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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

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Declawing Cats

     If you have a cat you know they like to claw and having them claw at expensive furniture is frustrating and trying methods to get them to stop can be an exercise in futility. Declawing seems like an easy answer, but it's not. 
     Most mammals walk on the soles of the paws or feet, but cats walk on their toes. Their back, shoulder, paw and leg joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments and nerves are designed to support and distribute the cat's weight across its toes as it walks, runs and climbs. A cat's claws are used for balance, for exercising, and for stretching the muscles in their legs, back, shoulders, and paws. They stretch these muscles by digging their claws into a surface and pulling back...sort of like humans do when doing isometric exercises. 
     A cat's toes also help the foot meet the ground at the correct angle to keep the leg, shoulder and back muscles and joints in proper alignment. So, when a cat is declawed it drastically alters their feet and causes them to meet the ground at an unnatural angle. This can actually cause back pain in the cat. 
     Many veterinarians mislead cat owners into believing that declawing removes only the claws and leave the impression that declawing is only minor surgery. It's not! A cat's claw is not a toenail! It's the last bone of its toe and declawing is an amputation of the last joint of the cat's toes. My vet refuses to do it on any but newborn kittens. 
     It is painful for the cat and the recovery period will also be very painful for it. After surgery they have to have to use their feet to walk, jump, and scratch in the litter box regardless of their pain. 
     Besides pain, complications are relatively high and can include damage to the radial nerve, hemorrhage, bone chips that prevent healing, painful regrowth of deformed claw inside of the paw which is not visible and chronic back and joint pain as shoulder, leg and back muscles weaken. Other complications include postoperative hemorrhage, lameness due to wound infection or footpad laceration, exposure necrosis of the second phalanx, and abscess associated with retention of portions of the third phalanx. Abnormal growth of severed nerve ends can also occur, causing long-term, painful sensations in the toes.
     Declawing is mostly an American thing. In England it is considered inhumane and unnecessary mutilation and in many European countries it is illegal.  For countries where declawing is illegal see this list.
     Oddly, a cat that has been declawed may not show any signs of pain, but they do. We may not be aware of it because of the cat's instinctive behavior. They instinctively know that they are in a weakened position and are therefore in danger. So, what do they do? They instinctively attempt to hide it their condition. Also, some people have claimed their cat's personality changed after being declawed. 
     For our cat, Millie, repellent sprays don't seem to work and other methods have not produced satisfactory results. The one thing that worked the best is a product called Soft Paws.  These are soft rubber caps that you glue onto the cats front toenails. Sounds stupid, I know, but they work! 
     An important word of warning! The caps come with a small tube of super glue with which to glue them onto the toenails. Extreme care must be made to assure that you do not use too much glue! Too much will cause the glue to ooze out of the cap and glue it to the cat's foot. Or, too much glue will mean that as the nail grows out and the cat attempts to pull off the cap and nail, it will be unable to do so and there is a good possibility that as the nail continues to grow, it will curve backwards into the cat's foot. This is not only painful to the cat, but trying to remove the capped nail will be very, very difficult.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Microsoft Mathematics

     This free program provides a set of mathematical tools that will help students get school work done quickly and easily. With Microsoft Mathematics, students learn to solve equations step-by-step while gaining a better understanding of fundamental concepts in pre-algebra, algebra, trigonometry, physics, chemistry, and calculus. It's also a handy tool if you do any of this kind of work in the course of your employment.

