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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Can Falling Penny Injure or Kill You?

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Amazing Sea-Monkey

     Sea-Monkey is a brand name for brine shrimp sold in hatching kits as novelty aquarium pets. They were invented in 1957 by Harold von Braunhut, who was also the inventor of Invisible Gold Fish (non-existent fish that were guaranteed to remain permanently invisible), X-Ray Specs and other nonsensical products. 
     Von Braunhut was a marketing genius, but also a personally despicable man. He was born Harold Nathan Braunhut, a Jew, but added the "von" to his name some time in the 1950s so it would sound more German-like. He was associated with white supremacist groups. He bought firearms for a Ku Klux Klan faction and regularly attended the Aryan Nations' annual conference. He also raced motorcycles under the name "The Green Hornet", and managed a showman whose act consisted of diving 40 feet into a children's wading pool filled with a foot of water. Von Braunhut also set up a wildlife conservation area in Maryland. He died on November 28, 2003 at his home in Indian Head, Maryland, following an accidental fall.
     Initially called "Instant Life" and selling for $0.49, von Braunhut changed the name to "Sea-Monkeys" in 1962. They were called Sea-Monkeys because they have a tail that looks like a monkey’s tail. Sea-Monkeys were intensely marketed in comic books using illustrations that showed human-like animals that bear no resemblance to the actual animal and as a result, many purchasers were disappointed by their appearance and short lifespan.
     A colony is started by adding the contents of a packet labeled "Water Purifier" to a tank of water. This packet contains salt and brine shrimp eggs. After 24 hours, this is augmented with the contents of a packet labeled "Instant Life Eggs.” The Sea-Monkeys seem to appear instantly. You have to add the nutrient to prepare the tap water and wait 24 hours before adding the packet of eggs, but there are eggs in the nutrient packet, too. The catch is second packet of eggs also has dye in it, making the first hatchlings easier to see. 
     The shrimp sold as Sea-Monkeys are an artificial breed that undergo cryptobiosis. That is, they live in salt lakes or salt flats and when the water evaporates, the shrimp go into a state of suspended animation. While in this state, known as cryptobiosis, they are in a protective cyst-like casing until water is added. 
     Von Braunhut became fascinated with a species of brine shrimp that he saw being sold as pet food in a pet store and with the help of marine biologist and microcrustacean expert they figured out a way to treat tap water with a mix of nutrients that would revive the shrimp in a tank at home. The next step was to hire a comic book artist, Joe Orlando (who would later become vice president of DC Comics and associate publisher of MAD magazine) to draw the human-like creatures that appeared in the advertising. In 1999 the company that owns the company which markets Sea-Monkeys attempted to revamp the their appearance to make them more appealing to kids of today, but ultimately decided against it. 
     Chain stores had been selling the popular ant farms, but they wouldn’t touch Sea-Monkeys mostly because they had taken a risk on Wham-O's Instant Fish which was a complete flop, unlike Superball and the Hula Hoop. In fact, a buyer at Sears and Roebuck almost got fired for suggesting Sears market the critters. So in 1962, von Braunhut started buying advertising space in comic books. He put ads in every kind of comic book available because he could market directly to kids.  All a kid had to do was send in the money and the Sea-Monkeys would arrive in the mail. 
     Originally the Sea-Monkeys, with the exception of a couple, would die within a month and so a sea-monkey life insurance policy, good for two years after purchase, was actually offered!! Von Braunhut and his partner then began cross-breeding to make a heartier species which was successful. 
     Sea-Monkeys are weird animals in that they breathe through their feet and they are born with one eye, but grow two more upon reaching maturity. They are also attracted to light. When hatched they are about the size of a period, but can grow up to two inches long.
     Originally kids had to supply their own tanks, but in 1962 Sea-Monkey sets that included tanks (Sea-Monkey Ocean Zoo and Sea-Monkey Circus) became available in the late 1960s followed by other “accessories,” such as Sea-Monkey Speedway and Sea-Monkey Fox Hunt.
     A Sea-Monkey Handbook comes with them which offers other products such as “tasty treats,” vitamins and "Sea-Diamonds" which are described as “sparkling sea gems to make Sea-Monkeys happy by giving them toys they will actually play with! 
     Evironmentalists need not worry. Escaping Sea-Monkeys, such as those that may get flushed down the toilet, are not an invasive species because they can’t survive outside of their special environment.
     Males have whiskers under their chins, but the females don’t and you can sometimes see males fighting over female Sea-Monkeys. Females will develop a pouch when they’re pregnant, but they don’t need to mate! They can fertilize their own eggs, a process known as parthenogenesis.  
     In 1998 the Space Shuttle Discovery with Astronaut John Glenn, who, at 77, was participating in a study on the effects of space on the elderly, also carried 400 million Sea-Monkey eggs. The eggs, and Glenn, spent nine days in space and when they were hatched eight weeks later, they showed no ill effects from their journey. Apparently, neither did Glenn. 
     Sea-Monkeys inspired a one-player game which debuted in the early 2000s, but it was described as boring and so it was a failure. The Amazing Live Sea-Monkeys aired on CBS in 1992. The series, starred Howie Mandel as a professor who accidentally enlarged three Sea-Monkeys to human size. It aired in the U.S. and Australia and lasted just 11 episodes. I never saw the show, but suspect that it failed for one of two reasons...either because of the stupid concept or because it “starred” Howie.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Health Benefits of Green Tea

