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Friday, January 13, 2017

Lie Detectors

     People tell lies and practice deception for a lot of reasons. Psychologists say lying is a defense mechanism used to avoid trouble. Sometimes, you can tell when someone's lying, sometimes not. 
     From personal experience I can tell you that lie detector tests are useless. Years ago my employer hired a former police officer who was an "expert" lie detector operator and we all had to take a "sample" test just so we would know what they were like. After taking mine, the examiner told me I was deceptive in my answers about my alcohol and drug use. I use neither, but after the test he told me, "Everybody drinks and we've all smoked a little pot." He was influenced by his own beliefs. On one occasion I had to escort an employee to a test and the examiner privately asked me if I thought the subject was guilty. I believed the employee was guilty of stealing, but refused to tell the examiner simply because I did not want to influence his decision. 
     Polygraphs (lie detectors) are incapable of telling if a person is lying. They measure physiological reactions, nothing more. When a person is questioned about an incident the examiner looks to see how the person's heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate and sweatiness of their fingers change in comparison to normal levels. Fluctuations may indicate that person is being deceptive, but exam results are open to interpretation by the examiner.
     Polygraph examiners look for involuntary responses when a person is subjected to stress, but the whole idea is more myth than reality. 
     First of all, questions asked by the examiner are not standardized and the type and manner in which the examiner asks the questions can, in many cases, can cause stress that can be interpreted as lying. 
     The recording instrument and questioning techniques are only used during part of the examination. There is usually a pretest where the technique is explained and each test question reviewed. The pretest interview is designed to ensure that subjects understand the questions and to get the subject to thinking about the questions. 

     Sometimes, in order to "prove" the point that you can't beat the machine, examiners administer what is known as a "stimulation test." In our case on the job, it involved the examiner doing a card trick where we were told to answer "No" every time he asked "Is this your card?" He showed us the wrong card a couple of times so a "No" answer was truthful. Then he shouted, "It's this card isn't it?"and slammed down the right one. Proud as a peacock, he pointed out that everybody's heart rate, breathing and sweating increased with the "No." response. This was supposed to "prove" the machine couldn't be beaten. I'm not sure if it was the result of our lying or if it was because of the startling effect of his yelling and slamming the card down. Another wrong card may have resulted in the same response!
     Several questioning techniques are commonly used. The most widely used compares responses to relevant questions to those of "control" questions. Control questions are about misdeeds that are similar to those being investigated, but not the actual misdeed under consideration. A relevant question concerns the misdeed itself. 
     A person who is telling the truth is assumed to be more fearful of the control questions than the relevant questions because the control questions are designed to arouse a subject's anxiety about how they will answer a question that is related to their misdeed. 
     Examiners look for a pattern. A greater physiological response to relevant questions will result in the conclusion that the subject is lying. A greater response to control questions leads to a judgment that the person is being truthful. If the examiner can't see any difference in response to relevant and control questions, the test result result will be deemed inconclusive. 
     There is also an alternative procedure that involves a multiple-choice test with items concerning knowledge that only a guilty subject could have. Because the guilty suspect knows the correct answer a larger physiological reaction to a correct choice would indicate deception. This test can only be used when investigators have information that only a guilty subject would know. Another limitation is "not deceptive" verdict may indicate nothing more than the subject's lack of knowledge, not their innocence. 
     The accuracy of the lie detector has long been controversial because there is no evidence that any pattern of physiological reactions is unique to deception. An honest person may be nervous when answering truthfully and a dishonest person may just be a pathological liar. Another thing that will affect the test is whether or not the subject actually believes the test works. A subject who believes in the test may be very anxious when questioned. 
    There is also evidence that strategies exist that will beat the test. As a result, examiners may resort to countermeasures, including physical movements, trying to manipulating the subject's belief about the effectiveness of the and the use of drugs. 
     Polygraph testing has generated considerable controversy. Most psychologists and other scientists agree that there is little basis for the validity of polygraph tests. Courts, including the United States Supreme Court, have repeatedly rejected the use of polygraph evidence because it is unreliable. Nevertheless, sometimes it's still used. For example, the US Border Patrol uses lie detectors to screen applicants. And, they do this even though the US Supreme Court has rejected their validity. Typical government inconsistency. Polygraph testing continues to be used in non-judicial settings, often to screen personnel, but sometimes to try to assess the truth of suspects and witnesses or to monitor people on probation. Some people will voluntarily agree to take one just to convince others of their innocence. 
     The machine and examiner can be tricked though. One trick is to think exciting or scary thoughts when you recognize a control question (one similar to, but not relevant to the actual misdeed under consideration) or make yourself sweat. You can do that, for example, by trying to do a difficult math problem in your head. You can also bite you tongue because pain induces a similar physiological response as lying. Because these are control questions, you are messing up you response which in turn messes up the usual response. When answering a question that is relevant to whatever the real purpose of the test is stay calm.
     Why this works is because even if you produce a slight response when asked an accusatory relevant question, you have artificially produced a stronger response when answering a control question. 
     So called "testing" using lie detectors is not standardize and is dependent on trickery and perceptions of the examiner so has absolutely no validity.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Turkey Behavior

Turkey fight!
     There are a lot of wild turkeys in our area. They are fascinating birds. Adult male turkeys are called toms and females are called hens. Very young birds are poults and adolescents are called jakes. A group of turkeys have many different names: crop, dole, gang, posse, and raffle. 

Turkey facts:

1) The wild turkey’s bald head can change color in seconds with excitement or emotion. The birds’ heads can be red, (pink) white or blue. 
2) gobbles can be heard a mile or more away 
3) they are fast on their feet with a top running speed of about 25 miles per hour or about the same as a human track star. 
4) turkeys have been known to lay as many as 18 eggs 
5) poults are up, out of the nest and walking around searching for food within 24 hours after hatching 
6) wild turkeys sleep in trees. 
7) they are usually seen walking so many people are surprised they even fly. 
8) they only fly for short distances and hit about 55 miles per hour when going full tilt. 
9) tom turkeys show courting behaviors much like the peacock with displays of their tails. Males also use other of their birdlike “junk” to attract hens including a bright snood on top of their beaks and a wiggling wattle under their beaks. 
10) in 1947 President Harry Truman in 1947 pardoned a turkey. Now an annual tradition, two turkeys (one for the President and one for the Vice President) are spared each Thanksgiving. In looking into where these spared birds end up, it turns out that some have been taken to Frying Pan Farm Park in northern Virginia and more recently they have gone to Washington’s Mount Vernon. The domesticated birds are not in terrific health so the spared birds usually die of natural causes in a year or so. It seems turkeys have particularly weak hearts. 
11) a turkey’s gender can be determined from its droppings–males produce spiral-shaped poop and females’ poop is shaped like the letter J. 

