Jan 23, 2015

Happy Friday

“May your walls know joy, may every room hold laughter, and every window open to great possibility.” Mary Anne Radmacher

There is always laughter in my house, especially on a Happy Friday!

Global Belly Laugh Day

Tomorrow, January 24 is Global Belly Laugh Day. According to Belly Laugh Day Founder Elaine Helle, the day is about celebrating with the people in your life, past and present, who laugh with you and help you laugh and smile.

The time for the Global Belly Laugh Bounce is 1:24 pm local time. That is when everyone should throw arms up in the air and laugh out loud. Maybe it can be heard around the world.

According to Jennifer Cline, laughter helps with:
Lowering blood pressure,
Reducing particular stress hormones,
Increasing vascular blood flow and oxygenation of the blood,
Working out the diaphragm, abdomen, respiratory system, face, legs and back,
Increasing alertness, creativity and memory, and
Increasing memory and learning.

Discovered a dubious personal achievement when I Googled images for "Global Belly Laugh Day" and found my picture on the first page. When I clicked on it, the link was to my last year's post. The good news is that it made me laugh and that is what the day is for. Go ahead, laugh out loud and pass it on.

If you need help getting started, this short video should help. LINK

Gelotophobia, Gelotophilia, and Katagelasticism

Most people have heard none of these conditions, but they all have to do with laughter. Gelotophobia is a fear of being laughed at, a type of social phobia that makes them feel awkward. Gelotophilia is the joy of being laughed at. Katagelasticism is the joy of laughing at others. None are particularly good to have. Luckily these are not common, so have a good laugh and enjoy yourself.

Pink Pearls

The Pink Pearl apple is an inner pink-flesh apple cultivar with cream colored skin developed in 1944 by Albert Etter, a northern California breeder. US plant patent 723 for the Pink Pearl was obtained later that year. It is the offspring of the Surprise apple, an old English variety and was cultivated from an older rosy-fleshed apple introduced by German settlers in the mid 1800s. It is different from the Pink Lady apple, which has pink skin and is not a novelty.

Pink Pearl apples are low in calories, high in water content and contain vitamins A, C and B. They also contain a dietary fiber known as pectin, which has been shown to lower cholesterol levels, and trace amounts of boron, which has been touted for its ability to help build strong bones. Great for pink applesauce or as a color burst in salads.

Pink Pearl apples are generally medium sized, with a conical shape. They are named for the color of their flesh, which is a bright rosy pink sometimes streaked or mottled with white. They have a translucent, yellow-green skin, and a crisp, juicy flesh with tart to sweet-tart taste. Pink Pearls are grown in various countries, but generally available in the US from California, Michigan, Ohio, Oregon, as well as Canada, England, and Australia.

International Year of Light

On 20 December 2013, The United Nations General Assembly 68th Session proclaimed 2015 as the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies. "An International Year of Light is a tremendous opportunity to ensure that international policymakers and stakeholders are made aware of the problem-solving potential of light technology. We now have a unique opportunity to raise global awareness of this." John Dudley, Chairman of the IYL 2015 Steering Committee

2015 is also the Einstein Centenary. In 1915, the theory of General Relativity developed by Einstein showed how light was at the center of the structure of space and time.

Thought I would toss in a few facts about light.
Lighting represents almost 20% of global electricity consumption.

The first commercially viable incandescent light bulb, patented by Thomas Edison in 1880, used a filament made from burned bamboo.

Other animals can see parts of the spectrum that humans can not, for example, a large number of insects can see ultraviolet light.

The giant squid, Taningia danae, has the largest light-producing organs of any living creature. The lemon-yellow light organs are called photophores and are found at the tip of the two of the squid’s feeding arms and they flash blinding light.

The speed of light in a vacuum is about 186,000 miles per second (300,000 kilometers per second).

Light takes 1.255 seconds to get from the Earth to the Moon.

