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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Sen Toku I-400-class Imperial Japanese Navy submarines...

....were the largest submarines of World War II and remained the largest ever built until the construction of nuclear ballistic missile submarines in the 1960s. They were submarine aircraft carriers able to carry three Aichi M6A Seiran aircraft underwater to their destinations. They were designed to surface, launch their planes, then quickly dive again before they were discovered. They also carried torpedoes for close-range combat.
    The I-400-class was designed with the range to travel anywhere in the world and return. A fleet of 18 boats was planned in 1942, and work started on the first in January 1943 at the Kure, Hiroshima arsenal. Within a year the plan was scaled back to five, of which only three (I-400 at Kure, and I-401 and I-402 at Sasebo) were completed.  You can watch a fascinating 51 minute Youtube video on this submarine HERE.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014


     PubMed is a handy US Government site that comprises more than 24 million citations for biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books. Citations may include links to full-text content from PubMed Central and publisher web sites.
     Provides free access to MEDLINE, NLM's database of citations and abstracts in the fields of medicine, nursing, dentistry, veterinary medicine, health care systems, and preclinical sciences. Links to full-text articles found in PubMed Central or at publisher web sites, and other related resources.
     Provides Advanced search, Clinical Queries search filters, and Special Queries pages. Links to related articles and provides discovery tools for other data that may be of interest.
     Includes automatic e-mailing of search updates, the ability to save records, and filters for search results using "My NCBI". Links to NCBI molecular biology resources.

Simply enter your search topics - one or more terms - and click Search. PubMed can be searched using MeSH terms, author names, title words, text words or phrases, journal names, or any combination of these. Retrieved citations are displayed and their associated abstracts can be selected for viewing. A unique feature of PubMed is the ability to instantly find related articles for any citation.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Best 100 Free Games Online

PC Gamer has the 100 Best Free Online Games

Free games are excellent, especially when you don't even have to wait for them to download and install. Webgames promise instant delight. They can deliver a quick thrill and a punch line and then let you get on with your day. But there are deeper experiences out there as well.

Did you know, for example, that you can play Doom in your browser? In fact, you can play whole RPGs, explore intricate works of interactive fiction and wage space-war against your friends. They list their hundred favorite browser games—the best free online games in the world. They have divided up the list along genre lines.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Customer Service Scoreboard

...Ratings for Top Companies Based Upon User Feedback

Only 40 companies out of the 756 total companies with a CustomerServiceScoreboard.com rating currently rank as Acceptable or better. This is only 5 percent! People adding comments and ratings are also asked to rate each company on a scale of 1 - 10 when it comes to 5 specific aspects of their customer service interaction.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Want Some Hydrogen Cyanide, Formaldehyde and Toluene with That?

"That" is cigarette smoke. Here's a list of chemicals beside nicotine that's found in cigarettes and other common products.

Ammonia: Household cleaners, fertilizer
Benzene: Gasoline, motor oil, automotive degreaser, carpet glue, furniture wax, spray adhesive
Cadmium: Batteries, car wax, motor oil
Carbon monoxide: Car exhaust
Chromium: Stainless steel, metal adhesive
Formaldehyde: Embalming fluid, car wax and shampoo, carpet cleaner, fabric softener, explosives, wood glue
Hydrogen cyanide: Insecticide, rat poison, chemical weapons
Lead: Old paint, ammunition, batteries, motor oil
Toluene: Paint thinner, paint, car exhaust, gasoline, rubber cement, stain removers
Vinyl chloride: PVC plastic and vinyl products, including pipes, wire and cable coatings, and automotive parts

When you light a cigarette, you unleash more than 7,000 chemicals. More scary stuff about smoking can be found HERE. They also offer help in quitting.

That said, which is more dangerous...smoking or drinking alcohol?
Alcohol is  the third leading cause of disease and disability in the world.  There is a discussion HERE.


