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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallion

     The heavy-lift helicopter of the Marine Corps can carry a 26,000-pound Light Armored Vehicle, 16 tons of cargo 50 miles and back, or enough combat-loaded Marines to lead an assault or humanitarian operation; but perhaps what's most amazing about the largest military helicopter in the U.S. is what it achieves despite its size. Though powerful enough to lift every aircraft in the Marine inventory except the KC-130, the CH-53E Super Stallion is compact enough to deploy on amphibious assault ships, and has the armament, speed and agility to qualify as much more than a heavy lifter.
     The Super Stallion is the largest and heaviest helicopter in the United States military. It was developed from the CH-53 Sea Stallion, mainly by adding a third engine, adding a seventh blade to the main rotor and canting the tail rotor 20 degrees. It was built by Sikorsky Aircraft for the United States Marine Corps.
     The Super Stallion is used to transport personnel and equipment, lift heavy loads and conduct minesweeping missions. The Air Force version, equipped with sophisticated electronic countermeasures systems, is used for long-range delivery and resupply of special operations forces and combat rescue missions.
     The helicopter is capable of lifting 16 tons (14.5 metric tons) at sea level, transporting the load 50 nautical miles (57.5 miles) and returning. A typical load would be a 16,000 pound (7264 kilogram) M198 howitzer or a 26,000 pound (11,804 kilogram) Light Armored Vehicle. The aircraft also can retrieve downed aircraft. The 53E is equipped with a refueling probe and can be refueled in flight giving the helicopter indefinite range.
     The helicopter seats 37 passengers in its normal configuration and has provisions to carry 55 passengers with centerline seats installed. With the dual point hook systems, it can carry external loads at increased airspeeds due to the stability achieved with the dual point system.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Politics and the Rape of General Porter

     While looking for material on hot air ballooning during the Civi War I came across the interesting story of General Fitz John Porter.

      Porter (August 31, 1822 – May 21, 1901) was a career Army officer who served during with the Union during the Civil War and is best known for his performance at the Second Battle of Bull Run (aka Second Manassas to Southerners) and his subsequent court martial. 
     His career was ruined by his political rivals when they called for his court marshal and after the war it took him 25 years to restore his reputation and get restored. Major General Fitz John Porter was found guilty of disobeying a lawful order and misconduct in front of the enemy and removed from command.
      Porter came from a family of famous naval officers, including his cousin, David Farragut, the first United States admiral. He graduated from West Point in 1845, eighth in his class, and served with great distinction as an artillery officer in the Mexican War. After the war, Porter served in various posts, including a stint as an instructor of artillery at West Point, where he became good friends with both George B. McClellan and post adjutant Robert E. Lee.

      As tensions increased in 1860, Porter traveled to locations in the South in order to prepare for the upcoming conflict, including Charleston, South Carolina, where he advised Major Robert Anderson be placed in charge of the defenses at Fort Sumter. When war broke out, he served as a staff officer, but when his old friend McClellan was asked to take charge of the Army of the Potomac he was transferred to command a division at McMlelland's request. McClellan trusted old friends more than the other corps commanders and wanted subordinates he considered loyal. He relied, in particular, on Porter, who often acted as his surrogate on the battlefield during McClellan's frequent absences. One such instance, the Battle of Malvern Hill, especially cemented Porter's reputation as a superb commander on the battlefield.

      After McClellan was relieved of command Porter's corps was reassigned to Major General John Pope. Porter intensely disliked Pope both personally and professionally. 
     Porter sent a number of telegrams to Major General Ambrose Burnside complaining about Pope's poor leadership and handling of the army and Burnside, who also had a low opinion of Pope, forwarded the letters to McClellan, General-in-Chief Henry Halleck, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, and President Abraham Lincoln. Halleck, Stanton, and Lincoln were upset because Pope was there man when they dumped the uncooperative McClellan. Lincoln was especially displeased because Pope was a personal friend.
      On August 27, part of the Army of Northern Virginia under Stonewall Jackson seized Pope's supply depot at Manassas Junction. Pope became panicked and sent a flurry of orders including a confused telegram to Porter ordering him to join Pope by morning.

      Porter consulted with his commanders about the feasibility of marching that evening, but they were against it even though Pope wanted to move. Finally, they were able to convince Porter that it was too dark and they were unsure of the location of the Confederate forces. As a result the orders to move out in the dark at 1:00am were disregarded.

      The next morning Pope got into battle with the Confederates under General Stonewall Jackson. Pope and General Irwin McDowell's troops joined forces and repulsed an attack by the Confederate cavalry division under Major General J.E.B. Stuart. Porter and McDowell then received another confusing order from Pope. In short, the order was unclear about what Porter and McDowell were supposed to do. Pope did not explicitly direct them to attack and he concluded the order with "If any considerable advantages are to be gained from departing from this order it will not be strictly carried out." The result was confusion on the part of everybody involved and it resulted in Porter's court martial.

      At the court martial the prosecution obtained testimony from officers under Pope that sought to clear their own names after the disaster of Manassas. For example, McDowell was answering his own court of inquiry regarding his actions at Manassas that led to his banishment from the army. It didn't help that during the trial, Pope supplied his own maps that substantiated his version of the story.

      The defense argued that Pope was incompetent and that Porter's actions had saved the army from an even greater defeat. General Ambrose Burnside even left his command to testify on behalf of Porter. In addition, it was testified that the majority of the Union Army agreed with Porter about Pope's poor leadership. The defense also pictured Porter as having been wronged by a petty, incompetent former commander who happened to be friends with the President.