     Tom turkey fights, which usually happen just before breeding season, are violent. The fight for Alpha status between them is a brutal winner take all contest. The challenge begins with two males twittering, their version of snarling, at each other, their faces turn red, their heads lowered and wings flexed. Then begins the wing punching where they punch each other with the forward edge of their wings. This escalates into grappling like two Sumo wrestlers and they use their beaks to grab their any fleshy part of their opponent's face while shoving, chest pushing and twisting their opponent's head. The fight can go on for days with the exhausted birds only ceasing the fight at sundown and they move into a tree for the night, the battle resumes at dawn and lasts until one of the combatants finally gives up. Both male and female turkeys get aggressive towards new turkeys introduced to the flock, but once the pecking order is established they always adjust. 
     Turkeys will also defend their territory from wild birds, raccoons, cats and small dogs and even strange people. Like teenage humans, "teenage" turkeys sometimes cause problems with unruly behavior, including attacks. On rare occasions and for unknown reasons a male turkey may defend his harem against people. They attack with their wings and kick with their feet. 
     Like most wild animals, it's not a good idea to feed wild turkeys. Turkeys survive very well on natural foods and if they become accustomed to humans and human-associated foods are likely to lose their fear of people and cause problems. 
     They can be attracted to seeds spilled from bird feeders which has the same effect as deliberately feeding them. Clean up spilled bird seed if wild turkeys are around. If wild turkeys will become conditioned to human foods and people, they are likely to cause damage or to attempt to dominate people. 
     Remember, if wild turkeys show up, don't be a sissy, act bold or they will try to dominate you! Turkeys are not territorial and don't defend an area against other turkeys of the same sex. Territorial birds cannot discern individuals, but respond to certain visual cues. On the other hand, birds with a pecking order actually recognize and remember specific individuals to know their place, and that of others, in the hierarchy. 
     Domestic turkeys which have formed a social and mental bond with humans upon birth recognize and respond to people by both voice and appearance. They will also assign a sex to people, based upon the bird's perception of the human's behavior rather than their actual sex and behave towards that person accordingly. The same thing can happen with wild turkeys that have become used to people. They will incorporate familiar individuals into their pecking order and treat them accordingly. What that means is if they view an individual person as dominant the turkeys will be deferential or fearful, but if they see the human as subordinate, they won't hesitate to adapt bullying tactics. If the human is perceived as a male, then the adult gobblers may decide to pick a fight just as they would against another male turkey. The best defense against aggressive turkeys is to prevent the birds from becoming used to people in the first place. 
     Turkeys do not recognize their own image so respond to a reflection the same as they would an intruding turkey. They will fight anything in which they can see their own reflection and will often remember what the perceive as an intruder and return to the same spot and continue the behavior even if repeatedly chased off. 
     For some unknown reason, some wild turkeys, especially in spring and early summer, choose to stand, walk, or pace back-and-forth in the center of highway. They are usually juvenile males that are not easily dispersed; they may have to be forcibly removed.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

The Great Molasses Flood

     On 19 January 1915, a large molasses storage tank in Boston’s North End ruptured and a wave of molasses more than 24 feet tall swept through the streets at an estimated 35 mph flattening buildings, injuring 150 people, killing 21 people plus several horses and a number of dogs. People and animals were crushed and drowned by the molasses. Many of the dead were so glazed over in molasses they were hard to recognize. Coughing fits became one of the most common ailments after the initial blast. 
     By comparison to the 35 mph speed of the molasses, when Usain Bolt ran the 100-meter dash in 2009, his average speed was a little over 27 miles per hour. A "fast" ordinary person can sprint, maybe, 15 mph which is actually pretty slow. A bear can run up to approximately 37 mph and on land a hippopotamus can hit 19 mph. 
     At about 12:30 in the afternoon a molasses tank 50 feet tall and 90 feet in diameter, and containing as much as 2.3 million gallons collapsed. Witnesses felt the ground shake and heard a roar, a long rumble, a tremendous crashing, a deep growling, or a thunderclap-like bang.  Rivets, sounding like a machine gun, shot out of the tank. 
     The wave of molasses damaged the girders of the Boston Elevated Railway and momentarily tipped a railroad car off the tracks. As it went, buildings were swept off their foundations and crushed and for several blocks the molasses flooded the streets to a depth of 2 to 3 feet. 
     A Boston Post report read: Molasses, waist deep, covered the street and swirled and bubbled about the wreckage ... Here and there struggled a form‍—‌whether it was animal or human being was impossible to tell. Only an upheaval, a thrashing about in the sticky mass, showed where any life was ... Horses died like so many flies on sticky fly-paper. The more they struggled, the deeper in the mess they were ensnared. Human beings‍—‌men and women‍—‌suffered likewise...People were picked up by a rush of air and hurled many feet while others had debris hurled. 
     One schoolboy walking homeward with his sisters was picked up and carried, tumbling on its crest, almost as though he were surfing. When he hit the ground the molasses rolled him like a pebble as the wave diminished. He heard his mother call his name and couldn't answer, his throat was so clogged and then he passed out. 
     First to the scene were 116 cadets from USS Nantucket, a training ship of the Massachusetts Nautical School that was docked nearby. Soon, the Boston Police, Red Cross, Army, and other Navy personnel arrived. Some nurses from the Red Cross waded into the molasses, while others tended to the injured, keeping them warm and keeping the exhausted workers fed. Many worked through the night. 
     The injured were so numerous that doctors set up a makeshift hospital in a nearby building. Rescuers found it difficult to make their way through the syrup to help the victims and it was four days before they stopped searching for victims. 
     In the aftermath local residents brought a class-action lawsuit against the company that owned the tank, the United States Industrial Alcohol Company. In spite of the company's attempts to claim that the tank had been blown up by anarchists (some of the alcohol produced was to be used in making munitions), a court-appointed auditor found the company responsible after three years of hearings and they ultimately paid $600,000 (over 14 million today) in out-of-court settlements. Survivors of the fatal victims reportedly received around $7,000 ($160,000 today). 
     Cleanup crews used salt water from a fire boat to wash the molasses away and used sand to try to absorb it. The harbor was brown with molasses until summer. All of Boston was affected because people tracked molasses through the streets and onto subway platforms, seats inside trains and streetcars, pay telephone and homes. 
     We've all heard the expression, “slow as molasses in January” so how could such a slow-moving fluid cause so much damage? 
     Molasses is what’s known as a non-Newtonian fluid. Normally when we think of liquid we think of something that takes on the shape of the container it's poured into. Those are Newtonian fluids. But some fluids don’t follow this rule; they are non-Newtonian fluids.
     Non-Newtonian fluids change their viscosity or flow behavior under stress. If you apply a force, the sudden application of stress can cause them to get thicker and act like a solid, or in some cases it results in the opposite behavior and they may get runnier than they were before. Remove the stress and they will return to their earlier state. 
     You have probably seen this without knowing what it is. You want to get some ketchup out of the bottle, but when you turn the bottle upside down it won't come out. So what do you do? You smack the bottom of the bottle which causes the ketchup to become more liquid and it comes out. In this case, the ketchup's viscosity decreases and it gets runnier with stress. But, not all non-Newtonian fluids behave the same way when stress is applied. Some become more solid, others more fluid. Some react as a result of the amount of stress applied and others react as a result of the length of time that stress is applied. That's probably all you want to know about non-Newtonian fluids. 
     Fluid dynamics also comes into play. When a dense fluid (like molasses) spreads horizontally into a less dense fluid (in this case, into air) it's similar to how dense cold air flows through an open door into a warm room, even if there is no wind to drive it. The density of the molasses accounts for the speed of its initial spread and people, animals and things simply got bowled over by a tidal wave of molasses which is 1.5 times as dense and several thousand times more viscous than water. 
     Temperature also played a critical role. The molasses was slightly warmer than the surrounding air, but when the tank ruptured and the molasses spread, it cooled quickly, making it even more viscous and much more dangerous. As people were caught in the tidal wave, the molasses acted much like quicksand and the more people struggled, the more deeply sank into it. 
     Recent research has determined that the disaster was more fatal in the winter than it would have been during a warmer season. The syrup moved quickly enough to cover several blocks within seconds and thickened into a harder goo as it cooled, slowing down the wave but also hindering rescue efforts. If the tank had burst in warmer weather, it would have flowed farther but it would also have been thinner and less deadly. 
     When the molasses arrived in the tank, it was warmer by just a few degrees which made it less viscous and easier to transport to the storage tank. When the tank burst two days later, the molasses was still probably about 7-10 degrees warmer than the surrounding air which raised the viscosity of the molasses, trapping people who got caught in it. 
     In the recent study, a structural engineer calculated that the tank’s walls were at least 50 percent too thin and were made of a type of steel that was too brittle which probably contributed to the disaster.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

