Feb 23, 2018

Happy Friday

The joy of happiness is immeasurable.

I count on staying happy, especially on a Happy Friday!

Wordology, Mnemonic

Mnemonics make it easy to remember facts. There are many examples that have been around for years, such as this mnemonic sentence, "Super Heroes Must Eat Oats."   For instance, the names of the five Great Lakes spell the word HOMES. If you want to remember them them in order of size from largest to smallest surface area, try “Super Heroes Must Eat Oats” - Superior, Huron, Michigan, Erie, Ontario. If you want to remember them from left to right on a map, change Super Heroes to “Super Man Helps Every One.”

Famous Olympians After Olympics

Some Olympians become famous for other accomplishments long after the medal glory wears off. Here are a few folks you might not remember for participating in the Olympics.
Dr. Benjamin Spock, author of the bestselling Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care (1946), was the authority on child rearing in Baby Boomer America. Spock rowed with Yale's crew team and made the men's eights team for the 1924 Paris Olympics. He won a gold medal at age 21. He also  placed third in a 4-mile rowing contest at age 84.

General George S. Patton, World War II officer who led the U.S. Third Army on the Western Front, was famous for his foul mouth, rousing speeches, and tenacious leadership. He placed fifth in the inaugural modern pentathlon (swimming, riding, fencing, running, shooting) at the 1912 Olympics.

Bruce Dern was second in 1500 meters and 800 meters events in the Senior Olympics.

Geena Davis picked up archery as a hobby, but almost made the 2000 USA Olympic Team, where she placed 24th out of 300 at the tryouts. She had only been shooting for two years prior to trying out.

Jason Statham developed an interest in diving at age 11, joined Britain’s National Diving Team and competed in the 1990 Commonwealth Games.
Dolph Lundgren was asked to serve as the Team Leader for the 1996 US Olympic Modern Pentathlon team.

Strother Martin, from Cool Hand Luke movie,  "What we've got here is failure to communicate." He entered the adult National Springboard Diving competition in hopes of gaining a berth on the US Olympic team, but finished third in the competition.

Talk to a Human Help

These days it seems like companies deliberately hide the phone number to speak to a real human being. Even if a company provides a number, the computer leads us through a seemingly random set of questions to keep punching in numbers until we want to scream.

There is a way to bypass much of this hassle. A website https://gethuman.com/ provides real numbers and real techniques to get to a live human being. It even offers to help (for a fee) if you are completely exasperated.

Longest Gestation

In humans, the period of time it takes for a baby to grow in the womb to the point when it's ready to be born is called the gestation period and it averages about 40 weeks or nine months. Relative to many animals, that is a short period of time

When it comes to mammals, no one has to wait as long to give birth as the elephant. weighs approximately 230 pounds when born, to develop. The average gestation period for an elephant is about  95 weeks or 23 months.

Black alpine salamanders have gestation periods that can last two to three years. The higher they live in the Alps, the colder it is and the longer their gestation period lasts.

Certain species of sharks also have long gestation periods, such as a basking shark carries its young almost three years, while the frilled shark has a gestation period of three and a half years.

Deeper beneath the sea is another marine animal the a deep-sea octopus at over 4,500 feet deep in the ocean waters off California. Babies were born after a gestation period of 53 months. That is more than twice as long as most that live in more shallow waters.

TV is Watching Us

Your smart TV is watching you. Some may not mind being tracked as it allows more personal ads sent to you. Others may not like being tracked for any reason. Saw this in USA Today and thought I would share how to turn off smart TV tracking.
LG - In the menu, click to Settings, which brings you to All Settings, and find your way to General. The feature to look for here is LivePlus, which is what LG calls the ACR technology. This is the one you want to turn off.
Samsung - On newer sets, go for Settings in the menu, then Support, then Terms & Policies. From there, Consumer Reports suggests pulling Viewing Information Services to opt out of. On older models, Consumer Reports says to click on Support and then select Terms & Policy and then SyncPlus and Marketing to turn off ACR.
Sony - Consumer Reports notes that ACR is turned on during setup of the TV, via agreements with Sony, which makes the TV; Google, which provides the AndroidTV operating system; and Samba TV, a company that gathers analytics on viewers' habits that advertisers can use for targeted ad campaigns. On Sony TVs, you need to get go back to the setup, available within Settings, to turn off ACR. If you want some of the Web connectivity, but not everything, you can agree to Sony and Google policies, and then when you come to Samba TV, opt out of ACR by clicking 'disable'.
TCL/Roku - TCL, Hisense, Hitachi, Insignia, Philips, RCA and Sharp.
Turn off ACR by going to Settings, then Privacy, and "Smart TV Experience." Consumer Reports says you can uncheck "Use Information for TV Inputs" to disable ACR.

