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Thursday, January 29, 2015

French submarine Redoutable (S611) Redoutable was the lead ship of her class of ballistic missile submarines in the French Marine Nationale. Commissioned on 1 December 1971, she was the first French SNLE (Sous-marin NuclĂ©aire Lanceur d'Engins, "Device-Launching Nuclear Submarine"). She was fitted with 16 M1 ballistic missiles, delivering 450 kt at 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi). In 1974, she was refitted with the M2 missile, and later with the M20, each delivering a one-megatonne warhead at a range over 3,000 kilometres (1,900 mi). Redoutable ("formidable" or "fearsome" in French language) was the only ship of her class not to be refitted with the M4 missile. Redoutable had a 20-year duty history, with 51 patrols of 70 days each, totalling an estimated 90,000 hours of diving and 1.27 million kilometres (790,000 mi). She was decommissioned in 1991. In 2000, she was removed from the water and placed in a specially built 136 metres (446 ft) dry dock and in 2002, she opened as a museum ship at the CitĂ© de la Mer naval museum in Cherbourg, France, being now the largest submarine open to the public and the only complete ballistic missile submarine open to the public (although several museums display small portions such as sails and/or parts of rudders from such submarines). You can tour the Le Redoutable,one of the only ballistic missile subs fully accessible to the general public, without security clearance on CNET HERE.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Dangerous Foods for Dogs and Cats

If you suspect your pet has eaten any of the following foods, please note the amount ingested and contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435. For more detailed information visit the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals site.

     It seems like we have always had cats. I like dogs, but they are too much more trouble, especially when it comes to their bowel habits. Cats are easier to take care of. No matter which you have, you have to watch what they eat because some human food can be toxic to cats and dogs. It's hard to deny them when they are begging for something, but some foods are simply off limits. Dogs especially want what they see us eating. It’s important to be aware that some foods can be very dangerous to dogs and cats. Also remember that even if you don't feed your pets some forbidden food, if you let them out to roam the country side they have been known to raid garbage cans. The ASPCA has an article on Counter Surfing and Garbage Raiding that offers advice on how to teach your dog not to steal food. Good luck on trying to teach a cat anything! The following foods should be avoided by both dogs and cats.