    Green tea has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries to treat everything from headaches to depression. According to WebMD green tea is so good for you that it's even got some researchers raving. "It's the healthiest thing I can think of to drink," says Christopher Ochner, PhD. He's a research scientist in nutrition at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital. 
     Green tea’s biggest benefit? "It's all about the catechin content," says Beth Reardon, RD, a Boston nutritionist. Catechins are antioxidants that fight and may even prevent cell damage. Green tea is not processed much before it's poured in your cup, so it's rich in catechins. Green tea has been shown to improve blood flow and lower cholesterol. A 2013 review of many studies found green tea helped prevent a range of heart-related issues, from high blood pressure to congestive heart failure. In one Swiss study, MRIs revealed that people who drank green tea had greater activity in the working-memory area of their brains. Green tea has also been shown to help block the formation of plaques that are linked to Alzheimer's disease. Green tea seems to help keep blood sugar stable in people with diabetes. Because catechins lower cholesterol and blood pressure, they can help protect against the damage a high-fat diet can cause. 
     Studies on green tea’s impact on cancer have been mixed. But green tea is known to aid healthy cells in all stages of growth. There are some clues that green tea may help destroy cancer cells, but that research is still in its early stages. Sipping tea helps you slow down and relax, Reardon says. A natural chemical called theanine found in green tea can provide a calming effect. 
     But perhaps the biggest benefit, which you get right away, is just taking a tea break. Here’s how to make your next cup: 
  • Don't add green tea to boiling water. It's bad for catechins, those healthy chemicals, in the tea. 
  • Better: 160-170 degree water. 
  • Add lemon. Vitamin C makes the catechins a easier to absorb. Dairy, on the other hand, makes it harder to absorb them. 
     Nutrient levels in green tea can vary. Pricier teas usually have more, and canned green-tea drinks generally have less. 

10 Proven Benefits of Green Tea 
5 Reasons Your Body Wants You To Drink More Green Tea 
University of Maryland Medical Center article