Vizio - Select System, click on Reset & Admin and opt for Viewing Data to opt out of ACR.

Before TV Interviews

This site has a compilation of interviews on film that date back to the 1920s and 1930s. If you want to be fascinated, have a watch. No big revelations, but interesting conversations with real people. Caution, you could spend way too much time on the site. LINK

Where is Starman Now

Elon Musk made history again with his sending a Tesla and Starman into space. Here is a website that is tracking the car in real time along its journey. Fun short term diversion. LINK

Windows 10 Windows Key Tips

We have all likely become used to seeing the Windows key on the keyboard. Down on the left side of keyboard between the CTRL and ALT keys. It is very handy for a number of functions to make your life easier if you know which key combos to use.

Just pushing on the Windows key will bring up the start menu quicker than moving the mouse to the start bar.
A few combinations the might be of interest.

Windows key and e  - opens the file explorer window to find files.
Windows key and x  - opens up the computer settings bar
Windows key and m - sends you back to the desktop
Windows key and k - brings up the connection bar.

Feb 16, 2018

Happy Friday

You can never outspend happiness.

I bank on being happy, especially on a Happy Friday!

Soapy Fish Bait

Ivory soap can be used as catfish bait by boiling it and letting it re-harden so that it does not crumble. Melt it in a double boiler, then pour into an ice cube tray. Once poured, push a treble hook into each cube with the points of the hook sticking out and let it harden. Incidentally, hot dogs also make good catfish bait.

Cord Cutters

Would be cord cutters might stick with cable TV, because they find it difficult to make a decision or find it difficult to change. There are so many options that it can seem overwhelming, so it seems easier to overpay than make the change. Many are finding that regular cable, in addition to high cost, offers the worst picture quality due to compression the signals to get so many channels on the wire. Even antenna TV offers substantially better picture quality and it is free after the purchase of an antenna.

Considerations for cutting the cord include the 4 C's - Cost, Channels, Commercials, and Complexity. I'll go through each with some questions. Cost is obvious. Can you afford what you are paying? Do you want to pay less? How much less is worth your while? Are you considering a life change that might make you move and break your contract (and pay a termination fee)? Is a long term contract a good idea?
Which channels do you consider 'must have', because your favorite shows are on them? Out of the hundreds of channels most people regularly watch less than 18.
How complex or complicated will it be to change? Can I do it myself? Will I need to hire an expert and how much will it cost?
Do I mind watching commercials? Do I hate commercials? Many cable TV alternatives offer premium packages that offer programs without commercials.
There is a website that can help answer many of those and more questions. It has the latest offerings and you answer a few questions, then it narrows down the offerings for you. https://www.suppose.tv/tv
Incidentally, Spectrum has decided to offer ala cart selection, where the subscriber can select up to ten additional channels (from a list) in addition to the standard set of channels. Sounds like the ultimate, have it your way TV. For an additional fee, there are even more premium channels that can be added individually.

Winter Olympic Tidbits

This year there are 92 countries participating in the Winter Olympics. The opening show used a record-setting 1,218 drones, four times as many as Lady Gaga in her Super Bowl half time show. The plastic and foam drones are about a foot-long, weigh eight ounces and are all synchronized to fly in formation. Here is a link to one of the formations. LINK
Here are some stats:
2,500 athletes participating

242 from US - most of any country

102 events
222 medals
80,000 foreign tourists
Members of Team USA who win a medal receive:
$37,500 for Gold, $22,500 for Silver, $15,000 for Bronze.

New Olympic Events

Four new events were added to this Olympics: Men’s and Women’s Snowboard Big Air, which sees competitors performing their best spins and tricks after launching off a large (about 160 feet) ramp.