      Porter was found guilty and ordered dismissed from the army and he was forever disqualified from holding any office of trust or profit under the Government of the United States.

      Porter immediately set about attempting to overturn the conviction. He set about surveying and mapping the battleground to develop a map of every tree, bush and hill in the vicinity of his corps. Then he recorded the testimony of anyone he could get to cooperate in order to record exact positions during the battle. With the help of his friends, especially the increasingly powerful McClellan, he began petitioning famous figures to write letters on his behalf. They used their influence to try to get state and local lawmakers to pass resolutions condemning the government for dismissing Porter.

      He also tried to draw attention to the make-up of the court. They were Republicans,as was the President, and had fixed a court to rule against him in order to protect its own interests. The government refused to re-investigate and officers who spoke out in support of Porter were punished.

The newspapers were also controlled by Republicans and they said that Porter was a traitor who had escaped the punishment he had deserved. The New York Times even wrote that he ought to have been executed.

      When the war ended, Porter wrote to both Lee and General Longstreet asking for their assistance. Both Lee and Longstreet replied, Longstreet in great detail, and Porter used the evidence to garner supporters to send petitions to President Andrew Johnson asking for a new trial. He also had supporters in Ulysses S. Grant, William T. Sherman, and George H. Thomas. President Johnson had no power to hold a new trial and, despite his support for Porter, he was unwilling to revisit the decision. Finally, in 1878, President Rutherford B. Hayes commissioned a board to investigate.

On March 19, 1879, the commission issued a report recommending that the court martial be set aside and Porter be restored. The report found Porter guilty of no wrongdoing and credited him with saving the Union Army from an even greater defeat.

      No matter though. Political opposition still prevented Porter from obtaining reinstatement because of Republican presidents. Finally in May of 1863, a bill passed Congress to restore Porter to his regular army rank of Colonel but with no back pay. Two days later, vindicated, Porter retired from the army, but he would not receive an official pardon until Grover Cleveland took office in 1885.

      About his balloon trip...one early April morning in 1862 General Porter hopped into a balloon basket and took off. The retaining cable snapped and the observation flight, at the mercy of the wind, floated over the Confederate lines. Porter, not knowing where he might end up reckoned to be captured when he finally came down. Fortunately for Porter, the wind shifted and the balloon was blown back toward the Union lines and he pulled the valve and descended to the ground.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


