Feb 23, 2020

Happy Friday

Chasing happiness is futile. Stand still and it will find you.

Stand still, look in the mirror, and happiness will smile back, especially on a Happy Friday!

Wordology, Henge

The word henge is a backformation from Stonehenge, the famous monument in Wiltshire, England. A henge is a prehistoric enclosure in the form of a circle or circular arc defined by a raised circular bank, and a circular ditch usually running inside the bank, with one or more entrances leading into the enclosed open space. Henges were probably used for ritual purposes or for marking astronomical events, as solstices and equinoxes. Due to the poor defensive utility of an enclosure with an external bank and an internal ditch, henges are not considered to have served a defensive purpose.

The alignment of henges is a contentious issue. Popular belief is that their entrances point towards certain heavenly bodies, but henge orientation is highly variable and may have been more determined by local topography than by desire for symbolic orientation.

Stonehenge is not a true henge as its ditch runs outside its bank, although there is a small extant external bank as well. The term was first coined in 1932 by Thomas Kendrick, who later became the Keeper of British Antiquities at the British Museum. Concentrations of henges occur over much of Britain.
Stonehenge was in private ownership until 1916, when it was bought on the spur of the moment by Sir Cecil Chubb, the owner of a local lunatic asylum, as a present for his wife. Three years later she gave the site to the nation. Over the centuries nearly half of Stonehenge has been quarried away for building stone. Before 1900, visitors to Stonehenge were handed chisels so that they could provide themselves with a souvenir.

Carhenge, which replicates Stonehenge, consists of the circle of cars, 3 standing trilithons within the circle, the heel stone, slaughter stone, and 2 station stones and includes a “Car Art Preserve” with sculptures made from cars and parts of cars. Located just north of Alliance, Nebraska, Carhenge is formed from vintage American automobiles, painted gray to replicate Stonehenge. Built by Jim Reinders as a memorial to his father, it was dedicated at the June 1987 summer solstice.

What's in a Name, Smart Alec

The insult is dismissively applied to those who think they know everything. The real Alec was not.

Alec Hoag was a prominent criminal in 19th century New York. Hoag’s wife, Melinda, disguised herself as a prostitute. While the johns were distracted, Alec pilfered through their pockets. Because Melinda could be easily identified and to keep the business flowing, the police received a portion of the profits from the stolen goods.

Hoag improved upon his scheme with a move called “the panel game.” In the middle of a tryst, Alec again took the valuables out of the discarded clothes of the unsuspecting mark. He then barged in the room accusing the man of sleeping with his wife. The adulterer would pick up their clothes and escape without thinking of their missing items.

Eventually, Hoag made enough that he thought he no longer need law enforcement’s help. They disagreed. Alec and Melinda were quickly arrested. Mocking him, the police ironically referred to him as “smart Alec.” The phrase entered the lexicon shortly after.

Bacon Powder

This is a new one and I need to try it. Powders are a new addition to menus and are flavors that are dried to a dust and then sprinkled or served alongside food as a garnish. In some restaurants they are served as an entire course on their own. The main method for preparing powders is to mix a liquid of some type with maltodextrin. This is then processed in a food processor until it becomes a powder.

An incredibly tasty powder is made from rendered bacon fat and maltodextrin. It melts in your mouth while filling it with an intense bacon flavor. What more could anyone want to eat? Yumm!

Bacon powder is a great way to add flavor and texture to different dishes, such as sprinkled over New England clam chowder at the last minute to add a visual treat and a flavor that melts through the dish.

Bacon Powder Ingredients: 60% rendered bacon fat, 3g salt, 40% tapioca maltodextrin. Heat the rendered bacon fat until it becomes a liquid. Pour it into a bowl large enough to comfortably hold it. Whisk in the salt. Begin to whisk in the tapioca maltodextrin. Once it begins to thicken and clump you can add it in more slowly and you may have to start using a fork to incorporate the maltodextrin as whisks will often fill with the paste. Continue to add tapioca maltodextrin while mixing until it forms the texture you want. The actual amount will also depend on the quality and type of bacon fat you use. Wait at least 20 minutes before serving. Of course you can also just buy the powder, which I am planning to do.

The home-made powder will last for several hours at room temperature or in the refrigerator for several days. When you are ready to serve the bacon powder simply spoon or sprinkle it over popcorn, burgers, veggies, fried chicken, or another favorite dish. Think of it as an all the flavor with none of the fat ingredient.

More Google Facts

Google searches 30 trillion web pages, 100 billion times a month.

Google HQ rents 200 goats from California Grazing to mow its lawns and fields.

Type solitaire or pacman in the Google search box, and a screen with the game will appear under the box.

Google processes more than 2.3 million searches per second, or about one hundred Billion searches per month.

Over 60% of Google searches happen on mobile.

Nine More Myths Debunked

Toilet seats are full of germs.
It is one of the most commons misconceptions that the seats of a toilet are full of germs. A study conducted by the University of Arizona found them to be relatively clean, because they are often disinfected or washed. In fact, they were found to have ten times fewer germs than cell phones.

Alcohol warms you up.
It feels good to have a sip of whisky on a cold day, but that burning sensation is not some kind of interior warmth. In fact, alcohol dilates blood vessels, causing blood to be pumped closer to the skin, leading to a drop in your core body heat. If you are cold, reach for a blanket, not a flask.

Caffeine dehydrates you.
Drinking coffee makes you dehydrated is another myth. While caffeinated drinks do have a slight diuretic effect, researchers have not found any increased risk of dehydration in coffee drinkers compared to non-drinkers.

Coffee comes from beans.
Coffee comes from the pit inside the coffee fruit. They are actually coffee seeds.