For the first time, the Alpine skiing Nations Team Event will make its debut; the event features mixed teams of two men and two women going head-to-head in a series of downhill slalom races in a best-of-four competition.

Men’s and Women’s Speed Skating Mass Start features a maximum of 28 athletes in a 16-lap race, where all participants start at the same time with winner-takes-all stakes.

Curling Mixed Doubles. The new event consists of teams of two, a man and a woman, competing in a curling match

For the 2020 Summer Olympics five new events will be added: baseball/softball, karate, sport climbing, surfing, and skateboarding.

Olympic Tech

A test of a next-generation 5G network and a series of multiple camera 'pods' shooting more than a terabyte an hour of footage all have to work without a hitch (one terabyte holds the equivalent of 250 full-length movies). All that footage goes by fiber-optic cables to a technical operations center, where it is processed into the 360-degree and 3D stereoscopic footage that some can watch at home.

Fourth Type of Olympic Medal

In addition to the gold, silver, and bronze there is another Olympic award that is even harder to obtain. The Pierre de Coubertin medal, inaugurated in 1964 and named in honor of Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the International Olympic Committee, is given to athletes, former athletes, sports promoters, sporting officials and others who exemplify the spirit of sportsmanship in Olympic events or through exceptional service to the Olympic movement.

Unlike the sporting medals, the de Coubertin medal is not awarded at every cycle of the Games. It is only handed out when the International Olympic Committee determines someone has truly earned it.

In January, just ahead of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea IOC president Thomas Bach bestowed the award upon Chinese artist Lv Junjie, a master of Zisha (means "purple clay,"), an ancient type of clay that is used to create teaware and other small objects. Bach commended Junjie, because of his work using Zisha, or Yixing clay to spread the Olympic spirit. Many of his creations contain Olympic art.

Lash Tabs and Pig Snouts

Have you noticed that many backpacks have a little leather square sewn on the front?

The little diamonds, called lash tabs or pig snouts have two parallel slits cut out of the center. This lets you weave a cord or string through and tie various items, such as shoes, a water bottle, etc., to your bag. The strong little square is built to hold your larger items while hiking or traveling, but it can also be used for smaller objects like earbuds or anything you want to get at quickly.

Why Not Reuse Water Bottles

There are many types of water bottles and it pays to know which ones can be reused. A bottle labeled 1 is only safe for a single use. When exposed to oxygen or high temperatures, including sun heat, such a bottle will discharge toxic substances that get into the water. Also avoid bottles labeled 3, 6, or 7 as they exude toxic chemicals able to penetrate drinks, and lengthy exposure can result in severe health problems.

Bottles made of polyethylene (2 and 4) and polypropylene (5) are suitable for multiple uses. They are relatively safe if you only store cold water in them and regularly disinfect them.

Feb 9, 2018

Happy Friday

My mother never taught me to be happy. She showed me.

Strive to be a happy role model, especially on a Happy Friday!

Sunday Car Buying

In fourteen US states, car dealers are not legally allowed to be open on Sunday and many cities have similar laws. Even in states and cities where dealerships can be open on Sunday, there are sometimes restrictions on what time they can be open or that require a dealer to choose to be closed on either Saturday or Sunday. The reason is called a blue law and blue laws were enacted for religious reasons to allow people to practice their faith on Sunday, instead of buying liquor or automobiles.

Mardi Gras

Can you believe it, Next week is Mardi Gras and the beginning of Lent for this year. That means Easter will be on April Fool's Day, April 1.

4K TV Antenna Debunked

It is happening again. When broadcast TV made the switch from analog to digital signals about 10 years ago it was said by many, you need an HDTV antenna. There is no such thing as an HDTV antenna.

Now 4k broadcasting over the air is coming. It is tentatively scheduled to begin this spring in Phoenix, Arizona, USA. A new 4k TV antenna will not be needed, because there is no such thing. Any TV antenna claim to perform better because it is a 4K TV antenna is a scam.

Just like with 4K HDMI cables - There is no such thing.

Caveat Emptor!

