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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Butt Breathers

common Eastern (US) turtle
     No, they aren't the US Presidential candidates; we are talking about turtles...the Eastern painted turtle and the Australian Fitzroy river turtle. Of course, they can also breathe through mouths if they so choose. Technically, it's not an anus they breathe through, it's a cloaca (clo-ay-ka) which is an opening through which the turtle excretes, urinates and lays its eggs. 
     The turtle's shell does more than keep the turtle safe; it also is a chemistry factory. When a turtle hibernates, it buries itself in cold water for up to five months. To survive, it has to change a lot of things about the way its body works. Some processes, such as fat burning, go anaerobic, without oxygen, when a turtle hibernates. 
     Turtles breathe in three main ways: 

1. Through their lungs which is the primary means. This is why sea turtles can drown if they don't come up for air. But because of their shell, which is like a fused rib cage, they can't take in a deep breath, expanding their body cavity and lungs. Without ribs that expand and contract, the turtle's mouth breathing system is not like mammals. Instead, it has muscles that pull the body outwards towards the openings of the shell which allows it to inhale and muscles to squish the turtle's guts against its lungs to make it exhale. All of which uses a lot of energy. 
2. Some species of aquatic turtles can absorb oxygen through their mouth and throat by taking in water both to smell and absorb oxygen. 
3. In the butt breathers, sacs next to the cloaca expand. The walls of these sacs are lined with blood vessels and oxygen diffuses through the blood vessels.  This process uses little energy. Usually they absorb less than 20 percent of their required oxygen this way.  However, the Australian White-throated snapping turtle, aka the "bum-breathing turtle," can get nearly 70 percent of its oxygen through its cloaca. 

     Turtles aren't the only animals with interesting butts. Take the manatee, the large, somewhat comical, aquatic, mostly herbivorous marine mammals sometimes known as sea cows. 
     Manatees are able to rise and sink in the water with almost no perceptible movement or effort. How do they do it? By farting. Manatees regulate the distribution of their intestinal gases, holding it in when they want to approach the surface and letting it loose when they want to sink. Manatees eat tons of plants daily which causes them to build up a lot of methane. Their diaphragms are closer to their lungs than other mammals and much stronger. This allows the manatee to be pressurized with thousands of pounds of farts which can be released at will.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Office Coffee Cups

     Research from the Department of Soil, Water, and Environmental Science at the University of Arizona revealed that the coffee mug most people keep on their desk at the office is covered with obnoxious filth known as fecal matter. 
     Charles Gerba, a professor of environmental microbiology at University of Arizona, found that colonies of germs live in office coffee mugs and even though some people give their cups a quick wash in the office kitchen, it doesn't help much. Professor Gerba found that twenty percent of office mugs carry fecal bacteria and ninety percent are covered in other germs.
     Washing your mug at work won’t help because sponges usually found in office kitchens are likely teeming with bacteria which can end up living in in the mug for three days. He recommends taking the mug home every day and wash it in the hottest water possible. Failure to wash a coffee mug in hot, soapy water and drying it with a paper towel allows bacterial colonies grow even when the cup contains nothing more than a coffee ring. 
     How, exactly, does fecal matter get on a coffee mug? Surprisingly, or maybe not, a 2013 study in the Journal of Environmental Health observed 3,749 people after they used the toilet and found that 10 percent did not wash their hands, 33 percent used a water only rinse, no soap and of those that did use soap and water, most didn't lather long enough. Long enough was defined as 20 seconds. A study done in 2009 study found that toilet-goers were more likely to wash if they saw others doing so. It pays to set a good example.  It's those non-hand washers that spread their feces around the office. 
     Here's another interesting finding: the higher up you go, the more fecal bacteria on that person's cup. There was no explanation for this finding! 
     Coffee cups aren't the only filthy things in the office though. Phones have the most germs, followed by the top of the desks, keyboards, mouses and the fax machine and photocopier. A lot of folks eat at their desk during lunch not realizing they are eating in filthy, germ-laden surrounding. They safest place to eat your lunch is not your desk, it's off the toilet seat. Yes, the toilet seat! 
     It was the object with the least amount of germs on it. The level of germs one is exposed to sitting at their desk is 400 times the level of contamination on a toilet seat. A desk top has about 10 million germs, phones 25,000 per square inch, keyboards 3,000 per square inch and a mouse 1,600. The toilet seat averages about 49 germs per square inch. 
      Another study found that only one in five office refrigerators was cleaned out once or twice a year. That means workers are exposed to things like hepatitis and staph infections.
     The recommendation is don't eat lunch at your desk unless you wipe it down with soap and water or antibacterial wipes before and after eating, but who does that. And, an employee lunch room or kitchen probably isn't going to be any cleaner. After all, that's probably where you picked up a fellow co-worker's feces that's on your coffee cup!