More than half of the visible sunlight spectrum is absorbed within three feet of the ocean's surface; at a depth of 10 meters, less than 20% of the light that entered at the surface is still visible; by 100 meters, this percentage drops to 0.5%.

Refraction can make things look closer than they really are. The difference in speed between light traveling through water and through air means that, from the surface, a 13ft (4m) pool appears to be just 10ft (3m) deep.

Between 18% and 35% of the human population is estimated to be affected by a so-called "photic sneeze reflex," a heritable condition that results in sneezing when the person is exposed to bright light.

Here is a link to "Light my Fire" by the Doors, just because.

National Peanut Butter Day

Tomorrow January 24 is also National Peanut Butter Day, an unfortunate choice, because it is extremely difficult to laugh out loud with a mouth full of peanut butter. One quickie, it takes 550 peanuts to make a 12 ounce jar of peanut butter. Peanuts are cholesterol free and an excellent source of protein. It is the high protein content that causes peanut butter to stick to the roof of your mouth.

The king, Elvis knew how to use it with his famous peanut butter, banana, bacon sandwiches and his  Fool's Gold Loaf, with a loaf of Italian bread filled with a pound of bacon, peanut butter, and grape jelly. Yumm!

Memory Help

Do you ever have a song in your mind, but cannot remember the singer, or group, or title? You can call your friends or you can go to this site, hum a few bars into your mic and it will tell you all you need to know LINK.

You might have had times when you are discussing a movie or an actor and the answer is on the tip of your tongue, but you cannot remember exactly. Go to this site LINK, type whatever you remember and someone will help you out.

Maybe you have seen a picture of something or found a strange item in your garage, but do not know what it is. You can go to this site LINK, upload a picture, and someone will tell you what that thing is. Unfortunately there is no site yet to tell you where you put your keys.

Body Odor Facts

Body odor is a uniquely personalized thing. Just what kind of body odor each individual person has is determined by a combination of a certain area of their genetic makeup called the major histocompatibility complex and, partially by what they eat. The basic composition of a person’s body odor remains the same, however, and it has been suggested that one of the reasons for it is to help us choose a genetically appropriate mate. Change in body odor has also been linked to the development of certain cancers and viral diseases.

The body odor fingerprint isn't the only thing scientists have discovered about body odor. They found that the older people get the worse they stink. A substance called 2-Nonenal has been identified as the reason some people have a faintly greasy odor about them. The substance has only been found in people over the age of 40 and the older people get, the more of the substance the body produces. Sweat itself is pretty much odorless, but the bacteria that reacts with sweat is what produces the odor.

Ten Alcohol Facts

1.) The production of alcohol has been traced back at least 12,000 years.
2.) Sherry was apparently the alcohol of choice for many world travelers; both Magellan and Columbus had it on board during their respective voyages. Magellan liked Sherry so much that he spent more money stockpiling the alcoholic beverage than he spent on weapons.
3.) Frederick the Great, who was the king of Prussia, was so enamored by alcohol that he tried to ban coffee in an attempt to get everyone in Prussia to drink liquor instead.
4.) The Pilgrims made the decision to stop at Plymouth Rock because they were running low on supplies, particularly alcohol.
5.) Winston Churchill’s mother was the inventor of the Manhattan cocktail. It is made with whiskey and sweet vermouth.
6.) Until the mid-1600′s, wine makers in France used oil soaked rags in lieu of corks.
7.) Vikings enjoyed alcohol, and they preferred to toast to their victories by drinking it from the skulls of their defeated enemies.
8.) Many historians believe that the practice of farming was not started as a means of food production, but in order to produce the necessary ingredients to create alcoholic beverages.
9.) Hangover cures date back almost as far as alcohol itself. Ancient Romans believed that eating a fried canary would take care of their hangover symptoms, and the ancient Greeks were believers in the power of cabbage. People today are still trying to find the perfect cure for a hangover. In France they put salt into a strong cup of coffee, and in Puerto Rico some drinkers lift their drinking arm and rub half a lemon under it. (None have proven to be effective).
10.) The term honeymoon traces its roots back to ancient Babylon. It was a tradition for the soon to be father-in-law to supply his daughter’s fiancé with a month’s supply of mead. This time period was referred to as the honey month, and that phrase eventually morphed into what we now call a honeymoon.