More 4K

Technically the new standard for over the air 4K is ATSC 3.0. This new broadcast standard is generally called "Next-Gen Broadcast TV" for simplicity sake.

There are some differences between the current (ATSC 1.0) antenna TV and the new Next-Gen TV. The new standard is internet protocol-based, which means it can carry internet content along with traditional TV broadcasts. The broadcast can also include 4K video and high dynamic range (HDR) content.
It also has higher-quality 3D multi-channel sound from content that supports it. All of which are more and better than what is available on normal (expensive) cable TV.

In addition to all those goodies, these new signals will be available on mobile devices as well as TVs.

Next-gen TV will enable enhanced emergency alerts, so consumers will receive more precise, localized warnings during natural disasters or fast-moving weather events.

The move to ATSC 3.0 is voluntary for broadcasters, unlike the Digital TV transition, when they were given a firm deadline for stopping analog broadcasts. Now each company gets to decide when to make the move, or not.

Traditional signals will still be free by law as now, but some additional services could be charged for as the new standard has two way communication built in. This presumes the FCC holds broadcasters to the same public interest obligations with the new broadcasts as they have with the current ones.

Of course, if all this seems to be too good to be true, it likely is. The new standard is not compatible with the current standard. Because all current TVs have ATSC 1.0 tuners, they will not be able to receive the new signals.

TV manufacturers will soon add both old (ATSC1) and new (ATSC3) into new sets. This will likely begin in late 2018 and 2019. LG is now shipping TVs in South Korea with both technologies built in. Someone will pay for this. . .

Also, another round of sticks and boxes for converting will come along, such new versions of Roku, FireTV, AppleTV etc., sticks and boxes.

So, the bottom line is that it will be immensely better to receive everything over the air, but it will likely not be free, and maybe not even cheap. This will be a major disruption for cable companies and change the whole digital landscape and players again.

The good news is that, since it is voluntary and costly to set up, it will be slow. We can enjoy what we have and do not need to dream of sugar plums for a few years. That is except for some techno geeks who just cannot wait to suffer more early adapter slings and arrows from new whiz-bang technology stuff. Oh, is my anticipation showing?

Super Bowl Rings

The winner has emerged and the winning team will be wearing new rings to celebrate the occasion. Generally, every player on the 53-man roster, the entire coaching staff, and the front office earn rings.

The NFL pays for the cost of 150 rings for the winning team, with a max cost of about $7,000 per unit, depending on the cost of gold and diamonds at the time. That usually covers the bulk of people the team wants to gives the rings to, but it can go above that number if the team buys extra rings.

Other players who can receive rings include practice squad players, players on injured reserve, and players who were on the roster at some point during the season. Teams will often consider everybody who contributed at any point in the season worthy of a ring.

Teams can really give them out to anyone. There have been fan raffles for rings and teams are not stingy with them when it comes to front office staff, players, and coaches. That does not mean that they always end up with the same rings, however. There have been examples of teams giving "lesser" rings to front office staff or other non-coach, non-player personnel.

The main Super Bowl rings are massive and can weigh 100 grams or more and include more than 100 diamonds. The Green Bay Packers Super Bowl XLV ring had more than 100 diamonds, and was made out of platinum, which is more expensive than gold.

The losing team actually gets a ring as well. It is sometimes referred to as the AFC or NFC Championship ring. It typically is less gaudy, and there is also less information about them. It is difficult to imagine that a league championship ring is considered a loser's ring.

Incidentally, the refs also get Super Bowl Rings.

Animal Pain

Animals with simple nervous systems, like lobsters, snails and worms, do not have the ability to process emotional information and therefore do not experience suffering, say most researchers.

Vertebrates with spines have much more advanced nervous systems and can feel real pain and suffering.

The research regarding whether or not lobsters feel pain is still inconclusive. The hiss that sounds when crustaceans hit the boiling water is not a scream. They do not have vocal cords.

Kirkland vs. Grey Goose

Grey Goose is made from the same water source as Costco's Kirkland Signature Vodka from the Gensac Springs in France's Cognac region.

Grey Goose has received lower ratings than the Costco house brand on many blind taste tests. Competitions where spirits are graded by blind taste testing, Kirkland scores an 88 and Grey Goose scores 82.

