Aug 26, 2016

Happy Friday

Sharing happiness is like shining a floodlight on your soul.

I always open my soul to friends when sharing a Happy Friday!

Mr. Hyde National Burger Day

Yesterday, 25 August was the fourth annual National Burger Day in the UK (celebrated on last Thursday in August). It was launched by Mr. Hyde, a daily email service for men covering style, culture, film and places to eat meat. It began three years ago in a fit of mild indignation that there was not a National Burger Day in the UK, but were two in the US. The event set out to right that wrong.

During 2015 there were 475 restaurants across England, Scotland, and Wales giving 20% discounts for burgers on the day. This year's events were bigger and better. As of last month, over 925 restaurants signed up nationwide to celebrate the big day. Nice to see our English cousins enjoy a good, wet, juicy burger almost as much as we do.

August Facts

In common years no other month starts on the same day of the week as August, except during leap years when February starts on the same day. August ends on the same day of the week as November every year.
What we think of as tumbleweeds are actually Russian thistle, and they first showed up in the US in a shipment of flax-seed that was sent to South Dakota. A few years later, they were found all over the West, from California and North into Canada.

Single plants can get as large as a small car and bear up to 250,000 seeds at once, making the invasive species a massive problem that was already getting the attention of the US Department of Agriculture in 1880.

Since tumbleweeds can thrive with little water, they were capable of taking over towns and driving people from their homes as they spread across the wide expanse of the West.

Pony Express Facts

The Pony Express (The Central Overland California and Pikes Peak Express) only lasted for 18 months and ended in October 1861 with the development of the telegraph. Since it was so expensive to send mail, around $5 per ounce, it was generally reserved for businesses and official correspondence rather than personal mail. Riders were responsible for carrying the mail the relatively short distance of about 32 kilometers (20 mi), and most riders were boys.

Barometers and Smartphones

Weather predictions rely on sensors on the ground that report data, such as barometric pressure, which can help scientists determine when the weather is about to change. These sensors are also used to help local forecasters predict the weather.

During the last five years, the number of pressure sensors in the world has exploded, because Smartphone manufacturers have started putting them in Smartphones. The purpose is to help determine a device’s altitude for location tracking. Samsung’s Galaxy Smartphones have barometers built-in since 2011, and the feature came to Apple’s iPhone during 2014.

Now, many of the almost three billion Smartphones in the world have one. Developers and weather forecasters have been talking about using smartphone sensors for years, but the phone operating systems do not make available the pressure readings taken by their Smartphones.

Recently, a popular weather app called Dark Sky introduced an opt-in feature that automatically takes barometric pressure readings. It gets more than a million pressure sensor reports a day.

Dark Sky has several different ways to inform about important weather conditions in the exact spot you are standing with your phone. Precise down-to-the-minute notifications alerts when rain or snow is about to start. Severe weather alerts inform of dangerous conditions, and more. It even has detailed maps. LINK

Another opt-in app, WeatherSignal, takes automatic readings and sends data to a number of academic partners for processing. Organizers are hoping for a commercial piece in the near future.

It may be time we begin to help the weathermen, rather than curse their ignorance.

Windows 10 Touchpad Tips

Windows 10 has some awesome new Touchpad gestures that should make navigating the OS a lot easier. There's pinch-to-zoom, two-finger scroll, three-finger multitasking, and more. Below, gesture for zoom in and zoom out - squeeze fingers together or apart.

Some of these gestures are customizable as well, go to Settings > Devices > Mouse and Touchpad. You can change the actions of finger taps, adjust scrolling, right click, and more.


WikiLeaks stays in the news and has for many years, but few of my friends have actually visited the website, or even know it exists. It is described as an international non-profit, journalistic organization that publishes secret information, news leaks, and classified media from anonymous sources. The published editorial policy says it accepts only documents that are "of political, diplomatic, historical, or ethical interest" and excludes "material that is already publicly available." Its website was initiated in 2006 in Iceland by the organization Sunshine Press. It no longer uses the 'wiki' method of user input and also is not related to Wikipedia.

WikiLeaks relies on volunteers and describes its founders as a mixture of Asian dissidents, journalists, mathematicians, and start-up company technologists from the United States, Taiwan, Europe, Australia, and South Africa. As of June 2009, the website had more than 1,200 registered volunteers and listed an advisory board, including Julian Assange and seven other people. It is entirely run on donations. Lawyers around the world provide pro bono assistance as needed.