 Yodeling had its origins in the call from mountain to mountain, the communication from Alp to Alp. It is a form of singing that involves singing with repeated changes in pitch from the chest register to the head register without using words that mean anything. It was in mountainous and inaccessible regions that natural yodeling communication forms developed in order to communicate from one hill to the other or to bring in the cows. 
     Alpine yodeling was a longtime rural tradition in Europe, and became popular in the 1830s as an entertainment in theaters and music halls. In the United States, traveling minstrels were yodeling in the 1800s and in 1920 the Victor Recording Company listed 17 yodels in their catalog. Music historians credit the first country recording to include yodeling to Riley Puckett in 1924. 
     In 1928, blending Alpine yodeling with traditional work, blues, hobo, and cowboy music, Jimmie Rodgers released his recording "Blue Yodel No. 1". Rodger's Blue Yodel created an instant national craze for yodeling in the United States and, according to a black musician who lived near Rodgers in Mississippi, everyone, both black and white alike, began to copy Rodgers. The popularity lasted through the 1940s, but by the 1950s it became rare to hear yodeling in Country or Western music. 
     Human voices have at least two distinct vocal registers, called the "head" and "chest" voices. Most people can sing tones within a certain range of lower pitches in their chest voice and tones within a certain range of higher pitch in their head voice. Falsetto is an "unsupported" register forcing vocal cords in a higher pitch without any head or chest voice air support. Experienced singers can control their voices in this range, easily switching between registers. Yodeling is a version of this technique in which a singer might change register several times in only a few seconds and at a high volume. Repeated alternation between registers at a singer's passaggio pitch range produces a very distinctive sound.
     Bart Plantenga, author of Yodel-Ay-Ee-Oooo: The Secret History of Yodeling Around the World, explains the technique: It is thought that yodeling was first introduced to the United States by German immigrants in Pennsylvania in the early 1800s. As the new settlers traveled south through the Appalachian Mountains and beyond into the Deep South they came into contact with Scots-Irish immigrants, Scandinavians (practitioners of a unique yodeling called k├Âlning), and other nationalities including African slaves who communicated with "field hollers"...a long, loud, musical shout, rising and falling and breaking into falsetto.    
     In 1839, the Tyrolese Minstrels toured the United States and started an American craze for Alpine music. During the 1840s, dozens of German, Swiss, and Austrian singing groups crisscrossed the country entertaining audiences with a combination of singing, yodeling, and Alpine harmony. The success of the European groups led to the formation of many American family singing groups as well. The most popular was the Hutchison Family Singers who toured, singing harmony and yodeling. Minstrel shows parodied the Hutchison's yodeling with their own, calling it "Tyrolesian business". 
     In 1853, Christy's Minstrels mocked the Hutchinson Family singing We Come From the Hills With Tyrolean Echo. Other traveling American minstrels were yodeling in the United States as well. Recordings of yodelers were made in 1892 and in 1920 the Victor Recording Company listed 17 yodels in their catalog, many of them by George Watson, the most successful yodeler of the time. In 1897 Watson recorded the song, "Sleep, Baby, Sleep" which was later recorded in 1927 by Riley Puckett as the second yodeling record ever made (the first was Rock All Our Babies to Sleep). 
     Sleep Baby Sleep was also the first song ever recorded by Jimmie Rodgers, the man would eventually come to be known as the father of both country music and American yodeling when he combined the yodel with southern African-American blues. By the 1880s the minstrel show had been replaced by Vaudeville and American Burlesque. By around 1905, more than 20 years before Jimmie Rodgers introduced his blue yodel, African Americans were touring the country singing and yodeling. 
     The most noted yodelers of that time were Monroe Tabor, known as The Yodeling Bellboy, though he was not a bellboy. Known as The Jolly Hendersons, Beulah Henderson toured with her husband Billy from 1905 through 1910. Billed as "The Classy Colored Comedy Pair", Beulah was featured as "America's only Colored Lady Yodeler". Black performer Charles Anderson began touring with a vaudeville show in 1909, singing a combination of blues and yodeling. In 1923 and 1924 Anderson recorded eight sides for the Okeh label which gave a summary account of his vaudeville repertoire during the previous decade. Five of the recorded songs were yodels. 
     Another famous early yodeler was The Singing Brakeman Jimmie Rodgers, who recorded dozens of popular songs in the late 1920s and early 1930s. While working on the railroad he learned blues techniques from African American gandy dancers, and eventually created his characteristic sound - a blend of traditional work, blues, hobo, and cowboy songs and his trademark "Blue Yodel." According to a black musician who lived near Rodgers in Mississippi, everyone, both black and white alike, began to copy Rodgers. 
     Jack Guthrie, the cousin of Woody Guthrie, performed in the thirties and early forties. Known as "Oklahoma's Yodeling Cowboy", he developed a style of singing and yodeling influenced by his idol, Jimmie Rodgers, and his experiences as a bucking-horse rider and rodeo performer. Hank Snow was one of the great country legends of the 1950s, but he had actually been singing in Canada for years where he was known as "The Yodeling Ranger". He admired Jimmie Rodgers as well, and learned to yodel by listening to his records. 
     The DeZurik Sisters were two of the first women to become stars on both the National Barn Dance and the Grand Ole Opry, largely a result of their original yodeling style. Singing cowboy Roy Rogers yodeled, as did his box office competitor Gene Autry.
     Yodeler Bill Haley of Bill Haley and the Comets has one of the strangest histories of all. Bill Haley zoomed to fame as the "King of Rock and Roll" when his song "Rock Around the Clock" was featured in the popular film Blackboard Jungle. But it is little-known that Haley and his band had been around for years doing Western swing music with Haley featured as a yodeler. At one point in the 1940s, Bill Haley was even awarded Indiana State Yodeling Champion for his skill, perhaps something that his skillful manager Colonel Tom Parker felt not important to mention to his screaming teenage rock 'n' roll fans. 
     Slim Whitman performed for over 60 years. Whitman avoided the "down on yer luck" songs, preferring instead to sing laid-back romantic melodies about simple life and love. Critics dubbed his musical style "countrypolitan," due to its fusion of country music and a more sophisticated crooner vocal style. 
     Want to learn how to yodel? You can learn how HERE.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

News and Events, Prices and Popular Culture - 1890 to today.

I love this site! The People History 

Well dressed men in 1945
     What happened in 1945, the year I was born? The major news stories included the sinking of the USS Indianapolis by a Japanese submarine. Sometime in the early 1960's I was with the US Marines and we were crossing the Atlantic on a ship (I don't remember which one) and I was reading a book about the sinking of the Indianapolis. It turned out that the Navy Master Chief Hospital Corpsman aboard the ship had survived the sinking. 
     The war in Europe ended on May 7th a couple of months before I was born and Harry S. Truman became the US President following the death of President Roosevelt. The war in the Pacific ended a little over a month after I was born. 
     The average cost of new house was $4600 which was slightly over twice the average annual wage, but you could rent a house for about $60 a month. A new car was a little over $1000, men's shirts were $2.50 each and if you wanted to buy your daughter a doll house, it would cost you $3.19. Gas was $0.15 a gallonBing Crosby and Frank Sinatra were the popular singers of the day.
     The site is a lot of fun to visit!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Males Start Out As Females...Who Knew?!

