Sep 28, 2018

Happy Friday

You do not need to speak of your happiness, a smile will suffice.

I like to show my happiness with a smile, especially on a Happy Friday!

More Benefits of Laughing

Some gelotology (study of laughing) findings have shown laughter produces some of the same positive effects as exercise. In fact, laughing intensely for an hour can burn as many calories as lifting weights for 30 minutes.
Researchers had 300 volunteers watch clips from either a stressful movie “Saving Private Ryan” or a comedy “There’s Something About Mary”. In addition to the difference in audible laughs, results showed a 30 to 40 percent increase in diameter of the heart’s blood vessels during funny scenes compared to tense ones. Those changes to blood vessel dilation are similar to what happens during exercise

Laughing exercises several muscles in the body, including the abdomen, back, shoulders, and 15 facial muscles. In another recent study at Oxford University, scientists tested the correlation between laughter and decreased pain threshold on a group of volunteer subjects.  Researchers demonstrated that pain thresholds of volunteers would increase after watching comedic videos, but not after viewing boring documentaries.

Laughter is a powerful antidote to stress, pain, and conflict. Nothing works faster or more dependably to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh. Humor lightens your burdens, inspires hopes, connects you to others, and keeps you grounded, focused, and alert. It also helps to release anger and be more forgiving.

The ability to laugh easily and frequently is a tremendous resource for surmounting problems, enhancing relationships, and supporting both physical and emotional health.

One of the benefits of laughter is that it can help you tone abs. When laughing, the stomach muscles expand and contract, similar to when you intentionally exercise your abs.

Laughter is also a great cardio workout, especially for those who are incapable of doing other physical activity due to injury or illness. It gets your heart pumping and burns a similar amount of calories per hour as walking at a slow to moderate pace.

Endorphins are the body’s natural painkillers. Laughing releases endorphins, which can help ease chronic pain and make you feel better.

Laughter can increase your overall sense of well-being. Doctors have found that people who have a positive outlook on life tend to fight diseases better than people who tend to be more negative. Laugh and live longer. . . and happier.

Another California Law

The Californian politicians in power have found a new way to spend tax dollars on enforcement - A new state bill would give children two options with their meals at restaurants, water or milk "to make the default beverage water, sparkling water, or flavored water, as specified, or unflavored milk or a nondairy milk alternative, as specified". Senate Bill 1192 makes water or milk the default drink for kids meals in a push "to reduce obesity and reduce access to sugary drinks for children".
"A person who violates any provision of the code is guilty of a misdemeanor with each offense punishable by a fine of not less than $25 or more than $1,000, or by imprisonment in a county jail for a term not exceeding 6 months, or by both that fine and imprisonment." Under the bill, the 2nd and 3rd violations within five years would be punishable by fines of not more than $250 and $500, respectively.
One of the reasons given is paragraph (f) "By enacting this act, it is the intent of the Legislature to support parents’ efforts to feed their children nutritiously by ensuring healthy beverages are the default options in children’s meals in restaurants."

The bill passed the Assembly and signed by Jerry Brown September 20, 2018. California, not surprisingly the first state in the nation to have such a law. Oh, and whatever they drink, they will not be using a plastic straw, because another recently approved Assembly Bill 1884 “prohibits dine-in restaurants from automatically providing plastic straws” to customers. 

Presidential Alert System

Former President Barack Obama signed a law in 2016 requiring FEMA to create a system that lets US presidents send cellphone alerts regarding public safety issues like natural disasters and terrorism.

US cellphone users will not be able to opt out of the alert system. The test message on Thursday, Oct 3, 2018 is scheduled for 2:18 p.m. EDT and will read: "THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed."

What's in a Name, Cocktail

There are almost as many stories about the origination of the word cocktail relating to drinks as there are types of cocktail. Most concede that the word is of US origin.

A computerized newspaper database showed up an 1803 article from New Hampshire satirizing the fast young men of its day by printing what was purportedly an extract from one of their diaries - "Drank a glass of cocktail—excellent for the head...Call'd at the Doct's, found Burnham—he looked very wise—drank another glass of cocktail."

