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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

British Pathe

This site is amazing. It has 90,000 Historic Video Clips of events all around the world. Stuff like: The Complete WW1 Collection, Tragedies Caught on Film, Dangerous Daredevils  Visit British Pathe

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Sunday, October 18, 2015

How High is That Airplane?

     As a private pilot I have long had an interest in aviation. Also, living 20-some miles as the crow flies from a major international airport, it's normal to see airplanes that are in the landing and take off pattern. Sometimes I wonder how high they are. Sometimes, too, I wonder how high the cloud bases are. Is there a rule of thumb for gauging altitude of planes and/or clouds? 
     Unfortunately there are no rules of thumb for visually estimating altitude. That said, Federal Aviation Regulations can be useful. Over a populated area, or a crowd of people, fixed wing aircraft are required to maintain at least 1,000 feet above the ground unless taking off or landing. Over sparsely populated areas they are to remain at least 500 feet from any person, structure, or vehicle. 
     There is no minimum altitude requirement over bodies of water. However, I know of one pilot who was trying to see how close he could fly over a frozen lake, lost his depth perception and flew into the ice. After skidding several hundred feet he and his passenger were rescued by ice fishermen on snowmobiles. He was fined and his license suspended for reckless operation.    
     In general aviation, i.e. small airports, planes generally enter what is known as the downwind leg of their landing pattern. This is the leg that is parallel to the runway on which they are landing and they are headed in the direction opposite to their intended direction of landing. They typically enter this downwind leg at around 1,000 feet. Small aircraft (and helicopters) when flying on a cross country trip over flat areas usually fly around 4-5,000 feet. This is ignoring the fact that around major airports there are regulations stating how high you can fly at specified distances from the airport. 
     Flying above 18,000 feet normally requires the aircraft to be on an instrument flight plan (in contact with air traffic controllers), but most small airplanes can't fly that high. Also, one has to be instrument rated and most general aviation pilots of light aircraft are not so rated. Flying above 10,000 feet also requires the plane to have a specific type of transponder. So over flat terrain most small planes are flying way under 10,000 feet. 
      Direction is also a factor. Generally eastbound traffic (that is flying a compass heading between 1-180 degrees) has to fly at odd 1,000 feet plus 500 feet altitudes: 2,500, 3,500, 4,500, etc. Westbound traffic (181-360 degrees) is to fly at even 1,000 foot plus 500 foot altitude: 4,500, 6,500,8,500 etc.). Instrument flight is at similar altitudes without the 500 foot addition. The reason east-west directions are used instead of north-south is because the magnetic headings can vary a great deal from true north in some areas. 
     These altitudes are mean sea level, not actual height above the ground. 
Above Ground Level - AGL is the altitude expressed in the actual number of feet measured above the ground. If you could take a tape measure and measure from the bottom of your plane to the ground this would be your height above ground level. This requires a radar altimeter, something most general aviation airplanes don't have. Soanother method of determining the proper height to fly above the ground is required...mean sea level.
Mean Sea Level is the elevation of the terrain above sea level. For instance, if the terrain of an airport is 500 feet above sea level, pilots must calibrate their altimeter to read 500 feet while the airplane is sitting on the ground. That way when the altimeter reads 1,500 feet, the plane will actually be 1,000 feet above the ground. Of course MSL level can change, sometimes drastically, and an altimeter setting is also affected by changes in barometric pressure. 
     As you can see, it's nearly impossible to estimate an airplane's altitude. There are just too many variables. The apparent size of the plane will change with distance and the angle plus you aren't going to know the actual dimensions of the airplane. However, I did find an interesting site that describes how one can estimate altitude using a digital camera HERE.
Another interesting site is Contrail Science where the author write about contrails and science. It contains a lot if interesting stuff. 
This site has a cumulus cloud base calculator that enables you to estimate the height of cumulus clouds at their base. 
For more information on clouds visit THIS site.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Let's Talk About Hairballs in Cats

     No doubt about it, this is probably the most disgusting thing a cat does. Ours almost always pukes them up about 6:00 am and you can hear her all over the house. Fortunately, she almost always pukes them up in the same place, so they're easy to find. It's disturbing to watch a cat eliminating a hairball. It's even more disturbing to hear them hacking, gagging, and retching and sounding like they are dying!
     A hairball is a collection of fur formed in the stomach that is vomited up when it becomes too big. Hairballs are primarily a tight elongated cylinder of packed fur, but may include bits of other elements such as swallowed food. Sometimes they are wet and sloppy; other times they are dry, turd-like looking things. 
a wet, sloppy cat hairball