What's Lurking in Your Bathroom?

     Household cleaner ads on TV depict bathrooms as being invaded by bacteria, mold and fungus in alarming amounts. They're covering your tub, toilet, and shower. They also find a great home on your toothbrush, so every time you brush your teeth you are shoving a huge amount of stuff, especially fecal coliform, into your mouth. Actually, there are ten times more germs than body cells on the human body. Fortunately, most germs are perfectly harmless to us. Most, but not all. So what harmful germs live in your bathroom? 
     Every time you flush a toilet an aerosol spray of tiny tainted water droplets is created. So if you leave your toothbrush in the vicinity of a toilet, does that mean it's regularly bathed in bits of fecal matter? 
     The television program MythBusters covered a bathroom with 24 toothbrushes, two of which they brushed with each morning while the others were simply rinsed every day for a month. As a control they also kept two untainted toothbrushes in an office away from the bathroom. After one month all the toothbrushes were sent to a microbiologist for bacterial testing. 
     The results? ALL the toothbrushes were covered with microscopic fecal matter, including the ones that had never seen the inside of a bathroom. It seems fecal bacteria is everywhere.
     In one study four public restrooms were checked out. Despite regular cleaning the facilities were loaded with bacteria and viruses. It didn't matter much. Within one hour the bathrooms were completely recolonized with microbes with fecal bacteria dominating. Surprisingly, the fecal bacteria wasn't just on the toilet seats...it was also found on...soap dispensers! 
     There was one set of live bacteria in overwhelming abundance: Staphylococcus. Staph's persistence in these studies points to its power as a potential pathogen. Various versions are common on human skin and inside the nose and other orifices and they generally cause no problems, or trigger only minor skin infections. But staph infections can be serious, or even kill, if the bacteria get into bloodstream, joints, bones, lungs or heart. And one version, MRSA, is resistant to common antibiotics and can be very dangerous. 
     Fortunately, in the public toilets the researchers found the Staph showed no signs of being antibiotic resistant, but were relatively harmless. They did find genes from MRSA lurking on the floor, as well as traces of some viruses like herpes. There is little cause for alarm because all our environment contains pathogens-everything. 
    Gastrointestinal viruses that cause stomach ailments in humans. These include the norovirus, which you may have heard of in connection with cruise ship outbreaks. These viruses aren't just on cruise ships; they can live on your toilet seat and can remain there for as much as long as a week. 
     Then there are enteric pathogens, which are organisms spread by contaminated foods and can be carried in feces. These include things like E. coli, salmonella, shigella, and campylobacter. E. coli is particularly nasty, causing severe diarrhea with bloody stools. 
     Skin and respiratory organisms, such as staph bacteria, including the antibiotic resistant MRSA strain, and Group A Strep, known as the "flesh-eating" bacteria can be in there, too. Then there's dermatophitic fungi, like athlete's foot. Fungi (mold and mildew) don't cause infection, but they can exacerbate asthma and allergies.  
     As bad as this sounds if you clean regularly and practice basic hygiene there's very little risk from bathroom germs. By following good personal, household, and food hygiene, you're at pretty low risk. 
     Regular cleaning of bathroom floors and solid surfaces with a disinfectant cleanser on a weekly basis plus a thorough scrubbing about once a month will keep risk at a minimum. But if someone has the flu or diarrhea it's good idea to clean more often. When choosing a cleaner choose one with bleach. 
     Pay special attention to the toilet bowl because a biofilm grows after just a few hours with any germ, even normal flora, which can allow household pathogens to survive even with chlorine in the water. So scrub that bowl with soap, disinfectant, and a brush once a week. Let the bleach sit on the bowl and seat surface for a good 10 minutes before rinsing with soapy water. 
     Keep shower walls and floors free of mold and mildew. Shower curtains should have a liner and it should be changed every three to six months. 
     Don't reuse sponges that have been used for cleaning. Used sponges can be nasty...they can harbor bacteria and leave surfaces with more germs than when you started.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Chili Wars

