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Saturday, April 29, 2017

Airplane Contrails

     Contrails are clouds formed when water vapor condenses and freezes around small particles that are present in aircraft exhaust. Some of that water vapor comes from the air in the atmosphere and some is present in the exhaus.
     Contrails were first noticed during high-altitude flights in the 1920's. However, interest in contrails really blossomed during WWII when bombers could be sighted from miles away. In fact, numerous WWII veteran accounts tell of problems to aviation due to massive contrail formations. Planes could not find their targets, and sometimes collided with each other. In 1953, a scientist named Appleman published a chart that can be used to determine when a jet airplane would or would not produce a contrail. 
     The exhaust of an aircraft contains both vapor and solid particles and both are important in the formation of contrails. Emissions include carbon dioxide, water vapor, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons such as methane, sulfates, soot and metal particles.
     Contrails exist for different lengths of time and are divided into three groups: 

short-lived - these look like short white lines following along behind the plane, disappearing almost as fast as the airplane goes across the sky, perhaps lasting only a few minutes or less. The air that the airplane is passing through is somewhat moist, and there is only a small amount of water vapor available to form a contrail. The ice particles that do form quickly return again to a vapor state. 
persistent (non-spreading) - these look like long white lines that remain visible after the airplane has disappeared. When these are present it indicates that there is a large amount of water vapor available. They appear as long, narrow white pencil-lines across the sky.
persistent (spreading) - these appear as long, broad, fuzzy white lines. This is the type most likely to affect climate because they cover a larger area and last longer than short-lived or persistent contrails. Because contrails are formed at high altitudes where the winds are usually very strong, they will move away from the area where they originated. 

     Contrails are always made of ice particles due to the very cold temperatures at high altitude. Unlike other clouds which can form at a range of altitudes, from very close to the ground, such as fog, to very high off the ground, such as cirrus clouds, contrails only form at very high altitudes (usually above 5 miles) where the air is extremely cold (less than -40 degrees F). 
     Contrail have cousins. Under the right conditions you will see vapor trails form from the wingtips of a jet on takeoff or landing. This phenomenon results from a decrease in pressure and temperature in the wingtip vortex. If conditions are right, liquid water drops form inside the vortex and make it visible. These evaporate very quickly after they form. 
     An interesting question that arises is, “Why do some planes leave contrails, but others don’t?” One reason might be that they have different engine though this is not common. Some engines will leave a contrail in air where another engine will not because the exhaust of the newer engines is a lower temperature. Power settings will also have an effect, especially if it affects the exhaust temperature. 
     However, the main reason why you see trails on some planes but not on others is because they are at different altitudes and they are flying in different regions of air which can vary in tempertaure and humidity even within a few feet even in seemingly clear air. 

Broken contrails and gaps 
Contrail Chart

Friday, April 28, 2017

Fun Fact About Sweat

   Sweat is a clear, salty liquid produced by glands in the skin. Sweating is how the body cools itself. You sweat mainly under your arms and on your feet and palms.
     Sweating a lot is normal when it is hot, during exercise, are anxious, or have a fever. It also happens to women going through menopause. If you often sweat too much, it's called hyperhidrosis. Causes include thyroid or nervous system disorders, low blood sugar, or another health problem. Sweating too little, anhidrosis and it can be life-threatening because the body can overheat. Causes of anhidrosis include dehydration, burns, and some skin and nerve disorders. 
     Two types of sweat glands can be found in humans: eccrine glands and apocrine glands. The eccrine sweat glands are distributed over much of the body. 
     Maximum sweat rates of an adult can be up to two to four quarts per hour or 10 to 15 quarts per day, but is less in children prior to puberty. Evaporation of sweat from the skin surface has a cooling effect so in hot weather, or when the individual's muscles heat up due to exertion, more sweat is produced. 
     Animals with few sweat glands, such as dogs, accomplish similar temperature regulation results by panting, which evaporates water from the moist lining of the oral cavity and pharynx. 
     Primates and horses have armpits that sweat like those of humans. Although sweating is found in a wide variety of mammals, relatively few (exceptions include humans and horses) produce large amounts of sweat in order to cool down. 
    Humans between 2 and 5 million sweat glands spread across the body. 
    The fitter you are, the sooner you may start to sweat during exercise. This is because your body recognizes the need to cool you off faster. The Gatorade Sports Science Institute has found that in conditions of 85 degrees and 40 percent humidity, the average runner will lose 2 to 4 pounds of sweat an hour. During intense exercise in the heat, athletes can sweat off 2 to 6 percent of their body weight. 
     Women have more sweat glands than men, but men’s sweat glands actually produce more sweat than women’s.
     Men have slightly saltier sweat than women, and they also sweat, on average, 40 percent more than women. 
     Overactive sweat glands (also known as hyperhidrosis) can be caused by certain medications or medical conditions. Hyperhidrosis can be embarrassing to deal with and can even lead to dehydration. About 3 percent of the population suffers from or excessive sweating. 
     Some people have salty sweat. If your sweat stings your eyes or stings if it trickles into a cut, tastes salty or leaves white streaks on your skin or clothes after exercising, you're a salty sweater. It could be caused by a salt imbalance and a doctor should be consulted. 
     There is a difference between stress sweat and regular sweat. Regular sweat is comprised of water, salt and potassium, and helps cool the body down as it evaporates. Stress sweat is released by a different gland and is comprised of fatty acids and proteins. Stress sweat doesn’t evaporate as quickly as regular sweat and can develop an odor when it combines with bacteria on the skin. Sweat itself is odorless. It’s the bacteria on the skin that mingles with it and produces body odor. 
     Vegetarians’ sweat smells better. A study in the Czech Republic asked women to rate the body odor “attractiveness” of both red meat eaters and people who abstained from red meat. In the end, the non-meat eaters’ odors were rated significantly more attractive, more pleasant and less intense. 
     Sweat glands are most concentrated on the bottom of our feet and least concentrated on our backs. 
     Yellow underarm stains are caused by your apocrine glands, which contain proteins and fatty acids and thus make underarm secretions thick and milky. 
     Hippo sweat is red. Cows sweat through their noses. 
     Eating can make you sweat; when you eat your metabolism increases, which boosts your body temperature. You then sweat in order to cool down. Primates and horses have armpits that sweat like human armpits. 