On May 13, 1806, the Balance and Colombian Repository of Hudson, New York, answered a reader’s query as to the nature of a cocktail: "Cock-tail is a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters—it is vulgarly called bittered sling, and is supposed to be an excellent electioneering potion, in as much as it renders the heart stout and bold, at the same time that it fuddles the head. It is said, also to be of great use to a democratic candidate: because a person, having swallowed a glass of it, is ready to swallow anything else."

In one of James Fenimore Cooper's more obscure novels the salty Elizabeth “Betty” Flanagan keeps a rough tavern, and Cooper characterizes her as “the inventor of that beverage which is so well known at the present hour 1821, to all the patriots who make a winter's march between New York City and Albany, and which is distinguished by the name of ‘cock-tail."

Another theory as to the origin, is ginger was used in the horse trade to make a horse stick its tail up. If you had an old horse you were trying to sell, you would put some ginger up its butt, and it would cock its tail up and be frisky. That was known as “cock-tail.”

Battery Cost

Here is the cost and value of various batteries.

Pigs vs. Hogs

Pigs generally weigh less than 200 pounds, while hogs are 200-plus pounds.

Bacon Capsules and Bacon Cotton Candy

Mary Poppins said a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down, but now we have bacon flavored capsules to make the medicine go down even better. Capsule Depot, based in Ontario, Canada, describes itself as the world's largest online supplier of empty capsules. These are bought wholesale by health-related businesses, are filled with some kind of medicine or nutritional supplement, and end up at your local pharmacy or nutrition store. Among other varieties, it makes Capsule Depot Bacon Flavored Capsules.

Cotton candy is basically threads of spun caramelized sugar, so light that when it was invented in the late 1800s, it was called "fairy floss". The Iowa-based confectionery Chocolate Storybook creates more than 50 flavors for it, including
Chocolate Storybook Bacon Cotton Candy.

Wordology, Crocodile Tears

This expression is not used much these days, but it is interesting to know the history. It means tears or expressions of sorrow that are insincere.

It originated from a 14th century, a book called “The Travels of Sir John Mandeville” where the author recounts a knight’s adventures through Asia. In the book it says that crocodiles shed tears while eating a man they captured. Even though it is factually inaccurate, the phrase ‘crocodile tears’ found its way into Shakespeare’s work and became an idiom in the 16th century, symbolizing insincere grief.

Sep 21, 2018

Happy Friday

Happiness does not require validation.

Being happy is its own validation, especially on a Happy Friday!

Autumn, Fall

Yikes, tomorrow September 22 at exactly 9:54 P.M. EDT is the first day of Fall (as in fall of the leaf) in the Northern Hemisphere. Autumn is also the season that comes between summer and winter. Fall is the common American and Canadian term for Autumn. Before both of those terms, it was called Harvest.

Incidentally, September 1 is the beginning of Spring in Australia and New Zealand.

Another History Lesson

The Brooklyn Bridge was being built during 'Custer’s Last Stand” at the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876. It took place at the same time that the world's first steel wire suspension bridge, the iconic Brooklyn Bridge, was under construction.

The battle was fought between forces of the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho tribes and the United States Army. The defeat of US forces, led by Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer, was the most significant action of the Great Sioux War of 1876.

The Brooklyn Bridge still stands proud, having undergone major renovation works between 2011-2015, and carries roughly 150,000 vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians between Manhattan and Brooklyn each day.

What's in a Name, Pink Floyd

The name Pink Floyd came from their original front man, Syd Barrett. Barrett was a big fan of blues artists Pink Anderson and Floyd Council, so he took one name from each of them and combined them into one name for the band. Early on in their career, with little budget Pink Floyd would create visual effects for their live shows in a number of cheap, but effective ways. One of these ways was to cover their lights with colored condoms.

White Meat vs. Dark Meat

The differences in color between white meat and dark meat reflect the fact that different cuts of chicken or turkey meat come from different types of muscle.

Dark meat cuts, such as the thighs and drumsticks come from frequently-used muscles needed for walking and standing. These muscles use more oxygen and contain more fat and iron. The iron in the muscles is located in a protein called myoglobin. The myoglobin gives dark meat its darker color.