     Nostalgia is defined as a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.
      The word was coined by a 17th-century medical student to describe the anxieties displayed by Swiss mercenaries fighting away from home. Described as a medical condition, a form of melancholy, it became an important word or expression in Romanticism, a style of art, literature, etc., during the late 18th and early 19th centuries that emphasized the imagination and emotions.
      Nostalgia can refer to a general interest in the past, personalities and events, especially the "good old days" from one's earlier life. Scientific literature on nostalgia usually refers to nostalgia regarding the personal life and has mainly studied the effects of nostalgia. Smell and touch are strong evokers of nostalgia due to the processing of these stimuli first passing through the amygdala, the emotional seat of the brain. These recollections of our past are usually important events, people we care about, and places where we have spent time. Music and even weather can also be strong triggers of nostalgia.
      Nostalgia's definition has changed greatly over time, as it was once considered a medical condition similar to homesickness. Now, however, is considered to be an independent, and even positive emotion that many people experience often. Occasional nostalgia has been found to have many functions, such as improve mood, increase social connectedness, enhance positive self-regard, and provide existential meaning. Although nostalgia is often triggered by negative feelings, it results in increasing one's mood and heightening positive emotions.
      Nostalgia is also triggered by feelings of loneliness, but counteracts such feelings with reflections of close relationships. According to one study lonely people often have lesser perceptions of social support which leads to nostalgia, but actually increases perceptions of social support. It's a coping mechanism that helps people to feel better. Studies found that the subjects who thought of nostalgic memories showed greater positive characteristics than those who thought of exciting future experiences. Researchers found that participants who were not exposed to nostalgic experiences reflected a pattern of selfish and self-centered attributes but this effect had weakened and become less powerful among the participants who engaged in nostalgic reflection.
      Nostalgia helps increase one's self-esteem and meaning in life by buffering threats to well-being and also by initiating a desire to deal with problems or stress. It also makes people more willing to engage in growth-oriented behaviors and encourages them to view themselves as growth-oriented people. Also, reliving past memories may provide comfort and contribute to mental health. Researchers also looked at the physiological effects thinking about past 'good' memories can have. They found that thinking about the past 'fondly' actually increased perceptions of physical warmth
There is a down side though. Some forms of nostalgia can become a defense mechanism by which people avoid the historical facts.

      Closely related to nostalgia is homesickness which is distress or impairment caused by an actual or anticipated separation from home and it consists of preoccupying thoughts of home and attachment objects. Sufferers typically report a combination of depressive and anxious symptoms, withdrawn behavior and difficulty focusing on topics unrelated to home.
      In its mild form, homesickness prompts the development of coping skills and motivates healthy attachment behaviors, such as renewing contact with loved ones. While common in nearly everyone, intense homesickness can be painful and debilitating.
      Homesickness is an ancient phenomenon, mentioned in both the Old Testament book of Exodus and Psalms. Homer's Odyssey mentions is and the Greek physician Hippocrates believed that homesickness was caused by too much black bile in the blood. Also, there was a time when homesickness was actually though to be caused by a brain lesion!
      In recent history homesickness is first mentioned with Swiss people being abroad in Europe. A normal phenomenon among the many Swiss mercenaries serving across Europe, it was not uncommon for them to suffer from homesickness. This phenomenon was first only thought to affect only Swiss people until thinking was revised as a result of a big migration across Europe when it was realized homesickness was common. American history describes experiences of homesickness in colonists, immigrants, gold miners, soldiers, explorers and others spending time away from home.
      Homesickness is now known to be a normal thing that reflects the strength of a person's attachment to home, native culture and loved ones, as well as their ability to regulate their emotions and adjust to new situations.
      Homesickness is not to be confused with separation anxiety disorder which is characterized by inappropriate and excessive fear or anxiety concerning separation from those to whom the individual is attached.

These days advertisers have figured out how to use nostalgia to sell their products.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Crest Sensi-Stop