     It includes a full-featured graphing calculator that’s designed to work just like a handheld calculator plus math tools help evaluate triangles, convert from one system of units to another, and solve systems of equation. 
     One of the unique features is the equation solver tool which helps solve equations with a single click. The formulas and equations tool lets you choose a specific category of equations you want to solve: Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry, Physics, Chemistry, Laws of Exponents, Properties of Logarithms, Constants. 
     There is a triangle solver tool which helps to calculate sides and angles of any triangle. The Unit Converter allows you to easily covert units for example in the engineering or physics fields. 
     In addition you can also download and install a free Microsoft Mathematics plugin, that allows you do a lot of the cool Microsoft Mathematics stuff inside your Word documents or OneNote notebooks. Once installed you will find a Mathematics tab in the ribbon of Microsoft Word or Microsoft OneNote. Download direct from Microsoft.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Dogs Bust a Grumpy Facing North

    Dogs do some weird and amazing things, but one habit researchers have discovered is that dogs, who can sense the Earth's magnetic field, prefer to poop while aligned with the north-south axis of the Earth's magnetic field. 
     That's the conclusion of an exhaustive study conducted by a team of German and Czech researchers led by a zoologist from Germany’s University of Duisburg-Essen. The team spent two years watching 70 dogs while they defecated and urinated thousands of times then compared the dogs' behavior and orientation with the geomagnetic conditions prevailing at the time. 
     But they do it only when the magnetic field is calm. Magnetoreception (also Magnetoception) is a sense which allows an organism to detect a magnetic field to perceive direction, altitude or location. A lot of animals have it and use it for navigation. It is present in bacteria, arthropods, molluscs and members of some vertebrates, but not humans although there is a chemical in the eye which could serve this function. 
     It is believed that red foxes use magnetoreception when hunting small rodents. When foxes perform their high-jumps onto small prey like mice and voles, they tend to jump in a north-eastern direction with successful attacks most generally facing north. 
     Resting and grazing cattle, as well as some deer, tend to align their body axes in the geomagnetic north-south direction. Body orientation on observed animals was random on pastures under or near power lines which apparently disturbs their inner compass. 
     That's why the scientists conducted their dog poop study; they were investigating magnetoreception in mammals. It's not clear what else dogs might use their magnetic sense for. 
     They studied 70 dogs from different breeds as they (they dogs) relieved themselves. At first there was no clear pattern of dogs preferring any particular orientation, but when they (the researchers) took into account the natural variations of Earth’s magnetic field and factors like the time of the day, the position of the sun, and wind direction, the secret was revealed. Dogs prefer alignment along the magnetic north-south axis, but only in periods of calm magnetic field conditions. 
     I guess this information could be of practical value to people lost in the woods with their dog. Instead of finding north by looking for moss on the north side of a tree, just watch your dog. 
     The idea that moss grows on the north side of trees is an old one and makes some sense. The north side gets less sunlight so it tends to be cooler, damper and have more shade which are good conditions for moss. But, as for it growing on the north side of trees, it depends on where you live. If you live in the southern hemisphere, it tends to grow on the south side. Even then, it's not always so simple because lots of things can create the shady conditions that moss prefers. 
     The most reliable method of knowing which way is north is to use a compass. But then which north? Magnetic or true? What if you're using a compass in the Southern Hemisphere?

Poodwaddle and Mother Nature Network - Two Must Visit Sites

     Poodwaddle is an entertaining site to visit that's filled with esoteric stats. It's the home of the World Clock, Life Clock, and many more time related apps and articles. I took the How Long Will You Live Test and hope it's right! My health and lifestyle indicate that should live to 92.1 years. People living in my region average 78.2 years. Here is a scary fact: if I lived in one of the African nations I only have a little over three years left. According to the "test" my age is equivalent to a younger person, called the "real" age, meaning that my health and other issues indicate my age is equal to a person about 6 years younger. If you take the test it is helpful to know your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels. 
    Mother Nature Network has Earth matters, health, lifestyle, technical stuff, money, food and drink, home, family, a ton of stuff to keep you informed and entertained.  For example, did you know a dog's nose has about 220 million scent receptors (compared to our 5 million), so they can detect some odors in parts per trillion, and countless subtleties in scents which enables them to sniff out certain diseases?

