Apr 27, 2012

Happy Friday

Health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth, and faithfulness the best relationship.

I am content with my good health and and always faithful to having a Happy Friday!

Atlas Obscura Day

It will be celebrated tomorrow, April 28, 2012. Obscura Day is an international celebration of wondrous, curious, and esoteric places that is organized by Atlas Obscura, a website that catalogs bizarre and curious attractions around the world, both natural and manmade.

Here is a list of the 10 most popular places for 2011 LINK

Interesting Number

If you multiply 21978 by 4 the result is the same number backward, 87912.

Seven Interesting Cracker Facts

The first cracker was made in 1792 by John Pearson. He was looking to make a type of biscuit that would last longer than traditional sailor’s biscuits without spoiling. He eventually mixed just flour and water, baked it, and called his invention 'Pearson’s Pilot Bread'. This later became known as hardtack or sea biscuit and was popular among sailors due to its long shelf life without spoiling.

The name cracker came to be when Josiah Bent accidentally burned a batch of what we now call crackers.  As they burned, they made a crackling noise, which inspired the name.  He invented soda crackers, which were precursors to saltine crackers we enjoy. Some folks still call saltines soda crackers. In 1810 Bent’s cracker business was acquired by the National Biscuit Company (Nabisco).

Crackers have holes for a reason, because the holes allow steam to escape during cooking. This keeps the crackers flat and the holes also help crisp the crackers. If the holes are too close together, the cracker will become extra dry and hard, due to too much steam escaping. If the holes are too far apart, parts of the cracker will rise a bit forming little bubbles on the surface of the cracker, which is undesirable in most types of crackers, except Cheez Its. There are hundreds of varieties of crackers now and sales are over $10 Billion a year.

Just Words

Green Eggs and Ham contains just fifty words. Doctor Seuss' publisher, Bennett Cerf bet him fifty dollars he could not write a book using just fifty words. Cerf lost. Forty nine of the fifty words are one syllable words.

The U.S. Constitution has 4,543 words, including signatures. Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address contained 271 words. The US Tax Code has about 3,800,000 words, but is constantly being updated.

Knock Off Work

The phrase, which means to quit work for the day, originated in the days of ships propelled by oarsmen. To keep the oarsmen rowing in unison, a man with the gift of perfect rhythm would beat time on a block of wood; when it was time to rest or change shifts, he’d give a special knock. The term to knock off  became popular in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Apr 24, 2012

What's in a Name, Beverly Hills

The area we now call Beverly Hills was a series of ranches until it was purchased in the 1880s by two men named Charles Denker and Henry Hammel. Their ultimate ambition was to turn the area into a “North-African themed subdivision called Morocco.” Severe drought and an economic collapse forced them to sell the land in 1900 to the Amalgamated Oil Company. After the company failed to find oil under the land, they changed their name to Rodeo Land and Water Company and called the area Beverly Hills, after Beverly Farms in Massachusetts.

Beverly Farms itself is named after the town of Beverly, which it skirts. The town was once a popular tourist resort; President Taft had a summer house there. It also claims to be the birthplace of the U.S. Navy, although this is debated. In 1668, English settlers named the town after the village of Beverley in Yorkshire, England.

So why was this English town called Beverley? Because in the 700s, a bishop named John founded a monastery in the town of Inderawuda and called it Beverlac, possibly after a colony of beavers in a nearby river.

Eventually a slightly altered version of the name came to stand for the whole town, and Bishop John became known as St. John of Beverley after his canonization in 1037.

There you have it: Beverly Hills is actually named after some medieval English beavers.

Bacon Sundae

Received this one from Tim, Burger King Bacon Sundae. Thanks.

Eight Regional Slang Words

English is bad enough without more words, but it seems some parts of our great country have come up with some words of their own.
whoopensocker (n.), Wisconsin - Whoopensocker can refer to anything extraordinary of its kind, from a sweet dance move to a knee-melting kiss.

wapatuli, (n.), Wisconsin - Nearly everyone who has been to college in America has either concocted a homemade alcoholic drink with any combination of hard liquors or other beverages. A wapatuli can also refer to the occasion at which that stuff is consumed. In Kentucky, the word for terrible liquor is splo, while in the mid-Atlantic, moonshine is ratgut or rotgut.

jabble (v.), Virginia - When you are standing at your front door rifling through your purse for fifteen minutes because you can’t find your keys it is because all the stuff in your purse is all jabbled up. It means 'to shake up or mix', but can also be used  as 'to confuse'.