     I have one very sensitive upper tooth at the back of my mouth and the dentist told me it's because the tooth is almost entirely filling and it's very near the nerve. She advised me to use Sensodyne toothpaste regularly which, for the most part, I have. She also added not to let anyone convince me a root canal was the solution because she did not think it would help. If it continues to cause trouble she felt the best solution was simply to pull it. I really don't want to do that because eventually you will run out of teeth. Normally I do use Sensodyne on a regular basis, but recently got a regular brand because it was on sale. Big mistake. Within days, due to using the regular toothpaste and flossing, the tooth had become extremely sensitive to pressure. Upon beginning to use Sensodyne again, the pain lessened, but did not abate entirely. 
      That's when I discovered Procter & Gamble's Crest Sensi-Stop Strips at the drug store. The six-pack has a suggested retail price of $19.99 (a 10-pack is $27.99, and a 12-pack is $34.99), but they were on clearance for $2.99 per six-pack so there was nothing to lose. 
     You apply one of the strips to the outer gum line for 10 minutes and it's claimed it will reduce sensitivity to cold, heat, acid or sweets for up to one month. The strips are very thin and tiny, about 3/8 inch by 1-1/8 of an inch and have a thin coating of gel on one side. So, what with big fingers and thumbs, peeling it off the plastic strip it's stuck to and sliding it into place was no small problem. And, by the way, pulling the actual strip off the plastic sheet to which it is stuck is not intuitive and peeling it off is difficult to do without messing it up. 
     The first strip ended up stuck to my gum and not the tooth. On the second try static electricity caused it to fold over on itself and pulling it apart resulted in the gel sticking to my finger. The third try was only marginally successful because by the time it got stuck to the sensitive tooth, I think the gel was pretty much gone. Also, once they get a little saliva on them they become extremely slippery! The strips are nearly impossible to keep in place and they slide all over and don't form to your tooth plus, apparently, they do nothing to help with teeth that are sensitive to pressure. 
     I ran into the same problem as another reviewer...These strips are so tiny and fragile that they're almost impossible to apply. I wasted three just to get one to stick, and that one didn't do (anything) to desensitize my tooth. The three that were wasted slipped around in my fingertips, folded in half and finally crumpled into nothing. Imagine wetting a piece of toilet paper and trying to stick it onto the side of a tooth in the back of your mouth. Yes, that's exactly what this was like. Total waste of money, and my tooth hurts just from the irritation of trying to put it on. 
     Then, from a doctor...These may work for your front teeth...But they are so small and flimsy that there is no chance to attach one to a back tooth. I ruined three that way at $3.00 each!. I suppose a dentist or dental assistant could do it, by a mere mortal hasn't a chance. Save your money. 
     But, according to almost all the reviews, they are amazing. So, did they work like everybody said they would? Not for me. They are too small and, as the one reviewer put it above, getting them into place on a back tooth seems nearly impossible and so I am glad they were on clearance for only $3.00. They may be good for front teeth that are easily reached, but for back teeth...forget it! I hate reporting this because I had high hopes for the product.
     Curious as to why the drug store discontinued them and was selling them on clearance, I did some research. It seems that back in April the National Advertising Division of The Advertising Self-Regulatory Council (ASRC) determined that the Proctor & Gamble Co. can support certain claims for the product but recommended that they discontinue the claim “1 Strip, 10 minutes, 1 month” and modify packaging to clearly disclose that a single strip may not provide complete relief to some consumers. Other than that, I did not find anything about them being discontinued. Perhaps Discount Drug Mart just wasn't selling any. Or perhaps the manufacturer was selling any. Who knows? In any case, at a clearance price of $2.99 per six pack, it turns out that snatching up 6 packages was not the bargain it appeared to be.
EDIT: I did finally figure out how to get one of the strips stuck to a back tooth, but it requires some careful cutting. First, I took one of the acetate strips to which the small gel coated pad is attached and cut it down and clipped the corners. Next, using a small pair of scissors, I cut out a hole (red hatched area) slightly smaller than the gel strip and then very carefully removed the strip and placed it over the hole. Then I was able to carfully maneuver the entire contraption into place over the offending tooth, being careful not to touch anything until the piece of acetate was properly positioned. As it turned out, it did help with the pain considerably, but it was a tedious operation. Total number of strips used: 5 out of 6.

Also, I figured out why the strips were on clearance. They were the old ones that did not have the modified disclaimer on them!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Major Study - aggressively lowering blood pressure saves lives

