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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Great Circle Mapper


     A great circle path is the shortest path on the surface of a sphere between two points on that sphere. Technically, the term geodesic path should be used since Earth is not a true sphere, but the great circle terminology is common usage. 
     The Great Circle Mapper website enables you to display maps depicting the great circle path between locations and to compute route distances. The maps can also show the area which is within a specified range of a location. The Great Circle Mapper includes an extensive database of airports and other locations with a search engine for searching this database in various ways and provides detailed information about locations in the database.
     To use the map to show a route you will first have to search for the airport's three letter designation. For example, New York's John F. Kennedy is JFK and Melbourne, Australia's Tullamarine Internationl is MEL. 
     Once you have obtained this information go back to the Home location and click on Map under Action where it says Map Paths and enter JFK-MEL and you will see the route and distance, in this case 10,374 miles. 
     The maps generated could be used in conjunction with the Flight Aware site I posted about HERE

Further reading about great circle routes can be found at the Smithsonian website.

Monday, May 29, 2017

All Body Odor Isn't Caused by Sweat

     Roman Emperor Galerius, who ruled from 305 to 311, was a cruel monarch who persecuted early Christians and as a result had divine retribution visited upon him. Whatever his disease was, it caused his flesh to rot and his intestines to become filled with worms, so that he exuded "such a pestiferous stink, that no man could abide him," as the religious historian John Foxe described it. Some think that Galerius suffered from a condition called Fournier's gangrene made worse by his apparent diabetes. Eventually, Galerius reluctantly eased up on his persecutions, but it was too late. He was dead soon after issuing his Edict of Toleration. 
     Body odor generally starts with perspiration, especially in the armpits and groin which provide nourishment for bacteria that give off unpleasant-smelling waste products.  In most cases, regular bathing and use of a deodorant or antiperspirant can control the problem. But sometimes there are other causes such as disease, diet and the use of certain medications. Some of these are: 

Trimethylaminuria - a rare genetic disorder in which the body is unable to break down the chemical compound trimethylamine. The result is that patients give off a very strong fish-like smell. There's no cure, but people may be able to curb the odor by avoiding certain products supplements and antibiotics. 

Old people smell - old folks who emit an odor reminiscent of mothballs or musty, old books. It's believed to be caused by changes in skin glands and their secretions as we grow older. There is some good news though...volunteer smell-testers rated the odor of old men as less unpleasant than the body odor of middle-aged men. 

Oral contraceptives may alter a females' sense of smell - a 2008 study showed that being on birth control pills can affect a woman's taste in men. Women were asked to smell T-shirts worn by men and pick the ones they were most attracted to. They overwhelmingly picked ones for men whose immune systems were different from theirs. However, when the women were on the birth control pill, they tended to pick men with similar immune systems. 

Foods containing curry, garlic and various other spices are metabolized by your body to produce stinky chemicals such as sulfur, which ooze out of your pores to create a pungent body odor. Also, some food ingredients such as capsaicin, the hot pepper used in Buffalo-style chicken wings, stimulates the nerve receptors in your mouth and tricking your nervous system into thinking that your body is overheated causing you to sweat in an effort to cool down. 

Various types of cancer can cause the development of necrotic lesions or dead, rotting tissue that gives off a powerful odor. 

Diabetes can be a cause of body odor. When untreated, it can cause a condition called diabetic ketoacidosis. Without enough insulin to regulate the metabolism, the body starts to break down fat for fuel. This causes a sickeningly sweet aroma comparable to decomposing apples. It's most obvious on a person's breath, but it's also given off by the body as well. 

Typhoid fever patients emit a smell comparable to freshly baked brown bread. In an animal study published in 2014 researchers demonstrated that immunization can trigger a distinct change in scent in animals. Scientists believe that humans and animals may give off these odors as a way of signaling to other members of their species that they are infected with disease. 

Eating a lot of red meat can effect your aroma. In a 2006 study published male subjects ate a diet containing red meat and sweated into pads which women volunteers then sniffed. The subjects then switched to a diet without red meat and were subjected to a second smell test for comparison. The odor of donors on the non-meat diet was judged as significantly more attractive, more pleasant and less intense. 

Olfactory Reference Syndrome - psychiatric disorder characterized by a false belief that you have a bad body odor. Your nose picks up the chemicals that create aromas, but the brain tells you what the smell is. That's one reason that patients who suffer from Alzheimer's disease and other neurological disorders sometimes experience a loss of their olfactory abilities.