Monday, June 27, 2016

Cool Weather Sites

     Every day over a billion people worldwide rely on AccuWeather with global headquarters in State College, Pennsylvania. AccuWeather provides hourly and even minute by minute forecasts for any longitude/latitude on Earth with customized content and video presentations available on smart phones, tablets, free wired and mobile Internet sites, connected TVs, and Internet appliances, as well as via radio, television, and newspapers.
     Below is a radar view of my area from about 8:30pm last night:

     That red cluster in the middle was accompanied by a severe thunderstorm warning and Doppler radar showed it heading straight for us. The following showed when it would arrive: 
     Fortunately this cluster weakened before it reached my location and we ended up with only light rains showers. 
     Another interesting site is Webcam Galore which gives you access to webcams from all around the world.
     Here is a webcam view at 8:45pm during the thunderstorm as it was occurring in a city about 70 miles away.
     If you have any interest in weather then these two sites are invaluable. 

How to Predict the Weather using Clouds - Clouds are one of the most reliable predictors of weather. There are 10 types of clouds that you should be able to recognize, but if you get their names confused, just remember that the higher the clouds, the better the weather will be.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

     ...aka warts are benign (not cancerous) skin growths that appear when a virus, there are over 150 of them, infects the top layer of the skin. You are more likely to get one of these viruses if you cut or damage your skin in some way and did you know wart viruses are contagious? Warts can spread by contact with the wart or something that touched the wart. 
     Warts come in a variety of colors ( they are usually skin-colored, but can be brown or gray-black), shapes and sizes. Body warts, hand warts, foot warts, finger warts, internal genital warts, external genital warts, anal warts. You can get warts anywhere and once you have the wart virus, you can never get rid of it; it lives in your DNA. All you can do is treat them. 
     You've got your plantar warts on the soles of the feet which usually appear as flesh-colored or light brown lumps that are flecked with small clotted blood vessels that appear as tiny black dots. These boogers are highly painful! 
     Then there are the nasty genital warts which can appear in the pubic area, on the genitals, in or around the anus, and/or in the vagina. They look like small flesh-colored, pink, or red growths...similar to the small parts of a cauliflower or they may be very tiny and difficult to see. They often appear in clusters of three or four, and may grow and spread rapidly. They usually are not painful, although they may cause mild pain, bleeding, and itching. 
     The genital wart variety is specific to the genital area and can't spread to other parts of the body. The genital wart virus can lie dormant in your system for years before it is triggered by stress, immune system deficiencies, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, life style changes and more. In fact, many people are unaware of the fact that they have HPV. Many men may have outbreaks on their penis and be unaware of them because they can be very small and hidden. Women may have internal genital warts, which may cause cervical cancer, and be unaware of them. Only 10 percent of genital warts are visible. HPV infection is the most common sexually transmitted disease in North America and certain forms of the virus can cause cervical cancer. These warts should be seen by a doctor! 
     There is the flat wart which is more common in teens and children than in adults. These warts are smoother, flatter, and smaller than other warts and they generally occur on the face, but can also can appear on the legs, especially among females. 
     Usually  basic wart is harmless and can disappear without treatment, but if you have one you probably won't want to wait for that to happen because they are aggravating and...ugly!
     They can be treated, but most methods require multiple treatments. Treatments, beside over the counter medications, may include:

Freezing using liquid nitrogen. A blister forms around the wart and the dead tissue falls off within about a week. 
Cantharidin is an extract of a blister beetle and applied to the skin, forms a blister around the wart which lifts the wart off the skin so the doctor can remove the dead portion. Other medications may be injected into a wart to kill the virus. 
Surgery is sometimes used to cut away the wart. The base of the wart is then destroyed using an electric needle or by deep freezing. Also, sometimes lasers are used to burn and destroy wart tissue. 