     According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute a major U.S. study shows treating high blood pressure more aggressively than usual cuts the risk of heart disease and death in people over age 50. 
     Patients who got their blood pressure well below the usually recommended level significantly cut their risk of heart disease and death. The benefit was strong enough that NIH stopped the study about a year early. Doctors have long debated how low blood-pressure should be, especially as they get older and this report indicate that lower is better and as a result, treatment strategies will likely be altered with the result that a significant amount of lives will be saved. 
     According to the World Health Organization, worldwide, raised blood pressure is estimated to cause 7.5 million deaths, about 12.8% of the total of all deaths. Elevated blood pressure levels have been shown to be positively related to the risk for stroke and coronary heart disease. In some age groups, the risk of cardiovascular disease doubles for each increment of 20/10 mmHg of blood pressure, starting as low as 115/75 mmHg. Complications of elevated blood pressure include heart failure, peripheral vascular disease, renal impairment, retinal hemorrhage and visual impairment. Treating systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure until they are less than 140/90 mmHg is associated with a reduction in cardiovascular complications. 
    Globally, the prevalence of elevated pressure in adults aged 25 and over was around 40% in 2008. In areas of WHO access, raised blood pressure was highest in Africa, where it was 46% for both sexes combined. The lowest prevalence of raised blood pressure was in the region of the Americas at 35% for both sexes. In the United States about 1 in 3 adults have high blood pressure. 
     Normal blood pressure is less than 120 over 80. High blood pressure is diagnosed once that measurement reaches at least 140 over 90. Of those patients with high blood pressure only about half have it under control. Only about half of diagnosed patients have their blood pressure under control. 
     The National Institutes of Health sponsored a nationwide study to test starting in 2010 with more than 9,300 high blood pressure patients where half received an average of about two medications with the goal of lowering their systolic pressure below 140. The other half received an average of three medications with the goal of getting below 120. The more aggressively treated patients saw their risk of death drop by almost 25 percent compared to the less controlled patients. And rates of cardiovascular problems dropped by almost 30 percent in the better-controlled group. Researchers wouldn't give information about side effects until the full study is published in a scientific journal by year's end, but preliminary results suggest treatment was well tolerated. 
     One question is whether older patients need to get their blood pressure as low as middle-aged patients do, or if doing so increases the seniors' risk of side effects including falls. Last year a panel sparked debate by recommending that the treatment target for patients over 60 be a systolic pressure of 150. Researchers will continue tracking participants to see if kidney disease, brain function and dementia were affected by more aggressive care. 
     Most doctors said blood pressure of 120 over 80 was desirable, but that 140/90 was a commonly used target. The new research advises people with high blood pressure to keep their “systolic” pressure - the top number in the reading - at 120 or below. Clinical guidelines have commonly called for systolic blood pressure of 140 for healthy adults and 130 for adults with kidney disease or diabetes. 
     That doesn’t mean that doctors will suddenly begin prescribing blood pressure medication to everyone older than 50 with systolic pressure above 120 because physicians will make individual decisions for each person that include consideration of age and health and the possible impact of lifestyle changes and medications. 
     Nobody likes taking more medicine and it’s hard to get patients to stay on the medicines they’re on now and it's even harder to get patients to change their lifestyle. If someone is eating foods that are bad for their blood pressure, drinking too much alcohol or smoking or not exercising, doctors cannot compel them to do so.
1. Lose extra pounds
2. Exercise regularly
3. Eat a healthy diet
4. Reduce sodium in your diet
Even a small reduction in the sodium in your diet can reduce blood pressure by 2 to 8 mm Hg.
The effect of sodium intake on blood pressure varies among groups of people. In general, limit sodium to less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) a day or less. However, a lower sodium intake — 1,500 mg a day or less — is appropriate for people with greater salt sensitivity, including: African-Americans, Anyone age 51 or older, Anyone diagnosed with high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease

To decrease sodium in your diet:
Read food labels. If possible, choose low-sodium alternatives of the foods and beverages you normally buy.
Eat fewer processed foods. Only a small amount of sodium occurs naturally in foods. Most sodium is added during processing.
Don't add salt. Just 1 level teaspoon of salt has 2,300 mg of sodium. Use herbs or spices to add flavor to your food.

5. Limit the amount of alcohol you drink
6. Quit smoking
7. Cut back on caffeine
The role caffeine plays in blood pressure is still debated. Caffeine can raise blood pressure by as much as 10 mm Hg in people who rarely consume it, but there is little to no strong effect on blood pressure in habitual coffee drinkers.

To see if caffeine raises your blood pressure, check your pressure within 30 minutes of drinking a caffeinated beverage. If your blood pressure increases by 5 to 10 mm Hg, you may be sensitive to the blood pressure raising effects of caffeine.