5 Things Your Body Odor Says About You 
Stinking Hollywood Celebrities

Thursday, May 25, 2017


     After watching two opossums cavorting in the neighbor's back yard yesterday it left me intrigued by these fascinating critters. There are more than 60 species of opossum, but the one that most people think of, if they think of them at all, is the common opossum, or as it is sometimes called, the Virginia opossum. 
     However, they are two different species. The common opossum's scientific name is Didelphis marsupialis, and the Virginia opossum's scientific name is Didelphis virginiana. These types of opossums have a cone-shaped nose with a pink tip, a long hairless tail, and white, gray and black fur. 
     The common opossum and Virginia opossum are found in the United States, Mexico, Central America, South America and Canada. There are several dozen different species of opossum, which are often called possums in North America. The most notable is the Virginia opossum or common opossum—the only marsupial (pouched mammal) found in the United States and Canada. 
     Males have forked penises and it was once thought that the reason for this was that they bred with the female's nose. It was thought that once the babies were born, the mother would sneeze the babies into her pouch. Of course that's not true! 
     A female opossum gives birth to helpless young which are as tiny as honeybees. Babies immediately crawl into the mother's pouch,where they continue to develop. As they get larger, they will go in and out of the pouch and sometimes ride on the mother's back as she hunts for food. Opossums may give birth to as many as 20 babies in a litter, but fewer than half of them survive. Some never even make it as far as the pouch. 
     Adult Opossums are about the size of small dogs, about 2.5 feet nose to tail, and weigh about 8.5 to 13 pounds. Opossums reproduce twice a year and once mating is done, the male, called a jack, leaves and doesn't return. After a gestation of just 12 to 13 days, female opossums, called jills, give birth. The babies are called joeys and stay with their mother for about 100 days. Opossums only live for one to two years. 
     Opossums aren't picky about where they hang out, but they love trees and will stay in them as much as possible. They also prefer areas that are wet, like marshes, swamps and streams. Being nocturnal, they spend nights searching for food. Though they don't hibernate, but slow down during the winter. They live in burrows that they fill with dry leaves or even shredded paper and fat reserves help keep them warm. In the summer they lick themselves and cover their fur in spit to keep cool. 
     Opossums are omnivores, which means they eat both vegetation and meat and are not picky about their food and can often be found scavenging though trash. They will also eat nuts, grass and fruit. They hunt insects, mice, wild birds, snakes, worms and chickens. In the city they will eat roadkill and garbage. 
     Opossums really do play dead. One article stated that when threatened by dogs, foxes, or bobcats, opossums sometimes flop onto their sides and lie on the ground with their eyes closed or staring fixedly into space. They extend their tongues and generally appear to be dead. Hopefully, this trick may put a predator off its guard and allow the opossum an opportunity to make its escape. However, several years ago our dog had one cornered next to the fence and was barking wildly at it. When I went to retrieve the dog, the opossum was bearing its teeth and making a hissing, growling noise. After the dog was safely in the house, the opossum laid motionless next to the fence for about 30 minutes before getting up and moving on. My impression was that it would, indeed, defend itself and only played dead after the danger was over. Though opossums will hiss at humans, they are rarely aggressive.
     Like other marsupials, opossums have thumbs, called an opposable hallux, on their front and back paws. Their tails are prehensile and can be used to help them climb and hold onto tree branches. They also have sharp claws which dig into bark. 
     They are also immune to snake bites, bee stings and other toxins, They are sometimes hunted as food, particularly in the southern United States. 
     Possum is greasy and depending on its diet may taste horrible. If it ate mostly human garbage then the meat will have an unpleasant smell and should not be eaten.  However, if it lived in a rural area and ate mostly bugs and fruit and such, then its likely to taste better.
     To clean a opossum you make an incision the entire length of the abdomen, remove all the organs. Remove the feet and head. Make another incision down the length each leg...if the possum is still warm, the skin and fur will slide right off. If it has cooled you may need to pull back a small amount of the skin and start cutting it off of the body. There is a small fat layer under the skin and it should be removed.  After you are done removing the skin  it's ready to cook.

Opossum recipies

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

How Clean is That Restaurant?

  The other day my wife and I stopped at a locally popular sports restaurant for a meal. We ordered a nacho appetizer, Cokes and a specialty hamburger. When our hamburgers arrived they both tasted like the meat was spoiled. We called the waitress over and informed her and she commented, “Sorry about that” then asked if we wanted another burger. When I replied we did not want another one made with rotten meat, she asked if we wanted something else. We felt that if the hamburger meat was spoiled then there was a good chance the other food was probably not good either and asked for the check for our nachos and Cokes. I was somewhat surprised when we were actually presented with a bill; in most restaurants the manager would have been summoned and tried to make things right and we would have not charged for anything. 
     Restaurants are inspected and their reports are on file. The goal of the inspections are to reduce the number of food-borne illnesses. In most counties in the US, public health inspectors have a responsibility to inspect all food premises. Inspections are generally surprise visits where they conduct the following types of inspections: 
1) Routine compliance inspections: An inspection to ensure the food premises is following health regulations 
2) Follow-up inspections to ensure that required corrections have been made.
3) Complaint inspection: If someone complains about a food premises an inspection will be made.
4) Outbreak investigation: An inspection is done because an illness has been linked to the food premises. 

     The number of routine inspections in a year depends on the risk rating (high, moderate, or low) given to a food premises by their public health inspector. The minimum number of inspections is: 
High risk premises: Not less then once every four months 
Moderate risk premises: Not less then once every six months 
Low risk premises: Not less then once every 12 months 

Some of the things that are used to decide the risk rating are: 
Types of food prepared and sold 
How food is prepared 
Equipment used 
Food safety management program in place 
Food safety knowledge of staff 
Type of patrons (e.g., hospital, restaurant, nursing home) 
Past and current compliance record of the food premises 

    You can go on line to your county's health department and in most cases all restaurant inspections will be available online. In a few cases though, they will have to be requested.  In my county all inspections are available online. 
    Here are some of the violations I found for places where we eat occasionally. Some are minor, some not. 

