Mar 16, 2018

Happy Friday

Smiles are like music to soothe a happy soul.
I love a good tune, especially on a Happy Friday!

World Happiness Day

Tuesday, March 20, 2018 is International Happiness Day. Don't worry, be happy!

Happiness is Contagious

A joint venture study by Harvard University and the University of California at San Diego, followed 5,000 people over a 20-year period. The family, coworkers, and neighbors of these individuals were also followed, involving at least 50,000 people in the process. The researchers determined how happy the participants were by administering standard happiness assessments, where subjects responded to statements, such as "I feel hopeful about the future," "I feel I am just as good as other people," and "I am happy."
According to the results, if a friend who lives within a mile of you gets happy, your chances of happiness increase by 25 percent. If that happy friend lives closer to you, you have a 42 percent chance of being happy yourself, showing that proximity to happy people makes a difference. In fact, neighbors of happy people feel the effect more than family members do. Siblings who live close to a happy sibling increase their likelihood of happiness by 14 percent, while next-door neighbors of the happy individual have a 34 percent benefit, even if the neighbors are not friends. The happiness effect lasts up to a year. "We know it's not a 'birds of a feather flock together' effect," said one of the study authors, Nicholas A. Christakis of Harvard University.
Your happiness can affect the happiness of someone you have never met. However, work colleagues seem immune to the benefit. Partners and spouses are less receptive than friends, with only an eight percent benefit from a happy spouse. Good news the researchers found was that while happiness spreads, unhappiness does not spread as much.
"You would think that your emotional state would depend on your own choices and actions and experience," said Dr. Christakis. "But it also depends on the choices, and actions, and experiences of other people, including people to whom you are not directly connected. Happiness is contagious."

Happiness has a significant impact on health. All of which means that it pays to live next to healthy, happy individuals. This study indicates that when you do something right for yourself, the ripples of that positive choice extend farther out into the world than you might have thought.

World Happiness Report

The United States has dropped four spots in the latest World Happiness Report ranking. It has now dropped to 18th spot (from 14th) in the annual ranking, which is published by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, a United Nations initiative.
The new report lists 156 countries by their happiness levels. The rankings are based on results from Gallup World Poll surveys. Researchers used factors including income, healthy life expectancy, social support, freedom, trust, and generosity to measure happiness.

Finland was ranked number one, with Norway second, and Denmark third. Rounding out the top ten are Iceland, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Sweden, and Australia. 


Caffeine is an odorless alkaloid. It is a natural ingredient that is found in the green coffee bean. It is also found in a number of other plants, including tea, cocoa, kola, guarana, and yerba mate. Caffeine, used by people is the largest psychoactive stimulant, which speeds up the central nervous system.
Caffeine affects all of us differently. Where some might be able to fall asleep soon after drinking coffee, some might not.
Recent international studies have shown that caffeine has demonstrated protective effects against Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease when consumed in moderation.
Caffeine enters your blood stream through the lining of your mouth, throat, and stomach. Your stomach contents can account for different effects of caffeine. It can take up to forty-five minutes for the majority of caffeine to be absorbed and the effects can last up to three hours.
A cup of coffee contains 98.6% water, which means 1.4% of that cup is dissolved coffee solids.  Caffeine is 1.2% of that 1.4% coffee.

Incidentally,  the US, drinks the most coffee, 400 million cups per day.

Coffee Bean Types

The two species of coffee beans most widely cultivated commercially are Coffea arabica (Arabica) and Coffea canephora (Robusta).

The coffee that most are accustomed to is made from arabica beans which typically have better flavor. Arabica comprises about 75-80% of world production.

Estimates of caffeine content average about 1% for Arabica beans and 2% for Robusta beans by weight.

Starbucks advertises that it only uses arabica beans, Even though its coffee consistently is rated with higher caffeine than Dunkin Donuts, McDonalds, etc.

There are a number of techniques in brewing coffee: concentrate brewing, Turkish or Greek, vacuum brewing, percolating, the French press (also called press pot or plunger coffee), and drip or filter coffee. Assuming that the brewing method stays the same, the finer you grind coffee, the more caffeine it will release.