Avocado leaves, fruit, seeds and bark may contain a toxic substance. Birds, rabbits, and some large animals, including horses, are especially sensitive to avocados, as they can have respiratory distress, congestion, fluid accumulation around the heart, and even death from consuming avocado.
Raw bread dough made with live yeast can be hazardous if ingested by dogs because it results in an expanding mass of dough in the stomach. Expansion of the stomach may be severe enough to decrease blood flow to the stomach wall, resulting in the death of tissue. Additionally, the expanding stomach may press on the diaphragm, resulting in breathing difficulty. Also, as the yeast multiplies, it produces alcohols that can be absorbed, resulting in alcohol intoxication. In extreme cases, coma or seizures may occur and could lead to death from alcohol intoxication.
Chocolate intoxication is most commonly seen around certain holidays but it can happen any time dogs have access to products that contain chocolate. The rule of thumb with chocolate is the darker it is, the more dangerous it is. Depending on the type and amount of chocolate ingested, the signs seen can range from vomiting, increased thirst, abdominal discomfort and restlessness to severe agitation, muscle tremors, irregular heart rhythm, high body temperature, seizures and death.
Alcohol. Dogs are far more sensitive to ethanol (i.e. alcohol you drink) than humans are. Even ingesting a small amount of a product containing alcohol can cause significant intoxication. Dogs may be exposed to alcohol through drinking alcoholic drinks, such as beer, wine or mixed drinks, alcohol-containing elixirs and syrups. Alcohol intoxication commonly causes vomiting, loss of coordination, disorientation and stupor. In severe cases, coma, seizures and death may occur.
Grapes and raisins have recently been associated with the development of kidney failure in dogs. Some dogs can eat these fruits without harm, while others develop life-threatening problems after eating even a few grapes or raisins. Some dogs eat these fruits and experience no ill effects—but then eat them later on and become very ill. Dogs experiencing grape or raisin poisoning usually develop vomiting, lethargy or diarrhea within 12 hours of ingestion. As signs get worse, dogs become increasingly lethargic and dehydrated, refuse to eat and may show a transient increase in urination followed by decreased or absent urination in later stages. Death due to kidney failure may occur within three to four days, or long-term kidney disease may persist in dogs who survive the acute intoxication.
Hops used for brewing beer have been associated with potentially life-threatening signs in dogs who have ingested them. Both fresh and cooked hops have been implicated in poisoning dogs. Affected dogs develop an uncontrollably high body temperature, which results in damage to and failure of multiple organ systems. Dogs poisoned by hops become restless, pant excessively, and may have muscle tremors and seizures. Prompt veterinary intervention is necessary to prevent death in these dogs. I am not sure how a dog would ingest hops unless its owner was into making homemade beer as hops are not common.
Macadamia nut poisoning is unlikely to be fatal in dogs, but it can cause very uncomfortable symptoms that may persist for up to 48 hours.
Moldy foods present a serious problem. Some produce toxins which can cause serious or even life-threatening problems if ingested by dogs. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to determine whether a particular mold is producing something toxic so it is safest to avoid feeding dogs moldy food.
Shallots, onions, garlic and scallions contain compounds that can damage dogs’ red blood cells if ingested in sufficient quantities. Garlic tends to be more toxic than onions and while it’s uncommon for dogs to eat enough raw onions and garlic to cause serious problems, exposure to concentrated forms of onion or garlic, such as dehydrated onions, onion soup mix or garlic powder, may put dogs at risk of being poisoned. The damage to the red blood cells caused by onions and garlic generally doesn’t become apparent until three to five days after a dog eats these vegetables.
Xylitol is a non-caloric sweetener that is widely used in sugar-free gum, as well as in sugar-free baked products. In dogs ingestion of xylitol can lead to a rapid and severe drop in blood sugar levels causing them to develop disorientation and seizures within 30 minutes of ingesting xylitol-containing products.
Milk – it causes them diarrhea or other digestive upset.
Salt - Large amounts of salt can produce excessive thirst and urination, or even poisoning all pets. Cats (as well as dogs) like potato chips!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Optimizing Your Hard Drive