Grooveshark is a free, internationally-available music streaming service and song recommendation engine. It allows users to search for, stream, and upload music, free of charge. Users upload digital audio files, which can then be streamed and organized in playlists.The Grooveshark website has a search engine, music streaming features, and a music recommendation system. The legality of Grooveshark remains undetermined...read New York Times Article.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Salt Binge

     If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure you must change your lifestyle, especially what you eat. My blood pressure has been very good lately but when I took it this morning it was pretty high, 143/75...what happened? Yesterday it was 121/65. Then I remembered...French fries
     Last night we stopped at Arby's on the way home from shopping and my wife doesn't like their curly fries so gave them to me...I ate two helpings along with my roast beef sandwich. Consuming two servings wasn't a good idea because they have hefty doses of saturated fat, sodium and calories. The average daily sodium intake for Americans is 3,400 milligrams per day, an excessive amount that raises blood pressure and poses health risks. In general, Americans should limit daily sodium consumption to 2,300 milligrams, but this is an upper safe limit, not a recommended daily allowance.
     According to a study by WebMD, Arby's curly fries are second to sodium only to Carls. And, according to NBC News' Heart Health just 30 minutes after you scarf down French fries changes can be seen in your arteries. They found that salt-laden foods quickly impair the ability of blood vessels to widen even in people with normal blood pressure. They did a test using healthy volunteers and gave eight of them a cup of low salt tomato soup and the other eight got 10 times more salt. Testing showed the arteries of people who got the high salt soup widened about half as much as those who consumed the low salt version. In the experiment the effect passed within about two hours so does it matter if the arteries can’t expand as much for a short period of time? Studies have shown that this kind of impaired artery function might set a person up for atherosclerosis. Salt can have permanent effects and there is no doubt that people with a high salt intake eventually develop high blood pressure.
     I thought the salt from the curly fries would be flushed out after a couple of hours, but that appears not to be the case. About half of the sodium retained in our body is fat soluble but the other half is water soluble so can be "flushed" out within 3 to 5 days. But the sodium stored in our fat cells is what elevates our blood pressure and it does not "go away" as easily. If you binge on salty foods, you'll likely feel the effects just a few hours later. Eating too much salt causes your body to retain water and the extra water in your body can amount to a few extra pounds of weight and elevate the blood pressure. Your kidneys can filter only a little sodium out of your blood at a time, so there's no magic way to get rid of the extra salt. All you can do is reduce your sodium intake, keep your metabolism high and wait. If you've binged you probably have consumed much more than 2,300 milligrams in a day.

Here are the worst food you can eat, not just for salt, but food that are just plain bad for you:

Canned Chicken Noodle Soup
If you suffer from hypertension or heart problems, make sure to avoid it. A one-cup serving of canned chicken noodle soup has 866 mg of sodium.
This one makes me sad. Bacon is high in saturated fat and sodium and just one slice of it contains 150 mg of sodium.
Frozen Pot Pies
A single pot pie equals a serving of about 1400 mg of sodium. Frozen pot pies also include trans-fat and an unhealthy dose of saturated fat. So, if you’ve got blood pressure problems avoid frozen pot pies!
Several studies have shown that drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can cause to the rise of blood pressure to unhealthy levels. At last, something that I have no problem avoiding! Doughnuts
How bad are doughnuts? Many researches think that skipping breakfast is better than eating a doughnut.
Another thing you should certainly eliminate from your diet is soda which contains 10 teaspoons of sugar, 150 calories and 30-55 mg of caffeine. Studies have also linked soda to osteoporosis, tooth decay and heart disease, plus drinking all that sugar will likely to suppress your appetite for healthy foods.
They are loaded with sodium. Just one can be over 1/3 of your sodium limit (2300 mg) for the day!
A half cup has over 460 mg of sodium
Whole Milk
A one cup serving of whole milk provides 8 grams of fat, 5 of which are saturated. Saturated fats are worse for you than other types and has been linked to heart disease.
Ramen Noodles
Ramen noodles are not a healthy meal. One package of Ramen noodles adds 14 grams of fat to your day AND 1580 MG of sodium!
Margarine - just be sure to pick the kind with no trans fats.
Foods with extra calories and full of sugar cause you to gain weight. The extra weight puts surplus strain on the heart and slows down the blood flow.
Red Meat
A healthy eating plan should include only a small amount (if any) of saturated or trans-fats. Fatty foods are bad for both the heart and blood vessels. Avoid red meat and fast food along with other fats that include hydrogenated oils.
Table Salt
Too much sodium does direct damage to the heart and arteries and raises blood pressure significantly

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Eat More Lard!

