A smile has a thousand friends, but a frown sleeps alone.

I am never lonesome, especially when I smile on a Happy Friday!

Handshakes and Health

A new study in the British Medical journal Lancet suggests the strength of a person's hand-grip could predict the risk of heart attacks and strokes and is a stronger predictor of death than blood pressure checks. The international study, involving almost 140,000 adults in 17 countries during four years found weak grip strength is linked with shorter survival and a greater risk of having a heart attack or stroke. It also found that grip strength is a stronger predictor of death than systolic blood pressure. Grip strength was assessed using a handgrip dynamometer. Reduced muscular strength, which can be measured by grip strength, has been consistently linked with early death, disability, and illness.

Kits and Caboodles

Kit has been in use as far back as the late 1200s and originally meant a round wooden tub, jug, tankard, or wooden container. Later it came to mean a knapsack as for a soldier, which contained all his needed items. Caboodle was first seen during the mid-1800s and from the earlier word boodle, meaning a collection of people among other meanings. Together they roughly mean all the people and all their things, the whole lot.

Kit and caboodle was first seen in print in 1884 in New York’s Syracuse Sunday Standard: “More audiences have been disappointed by him and by the whole kit-and-caboodle of his rivals.”

Cows Face One Direction

Cows always face north or south while eating. A team of scientists reviewed thousands of Google Earth’s satellite images of cows and found that cows will stand along the Earth’s magnetic poles, facing north and south whenever they are grazing or resting. The pattern remained consistent regardless of wind or other factors, and nobody is quite sure why.  It appears that it may have a purpose because of the consistency with which it was observed among cows across six continents.

Veal, Beef and Offal

Veal comes from calves. It can be produced from a calf of either sex and any breed, but most veal comes from male calves of dairy cattle breeds. Limited numbers of male dairy calves are needed for breeding and the rest are sold to the veal industry. Incidentally, rennet (necessary for cheese making) is extracted from part of the fourth stomach chamber of harvested young, unweaned calves used for veal production.

Beef comes from older cattle and can be harvested from bulls, cows, heifers or steers. When a cow is slaughtered, its beef is so fresh it is considered 'green'. Green beef is tough, bland, and has no sustained juiciness. Aging causes natural enzymes to break down the muscle fibers, making it more tender. Most aging takes place within one to two weeks. Incidentally, Kobe beef, prized for its intense marbling, refers to beef from the Tajima strain of wagyu cattle, raised in Japan's Hyogo Prefecture according to rules from the Kobe Beef Marketing and Distribution Promotion Association.  There are only about 3,000 head of cattle that may qualify as Kobe. No beef from Japan was allowed to be imported into the US by the USDA, starting during 2009. US 'Kobe-style' beef comes from domestically raised wagyu crossbred with Angus cattle. Black Angus is the most common beef breed (sixty percent and greater than the next seven breeds combined) of cattle in the US and is meat is used by McDonald's and Hardees.

Offal is also called variety meats or organ meats and refers to the internal organs and entrails of a butchered animal, such as calves, pigs, sheep, and lambs.  It includes most internal organs, but not muscle and bone. Certain offal dishes, including foie gras, pâté, and sweetbread are considered gourmet food in international cuisine. Others remain part of traditional regional cuisine including Scottish haggis, Jewish chopped liver, Southern US chitlins, Mexican menudo as well as many other dishes. Intestines are traditionally used as casing for sausages.

Cheap Airline Tickets

There are many sites that offer fares lower than going directly to the airline to book your flights. Google Flights quickly shows you the days and times with the cheapest flights. Visit Airfare Watchdog It checks airline sites for deals and pulls them into one easy-to-find place. Check Hipmunk to find flights with the best balance of cost and convenience.

A good app like Flight Aware allows you to track and know your flight's status and gate information before you leave for the airport, without calling.

Whiskey Name Origins

Four Roses Co-founder Paul Jones Jr. trademarked the Four Roses name in 1888. The story is that Paul Jones Jr. and his father, Paul Jones Sr., had opened a grocery and warehouse in Atlanta and the younger Paul became interested in distilling. At the time, he was also courting a local lady, and asked for her hand in marriage. They agreed that, at a grand ball they were to attend, if she were to accept his proposal of marriage, she would wear a corsage of four red roses. She wore the corsage and the two were married.