White meat cuts, such as the breast, breast tenders, and wings, come from muscles that are used less frequently. These muscles primarily use a carbohydrate called glycogen for energy, and they do not need as much oxygen. There is less iron and myoglobin in these muscles, so the meat is lighter in color.

Experts note that there are also slight differences between white meat and dark meat in nutritional value. All chicken contains valuable protein, niacin, biotin, and vitamins B6 and B12, but dark meat tends to be slightly higher in calories due to the fact that it contains more fat. The extra fat in dark meat also gives it a stronger flavor and makes it juicier.

MJ Overdose - NOT

Marijuana is impossible to overdose on. The median lethal dose (LD50) of THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) is so high and the methods of intake so dilute that it would take impossible feats to have it occur.

While there are a couple of different and conflicting sources, one estimate placed it at 40,000 times as much as the dose needed to get high. For instance, with cannabis brownies you would die of sugar poisoning long before the THC got you. With smoking, you would need to smoke about 1,500 pounds in a duration of 15 minutes. This is contrasted with alcohol, where five to ten times the amounted needed to get you drunk can kill you.

Wordology, Toast

The word toast derives from the Latin word 'tostare' (to scorch or roast). From Classical times it was common to flavor wine by floating small pieces of toasted bread in it. Sometimes these pieces would be flavored with spices; at other times the carbon in the toast would mellow the wine.

The following guidelines apply specifically to toasting in Canada and the United States.  Most people will lightly touch glasses when giving a toast, often saying "toast", "cheers" or a short phrase such as "to us". Toasting by raising the glass without touching is regarded by some as a slightly more sophisticated mode of behavior.

Except during formal occasions, it is not common to "propose a toast" in the more formal sense. However, when someone does make such a gesture, it is almost invariably met with approval regardless of the setting or the occasion.
If someone wants to propose another, this second toast should have a different focus than the first and be briefer than the first so as not upstage it. Subsequent toasts, if any, should even more succinct.

Americans and Canadians typically toast only once per gathering. Even lifting one's glass and saying "cheers" each time a new drink is poured is not impolite, but can get tedious.

Smart Devices Vulnerability

If you have smart home devices on your home WiFi network, such as light bulbs, security cameras, connected thermostat, etc., they might be vulnerable to hacking.

Here is a quick way to check if any of your devices can be found on the internet. Click on the link and it will check if your devices might be vulnerable. Not perfect, but it can provide an early warning. You can use it each time you add a new device. LINK

More Coffee Benefits

A review that combined the results of nine studies found that drinking more coffee is associated with lower risk of cirrhosis. In the review, drinking one cup of coffee per day was shown to be linked with a 22% reduced risk for cirrhosis, a liver disease. Two daily cups were associated with a 43% reduced risk, three cups with 57% reduced risk, and four cups with 65% reduced risk.

A review of more than 200 studies found that people who drank three or four cups of coffee per day were 19% less likely to die from cardiovascular disease.

One large review of studies found that every additional cup of coffee a person drinks per day was correlated with a 7% reduced risk for developing Type 2 diabetes.

A meta-analysis of studies about coffee intake and brain health calculated that regular coffee drinkers were approximately 16% less likely to suffer from Alzheimer's, dementia, or cognitive decline.

A large study of more than 500,000 European people found that during a 16-year period, men who drank three or more cups per day were 12% less likely, and women who did the same were 7% less likely to die from circulatory and digestive diseases and had healthier livers.


Photos are commonly saved as JPG or JPEG. It is good to save your photograph as JPG for altered colors, gradients, and textures. JPG loses a bit of clarity each time it is copied, due to compression, but is usually not noticeable.

Graphics and screenshots should be saved as PNG if the image contains pointed lines, clearly unconnected areas of flat colors and text. File compression for a PNG is lossless. Lossless compression retains all of the data contained in the file, within the file, during the process. This is important when you have images that are still in the editing process. PNGs are often used if size is not a concern and the picture is complicated because a PNG file holds more information than a JPG. Bottom line,
JPG for Photos, PNG for Graphics.

Incidentally, JPEG stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group, which created the standard. PNG stands for Portable Network Graphics.