Penguins mate for life.
It is true that penguins are monogamous, but they do not stay that way for life. Many change partners from one season to the next.

Baseball was invented in Cooperstown.
That history is an invention, cooked up in 1907 by a committee charged with figuring out the origins of baseball. They gave the credit to Abner Doubleday, a Civil War hero who allegedly invented the game in Cooperstown, NY in 1839. Doubleday was still at West Point in 1839, and he never claimed to have anything to do with baseball. Variations on baseball have been around since the 18th century, from children’s games like rounders to cricket. Baseball as we know it today was the brainchild of New Yorker Alexander Joy Cartwright, a volunteer firefighter and bank clerk who codified a new set of rules, such as the three-strike rules, a diamond-shaped infield, and the foul lines. He also abolished the dangerous practice of tagging runners by throwing balls at them.

French Poodles are French.
The French Poodle is widely believed to have first been bred in Germany, not France. In fact, the word “poodle” comes from the German word Pudelhund, a combination of words meaning “dog” and “to splash.”

Hawaiian pizza comes from Hawaii.
Hawaiian pizza actually originated in Ontario, Canada, when Satellite Restaurant owner and Greek immigrant Sam Panopoulos returned from Detroit, MI having sampled what was then a novelty for Canadians: pizza. He decided to try out pineapple on pizza during 1962 to attract customers to one of his Ontario-based restaurants. He named it Hawaiian pizza after the brand of canned pineapple used on the pie. Incidentally, about 17 percent of all American restaurants are pizzerias, and pineapple is a fruit, just like tomatoes.

Polar Bears have white skin and fur.
That white fur polar bears have is actually two layers of clear fur that appear white to the human eye. Underneath that coat, their skin is actually black.

Bacon Patch

Could not resist this one. It is real, but am not sure it is effective as it claims. A professor recently unveiled a wearable patch infused with bacon flavor that is supposed to help curb meat cravings.

Charles Spence, a professor of experimental psychology at the University of Oxford, teamed up with plant-based food company Strong Roots to create a patch that, when scratched, produces a smell similar to that of cooked bacon. The idea behind this strange invention is that the human mind is connected to our senses of taste and smell, and that certain smells can significantly reduce food cravings.

If you believe him, people will walk around smelling like meat in order to avoid eating meat. Spence’s creation is supposed to be worn like a nicotine patch, but instead of slowly releasing nicotine into the wearer’s body, it is supposed to be scratched for an instant olfactory dose of bacon. I admit I am biased, but like millions of others, if I smell bacon, am induced to go eat some, not abstain.

Four Types of Leather

There are basically four types of leather, although there are other designations, such as suede, reconstituted, etc. Italian leather is just leather from Italy.

Full-grain leather is the highest quality and longest-lasting type. It is characterized by its luxurious, smooth surface and it has few, if any, flaws. It is the most popular type of leather. It has not been snuffed, sanded, or buffed to remove any natural marks or imperfections from its surface. It is used in making high-quality footwear and furniture. The second layer or lower layer of the skin left after removing the full grain layer is the split suede and will be suede on both sides.

Top-grain leather is second highest quality and what you will find in fine leather goods and designer stores. It has better stain resistance and is less expensive than full-grain leather.

Split leather or corrected grain leather, also known as genuine leather, is produced using the skin layers that remain after the top is split off and from the corium. Split leather tends to be tougher in texture due to the fact that is resides under the top layers and is mostly used in applications that do not require the leather to be soft, like furniture backs and sides. Usually, the surface is spray painted and embossed with a leather-like pattern to resemble natural appearance. Genuine leather is made from real leather, but is lower in quality.

Bonded leather is the lowest and cheapest grade of leather. It is made up of leftovers from the hide, including dust and shavings. These are bonded together using polyurethane or latex on top of a fiber sheet. It is often spray-painted to look like full or top grain leather. It is used on low end furniture and book bindings.

Incidentally, drop a small amount of water on a sample. Real leather absorbs moisture. If the good is fake, the water will puddle up on top, but real leather will absorb a small drop of water in a few seconds, showing it is genuine.

Cheddar Cheese Color

Most cheddar cheeses coming from Vermont and New York are white, but the majority of Wisconsin cheddar is colored.

All cheese is naturally white, off white, or even a golden yellow, depending on the type of milk used. The color comes from the flavorless Annatto seed, which gives Wisconsin cheddar the pumpkin orange hue.
Sid Cook, fourth-generation owner of Carr Valley Cheese in LaValle, Wis., believes the state’s cheddars were tinted orange as far back as the late 1800s. In the early days of Wisconsin cheesemaking, cows dined on carotene-rich pasture, and their milk naturally produced a cheese with a rich golden color. Gradually, some dairies moved their cows off pasture and onto dry feed, with the resulting milk yielding paler cheese. Because consumers already associated the gold color with quality, cheesemakers used Annatto to bring back the color.
Another theory holds that Wisconsin cheese-makers wanted to differentiate their cheddars from those coming from New York, so they used Annatto seed and turned their cheddars orange, using it as their own claim to fame and capturing a portion of the market.
After a cow chews the cud, beta-carotene dissolves into the animal’s fat stores and ends up in fat globules in its milk. However, protein clusters and the membranes that surround fat globules in milk conceal the pigment’s color, reflecting light in a way that makes milk appear white and opaque. During the cheesemaking process, the pigment is released. After bacterial culture and rennet have been added to milk and the coagulated mixture is cooked, the fat membranes dissolve and the protein clusters loosen so they do not reflect light. The beta carotene is made visible, and it also becomes more concentrated, since the lean liquid component of the milk, called whey, is drained off. It follows that the fattiest cheeses, and those from cows grazed on open pasture, tend to have the deepest natural color.