sneetered (v.), Kentucky - If you’ve ever been hoodwinked, duped, swindled, fleeced, or scammed, you have been sneetered. The noun version, sniter, refers to that treacherous person responsible for your unfortunate sneetering.

chinchy (adj.), South, Midwest - This useful word perfectly describes your stingy friend who is too cheap to split the bill or pay his fair share.

mizzle-witted (adj.), South - This word means 'mentally dull', but depending on where you are in the country, mizzle can also be used as a verb meaning 'to confuse', 'to depart in haste' or 'to abscond'. 

mug-up (n.), Alaska - When Alaskans take a break from work to grab a cup of coffee, they are enjoying a “mug-up” or coffee break.

bufflehead or bufflebrain (n.), Pennsylvania - This word means a fool or idiot. I guess calling someone a mizzle-witted bufflehead would be doubly unkind.

Reading and Viewing Tip

When you are looking at any page on your computer screen, including email, there is an option to hold down the CTRL key and move the scroll wheel on a mouse forward or back to make the size larger or smaller. If you do not use a mouse, you can hold down the CTRL key and click on the + (plus sign) or - (minus sign) to make what you see larger or smaller.

Apr 20, 2012

Happy Friday

There is the beauty of infancy, the beauty of youth, the beauty of maturity, and the beauty of age.

It is also true that young, old, and mature all agree on the beauty of a Happy Friday!

Sounds of the Past

Here are a few things we will likely not hear again. A gas station driveway bell, a flash cube flashing from a camera, a rotary dial sound from a phone, a coffee percolator perking, film moving through a film projector, and scratches from a well used 33 and a third or 45 rpm record.

PB&J Vodka

The fragrance is predominately of peanuts, but it is complimented by the fresh fruit aroma of the raspberry. On the tongue, the roles are reversed and the raspberry flavor is more focal, giving it a velvety texture with a hint of vanilla on the side. 

After I read about this I made and ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Mmmm!

Magnify Small Print

If you can't read that small text on cans, boxes, or anything and you have your phone or digital camera available, use the macro focus feature to snap a photo. You should be able to zoom in and magnify the text enough to read.

Seven Facts From The Seventies

The World Trade Center twin towers were opened in 1973.
Eleven members of the Israeli Olympic team were taken hostage and killed in Munich by the Palestinian group Black September.
President Nixon resigned in 1974.
Three Mile Island meltdown happened in 1979 and was the worst accident in U.S. nuclear power plant history.
During the oil crisis in 1979, license plates ending in odd numbers could buy gas on odd number days and even number plates on even days.
Lyme disease is named after the town of Lyme, Connecticut, where several cases were identified in 1975.
The IRS regulated alcohol, tobacco, and firearms, until the ATF became its own bureau in 1972.

Flutie Flakes

Have you ever heard of these? Buffalo Bills quarterback Doug Flutie released his brand of corn flakes cereal in 1998 to raise money for autism awareness in honor of his son, who is autistic. The cereal ended up being a hit, selling more than 3 million boxes. 

He also branched out into other foods, including a fruit snack called Flutie’s Fruities.

What's in a Name, Cheddar Cheese

Cheddar Cheese cheese gets its name from the town of Cheddar in southwest England. Unlike other cheeses named for their town of origin, like Gorgonzola and Parmesan, Cheddar is not covered by a Protected Designation of Origin, which means no matter where it is produced it can still legally be called Cheddar cheese.

Who Was Bartholomew Gosnold

He was a prolific explorer and also gave both Martha’s Vineyard and Cape Cod their names.

In addition, he pioneered the quickest way to sail from Great Britain to the northeastern seaboard of America. Gosnold recruited John Smith for his Jamestown expedition and a published account of his voyage in 1602 to explore the coast south of Nova Scotia in search of a passage to Asia. He was responsible for popularizing the colonization of New England.

Martha’s Vineyard is named after a daughter of Gosnold who died in infancy. Originally the name was applied to a much smaller island; a “place most pleasant” according to a contemporary source. The larger island was actually called Martin’s Vineyard, after the captain of the ship Gosnold was sailing on, for much of its history. Eventually the feminine name came to stand for the larger island as well. Martha’s Vineyard is the eighth-oldest surviving place name the United States. You can visit the grave of little Martha in the churchyard of Bury St. Edmunds in Suffolk, England.