Its leader, Julian Assange described himself in a private conversation as "the heart and soul of this organization, its founder, philosopher, spokesperson, original coder, organizer, financier, and all the rest." LINK

Charlie Chaplin Music

Have written about his many talents before, but keep finding more interesting info about him. Charlie Chaplin composed the music for almost all of his films. In fact, he was the only person to write, produce, direct, compose, conduct, and act in his movies. Charlie was never classically trained in music, but played a number of instruments. He even sang LINK.

Customarily in scoring silent pictures the Wagnerian Leitmotiv system, a distinctive musical theme associated with a character and idea. He wrote the ninety five musical cues in "City Lights" and the passages where the music follows or mimics the action in what is generally known as “mickey-mousing” from its use in the scoring of animated cartoons.

Here are a few of his songs: "Smile", "Eternally", "Terry's Theme", "Limelight", "This is My Song", "Oh that Cello", "There’s Always Someone You Can’t Forget", "Sing a Song”, “With you, Dear, in Bombay”, "Falling Star",  “A Paris Boulevard”, “Tango Bitterness”, and “Rumba”.

A few of his songs have become classics, top ten hits, and endure long after his death on Christmas Day, 1977 (He was born in 1899). Have included a few links below for a brief musical interlude.

"Smile" was made famous by Nat King Cole  LINK and was also covered by Michael Jackson, Timi Yuro, and Tony Bennett.

"Eternally" was covered by many, including Placido Domingo, Englebert Humperdink, Jerry Vale, Vic Damone, and Sarah Vaughn LINK.

"This is My Song" covered, among others by Petula Clark LINK and Judith Durham LINK.

World Population Statistics

These numbers may provide some perspective on how popular we think we might be: 104 million people are born each year, 57 million people die each year, 108 billion are estimated to have ever lived on earth, and there are 7 billion people currently alive. Next time someone tells you how great they are, ask them what percent of the seven billion people they can call friends.

Aug 19, 2016

Happy Friday

Happiness is empyreal.

I wake up in awe of another Happy Friday!

Happy National Aviation Day

During 1939, Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Presidential Proclamation 2343, making August 19, Orville Wright’s birthday, National Aviation Day.

Spumoni Day

August 21 is National Spumoni Day in the United States. It is not as popular as it used to be when there were many more Italian ice cream shops around. Spumone (plural spumoni) is a molded Italian ice cream made with layers of different colors and flavors, containing candied fruits and nuts. It is usually three flavors, cherry, pistachio, and either chocolate or vanilla and the fruit/nut layer often contains cherry bits, causing the traditional red/pink, green, and brown color combination. Dreyer's and Edy's still make the delicious mix. My mouth is watering for some with pistachio ice cream. Yum! Incidentally, November 13 is National Spumoni Day in Canada.

Another Use for Toothpaste

Take a damp, soft cloth and a small blob of toothpaste to easily erase minor scratches and scuff marks on your car. It works best if the scratches and/or scuff marks have not fully penetrated the clear coat of paint. Softly rub the toothpaste onto the scuff mark using small, circular motions to cover the blemished area.

Whitening toothpaste seems to work best as it has more abrasives than other types. Toothpaste works to sand down the uneven surface of the glossy sheen and fill in the gaps. Make sure the surface around the area is clean. If there is foreign paint on the outside, the toothpaste will also act as an abrasive to help remove it. Incidentally, it also works well to buff your smart phone screen scratches.

Super Storage

Computers are getting smaller and so is storage, but not data. Businesses are being forced to store huge amounts of data. The latest product is the 60TerraByte SAS solid state device from Seagate, the world's largest capacity solid state drive and it fits into a standard 3.5 inch standard hard disk drive slot.

The drive is aimed at data centers. It has twice the density and four times the storage of its nearest competitor. The capacity shows room for 400 million photos or 12,000 DVDs.

"Given the demands on today's data centers, optimal technologies are those that can accommodate an immense amount of data as needed—and without taking up too much space. As such, we are constantly seeking new ways to provide the highest density possible in our all-flash data center configurations," says Mike Vildibill, vice president of Advanced Technologies and Big Data at HP Enterprise.

