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Saturday, December 31, 2016

Bacon

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

  

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

Friday, December 23, 2016

The Amazing Baby Wipe

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

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

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Cessna 152

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

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

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

Golden Age of Radio

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

Monday, December 19, 2016

Fun Eye Facts


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

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

Friday, December 16, 2016

Brady's Leap and a Narrow Escape

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

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

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Snowflakes

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

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

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Killing Snakes

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

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

Weather Bug and National Weather Service

 
Current downtown view of my city

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

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

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Calendars for Download




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