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Saturday, December 9, 2017

Spurious Correlations

    
      Tyler Vigen, a student at Harvard Law School and the author of Spurious Correlations, has made sport of spurious correlations on his website which charts farcical correlations.
     While his charts are comical, some are not so much. In statistics, a spurious relationship or spurious correlation is a mathematical relationship in which two or more events or variables are not causally related to each other, yet it may be wrongly inferred that they are, due to either coincidence or the presence of a certain third, unseen factor.
     Biases and conditions alone may create statistical errors, errors from interpretation, false reporting, wrong assumptions, improper samples, false relationships and even bad math. You can prove or disprove just about anything.

Common occurrences of spurious correlations include:
Apples and Oranges Comparing Dissimilar Variables - Y axis scales that measure different values may show similar curves that shouldn’t be paired. This becomes pernicious when the values appear to be related but aren’t.
Skewed Scales Manipulating Ranges to Align Data - Even when Y axes measure the same category, changing the scales can alter the lines to suggest a correlation. In these charts the left Y-axis is different increment than the right Y-axis.
Ifs and Thens Implying Cause and Effect - Plotting unrelated data sets together can make it seem that changes in one variable are causing changes in the other.

About Tyler Vigen
Discover spurious correlations  
Everyday examples

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

How Old Is Your Dog?

     The rule of thumb for determining the age of a dog compared to humans is usually one year for a dog equals 7 years for humans, but that is not a very accurate rule. Dogs mature more quickly than humans do, so the first year of a dog's life is equal to about 15 human years. Size and breed also play a role, but this chart should give you a good sense of where your dog is in the development/aging process.
 
 
 
DOG YEARS
6 months for a dog equals 10 years for a human
12 months for a dog equals 15 years for a human
24 months for a dog equals 24 years for a human

DOG   HUMAN
3  28
4  32
5  36
6  40
7  44
8  48
9  52
10  56
11  60
12  64
13  68
14  72
15  74.5
16  77
17  79.5
18  82
19  84.5
20  87
21  89.5
22  92
23  94.5
24  97
25  99.5
26  102
27  104.5
28  107
29  109.5
30  112

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Things You Can Do With Used Pet Fur

 
    After your dog or cat no longer needs its hair and sheds it all over the place, what can you do except vacuum it up and throw it in the trash? You'll be surprised to know that there are several good uses for it.
     The California-based nonprofit Matter of Trust accepts donations of both pet and human hair. Hair clippings of hair from salons, fur from pet groomers, etc. is stuffed into hosiery and made into “booms” that are dispatched to polluted waters. They also produce felted hair mats for public works departments to use in storm drains and coordinate with large-scale clean water efforts that need stuffed sausage-shaped hair booms.
    For hundreds, maybe thousands of years, people have been making yarn out of pet hair and it can also be used as pillow stuffing. Interested? See this article: How to Spin Pet Fur Into Yarn at the Craftsy website. Cats love toys made out of their own fur. Watch THIS video.
     Pet hair is rich in nitrogen so it works wonders on your soil. Because hair takes so long to decompose, your best bet is to cut the hair into smaller strands before adding it to your compost bin, or skipping the compost all together and adding it straight to the soil.
     Birds love it for building nests. Put a basket full of hair in the yard along with twigs, pine needles, and strips of bark and the birds will love you. Just don't use hair from pets that have been treated for fleas and ticks with sprays, powers or other products.
     Slugs and snails eating your garden produce? Sprinkle pet hair around your plants. This can also work for bigger pests like gophers, rabbits, raccoons, chipmunks, deer and other critters.
     Does working with dog or cat hair sound gross? You may already own stuff made out of it! Got any clothes made from is “chiengora”? Chien is French for “dog” and jackets, vests, scarves, hats sweaters, slippers, neckties, mittens, baskets, miniature toy animals and some yarn have been made out of dog fur.

Friday, December 1, 2017

How Does Elvis Know the Time of Day?

 
    For several years now there has been a cat which I named Elvis prowling our neighborhood. Elvis is a girl cat, but I named her before I knew that. Elvis seems to healthy and well-fed, so I assume she has a home somewhere. Besides that, she's rarely seen on bad days when it's raining or snowing. 
    On nice days she whiles away her time in the woods behind our house and if I am out during the day and she sees me she'll climb the fence and come running. After a belly rub she heads back into the woods. On a couple of occasions when I wasn't around she has, as cats have been known to do, left me a gift. One time it was a dead garter snake and another, it was a dead field mouse.
     The thing is, I have been getting up at 6am for years and the first order of business is to go down to the laundry room and feed our cat. On those nice days Elvis will be sitting by the back door waiting for her breakfast. How does she know what time it is?
     Some researchers say that time is an abstract notion only humans can comprehend and animal cognition researchers say animals are “stuck in time,” living only in the moment. But any animal owner knows that animals possess some kind of internal clock.
     Cats, like other animals, just seem to “know” when it's time for something to happen. Obviously, they don't carry watches and couldn't read one if they did, but they are good at picking up on regular indicators of the time like the birds singing and daylight. That's why our cat, Millie, wakes me up before dawn, pestering me to feed her; she just “knows” it's time to eat.
Elvis