     A group of Swedish engineers has built a “Sweat Machine” that pulls the sweat out of damp clothing, and then purifies and filters it until it’s fit to drink. I am not sure why they wanted to do this.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

American Crocodiles

     When one thinks of crocodiles, one does not usually think of them as showing up in the United States, but they do. Crocodiles and alligators belong to a group of reptiles called crocodilians, which are the largest of the living reptiles. Of the 23 different species of crocodilians in the world, 2 species are native to the United States and south Florida is the only place where both of these species coexist. 
     The American alligator ranges throughout the southeastern United States. American Crocodiles on the other hand, inhabit coastal areas of south Florida where they are at the northern extreme of their range. American crocodiles also can be found on the islands of Cuba, Jamaica, and Hispaniola, as well as along both coasts of southern Mexico and Central America, south to Ecuador on the Pacific coast of South America, and Venezuela on the Atlantic coast. 

     At first glance crocodiles can be difficult to distinguish the two, but there are important differences. The American crocodile is lizard-shaped with a long, muscular tail and four short legs that have five toes on the front feet and four on the back feet. Adults have grayish-green backs and tails and white to yellowish undersides. Their narrow snout is triangular in shape, and the fourth tooth on both sides of the lower jaw is visible when the mouth is closed. The ear drums are protected by movable flaps of skin at the top of the head behind the eyes, and the nostrils are at the end of the elongated snout. Because of the location of the eyes, ears, and nostrils, a crocodile can be submerged with only the top of its head exposed and still be able to see, hear, and breathe. Male crocodiles can reach about 20 feet in length but rarely exceed 14 feet in the wild. Mature females are about 8 to 12 feet in length. 
     Alligators are more numerous in Florida than crocodiles and are darker, have a broader snout, and are typically found in freshwater habitats. Crocodiles, on the other hand, are rare and secretive creatures that inhabit coastal, brackish, and salt-water habitats. 
     Although American crocodiles have an aggressive reputation thanks to the larger, man-eating crocodiles found in Australia, those inhabiting the Everglades rarely come in conflict with humans because of their shy nature. 
     Crocodiles rely on external sources of heat to regulate their body temperature by basking in the sun or by moving to an area with warmer or cooler water and if surprised by an approaching person they will quickly and noisily enter the water. Crocodiles normally slip quietly the water quietly and splashing indicates it is frightened and feeling stressed.
     Crocodiles sometimes can be seen sunning with their mouths open. This behavior is also a way of regulating body temperature and does not mean that the crocodile is acting aggressively toward people. 
     Crocodiles will eat almost anything that moves. Young crocodiles eat small fish, snails, crustaceans, and insects while adults feed mostly at night on fish, crabs, turtles, snakes, and small mammals. The growth rate of crocodiles varies with food availability and temperature. Digestion is efficient only within a certain range of body temperatures and as a result, crocodiles grow more slowly near the extreme limits of their range. 
     American crocodiles build nests that are either holes in or mounds of sand and other earthen material. Curiously, the sex of embryos is not determined at fertilization, but by the temperature at which the eggs are incubated. Temperatures of 88 to 91 degrees Fahrenheit produce mostly males and temperatures lower than 88 degrees result in mostly females. However, the temperature must remain above 82 degrees for the eggs to survive and hatch. Crocodiles nests are on elevated, well-drained sites so that the eggs will be above the high-water mark because crocodile eggs cannot survive flooding for more than 12 hours. Crocodiles typically live to an age of 50 to 70 in the wild. 
     Although adult crocodiles have no natural predators other than humans, hatchlings have a high mortality rate and are preyed upon by other wildlife including raccoons, birds, and crabs. Alteration of salinity and water levels in Florida Bay resulting from extensive drainage programs throughout south Florida also are a factor. Crocodile nests that are too wet or too dry result in egg mortality. Suitable year-round crocodile habitat was lost with the development of the upper Florida Keys. 
     There may be a new invasive species. At least two Nile crocodiles have been captured in South Florida and there could be more. A team of researchers used DNA analysis on four crocodiles captured between 2000 and 2014 to confirm that at least two of the crocs were most closely related to Nile crocodiles from Africa. 
     While Florida is no stranger to non-native amphibians and reptiles, (the Burmese python), the Nile crocodile is a cause of concern because researchers estimate that the croc, an aggressive species, may be responsible for some 200 human deaths a year in Africa. The Nile crocs also have a hearty appetite for cattle and there is concern that there could be potential crossbreeding with American alligators. 
     Researchers aren't sure how the animals came to be in Florida. But their DNA did not match those kept at Disney’s Animal Kingdom or other facilities that are licensed to keep Nile crocs in Florida. The most likely culprit is an unregistered breeder who brought the crocs to Florida and they escaped of were deliberately released. The concern is that there are likely more Nile crocodiles lurking in the Florida. This may, or may not be a problem. All one has to do is think of the Burmese python which have now established themselves in the Everglades.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Copperhead Bites