Incidentally, there is no taste difference because of color. When it is produced, cheddar cheese is naturally white to light yellow in color. The dark yellow / orange color is the result of the coloring additive. Also, but unrelated, according to research conducted by the British Cheese Board, no study subjects reported having nightmares after eating cheese, but blue cheese consumption had a tendency to make dreams a bit odd.

Feb 14, 2020

Happy Friday

If your smile is big, the rest of you will not matter.
I always keep a huge smile, especially on a Happy Friday!

Happy Valentine's Day, February 14

It is celebrated worldwide and named after Saint Valentine. The first Valentine's Day was in the year 496. Emperor Claudius II executed two men, both named Valentine, on Feb. 14 in different years in the 3rd century A.D. Their martyrdom was honored by the Catholic Church with the celebration of St. Valentine's Day. Having a particular Valentine's Day is thought to have originated from a Roman festival called Lupercalia in the middle of February, officially the start of their springtime. Incidentally, Cupid did not come along until the 14th century.

Coronavirus Update

US confirms 15th case on Feb 13. The World Health Organization, February 11 proposed an official name for the illness caused by the new coronavirus: COVID-19. The acronym stands for coronavirus disease 2019, as the illness was first detected toward the end of 2019.

The director general of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, noted that the new name makes no reference to any of the people, places, or animals associated with the coronavirus. The goal was to avoid stigma. (In other words, a politically correct name)

How do You Pronounce That

English is a delicious language that is sometimes confusing in spelling and grammar terms, but also in pronunciation.

Tour Depending on who you ask, you could either embark on a "tore" of a city, or you could embark on a "toor" of a city. Both Merriam-Webster and the Macmillan Dictionary advise you to pronounce it as "toor," but that is not to say that "tore" is wrong.

Lawyer The researchers behind the Harvard Dialect Survey discovered that while most Americans pronounce the word "lawyer" in such a way that the first syllable rhymes with "boy," Southerners emphasize the "law" in lawyer so the first syllable makes a "saw" sound.

Marry/Merry/Mary If you were to say the sentence "I feel merry about marrying Mary," would your pronunciations of "marry," "merry," and "Mary" sound different? Most Americans will find that these words come out to sound exactly the same, but if you are from a big city in the Northeast, then it is probable that the way you sound out each word differs, with "marry" taking on the same vowel as "cat," "merry" taking on the same vowel as "pet," and "Mary" taking on the same vowel as "fair."

Caught/Cot Do you hear a difference in pronunciation between the words "cot" and "caught"? If so, you probably did not grow up on the West Coast or in the Midwest. In the Harvard Dialect Survey, researchers found that the majority of people from these regions pronounced these words in the same way. People on the East Coast and in the South, meanwhile, tend to pronounce them distinctly differently.

Envelope Most people pronounce the first syllable in the word "envelope" like "pen," but some people pronounce the first syllable like "on." That is because the English word originates from the French word for envelope, which favors 'on'.

Aunt Some people, especially Southerners, see the word "aunt" and pronounce it no differently than the word's homonym, 'ant'. Others, particularly those in the Boston area, pronounce the word so that it rhymes with 'daunt'.

Almond The various pronunciations of the word "almond" originate back to when many people were emigrating from Europe to the United States, bringing with them their native languages and thusly their own versions of various words. So, call it an al-mond, an am-end, or an ahl-mend.

Salmon Given how many Americans are not native English speakers, it is no surprise that so many are saying the word "salmon" with a distinguishable 'l' sound. In languages like Spanish and Italian, the 'l' in salmon is very much heard, and that often carries over into pronunciations for people who are learning English as a second language. There is only one correct pronunciation, and it involves no 'l' sound.

Pecan Whether you pronounce the word "pecan" as pee-can, or puh-kahn is complicated. When the National Pecan Shellers Association polled Americans about how they pronounced the name of the nut, they found that there were divides not just among regions, but within them as well. A Washington Post survey concluded that there was no single pronunciation of the word designated for each area, with 45 percent of Southerners and 70 percent of Northeasterners favoring "pee-can."

Refrigerator Tip

Finding food in the back of the fridge is tough, because we are already bent down at an awkward angle, just to peer in. Pick up one or more half cooking sheet pans or large clear plastic bins and use them to line the bottoms of shelves. One quick pull and you can see everything on the shelf. No reason every shelf can't be as convenient as the veggie bin. Also great for spills, pull out, wipe down, done. Measure the shelf before you go shopping so you get maximum coverage.

Flu and Cold

The flu, also called influenza, is a viral respiratory illness. A virus is a microscopic infectious agent that invades the cells of your body and makes you sick. The flu is often confused with another virus, the common cold, because of the similarity in symptoms, which can include a cough, sore throat, and stuffy nose. However, flu symptoms also include fever, cold sweats, aches throughout the body, headache, exhaustion, and even some gastro-intestinal symptoms, such as vomiting and diarrhea.

Part of flu potency is from the virus changing so quickly that the body is rarely prepared for the next season’s strain. “The antibodies we have built up no longer recognize the virus, so we lose our immunity.

During the last five years researchers have come up with a way to stem the tide of infection and it revolves around the ways that sneezes linger in the air. Cold air can carry less water vapor before it reaches the dew point and falls as rain. While the weather outside may seem wetter, the air itself is drier as it loses the moisture. A stream of new research has shown that these dry conditions seem to offer the perfect environment for the flu virus to flourish.