8. Reduce your stress
9. Monitor your blood pressure at home and see your doctor regularly
Home monitoring can help you keep tabs on your blood pressure, make certain your lifestyle changes are working, and alert you and your doctor to potential health complications.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Mandelbrot Set for Dummies

     I don't know why, but these things are fascinating. I remember spending hours typing in BASIC programs to generate them on my Radio Shack Color Computer and Commodore 64.
     The Mandelbrot set, named after Benoit Mandelbrot, is a fractal. Fractals are objects that display self-similarity at various scales. Magnifying a fractal reveals small-scale details similar to the large-scale characteristics. Although the Mandelbrot set is self-similar at magnified scales, the small scale details are not identical to the whole. In fact, the Mandelbrot set is infinitely complex. Yet the process of generating it is based on an extremely simple equation involving complex numbers. Read more… 

Video on the Mandelbrot Set... Great!

Mandelbrot Generator - Fraqtive is an open source, multi-platform generator of the Mandelbrot family fractals. It uses very fast algorithms supporting SSE2 and multi-core processors. It generates high quality anti-aliased images and renders 3D scenes using OpenGL.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Computerized Sticky Notes

     One of the handiest inventions ever was those small pieces of paper with a strip of glue on the back made for temporarily attaching notes to documents and other surfaces. Most people use Post-It notes stuck around their monitor, but this program allows you to use a computerized version to "stick" them on your screen plus much more.
     Stickies will not mess with your system files, or write to the registry. They store information in a single text-based ini file. 
     Stickies are rectangular windows onto which you can put some text notes and they will remain where placed until closed.  They are there when you reboot until you delete them. 
     You can resize, customize fonts and colors and buttons may be changed and styles saved plus they can even store images. Also, they can be attached to an application, web site, document or folder so they only show when it's on screen
     Stickies are also very intelligent...they can be hidden until a specified date and time, or to wake up every day, week or month as reminders and alarms; they can be set to ensure you notice them. Completely free! Very handy!!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Eating Boogers

    I saw an article on this subject recently. It reminded me of the time I was sitting at a red light and looked in the rear view mirror just in time to see the rather attractive lady behind me digging in her nose. She pulled her finger out, looked at it a few seconds then stuck it in her mouth and sucked whatever was on the tip of it off...I could only guess what it was.  As the article pointed out, picking and eating boogers isn't something people do in polite company, but you've probably known someone who has.
     Bet you didn't know eating boogers has its own terminology. Picking your nose is known as rhinotillexis and consuming them is known as mucophagy. Rhinotillexomania is what they call obsessive nose-picking.  It's common in little kids but it is condemned in most cultures when adults do it. One study performed at the State University of New York reported that people who ate their boogers found them "tasty." Personally, I'll let Andrew Zimmern check that out. Mucous, the stuff of which boogers are made, isn't all bad... it also aids our sense of smell. 
     Mucous is 95 percent water, 3 percent mucin (a lubricant) and 2 percent other particles. Humans secrete 600-700 ml of mucous per day; that's a whopping 120-140 teaspoons! It's not so noticeable because most of it it is located in the back of your nose and it drips down your throat and you end up swallowing it anyway. Research has shown that mucin is a germ-repelling substance that destroys biofilms, thin layers of bacteria that create toxic hazards in many hospitals. Mucous is so slippery that it keeps bacteria swimming around so they just slide on out of the nose. 
     Illness can cause a drastic change in mucous. Asthma and cystic fibrosis can make mucous too sticky and viscous while having a cold or flu will make you secrete far more mucous than usual. When your body's immune system is working hard to expel bacteria or viruses, you'll often get a thick yellow or white mucous because it's full of dead white blood cells. Green boogers often come at the tail end of a sickness, and usually indicate that the normal, healthy ecosystem of bacteria inside your nose is growing back. For more information on mucous scroll down to the “All About Mucous” section in the column on the right. 
     Researchers discovered booger eaters were more apt to suffer from "habitual and obsessive–compulsive behaviors." They also discovered that those with psychotic issues showed correlation between nose picking and self-mutilation motives. Diagnoses have also included passive–aggressive character disorder and schizophrenia. 
     Boogers are made of mucous in the nostrils and usually also contain tiny hairs in the nose known as cilia. Most of the time cilia trap minute particles entering the nose, encapsulate them with mucous and move them on out, but sometimes mucous becomes either gummy or hard and crusty and you have a booger. Boogers are more likely to form in the winter because the air is drier and when people breathe in they're inhaling drier air which dries out mucous and forms a crust. 
     Of course excess nose picking can cause it to bleed, but some people claim boogers are good for you. The article says a biochemistry professor at the University of Saskatchewan claims that boogers contain pathogens specific to the environment and circumstance of the individual so eating your own booger could inform the body's immune system about the dangers it faces and encourage it to build up its defenses. Dr. William Schaffner of Vanderbilt University points out that we swallow nasal secretions all the time, especially when we sleep, so eating our boogers is unlikely to offer any more immune system strength.  In the end, it seems we all eat snot, it's just that most of us swallow it using a more direct route...rather than digging it out and taking it orally, it drips into the back of our throat and we swallow it. How's that for disgusting!!
     Want to read more? There's a Google book article you can read called Eating Snot. Socially Unacceptable But Common. Why?