Knob Creek is produced at the Jim Beam distillery in Clermont, Kentucky, US. It is named for the creek that ran behind Abraham Lincoln’s childhood Kentucky home. The late Booker Noe, Jim Beam’s sixth generation master distiller, chose the name because he thought it reflected his values in making whiskey.

The rye whiskey brand name Whistlepig comes from the 'single oddest piece of social interaction' that founder Raj Bhakta had ever experienced. Bhakta was hiking outside of Denver, Colorado, US. “Out of the blue popped a guy with a thick French accent and a big shock of white hair,” says Raj. “He got very close into my personal space and asked ‘Could it be? A whistlepig?' I had no idea what he was talking about or what he was looking at. When I didn’t understand, he snapped in my face and repeated himself. When I still didn’t understand, he flicked his wrist and took off.”

The Wild Turkey name dates back to the 1940s, “Thomas McCarthy, an executive from Austin, Nichols the company that made the whiskey at the time, took all the New York business folks on a big turkey hunt every year.” The trip’s festivities would include hunting and whiskey. That year, he pulled 101 proof bourbon for the guests. The next year, they asked him to bring the same bourbon. He pulled a sample, and the brand’s name was born.

What's in a Name, Joaquin Phoenix

Joaquin Rafael Bottom/Leaf Phoenix was one of five children, all with equally interesting names, including River (1970–1993), Rain , Liberty, Summer, and a half-sister Jodean.

After Joaquin's parents, John Lee and Arlyn Bottom, married in 1969, they joined a religious cult and traveled around South America. They became disenchanted with the cult and moved back to the US in 1978, and changed their last name to Phoenix to symbolize new beginning.

About this same time, a young Joaquin began calling himself "Leaf," desiring to have a similar nature-related name as those of his siblings. Leaf was the name he used as a child actor until, at age 15; he changed it back to Joaquin.

Six Benefits of Laughter

Laughter increases a sense of well being and doctors find that people who have a positive outlook on life tend to fight diseases better than negative people. Laugh a little or laugh a lot, it is all good.

1. Laughing lowers blood pressure, which reduces risk of strokes and heart attacks.
2. It reduces stress hormone levels and cuts the anxiety and stress impacting your body.
3. It tones your abs by expanding and contracting stomach muscles.
4. It improves cardiac health and burns a similar amount of calories per hour as walking at a slow to moderate pace.
5. It boosts T cells to help you fight off sickness.
6. Laughing triggers the release of endorphins, which can help ease chronic pain and make you feel good all over.

Jun 5, 2015

Happy Friday

"He who laughs, lasts." - Mary Pettibone Poole

I plan to laugh and last a long time, especially while celebrating every Happy Friday!

Happy National Doughnut Day

National Doughnut Day is celebrated on the first Friday of June each year. (Doughnut is the dictionary spelling, but donut is becoming more acceptable each year.)

National Doughnut Day started on June 7, 1938 when a young military doctor by the name of Morgan Pett was sent to a military base. On his way there he stopped at a bakery and picked up eight dozen doughnuts. When he arrived at the base he started helping many wounded soldiers, and would give them a free doughnut. One man he helped was a Lieutenant General by the name of Samuel Geary. Samuel Geary decided to make a fund raiser with Morgan Pett to give every wounded soldier, and the needy a doughnut. This fund raiser was later joined with the Salvation Army. Many donut shops still give out free donuts on this day.

In honor of the day Krispy Kreme, with no purchase necessary, will hand out a free donut of choice to each customer.

Dunkin Donuts (which began the new spelling) will give out one free donut with the purchase of any beverage.

Incidentally, International Jelly-Filled Doughnut Day is widely recognized as June 8.

The Real D-Day

When Allied troops stormed the beaches at Normandy. It was a turning point of WWII, and not a day the world will soon forget. According to the National WWII Museum, June 6th, 1944 wasn’t the only “D-Day.” The term was used for any important operation. “D-Day” was the day of the operation itself, and the days leading up to and after the operation were indicated with “+” and “-”. So the “D” is a variable. If June 6th, 1944 was “D-Day” then June 1st, 1944 was “D-5″, and June 8th was “D+2.”