Lab experiments have looked at the way flu spreads among groups of guinea pigs. In moister air, the epidemic struggles to build momentum, whereas in drier conditions it spreads quickly. Comparing 30 years’ worth of climate records with health records, Jeffrey Shaman at Columbia University and colleagues found that flu epidemics almost always followed a drop in air humidity.

When we sneeze we expel a mist of particles from our nose and mouths. In moist air, these particles may remain relatively large, and drop to the floor, but in dry air, they break up into smaller pieces, eventually becoming so small that they can stay aloft for many hours. The result is that in winter, you are breathing a cocktail of dead cells, mucus, and viruses from almost anyone who has sneezed in the area.

Two National Anthems

New Zealand is one of only three countries that have two official (and of equal standing) national Anthems. The first is God Save the Queen (the English National Anthem) and the other is God Defend New Zealand. The other two countries with two anthems are Denmark and Canada which both have a Royal Anthem and a State anthem.

Space Odyssey

People reference Apollo 11's mission to the moon as a pinnacle of scientific achievement. In 1969, NASA scientists successfully sent explorers through space to walk on the moon, and brought them back safely. It would take another year before a man named Bernard Sadow applied for a patent for a suitcase with wheels on it and sold it at Macy's.

Incidentally, after returning from the moon, astronauts from Apollo 11, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins had to go through customs. According to documentation, they declared things like moon rocks, moon dust, and other lunar samples.

Internet Service Box

Have you ever heard a beep from the internet box where your connection comes into the house, probably located in the basement or garage. It usually shows a red light and says 'replace battery' or 'battery low'. Turns out the battery is just for the in-house phone line and provides a few hours backup to make landline calls in case of power failure.

The battery also provides a few minutes of backup for internet service. That is not enough to even finish watching an ad. If you call, your service provider will tell you to replace the battery (at your expense, and preferably from them). There is a button for 'silence alarm'. Press and hold it for a few seconds and the alarm will temporarily stop. If you do not have a landline phone, you can disconnect the battery.

A recent study confirmed about only 6.5 percent of US homes have just a landline. About 30+ percent have a landline and mobile phone service. Mobile phones are not affected by home power failure.

If you want to replace the cable box battery, they can be purchased at Walmart, Amazon, Lowes, etc. and cost between 18 and 50 dollars. For the vast majority, the fix is to unhook the battery and eliminate the beep. It is cheaper, simple to do, and you can find instructions online. You are welcome.

Locusts vs. Grasshoppers

There are many stories in the news lately about the deadly locust invasions, especially in Africa. Locusts belong to the same order as grasshoppers, katydids, and crickets - the Orthoptera (derived from the Greek words orthos meaning straight or rigid and ptera meaning wing).
Grasshoppers congregate in huge swarms that can do severe damage to crops. These swarming grasshoppers are called locusts. There are more than 20,000 species of grasshoppers known to science, but only about a dozen of these transform into locusts and produce damaging swarms.
Locusts and grasshoppers are the same in appearance, but locusts can exist in two different behavioral states (solitary and gregarious), and most grasshoppers do not. When the population density is low, locusts behave as individuals, much like grasshoppers. However, when locust population density is high, individuals undergo physiological and behavioral changes, known as phase polyphenism, and they form gregariously behaving swarms of adults.
In addition to changes in behavior, phase change may be accompanied by changes in body shape and color, and in fertility, physiology, and survival. These changes are so dramatic in some species that the swarming and non-swarming forms were once considered to be different species.  The scale of population increase and migrations also distinguish those species known as locusts from grasshoppers.

Locusts are large herbivorous insects that can be serious pests of agriculture due to their ability to form dense and highly mobile swarms. They are species of short-horned grasshoppers that periodically form large populations in dense migrating groups, where individuals differ in several characteristics from those living separately. A locust has longer and stronger wings and a smaller body than a grasshopper.

Happy Friday

But what is happiness except the simple harmony between a man and the life he leads? ~Albert Camus

Happiness and harmony are important, especially on a Happy Friday!

Pizza Facts

If you did not get enough pizza during the big game, Feb 9 is another opportunity to celebrate. In fact, there are 10 different pizza days during the year. National Pizza Day is celebrated Feb 9. This observance began in October 1984, and was created by Gerry Durnell, the publisher of Pizza Today magazine.

Here are a few pizza facts.
    Pepperoni is the most popular pizza at 36% of all pies ordered.
    Over 3 billion pizzas are sold in the USA each year.  Add another 1 billion of frozen pizzas.
    17% of all US Restaurants are pizzerias.
     Antica Pizzeria, the first Pizzeria, opened in Naples, Italy, in 1738.
     Gennaro Lombardi, the first Pizzeria in the United States, opened in 1895 in New York City.
    Americans consume on average 23 pounds of pizza per person each year.

Dial 211

There is another service akin to 411 and 911 in the US. The Federal Communications Commission reserved the 211 dialing code for community information and referral services. It intended the code as an easy-to-remember and universally recognizable number that would enable a critical connection between individuals and families in need and the appropriate community-based organizations and government agencies. Currently, active 211 systems cover all or part of 50 states.

Calling 211 provides the following resources:
    Basic Human Needs Resources – including food and clothing, shelters, housing, utility assistance.
    Disaster Response and Recovery – works with the emergency management team during a disaster to offer support and place for dissemination of information.
    Mental Health and Health Resources – including counseling, support groups, drug and alcohol treatment, health insurance programs, Medicaid and Medicare, maternal health resources, health insurance programs for children, medical information lines, clinics, and hospitals.
    Employment Support – including job training, employment services, transportation assistance, and education programs.
    Older Adults and Persons with Disabilities – including adult day care, community meals, respite care, home health care, transportation and homemaker services.
    Children, Youth and Family Support – including child care, after school programs, educational programs for low income families, family resource centers, and recreation programs, mentoring, tutoring and protective services.
    Volunteer Opportunities and Donations – Individuals who wish to donate time, goods or money to community organizations.