Whether Weather

The National Weather Service is about to boost its computing power by more than tenfold, which officials hope will translate to better weather forecasts.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's two supercomputers will more than triple in computational ability this month January, 2015 and more than triple again by October, 2015. Computers will go from now being able to handle 426 trillion operations per second to 5,000 trillion calculations per second later in October, 2015.

NOAA chief Kathryn Sullivan, in a press release, said the computer boost, "Will lead to more timely, accurate, and reliable forecasts." It would be nice if some of the climaticogasmic scientists would upgrade their capabilities to predict, rather than just forecast.

Free Friday Quote

Jan 16, 2015

Happy Friday

A smile is like an upside down rainbow.

It is easy to have smiles and rainbows when celebrating a Happy Friday!

Why Snow is White

Snowflakes are crystals of frozen water. Water and ice appear clear or slightly blue in large volumes. Snow is white, because of the way light interacts with snowflakes and the air molecules packed between each snowflake.

Water, ice, and an individual snowflake may appear transparent or clear, but water actually is translucent. The difference is that light can pass through a transparent material unchanged, while it is bent when passing through a translucent material. Light hits a snowflake and is bent and scattered across the spectrum by the facets and imperfections in each crystal.

Snowflakes scatter all frequencies of visible light, so the net effect is to produce white light, but deep layers of snow or compacted snow may appear blue. There is little air between crystals in compacted snow or ice, so there is less opportunity for light to be reflected. Thick layers absorb enough red light to cause this snow to appear blue. Snow also can appear blue if it has a layer of ice over it, which can reflect back the blue of the sky.

Ice is the word for the solid form of water, regardless of how or where it formed or how the water molecules are stacked together.

Snow is the word for precipitation that falls as frozen water. If the water forms crystals, you get snowflakes. Other types of snow include rime and graupel, which are ice, but not crystals. Bottom line, frost is ice, ice cubes are ice, and snow is a form of ice.


Louis Armstrong had many nicknames as a child, all of which referred to the size of his mouth: “Gatemouth,” “Dippermouth,” and “Satchelmouth.” During a visit to Great Britain, Louis was met by Percy Brooks, the editor of Melody Maker magazine, who greeted him by saying, “Hello, Satchmo!” (He contracted “Satchelmouth” into “Satchmo.”) Louis loved the new name and adopted it for his own. It provides the title to Louis’s second autobiography, is inscribed on at least two of his trumpets, and was on his stationery.

Retro PC

Thanks to my nephew, was browsing the December 2000 edition of Popular Science online when I came across this super fast (for the time) PC. Wow, only 14 years ago, $1,799 would pay for 128MB memory and a large 15GB hard drive.

These days memory is measured in GB and storage in Terabytes, with prices down into the low hundreds of dollars. Current watches and phones have more memory and storage than the old devices. We probably can't conceive of what will happen during the next 14 years.

Am voting for a personal wearable eye device so I can watch 100 inch, or larger, fully immersive 4D TV with at least 8k resolution and omnidirectional sound. Of course for the big game it will need to be full wall TV picture and wall speakers. Am also thinking wearable/implantable phone/PC devices with stretchable screens so we can keep our pockets empty. Wouldn't it also be nice to have a ceiling that glows with natural light instead of bulbs. Ah, the mind wanders


There are a number of confusing TV terms being thrown around these days to catch our attention and drive us to toss out our relatively new flat screen TVs. I decided to decode a few of the terms so we can make an informed decision - and then rush out to buy something to get the 'first on the block' medal.