     What are the ingredients in chili? I've seen everything, even pineapple! Most food historians agree that chili con carne is an American dish with Mexican roots, but Mexicans are said to deny any association with the stuff we call chili! In one amusing incident at Niagara Falls in Canada, my wife and I ordered "chili con carne" at a restaurant and when it arrived there was no meat in it! Asking the waitress about the absence of meat we were told, "That's the way we make our chili." Doesn't "con carne" mean "with meat"?! 
     Chili historians say one possible origin is Sister Mary of Agreda, a Spanish nun in the early 1600s who never left her convent yet had out-of-body experiences in which her spirit was transported across the Atlantic to preach Christianity to the Indians. After one of the return trips, her spirit wrote down the first recipe for chili con carne: chili peppers, venison, onions, and tomatoes. Another source says Canary Islanders who made their way to San Antonio, Texas as early as 1723, used local peppers and wild onions combined with various meats to create chili dishes. 
     Most food historians agree that the earliest written description of chili came from J.C. Clopper, who lived near Houston, Texas. He never mentioned the word chili, but when he visited San Antonio in 1828 that poor families cut what little meat they had into hash with a lot of peppers which was then stewed. By the 1880s, a market in San Antonio started setting up chili stands from which chili or bowls o'red, as it was called, were sold by women who were called "chili queens." A bowl cost ten cents and included bread and a glass of water.
     Chili con carne thus became a tourist attraction and it was featured at the World's Fair in Chicago in 1893 at the San Antonio Chili Stand. By the 20th century chili joints spread all across Texas and became familiar all over the west by the 1920s. U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson was a big chili lover. His favorite recipe became known as Pedernales River chili after the location of his Texas ranch. Johnson preferred venison, which is leaner to beef. Johnson is quoted as saying. “One of the first things I do when I get home to Texas is to have a bowl of red. There is simply nothing better.” Lady Bird Johnson, the First lady, had the recipe printed on cards to be mailed out because of the many thousands of requests the White House received for it. 
     Texas chili snobs claim that chili made outside of Texas is usually a weak imitation of the real thing and in 1977, chili manufacturers in Texas successfully lobbied the state legislature to have chili proclaimed the official state food thanks to the claim that the only real "bowl of red" that prepared by Texans. 
     New York author H. Allen Smith, in a 1967 essay for Holiday magazine article titled Nobody Knows More About Chili Than I Do denounced Texas and its claims about chili. Smith claimed chili without beans, either added or served on the side was against one of the basic laws of nature. Texas chili doesn't have beans. 
     Texans retaliated by claiming what Smith called chili was nothing more than vegetable stew. The claim was everybody knows that chili has no beans. The result was the Great Chili Confrontation held in Terlingua, a former mining outpost near the Mexican border, on October 21, 1967. Three judges would decide the outcome: the mayor of Terlingua, a San Antonio brewmaster and a judge from Alpine, Texas who just happened to be a cousin of Allen Smith. No winner was declared. And, that's how the Original Terlingua International Championship Chili Cookoff came about and one of the rules is, no beans allowed. 
     If you don't live in Texas, chili has beans...and beef (no turkey or chicken!)...and tomatoes and lots of spices, but no pineapple. How to Make the Best Chili from one of my favorite TV cooking shows, Cooks Country.

Saturday, December 31, 2016


     Despite the disputed health risks of excessive bacon grease consumption, it remains popular. Bacon is prepared from pork and usually cured using large quantities of salt, either in a brine or in a dry packing; the result is fresh bacon (also known as green bacon). Fresh bacon may then be further dried for weeks or months in cold air, or it may be boiled or smoked. Fresh and dried bacon is typically cooked before eating, often by frying. Boiled bacon is ready to eat, as is some smoked bacon, but may be cooked further before eating.
     Meat from other animals such as beef, lamb, chicken, goat, or turkey may also prepared to resemble bacon, and may even be referred to as "bacon". It is common in areas with significant Jewish and Muslim populations, both of which prohibit the consumption of pigs. The USDA defines bacon as "the cured belly of a swine carcass"; other cuts and characteristics must be separately qualified (e.g., "smoked pork loin bacon"). For safety, bacon may be treated to prevent trichinosis, a parasitic roundworm which can be destroyed by heating, freezing, drying, or smoking. 
     Bacon’s history dates back thousands of years to 1500 B.C. when the Chinese were curing pork bellies with salt, creating an early form of bacon, although pigs were domesticated in China in 4900 B.C. and were also being raised in Europe by 1500 B.C. 
     Speculation exists that the Romans and Greeks. The Romans and Greeks, who may have learned bacon production and curing through conquests in the Middle East, improved pig breeding and spread pork production throughout their empire. The Ancient Romans also had an early version of bacon, called petaso, which was a shoulder of pig boiled with dried figs, browned, and served with wine. Throughout the Medieval Times, bacon and bacon fat were very important ingredients used by Anglo-Saxon peasants for cooking. It wasn't until the 1600s that “bacon” was used to refer exclusively to the salted and smoked belly that we know today as bacon. In Yorkshire and Tamworth, there were breeds of pigs that were specifically grown for making bacon. 
     Pigs arrived in North America when Christopher Columbus brought 8 pigs to Cuba and de Soto brought 13 pigs to Tampa Bay in 1539. Native Americans became fond of the taste of pork, resulting in attacks on the de Soto expedition. By the time of de Soto’s death three years later, his pig herd had grown to 700 head; those that escaped became wild pigs (and the ancestors of today’s feral pigs or razorbacks). An influx of pigs from England came during the 1600s. 
     During World War Two bacon played an important role during the time of rationing because it was a reasonably priced meat for families to consume on a regular basis. People returned the bacon grease left from cooking bacon to their butcher, who then donated the bacon fat to the war effort where it was used as, among other things foe making incendiary devices and explosives. 