     Cats are especially prone to hairball formation since they groom themselves by licking their fur, and thereby ingest it. Rabbits are also prone to hairballs because they groom themselves in the same fashion as cats, but hairballs are especially dangerous for rabbits because they cannot regurgitate them. Because the digestive system of a rabbit is very fragile, rabbit hairballs must be treated immediately or they may cause the animal to stop feeding and ultimately die. Cattle are also known to accumulate hairballs, but as they do not vomit, these are usually found usually after they die and can be quite large. 
     No two ways about it, cat hairballs in cats are nasty things to clean up, but they can cause intestinal blockages which are a serious health problem. They are a result of a cat’s healthy and fastidious grooming routine...at least that is good news. So the question is, what can you do to keep hairballs to a minimum? 
     When a cat grooms itself tiny hook-like structures on its tongue catch loose hair which is then swallowed. The majority of this hair passes through the digestive tract with no problems. But if some hair stays in the stomach, it forms a hairball which, sooner or later, gets vomited up, usually on carpeted areas, of course. Kittens usually don't get hairballs, but it's normal for a cat to get them as they mature because as cats get older they become more proficient at removing fur from their coats with their tongues. 
     If you notice the following symptoms, get the cat to a vet because they could indicate a potentially life-threatening blockage: 
  • Constant dry heaves without producing a hairball 
  • Lack of appetite 
  • Lethargy 
  • Constipation 
  • Diarrhea 
Hairball Remedies:
Groom your cat regularly. The more fur you remove from your cat, the less fur that will end up as hairballs in its stomach. Some cats won't tolerate it though. 
Give your cat a hairball formula cat food or remedy. Some manufacturers make hairball-reduction cat foods. Hairball products are generally mild laxatives that help hairballs pass through the digestive tract. 

4 lb human hairball
     Sidebar: It's uncommon but hairballs have been reported in humans. Hairballs are generally seen in young girls as a result of trichophagia, trichotillomania or pica. They are hazardous in humans because hair cannot be digested or passed by the human gastrointestinal system. For that matter, even vomiting may not bring it up.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The World's Greatest Invention...the Toilet

“the architectural space in which bodies are replenished, inspected, and cultivated, and where one is left alone for private reflection - to develop and affirm identity.”- This quote appeared in a catalog assembled for the 2014 Venice Biennale to accompany an exhibition on architectural elements, the bathroom.

This is, of course, a natural followup to the post on toilet paper.

     Surprise...in the ancient world people were capable of designing quite sophisticated toilets. It has been discovered that some of the stone age farmers who lived in a village at Skara Brae in the Orkney Islands who lived in stone huts had drains built under them and some houses had cubicles over the drains. They may have been inside toilets.
     In Ancient Egypt rich people had bathrooms and toilets in their homes. Toilet seats were made of limestone. Poor people made do with a wooden stool with a hole in it. Underneath was a container filled with sand which had to be emptied by hand either by the individual, or if you were wealthy, servants.
     In the Indus Valley civilization (c.2,600-1,900 BC) streets were built on a grid pattern and networks of sewers were dug under them and the toilets were flushed with water. On the island of Crete the Minoan civilization (2,000 to 1,600 BC) built drainage systems which also took sewage. Their toilets were also flushed with water.

     The Romans built sewers to collect rainwater and sewage. In fact, they even had a goddess named Cloacina who was the goddess of sewers! Wealthy people had their own toilets but the Romans also built public lavatories. They had no privacy, just stone seats next to one another without partitions. After using the toilet, wiping was accomplished using a sponge on a stick...apparently a community sponge at that.

     In the Middle Ages toilets were less sophisticated...pits in the ground with wooden seats. However monks built stone or wooden lavatories over rivers. In Great Britain at Portchester Castle the monks built stone chutes leading to the sea so that when the tide went in and out it would flush away the sewage. Public lavatories were rare though and people went wherever they could. The first modern public lavatory complete with flushing toilets opened in London in 1852. Toilet paper went on sale in the USA in 1857, but for many years was a luxury. Not surprisingly, in Great Britain people were forbidden to go in the courtyards of royal palaces. 
     In Medieval castles the toilet was called a garderobe and it was simply a vertical shaft with a stone seat at the top and most of them emptied into the moat. Wealthy people usually used use to wipe wipe with but everybody else often used a plant called common mullein or woolly mullein.
     In 1596 Sir John Harrington invented a flushing lavatory with a cistern, but for some odd reason his invention never caught on. People continued to use chamber pots or cess pits, which were cleaned by men called gong farmers. 
     In 1775 Alexander Cumming was granted a patent for a flushing lavatory and three years later Joseph Brahmah made a better design. Note: Thomas Crapper did not invent the flushing toilet; he did however popularize it.  Flushing toilets were a luxury and did not become common till the late 19th century.
An early "outhouse"
     Also popular in the 19th century were earth closets. In the 19th century toilet pans were made of porcelain and were usually decorated, embossed or painted with attractive colors. Seats were of wood and cisterns were often emptied by pulling a chain. At first toilet bowls were boxed in but the first pedestal toilet bowl was made in 1884. Inside toilets were a luxury in the 19th century and most people's homes had outside toilets.
     If you were in the Navy or Marine Corps or own a boat, you know toilets are called the head. That's because originally they were just wooden boards with holes cut in them hanging over the sides of the ships. They were placed at the head of the ship.
     These days there is even a World Toilet Organization which was formed in 2001 to improve toilets in the developing world. 
     Back in February of 2013 we took a trip to Disney World and made a side trip to a tourist trap called The Holy Land Experience...take a look at their urinals...black marble with golden fixtures...