     If you have a wart be aware that it can spread. To prevent spreading don't pick at it! Also, try and your keep hands as dry as possible because warts like moist environments. You should never brush, comb, or shave areas where warts are present as this can cause the virus to spread. Wash hands thoroughly after touching any warts. 
     Here's a fact for you. There is something called Canine Oral Papilloma Virus...dog warts, meaning dogs get them in their mouth. While they are usually not something to worry about because they usually stop growing and disappear on their own between 1 and 5 months.
     They usually appear in the mouth, but can also appear on the nose, eyes or occasionally to other parts of the body. They are only dangerous if they begin to appear in the dog's throat. If a dog gets these warts it means it has a weakened immune system, so puppies. older dogs and dogs that are being treated with immunosuppressive medications like steroids are likely candidates. The virus is spread by direct contact with other dogs, toys and even humans if they have been in contact with a dog that carries the virus. 
     But enough of dog warts.  For anybody that has a routine wart (often called a seed wart)...on the hand or finger, for example, here is a little secret to getting rid of them that actually works. Don't try it on plantar or genital warts...see a doctor! 
     Use apple cider vinegar. Do the following every night before going to bed. 

1) wash the part of your body that has warts 
2) soak a cotton ball with vinegar 
3) place the cotton ball on the wart. Note avoid soaking the area of skin surrounding the wart because it can cause a chemical burn to the healthy tissue. For that reason, it may be necessary to use only a portion of the cotton ball. 
4) place a bandage over the cotton balls to keep it in place. 
5) Repeat this process until you start to see that your warts are turning black. 
6) Even after the wart falls off continue treatment for a few days to ensure that the virus will not come back. This process may take a week or so, but it does work and it works better that a lot of commercial products.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Light Pollution

     From CNET...for a third of humanity, it's obscured by fog of light, caused by the artificial illumination used at night in towns and cities. And for Americans, it's even worse: Around 80 percent of the country can't see the Milky Way at night. "We've got whole generations of people in the United States who have never seen the Milky Way," said Chris Elvidge, a scientist with NOAA's National Centers for Environmental, who co-authored an update of a global atlas of light published in the journal Science Advances. "It's a big part of our connection to the cosmos -- and it's been lost." They discovered that it's most prevalent in Singapore, Italy and South Korea, while Canada and Australia are the darkest (although it's worth noting that most of Australia's population is concentrated around its edges). You can play with an interactive map to find out how heavily your home is light polluted HERE.
     Less than 100 years ago everyone could look up and see the Milky Way, but now increased and widespread use of artificial light is impairing our view of the sky, adversely affecting the environment, causing safety issues and affecting energy consumption and even health. The inappropriate or excessive use of artificial light can have serious environmental consequences for humans, wildlife, and the climate. Types of pollution:

Glare – excessive brightness that causes visual discomfort 
Skyglow – brightening of the night sky over inhabited areas Light trespass – light falling where it is not intended or needed 
Clutter – bright, confusing and excessive groupings of light sources 

   Light pollution is a side effect of our civilization. Sources include building, both exterior and interior lighting, advertising, commercial properties, offices, factories, streetlights, and illuminated sporting venues. Much outdoor night lighting is inefficient, too bright, poorly targeted, improperly shielded and, in many cases, unnecessary. Both the light and the electricity is wasted by spilling it into the sky, rather than focusing it on what is intended to be illuminated. Artificial lights overpower the darkness causing cities glow at night which disrupts the natural day-night pattern and shifting the balance of the environment. 
     The negative effects of the loss is very real. It leads to:

Increased energy consumption
Disrupting the ecosystem and wildlife
Harms human health
It has an effect crime and safety