For centuries, codfish have figured prominently in Cape Cod's history and fortunes. Bartholomew caught a ton of cod near this cape and named it in a note in his logbooks about the plentiful "codfyshes" which "pestered" his ship.

Although many explorers and fishermen had sailed New England's waters in the 1500s, Gosnold is credited with the European discovery of New England decades later.

Bacon Sneakers

These give a whole new meaning to odor eaters.

Every Day Billions

Here are billions of things that happen every day.
5 Billion times: the +1 Google button is served (as of October 2011).
4 Billion views: YouTube video views (as of Jan. 23, 2012)
3.6 Billion dollars: dollar increase of the U.S. national debt.
2.7 Billion likes: Facebook “likes” and comments (as of last quarter 2011).
1.7 Billion drinks: servings of Coca-Cola or branded Coke products.
1 Billion searches: Google searches (as of March 2011).
1 Billion buyers: Number of people who have not bought any of my books, but should.

Apr 13, 2012

Happy Friday

Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.

My words and actions illuminate my habit for having a Happy Friday!

Tax Extension

You probably already know this, but if not, here is a reminder. Taxes do not have to be paid until April 17 this year, because April 15 is on Sunday and Emancipation Day is April 16 in Washington D.C. Wow, I feel emancipated for one more day.

Chocolate is Good For You

People who eat chocolate regularly tend to be thinner according to new research. The findings come from a study of nearly 1,000 US people that looked at diet, calorie intake and body mass index (BMI). It found those who ate chocolate a few times a week were, on average, slimmer than those who ate it only occasionally.

Even though chocolate is loaded with calories, it contains ingredients that may favor weight loss rather than fat synthesis, scientists believe. Despite boosting calorie intake, regular chocolate consumption was related to lower BMI in the study published in Archives of Internal Medicine.

The link remained even when other factors, like how much exercise individuals did, were taken into account and it appears how often you eat chocolate that is important, rather than how much of it you eat. The study found no link with quantity consumed.

Other studies have claimed chocolate may be good for the heart and linked to some favorable changes in blood pressure, insulin sensitivity, and cholesterol level. Chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, contains antioxidants which can help to clean harmful free radicals, unstable chemicals that can damage our cells.

Dr Golomb and her team believe that antioxidant compounds, called catechins, can improve lean muscle mass and reduce weight. Nice to hear after the Easter chocolate binge.

Chocolate Reduces Coronary Heart Disease

Eating high levels of chocolate could reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke. Data from 114,009 patients suggested risk was cut by about a third, according to a study published on the BMJ website.

The analysis, conducted by scientists at the University of Cambridge, compared the risk to the brain and heart in groups of people who reported eating low levels of chocolate, fewer than two bars per week, with those eating more than two bars per week. It showed that the "highest levels of chocolate consumption were associated with a 37% reduction in cardiovascular disease and a 29% reduction in stroke compared with the lowest levels". It also found chocolate is known to decrease blood pressure. They recommended people should avoid binge-eating and eat small amounts of chocolate on a regular basis.

Baconfest Chicago April 14

In case you are going to the Windy City.

What's in a Name, Jim Beam

Jim Beam didn’t actually start the distillery that bears his name. His great-grandfather Jacob Beam opened the distillery in 1788 and started selling his first barrels of whiskey in 1795.

In those days, the whiskey went by the name of “Old Tub.” Jacob Beam handed down the distillery to his son David Beam, who in turn passed it to his son David M. Beam, who passed it to his son, Colonel James Beauregard Beam, in 1894.

He was 30 years old when he took over the family business and ran the distillery until Prohibition shut him down. Following repeal in 1933, Jim built a distillery and resurrected the Old Tub brand and also added a bourbon simply called Jim Beam.

Apr 11, 2012

Instant Tape Fix

Here is another clever use for those bread wrapper tabs.

Hans Christian Andersen

He was born on this day in 1805 to a poor family. His father, a shoemaker, died when Hans was 11 years old. When he was just 14, Hans left his hometown of Odense, Denmark and traveled to Copenhagen where he became a starving actor, singer, and dancer. It was there that he met the man who became his lifelong friend and benefactor, Jonas Collin. With Collin’s help, Andersen received a royal scholarship and completed his education.

By his 25th birthday, Hans was on his way to a writing career that would make him one of the most widely-read authors in the world. His first recognition came for his many plays and novels. Five years later, he penned his first of 168 fairy tales.