Sep 14, 2018

Happy Friday

Smile at fear and it will disappear.

I always smile, especially on a Happy Friday! 

Horn-Rimmed Glasses

Last week, September 7 was the birthday of Buddy Holly (Charles Hardin Holley), an American music icon. It is a great surprise that had only one number one hit, “That’ll Be The Day,” on the American charts, although he had many songs that became classics. Sadly he had a short career and died at age 22. Here is a look at Buddy and the Crickets singing their hit song on the Ed Sullivan Show. LINK

When he started out, he wore nondescript plastic and wire-framed glasses, but his eye doctor convinced him to switch to horn-rimmed models. The style name came from the fact that the original glasses were made from animal horns. Sometimes they were made from tortoise shells. Holly's and almost all are now made from thick plastic. Interesting to note you can still buy Buddy Holly glasses on Amazon and many other places.

Wordology, Tarriff

Basically, a tariff is a tax levied by governments to control the flow of products across borders and making foreign manufacturers’ products more expensive. The purpose is to increase demand for domestic products while reducing the volume of imports. Tariff charges can be fixed price or a percentage of the transaction price.

In the United States tariffs, also called duties or levies are collected by Customs and Border Protection agents at 328 ports of entry across the country.

Importers pay more for products by paying the tax on top of the product cost. They pass along the increased costs to businesses, which pass along the higher costs to shoppers.

Because a tariff is a tax, the government receives increased revenue as imports enter the domestic market. Domestic industries also benefit from a reduction in competition, since import prices are artificially inflated.

Organic and Cancer

There is a popular belief, helped by bloggers with dubious expertise, that organic food and certain other foods have “anti-cancer” properties. However, Michelle McCully, the head of research interpretation at the World Cancer Research Fund, one of the world’s leading authorities on diet and cancer, says, “There is currently no strong evidence to support the idea that organic foods offer added protection against cancer compared to conventionally grown produce.” So, once again folks - there is no silver bullet.

Rungrado Stadium

The DPRK (North Korea) is home to the biggest stadium in the world in terms of seating capacity. May Day Stadium, is a massive structure built in 1989 and remodeled in 2014. The Rungrado 1st of May Stadium (also known as May Day Stadium) has a total capacity of 150,000 people. It dwarfs the next largest stadium, which is Ann Arbor's Michigan Stadium, which accommodates 107,600 people.

It hosts some soccer matches and general athletic competitions. May Day's grandest and most elaborate events are the annual Mass Games (known in Korean as Arirang). They pay tribute to the country's history, founders, and current leaders through gymnastics and dance performances put on by thousands of participants. The Arirang Festival is held each August and September and celebrates North Korean history, culture, and achievements.

Superman Ice Cream

Superman ice cream is believed to have originated in the Michigan-based ice cream shop Stroh's, though the exact origin remains elusive. Another Michigan dairy, House of Flavors in Ludington, MI makes its Superman ice cream with Blue Moon, cherry, and lemon ice creams. The flavor has been spotted in other Midwest locales, such as Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream Company in Madison, Wisconsin.

The exact combination varies from location to location, typically with vanilla, Blue Moon, and some other variety of ice cream included. The Stroh's Ice Cream version has Blue Moon, red pop, and lemon ice creams, while other versions such as those by the Meijer store brand "Scooperman" and the Hudsonville Creamery & Ice Cream Company "SuperScoop" versions of Superman ice cream are a mixture of vanilla, Blue Moon, and black cherry ice creams.

Scooper's Ice Cream Treats in Stratford, Ontario, Canada sells a similar blue, red, and yellow variety but calls it "Super Hero" ice cream. Laura Secord Chocolates also sells a similar variety of ice cream, called "SuperKid," made with banana, blueberry, and strawberry flavors. They all taste super.

Women on Money

During 1886 the first woman to appear on U.S. currency, was Martha Washington (first president George's wife). She was featured on the $1 silver certificate. A slightly re-designed Martha also was produced in 1891. Her likeness appeared on the face of the $1 Silver Certificate of 1886 and 1891, and the back of the $1 Silver Certificate of 1896.