4K has about eight million pixels which equates to about four times more than a current 1080p TV. Think of your TV like a grid, with rows and columns. A full HD 1080p image is 1080 rows high and 1920 columns wide. A 4K image almost doubles both those numbers, so you could fit every pixel from your 1080p set onto one quarter of a 4K screen. Recent 4K TVs are the same thickness as a smart phone, less than two tenths of an inch thick.

Since 4K contains four times the information of High Definition (HD or FHD), someone came up with the name Ultra High Definition (UHD). The bad news is the Internet providers have not opened up the pipes enough, so many 4K users see a lag time (that frustrating spinning circle) when watching 4K content. Netflix and Amazon currently charge more for delivering 4K content.

Currently, 1080 resolution comes from the image height, while 4K (3840 x 2160) is derived from image width. If it was described the same way as now, 4K would be 2160p. Seems that was not enough of a difference to command the increased price so they changed the definition to make it seem better to the uninitiated.

8K (7680  x 4320) basically doubles the pixel height and width of 4K to about 32 million pixels. The 8K standard is currently for exhibitions and movie theaters. Since 4K will not become the norm for a few more years, 8K is many years away from the home market.

LED comes from Light Emitting Diode. LED TVs are really LCD TVs, but the difference is how the screen is lit. Traditional LCD TVs use florescent backlights, LED TVs use smaller, more energy-efficient LEDs. LED screens produce great color, but the brightness of the lights can also wash out blacks on the screen.

OLED or Organic Light Emitting Diodes have been around for years, but producing big screens using this technology has proven to be prohibitively expensive until lately. The OLED elements generate their own light so the technology is stunning, with vibrant colors, deep blacks, and bright whites.

3D TV continues to die a slow death, even though some manufacturers are still trying to convince us we need it. Think of 3D as Three Times Dead.

Bottom line, OLED is better than LED, 4K is amazing when you can see 4K content, both 4K and 8K are Ultra High Definition (UHD), both cost twice as much or more than HD, both require faster internet to be useful. Since there is little 4K and no 8K content, people who buy theses TVs are stuck explaining the picture deficiency and Ultra High Cost to guests. When content arrives, these TVs will be awesome and, by then, the price will be much more affordable. Last thing, when it comes to TVs, bigger is better, OLED is much better, 4K is awesome, but too expensive, for now.

New Mini Computers

The drive is on for TVs to get larger and computers to get smaller. Last year Intel introduced Edison, a computer the size of a postage stamp. This year it introduced a new model called Curie, which is so small that it could be built into a button on a shirt.

Curie is based on the Quark SE core, Key Features:
• A low-power, 32-bit Intel® Quark™ SE SoC
• 384kB Flash memory, 80kB SRAM
• A low-power integrated DSP sensor hub with a proprietary pattern matching accelerator
• Bluetooth* Low Energy
• 6-axis combo sensor with accelerometer and gyroscope
• Battery charging circuitry.
It is for both the wearable fitness market and biometric and security applications, with additional tie ins to other brands like Fossil (watches) and Oakley (glasses). Unlike TVs, when it comes to computers, smaller is better.

January Tidbits

Using a baby to signify the New Year began in ancient Greece around 600 B.C.

January is named for the Roman god Janus, who had two faces, one looking back, the other

The original New Year's Eve Ball in Times Square was a 700 pound ball of iron and wood covered with 25 watt bulbs.

The modern ball weighs 11,875 pounds, is 12 feet in diameter and is covered with 2,668 Waterford crystals.

Don’t eat lobster or chicken in January. Lobsters can move backward and chickens can scratch in reverse, so these foods could bring a reversal of fortune.

By the second week of January, twenty five percent of people have abandoned their resolutions.

Forbes magazine reports that only eight percent of people actually achieve their New Year's resolution.

January 19 is National Popcorn Day. January 20 is National Cheese Lover's Day. January 21 is National Hug Day. In my house, I celebrate them all together and have 'hug some cheese popcorn day'. It is much easier.

Free Friday Smile

Jan 9, 2015

Happy Friday

You cannot own happiness, but you can share it.