Monday, September 7, 2015

Jig Saw Puzzles on Your Computer

Click to Mix and Solve

JigZone offers:
A new Puzzle-of-the-day every day Puzzle sizes from 6 to 247 pieces 
Upload your photos and make them into jigsaw puzzles that you can share with others. 
Embed jigsaw puzzles into your own web pages and blogs. 
Send a Puzzle Postcard 

Subjects include: Animals, Rivers & Lakes, Flowers & Gardens, Art,  Cats, Dogs, Butterflies,  Birds, Tropical Fish,  Nature Scenes, and more.  By creating an account at jigzone.com, you can access advanced features of the site, including the ability to upload your own photos as puzzles, competing with buddies, and configuring the daily puzzle. 

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Current Hoaxes and Scams

Many of the current hoaxes listed on Hoax Slayer are harmless, but some are definitely not. Here's a few of the latest ones:

  • Pepsi Car Wrap Money Laundering Scam - Email claims that you can make $350 per week just by displaying advertisements for Pepsi on your car.
  • Reshipping Fraud-Parcel Mule Scams - Jobs offered online or via email claim that participants can earn money by receiving items and resending them to specified addresses.
  • Warnings Claim Facebook Is Deleting Pet Profiles - Circulating messages claims that Facebook is now deleting pet profiles and pet rescue pages.
  • Hotel Booking Confirmation Malware Emails -Notification emails purporting to be from Booking.com claim to be hotel room booking confirmations and urge recipients to open an attached file to view reservation details.
  • 5 Current Facebook Scams To Watch Out For - Facebook is a perfect venue for scammers to distribute their malicious messages and find new victims. Here are five current Facebook scams to watch out for.
  • Don't Get Caught! Fake Tiffany & Co. Facebook Page Promises Prizes for Liking and Sharing
  • This Facebook Page supposedly belongs to famous jewelry retailer Tiffany & Co. The Page claims that you can win fabulous prizes such as a diamond ring, a Range Rover, and a spending spree just by liking and sharing.
  • Olympic Torch Invitation Virus Hoax - Message claims that an email with an attached file called Invitation contains a virus that will open an Olympic Torch that destroys the computer's hard drive.
  • This was my personal favorite: Russian K-7 Heavy Bomber Images - Circulating message claims that attached images depict a K-7, an exceptionally large aircraft built in Russia during the 1930's.

Friday, September 4, 2015

e-Bay Purchases

     Just about everybody has bought something from e-Bay at sometime or another and most of the time everything goes well and there are no complaints. My last purchase was a vintage Soviet chess clock from a seller in Latvia and there were no problems at all. But, things do happen. A couple of years ago my wife made her first ever e-Bay purchase: a clarinet. She received it in about a week and was well-satisfied with the instrument and the service. Shortly after that she got an e-mail allegedly from e-Bay concerning payment for her purchase and  was instructed to contact them because they needed additional information.  It was obviously a crude phishing attempt by some retard. Still, if you send enough e-mails I suppose somebody will bite.
     As a buyer, researchers at New York University suggest being careful what you order from eBay. They discovered a privacy flaw where a user, who doesn't even need to be logged in, can visit someone's “feedback as a buyer” page and view the buyer's complete purchase history. This might not be anything of interest, but then again, depending on what you purchased, you may not want people snooping around and finding out you purchased Porn Star Erection Cream or several pairs of Men's Sexy Soft Underwear Boxer Briefs with Bulge Pouch. Read the Consumer Affairs article.     
     It's good news for buyers, but not for sellers: According to an August 25th post in e-Commerce Bytes a seller filed a class action lawsuit against e-Bay and PayPal for, among other things, Breach of Contract and Unfair Business Practices, alleging that e-Bay has created a "buyer always wins" policy to the detriment of sellers, and touching upon several e-Bay and PayPal practices that are commonly criticized by sellers. 
     The lawsuit alleges e-Bay fails to refund 100 percent of sellers' fees when a transaction is not completed, and alleges that PayPal deprives sellers access to their money by placing 21-day holds and reserves on sellers funds. The lawsuit also alleges that e-Bay forces buyers to bring their disputes with sellers into the e-Bay Resolution Center rather than allowing the buyer to settle his or her dispute directly with the seller, and it alleges that this practice adversely affects sellers' Detailed Seller Ratings. Read complete article.  