    About a year ago we went to a Chinese restaurant where they cook your food right at the table and when we sat down there was a big tub of white stuff sitting on the grilling area and my wife asked me what it was. I hadn't seen anything like it in years, but knew it was...LARD! My grandfather raised pigs and so my family cooked, actually fried, everything in lard. I remember my mother sending me to the meat market to get a big tub of the stuff. Later she switched to Crisco because it was more convenient.

     In recent generations, lard, once a staple cooking fat, has pretty much disappeared. That's because now when somebody says “lard” you think of clogged arteries. But there are lard proponents who claim it's healthy! Something about it’s all about chemistry
     You know... saturated fats have single bonds between all the carbon molecules of the fatty acid chain and are therefore the most heat-stable. Monounsaturated fats have one double bond replacing a single bond in the carbon chain. Double bonds in fatty acids are unstable and can break with heat. Polyunsaturated fats are the most unstable, because they have numerous double bonds in the carbon chain. When the double bonds in mono- or polyunsaturated fats break, the fatty acid undergoes a process called oxidation.
     Understand all that? I don't so here it is in a nutshell: oxidized fats = free radicals. Free radicals = cell damage. While we inevitably have some free radicals in our body, we should minimize these damaging molecules as much as possible to protect health and reduce inflammation. Now lard is typically 40% saturated fat, 50% monounsaturated fat and 10% polyunsaturated fat. The percentage of saturated fat in lard protects the more vulnerable mono/polyunsaturated fats from oxidizing with heat, blah, blah, blah. 
     Bottom line... lard is an excellent choice for cooking and baking. Lard is an animal fat and it is high in saturated fat and cholesterol, but proponents claim lard is part of a healthy diet and will not give you heart attack. They point out that our grandparents ate tons of the stuff and they were healthy. That may be. My grandfather ate pork fat sandwiches, smoked and drank a lot of beer and he lived well into his 90's. Oh, by the way, he worked on the railroad and when he got home at night he worked in the garden to feed all those kids plus he had about an acre of corn he raised to feed all those pigs. The man must have burned about a million calories a day.
     According to analysis published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition there is no evidence that saturated fat consumption raises the risk of heart disease while a low fat diet has been shown to increase triglycerides, which is a risk factor for heart disease. The director of the large Framingham Heart Study concluded, “We found that the people who ate the most cholesterol, ate the most saturated fat, ate the most calories, weighed the least and were the most physically active.” Supposedly heart disease and diabetes have skyrocketed as animal fats were replaced with vegetable oils and margarine. Besides frying stuff in lard makes it taste better.  Top Three Reasons You Should Be Eating Lard...and if three reasons aren't enough, here are Seven Reasons You Should Eat Lard.

Monday, December 15, 2014

USS Cod in Cleveland Ohio


     USS Cod (SS/AGSS/IXSS-224) is a Gato-class submarine, the only vessel of the United States Navy to be named for the cod, the well-known food fish of the North Atlantic and North Pacific.
     Her keel was laid down by the Electric Boat Company of Groton, Connecticut on 21 July 1942. She was launched on 21 March 1943 and commissioned on 21 June 1943 with Lieutenant Commander James C. Dempsey in command. She is now permanently moored in Cleveland, Ohio and is open to visitors
     A handful of Clevelanders formed the Cleveland Coordinating Committee to Save Cod, Inc., to preserve her as a memorial on the city's lakefront and in January 1976, the Navy gave guardianship of the submarine to the group. Cod began her career as a floating memorial in May 1976 when she opened for public tours and quickly established herself as a popular tourist attraction. In 1986, the U.S. Department of the Interior designated Cod a National Historic Landmark. Cod is now a museum ship in Cleveland, Ohio and is maintained and operated as a memorial to the more than 3900 submariners who lost their lives during the 100 year history of the United States Navy Submarine Force.
     The public is invited to visit the boat daily between 1 May and 30 September each year. Cod is one of the finest restored submarines on display. Visitors to this proud ship use the same vertical ladders and hatches that were used by her crew; unlike most other museum submarines, Cod has never had an access door cut in the side of her hull. Cleveland can claim partial credit as Cod's birthplace, since the submarine's four massive diesel engines were built by General Motors' Cleveland Diesel plant on Cleveland's west side.
     When I first visited the Cod it had a tour guide who had actually served aboard the boat in WW2 and he had some stories to tell that unfortunately, no one will ever get to hear again.