     Animals probably don’t experience time in the way we do, but one anthrozoologist, John Bradshaw, the author of Cat Sense, writes that “Humans categorize events by when they happened, but cats probably do not. … We have no evidence to suggest that cats can spontaneously recall memories and place those events as having happened a few days ago, as opposed to a few hours or weeks previous – something we find easy to do.” adding that “cats have a general sense of the rhythm of the day.”
     Cats are creatures of habit and get used to having certain activities occur at the same time each day, such as meal time. Cats will also take their cues from the onset of daylight and night. This probably explains why they know when their owners, or in Elvis' case me as her meal ticket, are where they are and the time they are there. Dog and cats are able to anticipate such things as the time their owners are coming home from work, but exactly how do they do it is something of a mystery.
     One somewhat weird theory is that dogs smell time. Dogs’ sense of smell with its 300 million olfactory receptors in its nose (compared to a human's 6 million) can use their sense of smell to find everything from bedbugs to corpses underwater. Another theory is they are telepathic. But those theories seem a little far fetched.
     Squirrels understand that some foods spoil and they will dig up perishable food first. Crows, rats, orangutans, and pygmy chimps have been shown to differentiate between now and later. The animal is shown two jars, each with a treat, but one of them disappears within a short period of time. After five minutes, the animals are allowed to choose one jar to open; they get a second chance in an hour. After just a few trials, the animals all chose the vanishing treat first.
     Time is actually a regular cycles of motion, but it can also be measured by the decay of a scent or by daily fluctuations of the strength of the Earth’s magnetic field or by some other method as of yet undiscovered.
     Researchers can test how different species perceive, for instance, what is called “critical flicker frequency” — the point at which an intermittent light seems steady. Humans cannot process the flicker. Think of an image on television which flickers too fast for us to to perceive, so we see it as a steady flow. Researchers trained animals of different species to behave one way when they see a flickering light and another way when they see a steady light. They found that small animals with fast metabolic rates perceive more information in a unit of time. A fly, for instance, can see 250 flashes per second. Larger animals tend to experience action more slowly. A leatherback sea turtle can only see 15 flashes per second.
     Researchers at the University of Western Ontario found that rats are able to keep track of how much time has passed since they discovered a piece of cheese, but they don't actually form memories of when the discovery occurred.
     Rats visited the arms of a maze at different times of day. Some arms contained moderately desirable food pellets and one arm contained a highly desirable piece of cheese. They found the rats could remember that they did something, such as hoard food a few hours before or five days ago. But, the more time that passed, the weaker their memory was and they didn't remember that an event occurred at a specific point in time in the past. According to the researchers, this suggests that animals are stuck in time with no sense of time extending into the past or future. A human's memory involves retention of the point in past time when an event occurred and we retain the information much longer.
     Elvis knows when it's time to get fed as evidenced by the fact that she shows up at 6am. The odd thing is, it doesn't matter if it's daylight in the summer or dark in the winter, she is still out there at 6am. Exactly how she knows is still a mystery.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Favorite 1950 Comic Book Ads

     During the 1950s the US presidents were Harry S. Truman (1945-1953) and Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-1961) and the Cold War created a tense decade for the American people as schoolchildren prepared for nuclear war by being told to "duck and cover." We watched “training films” and had drills in which we hid under our desks with arms over our heads and teachers warned us that the Russians had nearby large cities targeted. 
     At the same time, prosperity reigned, salaries and disposable income were on the rise and consumers felt optimistic about the future. People were ready to spend money because for the first time Bank of America introduced the credit card; that was in 1958. A new home cost from $8,000 to $10,000 and they were often sold equipped with a washing machine and a television. 
     A lot of growth was due to television as many advertisers began to rely on TV to sell their product. Because of a lag in production after World War Two, it wasn't until about 1953 that supply caught up with demand and consumers had purchased the necessities of life. As a result, marketers began to offer continuously updated products which resulted in more consumer spending. Auto manufacturer General Motors had introduced the concept of planned obsolescence in the 1920s and now the push was on to replace cars annually, simply to make sure they remained in style. At the beginning of the decade on 59 percent of American households had an automobile, but by the mid-1950s nearly every household owned at least one car. 
     In the late 1950s there was a big push to coax consumers into purchasing products that weren't necessities. To accomplish this, advertisers began to rely on techniques such as motivational research and demographic targeting. Children became a target market for advertising; teenagers, who came into their own as a separate demographic segment, saw ads for records and phonographs, radios, magazines, soft drinks and clothing designed just for them. Advertiser didn't forget about kids either. 
     Before and after television comic book ads lured kids to buy all kinds of junk. Who could resist purchasing X-Ray Specs? They were sold with the disclaimer that they were only an optical illusion, but the prospect of seeing through people's clothes caused one to ignore the fine print. What you actually received was a pair of cardboard “glasses” printed with red and white spirals and the words "X-Ray Vision" where the lenses should have been. Did they work? If you stared at your hand long enough in bright light, you could almost imagine you were seeing a blurry x-ray image of you hand. Maybe that was because of the feathers glued inside each of the cardboard "lenses." 
     Equally alluring was the Hypno-Coin. Imagine what you could do with a pair of X-Ray Specs and a Hypno-Coin! With the X-Ray Specs you could decide if using the Hypno-Coin was in order. With the Coin, a swirly pattern on a badge that wiggled, the promise was that if you held it in front of the person you wanted to hypnotize and gently vibrated the disc the motion was so fascinating that it captured and riveted your subject's eyes on the whirling disc. You could then proceed to give hypnotic suggestions and commands. Imagine the possibilities! It cost a dollar. If it didn't work there was even a money back guarantee. The only catch was that you had to properly package it for return, pay the postage and...insure it. Hardly worth the effort and expense to get your dollar back. 
     The same fellow who gave us X-Ray Specs, Harold von Braunhut, also gave us brine shrimp as pets. If you ordered them you quickly learned that they could be observed only through a magnifying glass and they looked nothing like the cartoon characters featured in the ads. No matter; they were still pretty neat. 
     A dollar would get you a Frontier Cabin; $4 would get you five of them! And...get this! The ad said they were big enough to hold 2-3 kids! What you actually got was a padded 9"x14" manila envelope containing a tightly folded vinyl sheet that had the design of a frontier cabin printed on it. You had to drape it over a card table or other piece of furniture to make it resemble a log cabin. The vinyl fumes were a problem. 
     A quarter would get you a “Ventriloquist Device” that promised to astound everybody. What you got was swazzle. A swazzle is a device made of two strips of metal bound around a cotton tape reed that is used to produce the distinctive harsh, rasping voice. You placed it between your tongue and the roof of your mouth so that when speaking the air passes between the two metal strips, causing the reed to vibrate. Deft movements of the tongue allowed one to make squeaky, whistling high-pitched noises. It had to be soaked in spit before use. Care had to be taken not to choke on it. It also came with a small pamphlet that taught you "How to Become a Ventriloquist" that gave hints on how to speak without moving your lips. The swazzle wasn't mentioned. 
     The Charles Atlas program promised to turn scrawny 97-pound weaklings into he-men. Charles Atlas once won a bodybuilding contest and attempted to start his own mail-order business that never really took off, so he got into selling courses in comic books that promised to make you into a real man. I guess it was better that waiting until you were old enough to join the Marine Corps who promised that they built men.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Ball Lightening