* Person in charge was unable to demonstrate proper knowledge of food safety. 
* Ammonium sanitizing solution did not meet the minimum requirements for concentration. 
* Soiled equipment food contact surfaces and utensils were not effectively cleaned. 
* Interior of the ice machine to be heavily soiled. 
* Ice being used for food after it was used as a coolant Liquid and powdered cleaners stored in a cabinet above boxes of food ingredients. 
* Foods were not being held at the proper temperature. 
* Food-contact surfaces or utensils are dirty. 
* Food on display was not properly protected from contamination by consumers 
* Food that had been date marked was not properly discarded when required.  
* Soda nozzle was observed to have mold growth.
     It might not be a bad idea to check out the places you eat.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Grilling Steaks - Here's How

     America's Test Kitchen is a must watch for me on Saturday mornings because their cooks show you how to make good old comfort food, not fancy dishes that require a trip to the grocery store to load up on special ingredients. Most everything they do on the show has items that are found in just about any kitchen. 
     America's Test Kitchen is a half-hour cooking show distributed to public television stations and it is also available in most Canadian markets. Christopher Kimball hosted the show's first 16 seasons, while he was editor-in-chief of Cook's Illustrated, but due to a contract dispute he no longer does so. The new co-hosts Julia Collin Davison and Bridget Lancaster. 
     A typical episode of the show consists primarily of two or three recipes that are consistent with the theme of the episode. Each recipe is presented by the hosts who explain common problems that can occur when cooking the recipe and periodically throughout the episode, other segments are inserted, usually consisting of two or more of the following: 
1) An Equipment Corner segment, which reviews and ranks kitchen gadgets 
2) A Tasting Lab segment, where an ingredient or prepared food product is run through a tasting panel and taste-tested by the hosts. 
3) A Science Desk segment, discussing the science behind a pertinent technique used in the recipe 
4) A Quick Tips segment, demonstrating tips and tricks from Cook's Illustrated magazine and viewers' mail. 

By the way, their cookbook, The Complete America's Test Kitchen Cookbook, is over 1000 pages, is simply outstanding and the price is ridiculously cheap.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Please Fondle the Merchandise

     According to new studies, when we touch something while shopping it affects what we buy. The authors suggest that tactile exposure to the object activated the conceptual representation of that object, which then facilitated subsequent mental processing of the given object.  The things we touch while shopping can affect what we buy according to studies by Bocconi Department of Marketing's Zachary Estes and University of Innsbruck's Mathias Streicher. See Youtube video HERE
     In an article published in Applied Cognitive Psychology they conducted a series of experiments and showed that blindfolded people induced to hold familiar products (a bottle of Coke, for example) under the guise of estimating its weight were quicker in recognizing the brand name of the product when it slowly appeared on a screen, included the product more frequently in a list of brands of the same category and chose that product more often among others as a reward for having participated in the experiment. 
     The authors suggest that tactile exposure to the object "activated the conceptual representation of that object, which then facilitated subsequent processing of the given object." 
     In another article published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology, in another series of experiments it was demonstrated that grasping an object can facilitate visual processing and choice of other seen products of the same shape and size. For instance, when you're holding your mobile phone in your hand, you may be more likely to choose a KitKat candy bar than a Snickers, because the KitKat is shaped more like your phone. 
     Consumers are significantly more likely to choose the product that is similar to the shape of whatever is in their hand. For instance, when given a choice between a bottle of Coke and a can of Red Bull, participants who held a bottle of Fanta were more likely to choose a bottle of Coke, but those who held a can of Fanta more often chose the can of Red Bull. 
     These studies show that our hands can lead us to choose certain products. However, there are two caveats to this, one situational and one personal. 
     The situational constraint has to do with visual density. That is, some product arrays are very sparse with plenty of space between them, whereas others are very dense with many products placed right next to one another. It turns out that when the visual array is overcrowded the hands have an even larger influence on product choice. "As visual perception becomes less reliable," the authors write, "tactile perception assumes a greater role in the recognition of object shape." 
     The second constraint is more personal: it depends on one's "need for touch," or how much people like to touch products while shopping. Some people really like to pick products up and feel them and others don't. As expected, the hands have much more influence on product choice among consumers who like to handle products. 
     These results have direct implications for product and package designers and marketing managers.  For one thing, distinctive product shapes like Coca-Cola's iconic bottle design can provide a powerful source of brand identity and recognition. Second, consumers tend to choose products that are shaped like the things they often hold, a mobile phone, a wallet or a computer mouse, when shopping online. Product designers could create packages that mimic those commonly held forms and marketing managers can accentuate this effect of product touch by placing several products near one another and by encouraging consumers to touch the products on display.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Jimmie Rodgers