     A nipple is a structure from which a fluid emanates. More specifically, it is the projection on the breasts or udder of a mammal by which, in females, breast milk is delivered to a mother's young. From conception until sexual differentiation, all mammalian fetuses within the same species look the same, regardless of sex.  
      Why do men have breasts and nipples?  It's because men start out as women. The human fetus is initially female. At six weeks' gestation, the outlines of eyes, arms, legs and a face appear and at about that time the fetus begins to take on the biological aspects of its gender. If the fetus has a Y chromosome, testosterone will turn the buds for sexual organs into testes which produce more testosterone and a penis appears. So, breasts and nipples are already in place before testosterone shows up and cells form into male organs.
     In humans, this lasts for around 6 weeks, after which genetically-male fetuses begin producing male hormones such as testosterone. Usually, males' nipples do not change much past this point; however, some males develop a condition known as gynecomastia, in which the fatty tissue around and under the nipple develops into something similar to a female breast. This may happen whenever the testosterone level drops. Gynecomastia, although not as severe, may occur in pubescent boys undergoing physical changes due to the rapid and uncontrolled release of hormones, including estrogen. The heightened levels of estrogen in pubescent male bodies leads to the swelling of the nipple and surrounding tissue – this can often look similar to a female human nipple – and may cause slight discomfort.  Gynecomastia is a hormonal imbalance that usually occurs in teenage boys and treatment is not usually necessary. Things are likely to return to normal around the age of 18 or 19.
      Most men are distressed if their breasts begin to enlarge. I would have thought all men would be, but judging by the picture, apparently not. Fortunately, the problem can be gotten rid of fairly easily. Most men begin to develop excess fat deposits when they reach their late twenties and their metabolism slows down, especially if the have a sedentary life style. Fat gathers in different places for different people. Women are most likely to see fat in their buttocks and thighs. Men tend to see fat in their stomachs and mid-sections. Man boobs are just the result of bad luck.    
     Man boobs (moobs) as shown in the picture come from being overweight. They're composed of fatty tissue stored over the pectoral muscles. The only way to get rid of them is to lower your weight overall because you can't pick and choose the location from which your body is going to decide to dump its excess weight. You need to engage in a cardio and strength-training workout program and follow a proper diet. Or, you can get one of these...

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Acetaminophen and Alcohol, etc.


     While writing a post for my chess blog on a young chess player who reportedly died after taking a couple of shots of alcohol and four Tylenol tablets for his cold, I was prompted to do some research on over the counter drugs and alcohol, especially pain remedies containing acetaminophen.
      It turns out that combining acetaminophen pain relievers and even light amounts of alcohol can more than double the risk of kidney disease according to new research. Taking the recommended dose of acetaminophen, combined with a small to moderate amount of alcohol, produces a 123 percent increased risk of kidney disease according preliminary studies. There appears to be a harmful interaction between the drug and alcohol even in small amounts.
      Chronic acetaminophen use and chronic alcohol abuse both have been separately linked to kidney and liver disease, said Dr. Martin Zand, medical director of the kidney and pancreas transplant programs at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York, so combining the two can be very dangerous.
      What has not been well-studied until now is the link between some regular alcohol use and regular acetaminophen use and increasing your risk of kidney disease above the risk of either if they are used separately. It should be pointed out that a study conducted by the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that neither normal use of acetaminophen nor light to moderate drinking posed a potential threat to kidneys.
     Alcohol can interfere with the gene that regulates the way the body processes acetaminophen. So, to be safe people who regularly use one should not use the other. That begs the question, what about taking acetaminophen for a hangover? The conclusion was that if you are not a regular drinker, it would seem to be OK to take some acetaminophen.
      Over the counter drugs are dangerous to take with alcohol because it is possible that alcohol interaction may decrease the effectiveness or render them useless. In other cases, alcohol interactions may make drugs harmful or even toxic to the body. Even in small amounts, alcohol also may intensify medication side effects. 
     It's also important to remember that herbal remedies are not immune from the same warnings. Manufacturers of herbal products are not required to submit proof of safety and effectiveness to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration before marketing, so the adverse effects and drug interactions associated with herbal remedies are largely unknown.
      Ginkgo biloba extract has been reported to cause spontaneous bleeding and it may interact with anticoagulants and antiplatelet drugs. St. John's Wort may may cause increased levels of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine and although it probably does not interact with foods that contain tyramine, it should not be used with prescription antidepressants.
      Ephedrine-containing herbal products have been associated with adverse cardiovascular events, seizures and even death. Ginseng, widely used for its purported physical and mental effects, is generally well tolerated, but it has been implicated as a cause of decreased response to Warfarin.
      Herbal products therefore cannot be marketed for the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of disease. However, these products can legally be labeled with claims about their purported effects. Also, herbal products are not regulated for purity and potency and some of the adverse effects and drug interactions reported for herbal products could be caused by impurities, batch variations, etc.
      When alcohol use is combined with some medications, it may magnify problems, especially in older adults.  Hundreds of commonly used prescription and over-the-counter drugs may adversely interact with alcohol. A list can be found HERE.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcohol Addiction offers a pamphlet on mixing alcohol with medications HERE.

While on the subject of drug interactions, did you know that many foods and supplements can interfere with blood pressure medicine? This article from the American Heart Association may surprise you.


Monday, November 9, 2015

The Man Behind the Shoe

      Why are Chuck Taylor athletic shoes so expensive? When I was a kid they were some of the cheapest “basketball shoes” you could get and probably cost $15 or so in today's dollars.   It appears Converse even has a no-discount policy on them these days and despite the price which is in reality cheap compared to other"athletic" shoes, people will still pay an inflated price for them. When I was a kid, you didn't demand certain shoes...you wore what your parents bought and when it came to basketball shoes as they were called, parents knew they were going to take a beating during the summer months and you'd outgrow them soon, so you got cheap Chuck Taylor's...no arguments. Some unfortunate kids with ragged clothes and hair touching their ears because they couldn't get bi-weekly haircuts actually had to wear them, along with blue jeans, during the winter.

      A hundred years ago Converse Rubber Company of Massachusetts created an athletic shoe with a canvas upper, a thick rubber sole, simple laces and a rubber toe cap called the All Star and nearly 800 million pairs later, this cheap shoe poor kids wore is still one of the most popular shoes on the market.
      But the shoe wasn't an instant success. Sales were slow until Converse signed Chuck Taylor to the first shoe endorsement deal. Taylor, a former basketball star who played for such teams as the Original Celtics and the Akron Firestones, was recruited to represent and sell the new shoe, travel the country and promote the game of basketball.