Thursday, October 20, 2016


     I delete spam comments regularly on this blog and today I deleted comment spam written Arabic that referred readers to automatic door systems.  Comment spam is bad news for legitimate blogs and they range from nonsensical to great praise for a post and they are nearly always unrelated to the content of the post. 
     Spam in blogs is, apparently, quite common. The idea of the spammer is to artificially increase another site's search engine ranking and often results in the spammer's commercial site being listed ahead of other sites for certain searches, increasing the number of potential visitors and paying customers. 
     According to Wikipedia is the phrase "nice article" and people commenting that they are bookmarking my blog. I get a lot. Comment spam is an annoying, but in a way I suppose it's also a good sign. As a blog grows spam becomes an issue and I delete spam almost daily even though this blog is samll potatoes, getting around 4000 hits a month. 
     First, I don't want this Blog having anything that could lead to something harmful to its readers, like picking up a virus, malware, spyware, etc. Secondly, I don't want trust in my blog to take a hit. Thirdly, with Google, a single dubious link can result in punishment...like ranking lower on search engine results. 
     Did you know there are actually professional spammers and it's a real industry? A lot of spam doesn’t look “professional,” but that's part of the strategy they use. There used to be two real (I won't say legitimate) companies that would send out spam emails attempting to sell prescription drugs. When someone would make a purchase through one of the emails, the spam company would be paid about a 30 percent commission on the price of the prescription drugs bought. One professional spammer claimed he made over $330,000 in a year just sitting at his computer sending out spam e-mails. 

The world's top countries for spammers are: 
1-United States 
3-Russian Federation 
6-Hong Kong 
8-United Kingdom 

     Spammers are smart people. They have to be to stay one step ahead new technology and writing material that will entice people to bite. They do research on colors, subject lines, copy length and even personal preferences. 
     They are experts in the field of marketing.  As mentioned above, their motivation is to profit, directly or indirectly, by driving traffic to their site. But, there is also another motivation...a successful spammer can build a database of people that have taken their bait and that in itself is valuable information. The information they collect tells them who we are, where we live, when we respond, and which devices and operating systems we use. 

Confessions of a Professional Spammer  
Why Do Spammers Spam? 
Forum Spamming

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Cataract Surgery

     Cataracts are the leading worldwide cause of vision impairment and blindness and are common in older people. By age 80, more than half of all Americans either have a cataract or have had cataract surgery. 
     A cataract is a clouding of the lens of the eye but for the retina to get a sharp image, the lens must be clear, otherwise vision becomes blurry. 
     With aging and exposure to ultraviolet light, the protein fibers of the lens become oxidized and clump together. which causes the lens to become increasingly cloudy. The lens has no nerves or blood vessels and is dependent on the liquid around it, the aqueous humor, to get nutrients and remove waste products. This fluid is connected to a vascular network and contains very high levels of certain antioxidants that help nourish the lens as well as absorbing and detoxifying harmful substances. Lack of these antioxidants can cause cataracts to occur more frequently. 
     Medical professionals claim surgery as the only option for treating cataracts while some advocate that there are natural remedies, there are no reliable scientific studies to verify the claim. However, three of the most effective substances for maintaining good eye health are alpha lipoic acid, phytonutrients and lutein. In the US many eye doctors recommend their patients take PreserVision AREDS 2 Formula
     If there are cataracts in both eyes the surgeries are usually performed several weeks apart. The longer a cataract develops, the more it hardens and in advanced stages, a more developed cataract can be difficult to remove so it's usually safer to remove a cataract sooner rather than later; in most cases. However, an individual should not undergo surgery unless they are experiencing blurred vision caused by the cataract. If cataracts are allowed to develop for long periods of time, they can cause inflammation or increased intraocular (within the eye) pressure that can lead to glaucoma. In this situation it is extremely important to remove the cataract to prevent loss of vision from the resultant inflammation or glaucoma. 
     Prior to surgery several measurements of the eye will be taken to determine the lens prescription. As far as the patient is concerned this is a rather benign procedure. 
     Two very small incisions (one about one-tenth of an inch and one about one thirty-second of an inch) are made in the cornea and a viscous material is injected into the front part of the eye to help maintain its shape during surgery. 
     The surgeon then creates an opening in the sac that holds the lens in place and the lens is separated from the lens capsule using a balanced salt solution. Then an ultrasound probe is used to break the lens into small pieces and suck it out of the eye. 
     After the lens is removed, additional viscous material is injected into the lens capsule to hold it open and make room for the new artificial lens. The folded artificial lens is inserted into the capsule where it unfolds and the viscous material that maintained the shape of the eye during surgery is removed. The two incisions usually self-seal and do not require stitches. 
     The actual surgery takes about 15-20 minutes. First, the patient lies on a table and the eye is flushed with several washes and drops. An IV tube is placed in the back of the hand and just prior to surgery the patient gets a slug of anesthetic which takes effect in a very short period. The after surgery one wakes up, gets dressed and is treated to a cup of coffee or orange juice and graham crackers then goes home. 
     Most patients see very well the day after surgery. During the first week the patient must keep the eye covered with an eye shield when napping or sleeping. It is also recommended that the patient refrain from bending with the head below the waist, lifting more than 10 pounds and antibiotic and anti-inflammatory eye drops are used in the weeks after surgery to help prevent infection and control inflammation.
     The only side effects can be a scratchy and itching eye for a couple of weeks and an increase in the amount of eye floaters. Over a period of time they may becomes less noticeable, but likely will never go away entirely. But, the floaters were probably present before surgery but not noticeable; after surgery the increased light entering the eye makes them more noticeable. 
     When it comes to lens, there are several choices. Both eyes will have near vision and glasses will be required for distance vision. Both eyes will have distance vision and reading glasses (the cheap drug store variety usually work fine) will be required. Note that if you have astigmatism obtaining perfect 20/20 vision is not likely, but it should be very close.
     There are two other options, but careful thought should be given before selecting one of them. First, one eye has a lens for near vision and one eye has a lens for distant vision. This means that no matter what the activity, vision in one eye will be blurred. But, like in Lasik surgery, over a period of time the brain adjusts and the blurred vision is lest noticeable. If one is unable to adapt to this, the only options are 1) another surgery to replace on of the lenses, 2) Lasik surgery to "correct" the vision in one of the eyes, and 3) glasses. 
     The other option, which insurance normally does not cover and costs around $1,500 per eye, is an "adjustable" lens where the lens is actually attached to the eye muscles. This surgery takes longer, perhaps an hour and a half. I know of two people who had this type of surgery and in both cases their vision was excellent for 4-6 weeks, but then they noticed the vision in on eye becoming blurred because the lens had "settled in" slightly crooked. As a result, a second surgery was required to correct the situation. 
     My own cataract surgery, which was performed back in March-April, resulted in 20/20 vision with glasses required only for reading...and eating. I don't like my food looking blurry because a while back while in a restaurant I ate a hair that was in my food because I didn't see it. Hence, the glasses go on when eating.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Office Software Made Simple