Coronavirus vs. Other Outbreaks

Although there seems to be world panic according to the media, the virus appears not be as deadly as reports would have us believe. The number of confirmed cases of the virus worldwide numbered 14,637 and the total confirmed deaths stood at 305 as of midday Feb. 2, according to data collected and mapped by Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering.  As of Feb 5, a Wisconsin coronavirus case brings total infected in US to 12.

To put the risk in more context, the current US flu season has killed 54 infants so far, according to CDC. In the U.S. alone, the flu has already caused an estimated 19 million illnesses, 180,000 hospitalizations and 10,000 deaths this season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Common coronavirus symptoms can include:

— Fever
— Dry cough
— Shortness of breath
— Aching muscles
— Fatigue.

Less typical coronavirus symptoms:

— Phlegm buildup
— Headache
— Hemoptysis
— Diarrhea.

Symptoms atypical for coronavirus:

— Runny nose
— Sore throat.

A runny nose and a sore throat are typical signs of upper respiratory infection. Therefore, those who have bouts of sneezing or get the sniffles likely have the flu or a common cold. As the new coronavirus generally affects the lower respiratory tract, most of those infected exhibit a dry cough, shortness of breath or pneumonia, but not a sore throat.

Last week, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations announced a $12.5 million effort to develop a vaccine against the coronavirus, split among three firms. In the best-case scenario, immunologist Barney Graham of the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease told Science magazine, a vaccine would be ready for testing in people by next summer.

Wordology, Quit Rent

Most quit rents are relics of medieval agreements. A few examples include: Some English landowners must produce a variety of quit rents: a bucket of snow on demand, three red roses, a small French flag, a salmon spear. Some rents only kick in if the king or queen visits: the renter must provide the crown with a bed of straw, in another the renter must offer a single white rose.

There is a quite recent one in Lake Havasu City, Arizona, USA. It started when the city imported a bridge from London (which had spanned the Thames river) and was auctioned off in the late 1960s. Robert McCulloch, Lake Havasu City’s founder, bought the bridge, and by the early ’70s, the bridge had been reinstalled in Arizona.

As a gift to London, during the dedication ceremony, McCulloch offered an acre of Arizona land and years later, when the city wanted to use that land for a visitor’s center, London agreed to lease it back to Lake Havasu. They settled on a token quit rent: a Kachina doll (a carved Hopi figure representing an immortal being).

Antipasto, Antipasta, Antipasti, Charcuterie

Antipasto means before the meal and is the Italian equivalent of appetizers (not a salad or fried foods served by many Italian-American restaurants). It is a platter of meats, cheeses, raw or cooked vegetables, olives and bread. The antipasto platter is pretty much the same as a charcuterie platter. Both involve dry, cured meats and garnishes. Antipasto is served at room temperature and incorporates many colors, textures and flavors to stimulate all of the senses before the main course.

Antipasta is an erroneous colloquialism for antipasto, a mistranslation of before the pasta.

Antipasti (antipasto plural) are a simple assortment of meats, cheeses, and vegetables.

Charcuterie is the French equivalent and means cooked meat. A platter of good-quality cooked and dry-cured meats, sausages and pâté with various garnishes like bread, olives, nuts, dried fruit, crackers or baguette bread, jelly or jam. Cheese was not typically included, but is now often added.

Incidentally, pepperoni is entirely American.

Pig Crisis

China is now the world's largest producer and consumer of pork at 57 metric tons a year, more than half of the pork eaten on the entire planet. Pork is perhaps the most important commodity in the country. A sudden decrease in supply, and increase in price could not only cause mass civil unrest, but also increase the inflation rate.
The Chinese government has built up strategic reserves of bacon since the 1970s, and although the exact number of emergency pigs is hidden in state secrecy, experts estimate the National Pork Reserve holds hundreds of thousands of metric tons, both in the form of frozen meat and live hogs.

Chinese, Vietnamese, and Korean pork stock has been getting wiped out. There is no vaccine or treatment. US pork sales to China have doubled, while European pork prices have reached a six-year high.

Due to a 2019 outbreak of African swine fever, China is culling millions of pigs, and is at risk of wiping out a quarter of the world's pork population. To combat the shortage, the government opened its pens and its fridges, releasing several thousand pounds of frozen pork from its reserves in an attempt to help meet demand.

Men and Stockings

Stockings are another clothing material that switched genders. Men have been wearing them since the 9th century. Men of the upper class generally wore white or colored stockings while poorer men only wore black.

They are exclusively worn by women these days. Women started wearing stockings in the 18th century. For the unaware, stockings (also called hose) are those close-fitting clothes that cover the feet and part of the legs. A variant of it is the pantyhose, which is a combination of stockings with panties. Men never wore pantyhose. To avoid confusion, stockings, pantyhose, tights, and breeches all belong to a category of clothes called hosiery.

Things slowly changed between the 16th and 20th centuries when stockings switched from being a masculine item to feminine. The period is even called the “The Dark Ages of Tights” for this reason. By the 19th century, stockings had become so closely associated with women that men stopped wearing them completely.

Vegan Snacks

According to the PETA web site, the following are the top vegan snacks.