      Taylor suggested some design modifications, which were implemented in the early 1920s and sales took off and Converse rewarded Taylor by adding his signature to the shoe's trademark star patch. The overall design has remained virtually unchanged .

"Chucks," eventually disappeared from the basketball court, but during World War II they were issued to soldiers (National Stock Number 8430-00-257-3759) and they remain popular even today. 

Chuck's biography 
1950's History - information, notes, pinups, etc. Fun site!

Adobe Flash Warning

     Adobe Flash is used for creating graphics, animation, browser games, Internet applications, desktop applications, mobile applications and mobile games. Flash displays text, vector and raster graphics to provide animations, video games and applications. It allows streaming of audio and video, and can capture mouse, keyboard, microphone and camera input. Similar was Microsoft's Silverlight which ended its run in 2012. Adobe Flash came into being in 1996 and quickly became the standard but now it’s largely obsolete because most Web sites and apps use different technologies to accomplish the same thing.
     Back in July Google and Mozilla each announced that their Web browsers would be dropping default support for Adobe Flash because of Flash's newly discovered vulnerabilities to cyber-attacks. A few days earlier Facebook’s chief of security called for Adobe to set an “end of life” date for the same reason. 
     The odds are pretty high that Adobe Flash is on your computer right now and that means there is a possibility that your system and personal information at risk. As a result some are suggesting that delete it. 
     What made Flash so popular is its ability to run complex scripts from websites, but on the downside it can also be used for malicious purposes. Scripts written in Flash can access the computer's memory on your computer, which is just inviting attacks. Anytime a site is able to access your computer’s memory, it’s able to make changes. That makes it a popular platform for cyber-crooks (and it has also been pointed out just in case you don't trust them, spying governments) and it not unusual for security alerts and fixes to be put out by Adobe by the dozens. That government thing? There is an Italian company, Hacking Team,using unknown flaws in Flash to create spyware that it sold to oppressive governments in various companies. One group of hackers having association with the Russian government has been known to use a flaw that allowed them to hack into the foreign affairs ministries of different countries. 
     Also, Flash is a computer resource hog that can bog systems down. Steve Jobs wrote in an Apple Blog back in 2010 that they were aware that Flash is the number one reason Macs crash. In October 2010, Apple announced that it would no longer install Flash Player on its computers — including its Safari Web browser — although users could install it on their own if they wanted to. 
     If you are using a Windows PC, rely on an older browser, or were prompted by a Web site to install it, it's probably on your machine. 
     Adobe is trying to fix the issues on its Flash Player, but it appears to be a lost cause. Beside that, the Adobe Flash Player is currently one of the most unsecure applications around, hackers will keep searching for security loops and exploit them.
     Flash Player Security Update Available - For everyone enrolled in their auto update system (highly recommended – of course), you’ll be automatically and silently updated within 24 hours. For more details on this release, read their security bulletin and release notes. To download the updated version visit their page HERE. NOTE WELL: If you are already running an updated anti-virus program, make sure you uncheck the box “Optional Offer” box so you do not also download the McAffe anti-virus program, too. 

  • Not sure if adobe Flash is on your computer? Go to their site HERE and run the check. 
  • Which program can you use to replace Adobe Flash Player for a new and more secure program? Answer: There is not really a Flash player replacement if you use Windows. 
  • A site called Transition Blog lists some alternative, but there's no guarantee they will work. For Ubuntu users, there is a discussion HERE.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Recuva – a Free File Recovery Program


   This program is a handy and user-friendly file recovery program in case you accidently delete a file. It not only can recover files from computers but also USB drives, MP3 players and memory cards from cameras.

      Select the type of file you want to recover (photos, emails, videos, etc.) and where it's likely to be (recycle bin, on a media card, etc.), run Recuva and when it's done you'll see a list of files that can be recovered. Select the one you want and that's it. Just remember, sometimes scans can be slow and results are NOT guaranteed.

      A couple of reviewers I read complained because it didn't work...and it won't all the time, especially if the file has been deleted for a while. But, the sooner you perform the recovery operation, the greater the chance of success. That's because every time you write to the hard drive, you lower the likelihood of a successful recovery. So when you realize you just deleted something by mistake, the best thing to do is use the computer as little as possible until the files are recovered.

      A good article to read appeared in PC World titled How to Recover (Almost) Anything. Just remember that even if you follow all the steps in the article, there are no guarantees.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