Every week I am happy to share a Happy Friday!

2015 Pantone Color

Marsala is the new color and, according to Pantone, Marsala enriches our mind, body, and soul, exuding confidence and stability. The color is a dusky burgundy that draws its name and its shade from the earthy Marsala wines of Italy. Its deep, reddish tones are reminiscent of cranberries, cackling fires, and comfortable sweaters of the winter season.

Color Names

Am sure many of you woke up this morning with the same burning question on your mind, where did the common colors get their names.

Pink - In English, pink used to refer exclusively to a flower called a pink, a dianthus which has pale red petals with fringed edges. Pink, as a verb means to cut or tear jaggedly and has been in use in the English language since the early 14th century.

Orange - When oranges (the fruit) were exported from India, the word for them was exported too. Sanskrit narangah, or "orange tree," was borrowed into Persian as narang, "orange (fruit)," which was borrowed into Arabic as naranj, into Italian as arancia, into French as orange, and eventually into English as orange. The color of the fruit was so striking that English speakers eventually began referring to the color by this word as well. Before oranges were imported in the 1500s, the English word for the color orange was geoluhread (yellow-red).

Fog, Smog, Vog, Haze, and Mist

This time of year we see many of these weather conditions and some people can get a bit foggy about the definitions.

Mist and fog are caused by water droplets in the air, and the only difference is how far you can see. The airline industry’s definition of fog uses the guideline of not being able to see more than 1,000 meters (3,280 ft), although the civilian definition of fog is when visibility is less than 200 meters (650 ft). If you can see farther than that, it is considered mist. Different types of fog include Valley fog, Upslope fog, and coastal fog. Also, evaporation fog causes freezing fog.

Haze is the reflection of sunlight off air pollution. Some naturally occurring sources of haze include smoke particles from fires. Most haze is air pollution, carried by the wind often hundreds of miles from where it originated.

Smog was first used in London during the early 1900's to describe the combination of smoke and fog. It occurs when pollution causes low-lying ozone. When certain pollutants enter the air, such as nitrogen oxides, they react with the sunlight to form ozone. Major smog occurrences often are linked to heavy motor vehicle traffic, high temperatures, sunshine, and calm winds. During 1952, weather conditions led to massive smog descending on and gathering over London. Visibility was less than 30 centimeters (12 in), the air was black with coal and pollution, and the usually bustling city came to a standstill. By the time the smog cleared, 4,000 people died from exposure to the pollution, and another 8,000 died during the following weeks.

Vog only happens when a nearby volcano is releasing sulfur dioxide into the air to react with what is already there. When a volcano erupts, or begins to erupt, it releases sulfur dioxide, which then reacts with other gases already in the air. When lava reaches the sea, it also reacts with the water to produce other chemicals like hydrogen sulfide. The resulting “fog” is called vog and can mean anything from severely reduced visibility to adding a mild, blue-grey tint to the landscape.

Wordology, Vinculum

It is the line between two numbers in a fraction.

Internet Time

This is what happens every sixty seconds on the internet.
2,635,217 Google searches
204,709,030 emails sent
1,865 new mobile web users
51,763 app downloads
847 new websites created
200,743 people watching porn
$238,651 is spent on web shopping
$89,300 revenues from products sold on Amazon
778,520,485 Gb of global data transferred
1,875,734 new Facebook likes
159,745 new photos uploaded on Facebook
243,040 new tweets
104 hours of video uploaded on YouTube
2,780,653 YouTube video views
About a million Google searches happened while you were reading this tidbit.

Pork Powered Protein

The protein found in bacon is extremely valuable to maintaining our energy levels and a fully functioning, healthy body, with a minimum of those nasty, waist, thigh and butt expanding, fat building carbohydrates.

Razor Differences

Men and women use different razors, but there is no difference between men’s and women’s razors. There are differences between brand names. Gillette issued a press release in which it stated that the blades used in its gendered products both use the same 'blade technology'.