     James Charles "Jimmie" Rodgers (September 8, 1897 – May 26, 1933) was an American country singer in the early 20th century, known most widely for his rhythmic yodeling. Among the first country music superstars and pioneers, Rodgers was also known as "The Singing Brakeman", "The Blue Yodeler", and "The Father of Country Music". 
     According to tradition, Rodgers' birthplace is usually listed as Meridian, Mississippi, but in documents signed by Rodgers later in life, his birthplace was listed as Geiger, Alabama, the home of his paternal grandparents. However, historians who have researched the circumstances still identify Pine Springs, Mississippi as his birthplace. Rodgers' mother died when he was about six or seven years old and as the youngest of three sons, he spent the next few years living with various relatives in southeast Mississippi and southwest Alabama. After the death of his mother he eventually returned home to live with his father, a maintenance-of-way foreman on the Mobile and Ohio Railroad, who had settled with a new wife in Meridian. 
     By age 13, he had twice organized and begun traveling shows, only to be brought home by his father. His father found Rodgers his first job working on the railroad as a water boy. Here he was further taught to pick and strum by rail workers and hobos. As a water boy, he would have been exposed to the work chants of the African American railroad workers known as gandy dancers. A few years later, he became a brakeman on the New Orleans and Northeastern Railroad. 
     In 1924 at age 27, Rodgers contracted tuberculosis which temporarily ended his railroad career, but at the same time gave him the chance to get back to the entertainment industry. He organized a traveling road show and performed across the Southeastern United States until, once again, he was forced home after a cyclone destroyed his tent. He returned to railroad work as a brakeman in Miami, Florida, but eventually his illness cost him his job. He relocated to Tucson, Arizona, and was employed as a switchman by the Southern Pacific Railroad. 
     Less than a year later he traveled to Asheville, North Carolina where he had an oppotunity to perform for the first time on Asheville's first radio station. A few months later, Rodgers recruited a group from Bristol, Tennessee, called the Tenneva Ramblers and secured a weekly slot on the station listed as "The Jimmie Rodgers Entertainers". 
     In the summer of 1927, Rodgers and his group arrived in Bristol, Tennessee for an audition and the next day it was agreed that they would be recorded. As the band discussed how they would be billed on the record, an argument ensued, the band broke up, and Rodgers arrived at the recording session the next morning alone. That was one story. In another version Rodgers had taken some guitars on consignment and sold them but did not pay back the music stores which supplied the guitars and it was that action that caused the band to break up. For two test recordings Rodgers received $100. 
     In November Rodgers headed to New York City in an effort to arrange another session and requested that his sister-in-law help him write some songs. She co-wrote, or wrote nearly 40 songs for Rodgers. In the next two years, this recording sold nearly half a million copies, rocketing Rodgers into stardom and he sold out shows every time he performed.
     Rodgers' next-to-last recordings were made in August, 1932 and the tuberculosis clearly was getting the better of him. He had given up touring by that time, but did have a weekly radio show in San Antonio, Texas, where he had relocated. Earnings from his recordings enabled Rodgers to build a large house in Kerrville, Texas. It was not in Rodgers' make-up to stay still, though, and his constant touring and recording schedule only hurt his chances of recovery. 
     With the country in the grip of the Depression, in May, 1933 Rodgers traveled to New York City for a group of sessions beginning May 17. He started these sessions recording alone and completed four songs on the first day. When he returned to the studio after a day's rest, he had to record sitting down and soon retired to his hotel in hopes of regaining enough energy to finish the songs he had been rehearsing. Rodgers came back to the studio a few days later and recorded a few more songs. During his last recording session he was so weakened that he needed to rest on a cot between songs. Jimmie Rodgers died on May 26, 1933 from a pulmonary hemorrhage while staying at his hotel.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Growing Green Beans and Tomatoes

     In this neck of the woods the time to plants gardens is drawing nigh. My favorite garden vegetables are green beans and tomatoes. 

Green Beans - There are a variety of green beans, but I always grow snap beans. These beans require full sun and grow about 7 inches long. 
     Seeds should be planted 8 to 12 inches apart in well-drained, nutrient-rich soil. The soil must be consistently moist throughout the growing season. 
     Established beans can get by on half-an-inch of water per week which is about half of what tomatoes require. Beans are not frost-tolerant and even a light frost can damage plants. If frost is threatened, the plants need to be covered. In the case of flowering plants, temperatures below 55 degrees F. or above 90 degrees F. cause flowers to drop off. 
     Soil that’s too rich in nitrogen can cause plants to produce leaves but no blooms. Also watch out for slugs, cutworms, Mexican bean beetles, Japanese beetles, and flea beetles. In my backyard rabbits are frequent visitors to the bean patch. The worst part about picking beans is that occasionally one finds an Eastern garter snake lurking among the plants.
Eastern Garter Snake
     Garter snakes are close relatives of water snakes and are slender and may attain a length of 3 feet or more, but are usually 18 to 26 inches long. Rumor has it that you CAN eat a garter snakes, so theoretically they COULD be prepared with the beans.   If anyone is interested, this article tells you how to cook a snake.

Tomatoes - Choosing tomato varieties can be confusing because there are so many, but my preference is for Beefsteak and Cherry tomatoes. You can use seeds, but I have had the best luck buying potted plants at the local greenhouse. 
     Tomatoes require warmth and should be planted in late spring and early summer. They need a prime, sunny spot with at least 6 to 8 hours of sun to bring out their best flavors. You will need stakes, a trellis or cage to keep them off the ground. Depending on the variety they should be spaced 2-3 feet apart, or if growing in containers, you’ll need an 18-24 inch pot. 
    Tomatoes suck up nutrients and grow best in soil with pH ranges from 6.2 to 6.8. The best fertilizer I have found is Miracle-Gro Shake ‘N Feed. 
     To grow a really strong plant, burying two-thirds of the stem when planting is usually recommended. Cover the ground with 2 to 4 inches of mulch to minimize weeds and help keep the soil evenly moist. Straw and shredded leaves will work. 
     They also need a lot of water and a soaker hose is ideal, but lacking that, make sure they get plenty of water. After planting water regularly; the “book” says at least an inch of moisture per week. If the top inch of the soil is dry, it’s time to water.  

