Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Power of Napping

The blog, Barking up the Wrong Tree, has an interesting post on naps.

Sleep is vital but most of us get too little of it:

"No nap is too short: A 2008 study showed that even a nap of a few minutes provided benefits. Just anticipating a nap lowers blood pressure."

See What's the secret to amazing naps? for suggestions on how to take better naps.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Ideas for beating the Summer Heat

Ideas for beating the Heat During the Dog Days of Summer

  1. Pick cooler times of the day to job or do outdoor activities
  2. Wear loose-fitting, light color, clothing. Cotton clothing will keep you cooler than many synthetics.
  3. Fans can make you feel cooler even in an air-conditioned house but fans are not effective at 90 and above.
  4. Store lotions in the refrigerator to use on hot, overtired feet. Soak feet in cold water.
  5. Keep plastic bottles of water in the freezer; you'll get icy cold water to drink as they melt
  6. Take a cool bath or shower or go swimming
  7. Water also helps by wetting your hat or hair or shirt.
  8. Drink plenty of water along with sports drinks or other sources of electrolytes. Don't wait to be thirsty to drink.
  9. Use a portable, battery-powered fan. Some include a water bottle for misting.
  10. Avoid caffeine and alcohol as these will promote dehydration.
  11. Instead of hot foods, enjoy lighter, more frequent small meals or snacks containing cold fruit or dairy products.
  12. Pay special attention to the elderly, infants, anyone with a chronic illness, and pets during extreme heat.
  13. During cool times of day/night open windows and doors with screens to bring the house temperature down. During the day close up your house and draw blinds and drapes to keep out the sun.
  14. Sit in the lowest part of your house where it's coolest 

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

My Social Security

Remember when computers were supposed to eliminate paper and make offices paperless? Well our government is one step closer. For the first time ever you can read your Social Security statement online at

Included at no extra cost are
  • Estimates of the retirement and disability benefits you may receive;
  • Estimates of benefits your family may get when you receive Social Security or die;
  • A list of your lifetime earnings according to Social Security’s records;
  • The estimated Social Security and Medicare taxes you’ve paid;
  • Information about qualifying and signing up for Medicare;
  • Things to consider for those age 55 and older who are thinking of retiring;
  • General information about Social Security for everyone;
  • The opportunity to apply online for retirement and disability benefits; and
And best of all  :-)
  • A printable version of your Social Security Statement.

Labels: , ,

Monday, May 28, 2012

Government Studies a Study about Studies

From ABC News, is this a case of government being accountable or out of control?

The Pentagon was inundated with so many studies in 2010 that it commissioned a study to determine how much it cost to produce all those studies. Two years later, the Pentagon is still studying the studies so Congress asked the GAO to look over the Pentagon’s shoulder. The GAO found that after two years, only 9 reports had been examined and that the Pentagon could not  “readily retrieve documentation” for six of the reports studied.

How sad when a study of studies is a failure.

Labels: ,

Friday, May 25, 2012

You can't touch this

Some modern medical tests use radioactity to trace blood flow during a stress test, thyroid activity, etc. This leaves the patient mildly radioactive for 1-3 days depending on the test or procedure. Under such occasions the doctor will give the patient a card attesting that they have had a medical procedure involving a small amount of radioactive material. Don't lose this card!
You may set off alarms in the airport. Or be stopped at check points to prisons or military bases. Recently a firefighter in Connecticut was pulled over by a policeman after he set off a radioactivity detector in the state police car. The fireman was impressed,  "I had no idea the police even had devices like that." He showed his medical card to the police officer and was allowed to go instead of being held as a suspected terrorist.

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Saving Money on Gas suggests many ways to counter the $4 per gallon price of gas...
  1. Read your owner's manual
    It will tell you the best type of oil for your car, what level of gas to use, the best tire pressure, etc.
    Oil change companies suggest new oil every 3000 miles but your manual may tell you that every 7500 is sufficient.
  2. Check your tire pressure every month
    You'll burn more fuel with under inflated tires
  3. Lighten your car
    Take out anything you don't really need from your trunk &  back seat.  100 pounds can decrease fuel economy by 2%.
  4. Aggressive driving burns fuels
    Avoid quick starts and stops. Fuel economy is worse at higher speeds.  "Every five miles over 60 mph is like paying another 20 cents per gallon for gas."
  5. Use the Internet to find the lowest priced gas in your neighborhood
    But also keep in mind that at $4/gal it costs about 20 cents to drive 5 miles (at 25 mpg). To break even with a fill-up of 10 gallons of gas, that station 5 miles away needs to be 2 cents per gallon cheaper then the station a block away. If you drive 5 to save a penny per gallon, you've lost 10 cents.
  6. Take advantage of loyalty and rewards programs at gas stations and credit cards

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Cooking by Volcano?