     While looking for GIF animator, I discovered the SSuite Office site which proclaims itself to be the foremost provider of free quality office software on the internet today. They say, "We are there for anyone that needs excellent and professional free software that actually works without any hassles. Even the first time computer-user as well as the more experienced computer-user can find the best free software applications here with us." They may be right.
     The animation program I was looking for turned out to be exactly what I wanted, simple and easy to use with no learning curve. And that is exactly what they advertise... all of the interfaces are much more user-friendly and colorful than other office software, making it much more visually intuitive. 
     All their software is licensed as freeware.  There are no trial versions, subscription fees and no registration is necessary. Their software contains no third-party add-ons, toolbars, installers, or software distributions. 
     All their software applications and office suites are certified green because they do not use any system resources. These office suites are suitable for desktop computers, laptops, ultrabooks and Surface Pro Tablets, or just old and crappy computers. 
     Available downloads include very easy to use word processors, spreadsheets, databases, communication programs, utility programs like file shredders, personal information managers, label printers, and many more, security tools, financial tools, CD audio ripper and many other programs you may find handy. Five stars! Visit the SITE.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Buying Glasses Online

     Cataract surgery a few months ago all but eliminated my need for glasses except for reading and those cheap drug store readers work just fine. And, when I bought glasses in the past, they were very cheap thanks to having good insurance. But what if you don't have good insurance? I was appalled when a neighbor informed me that his wife's new glasses cost over $600 and their Medicare only paid about 10 percent of the cost. What about buying them online, often at a 70 percent discount? 
      Buying glasses online from a leading eyeglass supplier will give you the same options, frames and progressive, bifocal, multifocal, and transition lenses. Many online companies offer a virtual eyeglass fitting section where consumers are able to try on different frames by uploading their photo off the computer. Some sites even offer a virtual instructor that help with selecting frames. 
      Online eyeglass providers usually have a big selection of frames, but the really important issue is the lens. You have to decide what lens material and coatings you want...polycarbonate, high-index or regular plastic lenses....ultraviolet light filtering lens...anti-reflective coating...photochromic lenses.
      If you're comfortable making these decisions yourself, there's no problem. However, you need to consider that glasses are custom-made because everybody's head and eyes are different which requires that an optician take various measurements for a proper fit. 
     The optical center of the lens is the part that gives you the truest vision and it should be directly in front of your pupils. This means that the optical center is customized for your eyes and the lab needs to know the distance between your pupils. 
     You really cannot accurately measure the distance between you pupils (pupillary distance or PD as it's called) yourself. Most online dealers offer several ways to do this yourself, but don't count on it being exact! If the PD is wrong, or out of tolerance, you won’t be able to focus your eyes properly. You can ask the eye doctor for the PD, but they are often reluctant to give it because it's a tip off that you are probably going to their competition, online retailers. See the 20/20 article The Power and Politics of the PD HERE.
     Of course, fit is also important. Frames that are too large are uncomfortable and can slip. Too small they will be uncomfortable, pinch the sides of your head and leave red marks on your temples. They also can cause discomfort behind your ears or on your nose. Also, the prescription strength and weight of the lenses play into whether glasses will be comfortable and look good. Bifocals and progressive lenses present additional challenges because fitting multifocal lenses is a delicate process and extra measurements must be taken. 
     Many online sites don't offer bifocals and progressive lenses. Multifocal lenses also come in many different styles. Determining which one is right for you often requires an in-depth discussion with a knowledgeable dispenser or doctor. Even if you already wear bifocals, if you are limited to just certain lenses on a website, you might not be able to determine if you're getting the optimal lens for your visual needs 
     It's a good idea to pay careful attention to web-based optical sites return policies, too. 
     A study published by the medical journal Optometry: Journal of the American Optometric Association reported that almost half of prescription eyeglasses purchased online either failed safety standards or fell below prescription specifications. Some of their findings showed that over one in five pairs of glasses was incorrect upon delivery, 28.6 percent of online glasses had at least one lens that contained the wrong prescription, and 22.7 percent of one or both lenses failed the U.S. Food and Drug Administrations impact-resistance regulation. 
     A 2012 study out of the School of Optometry of the Université de Montréal examined 16 frames and 32 lenses that were purchased from online glasses retailers and they found that six of the lenses did not match the prescription and 13 of the 16 frames did not receive a passing grade in terms of fit. 
     Like most everything else lower cost can mean cheaper quality and high expectations can't be associated with a $39 price tag.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016