e-Commerce Times sellers discuss their problems with e-Bay 
In February e-Bay sellers were notified of a class action lawsuit settlement...HERE 

Risks e-Bay Buyers Face 
    Counterfeit goods 
    Junk and gimmick goods 
    Misunderstandings and unmet expectations 
    Unwarranted and "as is" purchases 
    Unwittingly illegal purchases 
    Shipping damage 
    Long delays, customs issues, and other international issues 
    Identity theft through phishes and spoofs 

e-Bay Scams from ScamBusters 
HoaxSlayer e-Bay Scams 
WikiHow – How to avoid getting scammed on e-Bay 
StumbleForward – e-Bay Scams

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Crabgrass, Spiders, Frogs and Snakes

     My backyard is full of crabgrass, but it's too late to get rid of it. Crabgrass killer has to be applied at exactly the right time of the year. If you spray too early microorganisms and natural processes in the soil break down the herbicide and it loses its potency. Then, if you put it on too late it's already started to germinate and the herbicide won't work. Sort of a Catch-22. Once the stuff has started to grow there's no product that I know of that will kill it. So, it looks like I'm done until spring. 
     There's a ton of good information at The Family Handyman. Other helpful sites are: Scott's How to Control Crabgrass  
The University of Illinois Lawn Talk 
University of California at Davis 

Brown Recluse
     While pulling up some of the worst clumps, I also uncovered a spider's nest...one spider was huge, about the size of the tip of your little finger. Because it was fat and brown my first thought was it was the dreaded brown recluse, but some research has convinced me that it was not. I identified it using a book, Common Spiders of Ohio, and it was a hackled-mesh weaver which is common in these parts. 
Hackled-mesh Weaver

     Some spider spray will, hopefully, take care of them.
     In addition to spiders, the yard is full of crickets and because of the unusually wet spring, I have been seeing a LOT of small yellow frogs. 
     The problem is that with the woods and small swamp behind the house all these little vermin attract snakes. So far I have identified them as garter snakes and Eastern ribbon snakes. Not only are they disgusting creatures (to me), but they lurk in the grass and occasionally when mowing the lawn I hear a “whump, whump” noise. That's bad...it means I ran over a snake with the lawnmower...disgusting! Besides that, while picking beans a couple of weeks ago, some movement caught my eye and I found a two foot long snake in the beans! Luckily, it was scared too and went slithering off as fast as it could.
Eastern Ribbon Snake
A Species of Garter Snake
  Snakes in the storage shed were a problem too, but by spreading lime all around they left.  Snakes in the yard are a different problem.  Here are some sites offering information on eliminating snakes: 

Dollar Stretcher – Getting Rid of Snakes 
Wildlife Education

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Audacity - Audio Editing Software for Windows

Audacity is a free, simple to use audio recording and editing program. It allows you to record or import audio files and edit them. One nice feature is that if you don't like what you did or mess something up, it has unlimited undo capability. Download direct from the Audacity site HERE

Record live audio 
Record computer playback on any Windows Vista or later machine 
Convert tapes and records into digital recordings or CDs 
Edit WAV, AIFF, FLAC, MP2, MP3 or Ogg Vorbis sound files AC3, M4A/M4R (AAC), WMA and other formats supported using optional libraries 
Cut, copy, splice or mix sounds together 
Numerous effects including change the speed or pitch of a recording