According to the BBC the restaurant, El Diablo, in the Canary Islands has the word's most unique BBQ grill. Meat is cooked there over an active volcano at temperatures of 400C to 600C. Sadly you won't see any glowing lava as in Hawaii, the volcano at El Diablo has not erupted since 1824. But it still cranks out some serious heat. So hot in fact that nine layers of basalt rock was put under the restaurant base to protect patrons.
"Today, the restaurant’s floor-to-ceiling windows offer panoramic views of the park’s volcanic calderas, cones, craters and black lava fields. The landscape has remained virtually unchanged since the last eruption, thanks to minimal rainfall and government protection."

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Water, water everywhere

When you look at a photo of Earth what is most noticeable is that our planet is blue. Not red like Mars or cloud covered like Venus. Our home is 71% covered in water and the oceans are rather deep. And so we may think, there's a lot of water, but that's not actually true.

If you collected all the water on the Earth into a sphere (oceans, icecaps, atmosphere, everything) the water sphere would have a diameter of 1,385 kilometers (about 860 miles), and span the distance from Salt Lake City, Utah to Topeka, Kansas. It would have a volume of about 1,386 million cubic kilometers (roughly 332,500,000 cubic miles). And again this sounds big but a picture tells the real story:

Wow that looks small. How can we possibly fill the oceans from such a small drop? The answer is height. The water bubble is 860 miles high in the artist rendering. The deepest part of the ocean is just under 7 miles. The oceans are but a thin sheet of water compared to the water sphere.

Labels: ,

Monday, May 21, 2012

What Spare Tire?

Last night I had not one but two flat tires on my car. At first I thought something was wrong with the power steering. After driving a mile from the office I was convinced something was not right and I had better look BEFORE I get on the Interstate. I discovered I had one completely flat tire and another 1/2 flat.

My first thought (before I noticed the 1/2 flat tire) was. "I can deal with this. I'm supposed to be prepared." So I open the trunk and then the problems begin:

1. How do I get the jack out? It was wedged into a storage slot.  I opened the car manual which I keep in the glove compartment and learned I had to turn a knob to loosen it.

2. The spare tire - it looked OK. I have not checked it in 10 years so I'm lucky it was not flat, that can happen. But there was also 10 years of rust on the wingnut holding it in place and the wingnut refused to budge. I had some pliers in a car-kit but no wrench and no WD40.

3. At this point a co-worker saw me and offered me his spare tire and a full size tire he just happened to have in his car. His car is a Honda Civic, mine a Honda Accord. The tires looked the same size but I noticed they had different part #'s

4. Given the problems mounting I called the Roadside Assistance program I'm a member of and someone arrived 40 minutes later. There was nothing to read in the car so I listened to my commuting lecture CD while waiting.

5. I had forgotten to recharge my cell phone (which I usually do on Mondays). Fortunately it still had 1/2 battery and lasted long enough.

6. The mechanic found a nail in the half-flat tire, pulled it, plugged the hole and reinflated the tire. He could not find a leak in the full flat until I suggested the valve stem.

7. He could not get my spare loose either and the temp spare from my coworker did not fit the bolts. However the full size tire my coworker had did fit and got me home.

8. The mechanic charged extra for patching the one tire and expected payment on the spot for that (all else was covered by the plan). I was short on cash but across the street from a bank with an ATM.

I was VERY lucky that things did not turn out worse:
* I had never checked the spare in 10 years
* I had no experience with replacing a tire on my current car with the jack provided
* My cell phone was undercharged
* I should have never left the office parking lot
* I was low on cash

Labels: ,

Friday, May 18, 2012

Do I have to keep Paying for a Stolen Car?

Years ago the father of a friend passed away unexectedly and his mother returned the father's new car to the dealer. She thought that would stop the payments but she was wrong. Since the "used" value of the car was less than what was still owed, she was billed for the difference.