 
    Whether lore is full of rare phenomenon. Amphibians raining from the sky happens when frogs, fish or small waterborne animals are caught in a waterspout. They are picked up and unceremoniously dropped off on land, assuming the waterspout ventures to shore. I remember once seeing a small fish in a puddle in my employer's parking lot after a thunderstorm.
     Then there are triple rainbows. While double rainbows are impressive, they're not that unusual. Triple rainbows are a big deal though because you can only see two of the rainbows with the naked eye; the third occurs behind you and is obscured by the sunlight. They are so rare that no convincing photographic evidence even emerged until 2011.
     A rare weather event also occurred in the Grand Canyon in 2014 when the entire basin of the giant canyon was fogged in. As the ground cooled after a hot day and cold, humid air rolled in, low stratus clouds filled the canyon from the ground up. The result? The 277-mile long, 18-mile wide and 1-mile deep canyon was completely filled with thick, foggy clouds.
     Another rare phenomenon is ball lightening. Some people have been skeptical of accounts of ball lightening. Were these balls actually lightning? The skepticism began to wane in 1963 when a group of scientists flying from New York to Washington, D.C., witnessed a blazing orb drift down the aisle and disappear through the rear of the plane. That began their research.
     While some people may believed they didn't exist, I know better. Many years ago during a thunderstorm when I was in elementary school a ball of lightening about the size of a basketball passed through the classroom window and exploded in a cloud of smoke. I also remember my father, who worked on the railroad, telling me of the time he saw a ball of lightening bouncing down the railroad track and exploding in a cloud of smoke.
     Ball lightning appears as glowing orbs that seem to occur during thunderstorms, usually following a lightning strike. These floating fireballs shine as brightly as a 100-watt light bulb and they can be white, yellow, orange, red or blue in color and are typically about the size of a small grapefruit, although sightings suggest they can range in size from golf ball to beach ball.  Emanating from the fireball are little tendrils that seem to jerk the ball around and they move slowly and erratically and are followed by smoke trails that form spirals around them. And after a moment, they disappear. There's no scientific explanation for balls of lightning, although there are several proposed theories.
     Speculations about the cause have ranged from the existence of standing waves of electromagnetic radiation to plasma clouds and from short-circuiting power lines to St. Elmo's Fire. While no theory has yet to explain ball lightning, a promising theory focuses on silicon.
     The most popular current theory, proposed by John Abrahamson at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand, suggests that ball lightning is the result of a chemical reaction of silicon particles burning in the air.
     When lightning strikes the ground, silicon that occurs naturally in soil combines with oxygen and carbon and turns into pure silicon vapor. As the vapor cools, the silicon condenses into a fine dust. The particles in this fine dust are attracted to each other by the electrical charge created by the lightning strike, binding together into a ball. The glow and heat come from the energy created as the silicon recombines with oxygen in the air. And once the silicon has burned out, the ball lightning disappears.
     This theory also suggests materials such as aluminum and iron metals may also cause the orbs, and that any atmospheric discharge, not necessarily lightning, may explain why ball lightning has been sighted near power poles, electrical fitters, and even active faults.
     Researchers Antonio Pavao and Gerson Paiva of the Federal University of Pernambuco in Brazil have been working with the silicon hypothesis and believe they have verified the theory with silicon substrate and a high-voltage arc. They applied 140 amps of electricity to silicon substrate, which vaporized the substrate and sometimes produced golf ball-sized fireballs.
     Also, two scientists at Tel Aviv University accidentally created ball lightning with a device they call a "microwave drill." This microwave drill was made from a 600-watt magnetron taken from a conventional kitchen microwave oven and a powerful microwave beam capable of penetrating solid objects. The tip of the drill aims the beam at a solid substance and creates a hot spot in the solid. When the drill is pulled away from the hot spot, the drag produces a fireball resembling ball lightning.
     Recently researchers from Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China, have proposed that the bright glow of lightning balls is created when microwaves become trapped inside a plasma bubble. At the tip of a lightning stroke reaching the ground, a electron bunch can be produced, which in turn excites intense microwave radiation. The eerie orb-light glow is created when microwave radiation given off during a lightning strike becomes trapped inside a plasma bubble. While ball lightening usually appears during thunder storms, it has been know to form inside closed rooms and, as mentioned above, inside aircraft. Exactly how ball lightning seems to float through walls or windows, however, is still up for debate.