Temperature is also an important factor. Proper coffee extraction happens between 195-205 degrees, however most drip brewers only reach about 190 degrees. Espresso machines usually brew at near boiling temps. With French press coffee, you have total control over the temperature with the option of pouring boiling water (212 degrees) over the grounds. Water temperature can vary by brewing method, with the hotter the water, the better the extraction. With better extraction comes better tasting coffee and caffeine extraction.

Brewed coffee requires that the water is in contact with the grinds for a long time, this leads to a higher caffeine concentration. Espresso actually has the lowest caffeine content at 100 mg per 2 ounces. However, if you consider the amount of caffeine per ounce, espresso has more caffeine than drip coffee. Coffee brewed in the French press has 107.5 mg per 7 ounces. Drip brewed coffee is highest, with 145 mg of caffeine per 7 ounce cup. Generally, for brewed coffee, two tablespoons of ground coffee is used per 6 fluid ounces of water.

Light, medium, and dark flavors are an indicator of flavor strength, with the dark roasts having the boldest tastes. The darker the beans, the longer they have been roasted. The loss of caffeine from light to dark is minimal, regardless of what many web sites show.

Factors, in addition to brewing process that affects the amount of caffeine: variety of coffee bean, roast level, temperature of water, amount of coffee, brew time, grind level, and beverage size.

Bottom line - longer brewing time, fine ground, robusta equals more caffeine.
Shorter brewing time, course ground, arabica, (light, medium, or dark roast) equals less caffeine.

Snooze Your Facebook Friends

After all that caffeine, maybe you need a snooze. Facebook has a feature that you can shut down a friend's posts for thirty days. They will not be notified. Great for someone who is inundating everyone with the latest adventure, vacation, election, new baby, new car, etc.

When you see a post in your feed from a friend, whom you want to snooze click or tap the three dots in the top right corner of the post. In the menu that opens, click or tap the option that says Snooze [Name] for 30 days. You can also snooze your friend's friends the same way. Think of it as temporary relief. Also, if you change your mind, you can unsnooze. I have not found the option in my feeds, but many say it works great.

You can do the same procedure if you decide to unfollow someone. Unfollowing a friend is permanent, until you go to their page and change it. Also, it does not notify them either way.

Jelly Bean Winner

Easter is coming and one of the popular treats for Easter is jelly beans. A new survey by says it surveyed over ten years of sales data and over 12,000 people to reach its standings of favorite jelly bean flavors by state and then an overall winner and new jelly bean champion.

Cherry jelly beans are favored by five states, black licorice jelly beans are favored by seven, and the winner, butter popcorn is favored by ten.
The overall winner by count is also butter popcorn. The sweet and salty flavor beat last year’s winner, (my personal favorite) black licorice.

Saving Money in a Hospital

If you need to go to the hospital, voluntarily or otherwise, be sure that you, or whoever is with you tells Admitting or Check-in that you do not want to be seen by "out-of-network" physicians or staff.

I recently had a very expensive surprise of multiple doctor bills from consultant physicians, who were not in my network. I had no way of knowing until I started receiving bills. By then it was too late to fight the charges. Adding insult to injury, at least two of them came in and spoke to me (no medical service provided), offering their services after discharge. I was billed for a consultation - for them to sell their services to me. Grrr!
Caveat Emptor.

TV Compensates for Bad Quality

Just like with current TVs, which upscale the low quality cable pictures, 4K TVs upgrade the same pictures to an even higher quality.

However, until the US catches up with other countries and really delivers at least HD quality, we will all continue to buy TVs to compensate for the cable companies unwillingness to upgrade the signal. It is no wonder Netflix, and Amazon Prime are doing so well. They deliver quality pictures to let our 4K TVs show how awesome watching TV can be.

Mar 9, 2018

Happy Friday

Joy lives on the corner of happiness and smiles.
There is no stop sign for happiness and smiles on a Happy Friday!

Daylight Not Saving

This weekend March 11, Sunday morning 2am for most of the US. This is that fretful time of year where we declare that the sun and the moon and the stars are out of alignment with our laws. Since it has proven futile to change the universe to our bidding, we are compelled to change our clocks forward by an hour for a few months until we take up the battle again in the fall and change them back to once more align with the universe. This is our government version of Charlie Brown, Lucy, and the football.

Picture of three types of DST observing countries.