Incidentally, Grey Goose costs more than twice as much.

Wool Dryer Balls

I read about these alternatives to static cling sheets and other items you can put into the dryer to help eliminate static cling, so I went to Amazon and purchased  set of six. Hardly necessary as they seem to almost last forever. In fact some estimates are that they will last a few years depending on how many loads you do, and they are rated for up to a thousand loads (more than I will do in the next 15 years). As a bonus, the description says you can add essential oils to the ball for making clothes smell a bit better.

In order to boost the overall effectiveness of dryers, wool dryer balls reduce drying time, fluff and soften fabrics, reduce wrinkles, reduce static cling, are better for your skin, and the environment. A set of 3 is a good start and they will save you between 40% in a small load to 25% in a large load. It increases with the more dryer balls you use. They get in-between the towels and clothing to keep items from sticking together while damp. Some people use tennis balls for the same effect, but they do not last as long.

Consumer reports says that liquids in the wash cycle do better at reducing cling than fabric softener sheets in the dryer. It also debunked the idea that fabric softeners, especially liquids, leave towels far less absorbent.

Incidentally, I tried the plastic dryer balls, but they snagged a few items, so I promptly ditched them. Also, plastic dryer balls will eventually soften and lose their ability to soften and dry clothes. Aluminum balls also reduce static, but are  bit rougher on delicate clothes.

Feb 2, 2018

Happy Friday

Be Happy is number one on my ToDo list.

Complete number one and enjoy every day, especially a Happy Friday!

Groundhog Day

Today is groundhog day and it is pundit predicted that Punxsutawney Phil, Pennsylvania’s weather-forecasting groundhog, will see his shadow, signaling six more weeks of winter weather for the United States. Watch your local news for updates after the sun rises.

How Many Breaths

None of us will be holding our breath to find out about the end of winter, but the following is still interesting. An infant breathes 40 to 60 times a minute; a five-year-old, 24 to 26 times; an adolescent, 20 to 22 times; an adult (beginning at age 25) 16 times. An average person at rest breathes about 17,000-30,000 per day. A person who lives to 80 will take more than 670 million breaths. Of course it may be less when fascinating facts like this take away our breath.

Football Facts

The big game is coming this Sunday, so I decided to look up a few facts about football.

The NFL League Office, is tax exempt and is classified as a trade organization whose primary purpose is to “further the industry or profession it represents.” This began in 1942 when the NFL filed an application for tax-exempt, non-profit status with the IRS. The application was accepted and it has been tax-exempt ever since.

In recent years, about 110 million people watch the Super Bowl. An estimated 98% of those viewers are from North America, mostly from the United States.

Since 1955, the official NFL footballs have been made at the Wilson factory in Ada, Ohio. Each football is handmade from cowhide sourced from Kansas, Nebraska, and Iowa. The hides are tanned in Ada with a “top secret football-weather-optimizing tanning recipe.” An average 130 people working at the factory produce nearly 4,000 footballs every day. Each football is made up of four pieces and a synthetic bladder, and each cowhide can usually make up to ten footballs (or hand eggs).

During 1951, the first year of night Football, footballs were white with two black stripes so that players and spectators could easily see the ball in the dark. Advancements in stadium lighting were made, making the white ball unnecessary, and by 1956 they were officially replaced with the standard brown football we have today.

The official nickname of the football used by the NFL is “The Duke,” after Wellington Mara. Mara, who was named after the Duke of Wellington, was the co-owner of the New York Giants and the son of the founder of the Giants. The nickname was used between 1941 and 1969. It fell out of use in 1970 when the AFL and NFL merged, but bounced back into play in 2006, a year after Mara’s death.

Scotch, Bourbon, Rye

For those sipping during the big game, this should provide a conversation starter. "If you are a cognac, you have to be made in the Cognac region. If you are a champagne, you have to be made in the Champagne region. It is the same for scotch. Single-malt scotch whisky is made at a single distillery, exclusively from malted barley, and must be aged for at least three years in oak casks.
Bourbon and rye are native American spirits. Aside from the point of origin, what differentiates variants of whiskey (Irish and Americans), or whisky (Scots) is the 'mash bill', or list of ingredients used to make it.