Her first husband, Daniel Parke Custis died in 1757. She married George two years later and raised her two children from Custis as their own. Her inheritance from first husband made her extremely wealthy.

Newly redesigned bills with a woman on the front were to be unveiled in 2020 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the right of women to vote. However, the release dates for all the new notes could be pushed back further due to redesign to fight counterfeiting.

the only portrait required by law is that of George Washington on the $1 bill. A $1 bill lasts about 18 months; $5 bill, two years; $10 bill, four years; $20 bill, four years; and $50 and $100 bills, nine years.

What's in a Name, Scunthorpe Problem

A writer for SB Nation named Natalie Weiner posted a screenshot of a rejection form she received when she tried to sign up for a website. Her submission was rejected because a spam algorithm considered her last name "offensive." After she posted about this, hundreds of other people with similarly "offensive" last names sounded off about how they had experienced similar issues.

This phenomenon is so widespread that it has a name among computer scientists. It is called the Scunthorpe problem and it has been a scourge of the internet since the beginning. The name began after
an incident in 1996 when AOL's dirty-word filter prevented residents of several English towns and counties, among them Scunthorpe, Penistone, Lightwater and Middlesex — from creating accounts with AOL because it matched strings within the town names to "banned" words. If you look close, you will find the letters that seemingly make up the words.

One reason the problem has yet to be solved is because creating effective obscenity filters depends on the filter's ability to understand a word in context. Despite advances in artificial intelligence, this is something that even the most advanced machine-learning algorithms still struggle with. Ah, English is an amazing language that computers still cannot decipher.

History Lesson

Orville Wright was still alive when Hiroshima and Nagasaki were bombed during 1945.

The Wright brothers are credited with inventing what we know as airplanes, and it must have been tremendously difficult for Orville Wright, whose brother Wilbur died in 1912, to see his life's great achievement be responsible for the greatest single act of destruction man had ever seen. During 1945, US Air Force planes dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing at least 129,000 people.

Orville died in 1948 and expressed sadness in an interview about the death and destruction brought about by the bombers of World War II. He said, "We dared to hope we had invented something that would bring lasting peace to the earth. But we were wrong ... No, I don't have any regrets about my part in the invention of the airplane, though no one could deplore more than I do the destruction it has caused. I feel about the airplane much the same as I do in regard to fire. That is, I regret all the terrible damage caused by fire, but I think it is good for the human race that someone discovered how to start fires and that we have learned how to put fire to thousands of important uses."

Sep 7, 2018

Happy Friday

Not smiling is like keeping the combination to a safe locked inside it.

I try to always smile, especially on a Happy Friday!

What's in a Name, Roget

Almost all of us have heard of Roget's Thesaurus (a dictionary of synonyms). Roget was a British physician, natural theologian and lexicographer, best known for publishing, the Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases, a classified collection of related words in 1852, twelve years after he retired. He is also responsible for the invention of the slide rule, which allows a person to perform exponential and root calculations. In addition, he was a founder of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. It published information to people who were unable to obtain formal teaching or who preferred self-education. The Thesaurus is continually updated and still in print.

Eating Pork Medium

National Pork Board is here to change those hearts and minds. During the 1930s and 1940s, trichinosis was a food safety factor, but that has been long gone from the food system.

The Board recommends cooking pork loins and chops to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. That is a pink-centered medium rare, followed by a 3-minute rest before serving. This was not always the case: Prior to 2011, the typical recommendation was 15 degrees higher. (Ground pork should still be cooked to 160.)

“Meat generally continues to cook even after it’s removed from a heat source so this just acknowledges that,” Kevin Waetke, vice president of strategic communication for the National Pork Board. The food service industry has been following this new pork cooking standard for almost ten years.

Still More Google Tips

Quick translate is good for menus or short phrases
Type: “translate [words] [language]”. Examples:

translate read carefully french
translate coq au vin english
translate good afternoon spanish

Another tip, great if you are not sure of your company and want to be disturbed.

Type: “set timer to [time]”. Example: “set timer to 5 minutes”
Type: “set timer for [time]”. Example: “set timer for 19:00”

Boiling Lobster

Lobster Pain Followup - As a followup to a post of mine LINK to my blog. It seems there is some disagreement about Lobsters feeling pain.