    Your computer comes with “unnecessary software,” aka “bloatware.” Whatever you call it, this stuff can dramatically slow down a new PC and computer manufacturers are paid to include it. New PCs come with LOTS of pre-installed software and LOTS of annoying pop-ups! Even if your PC is a couple years old there may be a bunch of programs that were installed over time and then, for whatever reason, were deleted or perhaps not removed at all.
     To get rid of this stuff I recently read about a free program called PC Decrapifier, which claimed it will automatically remove known bloatware. Sounds good! I did some reviews before using it though and am very glad I did! By the way, before making any major purchase I suggest reading customer reviews on the product. When doing so it's a good idea to remember that no matter how good a product is, there will occasionally be an issue. The problem is, most people will not write a review when the product performs well, but if there is a problem they are quick to report it. That's why I always go back and write a review if I have researched a product and made the purchase and it turns out satisfactory. I write reviews on restaurants and hotels, too, if the experience was positive. It's only right.
     Complaints were that Decrapifier was, itself, crap; it installed some kind of backup software whose popup was more annoying than any others, it did absolutely nothing to help in singling out all the pre-loaded crapware and trying to find the crapware was no easier that using the standard Windows uninstaller and was not at all useful. There were also complaints that the software contained “viruses.” Read all the reviews on CNET.
     When you buy a new computer/laptop places like Best Buy will remove the stuff for a fee, but according to a Consumerist investigation from 2010, Best Buy doesn’t actually remove this stuff! They just delete the desktop shortcuts to it, making the PC look a bit less cluttered but run no differently. Whether you pay Best Buy or not, you’ll apparently have to remove all the bloatware yourself — so you might as well save the money.
     Speaking of Best Buy's Geek Squad, they have a lot of negative reviews but at the same time they also have a lot of positive. PC Magazine article. I have had a Geek Squad subscription for several years now.  It's like having insurance, you hate paying the premiums but if you need it, you're glad it's there.  When it comes to computer issues I have three choices: 1) try and fix it myself (bad idea) 2) run the laptop over to the zoo and have one of the monkeys look at it (better idea) or 3) let Geek Squad remote in and fix it (best idea).  I have needed to use them on several occasions for problems like printer malfunctions, wireless router problems and on two occasions viruses. So far, it has been worth the subscription price.     
     If you use your computer on a daily basis, you may not realize that it is getting slower by the day. The registry gets cluttered with useless keys that the computer cannot get rid of on its own. The hard drive also gets cluttered with useless files that can and will slow your PC to a crawl if not properly optimized.
     The registry has its own memory that remembers everything that is done and in time all that information will make it slower accessing information. A knowledgeable computer geek can optimize the registry manually but that is not recommended. If the wrong registry keys are deleted, the computer will become very unstable and possibly unbootable.
     Even when you uninstall a program, more than likely the folder for that program is still on the hard drive and referenced in the registry.  When you browse the Internet, temporary Internet files are cached on the system. Some of the cached files are okay because they are intended to make web browsing faster by not having to download an entire web page every time it is viewed. The problem is that it also stores files if you only go to a web site once and those files are unnecessary and will slow the computer down.
     Windows 8 forums has a tutorial with 36 suggestions that will provide you with a list of suggestions to help optimize, speed up, and improve the performance of Windows 8, Windows RT, Windows 8.1, and Windows RT 8.1.
     You can pick and choose which listed suggestions you would like to do, or feel comfortable doing. If you do not notice an increase in performance or have a problem with the suggestion, then you can always go back and undo the suggestion at it's provided tutorial link. My antivirus program, Webroot, has an optimization utility included.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Smithsonian Air Museum

    The Museum is the largest of the Smithsonian's 19 museums. The Museum's collection encompasses some 60,000 objects ranging in size from Saturn V rockets to jetliners to gliders to space helmets to microchips. Fully one-third of the Museum's aircraft and spacecraft are one-of-a-kind or associated with a major milestone. The Museum in Washington, DC has 21 exhibition galleries, covering diverse topics from world wars to the history of astronomy, from the Apollo space program to the relationship between time and navigation, to the Wright brothers and the aerial age. Visit the Museum any time on their website or connect on social media. Many exhibitions are online, most lectures are webcast live, and the Public Observatory often streams live images of the Sun.

I also discovered a NASA page that tells you how to build a model Wright Flyer 1903 Model using stuff you have around the house.

Another fascinating site is the Wright Brothers Aeroplane Company, A Virtual Museum of Pioneer Aviation.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Grapefruit Juice – Be Careful!!

    Grapefruit juice can be part of a healthful diet because it has vitamin C and potassium—substances your body needs to work properly. But grapefruit juice and fresh grapefruit can interfere with the some prescription, as well as a few non-prescription, drugs and the interaction can be dangerous. Generally grapefruit juice increases the absorption of the drug into the bloodstream which results in a higher concentration of the drug so you can get adverse results. Even drinking grapefruit juice several hours before or after taking medicine may still be dangerous, so it’s best to avoid consuming grapefruit juice or fresh grapefruit when taking certain drugs.
     Examples of some types of drugs that grapefruit juice can interact with are:
•drugs to lower cholesterol
•some blood pressure drugs
•some organ transplant rejection drugs
•some anti-anxiety drugs •some anti-arrhythmia drugs
•some antihistamines
While grapefruit juice does not affect all the drugs in those categories it's wise to check.