Bourbon in the US must have 51% or more corn, and the rest of the mash bill is traditionally rye and malted barley.
All bourbon is whiskey but not all whiskey is bourbon.

Rye whiskey must have 51% or more rye, and the rest is usually corn and malted barley.

In addition, both must be aged in brand new American oak barrels.

DFW Airport Facts

Dallas-Fort Worth Airport has 17,207 acres (6,963 hectares; 27 square miles) and is larger than the island of Manhattan. It is also the second largest airport by land area in the United States.

It is the third busiest airport in the world by aircraft movements and the eleventh busiest airport in the world by passenger traffic as of 2016.

With nearly 900 daily flights, American Airlines at DFW is the second largest airline hub in the world and the United States, behind Delta's Atlanta hub.

DFW has its own police, fire protection, and emergency medical services.

Airports Council International named DFW Airport the best large airport with more than 40 million passengers in North America for passenger satisfaction during 2016

Wordology, Doohickey

The word first appeared in the November 12, 1914 edition of Our Navy magazine, where it states, “We were compelled to christen articles beyond our ken with such names as ‘do-hickeys’, ‘gadgets’ and ‘gilguys’.”
A Sailor Boy’s Log by Robert Brown in 1886, where he also notes one of the first known instances of “gadget”- “Then the names of all the other things on board a ship! I don’t know half of them yet; even the sailors forget at times, and if the exact name of anything they want happens to slip from their memory, they call it a chicken⁓fixing, or a gadjet, or a gill-guy, or a timmey-noggy, or a wim-wom.”
Doohickey soon spread to being used by airman as well, with it noted in Edward Fraser & John Gibbons’ 1925 Soldier & Sailor Words, that “doo hickey” was an airman’s term for small, detachable fittings. Within a couple decades, the word was being used widely throughout America as a placeholder name for anything one could not remember the name of.
Doohickey probably derives from “doodad,” which has uncertain origin, but first popped up in documented form about a decade before “doohickey,” with doodad meaning “a superfluous ornament.” The sailors simply meshed this term with “hickey,” which meant “a device for bending a conduit or a small fitting used in wiring for electric lights, a fixture piped for gas."
Who first used the term “doohickey” has been lost to history. Other names used around the time were doodad, hickey, doojigger, thingamawhatsit, watchamacallit, thingummy, gadget, widget, gilguy, etc.

Incidentally, during the late 1920s or early 1930s, hickey mostly referred to pimples, then other marks on teenager necks, and later began being used by printers to refer to various blemishes in engravings.

Whats in a Name, CliffsNotes

If you attended any organized school, you likely have heard of CliffsNotes. You maybe even used them. Cliff Keith Hillegass dropped out of a Master’s program studying physics and geology at the University of Nebraska in 1939, got married, and took a job working for the Nebraska Book Company.

During 1958, Cliff met Jack Cole, the co-owner of Coles Toronto book business which published a series of Canadian study guides called Coles Notes. Jack agreed to sell Hillegass the US rights to the guides.

Catherine MacDonald, was a co-founder of Cliff'sNotes (original spelling) with her first husband, Cliff Hillegass. She typed an initial mailing to college stores of about 1,000 letters. Catherine operated the fledgling publishing company out of the basement of the family home and during the first few years shipped over a million Cliff'sNotes with a tiny staff including the couple’s children. They divorced in 1967.

He designed the first yellow and black cover himself, with a visual pun of an outline of mountain cliffs. He used graduate students to write the guides. Cliff never wrote any of the guides. He paid modest fees to its writers and no royalties, sold printed booklets for pennies a copy.

The first run published in 1958 comprised 16 of Cole’s Notes’ Shakespeare study guides, funded with a $4,000 loan. The study guides were a hit, selling a reported 58,000 copies in the early going allowing Cliff to expand his enterprise. From his first Cliff's Notes, a summary of Hamlet, in 1958. He eventually published more than 220 titles and sold more than 50 million CliffsNotes worldwide.

The company was selling more than 5 million pamphlets annually and reaping multimillion-dollar profits. Cliff retired from CliffsNotes, selling the company to IDG Books for $14 million. He died at age 83 on 5 May, 2001.