A similar situation was described recently on, Why You Must Keep up The Payments on a Stolen Car
"Until your car loan is satisfied, you are obligated by the terms of your finance agreement to keep up with your payments, and your insurance policy needs to be kept until the stolen car is no longer registered in your name."
A stolen car claim can take 30 days or more to settle and during that time you're on the hook for all payments. You definitely want to keep the insurance active in the hope that they'll pay for the car loss if it's not recovered or any damages sustained when it is recovered. There may be a gap between the used car price that insurance will pay and what is owed. There are special "gap" insurances policies you can buy to cover this (before the fact of course.)

Labels: , ,

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The webpage from beyond the grave

I've heard stories of high end cemeteries like Beverly Hills whereby you can embed a computer screen in your headstone that plays a video of you upon request. Sounds like science fiction but very doable (the hardest part would be power and weather proofing).

A much simpler solution of leaving a message that survives you is Facebook and other social networking sites where your personal page might remain long after your death. For some this is comforting, for others disturbing. Family members will sometimes ask Facebook for the password of a deceased loved-one so they can update the page with a death notice. Facebook does not have to comply with this request. Ditto for personal websites hosted by Google. There are few laws about passwords and death.

Our helpful government at offers some suggestions: add a social media section to your will  (you do have a will, right?)
  • appoint someone you trust as an online executor
  • State how you would like your profiles to be handled. You may want to completely cancel your profile or keep it up for friends and family to visit. Some sites allow users to create a memorial profile where other users can still see your profile but can’t post anything new.
  • Give the social media executor a document that lists all the websites where you have a profile, along with your usernames and passwords.
  • Stipulate in your will that the online executor should have a copy of your death certificate. The online executor may need this as proof in order for websites to take any actions on your behalf.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The check is in the mail

CBS news Los Angeles has an interesting story about identity theft. A church reported its bank account information was stolen and used to counterfeit checks of $1,100. Detectives traced the ID theft to an LA couple "where they found hundreds of bank account numbers, fictitious and stolen IDs, check manufacturing equipment, identity profiles and counterfeit checks, according to officials." In total this couple had stolen more than $16,000 from 20 victims.

How were the bank accounts stolen? The couple admitted to dumpster diving at a Self Storage company "and stealing hundreds of partially-shredded checks, which they reassembled to access the routing and bank account numbers. Detectives say they used the information to manufacture more than 30 counterfeit checks" which they used throughout the region.

When you dispose of a check be sure that the routing numbers at the bottom are unreadable. You might cover it with a permanent black marker or tear the numbers into tiny parts and dispose of the bits in different places.

When the US Embassy in Iran was taken over back in the 70's the US diplomats dutifully dumped all sensitive documents into a cross-cut shredder. The Iranian government collected the shredded bits and gave them to their best carpet weavers who pieced the documents back together again.

So even a good shredder won't help you if you dump the bits in one place and a determined thief wants to put them together again. Try cutting checks in two or more parts along the routing number and shredding each part separately into a different bag.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Keen on Keys?

Today I'll point you to for a History of Keys. Click on the picture of a key that looks interesting to learn more. It will open a slideshow with a description on the upper right. For example:
In the medieval period, keys were more commonly made of iron than bronze, but they retained both their practical and symbolic purposes: securing valuables and showing that you were important enough to have valuables to secure. One way to convey your significance in this period? By carrying a really big key.

Labels: ,

Monday, May 14, 2012

A most unusal caper

A friend recently asked my wife, "What is a caper?" She wasn't exactly sure (nor was I). I do know what they look and taste like but what am I eating?

My guess was a fruit berry - wrong! "Capers" are actually the flower bud just before it flowers. These are pickled, salted or preserved in oil. Capers are categorized and sold by their size, defined as follows, with the smallest sizes being the most desirable: Non-pareil (up to 7 mm), surfines (7–8 mm), capucines (8–9 mm), capotes (9–11 mm), fines (11–13 mm), and grusas (14+ mm). If the caper bud is not picked, it flowers and produces a fruit called a caperberry.

I also learned that the Greeks make good use of the caper's leaves, which are hard to find outside of Greece. They are pickled or boiled and preserved in jars with brine-like caper buds. Caper leaves are excellent in salads and fish dishes.

Wikipedia claims that capers can be easily grown from seeds. I may have to try that. A caper bush can be productive for nearly 30 years.