These fellers ain't REAL cowboys!
     They were glorified in thousands of novels and motion pictures...the American cowboy in the days of the Wild West. 
     By definition a cowboy is an animal herder who tends cattle on ranches in North America, traditionally on horseback, and often performs a multitude of other ranch-related tasks. The historic American cowboy of the late 19th century arose from the vaquero traditions of northern Mexico and became a figure of special significance and legend. There are also cowboys in many other parts of the world, particularly South America and Australia, who perform similar work. 
This is a REAL cowboy.
     The cowboy of myth and reality had his beginnings in Texas. There, cattle grew wild with few natural enemies. It wasn't until after by the end of the Civil War that the cowboy entered his twenty-year golden age, 1866-1886, the era of the open range and the great cattle drives.
     Cattle drives required a man to be a great horseman and accept the fact that he was embarking on a dangerous journey. Driving a thousand to two thousand cattle hundreds of miles to market while facing the vagaries of weather, stampedes, rattlesnakes, and outlaws, sleeping under the stars and facing many other dangers was not for the faint of heart. 
     The summer of 1886 was a dry one and the winter of 1886-1887 was terrible. They destroyed what remained of the original cattle industry and the open range ended. Fences went up and ranchers took to buying cattle designed to improve the stock. The result was cowboys were often reduced to riding a hay rake, mending fences, and applying medicines to sick cattle. No more herding cattle up the trails to Abilene or Dodge. 
     One little know fact is, it's estimated that of the men who worked the great cattle drives originating in the Southwest in the late 1800s, at least one-fourth of them were black. Many were born into slavery but later found a better life on the open range where they experienced less open discrimination. 
     After the Civil War many were employed as horse breakers, but few ever became foremen or managers. Some black cowboys became rodeo performers or were hired as federal peace officers in Indian Territory. Others owned their own farms and ranches while a few became gunfighters and outlaws. A number of them achieved considerable fame. 
     Men like Bose Ikard, a top hand and drover for rancher Charles Goodnight, also served as Goodnight's chief detective and banker. 
     Then there was Daniel W. "80 John" Wallace who started cow-punching as a teenager and saved enough money to purchase a ranch where he acquired more than 1,200 acres and 500 to 600 cattle. He was a member of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association for more than thirty years. 
     William Pickett was one of the most outstanding Wild West rodeo performers in the country and is credited with originating the modern event known as bulldogging. He was inducted into the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in 1971. 
    Known as “the most noted Negro cowboy that ever topped off a horse,” Addison Jones was known for his skill at breaking (topping off) untamed wild broncos. 
Stagecoach Mary
     Mary Fields, born a slave in Tennessee and known as Stagecoach Mary, gained her freedom after the Civil War. Fields who stood six feet tall and weighed 200 pounds was said to be a match for any man and enjoyed brawling and bragged that she could knock any man out with a single punch. Newspapers of the time claimed that she broke more noses than anyone else in central Montana and she always backed herself up with a six-shooter holstered under her apron. She liked to drink, smoked homemade cigars and was so respected in Cascade, Montana that her birthday was made a school holiday every year. 
     She had moved to Cascade in 1885 to work for, of all people, the nuns of St. Peter’s Convent. She did all the heavy work there and one of her most famous deeds of derring-do came when wolves attacked her supply wagon one night. The horses were spooked and the wagon overturned, but she stood guard until morning, keeping the wolves at bay with her revolver. 
Mary's sixshooter

     She was forced to resign after Montana’s first Catholic bishop heard of her brawling and a rumored gunfight. Shortly afterward, she hitched a team of horses faster than any other applicant and was hired to deliver mail to the towns around Cascade, braving blizzards and the harsh terrain in the process. She was 60 at the time and only the second woman ever hired by the US Postal Service. 
     She loved baseball and babysat for most of the children in town, which included the future actor Gary Cooper. After retiring she tried opened a restaurant, but went broke because she let too many needy people eat for free. When her house burned down in 1912, the whole town came together to build her a new one. A 1910 contract to lease a hotel in town included a clause stipulating that Mary could always eat for free. She was also the only woman allowed to drink in the local saloon. She passed away of liver failure in 1914. 
     Charlie Willis was born a slave in Austin, Texas, in 1847 and became known across Texas as a bronco buster and cattle drover as well as a talented songwriter. Old Paint was supposedly the name of his horse when he rode the Chisholm trail and he wrote the the song Goodbye Old Paint
     In the years after the Civil War, the Indian Territory of modern Oklahoma had a reputation as the most lawless place in the country. When "Hanging Judge" Isaac C. Parker arrived in 1875 to bring order he commissioned Bass Reeves, a former slave, as a lawman.
     Reeves become one the finest lawman in the history of the West. Born in Arkansas, Reeves fled to Oklahoma after beating up his owner during a card game. As a Deputy US Marshal, he had excellent relationships with the local Indian tribes who helped him avoid the many outlaws who threatened to kill any lawman brazen enough to show up in the territory. Reeves captured over 3,000 criminals and killed more than a dozen in 27 years as a marshal. Included in the count was his own son whom he tracked down and arrested. Reeves' son was sentenced to life in prison for murdering his wife. 
     Like their white counterparts, it was the outlaws that were better known. Isom Dart might have been a cattle rustler, or he might have been only a rancher; nobody knows for sure. He had the misfortune to run into Pinkerton Detective Tom Horn who had the reputation of being one of the most ruthless hired killers in the West. 
Tom Horn