     Copperhead snakes are a common North American snakes and are mostly found in forests, swamps, rocky areas, and rivers in the eastern states. They are also the most likely to bite! They bite more people in most years than any other US species of snake and unlike most poisonous snakes, they give no warning signs and strike almost immediately if they feel threatened. They are not aggressive and most bites occur if someone accidentally steps on one or gets too near. When touched, copperheads sometimes emit a musk that smells like cucumbers. The length of a copperhead's fangs is related to the length of the snake, the longer the snake, the longer the fangs. 
     Fortunately, copperhead venom is not very potent and their bite is painful but is very rarely (almost never) fatal to humans and the bite results in temporary tissue damage in the immediate area of bite. However, children, elderly and people with compromised immune systems may have strong reactions to the venom. Copperhead snake bites share symptoms with water moccasin snake bites and include: 

# immediate pain and symptoms 
# change in skin color 
# shock 
#low blood pressure 
# weakness 

     Copperheads are pit vipers like rattlesnakes and water moccasins. Pit vipers have heat-sensory pits between eye and nostril on each side of head which are able to detect minute differences in temperatures so that the snakes can accurately strike the source of heat, which is often potential prey. 
     Copperheads average between 2 and 3 feet in length and their bodies are distinctly patterned with a series of dark, chestnut-brown or reddish-brown crossbands, each shaped like an hourglass on a background of lighter brown, tan, salmon or pinkish color. Several other nonvenomous species of snakes have similar coloring and so are frequently confused for copperheads. However, copperheads are the only kind of snakes with hourglass-shaped markings. 
     In contrast to its patterned body, the snake's coppery-brown head lacks such a pattern but has a pair of tiny dark dots on top of the head. Their bellies are whitish, yellowish or a light brownish, stippled or mottled, with brown, gray or blackish, often large, paired dark spots or smudges along sides of its belly. Copperheads have muscular, thick bodies and ridged scales. Their heads are somewhat triangular and are distinct from the neck. Their pupils are vertical, like cats' eyes, and their irises are usually orange, tan or reddish-brown.
     Copperheads are not confined to the wilds because they can adapt and can survive well in suburban areas in wood and sawdust piles, abandoned farm buildings, junkyards and old construction areas and often seek shelter under boards, sheet metal, logs or large flat rocks.
     According to the Ohio Public Library Information Network, copperheads are usually out and about during the day in the spring and fall, but during the summer they become nocturnal. They especially like being out on humid, warm nights after rain. While they usually stay on the ground, sometimes they will climb into low bushes or trees in search of prey or to bask in the sun. 
     Copperheads eat mice and other small rodents, but also eat birds, lizards, other small snakes, frogs, salamanders and certain large insects like cicadas and large caterpillars. Mostly, they get their prey by waiting in ambush. They may eat only 10 or 12 meals per year, depending on the size of their prey. 
     The eggs incubate inside the mother's body and the babies are born live. Females will give birth to from two to 18 young in late summer or fall. After mating in the fall, the female will store sperm and defer fertilization for months, until she has finished hibernating. Baby copperheads are born with fangs and venom as potent as an adult's. 
     The American Museum of Natural History states scientists have found a chemical in copperhead venom may be helpful in stopping the growth of cancerous tumors. 