Dream Serenity Cool Breeze Memory Mattress Topper

     Consumer Reports mattress pricing reports that Sealy makes models at a wide range of prices, from $500 for a queen to more than $4,000 for a foam mattress. A plush pillow-top (queen mattress only) can range from $800 to $3,000. See Consumer Reports.
     Obviously, buying a mattress can be an expensive proposition and a while back someone mentioned to us that they had purchased a mattress topper and were very pleased with it. It was like sleeping on a new mattress, they said. So, we purchased a Dream Serenity 3" Cool Breeze Memory Mattress Topper at Walmart for $130 and love it. Highly recommended!
     Memory foam consists mainly of polyurethane as well as additional chemicals increasing its viscosity and density. Higher-density memory foam softens in reaction to body heat, allowing it to mold to a warm body in a few minutes. Newer foams may recover more quickly to their original shape. A memory foam mattress is usually denser than other foam mattresses, making it both more supportive and heavier. 
     The Dream Serenity comes packaged in a box and upon removal it took about an hour to expand and it fit the bed perfectly and did not slide around. It also came with a cloth cover that fit very well. We have gotten a good night's sleep and there has been no aching back upon awakening. 
     A common complaint about memory foam mattresses is the unpleasant chemical smell produced by the topper which for some is unbearable. 
     Memory foam mattress toppers are manufactured using chemicals such as polyurethane, so it isn’t surprising that it emits an unpleasant odor. Even if some other material is used, they still have to be treated with flame-retardants comply with the federal standards concerning flammability of toppers. These compounds are called volatile organic compounds. This off gassing is a well-documented property of the toppers and mattresses. Also, some wonder if there are health issues related to this off gassing, but most people have reported that they didn’t face any health issues due to their usage of memory foam toppers but a minority of people reported the contrary. 
     Emissions from memory foam mattresses may directly cause more respiratory irritation than other mattresses. Memory foam, like other polyurethane products, can be combustible. Laws in several jurisdictions have been enacted to require that all bedding, including memory foam items, be resistant to ignition from an open flame. 
     Manufacturers caution about leaving babies and small children unattended on memory foam mattresses, as they may find it difficult to turn over, and may suffocate. 
     Short-term exposure to high concentrations of some chemicals in memory foam irritates the nose and throat. The effects of long-term exposure in humans involve the central nervous system, and include headaches, dizziness, nausea, and memory loss. Animal studies indicate that inhalation of some chemicals affects the liver, kidney, and cardiovascular system. The Dream Serenity we purchased did not have any odor at all. 
     There are some solutions to the smell problem though:  
Air it out – remove all the plastic packaging and place it outdoors for a few hours on a non humid and dry day. If you are unable to take it outside at all, just prop it up in a well ventilated room against a chair so that it releases the smell from all sides. Open all windows and turn the fan on. 
Baking Soda – after airing out, sprinkle baking soda all over the topper and let it sit for a few hours. The vacuum the baking soda. 
Patience – the won’t last long. How long depends on the finishing of the product, the type of foam, the room ventilation or the sensitivity of the person.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Eric Reid

 
I am surprised at how little some people claiming to be Christians actually know about the religion they claim to belong to. Christians believe that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah, but few recognize the fact that the first Christians were a sect of Judaism. 
 
Opry Winfrey has called herself a Christian, but believes there is more than one way to God which is in direct opposition to the Christian belief that nobody can come to God except through Jesus Christ. Something Opry does not believe as she is on record as saying there is more than one way to God. I am not even sure that when she talks about God, she means the God the Bible speaks of. Of late she has been taking people on a "spiritual" journey that includes many faiths and is really nothing more than a marketing plan for her books and spiritual classes. 
 
Now comes a football player for the San Francisco 49ers named Eric Reid who says he is a Christian. I don't know anything about Eric Reid's spiritual condition or his devotion to Christianity, but he is sadly misinformed about the purpose that Jesus had.

In support Colin Kaepernick's social justice movement, Reid has demonstrated by kneeling at the playing of the National Anthem before the start of the game. He also brought Jesus into the controversy by claiming people should ask the question, “What would Jesus do?” Reid says he wants to be a ''voice for the voiceless,'' quoting a Bible verse found in Proverbs and he wants speak up for those who can't do it for themselves. This is a noble desire, but I doubt Jesus would get involved by kneeling at a football game. As a sidebar, some people think that linking Jesus with the protest is acceptable, but when another football player, Tim Tebow, expressed his Christian faith he was mocked and vilified.

Reid, along with many Christians, want to bring Jesus into this protest, but it may come as a surprise to them that Jesus did not get involved in the politics of the day and there was plenty with which to get involved.

 Roman Emperor Tiberius was unpopular and spent his last years in a life of debauchery on the island of Capri; one of his infamous appointees was Pontius Pilate. Tiberius was followed by his grandnephew and the great-grandson of Augustus, Gaius Caligula who became absorbed with power, demanded that he be addressed as a god, and proposed that his horse be made a consul. He also drained the treasury to pay for his life style and reckless building activities, and he caused a crisis among the Jews by demanding that statues of himself be set up in the Temple at Jerusalem.

The Romans kept slaves. When the Romans went to the circus it was to view brutal spectacles such as chariot racing where drivers were hurt in spectacular crashes, wild beasts tear each other apart, or gladiators fighting exotic beasts or each other to the death. If an emperor wanted rid of a particular senator, he would simply write him a letter ordering him to kill himself or else send someone to do the job. Rome was brutal in its enforcement of its religious views. Several wars were fought with the Jews in order to try and get them to accept the worship of the deceased Roman emperors as gods. The fighting was so fierce Jerusalem was destroyed and with it the ancient temple of Solomon was razed. All this among other things. And yet Jesus chose not to become involved in any of the political factions of the day, the Jewish government or the government of Rome.

When it came to politics, the message Jesus preached was about government, but one He would bring to the earth, not one that would come about through human effort. It was about a government of God that will rule the world and that will bring about world peace.

When Jesus was on trial before Pontius Pilate, the Roman procurator of Judea, Pilate asked Jesus about His political aspirations, asking “Are You the King of the Jews?” The answer...”My kingdom is not of this world...My kingdom is not from here.”

The biblical record shows that Jesus was not involved in politics, so when the people ask what Jesus would do in this situation, the answer is, “Nothing.” That was not his purpose. His purpose, and the purpose of His disciples, was to proclaim Jesus as the Jewish Messiah and the concern was for men's souls and how they might be made right with God.

Also, when Vice President Mark Pence left a football game between the Indianapolis Colts and the San Francisco 49ers last month after some players knelt during the National Anthem, saying he did not want to "dignify" the demonstration, both he and President Trump were heavily criticized. Eric Reid, who has participated in the kneeling protests, criticized the walkout saying it was a planned political stunt. Is Reid stupid? Isn't that what he is doing when he kneels during the National Anthem and doesn't Vice President Pence have the right to counter-protest by walking out?