A Switzerland law went into effect March 1, 2018 that bans the common cooking method of tossing a live lobster into a big pot of boiling water, quickly killing the tasty crustacean. That practice is outlawed because the Swiss say it is cruel and lobsters can sense pain.

The first national legislation of its kind in the world calls for a more humane death for lobsters, by “rendering them unconscious” before plunging them into scalding water. Two methods are recommended: Electrocution or sedating the lobster by dipping it into salt water and then thrusting a knife into its brain.

The new lobster legislation that boils down to a pain-free death was driven by research, including a study by Queen’s University in Belfast that found crustaceans are sentient creatures. “These studies show that lobsters, like other animals, experience pain and distress,” said Stefan Kunfermann, a spokesman for the Federal Office of Food Safety and Veterinary Affairs.

Wind Power

Wind power constituted 25 percent of all US generation capacity additions during 2017. Wind energy contributed 6.3 percent of the nation's electricity supply, more than 10 percent of total electricity generation in 14 states, and more than 30 percent in four of those states (Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, and South Dakota).

Lower installed project costs, along with improvements in capacity factors, are enabling aggressive wind power pricing from 7 cents per kWh in 2009 to around 2 cents per kWh during 2017.

Blunts vs. Joints vs. Spliffs

Blunts and joints only contain cannabis, but blunts are rolled with tobacco paper whereas joints are rolled with lighter, partially translucent papers. Blunts are generally considered to be the heaviest hitters due to the interaction between the tobacco paper and cannabis. Joints often include a paper filter known as a crutch, which adds stability to the roll and allows you to enjoy your joint without burning your fingertips.

Spliffs are essentially hybrids, part tobacco and part cannabis. They are rolled in the same paper spectrum as joints and also often include a crutch. Tobacco provides an initial head rush and energetic physical buzz similar to coffee, which precedes the effects of cannabis. This sensation is most notable in spliffs because of the loose tobacco presence.

Paper choice is important, impacting the product’s size, flavor, and burn rate. You can use loose papers to roll joints and can use both loose papers and pre-rolls to make spliffs.

In Europe the names are reversed: a joint refers to a roll with cannabis and tobacco and a spliff refers to rolled cannabis exclusively. This is because a “joint” is a combination of two items instead of just one. Puff well my friends.

Wordology, Arachibutyrophobia

It is the fear of getting peanut butter thuck to the roof of your mouth.

New Technology

Last week the IFA (Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin or International radio exhibition Berlin), Europe's largest technology show opened. It ran Aug 31 to September 5, 2018. Some of the new stuff included the usual tech items, including ear buds, speakers, smart watches, smart phones and smart phone watches, laptops, new computer chips, etc.

Lenovo introduced a laptop convertible that has a speaker built in to its hinge, so the sound comes out directly at you vs. on the bottom or back as current PCs have them placed.

There were some smart appliances, including a fridge with a built-in vacuum sealer and another with built in lazy Susan. Also shown were smart dishwashers, cook tops, and smart vacuums. Difficult to go through the entire list as there were a few thousand exhibitors showing their wares to a few hundred thousand attendees.

If you have yet to buy a 4K TV, you may pass a whole generation in technology as 8K TVs were everywhere at the show and here are a few - LG 88 inch, Samsung 4 - 65 inch smallest, one is 88 inch, Sharp 60, 70, and 80 inch, TCL from 65, 70 and 75 inch, Toshiba 65 inch. Many are already or will be available as soon as this month.

Many experts say the smallest TV for 4K should be 65 inches to get the best appreciation for being able to notice the picture quality. Interesting to note that Japan starts 8K broadcasts in December 2018. No word from Netflix or Amazon about when 8K movies or shows will be produced.

Best of show winner was the LG 8K OLED TV (price about $25,000 US). Best smartphone: Sony Xperia XZ3 smartphone, best TV: Samsung 8K TV, best in home theater: Harman Kardon Citation speakers, best smart speaker: Huawei AI Cube, best headphones: Sony WH-1000XM3, best wearable tech: Garmin Vivosmart 4.