    There is evidence that artificial light can alter physiology, including hormonal balance, as well as behavior, orientation, organism fitness, food web interactions, and biotope connectivity. The artificial disturbance of the natural day/night cycle may, as a result, have serious psycho-physiological and even medical consequences for humans, along with ecological and evolutionary implications for animals, plants, and even entire terrestrial, freshwater, and marine ecosystems.
    Street lighting has been blamed for up to 50 percent of the urban sky glow due to 95 percent of the light directed down toward the pavement being reflected upward at reflectance rates ranging from 6 percent for asphalt to 25 percent for concrete. Urban sky glow has been reported to be increasing around 30 percent annually in some American cities
     Long-term exposure to artificial lights can prevent trees from adjusting to seasonal changes, which has an impact on wildlife that depend on trees for food or shelter.  Artificial lights also have a devastating impact on birds. There are over 200 bird species that follow nocturnal migratory patterns across North America, but the sky is lined with communication towers and skyscrapers. Lights confuse the birds and cause them to crash into buildings. Seriously! It's estimated that the New York City skyline kills 10,000 birds per year and one billion die from collisions across North America alone. 
     Even turtles are impacted by artificial lights. Some sea turtle hatchlings born at night follow the moon’s reflection on the water to find the ocean, but now big cities along coastlines confuse them and they head inland by mistake. 
     How bad is light pollution, really? Los Angeles experienced a full blackout in 1994 and people reported a strange, silvery cloud over the city; they were seeing the Milky Way for the first time. 

5 Appalling Facts about Light Pollution

Monday, June 13, 2016

The Earth's Amazing Oceans

The Ocean is DEEP! This graphic can be seen HERE and it's impressive. 

Oceans and sharks
15 Fun and Surprising Facts about the Earth’s Oceans 
Ocean Facts - 26 slides
Interesting Ocean Facts 
The Earth's Amazing Oceans
National Ocean Service

What is the highest point on Earth as measured from Earth's center? Mount Everest is usually said to be the highest mountain on Earth, 29,029 feet at its summit, but that is the highest point above global mean sea level. The summit of Mt. Everest is not the farthest point from Earth’s center; it is the peak of Ecuador’s Mount Chimborazo, located just one degree south of the Equator where Earth’s bulge is greatest. Mauna Kea, a volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii originates deep beneath the Pacific Ocean and rises more than 33,500 feet from base to peak making it the highest mountain on earth. See article.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Does Lightning Kill Fish?

     That's "lightning," not "lightening." Lightning is an abrupt electric discharge from cloud to cloud or from cloud to earth accompanied by the emission of light, while lightening is the process of making something lighter, or medically speaking, it refers to the sensation that a pregnant woman feels when the baby drops. 
     While lightning is one of the most beautiful displays in nature, it's also one of the most deadly natural phenomena known to man. Lightning is a sudden electrostatic discharge during an electrical storm between electrically charged regions of a cloud (called intra-cloud lightning), between that cloud and another cloud, or between a cloud and the ground. 

     All thunderstorms produce lightning and are very dangerous. If you hear the sound of thunder, then you are in danger from lightning. Lightning kills and injures more people each year than hurricanes or tornadoes; between 75 to 100 people. 
     Lightning is an electric current. Within a thundercloud many small bits of ice (frozen raindrops) bump into each other as they move around in the air. All of those collisions create an electric charge. After a while, the whole cloud fills up with electrical charges. The positive charges or protons form at the top of the cloud and the negative charges or electrons form at the bottom of the cloud. Since opposites attract, that causes a positive charge to build up on the ground beneath the cloud. The ground's electrical charge concentrates around anything that sticks up, such as mountains, people, or single trees. The charge coming up from these points eventually connects with a charge reaching down from the clouds and lightning strikes! For complete details on lightning see the excellent article on How Stuff Works.

Does Lightning Kill Fishes or Other Marine Creatures? 
6 Weird Facts About Lightning Strikes 
Unusual Lightning Facts
Where Lightning Strikes More Than Twice 
What Happens When You Get Struck by Lightning? 
11 crazy facts about getting struck by lightning (and how to avoid it)

Ball Lightning - This type is rare. I have seen it once. When I was elementary school there was a thunderstorm and a ball passed through the window and exploded in a puff of smoke in the classroom. My dad also reported seeing it once when he was working on the railroad. A ball about the size of a basketball bounced down the track for some distance before it finally exploded. Yes, it DOES exist!

Monday, June 6, 2016

What's the Easternmost Point in the United States?