A Comparison of British and American ToiletEuphemisms

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Paper Airplanes!

    A paper plane, paper aeroplane (UK), paper airplane (US), paper glider, paper dart or dart is a toy aircraft, usually a glider made out of paper or paperboard. The origin of folded paper gliders is generally considered to be of Ancient China, although there is equal evidence that the refinement and development of folded gliders took place in equal measure in Japan. Certainly, manufacture of paper on a widespread scale took place in China 500 BCE, and origami and paper folding became popular within a century of this period, approximately 460-390 BCE. It is impossible to ascertain where and in what form the first paper aircraft were constructed, or even the first paper plane's form. 
     For over a thousand years after this, paper aircraft were the dominant man-made heavier-than-air craft whose principles could be readily appreciated, though thanks to their high drag coefficients, not of an exceptional performance when gliding over long distances. The pioneers of powered flight have all studied paper model aircraft in order to design larger machines. Da Vinci wrote of the building of a model plane out of parchment, and of testing some of his early ornithopter, an aircraft that flies by flapping wings, and parachute designs using paper models. Thereafter, Sir George Cayley explored the performance of paper gliders in the late 19th century. Other pioneers, such as ClĂ©ment Ader, Prof. Charles Langley, and Alberto Santos-Dumont often tested ideas with paper as well as balsa models to confirm (in scale) their theories before putting them into practice. Read rest of article on Wikipedia...very informative!

Fold and Fly...A database of paper airplanes with easy to follow folding instructions. What are you looking for? Distance, Time Aloft, Acrobatic, Decorative and how hard to make...Easy, Medium, Hard or Expert? 

Fun Paper Airplanes...download templates, flying tips and learn about flight. Just print out the template onto standard 8.5" X 11" printer paper. The fold and cut lines are clearly printed right onto the template, and each paper airplane design has easy-to-follow instructions. Don't live in North America? You can download the A4 paper size templates. 

Amazing Paper Airplanes...The author writes: The paper airplanes presented in this web page include my old favorites as well as new designs that I recently created for my grand-children. This web page is made to share my designs world wide with other children, their parents and their teachers who enjoy paper airplanes. I hope that "Amazing Paper Airplanes" will help you imagine soaring with the real airplanes and inspire you to make your own creative paper airplanes


     I recently read this article where bedbugs were discovered in the county employment office and it got me curious. 
     Bedbugs have been found fossilized, dating back further than 3,500 years, and have been found at archaeological sites. During that age, the bugs were used as a potion to try to cure common ailments. They were burned by the Romans and Greeks to make leeches release their hold. To cure snakebite, Egyptians would drink them. 
     They thrived due to the formation of villages and then cities. Civilization grew and the bugs multiplied and spread all throughout Asia and Europe. By 100 A.D., they were a well-known presence in Italy, in 600 A.D. in China, in the 1200s in Germany and the 1400s in France. Heat that was generated from cooking and sleeping fires afforded the bugs a comfortable life in the wealthiest families residing in castles and the less fortunate working class living in huts. 
    Bedbugs are small, oval, brownish insects that live on the blood of animals or humans. Adult bedbugs have flat bodies about the size of an apple seed. After feeding, however, their bodies swell and are a reddish color. Bedbugs do not fly, but they can move quickly over floors, walls, and ceilings. Female bedbugs may lay hundreds of eggs, each of which is about the size of a speck of dust, over a lifetime. Immature bedbugs, called nymphs, shed their skins five times before reaching maturity and require a meal of blood before each shedding. Under favorable conditions the bugs can develop fully in as little as a month and produce three or more generations per year. Although they are a nuisance, they do not transmit diseases. 
     Bedbugs may enter your home undetected through luggage, clothing, used beds and couches, and other items. Their flattened bodies make it possible for them to fit into tiny spaces, about the width of a credit card. Bedbugs do not have nests like ants or bees, but tend to live in groups in hiding places. 
     Their initial hiding places are typically in mattresses, box springs, bed frames, and headboards where they have easy access to people to bite in the night. Over time, however, they may scatter through the bedroom, moving into any crevice or protected location. They may also spread to nearby rooms or apartments. 
     Because bedbugs live solely on blood, having them in your home is not a sign of dirtiness. You are as likely to find them in immaculate homes and hotel rooms as in filthy ones. Bedbugs are active mainly at night and usually bite people while they are sleeping. They feed by piercing the skin and withdrawing blood through an elongated beak. The bugs feed from three to 10 minutes to become engorged and then crawl away unnoticed. 