Seagate has not released pricing details on the 60TB SAS SSD, but it has said the drive will hit the market during 2017.

WWII is Not Over

There are a string of volcanic islands in the Pacific, known as the Kurils. A dispute between Russia and Japan, has prevented the two nations from signing a peace treaty to formally end World War II.

The islands are equidistant between the two countries and are rich in natural resources, including potentially large oil and natural gas reserves. Known in Japan as the Northern Territories and in Russia as the South Kurils, four of these islands are at the center of a dispute over ownership that continues. Many potential solutions to the conflict have been proposed, but talks between the countries have led to a stalemate and lack of war ending treaty.

Another Windows 10 Quick Tip

If you have many windows open and want to focus on one in particular, while holding down the left mouse key, grab the title bar with your mouse pointer, then shake back and forth to minimize all other windows. If you want to bring the other windows back, just shake the first window again and all will be right back to normal. Using the Alt and Tab keys together still works to switch windows.

Wordology, Part and Parcel

Although not used in everyday discussions as it was in the past, this idiom is still used in the legal system. In this reduplicative phrase, common since the 14th century, the nouns ‘part’ and ‘parcel’ are synonyms. It comes from the ancient legal practice of including words of closely similar meaning to make sure that the sense covers all eventualities. The expression part and parcel was originally used in a sense that was frequently preceded by every, to mean all parts of something, even the smallest.

A parcel is part of a larger whole, such as parcel of land, parcel of weather, parcel of equipment, etc. Part is a division or portion of something and has the same meaning.

Recently it has come to imply the sense of something being a necessary part of some larger containing thing and the implication that this particular part may not be desirable, but cannot be avoided if you want the thing it is part of. For instance, we understand that some inconveniences are still part and parcel of modern travel. Other similar words include: nooks and crannies, aid and abet, etc.

Incidentally, the Southern US variation, passel comes from the old pronunciation of parcel and is often preceded by whole, suggesting a large group of people or things, such as a passel of problems, or passel of experts.

What's in a Name, Wikipedia

Wikipedia is based on two words, the Hawaiian word Wiki, meaning quick and encyclopedia, with pedia being the Greek term for knowledge: “quick knowledge.”

Aug 12, 2016

Happy Friday

Joy is the wine that fills the cup of happiness.

I fill my cup every time I enjoy a Happy Friday!

Wordology, Denote and Connote

The difference between denotation and connotation is easy to confuse, because they describe related concepts. Both denotation and connotation stem from the Latin word notāre, meaning 'to note'.

The denotation of a word or phrase is its explicit, direct meaning.

The connotation of a word or phrase is an associated, secondary meaning. It can be something suggested or implied by a word or thing, rather than being explicitly named or described.

For example, the words home and house have similar denotations or primary meanings: a home is “a shelter that is the usual residence of a person, family, or household,” and a house is “a building in which people live.” However,  both of these words carry different secondary meanings, or connotations. A home connotes a sense of belonging and comfort and house conveys little more than a structure.

One way to remember the difference between the terms is to take a hint from the prefix: 'con' comes from Latin and means 'together; with'. The connotation of a word works together with its denotation or explicit meaning.

Windows 10 Quick Tips

To quickly get at your settings menu, hold down the Windows key and touch the letter i.

Hold down the Windows key and touch the letter x to open a system context menu, where you can use the arrow keys to highlight any of the entries, then press enter to launch the activity without using your mouse or trackpad.

Olympic Trivia

American John Heaton won the silver medal for the Skeleton (like a head first luge) in the 1928 games.  He came back 20 years later for the 1948 games and won another silver medal in the Skeleton. He retains the record for the longest span between winning two Olympic medals for the same event. Incidentally, he also won the bronze medal in the two-man bobsled at the 1932 Lake Placid Winter Games.

Figure skating debuted in the 1908 Summer Games in London. The other warm weather events were held in April and the figure skating was held at the end of October, which made the London Games the longest in modern Olympics history.

Figure skating returned, along with ice hockey, in the 1920 Summer Games in Antwerp and both events were held in April along with the warm weather sports. Canada was the winner of the first Olympic ice hockey gold medal.