Women’s razors are generally more expensive than men’s, but cost to manufacture different shapes are negligible. The razors for women are usually larger to cut more hair. The heads of men’s razors are designed to facilitate more accurate facial grooming with smaller heads around the blades, as well as having the blades more tightly packed. This serves to better cut thicker hair commonly found on men’s faces vs. women’s legs, and to cut hair closer to the skin.

The blades of men’s razors are often put at more of an oblique angle than women’s razors, along with a different contour of handle. The difference in angle and handle shape allows women to see better what they are shaving when looking down at their legs vs. men looking straight into a mirror.

Shaving creams are also identical, except for aroma, because women prefer different fragrances than men.

So, the price for women is much higher, because of perception and because women are more inclined to pay more - for any number of non-tangible reasons. Men see shaving as a chore and women tend to think of it as beauty enhancing. Save some money and use the less expensive alternative razors, creams, and gels, just do not share the same razor.

Seven Interesting Facts

Coke would be green if coloring was not added.
An average hummingbird weighs less than a penny.
The total weight of ants on earth is greater than the total weight of humans.
The average person is one percent shorter in the evening.
Half of all people in history aged 65 or older are still living.
Frozen lobsters can come back to life when thawed (they do not squeal when being boiled).
Eyes remain the same size from birth, but the nose and ears never stop growing.

What's in a Name, Ouija Board

The Ouija board was created as a parlor game around 1890 by designer Elijah Bond, who patented it in 1891, then sold the patent to William Fuld in 1901. Fuld popularized the game and promoted it as a novelty. He sold the business in 1966 to Parker Brothers, which was acquired by Hasbro, which now owns it, along with Monopoly, Risk, Trivial Pursuit, etc.  Ouija is a combination of two words: 'oui' and 'ja' which mean 'yes' in French and German respectively.

One of the first mentions of the automatic writing method used in the Ouija board is found in China around 1100 AD. The method was known as fuji, spirit writing or automatic writing using a suspended sieve or tray to guide a stick which writes Chinese characters in sand or incense ashes.

Despite being a trademark, “Ouija” is also used to refer to any kind of 'talking' board that uses automatic writing. Shortly after it was introduced, Pearl Curran, a popular 20th-century spiritualist began using the Ouija board during WWI as a tool for her divination. Some people thought it was kind of ancient mystical device used to communicate with the dead. It has also been associated with devil worship or spirituality, despite Hasbro’s insistence that it is just a board game. The 'automatic' writing is simply done by the ideomotor effect, people moving the indicator unconsciously.

Paranormal and supernatural beliefs associated with Ouija have been harshly criticized by the scientific community, since they are characterized as pseudoscience. There is a 'museum' of talking boards on the web at LINK.

Free Friday Happy Dance

Jan 2, 2015

Happy Friday

“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”

Both my smiles and joy always show up for a Happy Friday!


Ah, we are at the beginning of another New Year and the world awaits what wonderful things we can accomplish this year. Time is such an important part of our lives and is so personal to each of us that there are hundreds of ways to describe it. Each of us has our own specious present. This year, do not bide your time. Use this window of time to spend some face time with family and friends and keep them close for all time.

Words from the Rolling Stones (I like the second version) title come to mind LINK. In the nick of time we look at the fresh calendar, sit a spell, adjust our circadian clock, and ponder the current epoch. This is the kairos to begin before we reach our first poronkusema.

Kairos is an ancient Greek word meaning the right or opportune moment (the supreme moment).

The Finnish word poronkusema describes the distance equal to how far a reindeer can travel without taking a comfort break.

The Malaysian word for the time it takes to eat a banana is pisan zapra. To say that someone would arrive in pisan zapra means they could be expected in a few minutes.

The Turkish phrase 'zaman dilimi' means time period as does the Haitian Creole phrase 'peryòd tan'.

A jubilee is 50 years.

A vigil is a period of time, especially at night, when you stay in a place to wait for something or to give your support.

In medieval time, a moment was defined as being 90 seconds.