     Bacon can vary depending on where they are cut from and where they come from. The slices, also called rashers, differ depending on the primal cut. Modern pigs yield about 15 pounds of bacon per hog. 
     The most common slice and form of bacon in the US is streaky bacon, also called side bacon, which is cut from the pork belly. Long layers of fat run parallel to the rind and have thin streaks of meat. The Italian version is called Pancetta, which can either be smoked or unsmoked and has a strong flavor. After curing, it is rolled up into cylinders. 
     Back bacon, also called Irish bacon, Rashers, or Canadian Bacon is cut from the loin in the middle of the back of the pig. It's similar to ham, meaty, and has less fat compared to the other cuts of bacon. It is the most common variety of bacon consumed in the United Kingdom. 
     Middle bacon is cut form the side of the pork and has average fat content with a flavor that is the middle of streaky bacon and back bacon. 
     Cottage bacon is cut from the shoulder of the pork, thin, meaty, and lean and usually oval shaped. After the shoulder is cured, it is sliced into oval pieces and the flat pieces are usually fried or baked. 
     Jowl bacon comes from the cheeks of the pork, which are cured and smoked. 
     Collar bacon is cut form the back of the neck of the pig near the head. 
     Hock bacon is located on the ankle joint between the foot and the ham; gammon is cut form the hind leg. 
     Slab bacon is cut form the belly, the sides, and the fatback. It has a medium to high portion of fat. 
     Picnic bacon includes the shoulder beneath the blade of the pig which is lean but tough.
     American-style bacon is cut from the belly of the pig and is cured in salt and then smoked. It has a streaky texture and ranges from very lean to very fatty depending on the selection. It is cut in a variety of thicknesses: thin, regular, thick, and extra thick. Before it is sliced the rind is taken off. 
     Gypsy bacon is a Hungarian specialty where a slab is roasted and seasoned with paprika. It is usually cut into thin slices and then served on rye bread. 
     Bacon fat liquefies and becomes bacon dripping when it is heated. After cooling it firms into lard if from uncured meat, or rendered bacon fat if from cured meat. Bacon fat is flavorful and is used for various cooking purposes. Traditionally, bacon grease is saved in British and southern US cuisine and used as a base for cooking everything from gravy to cornbread to salad dressing. Bacon fat, is often used on roasted fowl and game birds that have little fat themselves to add flavor.

Friday, December 23, 2016

The Amazing Baby Wipe

     Baby wipes are wet wipes used to cleanse the sensitive skin of infants. They are saturated with solutions of gentle cleansing ingredients and come in a dispensing box. 
     The origin of baby wipes most likely came in the mid-1950s and of the first companies to produce these was a company called Nice-Pak. They made napkin sized paper cloth saturated with a scented skin cleanser. Rockline Industries of Sheboygan, Wisconsin went on to be the first to innovate the first baby wipe refill pack and pop-up packs which have become common in the marketplace. The first real baby wipe products appeared on the market in 1990 and were larger companies like Kimberly-Clark who produced Huggies and Procter & Gamble's Pampers. As the technology to produce wipes matured and became more affordable, smaller brands began to appear and the 1990s, most super stores like Kmart and Wal-Mart had their own private label brand of wipes made by other manufacturers. 
     After this period there was a boom in the industry and many local brands started appearing. Since the mid-2000s in some cases manufacturers have labeled some baby wipes and their cousins wet wipes as flushable. Don't do it! They will clog internal plumbing, septic systems, and public sewer systems because they cling together which causes the growth of obstructions in sewers known as fatbergs. In addition, some brands of wipes contain alcohol, which can kill the bacteria and enzymes responsible for breaking down solid waste in septic tanks. Ask any plumber! 
     These things are valuable to have around even if you don't have a baby. Military personnel use them for getting sand out of everything and waterproof face paint off, washing blood off and aboard Navy ships when there are water restrictions (no showers) they are a good way to cleanup a bit. 
     These wipes do a fantastic job of removing stains on clothing, upholstery (especially useful on microfiber) or carpeting. I have seen them work where carpet and upholstery cleaners have failed.  

Other uses: 
1) Makeup removal and removing hair dye stains 
2) Wiping down the inside of your car 
3) Freshening up and cooling down on hot summer days. Put some in a baggie and put it in the cooler for use on day trips, or just put some in the refrigeratorfor home use. 
4) Hemorrhoid wipes. Get the ones with aloe and pour a bottle of witch hazel into the container. Much cheaper than the specialty wipes. 
5) Wipe down the leaves of houseplants. 
6) Pen, pencil, crayon and paint remover! From most surfaces, including skin. 
7) Getting bird poop off a car and windshield 
8) If your armpits sweat and you have deodorant marks on your clothing, baby wipes will remove them. 
9) Clean your pet: feet, ears and dingleberries around their butt. 
10) Remove stray hairs from pets. Give shaggy pets a rubdown. 
11) Static causing your hair to fly? Just wipe it down. 
12) Wiping down restaurant tables, high chairs, shopping carts, changing tables and toilet seats in public places. 
13) Shine your leather shoes 
14) Got a lot of envelopes to seal and don't have the self-sticking kind? Moisten envelope glue with a wipe. 
15) Clean tablets, touchscreen phone and PC monitors. They are soft and don’t damage the screens, and get all the sticky fingerprints off. 
16) Dusting

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Cessna 152

Cessna 152
     I loved to fly this little airplane! The Cessna 152 was a two-seat, fixed tricycle gear, general aviation airplane, used primarily for flight training and personal use. First delivered in 1977, the 152 was a modernization of the old Cessna 150 design. It was intended to compete with the new Beechcraft Skipper and Piper Tomahawk, both of which were introduced the same year. 
     I also flew Piper Tomahawks, but didn't like them so well as the 152. They were cooler looking, but their spin properties made me a little antsy flying them. Some people would disagree with me on that though. 
Piper Tomahawk

     According to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association Air Safety Foundation the Piper Tomahawk had a one-third lower accident rate per flying hour than the Cessna 150/152. But the Tomahawk had a higher rate of fatal spin accidents per flying hour. The NTSB estimated that the Tomahawk's stall/spin accident rate was three to five times that of the Cessna 150/152. 
     As with the 150, the great majority of 152s were built at the Cessna factory in Wichita, Kansas. Production of the 152 was ended in 1985 when Cessna ended production of all of their light aircraft. 

I Learned About Flying From That: 18,300 Feet in a Cessna 150. One pilot experiences the dangers of flying too high.