The Winter Olympic Games debuted in 1924 in Chamonix, France. The Winter Games included skiing, bobsledding, and curling, along with figure skating and ice hockey.

Wordology, Picosecond

Computers are becoming faster than ever and scientists are working on devices that are a thousand times faster than current technology. Current computer memory performs at nanosecond speed, or one billionth of a second. A picosecond, one trillionth of a second, is about the time it would take for a beam of light, traveling at 186,000 miles per second, to pass through two pieces of paper.

Water and Ice

Seventy percent of the Earth's surface is water. Of this, 98% is salt water, leaving 2% as fresh water. Of that two percent that is fresh, about 90% is frozen. This frozen water is locked up in the Arctic and Antarctic ice sheets, and glaciers on the Alps, etc. I think the chance of us running out of water soon are slim.

Manhattan Border War

There is a small part of Manhattan that is physically part of the Bronx borough to the north. It is the neighborhood of Marble Hill. The two boroughs have been playing tug of war over this former island neighborhood for over a century.

The quarrel started with the building of the Harlem Ship Canal, which cut right through Manhattan's northernmost neighborhood, turning Marble Hill into an island. During 1914 the canal was filled in, making Marble Hill now physically part of the Bronx, but still legally part of Manhattan.

Medical Robots

The first robot-assisted surgery was performed during 1983. There were 1,000 robot-assisted surgeries performed in 2000 and by 2014, there were 570,000 robot-assisted surgeries. The list of robot types and surgeries performed are too numerous to list here. Incidentally, all robot systems are projected to triple during the next five years.

Alkaline Water

This type of water is supposedly an extra-healthy type of water to drink, with claims that it slows the aging process, increases energy, helps cure fertility issues, regulates the body’s pH level, has antioxidant features, cleanses organs, and prevents chronic diseases like cancer.

Proponents of alkaline water believe it works by making our bodies less acidic. Many people believe that the American diet contributes to chronic low-grade acidosis, associated with health issues including hormonal problems, loss of bone, and metabolic problems.

In your stomach, where the stomach acids digest your food, the pH is 1.5 to 3.5 (acidic). Antacids, like Tums contain alkaline ions that can cancel out acidity and neutralize stomach gastric acid. Under normal circumstances, stomach acid is essential for food digestion.

There are two types of alkaline water: artificial alkaline water, which is generally tap water run through an electrical ionizer to make the pH more alkaline and bottled spring or mineral water. Natural spring water passes through rocks and soil and picks up various minerals, which affect its pH. Naturally-occurring mineral water contains alkalizing compounds, such as calcium, silica, potassium, magnesium, and bicarbonate.

For people who have a kidney condition or people who are taking medication that alters kidney functions, the minerals in alkaline water could start to accumulate in their bodies. Drinking too much alkaline water, or drinking water with a high pH, may disrupt the body’s normal pH. This can lead to a condition called metabolic alkalosis, which may cause confusion, nausea, vomiting, hand tremors, muscle twitching, and tingling in the face, hands or feet.

You can purchase water ionizing machines, which use titanium or platinum to make water alkaline, and they do not introduce natural minerals.

There are no peer-reviewed studies demonstrating that consuming alkaline water can reduce a person's cancer risk or help them to better fight cancer and the American Cancer Society does not make a recommendation for consumption of alkaline water.

It is possible that alkaline water may provide some health benefits, to some people, in some circumstances, such as with acid reflux disease.

No studies, to date have proven there is any benefit to health by drinking alkaline water. According to Mayo Clinic, regular water is best and there is no scientific evidence that verifies the claims made by alkaline water proponents. Caveat Emptor!

Chauvin Day

On the anniversary of Napoleon Bonaparte's birthday August 15, we celebrate the interesting etymological history of the word "chauvinism," which comes from a man named Nicholas Chauvin, who so idealized Napoleon that he became internationally mocked for his blind loyalty to a cause. The term became associated with any misguided or ill-intentioned adherence to a particular cause and the discriminatory mindset it refers to today.

Aug 6, 2016

Happy Friday

Happiness in your soul cannot be contained.

Let all that happiness out and enjoy a Happy Friday!

What's in a Name, J.R. Simplot

J.R. Simplot was a high school dropout who developed the first freeze-dried potatoes and vegetables for the U.S. Army, during WWII in Europe. The longer shelf-life and easy reconstitution of Simplot’s frozen vegetables helped ensure troops overseas could be kept stocked with food needed during the war.