     If you said West Quoddy Head, Maine, you'd be wrong. Or, would you? It all depends on where you are measuring from
     The geographic center of United States, including Alaska and Hawaii, lies west of Castle Rock, South Dakota at 44°58' latitude and 103°46' West longitude. Castle Rock lies in the middle of nowhere in western South Dakota.  However, if measured from the prime meridian in Greenwich, England, then Cape Wrangell on Attu Island, Alaska, would be the easternmost point. 
Castle Rock, South Dakota

 Cape Wrangell is considered to be the westernmost point of Alaska and all of the United States by direction of travel. It is located on Attu Island.  But, because it sits west of the 180th meridian it can also be viewed as the easternmost point of the United States. Cape Wrangell is not to be confused with the CITY of Wrangell which is located in the Alaska Panhandle; it's located on the island of Attu which has a pretty interesting history. 
Cape Wrangell
     Attu is the largest island in the Near Islands group of the Aleutian Islands of Alaska; it became uninhabited in 2010. Attu was the site of the only World War II land battle fought on an incorporated territory of the United States (see the Battle of Attu) and its battlefield area is a U.S. National Historic Landmark. 
     Attu Station was a former Coast Guard LORAN station. The facility was closed on August 27, 2010,but the airfield remains available for emergency use. The station was established as Naval Air Facility on June 7, 1943, just seven days after Attu Island was declared secured.
     Attu Island probably is not a place you would want to visit. The weather on Attu is typically cloudy, rainy, and foggy. High winds occur occasionally. Five or six days a week are likely to be rainy, and there are only about eight or ten clear days a year. The rest of the time, even if rain is not falling, fog of varying density is the rule rather than the exception. There are 39–49 inches of annual rainfall and other precipitation with the heaviest rains in the autumn and early winter.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Spelling and Grammar Checkers

     I saw a Facebook post the other day where you could download Grammerly that read: Sick of making grammatical and spelling mistakes? Perfect writing is a click away! There was also a download button, but I have an aversion to clicking on anything on Facebook.
     The question is, how good are available spelling and grammar checkers, really? Even if they aren't all THAT great, I wish more Facebook posters would type their stuff in Word and spell check it then copy and paste it into the post. Hastily typing something usually results in spelling and grammatical errors to be sure, but I am convinced many of my friends just can't spell or write proper English. That does NOT mean they are stupid or anything, but all the spelling and grammatical mistake make them LOOK that way. 
     Running spell check is very important, but it is not a foolproof means of making sure your documents are error free. It will let you know if there is a group of letters that doesn’t actually spell anything, but it won’t let you know if you have used the wrong word. So, it's a good idea to proofread your work yourself rather than rely completely on spell check. Also, if it is an important business document, it's a good idea to have someone else proofread it! Don’t take a chance on making a careless mistake just because you won’t take the time to proofread what you wrote.  It's easy to miss your own mistakes.
     I found a site that tested some of the "free" checkers with a block of text containing eight different errors and here is what they found. 

This one claims to be the "World’s Most Accurate Grammar Checker." It promises to identify over 150 text errors, offer synonym suggestions and to check for plagiarism. It's free to get your text checked, but the hook is you need to sign up for a seven day trial to see the details of the problem. You can pay $19.95 a month, $13.32 per month for a quarterly subscription or $7.95 per month for a yearly subscription...that's almost a hundred dollars for a year! In the test Grammarly found three spelling errors plus two other issues where it made suggestions for changing the wording of the text which actually was OK as written. Score: 3 out of 8 

It claims to be a do-it-all grammar and spellchecker. It can be downloaded and it's supposed to add proofreading functionality to Microsoft Word, Outlook, Powerpoint, Internet Explorer and Firefox. A small control bar appears whenever you’re actually using one of the applicationa. By clicking on the control bar it will check for any any spelling errors or grammatical errors and suggest corrections. It has a "hook", too. You can test a 600-character demo for free but the premium version costs $198, $132 for spelling and grammar correction only or you can subscribe for about $20 a month. The premium version also claims to have a text-to-speech function that enables you to hear your text read aloud in a digital voice. It also has a "learning" feature (you learn, not the software) that acts like a tutor to teach you not to make mistakes. Score: 3 out of 8 