Sauteed Green Beans & Cherry Tomatoes   
Southern Style Green Bean and Potato Recipe

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Morning vs. Night People

     A morning person is someone who generally feels at their best during the hours before noon. Night owls are characterized by their unconventional and up-all-night lifestyle. Their sleeping schedules are not in sync with morning people as they reach their peak performance while most are asleep. 
     Many morning people feel energized when the day is just beginning and often find the early hours are ideal for taking care of routine matters. The night owl typically feels best later in the day or during the night. 
     Some scientists suggest a morning person's preference for the early morning hours is partially based on genetics, particularly on a gene that affects a person's circadian rhythm and response to sunlight. This type of person has a natural sleep cycle that depends on a bright light source arriving at the proper time. If they do not experience this light cue during the early morning hours they may feel just as groggy as a night owl forced to wake up too soon. 
     Conversely, a night owl can sometimes learn to become a morning person by deliberately turning on a bright light source upon waking in the morning. Moving the alarm clock away from the bed can also prevent a night owl from hitting the snooze button too often. But, converting will not happen overnight, no pun intended.  Sleep experts suggest that individuals go to bed no later than 10 o'clock at night, avoiding eating or watching television just before bedtime and maintaining an early wake-up schedule every day of the week, including weekends. Eventually, the body will adapt to the change in light cues.  
     There are three groups of people, those who stay up late, wake up early and fall somewhere in between, make up what are called chronotypes, or time types. We all have a genetically-determined clock. For most, those internal clocks, called circadian rhythm, are naturally set on a cycle that’s just slightly longer than 24 hours. About a quarter of the population has a circadian rhythm that runs slightly longer than 24 hours, which causes those people to want to stay up late. Another quarter of the population has a circadian rhythm that runs slightly shorter than 24 hours, which causes those people to wake up earlier in the morning. With age chronotypes do shift, at least slightly. Adolescents are more likely to be evening-types. And as total sleep time shortens as we age, older folks gravitate toward the morning-type end of the spectrum.

# Morning people are happier and likely to have a sunnier disposition than a night owl, experience positive emotions and feel healthier. 
# In a 2008 study of college students at a Texas University, the students who identified as morning-type people had GPAs that were a full point higher than those of their evening-type peers. A likely explanation is that they go to sleep earlier, skip potentially-distracting nighttime activities and they’re also driven to wake up earlier. 
# A morning person usually awakens very quickly with very little fogginess and is ready for a high level of activity very quickly. 
# They’re more productive, especially when it comes to anything that’s cognitively challenging. 
# They’re more conscientious and conscientious people are also more efficient, organized and goal-oriented, and they also typically pay more attention to details, plan ahead and act more proactively when faced with a problem. 
# They’re at lower risk for depression. Some studies have linked the desire to stay up late with higher rates of depression. In a small 2013 study, morning people were less likely than night owls to possess personality characteristics like narcissism, Machiavellianism (a person may be manipulative) and psychopathy. 
# They may be nicer. 

Night owls traits: 
# Night owls are more creative than morning people. A 2006 study published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences found when it came to completing an activity based on originality, elaboration, fluidity, and flexibility factors, evening types tested based on this criteria. This suggests nocturnal types are more likely to be creative because of their non-conventional spirit enabled them to find alternative and original solutions. 
# Night owls score higher on general intelligence tests. A 2013 study published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences found night owls tend to score higher on inductive reasons tests, which is related to general intelligence. These traits tend to be associated with greater occupational success and higher incomes. Ben Franklin advocated a famous saying: “early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” He was wrong. There is no scientific evidence that following his advice about going to bed and getting up early is associated with any health, socioeconomic, or cognitive advantage. If anything, night owls were wealthier than morning people and there was no difference in their health or wisdom.
# Night owls have different brains. Natural tendencies toward sleeping and waking are different when it comes to their brain. Researchers in Germany hooked up early birds and night owls to a diffusion MRI machine to see what was happening inside their heads. The findings revealed night owls' white matter was in worse condition than their early bird counterparts, especially in areas associated with sadness and depression. 
# Night owls have higher brain activity. Compared to night owls, early birds have lower activity in brain regions linked to attention and the circadian master clock, according to a 2009 study published in the journal Science. 
# Night owls have greater physical strength in the evening. Physiologically speaking, early birds’ strength tends to remain constant throughout the day, but night owls have peak performance in the evening. 
# Night owls are more likely to have bad habits. One analysis of 676 adults from Finland found that evening types were much more likely to be current or lifelong smokers, much less likely to stop smoking, and at much higher risk for nicotine dependence compared with morning people. Another study of 537 individuals found that night owls consume more alcohol. 
# Night owls tend to be men. Men tend to consider themselves night owls more so than women because they tend to sleep less overall. A 2014 study published in the journal Evolutionary Psychology found although preferences for being a night owl or an early morning person are due to biology and genetic inheritance, they can also be influenced by environmental factors such as shift work or child-rearing. Moreover, gender differences in sleep patterns tend to be prevalent after puberty, but then dissipate after women reach menopause. 
     One interesting study of 16 Major League Baseball players was based on 7,500 innings during the 2009 and 2010 seasons found that baseball players performed better when game times matched their chronotype. Even then, night owls had better averages than morning people. When morning players played in early games (start times before 2 pm.), their batting average was .267, but when night owls played in night games (after 8 pm), their average was .306. When game times conflicted with their chronotype, morning players hit eight points lower in night games, but evening players hit 54 points lower in day games. So far as I have been able to determine, no baseball team has tried altering their lineup based on this data though.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Baby Names