Friday, May 11, 2012


With disaster planning, people think of tornadoes and earthquakes but overlook pandemics. What's a pandemic you ask?  According to Wikipedia:  A pandemic [from the Greek meaning "all" "people] is when an infectious disease spreads across a large region; even worldwide. But it is more than just a worldwide disease; the seasonal flu is not generally considered a pandemic. A pandemic is an aggressive disease, like smallpox and tuberculosis, affecting ever greater numbers of people until a cure is found or it burns itself out after massive deaths.

A worst case pandemic is a new disease (or mutation) that is easily spread, deadly, and with no cure. The US hasn't really seen this on a large scale since the Spanish flu of the 1910's although in some countries HIV has reached pandemic levels.

During a pandemic massive numbers of people become sick and/or die. The immediate effect is that hospitals become overwhelmed and unable to treat all patients. Then doctors & nurses become sick which makes the hospital problem even worse. Then services overall begin to worsen as workers for all types of jobs are sick, caring for the sick or dead. Bodies may pile up with no one to bury them. At some point fear may take over with everyone afraid to leave their home (or alternately fleeing the city to find health in isolation). The government may close schools, sport games, church services and other sites where people meet and mix to halt the spread of the disease.

How do you prepare for something like this? FEMA at suggests:
  • Store a two week supply of water and food. During a pandemic, if you cannot get to a store, or if stores are out of supplies, it will be important for you to have extra supplies on hand.
  • Periodically check your regular prescription drugs to ensure a continuous supply in your home.
  • Have any nonprescription drugs and other health supplies on hand, including pain relievers, stomach remedies, cough and cold medicines, fluids with electrolytes, and vitamins.
  • Talk with family members and loved ones about how they would be cared for if they got sick, or what will be needed to care for them in your home.
  • Volunteer with local groups to prepare and assist with emergency response.
  • Get involved in your community as it works to prepare for an influenza pandemic.
 When a pandemic begins,
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
  • If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.
  • Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Practice other good health habits. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.

Labels: ,

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Is that mold on the Ketchup?

Are you using the same ketchup, mustard, pickles, etc, from last summer that have been in your fridge all winter? ConsumerReports says you may be better off tossing the old condiments and buying new for the BBQ season. They cite the following shelf-life values from the Food Safety and Inspection Service for items that have been opened.

  • Ketchup, cocktail or chili sauce: 6 months;
  • Chutney: 1 to 2 months;
  • Horseradish: 3 to 4 months;
  • Mustard: 12 months;
  • Pickles and olives: 2 weeks;
  • Mayonnaise and salad dressing: Up to 2 months;
  • Barbecue sauce: 4 months;
  • Worchestershire sauce: 12 months;
  • Jams and jellies: 6 months.
  • Two weeks does seem very short for pickles and olives but then again I've seen a moldy pickle in a vat at a grocery store. Ugh!

    The Consumerist notes that the FoodKeeper shelf-life values come from "a trade group of grocery retailers and wholesalers" who might be concerned about your safety but are also happy to have you toss out old food and buy more. So these deadlines may not be life or death but just suggestions.

    Labels: , ,

    Wednesday, May 9, 2012

    Seven Habits of Highly Effective Hobbits

    How can a geek not appreciate a headline like, Seven Habits of Highly Effective Hobbits? The author, Alex Knapp, was also the creative mind behind Leadership Lessons from Captain Kirk and Captain Picard.
    "One of the reasons why Hobbits were so successful in the world beyond, to the point that, in the words of Elrond, they could “arise from their quiet fields to shake the towers and counsels of the Great” is because they have certain habits that predisposed them to success."
    It should be noted that most Hobbits lived quiet, isolated, lives. The Hobbit Habits here (try saying that 5 times fast) belong to a small group of "highly effective" hobbits that changed the world. 
    1. Be CleverBeing small, Hobbits rely on their wit to succeed and even the mighty are impressed by them.
    2. Overcome Your FearsBe brave.
    3. Be PreparedWhether a birthday part or a trip across the world, these Hobbits planned and managed resources effectively.
    4. Support your Team"Loyalty is a central theme of The Lord of the Rings. ... It takes a team to accomplish great things, and teams require loyalty to survive."
    5. Know when to Question the BossLoyalty is good but not blind loyalty. Sometimes those in charge are dangerously wrong.
    6. Take a Chance on People"The entire saga of The Lord of the Rings hinges on two acts of mercy – by Bilbo and Frodo Baggins – in sparing the life of Gollum."
    7. Stop and Smell the RosesIn the race to the top and success, don't forget to enjoy life along the way.  