     On October 4, 1900 Dart was bushwhacked when he stepped out of his cabin in Brown’s Hole, Colorado. The large ranchers in the area had hired Horn, who went undercover on one of the big cattleman's ranch, to investigate rustling in the area. Shortly after that anonymous letters soon appeared warning Dart and another fellow, both of whom Horn suspected to be guilty, to leave town or face the consequences. The other guy was found shot to death in his cabin a few months before Dart was murdered. Nobody was prosecuted over the murders but Horn was suspected. Horn got his comeuppance when he was executed in 1903 for the murder of a 14-year-old boy. 
     An early enemy of segregation was a black outlaw named John “The Texas Kid” Hayes. When he spotted a Whites Only sign on a saloon he would enter and ask for a drink. If the bartender refused, he rode his horse into the bar and shot up the place then skedaddled.
     Crawford "Cherokee Bill" Goldsby was as ruthless as Jesse James or Billy the Kid. The son of a Cherokee mother and an African-American Buffalo Soldier, Cherokee Bill committed his first murder at the age of 12 when he shot his brother-in-law during an argument over chores. 
     After fleeing to Indian Territory and living a life of crime he was finally caught and taken before Judge Parker who sentenced him to death, but a friend smuggled him a pistol and he tried to escape. A gun battle soon turned into a standoff and prison guards persuaded another prisoner to negotiate Goldsby’s surrender. After Cherokee Bill surrendered the other prisoner was released and no time was wasted hanging old Bill. His last words were, “This is about as good a day to die as any.”

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Wings 3D

     If you want to make 3D models for any reason then this is a really good free and open source 3D modeling tool for beginners that's both and fast to learn. It's powerful and easy to use and works on Windows, Linux and Mac OS X, using the Erlang environment. You can use it to model and add texture low to mid-range polygon models, but note that it does not support animations.  Visit site to download HERE.
     The interface is simple and it has a comprehensive set of mesh modeling and selection tools: Move, Scale, Rotate, Extrude, Bevel, Bridge, Cut, and Weld, Sweep, Plane Cut, Circularise, Intersect, Bend, Shear, and Inset, Magnets and Magnet Masking Mirror for symmetrical modeling, Tweak and Sculpt.
     For additional information on the program visit the Mental Arcade site HERE.

Lake Erie

     Lake Erie was named by the Erie tribe of Native Americans who lived along its southern shore and is the fourth-largest lake (by surface area) of the five Great Lakes in North America and the thirteenth-largest globally, measured in terms of surface area. It is the southernmost, shallowest and smallest by volume of the Great Lakes. Average depth at the western end is 24 feet, 60 feet in the center and 80 feet at the eastern end. At its deepest point it is 210 feet. Lake Erie is the warmest of all of the Great Lakes, but it also freezes over more than the other lakes.  It is known for its unpredictable and sometimes violently dangerous nature.
     The Northern shore is bounded by the Canadian province of Ontario, with the U.S. states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York on its southern and easternmost shores and Michigan on the west. Major cities along the Lake Erie include Buffalo; Erie, Pennsylvania; Toledo, Ohio; Port Stanley, Ontario; Monroe, Michigan; Sandusky, Ohio; and Cleveland, Ohio. 
Lake Erie shoreline
     The majority of Lake Erie’s water flows in through the Detroit River from lakes Superior, Michigan and Huron as well as tributaries such as the St. Clair River and Lake St. Clair. Its main outlet is Niagara Falls. 
     Invasive species like zebra mussels prospered first in the shallow water in the western basin of Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair and outbreak of fish flu began in Maumee Bay in the western basin. Lake Erie was said to have died in the 1970’s highlighted by the Cuyahoga River catching fire in Cleveland, Ohio, but has since made a comeback. 
     The lake has more consumable fish than all the other Great Lakes combined. Its shoreline is a major source of many minerals. The largest sandstone quarry in the world is located in Amherst, Ohio. Salt mines in Cuyahoga and Lake Counties extend out under Lake Erie. Sand, gypsum, and limestone used for construction purposes are found in abundance. Large reserves of natural gas are also located under the lake. 
     It is the only Great Lake that is entirely above sea level (the bottom of the other Great Lakes extend below sea level).
     Lake Erie provides drinking water to over 11 million people. At the same time it is estimated that over eight billion gallons of sewage were dumped into the lake, the equivalent of 2 billion toilet flushes. In 2004 the monitored beaches along the shoreline failed to meet criteria for recreation on 16% of the assessed days and health advisories or warnings were issued for 271 days in 2004. In 2004 sewer systems attempted to treat rainwater and sewage but during moderate to heavy rainfall the combined systems take in more wastewater than the treatment plants can handle. When this happens sewage either gets backed up or is diverted directly into a local waterway. 
     Under the surface of Lake Erie lies a rich history of mystery and maritime tales found in its shipwrecks.   Storms on the Great Lakes      Lake Erie Shipwrecks    An Abnormal Wave in Lake Erie in 1895 (see pages 653-660)
Waterspout on Lake Erie
    One impressive phenomenon seen on the lake is the waterspout.  Although they're beautiful to witness, they can be dangerous to those on the water. There are two kinds: fair weather waterspouts and tornadic waterspouts. 
     Tornadic waterspouts form over water or they move from land to water and they are dangerous because they share the same characteristics as land tornadoes because they are associated with severe thunderstorms. 
     Fair weather waterspouts form along the dark, flat bases of cumulus clouds and are not associated with thunderstorms at all. They typically form under light winds, so they don't move much. These types of waterspouts fall apart pretty quickly when they make contact with land and they rarely go far inland. 
     Cold air funnels develop under similar conditions and come to life in the wake of cold fronts where atmospheric instability and moisture is sufficient to produce towering cumulus clouds but minimal precipitation. Like fair weather waterspouts, they are not typically associated with thunderstorms and they form on the bottom of clouds. There have been reports of cold air funnels touching down and causing damage, but they're usually harmless. Tornado Warnings are very rarely issued for these.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Don't Hold Your Pee!