At the end of the war Simplot signed a contract with Ray Kroc at Mc Donald's to provide frozen French fries. It provides McDonald’s with more than 50% of its French fries worldwide.

Size Matters

The Statue of Liberty is the tallest statue in the US. France paid $250,000 to build the statue, US paid $275,000 to build the stand. It was originally copper color and gradually took on a patina to the current green.

Motto of United States

The following is not meant to be political, but to remind what the Motto of the United States is. Contrary to what one of our candidates for president said during her recent acceptance speech, E Pluribus Unum was officially replaced as the motto of the US during 1956, by the US Congress passing an act making “In God We Trust” the official motto.

Incidentally, President Obama also made the same faux pas during a speech he made a few years ago.

Clementines, Tangerines, and Oranges

A Mandarin is a small, loose-skinned, orange-yellow to deep orange-red citrus fruit. While many refer to mandarins as oranges, they are technically tangerines. All Clementines and Tangerines are Mandarins, but not all Mandarins are Clementines or Tangerines.

A Clementine is a deep red-orange, often seedless mandarin orange.

A Tangerine is a widely cultivated variety of mandarin orange having deep red-orange fruit with easily separated segments. Tangerines have seeds. A tangerine is smaller, less round, sweeter, and contains less acid than an orange. They have virtually the same nutritional values. Tangerines are smaller than oranges and the peel comes off easily.

Oranges are larger, as well as more tart and sweet than tangerines. Orange zest is the orange layer on the outside and the rind is the white underneath.

A Satsuma is a seedless mandarin orange native to Japan and the hardiest commercial citrus fruit.

Clementines look like small oranges: they are actually a cross between navel oranges and mandarin oranges. They are a great source of vitamin C and provide a natural sweet, honey-like flavor. They have shiny tight skins and make a great display as a centerpiece. Clementines are often confused with Satsumas, which have a looser skin.

Navel oranges are the most common type of oranges for eating. These sweet oranges are baseball sized, seedless, and sweet. The thick skins make these oranges easy to peel.

Blood oranges have a deep red color of the flesh that distinguishes them. They are smaller than navel oranges and are very sweet.

Valencia oranges are the classic orange for juicing. They have a thin skin and seeds. Valencia oranges are delicious to eat as a fruit, but more difficult to peel than navel oranges.

Seville and other sour oranges make great marmalade. They can be used to add acid when cooking, for cocktails, and in salad dressing. You can replace lemon or lime juice in recipes with the juice of a sour orange.

Free Gym Membership

 Before you sign up or renew your health club/gym membership, check your health insurance policy. Many reimburse for health club membership fees.

Wordology, Whale, Wail, and Wale

A whale is a large marine mammal, one of the larger cetacean mammals that has flippers, a streamlined body, and a blowhole. The word whale may also be used as an adjective to signify something outstanding or impressive, and used as a verb to mean to thrash soundly, to beat upon, or to go fishing for whales. The word whale is derived from the Old English word hwæl.

A wail is a high-pitched cry of grief, anger, or pain. Wail may be used as a noun or a verb. Wail is also used by American jazz musicians to mean 'play well', as in, he can sure wail on that sax. Wail comes from the Old Norse word væla, which means to lament.

A wale is the welt that raises up on the skin after a whipping. Wale may also be used to refer to a ridge of corduroy fabric or the weave of a fabric in general. Wale also refers to the horizontal band on a basket. Wale is derived from the Old English word walu, which means ridge of earth or stone, as well as stripe or weal.

Hamburger Menu

The three short horizontal lines on the upper right or left of browsers and on many apps is commonly called 'the hamburger menu'.

In Chrome on the upper-right corner, click on it and under “More Tools” is 'Extensions'. In Firefox it is called 'add-ons'. Click either and you will see a list of all the extensions or add-ons you have installed. At the bottom of the list is 'Get more'. Clicking that will take you to Google Play or Mozilla and show thousands of free extensions and add-ons you can install.

Incidentally, for most options, icons, hamburger menus, other menus, Start Button, or shortcuts in Windows, left click the mouse to take action, right click the mouse for information. If you are not sure, right click.