Since the variable references a specific day, “D” in “D-Day” essentially stands for “Day.”

The Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins says the French meaning of the D is “disembarkation,” and it also quotes a letter from Eisenhower’s executive assistant, Brigadier General Robert Schultz, in 1964 who responded to a letter to Eisenhower asking to clarify the meaning of “D-Day.” Schultz wrote, “Be advised that any amphibious operation has a ‘departed date’; therefore the shortened term ‘D-Day’ is used.”

D-Day has become synonymous with June 6th, 1944 because of the significant impact that particular operation had on World War II and world history.

Oregon Owns Water

According to Oregon water laws, all water is publicly owned. Therefore, anyone who wants to store any type of water on their property must first obtain a permit from state water managers.

A rural Oregon man was sentenced in 2012 to thirty days in jail and over $1,500 in fines because he had three reservoirs on his property to collect and use rainwater.

Oregon law that says all of the water in the state of Oregon is public water and if you want to use that water, either to divert it or to store it, you have to acquire a water right from the state of Oregon before doing that activity. The law states that the city of Medford, Oregon holds exclusive rights to “all core sources of water.”

Car Tire Colors

Car tires were initially off white, due to the natural color of the rubber used. Pure vulcanized rubber is soft and wears out very quickly and tends to heat up and deform under load. Tire makers mixed zinc oxide in with the rubber that added temperature stability and hardness, and which made the tires bright white in color.

As the benefits of adding carbon black to the compound became known, that additive was used just on the tread portion, while the side of the tire remained the natural color, the original whitewall tires. Adding carbon black made the tires darker, and they lasted four to five times longer.

Binney & Smith began selling their carbon black chemicals to Goodrich Tire Company (now Michelin). Binney & Smith would later switch to making school products, and, eventually, re-name their company after their most popular product, Crayola Crayons.

There are a few tire manufacturers that make specialty color tires, mostly for car shows, and during 1961, Goodyear Tires introduced an experimental tire that was illuminated from the inside. Small incandescent bulbs were mounted inside the tire through holes inside the rim and the tire was made from a single piece of synthetic rubber. The synthetic rubber was created much thinner than a regular tire to allow for the light to penetrate the rubber. Due to the strict laws regarding the manufacturing of street-legal tires and the obvious hazard of having fragile glass inside them, Goodyear’s illuminated tires never actually saw mass production.

Ant Life Facts

Spring is here and the ants have become active. The life of an ant starts from an egg. If the egg is fertilized, the progeny will be female; if not, it will be male. All females, except the queen are workers who feed the babies, take out the trash, and forage for food and supplies, and defend the nest. Males have one job, to mate with the queen.

Males can deliver 5 to 6 million sperm, which the queen can store and use for the rest of her life. The queen can produce a few thousand eggs a day and up to a million or more during her lifetime. She also decides which eggs to fertilize.

Queen ants can live for up to 30 years, and workers live from 1 to 3 years. Males, however may survive for just a few weeks.

Incidentally, there are an estimated 22,000 species of ants. Also, all male ants have a grandfather, but no father, and their grandfather had only a grandfather, but no father.

The Real William Shakespeare

A true, only known, actual portrait of William Shakespeare was recently found in a botany book. He was presumed to be about 33 at the time.

Botanist and historian Mark Griffiths claims in the new issue of Country Life Magazine that he has identified the “first and only known demonstrably authentic portrait of the world’s greatest writer made in his lifetime.” It was discovered on the title page of a 16th century botany book called “The Herball” by John Gerard.

Recipes and Rx

Retail prescription drugs in the US are over $200 billion annually. The origin of the Rx symbol comes from medieval time as an abbreviation for a form of the Late Latin word recipere meaning 'to take' or the imperative form of recipe, meaning 'take'.

By the late 1500s it came to mean medical prescription. This meaning lasted until the mid-1700s, when it was also applied to food preparation.

Physicians typically begin their directive with the command recipe, abbreviated to Rx. Other abbreviations used in the medical field for charting are “dx” (diagnosis), “sx” (signs and symptoms), and “hx” (history). Incidentally, females in the US fill almost fifty percent more prescriptions per capita than males.