A Rant About Facebook

     In the last several days I have seen so much fake stuff being shared on Facebook, I can hardly believe it. Photoshopped pictures, hoaxes, fake news stories, sincere Christians posting that God wants to bless me and if share a post, in a week I will come into money (God does NOT work that way), etc. 
     People post pictures of their dinner. What they don't realize is that very often food does not photograph well (that's why there exists people who make their living photographing food for commercials). What we often see is something that looks like dog puke and you want to ask if they really ate that. 
     Also, selfies. Most of the time they aren't flattering and the other day I saw two that were rather amusing. One taken in a public bathroom with urinals in the background and one with the lady's bras hanging on a door in the background. Apparently I have friends who, judging from the backgrounds in their selfies, haven't picked up anything in their house for six months. 
     There's no end to the nonsense photos and stories people re-post. What makes them believe all this crap?! 
     Consumer Reports surveyed over 1,300 households that use Facebook and produced a report on how Americans are using Facebook. What did they find? 
     Some people are sharing too much. People often say where they planned to go or posted photos from their vacation while they were actually there. Nice to know if you are a burglar. Some people have posted stuff that their employers have found out about and it's gotten them fired and some post stuff that isn't anybody's business. In reality those are probably far-fetched possibilities, but still... 
     A while back I followed a Facebook fight between a father and son over the son's girlfriend. But they aren't alone. I've seen numerous family feuds aired on Facebook. One young person even posted about an incident where her father stopped the car on a city street and peed in the gutter. I didn't need to know that. Some people go public about their health problems, too. 
     Research shows it’s easy to get people to believe fake news when it supports something they already believe. That's why I see so many posts and photos about social issues, political issues and politicians that are clearly fake. All you need is a picture that reinforces some fear, bias, presupposition, question, concern or conspiracy then just make up a story. Simple. 
     Like a recent picture I saw of a politician with an outrageous quote attached to it. I easily located the source...a person who is apparently disgruntled about a ton of things and put the picture and quote on their Facebook page. No source, nothing. Careful Googling the quote and looking for the source revealed nothing. It was made up. 
    Research shows that people who prefer alternative news sources are especially susceptible to fake news stories. Researchers at Northeastern University’s Laboratory for the Modeling of Biological and Socio-Technical Systems released a study that tries to explain why some people readily believe fake news. 
     Mostly they are people who mistrust the media (really, who does trust them completely?!) and people who put stock into a conspiracy theory. The research found that on Facebook at least there is a strong connection between believers of fake news and those who frequented political activism pages and alternative news sources. 
     The study concluded that the more fake news appears online, the greater the bias people have towards believing what they want to think is true. I also read a psychological study that showed that with some people facts that disprove a story will many times only serve to strengthen their belief that the fake story is really true! If they believe the earth is flat, all the pictures in the world of a round earth won't convince them because in their minds, the round earth pictures are fake. How's that for a startling find by psychologists?! What that report told me was that when you see a friend posting something that's obviously (to you) fake, there is little point in trying to correct the situation...they won't believe you.

A site with a lot of helpful Facebook information is That's Nonsense.

Monday, November 2, 2015


Don't write them. Today, it's a vacant lot.
     Hemorrhoids, also called piles, are swollen and inflamed veins in the anus and lower rectum. Hemorrhoids may result from straining during bowel movements or from the increased pressure on these veins during pregnancy, among other causes. 
     Hemorrhoids may be located inside the rectum (internal hemorrhoids), or they may develop under the skin around the anus (external hemorrhoids). They are common and by age 50 about half of adults have to deal with the itching, discomfort and bleeding that can signal the presence of hemorrhoids. Fortunately, many effective options are available to treat hemorrhoids. Most people can get relief from symptoms by using home treatments and making lifestyle changes. 
     When I was aboard a US Navy ship in the mid-1960's, while crossing the Atlantic we were placed on “water rations.” In order to conserve fresh water shower use was forbidden and in order to make sure nobody took a shower, the ship's Master at Arms came around with a wrench and took the handles off all the showers then he would make frequent inspections just to make sure they hadn't been tampered with. I was assigned duty in the ship's sickbay working on medical records and in one of the sickbay's compartments there was a shower from which the handles had been removed and… there was also a Sitz Bath. When he removed the shower handles, the Master at Arms had no idea what the Sitz bath was. So, every night all the hospital corpsman would grab a towel and bar of soap and announce they were going to soak their hemorrhoids. The Master at Arms came through one day and was loudly asking where were we all taking showers. After being told nobody in sickbay was taking a showers, he called us all liars and he KNEW we were showering because nobody in sickbay stunk and we all smelled of aftershave. He announced, “I'm gonna find that (expletive deleted) shower and I'm placing all you (expletive deleted) on report!” After a half hour of diligent searching, he could find no shower that had been in use and gave up.

1. Fill Up on Fiber Hemorrhoids are more likely to occur in people who have infrequent bowel movements. One of the easiest, most natural ways to become more regular is by filling up on fiber either through your diet or supplements. Aim to get 25 to 30 grams of fiber per day. Great food sources of fiber include: Legumes, such as split peas, lentils, black beans, Lima beans, and baked beans Whole grains, such as barley, bran flakes, oatmeal, and brown rice Vegetables, such as artichoke, green peas, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts Fruits, such as raspberries, pears, apples, and bananas 
2. Drink Water This hemorrhoid prevention strategy is simple and cheap. Adequate hydration from water is the key to having healthy bowel movements. Drinking six to eight glasses of water each day doesn't just keep your digestive system running smoothly, it benefits your entire body. 
3. Get Exercise Exercise helps keep the colon more regular and engaging in activities that increase abdominal pressure and/or straining (such as weightlifting) can lead to the formation of hemorrhoids. Activity reduces time spent sitting and putting pressure on the veins in your lower rectum. 
4. Be Careful Using Laxatives When you’re constipated, some fiber supplements, particularly psyllium capsules, have a track record of helping get you more regular, which can prevent painful hemorrhoids. The safest laxatives are those that work with your body rather than those that stimulate or simulate normal physiological activities. Some laxatives work by stimulating intestinal contraction to move the contents along and might increase hemorrhoid pressure. 
5. Don’t Fight the Urge When you have to go, go. This is one of the simplest ways to prevent hemorrhoids! 
6. Avoid Straining Straining and putting more pressure on the veins in your rectum is one of the most common causes of painful or bleeding hemorrhoids. Other situations can cause straining too, such as lifting heavy objects, a chronic cough, or even pregnancy. 