More reading: Timber rattlesnakes and Copperheads

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Microsoft's Lack of Customer Service

     Microsoft's customer service is worse than a used car dealership. I recently inherited a fairly new laptop from a relative, but there was an issue with Windows 10 on startup, so I took it to the local Best Buy and had a technician look at it. He advised me that he was unable to fix it because he couldn't get past Microsoft's security and that I should contact them direct, but the phone number he gave me turned out not to be Microsoft, but the laptop's manufacturer. No problem, I thought; I will just Google Microsoft for a phone number, and thus began a journey into Hades.
     One of the first places that popped up was not a Microsoft site at all, but a site designed to look like it was and they advertised they specialized in “Microsoft problems.”   Of course, this is not a Microsoft problem, but you have to be careful.
     Unable to locate a phone number for technical service, I called the number listed for Microsoft's corporate office in a nearby large city. The guy answering the phone could barely speak English and after I explained my problem and asked for a phone number I could call for technical assistance, he began asking for personal information which I refused to give, explaining all I wanted is a phone number. He got snotty and I hung up. 
     The next step was to call a Microsoft store. Again, the person answering the phone could barely speak English and could not understand my problem...hung up on him, too. 
     A third call to a different number connected me with another person for whom English was a second language and he was totally unable to comprehend the nature of the issue with the laptop. When I kept telling the guy that he was trying to address an issue that was not part of the problem, he got belligerent and kept interrupting me, prompting another hang up on my part. 
     A fourth call resulted in someone who spoke fairly decent English and listened politely and asked a few questions before having me try a couple of fixes which didn't work. At that point he told me he did not know how to fix the problem and his advice was to “take it some place and have Windows 10 reinstalled.” For a fee, of course. 
     When I first got my new laptop it was very frustrating being repeatedly nagged with upgrade prompts to get the free Windows 10 which had just come out and I had to fix my laptop so that it would not automatically upgrade. Apparently, at some point Microsoft finally ended the “Get Windows 10” nag. 
     In Microsoft’s 2016 State of Global Customer Service Report, 44 per cent of the 5,000 respondents across Brazil, Germany, Japan, the UK and the United States said they had customer service issues with Microsoft. 
     Almost one-third complained about not being able to talk to a live person. Twenty-eight percent complained that representatives were unable to resolve issues because they didn't know how. Three-fourths of the respondents used a search engine to try and find the answer to their customer service question and one-fourth complained about the difficulty and/or inability to find information they were searching for online. Having to repeat or provide personal information to the agent was also a problem for many. 
     I would add that speaking to someone outside the United States who can barely speak English and who is poorly trained in customer service are problems.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

How Butterflies Fly

     How can a butterfly, weighing no more than a feather, fly into the wind and how can they control where they are going given their jerky, erratic flight paths? 
     First of all, no matter if it's a butterfly or a bird, if wind speed exceeds maximum flight speed, then it can't fly. Different species of butterflies fly at different speeds and the range is about 3 miles per hour to a lightning fast 23 miles per hour. Most small butterflies must therefore avoid high winds. 
     Butterflies have big wings and slow wing beats (about 10 per second) compared with about 200 in honey bees and, believe it or not, their wings are more than twice as effective as a bird’s. 
     Recent research indicates they control their jerky, erratic flight by keeping their body perpendicular to the ground and time that with a rotation of their body that is timed with each flap of their wings. A good example of what happens when a butterfly flaps it wings can be visualized by imagining running a spoon through coffee with creamer added. Swirls appear around a low pressure center. Their wings swirl the air above their wings making a low pressure vortex. Thus the vortex sucks the butterfly upward and allows the wings to snap back into position with less resistance. Once the upstroke has been completed, butterflies then preform a quick change of angle, just enough to add even more lift. It's this excessive lift combined with the angle of their body that causes the jerky motion associated with their fight. 
     They have huge wings for their bodies, wings that are way bigger than many other insects of the same weight and their wings are so massive they can fly even with half their wing cut off. Because the wings are so big, it is easy for them to maneuver. Their wings are similar to a ship's rudder; the bigger a ship's rudder, the faster it can turn. 
     Butterflies use their wings to make those erratic fluttering pattern which is unique to butterflies. These erratic movements have a purpose; it makes their movements hard for predators to predict. 
     Monarch butterflies can navigate their way for a distance of some 3000 miles each fall from Canada to Mexico and back in the spring. How do they do it? 
     Birds are known for their long-range migration but not insects, Also, a bird's migration route is a round-trip which they may make many times in their lifetime, but for the Monarch, it is a trip they make only once. 
     A team of scientists at the University of Massachusetts Medical School explored their brains and eye tissues and discovered that it is the ultraviolet band of light that is crucial to their orientation and gived them their sense of direction. The input from UV light detection in the eye and a biological clock in their brain guides them to their destination at the appointed time.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Icescream Screen Recorder