Microsoft Word 
How did this one do? Score: 4 out of 8 

After The Deadline 
This one can be used with bbPress, Confluence and OpenOffice and linked to Firefox or Google Chrome browser and you can access it via a WordPress plugin. It also allows you to cut-and-paste the copy into a web page. That's with the download version. There is also an online version, but in the test, it only found one spelling error and didn’t spot any of the grammatical mistakes. When it was tested using the WordPress plugin it did better...it found all the misspelled words. Score: 4 out of 8 

A knowledgeable human using care is still the best, but while these tools can be useful for checking spelling and grammar thus preventing you from embarrassing yourself, Microsoft Word's (or, in my case, Libre Office's) built-in spell checker  provides better results for free.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Bowery Boys

Leo Gorcy
     The Bowery Boys were fictional New York City characters played by a repertory theater of New York-based actors, who were the subject of feature films released by Monogram Pictures from 1946 through 1958. 
     The Bowery Boys were successors of the "The East Side Kids," who had been the subject of films since 1940. The group originated as the "Dead End Kids", who originally appeared in the 1937 film "The Dead End Kids" originally appeared in the 1935 play Dead End. 
     When Samuel Goldwyn turned the play into a 1937 film, he recruited the original "kids" from the play, Leo Gorcey, Huntz Hall, Bobby Jordan, Gabriel Dell, Billy Halop, and Bernard Punsly, to appear in the same roles in the film. This led to the making of six other films that shared the collective title "The Dead End Kids." 
     In 1938, Universal launched its own tough-kid series, "Little Tough Guys." Gradually, Universal recruited most of the original Dead End Kids, so the series ultimately featured "The Dead End Kids and Little Tough Guys." Universal made twelve feature films, and three 12-chapter serials with the gang. 
Huntz Hall
     When Warner Brothers released the remaining Dead End Kids from their contracts in 1939, producer Sam Katzman at Monogram immediately hired several of them, including Jordan and the Gorcey brothers, Leo and David, as well as some of the Little Tough Guys to star in a new series using the team name "The East Side Kids." These films also introduced 'Sunshine' Sammy Morrison, one of the original members of the Our Gang comedy team, as part of the gang. As a result, the original members of the "Dead End Kids" were working at several studios, so these films were made at the same time that Universal was making "The Dead End Kids" and "Little Tough Guys" series. A total of 21 films were made, with the final one, Come Out Fighting, released in 1945. 
     In 1945, when East Side Kids producer Katzman refused to grant Leo Gorcey's request to double his weekly salary, Gorcey quit the series, which then ended immediately. Bobby Jordan then suggested a meeting with his agent, Jan Grippo. Grippo, Gorcey, and Hall formed Jan Grippo Productions, revamped the format, and rechristened the series, The Bowery Boys. 
     Gorcey, who owned 40 percent of the company, starred, produced, and contributed to the scripts. The new series followed a more established formula than the prior incarnations of the team, with the gang usually hanging out at Louie's Sweet Shop (at 3rd & Canal St.- actually, there is no intersection of Canal and 3rd Street. They parallel each other about six blocks apart.) until an adventure came along. The Bowery is a street and neighborhood in the southern portion of the New York City borough of Manhattan. 
     The original main characters were Terrence Aloysius "Slip" Mahoney (Leo Gorcey), Horace Debussy "Sach" Jones (Huntz Hall), Bobby (Bobby Jordan), Whitey (Billy Benedict), and Chuck (David Gorcey, sometimes billed as David Condon). "Sunshine" Sammy Morrison, "Scruno" in the East Side Kids films, declined the invitation to rejoin the gang, later stating in an interview that he "didn't like the setup", possibly referring to the idea of Gorcey and Hall being in the forefront, and being paid much more than the other members.