Duncan Hines Chewy Fudge Brownie Mix
SkinnyPop White Cheddar Flavored Popped Popcorn
Cracker Jack
Spicy sweet vegan Doritos
Fruit by the Foot
Kettle Brand Potato Chips (sea salt and vinegar)
Lay’s Potato Chips (barbecue and classic)
Nature Valley Crunchy Granola Bars
Ritz Crackers
Ruffles Original Potato Chips
Sour Patch Kids
Wheat Thins
Hershey’s Syrup
Ore Ida Tater Tots
Pringles (original only)
Nabisco Oreo 100 Cal Thin Crisps (Oreo cookies are not vegan)
Jell-O Cook & Serve Vanilla Pudding & Pie Filling

New FedEx Scam

 I try to keep informed about new scams and this is just one more to watch for. Users will receive a text message informing them that their purchase has been shipped via FedEx. Users are then given a link that they can click to track their shipment, but when they click on it, they are taken to a fake Amazon page that offers a reward to complete a survey.

If in doubt, type the tracking number into google search and it will tell you if the number is legit or not.

Then in order to claim the reward, users are required to pay for the shipment of their reward by entering their credit card info, which will ultimately result in ongoing monthly charges of $98.95. There are many red flags in this scam to begin with, such as being redirected to a rewards page instead of FedEx’s website. Also, the rewards page has been designed to look like Amazon’s website, but the site does not belong to Amazon. If you do receive such a notification, mark as spam and delete it. Caveat Emptor.

Brain Scans

Many of us have been subjected to different types of scans in the hospital. Attached to this email is a picture of the various machine representations. It makes it easy to see why different machines are used to picture different parts of the brain, or body, depending on what the doctor is looking for.

More Myths Debunked

Water-induced wrinkles are not caused by the skin absorbing water and swelling. They are caused by the autonomic nervous system, which triggers localized vasoconstriction in response to wet skin, yielding a wrinkled appearance. This was theorized to have evolved to give ancestral primates a better grip in slippery, wet environments, but a 2014 study showed no improvement in handling wet objects with wrinkled fingertips.

Hair care products cannot actually repair split ends and damaged hair. They can prevent damage from occurring in the first place, and they can also smooth down the cuticle in a glue-like fashion so that it appears repaired, and generally make hair appear in better condition.

Eight glasses or two to three liters of water a day are not needed to maintain health. The amount of water needed varies by person including weight, activity level, clothing, and environment (heat and humidity). Also, water actually need not be drunk in pure form, but can be derived from liquids such as juices, tea, milk, soups, etc., and from foods, including fruits and vegetables.
Sugar does not cause hyperactivity in children. Double-blind trials have shown no difference in behavior between children given sugar-full or sugar-free diets, even in studies specifically looking at children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder or those considered sensitive to sugar.
A vegetarian or vegan diet cannot provide enough protein for adequate nutrition. Typical protein intakes of ovo-lacto vegetarians and vegans meet and exceed requirements. However, a vegan diet does require supplementation of vitamin B12 for optimal health.
There is little evidence that obesity is related to slower resting metabolism. Resting metabolic rate does not vary much between people. Weight gain and loss are directly attributable to diet and activity.

Breakfast is not the most important meal of the day. Many of the studies about the benefits of breakfast were funded by Kellogg's, and showed correlation, not causation.

Peanut Butter Fact

Americans eat 500 million pounds of peanut butter a year, enough to coat the floor, of the Grand Canyon.

Feb 3, 2020

Happy Friday

"The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing, and becomes nothing." ~ Leo F. Buscaglia

Go ahead, take a risk and be happy, especially on a Happy Friday!

Groundhog Day Origin and Candlemas

On February 2, 1887, Groundhog Day, was celebrated for the first time at Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. According to tradition, if a groundhog comes out of its hole on this day and sees its shadow, it gets scared and runs back into its burrow, predicting six more weeks of winter weather; no shadow means an early spring.

Groundhog Day has its roots in the ancient Christian tradition of Candlemas, when clergy would bless and distribute candles needed for winter. The candles represented how long and cold the winter would be. Germans expanded on this concept by selecting the hedgehog as a means of predicting weather. Once they came to America, German settlers in Pennsylvania continued the tradition, although they switched from hedgehogs to groundhogs, which were plentiful in the Keystone State. I am hoping for no shadow.

Super Bowl Name Origin

Very interesting that the Super Bowl name is from former Kansas City Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt, inspired by a popular '70s toy: the Super Ball. For its first three years, the game had been called the world championship. Then Hunt saw his daughter playing with a bouncy ball and asked her what it was called. The rest is Super Bowl history.

Incidentally, the NFL pays no halftime appearance fee. The only thing the organization pays for is the expenses for the band and its entourage. Also, Joe Montana won all four Super Bowls he played in and he never threw a interception in any of them.

About vs. Approximately vs. Around

Will not go into all the other uses for these words, just enough to highlight the difference in use between them.

“About” is a word that means reasonably close to. About means reasonably close to, it is a guess or an estimate. We can use it to talk about quantity. About does not stress the closeness to accuracy that approximately does.

“Around” also means reasonably close to. We also use around in casual informal situations.  We can use around with numbers and quantity as we did with about. We use this for time as we saw with the word, about. So, for time, we can say, “I will be there around 7:00 p.m.” “I will be there around breakfast time.”

The difference between about and around is largely a matter of preference: about is more common in British English and around in American English.

“Approximately” means reasonably close to something else so we use it, again, to make an estimate, to make a guess. However, approximately is usually used in more formal situations. It is more natural to use approximately in formal situations. If you use “approximately” in an informal situation, it might sound strange.

Approximately has fairly limited uses. Around and about, however, have a few other functions to consider. When you are making guesses, when you are making estimates, especially for quantities or time, in most cases, about and around can both be used.

