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Friday, February 26, 2021

DrawPad - Free Drawing Program

     DrawPad is an easy-to-use image composition and manipulation program that is free from NCH Software. 
     Choose from a wide array of text and font styles, as well as unique effects to make your design more personalized and distinctive. Make sketches and paintings on your computer Create logos, banner ads or billboards Draw diagrams, icons and other web graphics 
     The free version of DrawPad graphic design software is available for non-commercial use. If you will be using DrawPad at home you can download the free design program HERE
     * Pencil and brush tools for drawing, 
        sketching and painting 
     * Ability to edit pencil & brush strokes 
     * Tablet & touchpad pressure sensitivity 
     * Work with both raster and vector images 
     * Image layers allow for non-destructive editing
     * Layers allow you to easily rearrange elements 
     * Add effects such as bevels and shadows 
     * Fill areas with solid colors, gradients, 
        patterns or textures 
     * Editing features including crop, rotate, resize and flip 
     * Insert shape objects including circles, rectangles, 
        polygons, stars, word
        bubbles and more
     * Insert text and edit the font, size, color and weight 
     * Save graphics as png, bmp, jpg, gif, pdf, or svg files 
     * Choose a logo, business card, flyer, banner, 
        greeting card 
        or letterhead template
     * Supports banner ad formats for ad networks 
        such as Google Ads, Microsoft Ads, etc. 
     * Import brush packs made for Photoshop
NCH Software also offers many, many more products for audio-visual and business needs. 

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Mr. Trump's Hair

     Back in 2018 I posted an article on the hair of Elvis Presley. Another fellow with even more interesting hair is our former president Donald Trump. 
     There is a fascinating look at history of the former president's hair by Vanity Fair in a 2015 article HERE. Gentleman's Journal also takes an in-depth look at his coiffure HERE.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Deep Holes

     There was a fake news clickbait article that recently appeared stating that the deepest hole on Earth was sealed after finding a fossil that is 2 billion years old. Of course, that's not true. 
     The ad referenced a Soviet engineering project, the Kola Superdeep Borehole, that took place from the late 1960s to the early 1990s and has photos that are...surprise...unrelated to the article. 
     The article notwithstanding, the deepest hole on earth is the Kola Superdeep Borehole which is 9 inches in diameter and 40,230 feet (7.6 miles) deep. The hole was abandoned in 1992 when drillers encountered higher-than-expected temperatures of 356 degrees Fahrenheit, not the 212 degrees they had expected. The unexpected high temperatures wreaked havoc on equipment plus the liquid the environment made it hard to maintain the hole. 
     The Kola Peninsula is is deep in the Arctic Circle and is covered with lakes, forests, mists and snow. Nowadays the drilling site is a crumbling building with a concrete floor with a heavy, rusty metal cap secured by a ring of thick and rusty metal bolts embedded in the floor.
The Soviet hole is capped

     The hole is the deepest man made hole on Earth and deepest artificial point on Earth and the locals swear you can hear the screams of souls tortured in hell. It took almost 20 years to drill those 40,230 feet, but the drill bit was only about one-third of the way through the crust to the Earth’s mantle when the project came to a halt. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union there was no money to fund such projects and eventually the whole facility was closed down. Now the desolate site is a destination for tourists. 
     Not many people know, but during the Cold War there was a race by the superpowers to drill as deep as possible into the Earth’s crust and even to reach the mantle of the planet itself. 
     When the Russians started to drill they claimed they had found free water, a claim that was simply not believed by most scientists. There used to be common understanding among Western scientists that the crust was so dense 3 miles down that water could not get through it. 
     If the Earth is like an onion, the crust is like the thin skin of the planet. It is only 25 miles thick. Beyond this, is the 1,800-mile deep mantle and beyond that, right at the center of the Earth, is the core. 
     Like the space race, the race to the explore this unknown frontier was a demonstration of engineering prowess and cutting-edge technology...scientists were going where no human had gone before. The rock samples were potentially as important for science as anything NASA brought back from the moon. 
     Nobody really won this drilling race though. The Soviets started drilling in 1970, but in the late 1950s the American Miscellaneous Society came up with the first serious plan to drill down to the mantle. The society, which eventually became no more than a "club", was an informal group made up of the leading members of the US scientific community. Their attempt was called Project Mohole.
    The project took a short cut by drilling through the Pacific Ocean floor off Guadalupe, Mexico because the Earth’s crust is thinner there; the disadvantage is that the thinnest areas of crust is usually where the ocean is at its deepest. 
     The Soviets started to drill in the Arctic Circle in 1970. In 1990, the German Continental Deep Drilling Program began drilling in Bavaria and eventually drilled down to 5.6 miles. 
     For these projects the needed technology had to be invented from scratch. When in 1961 Project Mohole began to drill into the seabed, the technology for deep-sea drilling for oil and gas didn't exist. Even something called dynamic positioning, which allows a drill ship to stay in its position over the well didn't exist. To solve the problem engineers installed a system of propellers along the sides of the drill ship to keep it steady over the hole. In 1967, Congress canceled the funding for Project Mohole when costs began to spiral out of control. 
     One of the biggest challenges was the need to drill a hole that is now a standard technology in the oil and gas fields of the world. Drilling as vertical as possible is necessary because otherwise torque on the drills and kinks in the hole are a serious issue. 
     For the US, the Soviets and the Germans who began their own drilling project, all of them ended in a frustration. There were false start and blockages, then there were the high temperatures, cost and, of course, the politics. 
     At the German hole Dutch artist Lotte Geevan lowered her microphone, protected by a thermal shield, down and picked up a deep rumbling sound that scientists couldn’t explain. Some people thought sounded like hell while others thought they could hear the planet breathe. The drill rig is still there and it's a tourist attraction today. 
     The purpose of the drilling projects, besides just going where no man has gone before is to get rock samples...exciting stuff. 
     By the way, how long would it take a person to fall the 40,000+ feet to the bottom of the Soviet's hole? Of course that's not possible because a person wouldn't fit in an 8 inch diameter hole, but: 
  • With an open parachute, it takes about 24.5 minutes to descend from 40,000 feet. The landing speed is about 14 miles an hour.
  • Without an open parachute, it takes a little over three minutes and the landing speed is about 110 miles per hour. 