Hemorrhoid Prevention at Web MD 
25 Amazingly Fun And Gross Facts You Never Knew About Your Butt

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

British Pathe

This site is amazing. It has 90,000 Historic Video Clips of events all around the world. Stuff like: The Complete WW1 Collection, Tragedies Caught on Film, Dangerous Daredevils  Visit British Pathe

The Categories: 
Sport & Leisure 
Lifestyle & Culture 
Religion & Politics 
War & Revolution 
Historical Figures & Celebrities 
Entertainment & Humor 
Science & Technology 
Travel & Exploration 
Trade & Industry 
Fashion & Music

Sunday, October 18, 2015

How High is That Airplane?

     As a private pilot I have long had an interest in aviation. Also, living 20-some miles as the crow flies from a major international airport, it's normal to see airplanes that are in the landing and take off pattern. Sometimes I wonder how high they are. Sometimes, too, I wonder how high the cloud bases are. Is there a rule of thumb for gauging altitude of planes and/or clouds? 
     Unfortunately there are no rules of thumb for visually estimating altitude. That said, Federal Aviation Regulations can be useful. Over a populated area, or a crowd of people, fixed wing aircraft are required to maintain at least 1,000 feet above the ground unless taking off or landing. Over sparsely populated areas they are to remain at least 500 feet from any person, structure, or vehicle. 
     There is no minimum altitude requirement over bodies of water. However, I know of one pilot who was trying to see how close he could fly over a frozen lake, lost his depth perception and flew into the ice. After skidding several hundred feet he and his passenger were rescued by ice fishermen on snowmobiles. He was fined and his license suspended for reckless operation.    
     In general aviation, i.e. small airports, planes generally enter what is known as the downwind leg of their landing pattern. This is the leg that is parallel to the runway on which they are landing and they are headed in the direction opposite to their intended direction of landing. They typically enter this downwind leg at around 1,000 feet. Small aircraft (and helicopters) when flying on a cross country trip over flat areas usually fly around 4-5,000 feet. This is ignoring the fact that around major airports there are regulations stating how high you can fly at specified distances from the airport. 
     Flying above 18,000 feet normally requires the aircraft to be on an instrument flight plan (in contact with air traffic controllers), but most small airplanes can't fly that high. Also, one has to be instrument rated and most general aviation pilots of light aircraft are not so rated. Flying above 10,000 feet also requires the plane to have a specific type of transponder. So over flat terrain most small planes are flying way under 10,000 feet. 
      Direction is also a factor. Generally eastbound traffic (that is flying a compass heading between 1-180 degrees) has to fly at odd 1,000 feet plus 500 feet altitudes: 2,500, 3,500, 4,500, etc. Westbound traffic (181-360 degrees) is to fly at even 1,000 foot plus 500 foot altitude: 4,500, 6,500,8,500 etc.). Instrument flight is at similar altitudes without the 500 foot addition. The reason east-west directions are used instead of north-south is because the magnetic headings can vary a great deal from true north in some areas. 
     These altitudes are mean sea level, not actual height above the ground. 
Above Ground Level - AGL is the altitude expressed in the actual number of feet measured above the ground. If you could take a tape measure and measure from the bottom of your plane to the ground this would be your height above ground level. This requires a radar altimeter, something most general aviation airplanes don't have. Soanother method of determining the proper height to fly above the ground is required...mean sea level.
Mean Sea Level is the elevation of the terrain above sea level. For instance, if the terrain of an airport is 500 feet above sea level, pilots must calibrate their altimeter to read 500 feet while the airplane is sitting on the ground. That way when the altimeter reads 1,500 feet, the plane will actually be 1,000 feet above the ground. Of course MSL level can change, sometimes drastically, and an altimeter setting is also affected by changes in barometric pressure. 
     As you can see, it's nearly impossible to estimate an airplane's altitude. There are just too many variables. The apparent size of the plane will change with distance and the angle plus you aren't going to know the actual dimensions of the airplane. However, I did find an interesting site that describes how one can estimate altitude using a digital camera HERE.
Another interesting site is Contrail Science where the author write about contrails and science. It contains a lot if interesting stuff. 
This site has a cumulus cloud base calculator that enables you to estimate the height of cumulus clouds at their base. 
For more information on clouds visit THIS site.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Let's Talk About Hairballs in Cats

     No doubt about it, this is probably the most disgusting thing a cat does. Ours almost always pukes them up about 6:00 am and you can hear her all over the house. Fortunately, she almost always pukes them up in the same place, so they're easy to find. It's disturbing to watch a cat eliminating a hairball. It's even more disturbing to hear them hacking, gagging, and retching and sounding like they are dying!
     A hairball is a collection of fur formed in the stomach that is vomited up when it becomes too big. Hairballs are primarily a tight elongated cylinder of packed fur, but may include bits of other elements such as swallowed food. Sometimes they are wet and sloppy; other times they are dry, turd-like looking things. 
a wet, sloppy cat hairball