Golden Age of Radio

     Before television, during the 1920s, 30s, and 40s when radio was the dominant entertainment medium, families gathered to listen to the radio in the evening; that was the Golden Age of Radio. 
     It began when radio broadcasting started the early 1920s and lasted until the 1950s, when televisions slowly replaced the radio. According to a 1947 survey, 82 out of 100 Americans listened to the radio: plays, mystery, adventure and detective serials, soap operas, quiz shows, variety hours, talent shows, situation comedies, children's shows, live musical concerts and play by play sports broadcasts. In addition, news: headlines, remote reporting, sidewalk interviews, panel discussions, weather reports, farm reports were also broadcast.
     Several radio networks, which began declining in the 1960s, aired programs nationwide in the United States. The major networks were: National Broadcasting Company (NBC) Red Network a development by the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) Mutual Broadcasting System, developed from four different stations. Unlike the other networks, it did not own stations. American Broadcasting Company (ABC), developed from an anti-monopoly sell-off of the NBC Blue Network division in 1945 Mutual and NBC both closed down their radio operations in the 1980s, while ABC lasted until 2007 and CBS still operates its network as of 2016. 
     The earliest radio programs of the 1920s usually didn't have sponsors because radio stations were a service designed to sell radio receivers. By the late 1920s, radio had saturated the market, necessitating a change and the sponsorship of programs was born.
     Classical music programs included The Voice of Firestone, New York Philharmonic, the Bell Telephone Hour, the Metropolitan Opera and the celebrated Italian conductor Arturo Toscanini conducting the NBC Symphony Orchestra, which had been created especially for him. 
     Country music also enjoyed popularity and programs such as the National Barn Dance, the Grand Ole Opry (originally called the WSM Barn Dance), the Red Foley Show and the Ozark Jubilee were prominent. 
     Radio attracted top comedy acts: Abbott and Costello, Fred Allen, Jack Benny, Victor Borge, Fanny Brice, Billie Burke, Bob Burns, Judy Canova, Eddie Cantor, Jimmy Durante, Phil Harris, Bob Hope, Groucho Marx, Jean Shepherd, Red Skelton and Ed Wynn. Situational comedies also gained popularity, such as Amos 'n' Andy, Burns and Allen, Easy Aces, Ethel and Albert, Fibber McGee and Molly, The Goldbergs, The Great Gildersleeve, The Halls of Ivy, Meet Corliss Archer, Meet Millie, Our Miss Brooks, Lum and Abner, Herb Shriner and Minnie Pearl. 
     Other shows were adapted from comic strips: Blondie, Dick Tracy, Gasoline Alley, The Gumps, Li'l Abner, Little Orphan Annie, Popeye the Sailor, Red Ryder, Reg'lar Fellers, Terry and the Pirates and Tillie the Toiler. The first soap opera, Clara, Lu, and Em was introduced in 1930 on Chicago's WGN. 
     When daytime serials began in the early 1930s, they became known as soap operas because many were sponsored by soap products and detergents. Late afternoon adventure serials included: Bobby Benson and the B-Bar-B Riders, The Cisco Kid, Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy, Captain Midnight, and The Tom Mix Ralston Straight Shooters. Badges, rings, decoding devices and other radio premiums offered on these adventure shows were often allied with a sponsor's product, requiring the young listeners to mail in a box top from a breakfast cereal or other proof of purchase. 
     In the beginning programs were almost exclusively broadcast live, as the national networks prohibited the airing of recorded programs until the late 1940s because of the inferior sound quality of phonograph discs, the only practical recording medium. As a result, prime-time shows would be performed twice, once for each coast. However, "reference recordings" were made of many programs as they were being broadcast, for review by the sponsor and for the network's own archival purposes. With the development of high-fidelity magnetic wire and tape recording in the years following World War II, the networks became more open to airing recorded programs and the prerecording of shows became more common. 
     The OTR.Network Library has hundreds of old radio programs you can listen to HERE. You will need to have the free RealPlayer software installed which you can download HERE. One word of caution...the programs asks if you want to install Google Chrome as your default browser, so make sure you uncheck the box!!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Fun Eye Facts

1- The average blink lasts for about 1/10th of a second. 
2- Eyes heal quickly. With proper care, it only takes about 48 hours for the eye to repair a corneal scratch. 
3- Vision is such an important part of life that it requires about half of the brain. 
4- Newborns don’t produce tears. They make crying sounds, but the tears don’t start flowing until they are about 4-13 weeks old. 
5- Doctors cannot transplant an eyeball. The optic nerve that connects the eye to the brain is too sensitive to reconstruct. More than 1 million nerve fibers connect each eye to the brain.
6- The cells in your eye come in different shapes. Rod-shaped cells allow you to see shapes, and cone-shaped cells allow you to see color. 
7- You blink about 12 times every minute. 
8- Your eyes are about 1 inch across and weigh about 0.25 ounce. 
9- Even if no one in the past few generations of your family had blue or green eyes, these recessive traits can still appear in later generations. 
10- Each of your eyes has a small blind spot in the back of the retina where the optic nerve attaches. You don’t notice the hole in your vision because your eyes work together to fill in each other’s blind spot. 
11- Out of all the muscles in your body, the muscles that control your eyes are the most active. 
12- Your eyes start to develop two weeks after you are conceived. Your eyeballs stay the same size from birth to death, while your nose and ears continue to grow. Newborn babies can see clearly up to 15 inches away. 
 13- The entire length of all the eyelashes shed by a human in their life is over 98 feet with each eye lash having a life span of about 5 months. 
14- Corneas are the only tissues that don’t have blood. 
15- Humans and dogs are the only species known to seek visual cues from another individual’s eyes, and dogs only do this when interacting with humans. 
16- A fingerprint has 40 unique characteristics, but an iris has 256, a reason retina scans are increasingly being used for security purposes. 
17- People who are blind can see their dreams if they weren’t born blind. 
18- 80 percent of what we learn is through our eyes 
19- Eyes are the second most complex organ after the brain. 
20- Your eyes can get sunburned. Severely sunburned eyes, known as photokeratitis, is a result of prolonged exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays and can cause a burning sensation and blurred vision. These damaging UV rays do not just come directly from the sun, but also from the reflection of these rays from water and sand.
21- Your retinas actually perceive the outside world as upside-down – your brain flips the image for you. 
22- In addition to being upside-down, images arrive at your retina split in half and distorted. 23- Your retinas cannot detect the color red. Your retinas have red, green and blue color receptors, the “red” receptor only detects yellow-green, and the “green” receptor detects blue-green. Your brain combines these signals and turns them into red. 
24- Your peripheral vision is very low-resolution and is almost in black-and-white. You don’t realize it because your eyes move to fill in the peripheral detail before you notice the difference. 
25- 20/20 vision doesn’t equal perfect vision. It just means you can see 20 feet in front of you as well as the average person can. 
26- If you’re shortsighted, your eyeball is longer than normal. If you’re farsighted, it’s shorter than average. 
27- Your eye is constantly making tiny jerking movements called “microsaccades” to stop objects from fading from your vision. 
28- Your eye can distinguish between 50,000 shades of gray. 