In the Old Testament, Yom is translated as period of time, such as year, always, and more.

A sidereal time is the measurement of time relative to a distant star. It is used in astronomy to predict when a star will be overhead. A sidereal day is 4 minutes less than a solar day.

Scientist Gilbert Newton Lewis defined a jiffy in the early 1900s as the amount of time it takes light to travel 1 centimeter (0.4 in), which is about one-hundredth of a second.

A Planck is the duration light takes to travel one (Max) Planck length, theorized to be the smallest duration measurement that will ever be possible, roughly 10 to the 43rd seconds.

Aging and Time

Time obviously affects our age, but how we feel about our age can make a difference between just getting old and aging gracefully.

JAMA Internal Medicine online recently published a study that looked at data from 6,489 people with an average age of 65.8 years who reported that they felt a little less than 10 years younger. Most said they felt about three years younger and 4.8%, felt at least a year older than their actual age.

During the next eight years, scientists found just over 14% of those who felt younger than their years had died, while more than 24% of the people who reported feeling older or feeling their age died.

The study concluded that self-perceived age has the potential to change us. This and other research shows that personality can affect our destiny. New research into the link between personality and aging finds that there are two main traits that seem to help people live longer: conscientiousness and optimism. Happiness and a positive attitude can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. These results certainly make me happy.

New Year Census

The US population is at 320.09 million people as of January 1. It is an increase of 11.35 million since the last census. During January 2015, the US is expected to have one birth every eight seconds and one death every 12 seconds. Net migration is expected to add one person to the US population every 33 seconds, according to the Census Bureau.

The combination of births, deaths, and net migration will add at least one person to the US population every 16 seconds.

Wordology, Hogmanay

Hogmanay is the Scots word for the last day of the year and is synonymous with the celebration of the New Year in the Scottish style. The celebrating begins on the last day of the year and lasts through the night until the morning of New Year's Day or 2 January, a Scottish Bank Holiday.

Windows Number Tip

Those little icons along the bottom of your screen that you use for everyday program shortcuts are handy. Normally you use the mouse to click on the icon to open the program. There is an easier way to open them without using a mouse. Each program to the right of the Start button is assigned its own numerical shortcut, with the first program being "1," the second being "2," and so on up to the 10th shortcut, which is "0."

Press the Windows key, plus the number of the program you want to open and it will launch. For example, if the first icon is for email, hold down the windows key (on the lower left of most keyboards) and press the number 1. Your email will open.

You can rearrange the icons and move the most used to the left position to make it easier to remember. I have more than ten, so I moved the least used to the right and kept the top ten as the first ten.

Winter Weather

Highest temperature ever for South Pole Dec. 27, 1978  7.5f   –14c

Holiday Boozing

Many equate the holidays with drinking, so I looked up some of the common terms we use, beginning with 'crapulous' (a substitute for hangover), from the 18th century Greek kraipale (drunken headache or nausea). I love that word.

first appeared in Middle Dutch as bûsen, which meant 'to drink to excess.' There was also the Old High German word bausen, which meant 'to bulge or billow.'" It took 200 years for English speakers to start using it as both a verb (to booze) and a noun (give me some booze). It is a common misconception that the word was borrowed from a brand of whiskey sold by E.S. Booz in the 1800s, but the word much older. The 1529 Oxford dictionary defined it as “affected by drinking.”

Hooch comes from Alaska. There was a native tribe there called the Hoochinoo that distilled rum made primarily from molasses and introduced it to soldiers from the lower 48.

Alcohol began as an Arabic word describing a fine metallic powder used as eye shadow (al-kuhul). The word was broadened to mean 'the pure spirit of anything'. Later it was expanded to include a distilled spirit or liquor. Alcoholic meaning 'caused by drunkenness' is attested by the 1800s and meaning 'habitually drunk' by 1910.