    Labels: , ,

    Tuesday, May 8, 2012

    Common Mistakes with Retirement Planning

    The biggest mistake in retirement planning is not planning at all. I know many families who cannot afford to retire because they failed to save money when younger.

    So let's assume you are planning and are saving. Moneyland at has identified The 7 Biggest Retirement Planning Mistakes
    1. Assuming you can work until age X
      Two in five retire before they had planned to due to illness or job loss. So start early!
    2. Ignoring Taxes
      Take advantage of IRA's and 401(k) reduce the taxes you'll spend for access to your money
    3. Not saving enough for Medical
      The average couple who retires at age 65 will spend $285,000 in health-care costs!!!
    4. Failing to Establish a Lifetime Income
      Few now-a-days (other than union or government workers) will have a pension for life. The article suggests an "immediate fixed annuity" to supply cash flow.
    5. Retiring too soon
      You get less from Social Security if you draw from it the first year you are eligible.
    6. Underestimating how long you'll live
      Many will live to 95 or 100 and outlive the money they saved
    7. Spending your retirement too quickly
      Spend no more than 4% of retirement savings each year.

    Labels: , ,

    Monday, May 7, 2012

    Gloomy Economic News

    I saw many articles this weekend that the global economy is not recovering any time soon. We may have wait several years for the "sun to come out tommorrow."
    No End in Sight to Global Jobs Crisis: UN Agency
    "The global employment market that shows no sign of recovering, the International Labour Organization said on Sunday. In advanced countries, especially in Europe, employment is not expected to return to pre-crisis levels of 2008 until the end of 2016"
    95 Percent Of The Jobs Lost During The Recession Were Middle Class Jobs
    A higher percentage of Americans are working low income jobs than ever before, and the cost of living continues to rise at a very brisk pace. This is causing an erosion of the middle class unlike anything we have ever seen in American history. ... [for] college graduates, the future is not so bright. Last year, a staggering 53 percent of all U.S. college graduates under the age of 25 were either unemployed or underemployed.
    Hugh Hendry On Europe "You Can't Make Up How Bad It Is"

    We have reached a profound point in economic history where the truth is unpalatable to the political class - and that truth is that the scale and magnitude of the problem is larger than their ability to respond - and it terrifies them.

    Labels: , , , , ,

    Friday, May 4, 2012

    It's a Landslide!

    We may say that a politician wins by a landslide but few Americans (other than coastal Californians) have ever experience a real landslide. When I lived in Florida I experienced a different type of land movement - a sinkhole. As Floridians drink the fresh water underground and the aquifer drops, the land above sometimes collapses, swallowing cars and entire homes.

    Landslides are extremely dangerous. Masses of rock, mud and debris move down a slope like a river of earth, striking with little or no warning at avalanche speeds. They also can travel several miles from their source, growing in size as they pick up trees, boulders, cars and other materials.

    Recognize Landslide Warning Signs (FEMA)

    • Changes occur in your landscape such as patterns of storm-water drainage on slopes (especially the places where runoff water converges) land movement, small slides, flows, or progressively leaning trees.
    • Doors or windows stick or jam for the first time.
    • New cracks appear in plaster, tile, brick, or foundations.
    • Outside walls, walks, or stairs begin pulling away from the building.
    • Slowly developing, widening cracks appear on the ground or on paved areas such as streets or driveways.
    • Underground utility lines break.
    • Bulging ground appears at the base of a slope.
    • Water breaks through the ground surface in new locations.
    • Fences, retaining walls, utility poles, or trees tilt or move.
    • A faint rumbling sound that increases in volume is noticeable as the landslide nears.
    • The ground slopes downward in one direction and may begin shifting in that direction under your feet.
    • Unusual sounds, such as trees cracking or boulders knocking together, might indicate moving debris.
    • Collapsed pavement, mud, fallen rocks, and other indications of possible debris flow can be seen when driving (embankments along roadsides are particularly susceptible to landslides).

    Labels: ,

    Thursday, May 3, 2012

    A $5,500 Cat?

    My wife & I love pets, both dogs and cats, and yet they can be very expensive at times. We once had a German Shepard who ate about 1/2 a cup of raw flour which became dough in his gut and blocked all passage of food/water. An emergency vet massaged the gut to release the dough ball. Another dog, very old, was taken to an animal hospital when ill. Because we did not say, "do not resuscitate", they charged us $1000 to revive her when she died (and then she died again while still at the hospital).