     The following screen recorder is even better and easier to use the than the one that was recommended in a previous post. It's called Icecream Screen Recorder
     It is a free tool that enables you to capture any area of your screen either as a screenshot or a video file. The intuitive and easy-to-use software offers a complete suite of tools and options for professional screen capture with audio. With their screen recording software you can record webinars, games and Skype videos in HD, and much more in a quick and hassle-free way. 
     There is also a Pro version available for $29.95. Besides its simplicity, it records any audio extremely well. Highly recommended!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Tracking Ships At Sea

      In addition to tracking aircraft, it is also possible to track ships at sea at Vessel Finder. Founded as a vessel tracking service provider in 2011, VesselFinder Ltd. displays real-time data on the positions and movements of over 100,000 vessels every day, utilizing a large network of receivers all over the world. 

To name a few key features: 
* Updated positions of over 100,000 vessels every day 
* Port calls and master data Detailed voyage history of each vessel 
* Photo Gallery with over 100,000 ship and port photos 
* Mobile applications for Android, iPhone, iPad and Windows phone 
* Latest news in the world maritime industry 
* Historical AIS Data services including customized vessel movements reports, video simulation of ship movements, traffic density analyses and more 

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Aircraft Radar and Aviation Weather on Your Computer

     The website FlightAware, with locations in Houston, Texas and Singapore, is the world's largest flight tracking data company and provides over 10,000 aircraft operators and service companies as well as over 12,000,000 passengers with global flight tracking solutions. FlightAware gets data from air traffic control systems in over 55 countries. FlightAware provides live flight data, airport delays, fuel prices, airline operational tools, weather maps, flight planning, flight routes, oceanic tracks, and navigation charts, as well as aviation news and photos. 
     These are fun sites to visit if, for example, you want information about that plane flying overhead. Just go to the site, zoom in on your location, and click on the plane's icon. You will get information on the company, the call sign, the plane's origin and destination, altitude and air speed. Another good site is Plane Finder.
     Aviation Weather is a US government site located near the Kansas City International Airport that allows you to access just about anything you want to know about weather conditions pertaining to aviation. 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Caffeine Withdrawal

     The FDA reports that more than 80 percent of American adults drink coffee daily. Regular ingestion of caffeine alters your brain’s chemical makeup, leading to fatigue, headaches and nausea if you quit. 
     It all happens within 24 hours. It's not bad at first, but you begin to feel mentally foggy and lack alertness. Then fatigue sets in even if you haven’t done anything strenuous and you you begin to get irritable. 
     Caffeine is chemically addictive and now the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders has included caffeine withdrawal as a mental disorder for the first time.
     Soon after you consume caffeine it’s absorbed through the small intestine and because it's water and fat soluble it penetrates the brain. Structurally, caffeine closely resembles a molecule that’s naturally present in our brain, so much so that caffeine actually fits into our brain cells’ receptors for adenosine.  Adenosine produced over time locks into these receptors and produces a feeling of tiredness, but caffeine blocks off the adenosine. The result is that caffeine produces a sense of alertness and energy for a few hours. Also, a natural stimulant, dopamine, works more effectively when the receptors are blocked. In addition, surplus adenosine causes the adrenal glands to secrete adrenaline. 
     Technically, caffeine isn’t a stimulant, but a substance that stimulates the body's natural stimulants. Caffeine's effects last for anywhere from four to six hours, depending on the person’s age, size and other factors. 
     People who ingest caffeine on a regular basis experience changes in the brain’s chemistry and physical characteristics over time. For one, the brain cells grow more adenosine receptors in an attempt to maintain neutralize the constant doses of caffeine. This explains why coffee drinkers build up a tolerance and it takes more caffeine to achieve the desired effect. 
     It also explains why suddenly giving up caffeine entirely triggers withdrawal effects. Your brain is used to functioning with an artificially inflated number of adenosine receptors that depend on regular doses of caffeine. Without it the altered brain chemistry causes all sorts of physical symptoms. To get off caffeine you to suffer through about 7-12 days of symptoms without ingesting any caffeine. During that period, your brain decreases the number of adenosine receptors and they will return to normal. Further reading...What Caffeine Actually Does To Your Brain