Among them are The Tinder-Box, Little Claus and Big Claus; tales that made fun of human faults: The Emperor’s New Suit, The Princess and the Pea; tales based on his life: The Ugly Duckling, She was Good for Nothing, and The Snow Queen, The Red Shoes, The Little Mermaid, Thumbelina, The Marsh King’s Daughter.

As Andersen’s popularity rose in the 1840s, he found himself rubbing shoulders with kings and queens, famous composers, poets and novelists. He became wealthy enough to visit throughout Europe, writing about his experiences as he traveled. In Sweden is often considered his best travel book.

He wrote his own story in 1855, The Fairy Tale of My Life. Hans Christian Andersen died a lonely man on August 4, 1875, but his stories and fairy tales live on, entertaining children and adults.

The Hans Christian Andersen Award is presented every other year to an author and an illustrator of children’s books. The ‘Little Nobel Prize’, as it is often called, is the highest international recognition bestowed on an author (since 1956) and to an illustrator (since 1966). It is presented by the International Board on Books for Young People.

Ig Nobel Awards 2011

MATHEMATICS PRIZE: Dorothy Martin of the USA (who predicted the world would end in 1954), Pat Robertson of the USA (who predicted the world would end in 1982), Elizabeth Clare Prophet of the USA (who predicted the world would end in 1990), Lee Jang Rim of KOREA (who predicted the world would end in 1992), Credonia Mwerinde of UGANDA (who predicted the world would end in 1999), and Harold Camping of the USA (who predicted the world would end on September 6, 1994 and later predicted that the world would end on October 21, 2011), for teaching the world to be careful when making mathematical assumptions and calculations.

PEACE PRIZE: Arturas Zuokas, the mayor of Vilnius, LITHUANIA, for demonstrating that the problem of illegally parked luxury cars can be solved by running them over with an armored tank.  VIDEO

Six Operations Now Unpopular

New on the list of operations that have fallen into disfavor is appendectomies.  Four trials involving 900 patients with appendicitis found almost two-thirds of them (63 per cent) were successfully treated with antibiotics, and avoided the complications of surgery.

* Tonsillectomy, the removal of tonsils to prevent repeated sore throats. More than 200,000 were carried out every year in the 1950s, but only 49,000 in 2009. There is no evidence that it works.

* Grommets, or valves inserted in the ear drum to treat inflammation of the inner ear. Most children grow out of it naturally.

* A mastectomy for breast cancer. Today, many surgeons remove only the lump, and survival is just as good.

* Hysterectomy for fibroids or benign growths in the womb can now be treated by an injection.

* Surgery for stomach ulcers can now be treated by an over-the-counter drug.

Apr 6, 2012

Happy Friday

There are three difficulties in authorship: to write anything worth publishing, to find honest men to publish it, and to get sensible men to read it.

I honestly believe that no matter how you read it, it is sensible and worth the time to have a Happy Friday!

Nine Things You Never Thought of Freezing

Here are a few things we usually do not think about freezing, but might be worth a try.

Fruits: Cut up and freeze season fruits such as peaches, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, pineapple, grapes, or apples. Add a spritz of lemon juice to your frozen fruits to prevent browning.

Nuts: Bag up and freeze almonds, pine nuts, honey toasted pecans and others.

Berries: Freeze blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries.

Fresh Bread: Store specialty breads in the freezer. The cold temperature will preserve the crumb and texture while prolonging staleness. A quick oven re-bake will bring back the aroma, crispness, and moisture.

Semi-Soft Cheese: Freezing cheese slows down mold in super-melts like mozzarella, Colby, pepper jack or Gouda.

Whole Grains: Whole grains like flax, millet or oats can stay fresh by freezing them in insulated bags.

Herbs: Fresh herbs, such as basil, parsley, mint, dill, cilantro and chives can benefit from a deep-freeze treatment. To retain their vibrant color, let herbs air-dry before freezing.

Juices: Freshly squeezed citrus like lemon, lime, orange, and grapefruit. Store in ice-cube trays for future use.

Fresh Vegetables: Freeze asparagus, beets, broccoli, green beans, peas, carrots and greens.

Future Me

Received this goodie from my 'way much older' brother, who just had yet another birthday and who is likely planning something with this I do not want to know about. The site LINK allows you to send a free email message to yourself in the future. You can also send an email to others, but have to set up a free account to do so.