     Dust, water vapor and pollution in the air will rarely let you see more than 12 miles, even on a clear day. Due to the curvature of the Earth at sea level, the horizon is only about 3 miles away, but if the Earth were flat you could perceive bright lights hundreds of miles distant. 
     On a dark night, you could even see a candle flame flickering up to 30 miles away. How far the human eye can see depends on how many particles of light, or photons, a distant object emits. The farthest object visible with the naked eye is the Andromeda galaxy, located 2.6 million light-years from Earth. The galaxy's 1 trillion stars collectively emit enough light for a few thousand photons to hit each square centimeter of Earth every second. So, on a dark night it can be detected with the naked eye. 
     Under ideal conditions the brightness of a candle flame, and the way a glowing object dims according to the square of the distance away from it, vision scientists conclude that one could make out the faint glimmer of a candle flame up to 30 miles away. 
     But how far away can we perceive that an object is more than just a twinkle of light? Human-scale objects are resolvable as extended objects from a distance of just under 2 miles. For example, at that distance, we would just be able to make out two distinct headlights on a car. 
     The best vision possible with human eyes is 20/8 vision, meaning a person can see things as well from 20 feet away as most people can see at a distance of only 8 feet. Normal vision is 20/20 which means that a given person can resolve the same objects that other people can at a distance of 20 feet. As a comparison, eagles have 20/4 or 20/5 vision, meaning that at 20 feet away, they see objects as well as a person would at a distance of only 4 or 5 feet.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Brady's Leap and a Narrow Escape

     Captain Samuel Brady (1756–1795) was a frontier scout, notorious Indian fighter, and the subject of many legends in the history of western Pennsylvania and northeastern Ohio. He is best known for jumping across a gorge over the Cuyahoga River to escape pursuing Indians in what is present day Kent, Ohio. The location is known as Brady's Leap. 
     Brady was born in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania. His father was a a surveyor and in April, 1760 at the time of the war against the French and the Indians received his a commission with the colonial troops. He was killed in on April 11, 1779 in an Indian attack. 
     The French and Indian War was a colonial war fought between the British, French and their Indian allies. The British territory was on the Atlantic Coast and the French territory was in present-day Canada, mostly in Quebec. Both the British and the French made conflicting territorial claims principally in present-day Michigan, western Pennsylvania and Ohio. 

     Britain declared war on France on May 15, 1756. The War between Britain and France was fought on both sides of the Atlantic. In Europe, it was called the Seven Years' War. Indians fought for both armies. The French and Indian War ended on February 10, 1763 with the Treaty of Paris in which France lost of all its North American territory east of the Mississippi and most of Canada. 
     However, the Indian threat on the Pennsylvania frontier did not end with the end of the French and Indian War. In 1763, Pontiac's War began pretty much where the French and Indian War left off. Ottawa Chief Pontiac persuaded the Indian tribes, which had been the French allies, to unite to continue battling the British. 
     Samuel Brady was commissioned as a Captain on July 19, 1763 in the Second Battalion of the Pennsylvania Regiments and actively fought against the Indian forces that were attacking and killing many frontier families in Bedford and Cumberland Counties, Pennsylvania.
     The Indian Chief Pontiac captured many frontier forts and settlements in what is now Michigan and Ohio and besieged Fort Pitt (now Pittsburgh), Fort Ligionier and Fort Bedford in Pennsylvania. A force was organized to lift these sieges, which it did. In the fall of 1764 an army of colonial militia and regular British troops from Fort Pitt moved into the Ohio Country and forced the Shawnees, Senecas and Delawares to make peace. Captain Brady participated in this expedition. 
     In 1780 the general charged with defense of the area received a letter at Fort Pitt from General Washington instructing him to select a suitable officer to lead a patrol in the Ohio country to spy out the strength of British and Indians assembled there.
     Captain Brady was, as we used to say in the military, "volunteered." Brady set out on his mission with a four men and four Chickasaw guides and when they arrived west of the Cuyahoga River they finally got a good look at the enemy strength.
     Now, Brady was not a tall man, but he was an extremely powerful man, broad, big boned and muscular, a loner and self-reliant. He also hated Indians; he was arrested three times in Western Pennsylvania for killing them. In all three arrests there was no doubt that he was guilty, but in every case he was allowed to escape. According to the story, his hatred of Indians stemmed from the time as a boy growing up in his uncle’s cabin, he returned from hunting to find the cabin burning and his uncle’s family slain. People said that Brady promised himself a lifetime of seeking revenge. 
     Some of his battles with the Indians were so impressive that there are several battlegrounds named for him: Brady’s Run and Brady’s Hill near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Brady's Island Fremont, Ohio, Brady’s Island and Brady's Lake near Akron, Ohio.
     Brady and his men found the Indians without being detected and set up an ambush for the following morning along a trail coming out from the Indian camp. They achieved complete surprise and killed at least ten warriors, wounding several others. About 50 warriors then took off after them.  On the run, Brady turned and fired a second volley which killed several more pursuers. 
     In those days the preferred method of escape was for the group to separate and when he separated, Brady accidentally ran into an entirely separate Wyandot hunting party as he was crossing a river and was captured and transported to the Wyandor camp where they roughed him up and tied him to a stake. They decided Brady would run the gauntlet in the morning and then be executed. In running the gauntlet, the guilty party was forced to run between two rows and be beaten with sticks. 
     As his hands were being untied in preparation for running the gauntlet, Brady threw and elbow in to the face of the warrior, grabbed a baby from the arms of a woman standing next to him and threw it into the fire then took of running for his life as he raced toward the American border which was the Cuyahoga River. 
     Running by day, and by night, Brady ran over 100 miles. He often found the going rough and the Indians close and at one point he turned back west in the night, hoping the Indians would go on past him, but they were straggled out in such depth behind him that he was in even more danger. He avoided them by hiding and waiting for night. 
     Finally, stopping after dark, he fell asleep and did not wake until he heard human voices and he began running again, but the Wyandots had him hemmed in. While hiding and with the Wyandots approaching, Brady broke out of his cover and headed for the river. When he reached the gorge, with the desperate action of a cornered animal, he made the jump. No Indians followed. 
     The leap was not level. In the jump from the high bank across to the lower east bank Brady dropped some. and landed on a shelf of rock about five feet below the top of the embankment, grabbed some bushes and began scrambled up the bank. Several Indians recovered from amazement and fired their rifles. One shot hit Brady in the right thigh, but he managed to make it to the top of the bank and drop out of their sight. 
    His bleeding thigh wound left a trail of blood, but when the Wyandots found it, the blood and footprints stopped at a tree which had fallen into the water. They combed the woods for the rest of the day, but couldn't find him. Brady had been hiding in the water where the top of the tree was floating in the river and eventually made it to safety. 
     How long was the leap? Two men later checked out his story and were of the impression that it was a few inches less than 25 feet. Later a surveyor measured the leap at 22 feet. The place came to be named Brady’s Leap and there are skeptics today, when viewing the spot, who believe there was absolutely no way he could have made the jump across the Cuyahoga River. But, it must be remembered that in Brady’s day the river was not as wide as it is today because of erosion.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016