Monday, April 3, 2017

Nose Adjusters

     Some people have a great deal of anxiety about their noses and it's especially true these days because famous bodies are used to sell just about everything. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 15.6 million cosmetic procedures were performed in 2014. 
     The shape of the nose is imbued with assumptions about one’s character and as a result, methods of improving its appearance have been employed for over two thousand years! One of the first recorded “nose jobs” was performed in India in the sixth century B.C. when a flap of skin from the patient’s cheek was used to make a new nose. However, it wasn’t until a syphilis epidemic in Europe in the late 16th century that cosmetic nasal surgery became popular. One of the symptoms of advanced syphilis is that people's noses fall off. One of the most popular procedures involved taking skin from the patient’s arm and grafting it to their face in an effort to make a new nose.
    Physiognomy, which experienced a revival in the 19th century, claimed that the shape of the nose could tell you about a person’s moral character: a straight nose signified refinement, while a hawk nose signified a cunning moral character. 
     By late 19th century plastic surgery began to gain popularity in America and people whose noses, or other features, didn't conform to the ideals of beauty could find a doctor, or facial artiste, if you will, who would sculpt their face. Procedures included making eyes, lips, and noses look better. 
     But, for those born with a nose that they didn't like, back in the 1920s you could purchase the Anita Nose Adjuster which promised to reshape one’s nose without surgery. This gadget was advertised that with it you could adjust your ill-shaped nose into a perfect specimen, all in the privacy of your home in just a few weeks. 
    The contraption eliminated the need for costly and painful surgery; it worked painlessly while you slept. Ads warned against inferior imitations and advised that you should use the Anita because it was the original and only one that was recommended by physicians for broken and misshapen noses. 
     The Anita was self-adjustable and didn't have any screws or metal parts, but was made of porous material that was firm, but comfortable. They offered a free book which also included a form to fill out for your size. When the form was returned, you would be sent your nose adjuster and you didn't have to pay for it until it arrived. The idea was simple. The thing reshaped both flesh and cartilage while you slept or were working. I assume that meant while you worked around the house; it's hard to imagine showing up at the office wearing the thing! 
the Bihana
     Now, you might think that people back in those days were naive and nobody would fall for such a thing today, but you would be wrong! 
     For $38 you can buy the Bihana Nose Adjuster Clip. Wear it while you sleep and it claims to slim and decrease the width of a nose.  But wait!  That's not all!   It repairs upward-facing nostril holes. 
     It doesn't take any batteries and it's comfortable. Simply clip it on to you nose and it puts pressure on the skin around the bone in your nose which over time will reshape it. 
     These things seem quite popular with teenagers in Japan...just Google nose adjusters!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Jacques Pepin

     Jacques Pepin is an internationally recognized French chef, television personality, and author working in the United States. Since the late 1980s, he has appeared on French and American television and written an array of cookbooks that have become best sellers. He has received numerous international awards, including an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Boston University in 2011. 
     Pepin was born in 1935 in Bourg-en-Bresse, near Lyon in France and after World War II his parents owned the restaurant, Le Pélican, where he worked and developed his love for food.  In 1956 to 1958, during his military service, Pepin was the personal chef to three French heads of state, including Charles de Gaulle. In 1959 Pepin moved to the United States to work at the restaurant Le Pavillon. Soon after his arrival a noted food editor at the New York Times, introduced Pepin to Helen McCully, who took him under her wing who in turn introduced him to Julia Child which initiated their long friendship and collaboration. In 1999, Pepin co-starred in the PBS series Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home with Julia Child. The program was awarded a Daytime Emmy in 2001. 
     In 1961 Pepin was hired to work alongside fellow Frenchman Pierre Franey to develop food lines for his chain of Howard Johnson's restaurants. During that time Pepin was attending Columbia University. Pépin received his B.A. degree from Columbia University's School of General Studies in 1970 and his M.A. in French literature from the Columbia Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in 1972. 
     Pepin has starred in numerous television shows and authored numerous cook books. He launched a televised cooking show in an acclaimed 1997 PBS series, The Complete Pepin. Relaunched on PBS ten years after its initial run, the series included a new introduction by Pepin where he stressed that now more than ever the secret to being a successful chef and not a mere line cook lies in knowing and using the proper technique. In 2015, his television series Jacques Pepin Heart & Soul began airing. 
     Pepin serves as dean of Special Programs at The International Culinary Center, founded as the French Culinary Institute, in New York City. He is an active contributor to the Gastronomy department at Boston University, where he teaches an online class on the cuisine and culture of France at Boston University's history department. Pepin also writes a quarterly column for Food & Wine and offers an amateur class each semester based on varied culinary topics. Pepin experienced a minor stroke in March 2015 at his Connecticut home, but was promptly treated at an area hospital and was expected to eventually make a full recovery. 
     Reality TV cooking shows like Top Chef, Chopped and Hell's Kitchen draw millions of fans, but Pepin isn't one of them. These competitions leave him distraught. According to Pepin, cooking is about being together, about love and sharing and the confrontation experienced on these programs is not how you learn to cook or how you understand food. Alice Waters of the organic eatery Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California also complained that these shows are teaching the kind of fast food values of our country, when in fact cooking really is something that can be very meditative and cooking is not about one-upping others.
     Pepin doesn't like Gordon Ramsey's Hell’s Kitchen because it humiliates hard working cooks and the program is anything but real. According to Pepin, a real, well-run professional kitchen has dignity and order.