You can post-date it for anytime in the future, weeks, months, years. Might be fun to get something back that you were thinking now or planning for the future to remind yourself of the plan. . . and answer for it. It cautions to not use work email addresses, lest you change jobs.

The site has many copies of emails that others have sent and allowed the site to post. It has also made a book of some of the emails. Great fun and might honestly answer the question, "How did that work out for you?"

Watson and Cancer

Not quite robot technology, but IBM and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center are adding the latest in oncology research, and the hospital's accumulated experience to Watson's vast knowledge base, and keep updating it. They said the result should help the hospital diagnose and treat cancer more quickly, accurately, and personally. "The capabilities are enormous," said Dr. Larry Norton, deputy chief for breast cancer programs at Sloan-Kettering. "And unlike my medical students, Watson doesn't forget anything."

If successful, the finished product could be used anywhere in the world to aid cancer treatment.

Watson won fame by beating the world's best "Jeopardy!" players. Last year Watson also began work for the health insurer Wellpoint Inc.

Guiness and Bar Bets

Guinness World Records was invented by the beer company to sell in bars and to settle bar bets. In 1951, the managing director of Guinness Brewery was on a bird-hunting trip in Ireland, hunting the golden plover. After failing to shoot even one, he declared that the bird must be the fastest in Europe. His friends said no, but they had no reliable source to turn to for bird speed. So he decided the public needed an official book of records that could be used to settle bar bets.

Some time later, he hired  the Norris and Ross McWhirter fact-finding agency to put together a definitive book of facts. The result was a 198-page book published in 1955 with the Guinness name on the cover that was handed out in bars as a giveaway to increase the sales of Guinness. The Guinness Book of Records was in such demand that Guinness immediately reprinted another 50,000 copies (44.7 tons) and started selling them.

In case you were wondering, according to the book, Britain's fastest game bird is the Red Grouse which, in still air, has recorded burst speeds up to 58-63 mph over very short distances. It is doubtful that the Golden Plover can exceed 55 mph, even in an emergency.

Apr 4, 2012


Hagiography  is the study of saints and refers literally to writings on the subject of such holy people, and specifically to the biographies of saints and ecclesiastical leaders.

Christian hagiographies focus on the lives, and notably the miracles of men and women canonized by the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Oriental Orthodox Church, and the Church of the East. Other religions such as Buddhism and Islam also create and maintain hagiographical texts concerning saints and other individuals believed to be imbued with the sacred.

The term "hagiographic" has also been used as a pejorative reference to the works of biographers and historians perceived to be uncritical or reverential to their subject. Almost all my books begin with an unpejoritive autohagiography.

See Through TV Screens

Samsung's new transparent LCD screen, is a breakthrough that could one day make any window into a display or touchscreen. The transparent screen is available to showrooms for display cases, but Samsung has been testing its invention on vending machines.

The clear glass on the machines' windows can advertise a particular product or display nutrition information. It has been a success, with sales in vending machines equipped with the transparent LCDs up 600% over others.

Normal TV screens require back or side lighting to display an image, but Samsung's transparent screen uses ambient light like sunlight or room lighting. That makes the product relatively cheap. New ideas for use might be bathroom mirrors, department store windows, and more.

18 Common Words

What do all these words have in common? "Boredom", "flummox", "rampage", "butter-fingers", "tousled", "sawbones", "confusingly", "casualty ward", "allotment garden", "kibosh", "footlights", "dustbin", "fingerless", "fairy story", "messiness", "natural-looking", "squashed", "spectacularly". They were all invented / first used in print by Charles Dickens.

Closed Captions Updated

Ever since closed video captioning was developed in the 1970s, it hasn't changed much. The words spoken by the characters or narrators scroll along at the bottom of the screen.

A team of researchers from China and Singapore has developed a new closed captioning approach in which the text appears in translucent talk bubbles next to the speaker. The new approach improves the viewing experience for over 66 million people around the world who have hearing impairments.

They put scripts around the speaker's face and synchronously highlight the scripts. The new technique shows the text appears in different locations and styles to better reflect the speaker's identity and vocal dynamics.

Using a technique called visual saliency analysis, it automatically finds an optimal position for the talk bubble so that it interferes minimally with the visual scene. Professionals can also further adjust the generated captions, such as moving the talk bubbles. When the speaker is off-screen, or a narrator is speaking, the words appear at the bottom of the screen as in static closed captioning.