     The kidneys have a number of important functions one of which includes regulating blood pressure. Taiwanese researchers studied 40 people with early heart disease found that the stress of having a full bladder increases the heart rate by an average of 9 beats per minute. When your bladder expands, it increases activity in the sympathetic nervous system which may cause coronary vessels to constrict, increasing the heart rate which might boost the risk of heart-attack. 
     Sometimes in an attempt to curb the frequent bathroom trips, one might try to hold their pee, but it's a bad idea. Ignoring that distended bladder can do some serious damage. 
     One former Army doctor told the story of a soldier who had gotten drunk and passed out the night before and his bladder was holding the equivalent of about three bottles of wine and it became over distended. The result? After that, he was never able to urinate normally again and had to use a catheter four to six times a day. 
     That's an extreme case and it's not likely that holding your pee for an hour or two will lead to permanent damage like that, but the body’s urge to pee for long periods of time can cause bladder problems. For example, long-term urinary tract symptoms like frequent and painful urination could develop. 
     That said, mad dashes to urinate multiple times a day could indicate a more serious health problem. Peeing 2 to 3 times a night can be a red flag since most people can get through the night without a head call. 
     When your bladder fills up nerve signals are sent to the brain saying you need to take a leak. But if you have an overactive bladder those signals fire even when you’re low on urine. Doctors aren’t sure what causes an overactive bladder and it's nit really serious, but it can be annoying. One in six Americans suffer from this condition, but as you get older, your risk increases. 
     Other potential causes of frequent urination include diabetes, urinary tract infections, and an enlarged prostate. The old prostate pushes on the urethra which makes the bladder work harder to push the urine out. This extra activity inflames the nerves and can cause a weak flow, which prevents the complete emptying of the bladder which in turn makes frequent bathroom trips more likely. 
     If one is peeing frequently, but the flow is not much more than a dribble, it could be an enlarged prostate or it could be something called a stricture, which is a buildup of scar tissue in the urethra. A stricture is painful and can cause urinary retention. Left untreated, it can result in kidney damage, so surgical treatment is often recommended. 
     Of course, frequent trips to the can could also be the result of nothing more than the result of drinking diuretics like caffeinated tea, coffee, or alcohol or Gatorade. Drinking these beverages too late at night can also cause waking to pee at night. Anxiety can also spark the need to pee, even if you just peed a little bit ago. 
     If frequent trips are starting to seriously impact your day, see a doctor to discover the cause. They will likely do a blood test to check for any medical conditions, like diabetes and check for an infection. Be prepared to suffer through a rectal exam to check for an enlarged prostate. These aren't a lot of fun, but remember, they aren't the highlight of the doctor's day either. They will also probably do an ultrasound to check for urinary retention. Treatment depends on the problem: antibiotics, pelvic exercises or medication. 

See article on Science Alert

Monday, September 19, 2016

Hostess Powdered Mini-donuts

     Sunday my wife purchased a bag of Hostess mini-donuts coated with powdered sugar and when I popped one in my mouth I immediately spit it out because it had a strong metallic taste that even Listerine wouldn't get rid of.
     Powdered sugar, also called confectioner's sugar, is a finely ground sugar made by milling granulated sugar into a powdered state. It also contains a small (3-5 percent) amount of anti-caking agent—usually cornstarch in North America or tricalcium phosphate in other regions—to prevent clumping and improve flow. It is available in different degrees of fineness, most commonly XXX, XXXX, and 10X, with more Xs indicating finer grains. 
     In industrial food production it is used where a quick dissolving sugar is required.  Domestically, it is principally used to make icing or frosting and other cake decorations. It is often lightly dusted onto baked goods to add a light sweetness and subtle decoration.
     While cane sugar has an indefinite shelf life the addition of corn starch can result in the corn starch oxidizing which can add a metallic or soapy taste to the powdered sugar.  Powdered sugar is also susceptible to absorbing odors if not stored properly sealed. Thus, it is generally a good idea to purchase powdered sugar only in a quantity that you expect to use and throw away any unused portion. 
     Back in 2013 Hostess launched "the sweetest comeback in the history of ever" and about a  year later their white powdered Donettes generated consumer complaints who said when they opened the Donettes they were moldy and smelled like chemicals. Hostess did nothing about the problem and continued to keep the product on the shelf. A Hostess spokesperson acknowledged they had received complaints of the smell and taste but denied the donuts were harmful. 
     Three years later and this problem appears to be ongoing so it's a good idea to avoid this product.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Cincinnati, Ohio's Train to Nowhere

     How Cincinnati tried, and failed, to build one of America’s first subway's article in The Verge
      Abandoned tunnels are often the object of urban legend, but Cincinnati is the site of the country's largest abandoned subway tunnel.  
     The Cincinnati Subway is a set of incomplete, derelict tunnels and stations for a rapid transit system beneath the streets of Cincinnati, Ohio. It is recognized as the largest abandoned subway tunnel in the United States. It was built in the early twentieth century as an upgrade to the Cincinnati streetcar system, but was abandoned due to escalating costs, the collapse of funding amidst political bickering, and the Great Depression during the 1920s and 1930s. In 1928, the construction of the subway system in Cincinnati was indefinitely canceled.  