Friday, March 24, 2017

The Streetcars of Mansfield, Ohio

     Mansfield is a city in and the county seat of Richland County, Ohio and the city is located midway between Columbus and Cleveland via Interstate 71. 
     Geographically, it is part of Northeast Ohio and North-central Ohio regions in the western foothills of the Allegheny Plateau. Elevations vary greatly in the Allegheny Plateau, relief may only reach one hundred feet or less. In the unglaciated Allegheny Plateau in southeastern Ohio and westernmost West Virginia, relief is typically in the range of two hundred to four hundred feet. Absolute highest elevations in this area are often in the range of 900 to 1,500 feet, but be the Allegheny Front elevations may reach well over 4,000 feet.

     In 2010 the greater Mansfield population was 124,475 residents. Its official nickname is "The Fun Center of Ohio". But, it is also known as "Carousel Capital of Ohio," "Danger City," and "the Racing Capital of Ohio". 
     It was founded in 1808 on a fork of the Mohican River in a hilly region surrounded by fertile farmlands, and became a manufacturing center owing to its location with numerous railroad lines. After the decline of heavy manufacturing, the city's industry has since diversified into a service economy, including retailing, education, and healthcare sectors.
     The era of streetcars and trolleys is closely related to the history of Mansfield. The city had one of the first electric trolley systems in the US, but more importantly, manufactured the electrical mechanisms that made it possible for streetcars to run all over the country. 
     Before streetcars Mansfield had a public transportation system that relied on horse-drawn buses. The electrical rails had their beginning in Mansfield in 1887. The tracks for the electric transportation system were laid during the summer of 1887. The lines spanned 4.5 miles of city blocks, but getting things to run correctly resulted in a number of false starts. The day finally arrived on August 6, 1887, when Mansfield became the 4th city in America to successfully begin using electric trolleys. Those first cars were originally for use as horse-drawn vehicles with 15 horsepower electric motors installed. 
     This new technology wasn't without its detractors though. First, there was the fear that the streetcars would terrify horses, but that fear proved unfounded when the horses largely ignored them. 
     It seems funny today, but there was also the fear that pocket watch carrying passengers would have their watches lose time because of the electrified rails underfoot and overhead wires which would magnetize the watches. Experiments using finely tuned watches were conducted just to make sure it didn't happen. 
     The streetcars also gave new life to a major manufacturing business in Mansfield, the Ohio Brass Company which originally was a foundry that made brass harness fittings for various horse drawn vehicles. With advent of street cars Ohio Brass retooled and began manufacturing components for the electric streetcars. 
     In 1937 the last streetcar made a run carrying a few dignitaries and old time riders. The next day public transportation transferred to the city bus system. Ohio Brass exists to this day as a Hubbell Power Systems and is the market leader in polymer insulators and arresters used on transmission and distribution lines and lightning protection.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Railroad Brakemen