Not Sure Which Browser to Use?

The era when Google Chrome was head and shoulders above the competition has ended. Today’s popular browsers compete on a level playing field. Internet Explorer 11 — the oft overlooked Microsoft standby — has blossomed into a lean and fast browser for Widows 8. Mozilla Firefox, Opera, and Google Chrome continue to ramp up their version numbers, and Safari tenaciously scuttles along as the under-appreciated byproduct of Apple’s quest for global domination. Gone are the days when choosing a browser for all your Internet perusing needs was a no brainer. Today, with all the competition, choosing the right browser has become a something of a tough decision. Fortunately, you can’t really go wrong with any of the popular browsers anymore, but there are a few things here and there that give each its own competitive edge over the others. Read more at Digital Trends.

NASA Television (NTV) is a resource designed to provide real-time coverage of Agency activities and missions as well as providing resources for kids like games, art & stories, and activities. For students they offer homework help, learning opportunities, career info, and contacts for students. For educators the offer learning resources, professional development, contacts for educators.

Thursday, December 11, 2014


  It appears that lately there has been a big increase in the number of reports related to a threat known a Trojan.Poweliks. This is malware that works differently than usual malware. It's not a file on your computer...it lurks in a registry subkey that is found in the computer’s registry.
     The trojan spreads via malicious spam emails and exploit kits, especially spoof emails related to a missing package claiming to be from the Canadian Post or the U.S. Postal Service or details concerning your recent purchase at some department store, etc.
     Once the malware is in the computer it delivers ads, deals and coupons on your browser. It modifies browser default settings. As a result, stuff begins popping up like Whack-A-Moles on your computer. Not only that some words may be underlined hyperlinks redirecting you to some spam websites full of ads.
     The virus is an ugly one, too because once it's installed it adds its own entry to the window registry so that it can be activated at startup; also many other settings in windows registry can be messed up.
     With your windows registry all boogered up the computer won't perform properly. This trojan can disable the firewall and the anti-virus program, too and that means the infected computer can be attacked by more viruses and Trojans because ther's nothing to stop them.
     It can also create many junks files that waste a lot of space on the hard drive which slows down performance and it can also consume much of the CPU's resources so that it runs slower and slower.
     Cyber-hackers can gain access to your computer, too. Cyber-criminals mainly target financial stuff like bank accounts, credit card details, passwords and other personal information which may be stored on your computer. Be careful about storing this information on your cmputer! A lot of people have information stored right on the hard drive...like passwords and it's usually in a document named...'passwords.' Keep all that information on a CD or flash drive!!
     Malwarebytes is reportedly able to stop your pc from getting infected but apparently not the free version. The free version does however seem to block it once you get infected. My laptop was running very slow and I kept getting popups from MalwareBytes informing me it had blocked different stuff. They were poppong up every couple of seconds, but only when I was on the Internet.
     I am running Webroot Antivirus and it didn't prevent me from getting it nor did anything show up on a scan with Webroot. I ran a scan with the free MalwareBytes and it didn't show anything either.
     If you know what you are doing there are ways to remove it manually, but I had to sign on with Geek Squad, no easy chore because the laptop was running so slowly. Wouldn't you know it? My suscription expired yesterday! It cost me $200 to renew it for another year, but at least I got it cleaned off my laptop.
     The techie said it likely came from either downloading a program (which I haven't done) or clicking on a advertisement. I did accidently double click on something that opened an ad. I don't remember what it was because I wasn't interested in it so closed it right away, but apparently it was too late.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Reality TV