     I recently asked an attorney a hypothetical question about naming babies. I wanted to know if you could give a baby just one name, say name it just "Bob." She said you can name a kid anything you want; that's true where we live, but not in all states. Some countries and here in some states restrictions are placed on names that can be used. 
     Sociologists and the legal system have confirmed that names do matter by making a first impression that can be hard to shake. Studies have found boys with unusual or more feminine names are more prone to trouble, delinquency and prison. 
     A legal name is one that identifies a person for legal, administrative and other official purposes. Usually a person has a given first and middle name plus a family name. The order varies according to culture and country. Most countries require by law the registration of a name for newborn children and some refuse registration of names considered to be undesirable. 
     Most states in the United States follow the common law which permits name changing for non-fraudulent purposes.  The most common case is when a women gets married she does not petition a court, but simply use a new last name, usually the husband's. Most state courts have held that a legally assumed name (for a non-fraudulent purpose) is a legal name and usable as a true name, though assumed names are often not considered the person's technically true name. 
     Here in the US name laws vary by state. Some examples: 
     In Alabama, you can name baby anything you want — last name included. (Some states require baby’s last name be the same as the mother or father, but not Alabama.) Only the English alphabet is allowed. While apostrophes and hyphens are okay, numbers and symbols aren’t. 
     In Arizona, there’s a 141 character limit — 45 for the first name, 45 for middle, 45 for last and 6 for a suffix. Apostrophes, hyphens, periods and spaces are okay. 
     Considering how liberal California is, it seems odd but derogatory or obscene names are banned. Only the 26 characters of the English alphabet are allowed, which rules out umlauts and others. Pictographs such as smiley faces or ideograms are specifically banned. 
     In Nebraska no names that imply objectionable or obscene words or abbreviations are allowed. 
     In my home state of Ohio the only punctuation allowed is hyphens, apostrophes and spaces. Only letters are allowed, no numbers. My wife, who used to work for a pediatrician, once treated a child whose father (if you can call him that) had wanted to give his kid a name that was to be pronounced "Shith-e-ad".  Think about the spelling for a second.  No doubt dad wanted to name the kid after his own personality.    Child naming laws by State.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Airline Overbooking

     An overbooked flight can be a blessing. One of the rewards for forfeiting your seat means you can rack up meal coupons and flight vouchers, free drink coupons, free headsets on the next flight, an upgrade to first class or admission into the swanky airline clubs, but generally nobody wanst to be bumped from a flight. 
     Getting bumped from a flight means you are denied a seat when you have a confirmed reservation and it results from overbooking. Overbooking is the airlines' shameful practice of selling more seats that the airplane holds in order to fill empty seats that results from passengers that don't show up. The more popular a route, the more likely the flight is to be oversold. 
     Passengers ticketed on flights canceled due to bad weather are not eligible for bumping benefits. The U.S. Department of Transportation requires commercial airlines flying 30 passengers or more and originating in the United States to seek out volunteers before bumping anyone. 
     Sometimes passengers may also get bumped if an aircraft is overweight due to restrictions that pertain to weather, fuel, airport operations or other factors that have safety in mind. Sometimes airlines also need to make room for crew members to fly to operate another flight. 
     The Department of Transportation says that if you’re bumped and you can be rebooked to get to your destination within one hour of your original arrival time, the airline doesn’t have to offer you anything. 
     Airline rules typically state that if you don't arrive at least 15 - 30 minutes before the scheduled departure, you will forfeit your reservation and in most of these cases airlines are not required to compensate you for the missed flight. If you absolutely cannot afford to be bumped from a flight the best bet is to arrive as early as possible for check in. Or, better yet, check in online before you even leave for the airport. 
     The last passengers to check are typically the ones who find themselves involuntarily bumped. Those check-in times are not just general guidelines because airlines may use them to determine the order in which people are bumped. Some airlines bump passengers who’ve paid the lowest fare.
     One bright exception to the overbooking problem came from Southwest Airlines. CEO Gary Kelly announced in March of this year that Southwest will no longer overbook its flights. 
     There have been recent headline of passengers, sometimes kicking and screaming, getting kicked off planes against their will, but like most of us they have never read the fine print when they book their flight. 
     Federal regulations do not prevent carriers from selling more seats than a flight can accommodate, but if not enough volunteers are found, the airline has the power to decide who gets bumped off the flight. Carriers spell this out in the “contract of carriage” that customers are bound to when they buy their tickets. 
     But few fliers ever read that fine print, and such contracts don't always specify a clear order for such situations. The Department of Transportation does have clear guidance about compensation for persons involuntarily denied boarding, but in the event there are not enough volunteers preference will be given to “Qualified Individuals with Disabilities, unaccompanied minors under the age of 18 years, or minors between the ages of 5 to 15 years who use the unaccompanied minor service ….” 
     Beyond that, the priority of all other confirmed passengers may be determined based on a passenger’s fare class, itinerary, status of frequent-flier program membership, and the time in which the passenger presents himself for check-in without advanced seat assignment. 
     The short version is that an airline's Contract of Carriage, which hardly anybody reads, is like most fine print which hardly anybody reads. It give the business more rights than it gives you. You can read, for example, United Airlines Contract of Carriage HERE. Next time you fly, good luck!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Call of the Wildman TV Program