    At the Consumerist there's a story of How My Stupid Cat Has Cost Me $5,500 Over Three Years.

    Hooligan (the cat) medical-related expenses: August 2009 - Current

    • First-year vet checkup and vaccination rounds: $200
    • Ear mites: $50 for meds
    • Intestinal worms: $50 for meds
    • Vet visit to figure out why his hair was falling out in nasty clumps: $200
    • Ringworm: $50 for meds
    • Anti-fungal medication for my boyfriend, who got ringworm from the cat: $10
    • Neutered: $250
    • Emergency vet visit because my roommate thought he had eaten a couple of her Adderall pills (yes, true story, and no, he had not): $200
    • Urinary blockage 1: $500 for catheterizing
    • Urinary blockage 2: $500 for catheterizing
    • Urinary blockage 3: $1500 for overnight stay and catheterizing
    • Fancy dancy C/D or S/O prescription-only cat food to prevent future urinary blockages: $40/month x 16 months (and counting!) = $640 (and counting!)
    • Vet visit because he was pooping blood: $200 for x-rays and TWO enemas
    • Vet visit because he was pooping blood again:$150 to diagnose the problem as "stress"
    • Pills for "stress": $50

    Labels: , ,

    Wednesday, May 2, 2012

    You can't take it with you when you go?

    For the ultimate do-it-yourself project, how about making your own coffin? ABC news KSAX tells this story of Patrick Kilby in New York Mills, Minn....

    Patrick has been a woodworker all his life. When his mother passed away, the family found that a nice, simple coffin started at $3,500 and went up quickly with extras. So, "My sister ... volunteered me to make a casket for my mother."

    He found "solice" in the experience and now teaches others how to make coffins and offers a simple pine box through his new company website with prices starting at $1,200.

    Some customers have bought a coffin as furniture!  I'm reminded of a Japanese Manga (comic book), where the main character traveled the world with his own coffin strapped to his back.

    Labels: ,

    Tuesday, May 1, 2012


    “Isn't it appropriate that the month of the tax begins with April Fool's Day and ends with cries of "May Day"?” - anon
    Today, May 1, approximately halfway between the spring equinox and summer solstice, is a day of celebrations in many countries under the name “May Day”. This got me thinking about the distress call “Mayday!” and if there is any connection. The answer is – no.

    Made official in 1948, “Mayday” it is an anglicizing of the French m'aidez, 'help me' or venez m'aider meaning come help me. The call is given three times in a row ("Mayday Mayday Mayday") to prevent mistakes or misunderstanding. Mayday is used ONLY to signal a life-threatening emergency like a boat on fire or sinking or a plane about to crash! For less urgent needs, like being stranded at sea without gas, use the call “Coastguard, Coastguard, Coastguard”.

    A Mayday call indicates that a vessel, aircraft, vehicle, or person is in grave and imminent danger and requires immediate assistance. Mayday calls can be made on any frequency, and once made, no other radio traffic on that frequency is permitted except to assist in the emergency. Making a false Mayday call is a criminal act in many countries. In the U.S. it is a federal crime carrying sanctions of up to six years imprisonment, and a fine of $250,000.

    When making a valid Mayday call, indicate the name of your boat/aircraft, your location, the nature of the emergency and the number of people involved. Wikipedia recommends this as a typical message:
    “MAYDAY, MAYDAY, MAYDAY, this is [boatname], [boatname], [boatname]. Position 54 25 North 016 33 West. My boat is on fire and sinking. I require immediate assistance. 4 people on board. We are evacuating to a lifeboat. OVER."
    Bottom Line

    Anyone hearing a Mayday call should respond to save lives. If you are distant from the scene or unable to respond, you can still help by relaying the Mayday call if there has been no official reply within two minutes of the distress call. It may be that the Coastguard is out of range and didn’t hear the call from the sinking boat but will hear you. A Mayday relay call should use the callsign of the transmitting vessel but give the name and position of the Mayday vessel. “MAYDAY, MAYDAY, MAYDAY, this is [boatname], [boatname], [boatname] relaying a Mayday from [otherboat], position 54 25 North 016 33 West. [otherboat] boat is on fire and sinking and requires immediate assistance. 4 people on board. [otherboat] is evacuating to a lifeboat. OVER."