     Most, if not all, of them are as fake as anything else you see on television.   
     Moonshiners is a docudrama that dramatizes the life of people who produce illegal moonshine in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina, Virginia, and South Carolina. The series dramatizes their efforts, law-evading techniques and life. It should be obvious that no illegal liquor is actually being produced by the people depicted in the show. I saw a portion of an episode a couple of weeks ago where two guys broke into an abandoned building to set up their still. Really? They can't be filming felonies being planned and committed without being party to the crimes themselves. Also what moonshiner in his right mind is going to tell a television crew to film him as he goes about his illegal activities?
     On Cup Cake Wars they try to surprise the bakers with odd ingredients. Actually the contestants find out the ingredients months before the show. The House Hunters is another faked show. After the people have already purchased their house, the show tapes them viewing it then takes them to other houses to make it seem like they are picking between the three. Those restaurant and hotel salvaging shows: All of the problems are either made up or things that had been solved years ago but were re-created for the cameras.
     On American Idol people wait for hours and go through tons of judges who decide if they are TV material: crazy, bad singers or actually good enough to move on. Sometimes screeners toss people out based on appearance. Storage Wars...they stage stuff in the storage lockers. I went to a local storage facility one time that was auctioning off stuff in the lockers and it was obvious they had gone through them first and pulled out anything of value. I left after about 3 or 4 lockers.
     On Jerry Springer the stories, fights and arguments on stage are fake. It is hard to believe normal people would go on television and willingly make themselves look like stupid fools.  The Amish reality shows are fake. Pawn Stars is pretty much made up. Actual customers are not in the store during filming and, of course, they never call their buddies to come down and look at stuff; they're already there and booked up on the item. The Repo shows are reenactments based on real repos. Cops is all scripted...TV Guide article
     The History and Discovery channels really peeve me sometimes. I started watching something the other night on the Ark of the Covenant. Some 'expert' was explaining that unlike the Bible description, it was nothing more than a plain old wooden box because the Israelites had neither gold nor the skills to produce an Ark as described in the Bible. What is this 'expert' talking about? According to the account of Israel’s exodus from Egypt, the Egyptians gave the Hebrews a lot of gold, silver, and other treasures just to get rid of them. Also the Israelites had a pretty good knowledge of gold metallurgy from the Egyptians whose overlaying of gold on wood was quite common. Working with gold was not new to the Israelites. Then in chapter 31 of Exodus, God told Moses He would give the people the skills and wisdom needed to form the gold, silver, etc, and overlay the wood with it.  

Huffington Post Article

25 Reality Shows That Aren't

Monday, December 8, 2014

Latest Fun Sites to Visit

Space News-what's going on in the world of space exploration
Philosophy Experiments - Would you eat your cat? and other tests
According to the test, I don't think it would be wrong to eat Millie, but I wouldn't actually do it.

Hoax Slayer - Latest Email and Social Media Hoaxes - Current Internet Scams
American Pickers - I like this program even though I think most of these 'reality' shows are as phony as anything coming out of Hollywood.

Speaking of My Problems with Barnes & Noble...

    I am not the only one having problems...my wife has been dealing with Amazon over a defective Kindle since August! I have no idea how many times they have exchanged e-mails and Amazon representatives have called her at home to 'discuss' the problem. It seems nobody at Amazon has any authority to resolve customer service issues. The result is there has been a lot of discussion, but no resolution to the fact that the Kindle does not work right. As a result, she tracked down the e-mail of the president of Amazon and sent him an e-mail detailing the problems she has had. Will he answer? That remains to be seen.

Edit on 12-10  She got an e-mail from somebody (not the president, so he apparently forwarded it to some Amazon flunky) saying they would call her to discuss her problem and try resolve it, but they never did. How many times do they have to discuss it?  How hard is it to resolve a problem with a Kindle that quit working?  You replace it.  It seems like even an idiot could figure that out. 

UPDATE 12-13...no word from Amazon...HOW's THAT FOR LACK OF CUSTOMER SERVICE?