Dolly Parton Facts

On January 17, 2018 it was announced that Dolly holds two spots in the Guinness World Records 2018 edition: One for Most Decades With a Top 20 Hit on the US Hot Country Songs Chart and the other for Most Hits on US Hot Country Songs Chart By a Female Artist with a total of 107.

Silicon vs. Silicone

They are almost spelled the same, but are pronounced different and are two different things.

Silicon is a hard brittle element found in sand and used to make microchips.

Silicone is a rubber-like material or liquid, used in things like cooking utensils, sealants, and breast implants. See what I did there?

Printer Ink Refills

Did you know Costco and Sam's can refill your printer ink cartridges and they cost less than new? These refills come closest to matching original-ink quality, and they are backed by Costco’s and Sam's customer service.  Costco’s ink refills come closest to matching the print quality and staying power of HP’s own ink. Glossy photos displayed almost the same level of contrast. The Costco color inks are less saturated, but fairly accurate compared with other refill inks. When regular cartridges can be filled to XL levels, Costco always does so. In these cases, regular and XL cartridges cost the same to refill. Costco is a bit more expensive than Amazon refills.

Amazon Ikong’s ink performed the best of the bought-on-Amazon options. The print quality was good enough across the board for home use, and nearly up to the standard that Costco’s refills set. Incidentally, the last two times I needed refills and went to Walmart, it was cheaper to buy a new printer, which I did.

Save the Date

If you want to protect the date you wrote or changed documents, or your stories, scripts, ideas, pictures, etc, print a copy and send it to yourself through the mail. When you receive it back, leave the envelope sealed, because the sorting office stamp mark proves the date. You can also send it certified or return receipt to have additional proof. Also handy if you cannot get a witness, or get to the lawyer or business quickly. If it is very sensitive, you can put the sealed envelope in your safe deposit box.

With an email, you can send it to yourself and not open it. The cloud will maintain dates. Do the same with a file attachment for a quick free backup.

Nine Interesting McDonald's Facts

McDonald's originally served peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, chili with baked beans, and slices of pie.

McDonald’s introduced an official company mascot: Speedee, a burger-faced chef with a bow tie that looked like he was in a perpetual rush. The brothers noted that his round head would make a good base for a lollipop, and decided to hand out Speedee-shaped treats to orphanages and children’s hospitals as a charitable form of advertising. Speedee was retired in 1962.

McDonald’s hands out more toys than any other business on the planet.

In an effort to curb the frenzied pleas of children for a Happy Meal in order to score the free toy, San Francisco passed an ordinance in 2011 that prohibited the company from peddling the promotion within city limits. To get around the law, the company began charging 10 cents for the toy, skirting around the definition of free.

It is illegal to open a McDonald's or other foreign fast food chain restaurant in Bermuda.

Ronald McDonald is called Donald McDonald ( Donarudo Makudonarudo) in Japan.

Warren Buffett has a card that provides free food at any McDonald’s in his hometown of Omaha.

Bill Gates’ has a card which entitles him to eat free anywhere at any Golden Arches in the world.

Jeff Bezos once worked at McDonald's.

Incidentally, A KFC was opened in Bermuda before the ban and is the only one allowed.

Salt vs. Sodium

Salt and sodium are not exactly the same thing. Salt contains sodium along with another mineral, chloride, and the chemical name for salt is sodium chloride (NaCl).

About 90% of the sodium we consume comes from salt. On food nutrition labels these terms are often used interchangeably even though there is a difference. Sodium is used on the nutrition information panel of labels because it is the sodium portion of the salt that is relevant for health.

Happy Friday

The light at the end of the tunnel is the smile from friends coming to greet you.

If you smile back, you will light up the whole tunnel, especially on a Happy Friday!

Attorney vs. Lawyer

Historically a lawyer is trained in and can advise you on the law and represent your interests. An attorney is licensed to practice law and argue before a court. The terms are synonymous these days, but the licenses still say "attorney".

In the United States, the practice of law is conditioned upon admission to practice of law, and specifically admission to the bar of a particular state or other territorial jurisdiction.

Attorney at Law is only for lawyers that go to court. All attorneys are lawyers, but not all lawyers are attorneys. Many lawyers never go to court.

Legal Counsel is a person employed by an organization/corporation and works in-house. Legal Counsel will only provide legal advice to their employer. A lawyer is employed by a law firm and is engaged by various clients to provide a range of legal services and advice.

Because a lawyer also conducts suits in court proceedings and represents clients in various legal instances, the term has expanded to overlap the definition of attorney.  Technically one can be a lawyer by graduating law school, even though they are not licensed to practice law.

The J.D. stands for Juris Doctor. However, this is not a doctorate. It is a professional degree.
A JD is the minimum educational level for lawyers and without it, they cannot practice. Degree levels, from basic to most advanced, include: Juris Doctor (J.D.), Master of Laws (L.L.M.), Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D.). It is also not a legal degree, so a holder cannot be called lawyer or attorney. A JD is not called doctor, because it is not a terminal degree, there are others above it. A PhD is a terminal degree, meaning there are no higher degrees available.


We see this word every day in the news. Many have a different idea of what it is. The real definition is, "a charge of misconduct made against the holder of a public office." It assumes no innocence or guilt, just a charge.
A political trial is held in the Senate that is like, but not the same as a legal trial in court. The Senate has its own rules. The entire Senate becomes 'jurors' and a chief justice from the Supreme Court presides over the proceedings. A two thirds vote from those present on any or all charges is required for conviction.

The outcome for being found guilty is limited to, "Removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust, or Profit under the United States."

Not all criminal conduct is impeachable and not all impeachable conduct is criminal.