     The early brakemen held one of the most dangerous occupations in railroading, being required to walk atop moving cars and manually apply brakes. 
     In the early days of railroading the railroading journals were full of odes dedicated to brakemen. The job of the freight train brakeman was not glamorous and it was dangerous. Before the use of airbrakes in the late 1800s, trains were stopped through the application of brakes on each of the train’s cars. Even after airbrakes came into use, the brakeman still had to be ready to climb on top of the cars and manually set the brakes either when the airbrakes failed or when a section of cars had to be cut from the train. 
     Sometimes there were three brakemen; front middle and rear. In the interest of safety, if there was a middle brakeman he would ride on top of the cars in order to be ready to manually apply the brakes if needed. Middle brakemen were used on long freight trains as well as on local freight lines where freight cars had to be cut loose or added on a regular basis. 
     To apply the brakes, the brakeman had to turn a large wheel located on top each freight car of the train. Every brakeman carried a brake club to help give them leverage in turning the wheel. This meant that they would have to run along the top of the cars and leap from one to another in order to apply or release the brakes on each car. 
     Generally, the rear brakeman, or flagman as he was also known, would advance from the end of the train and the head brakeman or the conductor would advance from the engine to apply the brakes on each car. On a moving train, especially in bad weather, this could be extremely dangerous. The brakeman could easily fall to his death between the cars. This could be even more dangerous at night and in bad weather. Running across car roofs could be slippery with rain or ice and snow. Add rocking cars and brakeman could be thrown to his death even in good weather. 
     In parts of the country where there were railroad tunnels, the tunnels themselves could pose lethal hazard. Besides the possibility of falling rocks, thick black coal smoke and steam from the engine would linger in the tunnel. F the train had to stop in the tunnel for any reason, a stay inside the tunnel would expose them to toxic fumes. 
     Before the advent of an enclosed cabin for the brakemen, they would ride on metal ladders on the sides or ends of the rail cars. Even after the brakemen’s cabin arrived on the scene in the 1880’s, the cabins were open to the elements so that the brakemen could hear the braking signals from the train’s whistle. Exposure was also bad for engineers and firemen who rode on an open platform at the rear of the smoke and steam spewing engine.
     Besides the responsibilities of the brakes, the brakeman also was responsible for coupling and uncoupling the train’s cars. In the days of link and pin coupling, switching cars was dangerous because the brakeman had to stand between two cars. The risk of being crushed or having arms or fingers cut off while lining up pins was always present. 
     Even after automatic signals came into use, when a train had to stop it was the brakeman's job to display a flag or lantern at night some distance generally two miles back (!), from the end of the train. In foul weather it was a dangerous and unhealthy job.
     Throwing switches was also the brakeman's job. This often required running ahead of the train to throw the switch. At the rear of the train, the rear brakeman would have to jump off the train, close the switch and then run back to the train and jump on board. Running alongside the tracks and over the rock ballast then climbing aboard a moving train had hazards of its own. 
     The brakemen was often require to perform a risky and dangerous procedure called the “flying switch” where cars were uncoupled and allowed to roll onto a siding. This required split-second timing by both the engineer and the brakeman. Needless to say, getting killed was a very real possibility. If you were a brakemen, buying life insurance was almost impossible. At some point unions set up insurance plans for their members. 
    Tell-tales. These were cantilevered poles with dangling ropes, chains, or some other material hanging over the track to warn brakemen on top of a car of an approaching low clearance such as a tunnel or bridge. Once he was smacked by the tell-tale he would have only seconds to drop to the roof or risk being crushed or decapitated. Getting smacked by a tell-tale while traveling at a high speed could be dangerous in itself.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Running Fits in Cats

     If you have a cat you've probably experienced them lying quietly then suddenly tearing around the room. What causes a cat to all of a sudden start acting like a crazed lunatic?
     Sometimes it's just bottled-up energy. Cats spend lots of time sleeping, but it may be they are just burning up energy. Or, it could be other animals either inside or outside the house. It may be they saw a bird, squirrel or another cat outside and because they are territorial they don't cotton to strangers tromping around on their territory. And, if they can't get outside to chase off the intruder, they can get very frustrated. 
     Or, Heaven forbid, they are reacting to the scent of prey like a mouse in the house. Fleas are another possibility. That sharp little pain that comes with every bite will drive them nuts.
     If none of the above seem to apply it’s never a good idea to talk to a cat doctor because there is a bizarre disorder known as Hyperesthesia syndrome. This condition is a mysterious one, but it can cause a cat to act like it's going crazy. 
     One sign of this disease is that it can cause the skin along the cat's spine to ripple or roll. Other behaviors the cat can manifest are excessive grooming, licking, biting or scratching itself, racing around the house or chasing her tail. Not much is known about the condition. 
     The clinical signs occur in brief bursts of odd behavior lasting perhaps only a minute or two at most. Signs are after waking up from dozing the cat tail starts twitching, its eyes are wide open, pupils dilated and it begins scratching itself like crazy with its back paws. Then cat abruptly stops, stretches out and goes back to sleep. Instead of scratching some cats will obsessively lick or bite at their flank, back or tail. Many of these cats will follow up the scratching or grooming behavior with a frantic run. 
     Other signs may include salivation, alarming vocalization, and uncontrolled urination. Although no one knows what prompts this behavior, some vets believe it's a general obsessive-compulsive group of conditions. Others believe it is a seizure disorder. In any case, the reason remains unknown. 
     Some of the behavioral manifestations associated with hyperesthesia resemble disorders affecting the nervous system, skin, and muscles. Painful spinal problems that can cause similar signs include arthritis, pinched nerves or slipped disks. Skin disorders include flea or food allergies, fungal infections and mite infestations. Categorically ruling out the presence of such disorders will require a variety of diagnostic steps, including a general physical and neurologic examination, blood chemistry and urine analyses, x-rays and perhaps magnetic resonance imaging. 
     Other measures may be needed as well. For example, to determine if muscle disease is present, a muscle biopsy must be done. 
     Recommended treatment for hyperesthesia syndrome is likely to include a behavioral component aimed at reducing any anxiety that the animal might be experiencing. Regularly scheduled feeding times and play periods may help keep an insecure cat be and well exercised. And any type of activity that may irritate or overstimulate the cat, such as scratching its back, must certainly be avoided. A veterinarian may prescribe medications to relax the cat or give it an analgesic. 
     Generally, Hyperesthesia is a relatively mild condition and there are no known cases where a cat has ever died from it. Once it has established itself, it doesn’t progress very much and the prognosis is pretty good as long as the scratching doesn’t result in a serious infection.