     Snowflakes are either a single ice crystal or an aggregation of ice crystals which fall as snow. Each flake forms around a dust particle in supersaturated air masses by attracting supercooled water droplets in the clouds which freeze and adhere in crystal form. 
     The complex shapes form as the flake moves through differing temperature and humidity zones in the atmosphere and as a result individual snowflakes differ in detail from one another, but may be categorized in eight broad classifications and at least 80 individual variants. 
     When snowflakes land and accumulate, they undergo a change due to changes in temperature and form into a snowpack. 
     Once a droplet has frozen, it grows in the supersaturated air. Supersaturated air is where air is saturated with respect to ice when the temperature is below the freezing point. The droplet then grows by water molecules in the air vapor are deposited on the ice crystal surface. 
     The individual ice crystals are usually hexagonal and although the ice is clear, scattering of light by the crystal facets mean that the crystals often appear white in color due to diffuse reflection of the whole spectrum of light by the small ice particles. 
     The shape of the snowflake is determined by the temperature and humidity at which it is formed. The most common snow particles are irregular in shape, but near-perfect one are more common in pictures because they are more visually appealing. It is unlikely that any two snowflakes are alike due to the estimated 10 quintillion water molecules which make up a typical snowflake which grow at different rates and in different patterns depending on the changing temperature and humidity within the atmosphere that the snowflake falls through on its way to the ground. 
     Snowflakes are initially symmetrical and six arms, or dendrites, then grow independently, and each side of each arm grows independently. As a result, most snowflakes are not completely symmetric. Studies suggest less than 0.1 percent of snowflakes exhibit the ideal six-fold symmetric shape. 
     The shape of a snowflake is determined primarily by the temperature and humidity at which it is formed: Freezing air down to 27 °F promotes thin, flat crystals. In colder air down to 18 °F, the crystals form as needles, hollow columns, prisms or needles. In air as cold as −8 °F, shapes become plate-like again, often with branched or dendritic features. At temperatures below −8 °F, the crystals becomes plate-like or columnar, depending on the degree of saturation. Forms below the saturation line trend more towards solid and compact while those formed in supersaturated air trend more towards lacy, delicate and ornate. Many more complex growth patterns are also sometimes observed. 

An excellent online resource for complete information on snowflakes and ice crystals is Snow Crystals
How to take photos of snowflakes 
Guide to snowflakes from Cal Tech University is also a wealth of information and probably the most complete site on flakes.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Killing Snakes

     How do you do it? A lot of people like them, but many find them repulsive. Even so, when you see one in the garden, at least around here, they aren't poisonous, so just leaving them alone is the best thing to do. 
     When people do kill snakes it's usually with a garden tool. Trying to catch them, even non-poisonous ones, can be dangerous though because they will bite. A snake will never strike for no reason and when they do it's usually because they were provoked or surprised. Only a few venomous bites occur in the U.S. every year and it's usually when people are attempting to kill or get rid of them. 
     Before you kill the snake make sure it's not venomous! See the article How can you tell if snake is poisonous HERE.  Venomous snakes are scary when they're alive, but they can also be deadly after they are dead because snakes are well known for retaining reflexes after death. Not only snakes, but other cold-blooded vertebrae share this ability and there are actually reports of people being bitten by the severed heads of snakes. 
     In venomous snakes like cobras and rattlesnakes, biting is one of the reflexes that can be activated in the brain even hours after it's dead. The bite reflex is strong in venomous snakes because they bite for a different reason than other animals. Some animals, like tigers, kill their prey by sinking its teeth into its victim and holding on, but snakes usually deliver a single, extremely quick bite and then move away until it dies. Snakes are quick; rattlesnakes have been known to inject venom in less than two-tenths of a second.  You can see just how quick on THIS Youtube video.
     Even if a snake's head has been chopped off, the bite reflex can be triggered hours after it's dead because the nerves have not stopped functioning. Here's another thing to keep in mind.  Some snakes, rattlers in particular, control how much venom they inject, but if the animal is dead, there is no control and the bite will likely contain the maximum amount of venom.  Also, the bodies of snakes have been known to continue rising off the ground as if to strike even after they've been beheaded.
     How can that be?! These movements are fueled by electrically charged particles which remain in the nerve cells of a snake for several house after it dies. When the nerve of a newly dead snake is stimulated, the channels in the nerve will open up, allowing the particles to pass through and creating an electrical impulse that enables the muscles to bite in a reflexive action. 
     What if a snake gets into your house?   It happened to my neighbor lady. Her dryer is in the basement and the vent to the outside is only a couple inches off the ground. It had a wire screen covering the opening, but when it fell off, a snake crawled in and ended up in the dryer. Quite a shock to the poor old lady when see went to throw in a load of laundry! 
     Before you try to kill a snake inside your home, you should be aware that most snake bites occur when people are trying to kill or capture a snake. Trying to bludgeon it to death or pick it up puts you within striking distance of an animal that will defend itself. Even whacking it with something long, like a rake or a hoe, can be dangerous because snakes are fast and some can strike a pretty fair distance. 
     And, here's a tip from a snake expert. Chances are if you succeeded in killing the snake with the first blow, it wasn't poisonous. Most poisonous snakes are tough and incredibly fast and will dodge the first few strikes of a shovel or hoe. After that, it will be frightened and riled up, making it even more dangerous. 
     If a snake gets in the house the snake expert said the best thing to do is shoo it out with a broom or use a snake trap. Speaking from experience I can tell you that it is impossible to shoo a snake in the direction you want it to go and even a common garter snake is fast!  
     As for the trap advice...by the time you locate a store that carries snake traps and get there to buy one and then return home...well, good luck finding the snake! And, remember, by that time, the thing could be lurking anywhere. Who wants to go to sleep at night knowing they have a snake hiding out somewhere in the house? Forget about trying to poison one! When snakes eat, they catch their food live and eat it which means they won't eat poisoned bait. 
     As for the lady with the snake in her dryer...she asked me to remove it, but being a snake-hater, I wasn't going to touch it! The solution? I told her to go next door and get my other neighbor lady. She finds them in her flowers all the time and just picks them up and throws them in the woods behind the house. 

Snakes aren't the only critters that are dangerous even after they're dead!  Read this article:  6 Terrifying Creatures That Keep Going After They're Dead

Weather Bug and National Weather Service

Current downtown view of my city

This is a great site where you can get all kinds of weather information from anywhere...even some that's more interesting than useful. For example, where I live, in the last 30 minutes the nearest lightening strike was 1547.9 miles away. Get forecasts, maps, alerts, life, news and live camera views.  Visit

For those that live in the U.S. you can't beat the National Weather Service site.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Calendars for Download

If you need a calendar for just about any application then visit Calendarpedia. Lots of Calendars - Yearly, monthly and weekly calendars, printable calendar templates for Excel/PDF/Word, bank/federal holidays and more...