False Space Colors

People who have been to space say there is not much to see. You will not find anything colorful even if you used a telescope. Many heavenly bodies emit lights beyond the wavelengths we can see. Those that do not are almost always red and blue, which remain the two most common colors in the universe.

Almost every photo you have seen of space or some other pictures of planets and comets or exploding stars is fake. However, the photos are real; it is the color that is fake.

Cameras aboard spacecraft take images using filters that isolate different wavelengths on the electromagnetic spectrum. Some, like red and blue, capture light the human eye can see. Others like ultraviolet and infrared, capture light it cannot see. All the images arrive to Earth as black-and-white frames, and then are assigned colors digitally and compiled into a composite.

NASA releases images that are 'false color', because it shows something interesting about the atmosphere and allows us see lights that would have been invisible to us. Not many would be interested in space if all they ever saw were black and white or blue and red photos. Incidentally, the sun is pure white. Photographs of the Moon, taken from space show the gray color from the surface of the Moon which is mostly oxygen, silicon, magnesium, iron, calcium and aluminum.

Pluto and Stirr

If you have a smart TV, or Fire TV, or ROKU, or Android box, or Apple, etc. There are two apps that you need to download, Pluto TV and Stirr. They have a multitude of stations of live TV, live sports, movies, major networks, some local news (depending on location), and more. Hundreds of stations to watch, with many categories, like old TV shows, westerns, mystery, science, horror, etc. They both also have live TV guides that we are all familiar with.
You can download free from Amazon, Google Play, Apple App store, etc. If you have a smart TV and a box, download to both.

The best news is that they are totally free (with ads) just like regular antenna TV. Even after cord cutting, these can provide more entertainment than you are paying for with other services like Apple TV, Fubo, Sling, etc. Save some more money and stay totally entertained. You are welcome!

Incidentally, there are a few new apps that will combine antenna TV guides, Pluto TV guide, and others into one monster TV guide. I will be watching close and let you know when any seem to be viable.

Largest Freshwater Lakes

It depends on your criteria. Freshwater lakes can be ranked by either the volume or surface area. Some of the large lakes by surface area are slightly shallow and do not hold a lot of water.

Lake Superior is the largest lake in North America and also the largest freshwater lake in the world by surface area and the third-largest by volume. Its surface area is approximately 31,700 square miles. The lake is shared by the province of Ontario in Canada, and the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan in the US. Lake Superior has a volume of 2,900 cubic miles. The lake measures 350 miles long, 160 miles wide, and 483 feet deep on average. Although Lake Superior is the largest lake by surface area, by volume it ranks 3rd after lakes Baikal and Tanganyika.
Lake Tanganyika is an African Great Lake. It is the second-oldest freshwater lake in the world, the second-largest by volume, and the second-deepest. It is the world's longest freshwater lake.

Lake Baikal is 6th by surface area, but the largest freshwater lake by volume in the world, containing 22–23% of the world's fresh surface water. Baikal is the world's deepest lake. It is considered among the world's clearest lakes and is considered the world's oldest lake.

Starbucks Hack

A Starbucks tall is 12 ounces; grande is 16; venti is 20 and trenta is 31 ounces. To save a bit, you can order a “short.” A Starbucks short is 8 ounces and is a member of the Starbucks product offering. It is just not on the menu.

Incidentally, refills are free if you order with the Starbucks app or fifty cents for regular coffee or tea (hot or iced).

How Do You Pronounce That

Here are ten words that are pronounced differently, based on where you are from in the US.

This morning staple has several ways of being pronounced. Most people, including New Yorkers pronounce the word as bay-gull, but many Midwesterners pronounce it like bah-gull.

The West Coast and Midwest pronounce the word "caramel" with two syllables like car-ml, the majority of the East Coast pronounce the word as three syllables, pronouncing it car-a-mel.

Could you pass the seer-up? No, but I can pass the sirr-up. Both pronunciations are considered acceptable.

America's Western and Midwestern states and you will find that the "a" in pajamas is pronounced like "jam," but in any Southern or Eastern state and you hear an "a" as in "father."

Inhabitants of the East Coast refer to it as Nev-AH-da (with an "a" like "odd") The correct pronunciation, according to the state's residents is Nev-AD-a (with an "a" like "add").

Contrary to popular belief, it is not pronounced Or-a-gone, but Or-a-gun.

New Orleans
Even locals cannot agree on how to pronounce the name of this city. Some people say New Oar-lins, others say New Or-leans, and a small subset even add an extra syllable to make it New Or-lee-uhns.

The region is named after the Caribs (pronounced kar-ib), the technically accurate pronunciation of the word "Caribbean" is kar-i-bee-in. However, many people (some Caribbean natives included) prefer the pronunciation ka-RIB-ee-in, and both are common.

Most Americans, Floridians included pronounce the first syllable in Florida to rhyme with "sore." However, there are three other ways to pronounce this word: Flow-ri-da, Flah-ri-da, and Flaw-ri-da. For the most part, these alternate pronunciations can be heard in Southern and Northeastern states.

The majority of people pronounce Texas with an [s] sound. According to the Harvard Dialect Survey, just over 5 percent of respondents, primarily people in Northern and Midwestern states say the state's name with a [z] sound.

Firefox Browser Reader

Firefox browser users may not now about a handy little reader addon that sits in the box to the right of where you see the site name you are on. (The icon looks like a page of text).Not every site has it, but the next time you see the little box, click on it.
reader icon
It offers you a page view without all the crazy ads flashing in your face. It also allows you to adjust the type font size and also has a reader that will read the text to you. I find it handy to read text without distractions. Click it again and go back to the original page. You are welcome.