     Technically what happens is many drugs are broken down in the small intestines with the help of an enzyme called CYP3A4. There are substances in grapefruit juice that block the action of the enzyme so instead of being metabolized, more of the drug enters the bloodstream and stays in the body longer. This can result in potentially dangerous levels of the drug in your body depending on the level of the enzyme, which varies from person to person, in your body.
     Oddly, while grapefruit juice can cause a potentially toxic level of certain drugs it can have the opposite effect on some other drugs. Proteins in the body known as drug transporters help move a drug into cells for absorption and substances in grapefruit juice can block the action of some of the transporters. As a result, less of the drug is absorbed and it may be ineffective.

•Ask your pharmacist or other health care professional if you can have fresh grapefruit or grapefruit juice while using your medication.
•Read the Medication Guide or patient information sheet that comes with your prescription medicine to find out if it could interact with grapefruit juice.
•Read the Drug Facts label on your non-prescription medicine, which will let you know if you shouldn’t have grapefruit or other fruit juices with it.
•If you must avoid grapefruit juice with your medicine, check the label of bottles of fruit juice or drinks flavored with fruit juice to make sure they don’t contain grapefruit juice.
•Seville oranges (often used to make orange marmalade) and tangelos (a cross between tangerines and grapefruit) affect the same enzyme as grapefruit juice, so avoid these fruits if your medicine interacts with grapefruit juice.

     The effects of grapefruit juice can last for over 24 hours so even if the medicine is taken only once a day grapefruit juice should still be avoided. Some examples of the most common or serious grapefruit juice drug interactions: alprazolam, amiodarone, atorvastatin carbamazepine, cilostazol, clarithromycin, colchicine, dronedarone, erythromycin, felodipine, fentanyl, fexofenadine, indinavir, loratadine, losartan, lovastatin, nilotinib, pazopanib, pimozide, ranolazine, saquinavir, sildenafil, simvastatin, tadalafil, vardenafil, verapamil.

The Drug Interaction Checker explains the mechanism of each drug interaction, the level of significance of the interaction (major, moderate or minor), and in certain cases, can provide the recommended course of action to manage the interaction. The Drug Interaction Checker will also display any interactions between your chosen drug(s) and food

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Wise Geek - Fun, Informative Browsing

Short, clear and concise answers to common questions. wiseGEEK Categories:

Technology and Gadgets Hi-tech gadgets are having an increasingly significant impact on our lives.
Business and Economy Business, economics and other questions related to money.
Food and Cooking All about food, cooking and cuisines.
Language and The Humanities We tackle questions regarding figures-of-speech, philosophy, logic and language.
Manufacturing and Industry Manufacturing techniques and industrial technologies that are used to drive our modern lifestyles.
Anatomy and Physiology Everything about the parts, processes and functioning of the human body.
Crafts and Do-it-Yourself Information about tools, materials, crafts and do-it-yourself projects.
Home and Garden Information and tips on how to improve your home life.
Medicine and Treatments Medications, treatments, therapies and remedies to medical illnesses, disorders and syndromes.
Diet, Fitness and Nutrition Preventative health care via exercise, an active lifestyle, and healthy eating.
The United States The history, places and economy of America.
Travel and Entertainment Vacations, cruises, and all sorts of ways to relax and enjoy yourself.
People Information about all sorts of important people that shaped our world, past and present.
Attorneys and the Law Legal terms and concepts along with other law-related issues.
Internet and Computers Information technology is altering all of our lives; we cover search engines, keyboards, storage, networks, online security etc.
Adult Education and Training Higher education, continuing education, technical and trade schools, job training and other adult education information.
Beauty and Personal Care Makeup, hair care, skin care, and personal care.
Miscellaneous The repository of our answers that do not seem to fit in one of our other categories.
Science and Engineering Scientific research and the associated breakthroughs are fueling modern life with new innovations and ways of viewing the world.
Health and Wellness Diseases, conditions, symptoms and other health-related matters.
Cars, Boats and Airplanes Cars, boats, planes and trains- they're everywhere! We cover all the the vehicles that we use to transport our possessions and ourselves.
Finance and Investing Answers to your questions about personal finance and investing.
Fashion, Clothing and Accessories ...from the runway to the streets.
Art and Music Film, poetry, architecture, sculpture, painting and all sorts of music.
Animals and the Environment Everything about the natural world around us
History and Government Wars, historical figures and events.
The World World politics, geography and country statistics.
Sports and Hobbies Answers relating to sports, hobbies and other pastimes.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Snake Oil Salesmen