     It seems this is a common problem these days. Dealing with so called Customer Service Representatives is often frustrating at best. I understand from personal business experience that very often senior management leaves employees hamstung by not providing them the tools or the authority to correct anything. Let's face it, top management often thinks lower level employees such as sales clerks and customer service representatives are too stupid to make any decisions. Or they may make a decision that will cost the company a few dollars. So they put tight rules on these people that prevent them from solving any problems.  Not to mention the fact that very often companies outsource calls to service centers to other countries so you may get somebody who can barely speak English and lives 12,000 miles away.  Of course they don't give a rat's butt about your problem even assuming they actually understand what you are saying to them in the first place. 
     From the employee's perspective, they are often paid minimum wage, receive no benefits and work awful schedules. Throw in the facts that management thinks they are one notch above being retarded plus they have to spend their days at work dealing with the public's problems and guess what? They simply don't care about the fact that something went wrong with your purchase. They feel powerlessness and frustrated. The easiest solution is just to get rid of you, the complainer. 

     Resolution of your complaint is likely going to cost the company some money and profit is put ahead of customer satisfaction. I saw it all the time on my job before I retired. Customer Service Reps have as a goal beating the customer rather than serving them. Restrictive policies are often placed on clerks because companies are deathly afraid that their people will give away some money. Want to speak to their supervisor? There's a possibility they'll get into trouble if their supervisor has to be bothered with you, so expect to get stonewalled if you ask to speak to one.

     I recently had a problem with a doctor's bill and the insurance company's payment of it. All it should have taken was a quick phone call to resolve the issue. Instead I had to make many, many phone calls and send out several e-mails.  It was a waste of time because nobody did anything. And guess what? It was a bill from the hospital for which my wife works! They would not even return her phone calls and e-mails she made from her office at work. 
     That's when I decided to take matters higher and called for the e-mail and/or phone number of the hospital's Vice President of Patient Services. Guess what? They would not provide me with that information!! After a 2-hour Google search I managed to find the e-mail myself. Fortunately, the VP answered my e-mail within a few minutes and the problem was solved the next day! It looks to me like nobody below the rank of Vice President had either enough gumption or authority to deal with the problem. One person I dealt with told me after I had explained the problem, "I can't help you. Have a nice day." then hung up.
     What can you do to combat bad customer service? Here are some suggestions:

10 Ways To Retaliate Against Bad Customer Service
Bad Customer Service? Three Smarter ways to Complain
How To Handle Bad Customer Service

If you still don’t experience satisfaction take, your complaint as far up the corporate totem pole as possible even if it means spending some time on Google to ferret out the e-mail or phone number of a top executive.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Nook for PC

   My Nook Color was destroyed back in May when our house flooded and it was just yesterday that I got around to installing the Nook for PC app which I downloaded from the Barnes and Noble website. This app allows you to read your books from your laptop. It didn't work.
     I tried signing on to the live chat and the first time got timed out before I could even finish typing my message. It happened the second time, too. The third time I managed to get in contact with somebody and she asked me if I was having trouble with the Nook for PC app; that was strange because that is exactly what I said in my initial contact, 'I am having trouble with my Nook for PC app.' So, she asked the nature of the problem and my reply was, 'I can't read the books I paid for, only the free ones.'  She typed back, 'You can't read the books you paid for, only the free ones?' What the ...! Isn't that what I just wrote?  Anyway, before I typed 'Yes.' I got timed out.
     So, I called their toll free help number and was told to archive and unarchive the books and it should work. I did and it didn't. I called back and was put on hold for a few minutes. When the lady came back she said wait about an hour and something about it takes that long to sync. I waited and the Nook for PC app still didn't work so I called a third time.
     This time the young lady on the help line informed me, 'We no longer use the Nook for PC app because there were so many problems with it. You have to read your books online fron the Barnes and Noble website. I would suggest you go ahead and delete the app from your laptop.'
     I asked her why, if it does not work, is it still available for download from their site. She didn't know, but told me she was going to notify somebody that the app should be removed from the website. I also informed her that their chat is as worthless as the Nook for PC app so she said she was going to make a note of that also for the technicians to look at.
    The whole experience was bizarre.