Bites: Most bedbug bites are painless at first, but later turn into itchy welts. Unlike flea bites that are mainly around the ankles, bedbug bites are on any area of skin exposed while sleeping. Also, the bites do not have a red spot in the center like flea bites do. People who don't realize they have a bedbug infestation may attribute the itching and welts to other causes, such as mosquitoes. To confirm bedbug bites, you must find and identify the bugs themselves. If you wake up with itchy areas you didn't have when you went to sleep, you may have bedbugs, particularly if you got a used bed or other used furniture around the time the bites started. 

Other signs that you have bedbugs include: Blood stains on your sheets or pillowcases Dark or rusty spots of bedbug excrement on sheets and mattresses, bed clothes, and walls Bedbug fecal spots, egg shells, or shed skins in areas where bedbugs hide An offensive, musty odor from the bugs' scent glands If you suspect an infestation, remove all bedding and check it carefully for signs of the bugs or their excrement. Remove the dust cover over the bottom of the box springs and examine the seams in the wood framing. Peel back the fabric where it is stapled to the wood frame. Also, check the area around the bed, including inside books, telephones or radios, the edge of the carpet, and even in electrical outlets. Check your closet, because bedbugs can attach to clothing. If you are uncertain about signs of bedbugs, call an exterminator, who will know what to look for. If you find signs of infestation, begin steps to get rid of the bugs and prevent their return. 

Bedbug Treatments: Getting rid of bedbugs begins with cleaning up the places where bedbugs live. This should include the following: Clean bedding, linens, curtains, and clothing in hot water and dry them on the highest dryer setting. Place stuffed animals, shoes, and other items that can't be washed in the dryer and run on high for 30 minutes. Use a stiff brush to scrub mattress seams to remove bedbugs and their eggs before vacuuming. Vacuum your bed and surrounding area frequently. After vacuuming, immediately place the vacuum cleaner bag in a plastic bag and place in garbage can outdoors. Encase mattress and box springs with a tightly woven, zippered cover to keep bedbugs from entering or escaping. Bedbugs may live up to a year without feeding, so keep the cover on your mattress for at least a year to make sure all bugs in the mattress are dead. Repair cracks in plaster and glue down peeling wallpaper to get rid of places bedbugs can hide. Get rid of clutter around the bed. If your mattress is infested, you may want to get rid of it and get a new one, but take care to rid the rest of your home of bedbugs or they will infest your new mattress. 

Bedbug Extermination: While cleaning up infested areas will be helpful in controlling bedbugs, getting rid of them usually requires chemical treatments. Because treating your bed and bedroom with insecticides can be harmful, it is important to use products that can be used safely in bedrooms. Do not treat mattresses and bedding unless the label specifically says you can use them on bedding. Generally it is safest and most effective to hire an experienced pest control professional for bedbug extermination. 

Bedbugs in History 
Environmental Protection Agency on Bedbugs 
Bedbugs: Facts, Bites and Infestation

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Lurking Under Water

Ocean's Deepest Depth - Icy cold, pitch black and with crushing pressures - the deepest part of the ocean is one of the most hostile places on the planet. Only three explorers have made the epic journey there: 11km (seven miles) down to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean's Mariana Trench. As a new wave of deep-sea exploration begins, take a look at the mysterious world that Also, has additional articles: Why would we want to dive that low? The race to the bottom. Deep diving subs.  Visit the BBC site

Sunken Ships:
10 Sunken Ships With Unusual Stories To Tell
10 Most Incredible Sunken Ships on Earth 
Sunken Ships Revealed After Ice Melts in Lake Michigan

The Mysterious Sinking of the Edmond Fitzgerald - The SS Edmund Fitzgerald was an American Great Lakes freighter that sank in a Lake Superior storm on November 10, 1975, with the loss of the entire crew of 29. The legend of the Edmund Fitzgerald remains the most mysterious and controversial of all shipwreck tales heard around the Great Lakes. Her story is surpassed in books, film and media only by that of the Titanic. Canadian folksinger Gordon Lightfoot inspired popular interest in this vessel with his 1976 ballad, "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.