Monday, August 15, 2016

USS Oriskany

    The sunken aircraft carrier USS Oriskany is the largest artificial reef in the world. Built shortly after World War II, the “Mighty O” served primarily in the Pacific, earning two battle stars for service in the Korean War and ten battle stars for service in the Vietnam War.
     The Oriskany was sunk in 2006, 22 miles south of Pensacola, Florida in over 200 feet of water. Nicknamed “the Great Carrier Reef,” the site is one of the most popular diving destinations in the United States. Water depth to the top of the ship is 80 feet, and the flight deck is at 145 feet. 
     The Oriskany was a 27,100 ton Ticonderoga class aircraft carrier built at the New York Navy Yard. Launched in October 1945, construction was suspended in August 1947 and finally completed to a revised and modernized design. It had a crew of nearly 3500 and 80 aircraft. 
     The Oriskany was one of the ships used as a show of force by President Kennedy during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis and it was the carrier from which Senator John McCain launched his plane before being shot down over Vietnam. He was a prisoner of war in North Vietnam for five and a half years. 
     The Oriskany was deployed to the Mediterranean Sea between May and October 1951 and steamed around Cape Horn to join the Pacific Fleet in May 1952. It made one Korean War combat cruise from September 1952 to May 1953. After the end of the Korean War the Oriskany continued its Pacific Fleet service for more than twenty years. 
     It was out of commission from January 1957 until March 1959, during which time it was modernized with a new angled flight deck, steam catapults, an enclosed "hurricane" bow and many other improvements that permitted safer operation of high-performance aircraft.
     Oriskany's service in Vietnam began in 1965 when its planes hit targets in North and South Vietnam. Several more combat tours followed as the Southeast Asian conflict waxed and waned. On October 26, 1966, during its second Vietnam War deployment a fire ravaged its forward compartments, killing 44 crew members. The fire erupted on the starboard side of the ship's forward hangar bay and raced through five decks, killing 44 men, many of whom were veteran combat pilots who had flown raids over Vietnam a few hours earlier. A magnesium parachute flare exploded in the forward flare locker of Hangar Bay 1 as a result of human error. A seaman accidentally ignited the flare, panicked and threw it into the weapons locker where the flares were kept for storage, instead of throwing it over the side. The result was all the flares in the locker ignited. Crewmen jettisoned heavy bombs and planes were wheeled out of danger and it took three hours bring the fire under control. 
     One former commanding officer, retired Captain John Iarrobino, who was in command at the time of the fire eventually cleared the record. Iarrobino said the Navy Board of Investigation, in its haste to find a cause for the fire, prematurely blamed it on two crew members who were later court-martialed for mishandling the flares and starting the fire. Several other crew members and officers received letters of reprimand.  Iarrobinoblamed  the Navy for its haste and for not doing a thorough investigation. He said the board should have acted "without the desire to serve someone's head on a silver platter."  An investigation of the flares' manufacturer later revealed the true cause of the fire was a defect in one of the flares that caused it to trigger the blaze.  All court-martials were repealed and letters of reprimand rescinded.  The ship was repaired in the U.S. and returned to the war zone in mid-1967. 
     Following twenty-six years of service, USS Oriskany was decommissioned in September 1976, was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register in 1989 and sold for scrap in 1994, but it took nearly 10 years to determine its final disposition. After nearly two years of delays caused by hurricanes and permit issues the USS Oriskany was sunk on May 17, 2006, to become the world's largest intentionally created artificial reef. 
    It was towed to the a site about 22 miles offshore of Pensacola, Florida. The Navy used more than 500 pounds of plastic explosives in controlled charges to blow holes in the carrier. When it sank, the bow lifted into the air, the flight deck slipped; it took just 37 minutes. The ship rests in 212 feet of water with the flight deck is at 130 feet.  Watch it sink.

Gold Coast Scuba offers scuba trips to visit the ship.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Too Much Soap!

     Using too much soap in today's HD washing machines can lead to repairs!! Many times problems with washing machines are caused by using too much laundry detergent—not a manufacturer defect. 
     According to people who repair washers, a large number of the problems are caused by improper use of laundry soap. Why can too much soap leads to washer problems? 
     Over the last several years Federal regulations have required washing machine manufacturers to reduce the amount of water that is used per load. So, using the same amount of soap in a newer washer as was used in an older machine means the new machine won’t use enough water to break down the soap. The residual soap can cause huge problems in newer high efficiency washing machines. 
     Here are the top signs that you’re using too much laundry soap: 
1) The washer boot feels slimy. 
2) The washer has a nasty odor. 
3) There are dark spots on the door boot. 