     Cats are especially prone to hairball formation since they groom themselves by licking their fur, and thereby ingest it. Rabbits are also prone to hairballs because they groom themselves in the same fashion as cats, but hairballs are especially dangerous for rabbits because they cannot regurgitate them. Because the digestive system of a rabbit is very fragile, rabbit hairballs must be treated immediately or they may cause the animal to stop feeding and ultimately die. Cattle are also known to accumulate hairballs, but as they do not vomit, these are usually found usually after they die and can be quite large. 
     No two ways about it, cat hairballs in cats are nasty things to clean up, but they can cause intestinal blockages which are a serious health problem. They are a result of a cat’s healthy and fastidious grooming routine...at least that is good news. So the question is, what can you do to keep hairballs to a minimum? 
     When a cat grooms itself tiny hook-like structures on its tongue catch loose hair which is then swallowed. The majority of this hair passes through the digestive tract with no problems. But if some hair stays in the stomach, it forms a hairball which, sooner or later, gets vomited up, usually on carpeted areas, of course. Kittens usually don't get hairballs, but it's normal for a cat to get them as they mature because as cats get older they become more proficient at removing fur from their coats with their tongues. 
     If you notice the following symptoms, get the cat to a vet because they could indicate a potentially life-threatening blockage: 
  • Constant dry heaves without producing a hairball 
  • Lack of appetite 
  • Lethargy 
  • Constipation 
  • Diarrhea 
Hairball Remedies:
Groom your cat regularly. The more fur you remove from your cat, the less fur that will end up as hairballs in its stomach. Some cats won't tolerate it though. 
Give your cat a hairball formula cat food or remedy. Some manufacturers make hairball-reduction cat foods. Hairball products are generally mild laxatives that help hairballs pass through the digestive tract. 

4 lb human hairball
     Sidebar: It's uncommon but hairballs have been reported in humans. Hairballs are generally seen in young girls as a result of trichophagia, trichotillomania or pica. They are hazardous in humans because hair cannot be digested or passed by the human gastrointestinal system. For that matter, even vomiting may not bring it up.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The World's Greatest Invention...the Toilet

“the architectural space in which bodies are replenished, inspected, and cultivated, and where one is left alone for private reflection - to develop and affirm identity.”- This quote appeared in a catalog assembled for the 2014 Venice Biennale to accompany an exhibition on architectural elements, the bathroom.

This is, of course, a natural followup to the post on toilet paper.

     Surprise...in the ancient world people were capable of designing quite sophisticated toilets. It has been discovered that some of the stone age farmers who lived in a village at Skara Brae in the Orkney Islands who lived in stone huts had drains built under them and some houses had cubicles over the drains. They may have been inside toilets.
     In Ancient Egypt rich people had bathrooms and toilets in their homes. Toilet seats were made of limestone. Poor people made do with a wooden stool with a hole in it. Underneath was a container filled with sand which had to be emptied by hand either by the individual, or if you were wealthy, servants.
     In the Indus Valley civilization (c.2,600-1,900 BC) streets were built on a grid pattern and networks of sewers were dug under them and the toilets were flushed with water. On the island of Crete the Minoan civilization (2,000 to 1,600 BC) built drainage systems which also took sewage. Their toilets were also flushed with water.

     The Romans built sewers to collect rainwater and sewage. In fact, they even had a goddess named Cloacina who was the goddess of sewers! Wealthy people had their own toilets but the Romans also built public lavatories. They had no privacy, just stone seats next to one another without partitions. After using the toilet, wiping was accomplished using a sponge on a stick...apparently a community sponge at that.

     In the Middle Ages toilets were less sophisticated...pits in the ground with wooden seats. However monks built stone or wooden lavatories over rivers. In Great Britain at Portchester Castle the monks built stone chutes leading to the sea so that when the tide went in and out it would flush away the sewage. Public lavatories were rare though and people went wherever they could. The first modern public lavatory complete with flushing toilets opened in London in 1852. Toilet paper went on sale in the USA in 1857, but for many years was a luxury. Not surprisingly, in Great Britain people were forbidden to go in the courtyards of royal palaces. 
     In Medieval castles the toilet was called a garderobe and it was simply a vertical shaft with a stone seat at the top and most of them emptied into the moat. Wealthy people usually used use to wipe wipe with but everybody else often used a plant called common mullein or woolly mullein.
     In 1596 Sir John Harrington invented a flushing lavatory with a cistern, but for some odd reason his invention never caught on. People continued to use chamber pots or cess pits, which were cleaned by men called gong farmers. 
     In 1775 Alexander Cumming was granted a patent for a flushing lavatory and three years later Joseph Brahmah made a better design. Note: Thomas Crapper did not invent the flushing toilet; he did however popularize it.  Flushing toilets were a luxury and did not become common till the late 19th century.
An early "outhouse"
     Also popular in the 19th century were earth closets. In the 19th century toilet pans were made of porcelain and were usually decorated, embossed or painted with attractive colors. Seats were of wood and cisterns were often emptied by pulling a chain. At first toilet bowls were boxed in but the first pedestal toilet bowl was made in 1884. Inside toilets were a luxury in the 19th century and most people's homes had outside toilets.
     If you were in the Navy or Marine Corps or own a boat, you know toilets are called the head. That's because originally they were just wooden boards with holes cut in them hanging over the sides of the ships. They were placed at the head of the ship.
     These days there is even a World Toilet Organization which was formed in 2001 to improve toilets in the developing world. 
     Back in February of 2013 we took a trip to Disney World and made a side trip to a tourist trap called The Holy Land Experience...take a look at their urinals...black marble with golden fixtures...

A Comparison of British and American ToiletEuphemisms