My issue is that if Eric Reid has a complaint there exist many ways he can register it. Start a blog, go on Facebook, tweet about it, organize a political movement or a peaceful demonstration, but don't do it on the job. For all the lip service these guys are paying their cause and all their kneeling, it's not costing them anything. They still go out and play the game, drive their expensive cars, wear expensive clothes and jewelry, live in multi-million dollar homes and draw a salary that's more than most people make in a lifetime. When I think of an athlete like Curt Flood or someone like Rosa Parks, it's hard to take somebody like Eric Reid seriously.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Effective Immediately You Probably Have High Blood Pressure

     The new lower threshold for determining high blood pressure is expected to add 30 million Americans to those who have the condition, which now plagues nearly half of U.S. adults. High pressure, which for decades has been a top reading of at least 140 or a bottom one of 90, drops to 130 over 80 in advice announced Monday by a dozen medical groups. A major study two years ago found heart risks were much lower in people who were around 120. Canada and Australia have already lowered their cutoff to that reading. In Europe is still 140, but is due to be revised next year. 
     What is considered normal in children varies with age, height and gender. After age 13, the levels defining high pressure are the same as for adults. The reason the age of 13 was selected was because it was reasoned that when a person turns 18 they shouldn't suddenly have a new definition of what constitutes high blood pressure. So, the age was lowered and now when a kid turns 13 they suddenly have a new definition of what constitutes high blood pressure.  
     The change means an additional 14 percent of U.S. adults have the problem, but only 2 percent of these newly added people need medication right away; the rest should try healthier lifestyles, which get much stronger emphasis in the new advice. Poor diets, lack of exercise and other bad habits cause 90 percent of high blood pressure. Currently, only half of Americans with high blood pressure have it under control.
Dr. Paul Whelton of Tulane University was head of the guidelines panel and stated that he expects there will be a controversy. Naturally, the risk for heart disease, stroke and other problems drops as blood pressure improves but the new advice "is more honest" about how many people have a problem, he said. 

The guidelines::
Normal: Under 120, over 80
Elevated: 120-129, less than 80
Stage 1 Hypertension: 130-139, 80-89
Stage 2 Hypertension: at least 140 or at least 90 

     The new guidelines mean 46 percent of U.S. adults have high pressure versus 32 percent under the old levels and those having high blood pressure will triple in men under 45, to 30 percent, and double in women under 45 to 19 percent.  
     For those over 65 the guidelines reverse a controversial adjustment made three years ago that relaxed the standard and the decision not start medicines unless the top number was over 150. Now, everyone over 65 should be treated if the top number is over 130 unless they're too frail or have conditions that make it unwise. 
     Dr. Jackson Wright, a guidelines panel member from University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center stated the evidence is so solid and convincing that it's hard to argue with the new levels. Older people have a 35-to-50-fold higher risk of dying of a heart attack or stroke compared to younger people. Duh...no kidding. Cleveland Clinic's Dr. Steven Nissen said he's worried because more vulnerable patients who get treated very aggressively may have trouble with falls because too-low pressure can make them faint. 
     The decision as to whether to start medication will no longer be based just on the blood pressure, but should consider the overall risk of having a heart problem or stroke in the next 10 years, including factors such as age, gender and cholesterol. Unless one has high risk factors the advice is to improve lifestyle: lose weight, eat healthy, exercise more, limit alcohol, avoid smoking. There's not enough proof that consuming garlic, dark chocolate, tea or coffee helps, or that yoga, meditation or other behavior therapies lower blood pressure long-term. 
     One might be skeptical of these new guidelines because they mean more money for doctors and the drug companies now that more people will be diagnosed with high blood pressure. On the positive side, the U.S. government no longer writes heart guidelines, leaving it to medical people. It's claimed that unlike previous guideline panels, none on this new study have recent financial ties to industry, although some on a panel that reviewed and commented on them do. While it can't be argued that lower is better, this alone is cause for suspicion.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Simplified Search for FREE Kindle Books

     You can read Kindle books on your computer, tablet, or mobile phone with Kindle reading apps. The best way to search for FREE books is by going to one of the sites listed below.

JungleSearch is a search engine designed for searching at Amazon. The link is for the USA search, but they also have a search engine for France, Germany, United Kingdom and Canada.

AuthorMarketing Club- monitors Amazon (USA) for daily free ebook offerings. The amount listed varies from day to day. They do offer genre selection.

BookGoodies monitors Amazon (USA) for limited time free ebooks offerings. They list several free ebooks daily and have an individual description of each ebook.

DailyFree ebooks UK monitors Amazon (UK) for its daily free offerings. They offer genre selection as well as sorting by time (including since your last visit). They also offer free listings from Smashwords, which can be viewed with the Amazon offerings, alone or not at all (Amazon only). They have over 6,000 free ebooks listed.

You can download a Kindle reading app for free HERE.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Eat More Celery

     Celery is an unsung health food. Recent research has greatly increased the knowledge about celery's anti-inflammatory health benefits, including its protection against inflammation in the digestive tract itself. Some of the unique chemicals in celery appear especially important in producing anti-inflammatory benefits. Scientists have identified at least a dozen types of antioxidant nutrients in celery.
     Celery is a great choice if you are watching your weight because one large stalk contains only 10 calories, but it has many other values:

•Celery reduces inflammation. If you are suffering from joint pains, lung infections, asthma, or acne, eating more celery will bring relief.
•It helps you calm down. The minerals in celery, especially magnesium, and the essential oil in it, soothe the nervous system. If you enjoy a celery-based snack in the evening, you may sleep better.
•It regulates the body’s alkaline balance, thus protecting you from problems caused by an overly acidic diet.
•Celery aids digestion. The high water content of celery, combined with the insoluble fiber in it, makes it a great tool for easy passage of stool. Note: because celery has diuretic and cleansing properties, avoid eating it if diarrhea is a problem.
•It contains good salts. Celery does contain sodium, but it is not the same thing as table salt. The salt in celery is organic and natural.
•Celery is good for your eyes. One large stalk of celery delivers 5 percent of your daily need for Vitamin A, a group of nutrients that protects the eyes and prevents age-related degeneration of vision.
•Celery reduces bad cholesterol: There is a component in celery which gives the vegetable its flavor and scent. But the compound also reduces bad cholesterol. A Chicago University study profiled by the New York Times shows that the compound found in four stalks of celery a day can reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) by up to 7 percent.
•It lowers blood pressure. An active compound in celery has been proven to boost circulatory health. Raw, whole celery reduces high blood pressure.
•It could amp up your sex life: According to Dr. Alan R. Hirsch, Director of the Smeel and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation, two pheromones in celery boost arousal levels that are released when chewing on a celery stalk.
•Celery can combat cancer: Two studies at the University of Illinois show that a powerful flavonoid in celery inhibits the growth of cancer cells, especially in the pancreas. Another study suggests that the regular intake of celery could significantly delay the formation of breast cancer cells.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

ICON A5 and Misleading Advertising

 
    When retired baseball player Roy Halladay was killed when his new ICON A5 plane crashed it has been raising a lot of questions about the aircraft. The first model of the ICON A5 took flight in 2008, but as the plane moved closer to mass production, complications mounted...delays, price hikes, layoffs. Today the price for a fully equipped A5 will be $389,000, while the base price will rise to $269,000, although base models will not be delivered until 2019 at the earliest. Halladay isn't the first pilot to be killed in an ICON A5. The plane has now been involved in three crashes, two fatal, in the last eight months. This past May, an A5 carrying two of the company’s top engineers crashed in a California canyon, killing both men and subjecting Icon to fresh scrutiny. That crash was the result of the pilot mistakenly entering the wrong canyon with no exit and was then unable to perform a necessary 180-degree turn to get out.
     The plane has been described as a Jet Ski with wings, a high-performance sport aircraft. Technically, it is NOT a high performance aircraft. The powerplant is a fuel-injected, air and liquid cooled four cylinder aircraft engine that generates 100 horsepower. Federal aviation regulations require pilots to have a high-performance airplane endorsement in order to act as pilot-in-command of a high-performance airplane. Any airplane with an engine of more than 200 horsepower is considered “high-performance.” An airplane with a 200-horsepower engine does not qualify. On a multiengine airplane, the engines are evaluated individually (horsepower ratings are not added together).
     The problem is most likely marketing and lack of pilot training and experience. People have been lead to believe this plane is a toy. They see it as a pleasure craft, used for flying on water, which it seems what Halladay was doing. It’s to play around in and have some fun. Flying close to flat ground or water is always very dangerous because it is easy to lose one's depth perception and fly into the ground. I personally know of one pilot who was flying over a frozen Lake Erie and about 50 feet when he hit the ice at 100 miles per hour and ending up sliding for a mile.
     The ICON A5 is sleek and sporty, amphibious aircraft. Its wings fold up and the cockpit mimics that of a sports car. You can roll it out of the garage, haul it to the nearest boat launch, hop in and take off for a joy ride. The plane has been described as easy to fly, it has a no-stall wing design and it’s designed to be a safe airplane. When I learned to fly it was in a Cessna 152 which, if memory serves, had 90-100 horsepower engine, about the same as the ICON A5. A real wimp engine that generated speeds of around 100 mph, again, about the same as the ICON A5.
Cessna 152

     The problem is that Jet-Ski-with-wings description. It’s one thing to rip around on a Jet Ski and get tossed around. It's quite another to skim low over the water at a high rate of speed (the ICON A5 tops out at 121 mph). And, that is exactly what the demo video shows the plane doing.
     Halladay got his pilot’s license in April 2014, took ownership of the ICON A5 less than four weeks ago and apparently only flew the plane a few times. He tweeted, “I keep telling my dad flying the ICON A5 low over the water is like flying a fighter jet!” And that, I think, is the problem. A combination of poor advertising that misleads people, especially inexperienced pilots, into thinking this airplane is a fun toy and lack of pilot education and poor judgment on the part of the pilot.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response

     The other day I read about something called Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) which is a You Tube phenomenon with over 9.6 million videos. 
     Some people claim it gives them “braingasms” and tingling sensations in their heads and necks.  Five percent of those studied in a Swansea University study claimed they get sexually stimulated watching them. Most of the videos on You Tube feature people doing rather mundane things, but quite a few feature things like shaves and haircuts for men and applying makeup and doing hair for women.  Head massages seem popular, too.
     ASMR is a term used for an experience characterized by a static-like or tingling sensation on the skin that typically begins on the scalp and moves down the back of the neck and upper spine. It has been compared with auditory-tactile synesthesia. ASMR signifies the subjective experience of "low-grade euphoria" characterised by "a combination of positive feelings and a distinct static-like tingling sensation on the skin". It is most commonly triggered by specific acoustic, visual and digital media stimuli.

Stimuli that can trigger ASMR include the following:
Listening to a softly spoken or whispering voice
Listening to quiet, repetitive sounds
Watching somebody attentively execute a mundane task
Loudly Chewing, Crunching, Slurping or Biting Foods, Drinks, or gum.
Receiving altruistic tender personal attention