     When Bobby Jordan quit the series for the same reason, his character was replaced by Butch Williams, with former East Side Kids Bennie Bartlett and Buddy Gorman alternating in the role. The proprietor of the malt shop where they hung out was Louie Dumbrowski (Bernard Gorcey, Leo's and David's real-life father). 
     The members went through a number of changes over the course of the series and thirteen actors were members of the team at one time or another. Bobby Jordan, an original Dead End Kid, appeared in the first eight films, but left after being injured in an elevator accident. Jordan was also unhappy with the direction of the series, which favored Gorcey and Hall, and limited the participation of the other gang members. 
     Gabriel Dell also appeared in some of the movies. He was just out of the Navy with a French war-bride in tow. He played a utility character, appearing as a private investigator, policeman, songwriter, reporter, Nazi spy to suit the story. Because money was apparently an object of concern for Gorcy, Dell appearances limited the casting budget. 
     The early films flirted with humor-laced crime dramas, but gradually shifted to all-out comedy, growing more slapstick and fantasy-oriented over the next decade. After 1950, the series began to resemble Abbott and Costello comedies and the gang's dingy basement club-house was replaced by an ice cream parlor. They also adopted a more adult look, exchanging their sloppy, juvenile wardrobe for suits. 
     The team started to fade when Huntz Hall was elevated to co-star status to showcase his comedic skills and the stories began to focus entirely on Slip (the self-proclaimed leader of the bunch) and his sidekick, Sach, with the diminished three or four "boys" receding into the background with little to do. Time and again the plot revolved around Sach accidentally acquiring some strange power or ability (a psychic, champion wrestler, crooner, etc.) that he tries to exploit. In most of the films, the gang pursued get rich quick schemes or got mixed up with neighborhood thugs. 
     Gorcey and Hall became a comedy duo that increased the popularity of the series and in 1953 a new producer and director who had previously worked with The Three Stooges, transformed the series into profitable kiddie-matinee material. Gorcey and Hall re-enacted gags borrowed from the Stooges.  Slip was famous for his Brooklyn-accented malaprops like "I depreciate it!" ("I appreciate it!"), and "I regurgitate" ("I reiterate"). 
     In the 1940s, Abbott and Costello appeared in four "service comedies", one for each branch of the military which the Bowery Boys duplicated in the 1950s.The  Bowery Boys, also like Abbott and Costello before them, became detectives when they opened up a detective agency. They also released other copies of Abbott and Costello story lines. 
Louie Dumbrowski (Bernard Gorcy)
     After filming a movie in1955, Leo's father, Bernard Gorcey, was killed in an automobile accident, which left Leo devastated.   He started drinking heavily and it visibly affected his performance in his next film, which would be his last. During filming, he became violently unhinged, trashing the set and destroying every prop in sight. At a subsequent meeting Gorcey demanded an increase of the 40 percent interest he held in the series which was denied and after a heated exchange, he quit the series and stormed off the studio lot. 
     Gorcey was replaced by Stanley Clements, a former tough-teen actor who had been in a few East Side Kids movies and they were now billed as "Huntz Hall and The Bowery Boys."
     The series was renewed for the 1957 season and four more films were made. In all, there were 48 Bowery Boys films, making it the longest feature-film series of American origin in motion picture history and only Huntz Hall and David Gorcey had remained with the series since 1946. 
     The Bowery Boys and East Side Kids were repackaged and syndicated for television in the 1960s and 1970s. They became a staple for independent stations and were often used to fill up the early-afternoon time-slots on weekends. 
     In 1967, The Beatles paid homage by selecting pictures of Leo Gorcey and Huntz Hall for the cover of their Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album. The Gorcey photo was removed, however, after Gorcey's agent demanded a $400 payment for use of his image. You Tube has a number of episodes you can watch HERE.