Liquor dates back to at least 1200, likur "any matter in a liquid state," and the Latin verb liquere, meaning "to be fluid", from Latin liquorem. The definition including a fermented or distilled drink followed about a hundred years later. In North America, the term hard liquor is used to distinguish distilled beverages from undistilled ones and does not include beverages such as beer, wine, and cider, which are fermented, but not distilled.

Spirits refers to a distilled beverage that contains no added sugar and has at least 20% alcohol by volume. It probably originated with ancient alchemists, who referred to the vapor given off and collected during an alchemical process (like the distillation of alcohol) as the 'spirit' of the original material. Early European Monks believed that the spirit was removed from the mash during the distilling process.

Cocktail refers to any beverage that contains two or more ingredients with at least one of them being alcohol. When a cocktail contains only a distilled spirit and a mixer, it is a highball. The Oxford English dictionary cites the word as originating in the US. The first recorded use of the word cocktail as a beverage was during the early 1800s. Of the many origins, two stand out: an old French recipe for mixed wines, called a coquetel, brought to America by General Lafayette’s soldiers in 1777; and New Orleans brandy drink in an egg-cup called a coquetier in French. The latter was a morning drink served at the time the tail of the evening met with the morning cock-a-doodle-do of a rooster.

Bar is an abbreviation of barrier, the counter that separates drinks from the drinkers. Toward the end of the 16th century it expanded to mean the building that housed the barrier. Barmaid didn’t appear in print until the mid 1700s and bartender arrived about fifty years later and barfly came about during the early 1900s. Bottom line, beer, wine, cider, hooch, and alcohol are booze, but only hooch, and alcohol are liquors. Spirits are alcohol and both are liquor. All highballs are cocktails, but not all cocktails are highballs.

Wordology, Prosopagnosia

Now that the holidays are about over and we met many new friends, it seems this disease might fit the discussion. People with prosopagnosia, about two percent of the population, find it difficult or impossible to remember faces, even their own. Some contort their own face when standing in front of a mirror in a crowded restroom so they can determine which is theirs. They are not technically face blind, but their brains cannot memorize what they see. Many prosopagnosics are ostracized by people who are offended that they are not recognized. There is no therapy or cure, so most learn to cope with prosopagnosia by using secondary clues such as clothing, gait, hair color, body shape, and voice to recognize friends, family, and co-workers.

Healthcare Tidbit

I thought this was enlightening information regarding comparative healthcare costs. There seems to be a delicate balance of spending too little or spending too much to achieve greater life expectancy.

ABBA Happy New Year

 Decided to toss in this Happy New Year song by ABBA in their own style. LINK Enjoy!

New Year Voice Resolution

Artificial voices have been around since the 1700s and have made much progress, but have been very limited until now. There is a new service hoping to help some of the millions of voice impaired people. A company, VocaliD has been set up to allow volunteers to donate their voice to help someone speak.

To create a voice, the company takes the shape of the vocal tract from a voice donor, and the source from a recipient, who has given something as limited as a vowel. After taking that short recording from the recipient the team selects a donor with a similar 'filter' and uses a computer algorithm to layer one over the other. The process takes about ten to fifteen hours after recordings from both donor and recipient have been completed.

It provides unique voices for those who rely on computerized devices because they are unable to speak. The technology builds on speech science theory and creates a hybrid voice that preserves the clarity of the donor’s recordings while conveying as much of the recipient’s vocal identity as possible.

Some things from the FAQ on the site - A banked voice would make it possible to re-create your voice should you ever lose it in the future. Your voice may also spark new discoveries and innovations in speech technologies, biometrics, and health diagnostics. Becoming a speech donor is simple, rewarding and even educational. All you need to record is an Internet connection, a microphone, a quiet place, and a computer or smartphone running the Chrome browser. You will be asked to read or repeat short sentences that, together, cover all the combinations of sounds that occur in the language. It takes a few hours, but you can record at your leisure and do not need to complete all at one sitting. LINK  This year I plan to be a donor and have my voice recorded to help the cause.

Shareable New Year Resolutions