   A snake oil salesman is somebody that sells an item that claims to have some miraculous powers and is usually accompanied by a tremendous amount of hype. Also very often the snake oil salesman has planted accomplices who will claim that the product really works.
     There really was such a thing as snake oil; it originated in China. Snake oil was a folk remedy in Chinese medicine that was used primarily to treat joint pain such as arthritis and bursitis.
     Throughout the 1800s salesmen traveled the U.S. peddling solutions to just about every medical ill you can think of. As depicted in Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn, the "doctor" was aided by a shill in the crowd who would, at the appropriate moment, call out that the medicine had cured his ills. Once the unsuspecting public had purchased the con artists' products both the saleman and his partner would quickly slip away before the townspeople discovered the product was worthless. Besides the traveling salesman, newspapers and magazines were another popular method of selling these products.

     Of course, snake oil salesmen of the 1800s didn't sell actual snake oil, or if they did, it was rattlesnake oil which is useless. Genuine Chinese snake oil was made from the oil of the Chinese water snake, which is rich in the omega-3 acids which recent research has shown can be effective.
     The latter half of the 1800s saw a rise in the popularity of "patent medicines." The term "patent medicine" were drug compounds with colorful names and even more colorful claims.
     By the middle of the 1800s the manufacture of patent medicines was a major industry in America. They usually had a lot of alcohol laced with morphine, opium, or cocaine. A lot of the medicines were advertised as good to treat infants and the results could be predictable when giving a child alcohol and narcotics. Remedies were claimed to cure venereal diseases, tuberculosis, colic in infants, indigestion and cancer. Another popular ailment they claimed to cure were "Female complaints."
     As mentioned, in the US "snake oil" was often produced using rattesnakes. The Rattlesnake King was Clark Stanley. The former cowboy claimed he had learned about the healing power of rattlesnake oil from Hopi medicine men. Stanley created a huge stir at the 1893 World's Exposition in Chicago when he took a live snake and sliced it open before a crowd of onlookers.

     Stanley reached into a sack, took out a snake, slit it open and plunged it into boiling water and when the fat rose to the top, he skimmed it off and claimed it was 'Stanley's Snake Oil.' Rattlesnake oil was nowhere near as effective as Chinese snake oil which had almost triple the amount of a oilas rattlesnake oil.
     That was really a moot point though. Stanley's Snake Oil didn't contain any snake oil at all. The Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 led to Stanley's undoing. A shipment of his oil was seized in 1917 and it was found that it primarily contained mineral oil, beef fat, red pepper and turpentine. As a result Clark Stanley was fined $20 (that's about $429 in today's dollars) for violating the food and drug act and for misbranding his product by falsely and fraudulently representing it as a remedy for all pain.
     Snake oil salesmen are still with us today, especially on the Internet or television. The 'net is full of websites taking advantage of people's desperation or ignorance. Many of these products are advertised as alternative or holistic medicine. They may or may not be of some benefit but none are regulated by the FDA.

Related Articles:

Vietnamese Snake Wine
Princeton University Snake Oil Article
Snake Oil Salesman Alive and Well in Dr. Oz (Huffington Post article)
Rebirth of Snake Oil Salesmen on Wall Street (Forbes article)
Snake Oil for the 21st Century (Consumer Reports article)