     If a washer fails to drain and stops mid-cycle with an error code (SUD or ND) then the problem may be the result of using too much soap. One unit (Whirlpool) actually has a "SUDS LOCK" warning which means it has detected too much detergent. How it works: The motor control unit sensed a suds lock condition by analyzing the current draw on the drive motor. Actually, this could also mean a bad pump, an extra heavy load, excessive detergent, or excessive suds. 
     If the washer is too old to detect an error code, it will likely just turn off. Try running an extra load without soap to clean the machine.
     Too much suds may damage the machine because washers have a water level pressure switch and when you use too much laundry soap, the foam travels up the hose and can come in contact with the switch. When this happens, the wet soap damages the switch which means a washer repair.  Where I live they charge you $65 just to diagnose a problem.  At least the $65 is applied to the repair bill which I assure you will be more than that.
     As a rule of thumb, you should never use more than a tablespoon of soap! Always measure the detergent amount. The measuring cup that sometimes comes with some soap is 10 times the size of the actual amount needed. 
     These HD washers can also develop a foul odor. This can be for a couple of reasons. Using too much liquid fabric softener and soap over an extended period of time can result in odor because some laundry detergents and nearly all fabric softeners contain a small amount of animal fat. When you use too much, the fat congeals (yuck!) and gums up in areas where the customer can't reach it to clean. 
     Also, modern detergents made for these machines are not phosphate based; they are enzyme based. As you know, enzymes are a substance produced by a living organism that acts as a catalyst to bring about a specific biochemical reaction. They can build up in the washer where they die and decay and, like all decaying organisms, they stink. 
     If the machine is leaving dark spots or rust on clothing, it's another telltale sign of using too much laundry soap. In most cases, the dark spots are caused by the mold growing on the washer’s door boot. If this happens, clean or replace the boot. 
     Also, be careful to never, ever, overload a washing machine. Three-quarters full is about right. You should also make sure the load consists of items that are similar in weight. That is, don't mix, say, underwear and blue jeans or shirts and towels.  Doing so is a good way to throw the whole machine out of balance. 
     Most newer washing machines require high efficiency soaps (HE) that are specially formulated with suds suppressors, which prevent the machine from over-sudsing, but if you insist on using a soap that is not HE, always reduce the amount you use by at least 1/3 of the recommended amount. You should also treat the machine regularly (once a month) with a product that is specially formulated to dissolve and remove odor-causing residue. 

12 laundry mistakes you're probably making on CNN

Eat More Flax Seeds!

     The seeds of most plants are rich in nutrients and can provide us with health benefits, but flax seeds are unique and offer health benefits not found within the seeds food group. The nutritional uniqueness of flax seeds features three nutrient aspects, and all three play a key role in the outstanding health benefits of this food: omega-3, lignan, and mucilage content.
     The problem is that finding creative ways to add flax seeds to meals can be a challenge. The ground seeds can be incorporated into muffins, cookies or breads. Recent research studies have shown that ground flax can be also added to baked foods. Most plant foods contain at least small amounts of lignans which are unique in that they provide antioxidant benefits and fiber-like benefits; flax seeds contain about 7 times as many lignans as the closest runner-up, sesame seeds, about 338 times as many as sunflower seeds, 475 times as many as cashew nuts and 3,200 times as many as peanuts. 
     When you think about antioxidant-rich foods the first foods that come to mind are vegetables and fruits, but flax seeds are significantly higher in antioxidants than fruits like blueberries or vegetables like olives. Antioxidant benefits are associated with prevention of cardiovascular diseases and have recently also been tied to decreased insulin resistance. 

Benefits of flax seeds: 

High in Fiber, Low in Carbs 
One of the most extraordinary benefits of flax seeds is that they contain high levels of mucilage gum content. Mucilage is a gel-forming fiber that is water soluble and has incredible benefits on the intestinal tract. Also, flax is extremely high in both soluble and insoluble fiber which can support colon detoxification, fat loss and reduce sugar cravings.

Healthy Skin and Hair 
For healthier skin, hair and nails add 2 tablespoons of flax seeds to a smoothie or 1 tablespoons of flax seed oil to your diet. It can also improve symptoms of acne, rosacea, and eczema and it's also good in helping reduce dry eye syndrome. 

Weight Loss 
A study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that flax seeds and walnuts may improve obesity and support weight loss. They may also help reduce inflammation. 

Lower Cholesterol 
The journal of Nutrition and Metabolism found that adding flax seeds can reduce cholesterol levels. 

Flax seeds are Gluten-Free 
Using flax is a good way to naturally replace gluten-containing grains which are inflammatory where flax is anti-inflammatory. 

High in Antioxidants 
Flax seeds are also packed with antioxidants known as lignans are unique fiber-related polyphenols that support the growth of probiotics in the gut and may also help eliminate yeast and candida in the body. Consuming flax regularly may help reduce the number or severity of colds and flus. 

Digestive Health 
Flax seeds promote digestive health. They are beneficial for people suffering from Crohn’s disease or other digestive ailments, as it can help reduce gut inflammation. 

Flax Seeds for Cancer 
Flax seed benefits have been proven time and time again and even including fighting breast, prostate, ovarian and colon cancer. High in Omega-3 Fatty Acids These are generally associated with fish oil, but flax seeds are also an excellent source. 

Menopausal Symptoms 
The lignans in the flax have been shown to have benefits for menopausal women. It can be used as an alternative to hormone replacement therapy because lignans have estrogenic properties. These properties may also help reduce the risk of osteoporosis. It can even help women to maintain cycle regularity. 

70 Reasons to Eat More Flax Seeds