Call of the Wildman, one of the stupidest shows I ever saw, is not currently on the schedule on Animal Planet and in 2014 Animal Planet Canada abruptly canceled episodes of the scandal-tainted reality show just days before a new season was scheduled to air. 
     Call of the Wildman was reality television series on Animal Planet that followed the exploits of Kentucky woodsman Ernie “The Turtleman” Brown, Jr. He was assisted by his friend Neal James and his dog Lolly. Brown operated a nuisance animal removal business in which he caught and released nuisance animals. The series was primarily filmed near Brown's home in Lebanon, Kentucky. 
     Brown began catching snapping turtles from ponds near his home at the age of 7. He came to the attention of Animal Planet producers in part after an episode of Kentucky Educational Television's Kentucky Afield series that featured his bare-handed turtle-catching techniques was posted on YouTube and went viral. 
     After personally visiting Brown and doing some initial filming, network executives decided to produce a 12-episode season of the series with the working title The Turtleman of Wild Kentucky. The title was soon changed to Call of the Wildman, a reference to Brown's distinctive yell that punctuates his actions throughout the series. 
     The series was Animal Planet's most watched program in the fourth quarter of 2011 and was renewed for a second, 16-episode series that began airing in June 2012. On October 2012, Animal Planet has re-released the series with bonus features and trivia information known as Call of the Wildman: More Live Action. 
     Some poverty advocacy groups expressed concerns that it exploited stereotypical views of Southerners as being poorly educated, poorly groomed, and impoverished. Despite his Turtleman nickname, Brown caught all types of nuisance animals, including raccoons, skunks, snakes, venomous spiders, and possums. Once he captured an animal, often with his bare hands, he relocated it to a safer location. For his services, he usually took as payment only the cost of gasoline or sometimes small trinkets or a few dollars in cash. 
     In 2013, the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife sent him a warning letter that some of his actions were a violation of his Nuisance Wildlife Control Officer permit and that any future violations could result in the revocation of his permit and/or a citation. The following year a report by Mother Jones lead to further scrutiny by Kentucky state agencies because some records he filed with Kentucky Fish and Wildlife that detailed what was captured, released and euthanized appear to have been falsified. The United States Department of Agriculture also reviewed his actions in order to determine whether violations of the Animal Welfare Act were made by the production company and film crew by not having appropriate federal licensing to display regulated animals on television. 
     The Mother Jones report pictured exploitation, cruelty and law-breaking. In one case, by the time three orphaned raccoons arrived for emergency care at the Kentucky Wildlife Center they were emaciated and almost dead. Two of them survived. 
     In another case, a zebra was obtained from Franklin Drive Thru Safari, was drugged for filming. Production crews said it was drugged without their knowledge. 
     Obviously, the animals for rescue, which are obtained from trappers and wildlife refuges are planted and the sets are tailored to specification. Producers even make fake animal droppings using Nutella, Snickers bars, and rice. 

For the Mother Jones report Drugs, Death, Neglect: Behind the Scenes at Animal Planet Our exclusive investigation reveals how animals suffer on the network's top reality show, visit their site HERE. The Marion County (Kentucky) Historical Society has a museum featuring Turtleman. The Turtleman's net worth is reported to be one million dollars.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Day Eva Dugan Lost Her Head

     Eva Dugan was born in 1878 and died on February 21, 1930 at the Arizona State Prison in Florence, Arizona. 
     Mrs. Dugan wound up in Juneau, Alaska during the Klondike Gold Rush where she became a cabaret singer. She subsequently moved to Pima County, Arizona, where she worked for an elderly chicken rancher, Andrew J. Mathis, as a housekeeper. 
     Shortly after her employment was terminated for unknown reasons, Mathis disappeared, as did some of his possessions, his Dodge automobile and his cash box. Neighbors reported that Mrs. Dugan had tried to sell some of his possessions before she disappeared as well.
     The 60-year-old Mathis kept to himself on his remote ranch, but was friendly with neighboring ranchers, so when they noticed that he hadn’t been seen in a while, they checked with Mrs. Dugan, who told them she was also Mathis’ common law wife, and that he had just up and moved to California. The neighbors were unconvinced and notified the local sheriff. 
     An investigation discovered her father lived in California and she had a daughter living in White Plains, New York. Mrs. Dugan had been married five times and all her husbands had disappeared. 
     After skipping out of Arizona Mrs. Dugan continued to correspond with friends in Pima County and the postmaster, alerted to be on the lookout for correspondence from Mrs. Dugan, informed the sheriff she had been in touch with friends in the area. The sheriff managed to trace her to White Plains, New York, where she had taken a job with a hospital as a nurse. The sheriff headed to New York to question Mrs. Dugan and volunteers began going over Mathis’s farm and the surrounding desert. 
     Although the sheriff was certain she was guilty of murder, he had no evidence, but he was able to force her back to Arizona by charging her with grand larceny for stealing Mathis’s car. She returned and was convicted of larceny by a jury consisting of the rancher’s friends; they deliberated for 4 minutes before finding her guilty and sentencing her to jail. 
     The evidence that Mathis was dead mounted when rent money from his tenants was never deposited and his bills were not paid. But all the evidence was circumstantial, and without a body, proving murder would be impossible. 
     Then one night a desert wind storm came and a man in a camper stopped for the night in the desert. When the traveler exited his van in the morning he discovered the wind had blown sand away and he was looking at a skull. A local dentist was quick to identify the false teeth as belonging to Mathis. 
     Charged with murder, Mrs. Dugan’s trial only lasted two days.  She claimed that drifter named Jack had done the killing, but her story was not believed. According to her, she and Jack had an affair and Mathis found out. Jack and Mathis got into a fight and Jack had killed Mathis. Panic-stricken, they buried Mathis in a shallow grave in the desert. Jack then took off for Mexico. 
     It didn't take the jury long to return a guilty verdict and Mrs. Dugan was sentenced to hang. On the way to her cell on death row she broke down sobbing and became hysterical, but eventually regained her composure. While waiting for the sentence to be carried out she spent her time sewing her own death shroud complete with hand-made artificial flowers and wrote farewell letters to relatives. She also sent a telegram to her father asking for money to pay the balance she owed the undertaker. Mrs. Dugan gave interviews to the press for $1.00 each and sold embroidered handkerchiefs she knitted while imprisoned to pay for her funeral expenses. She also made a silk dress for her hanging. 
     Three years later her appeals were exhausted and it was time for her to swing. The day before the hanging there were rumors she planned to commit suicide. A search of her cell turned up a bottle of raw ammonia and razor blades she had hidden. At 5 a.m. on Feb. 21, 1930, in the company of a minister, a jail matron and the prison warden she ascended the gallows in what was an historic day for Arizona. 
     Arizona was executing a woman for the first time and it was the first non-public execution where women were allowed to assist with a hanging. The hangman had underestimated Dugan’s weight and planned for a six-foot drop. When the trapdoor opened at 5:11 a.m. and Mrs. Dugan reached the end of her rope, she was decapitated and her head rolled up to the feet of the witnesses causing two women and three men to faint. 
     Thus, Mrs. Dugan has the distinction of being the only woman ever to be hung in Arizona. Further, her grisly death had an impact on the decision by the state to replace hanging with the gas chamber as a method of execution.