What If You Fell out of an Airplane at 30,000 Feet? Read article...  

Free Fall Research site

Saturday, February 6, 2021

Cracker Jack

     Cracker Jack, not Cracker Jacks with an "s", have been an American icon for 120 years. Cracker Jack is a blend of caramel coated popcorn and peanuts with a surprise inside the box. 
     Back in 1872, a German immigrant named Frederick Rueckheim began selling popcorn out of a street cart in Chicago. He was so successful that he brought his brother, Louis, over from Germany to help out. Between them they began experimenting and tweaking a recipe for a combination of popcorn, peanuts and molasses. Their success at the 1893 World’s Fair resulted in the formation of F.W. Rueckheim & Brother. 
     According to legend, when a salesman named John Berg first tried the mixture he exclaimed, “That’s a crackerjack!” You don't hear the term "crackerjack" any more, but at the time it meant something was high quality. Others believe Rueckheim came up with the name and just invented the story. Either way, he copyrighted the name Cracker Jack in 1896. 
     Back in those days snacks were generally sold in bulk or in tins, bags, or jars, but Rueckheim developed cardboard packaging that was invented by a company partner named Henry Eckstein. The packaging featured what they called triple-proof packaging that was one of the first wax-sealed cardboard containers. 
     In 1908, a 29-year-old entertainer named Jack Norworth, who had never been to a baseball game, was on a train to Manhattan for his performance when he wrote the song Take Me Out To The Ball Game with its line "buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack" and as a result sales skyrocketed. 
     The iconic image on the Cracker Jack box is a boy in a sailor outfit and a little dog, but originally the company mascots were two bears shown doing things like fishing, playing baseball and climbing the Statue of Liberty. 
     Rueckheim's grandson, Robert, was the model for Sailor Jack, who first appeared in advertisements in 1916 and was printed on every Cracker Jack box beginning in 1918. Robert died of pneumonia at the age of 8. The dog is said to have been a stray named Bingo, that belonged to Eckstein. 
     In 1910, the company began putting coupons in the boxes that could be collected and redeemed for stuff like watches, silverware, sewing machines, etc. In 1912, the company decided target kids and began putting a small prize inside each box. The result was another round of skyrocketing sale. Prizes included everything from animal figures to whistles to puzzles. It even put tiny porcelain dolls in boxes back in the '20s. One result was that a collector’s market sprang up and today there exists a Cracker Jack Collectors Association. 
     In 1914 and 1915 Cracker Jack boxes had a collectible set of baseball cards. Today, a full set of cards from either year is worth more than $100,000. 
     Like many things these days, over the years the quality of the product has deteriorated. For one thing, the number of peanuts has decreased. And, like most companies, they refused to address the issue. In 2005, The Seattle Times found that boxes contained only about six peanuts! In the old days Cracker Jack boxes contained 25 to 30 peanuts. 
     Between the years 1964-1997 Cracker Jack was owned by Borden who upped the count to 12 to 15 peanuts per box. Then in 2013, parent company Frito-Lay upped the peanut count again, but it's still short. 
     Also, the prizes have gone downhill. Instead of neat little figurines and temporary tattoos, the boxes contain slips of paper with riddles, folding games and web links to downloadable stuff. 
     In May of 2004, the New York Yankees did away with Cracker Jack and replaced them with Crunch 'N Munch, a caramel-coated popcorn and peanuts that comes in its original form of Buttery Toffee, as well as Maple, Caramel, Chocolate and Caramel, Molasses, Almond Supreme, French Vanilla, Kettle Corn, Fat Free, Sweet and Salty, Sweet and Hot and Premium Nut. 
     The Yankees made the move because Cracker Jack had changed its packaging from boxes to bags and besides, the Yankees claimed Crunch 'N Munch tasted better. Fans howled so loud that a month later Cracker Jack replaced its replacement. 
     In recent years Cracker Jack has offered a version made with extra protein and enough caffeine to make them really unhealthy. The company also offers other flavors like kettle corn and chocolate peanut butter. 
     Actually, you can duplicate the original recipe at home using just popcorn, Spanish peanuts and molasses. One advantage is that you can add as many peanuts as you want. Click HERE for the recipe. Another thing: if you want to, you can slip a really nice prize in the mix.

Tuesday, February 2, 2021