     Watching and listening to an audiovisual recording of a person performing or simulating the above actions and producing their consequent and accompanying sounds is sufficient to trigger ASMR for the majority of those who report susceptibility to the experience. Apparently not everyone, myself included, is susceptible.
     Psychologists discovered that whispering was an effective trigger for 75 percent of the subjects who took part in an experiment. That explains why most of the You Tube videos I watch had people whispering to the point that headphones were required to hear what they were saying.
     Many of those who experience ASMR report that some specific non-vocal ambient noises are also effective triggers including those produced by fingers scratching or tapping a surface, the crushing of eggshells, the crinkling and crumpling of a flexible material such as paper, or writing. Many YouTube videos that are intended to trigger ASMR responses capture a single person performing these actions and sounds.
     Role playing is also an important part of many You Tube videos: hair cutting, applying makeup, head massages, nails painted, ears cleaned, or back massaged, all accompanied by quiet or ehispered speech. You Tube AMSR “artists” speak into the camera as if they were giving the viewer personal attention. This personal attention worked for 69 percent of those taking part in the study.
     Not surprisingly, for some viewers ASMR helps with inducing sleep for those susceptible to insomnia, and relieving symptoms such as those associated with depression, anxiety, and panic attacks.
     Some ASMR videos use binaural recording techniques to simulate the acoustics of a three dimensional environment. Binaural recording is a method of recording sound that uses two microphones, arranged to create a 3-D stereo sound sensation of actually being in the room. Some of the microphones come in the shape of a human ear with about the distance of a human head to achieve the desired effect and can cost upwards of $500.
     These recordings are made to be heard through headphones rather than speakers. When listening to sound through speakers, the left and right ear both hear the sound coming from the speaker. But when listening to sound through headphones, the sound from the left earpiece is audible only to the left ear, and the sound from the right ear piece is audible only to the right ear. When producing binaural media, the sound source is recorded by two separate microphones, placed at a distance comparable to that between two ears, and they are not mixed, but remain separate on the final medium. The result is a more realistic sound. The listener perceives being in close proximity to the performers and location of the sound source. Secondly, the listener perceives what is often reported as a three dimensional sound.
     Not everybody experiences ASMR. Researchers say that if you're not blown away by listening or if you only feel some vague sensation, then it's probably deep relaxation but not necessarily ASMR. Not everybody has the sensory wiring to have ASMR experiences.
     Creating an ASMR video isn't as simple as just filming. Complex videos take about three days to create as scripts with specific soothing words have to be written and the sounds to be incorprated have to be researched. Then testing has to be done on such things as microphone positioning and lighting levels. Then there's post production editing that needs to be done. This is important because one of the first ASMR videos I checked out on You Tube was done by a young girl with, obviously, no experience. It was funny because the lighting was such that you could see shadow of the camera and microphone on the wall behind her.
     But, why so many ASMR videos on You Tube? Because it is possible to make money on them.  Good ASMRtists, as they are called, can see subscriptions numbering in the hundreds of thousands, and views in the millions and many collect ad revenue,and accept donations through PayPal. One lady on You Tube has an estimated net worth of $420,000. Her channel’s content is basically just her whispering different things into a mic, but it has over 350 million views and gets an average of 350,000 views per day. This gives an estimated revenue of around $630 per day ($230,000 a year) from the ads that run on the videos. Of course, most You Tube ASMR videos don't make that kind of money, but they can get paid between $2 – $5 per 1000 views after YouTube takes its cut. That could add up to some extra spending money.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Cats Eating Mice

  
   Given the opportunity cats will chase a mouse...sometimes kill it, too. In fact, many farms have barn cats whose job it is to kill rodents. The cats have food available and the farmer's grain is undisturbed.
     In addition to barn cats sometimes an indoor-outdoor cat will occasionally bring home a small kill to proudly display to its human. Our cat has never been outside, but there's a vagrant cat I named Elvis that frequently shows up at out backdoor looking for a handout and on a couple of occasions she has left me a gift, apparently in appreciation for her food. Once it was a dead field mouse and once a dead garter snake.
     Both “gifts” were scooped up with a shovel and thrown over the back fence into the woods. You have to be careful of the mice. Depending on the region, mice may be loaded with a variety of diseases that neither nor Elvis would want to encounter. Of course, she doesn't know any better. A cat catching and eating a mouse can get toxoplasmosis which can lead to uvitis, which in turn can lead to glaucoma. Although most cats are exposed to toxoplasmosis at one time or another, the usual reaction is mild, but the potential for far worse is there.
     In May, 1993 a new hantavirus, Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) was identified in New Mexico after forty-two people were infected, resulting eleven fatalities. Since that time, the new strain has been discovered in other parts of the U.S., with various rodents, including the common house mouse acting as hosts and the incidence of disease in humans has become widespread.
     Several other hantaviruses that affect humans exist worldwide and have been found responsible for outbreaks among animal caretakers and laboratory workers in Korea, China, Japan, Scandinavia, the U.K., France, the Netherlands, Belgium, and the Soviet Union.
     HPS can be transmitted to humans by handling infected mice, inhaling aerosols produced directly from the saliva or excreted waste of the animal is the most virulent means of transfer. For that reason, it's always a good idea to wear not only rubber gloves when handling a mouse the cat has brought home, but also a mask, and to thoroughly scrub any surface area the mouse may have contacted with a disinfectant.
     Early symptoms of HPS in humans are similar to those of other respiratory illnesses, including pneumonia, and may consist of:
■ Headache
■ Gastrointestinal complaints
■ Fever
■ Muscle pain
■ Variable respiratory symptoms
 
     The condition can quickly progress into acute respiratory distress and pulmonary edema. Since the incubation period for HPS is from one to three weeks, symptoms may not be readily associated with the dead mouse.
     The Center for Disease Control is unsure whether other animals that prey on rodents may be carriers, but has stated that cats themselves are not carriers of the hantaviruses that cause HPS in the United States, nor can it be transferred from one person to another.
     Toxoplasmosis has long been dreaded among pregnant women who live with cats. Cats can become carriers of the parasite from hunting and catching mice. The virus is in the cats' excrement and pregnant women can contract it from emptying the litter box and pass it on to the unborn baby with potential for birth defects and/or death. Healthy adults very seldom are even aware that they have been exposed to toxoplasmosis, however immunocompromised people (HIV or transplant patients) are at risk. Normally though, fear of toxoplasmosis is not sufficient reason to throw the cat out with the liter.
     Other sources of toxoplasmosis are eating under cooked meat and handling garden dirt that may contain the parasite. So, pregnant women and others at risk should always wear gloves when gardening and make it a habit to cook meat thoroughly.
     Mice carry other diseases that are far worse. The Plague, or Black Death. This is the disease that wiped out twenty-five percent of the world's population from the 14th through the 17th centuries.
     By far the most prevalent cause of salmonella in humans is by eating improperly prepared foods, but it is thought that the house mouse may also be a host of the infection and may play a role in human and animal salmonellosis.
     Rickettsialpox is found most often on the East Coast of the U.S. in rodent-infested housing and is transmitted by a mite carried by the common house mouse. This disease causes ulceration of the area surrounding the mite bite, fever, and a rash over the body and limbs.
     The obvious conclusion is that mice are not our friends, nor are they suitable cat food. Thta's probably why barn cats life expectancy is pretty short. It's also a good reason not to let pet cats roam outdoors.
     However, and I was unaware of this, if you want to treat your cat to an occasional mouse snack, they are available for sale online and are shipped frozen, usually in lots of 25 or 50. Honest. For example, day old frozen “pinky mice” cost $0.50 apiece and a Jumbo 3.5 inch to 4.25 inch mouse (I'd call something this big a rat) will set you back $0.90 apiece.


Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Medicinal Value of Urine

  
    It's been claimed by some that one's own urine is the body's own medicine and Urine Therapy can be a very effective in healing certain diseases. The claim is that oral intake of freshly voided morning urine has been recommended for many diseases such as viral or bacterial infections. Symptoms reported during the first days of oral intake of urine include nausea, vomiting, headache, palpitations, diarrhea or fever. Side effects notwithstanding, it's claimed that several substances in the urine are believed to be important for oral intake such as urea, uric acid, cytokines, hormones or urokinase. Local urine therapies include embrocations, compresses for local tumors, whole body bath or foot bath in the urine, use of urine as eye drops, ear drops or nose drops and the use of urine for wound cleaning.
     There was even an episode of the TV series My Strange Addiction that highlighted a "medical" practice that caused many viewers to turn away in revulsion. The feature described drinking one's own urine and using it to massage, irrigate, or coat body parts, as an attempt to fight off cancer.
    Urine therapy, urotherapy or urinotherapy, are terms that have been used to refer to the use of one's own urine as a medicinal aid. There are no medical or scientific data to support this dubious practice, but it has roots in history and in some religious and spiritual traditions. In certain cultures, urine has been used as a skin protectant, an anti-infectious agent, and a tooth whitener, among many other uses, but none of these claims have ever been substantiated by medical research. Even the popular folk remedy of urinating on jellyfish stings has no medical basis and may actually worsen the injury. There have been rare reports of people drinking their urine as a way to prevent dehydration in catastrophic situations when there was no water supply, such as being lost at sea.
     In the TV series, a cancer patient opted for urine therapy to treat her cancer. She not only drank her own urine, she used it to irrigate her eyes and sinuses, brush her teeth and applied it to her skin. The idea of this treatment as a cancer therapy probably comes from the fact that certain tumor proteins are present in the urine of cancer patients. By introducing urine into the digestive tract and other sites in the body, the erroneous belief is that the body will begin making antibodies against the tumor proteins to try to destroy the cancer.
     While it is true that urine can contain tumor antigens, there is no evidence to show that drinking, massaging with, bathing in, or any other application of urine will stimulate antibody production or in any way fight off a cancer. The quantities of substances, including tumor antigens, present in urine are typically minuscule compared with those already present in the blood and elsewhere in the body. The bottom line is that drinking your own urine isn't likely to be harmful, but it has no known medical benefit.
     That's not to say that urine is worthless. Looking back in history urine has been used to whiten teeth. Ancient Romans used urine to brighten their teeth. The Roman poet Catullus wrote, "Egnatius, because he has snow-white teeth, smiles all the time...in the country of Spain what each man pisses, he’s used to brushing his teeth and red gums with, every morning, so the fact that your teeth are so polished just shows you're the more full of piss."
     Before scientists were able to synthesize chemicals, urine was a rich source of urnitrogen-based compound that when set aside for long periods decays into ammonia. Ammonia acts as a weak base when in water, making it the perfect substance for the ancients to use when softening and tanning animal hides to make leather. Soaking the animal skins in urine also made the process of removing hair and bits of unwanted flesh from the skin.
     Ammonia is a prominent ingredient in many household cleaners as it is is a powerful cleansing agent and helps fight dirt and grease. Ammonia is also found in urine and the early Europeans often used it clean their homes. In ancient Rome, vessels were placed on streets as urine collectors. After the buckets were full from people passing by to relieve themselves, the vats were taken to a laundry and used to wash dirty clothes.
     During the 1500's, families dedicated chamber pots to collecting their pee to be used in developing brighter colors when dying fabric. Urine was so important to the textile industry in England that an "estimated amount equivalent to the urine steam of 1,000 people for an entire year were shipped across the country to Yorkshire" to be used in dying fabric according to the Smithsonian.
     Urine can be used to make gunpowder. The main ingredient, potassium nitrate was only made available on a large-scale in the early 1900's. Until then, gunpowder manufacturers used the nitrogen found in urine to make their product.
     Recently a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at Ohio University has developed a technology to generate hydrogen fuel from urine.
     Urine contains proteins and other substances that are useful for medical therapy and are ingredients in many prescription drugs (e.g., Ureacin, Urecholine, Urowave). Urine from postmenopausal women is rich in gonadotropins that can yield follicle stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone for fertility therapy. One such commercial product is Pergonal.
     Urine from pregnant women contains enough human chorionic gonadotropins for commercial extraction and purification to produce medication. Pregnant mare urine is the source of estrogens, namely Premarin. Urine also contains antibodies, which can be used in diagnostic antibody tests for a range of pathogens, including HIV.
     Urine is very high in nitrogen, low in phosphorus and moderate in potassium, so if urine is to be separated and collected for use as a fertilizer in agriculture, then the easiest method of doing so is with sanitation systems that utilize waterless urinals, urine-diverting dry toilets or urine diversion flush toilets.
     Undiluted urine can chemically burn the leaves or roots of some plants, particularly if the soil moisture content is low. For this reason, urine fertilizer is usually applied diluted with water.