Monday, May 1, 2017

AREDS 2 Eye Vitamins

     Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss in the US for people over the age of 50. The disease damages the small area near the center of your retina, the macula, causing vision loss in the center of your visual field. For most who have it, there’s no effective treatment and it generally worsens with time. 
     The advanced disease comes in two main forms: dry, the more common variety, which is treated mainly with dietary supplements and wet, the more serious form, which requires monthly injections from an ophthalmologist with one of three drugs. There are controversies about both the supplements and the drugs. One word of caution, these vitamins will not prevent the disease, and are of benefit if you have already been diagnosed with it. 
     Research funded by the National Institutes of Health has shown that a specific blend of vitamins and minerals known as AREDS (vitamins C and E, plus copper, lutein, zeaxanthin, and zinc) cuts the risk by about 25 percent that dry AMD will progress. According to Dr. Neil Bressler, chief of the retina division at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore it really the only treatment. 
     But not all eye supplements contain the proper formulation. In January 2015 one company was sued for incorrectly marketing its Advanced Eye Health supplement as comparable to the formula used in the published studies. Further, an analysis of 11 eye-health supplements in the March 2015 issue of Ophthalmology, only four contained the right mix and they were all by PreserVision. 
     There are many manufacturers offering a host of over-the-counter formulas that supposedly help people with macular degeneration promote, maintain or protect eye health. The big question is, do they? 
     The clinical trial called Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) was conducted at 11 medical centers around the US by the National Eye Institute and found that a supplement could reduce the risk of worsening macular degeneration and severe vision loss by 25 percent over six years. The effective formula: a high-dose combination of vitamins C and E, beta carotene and zinc oxide, with a dash of copper. 
     But the benefits of the nutrients only apply to certain stages of the disease. The formula could slow the progression, but it didn’t work for people with mild forms of the disease or with advanced stages in both eyes and it didn’t prevent people from getting the disease. Nor did it cure anybody. 
     Recently, in a follow-up study called AREDS 2 they examined a formula without beta carotene because it’s associated with higher lung cancer rates in smokers and replaced it with lutein and zeaxanthin and lowered the zinc content. The revised formula worked just as well. 
     So the vitamins come labeled as either AREDS and AREDS 2. Patients with moderate macular degeneration or advanced degeneration in one eye can take either, but smokers should go with AREDS 2. 
     In another recent study published in the journal Ophthalmology it was found that most best-selling products didn’t follow the proven AREDS formula. They may contain the same ingredients, but not in the right doseage. Some added other ingredients that hasn’t been shown to work and might, in fact, actually reduce the effectiveness of the ingredients that do work. Of the 11 supplements examined, only four duplicated the AREDS formula. Manufacturers can get away with this because vitamins aren’t considered drugs. The Food and Drug Administration doesn’t test or approve supplements and they are not evaluated or regulated for efficacy or safety. 
     The ARED vitamins are not cheap. PreserVision Eye Vitamin AREDS in a 90-pill (a 45 day supply) bottle costs about $30.   These four products duplicated the AREDS or AREDS2 formulas: 
PreserVision Eye Vitamin AREDS Formula tablets 
PreserVision Eye Vitamin AREDS Formula soft gels 
PreserVision AREDS2 Formula soft gels 
ICAPS Eye Vitamin AREDS Formula 

     These vitamins can cause side effects. Allergic reactions such as hives, difficulty breathing, swelling of the face, lips, tongue or throat are possible, as they are with anything. Minerals, especially taken in large doses, can cause side effects such as tooth staining, increased urination, stomach bleeding, uneven heart rate, confusion, and muscle weakness or limp feeling. But taken as directed, multivitamins and minerals rarely cause any serious side effects. Most common side effects would be an upset stomach, headache or an unusual or unpleasant taste in your mouth. 
     Do not take this medicine with milk, other dairy products, calcium supplements, or antacids that contain calcium. Calcium may make it harder for your body to absorb certain minerals. Also,vitamin and mineral supplements can interact with certain medications or affect how they work, so ask a doctor or pharmacist if it is safe for you to use multivitamins and minerals if you are also using any of the following drugs: tretinoin or isotretinoin, an antacid, an antibiotic, a diuretic, heart or blood pressure medications, a sulfa drug or one of the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs that consist of ibuprofen or naproxen. 

National Eye Institute Information