Friday, June 29, 2012

7 Rules for Recording Police

I've seen many stories lately about persons arrested for daring to record police activity on their smart phone. Is it legal or not? The answer depends on where you live. For Simon Glik of Boston it was legal and he was awarded $170,000 in damages and legal fees in a civil rights lawsuit against his 2007 felony arrest for videotaping police roughing up a suspect. The First Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that Glik had a “constitutionally protected right to videotape police carrying out their duties in public.” gives this advice for filming the police ...
  1. Know your local Law
    The law in 38 states allows citizens to record police (provided you don’t physically interfere with their work.) The police don't always agree and may still object, take your camera, or arrest you.

    Twelve states, California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Washington, require the consent of all parties for you to record a conversation but all but two of these states, Massachusetts and Illinois, have agreed in Court that the “expectation of privacy provision” does NOT apply to on-duty police.
  2. Don't record Police Secretly
    "Massachusetts is the only state to uphold a conviction for recording on-duty police, but that conviction was for a secret recording where the defendant failed to inform police he was recording."
  3. Be careful what you say if challenged by Police
    Don't piss off a policeman. Be polite.  For example, “Officer, I’m not interfering. I’m asserting my First Amendment rights. You’re being documented and recorded offsite.” Don't try to argue the law with a policemen. See the Reason article for more details on what to say or not to say.
  4. Don’t Share Your Video with Police
  5. Be Prepared to be Arrested
    If you refuse to stop filming or surrender your camera you may be arrested (perhaps wrongly). Do not resist arrest. You have the right to remain silent until you speak with a lawyer.
  6. Protect your Your Phone
    Passcode protect your smartphone. You may be forced to hand it over but you CANNOT be forced to surrender the password protecting it. Turn OFF your phone before surrendering it.

    Consider using Qik or Bambuser which immediately store your video offsite in case an officer "accidental" breaks your phone.
  7. Don't point the camera like a gun
    Don't make any moves that could get you shot
Reason concludes with the following,
If you’ve recently been arrested or charged with a crime after recording police, contact a lawyer with your state’s ACLU chapter for advice as soon as possible. (Do not publicly upload your video before then.) You may also contact Flex Your Rights via Facebook or Twitter. We’re not a law firm, but we’ll do our best to help you.
If your case is strong, the ACLU might offer to take you on as a litigant. If you accept, your brave stand could forever change the way police treat citizens asserting their First Amendment right to record police. This path is not for fools, and it might disrupt your life. But next time you see police in action, don’t forget that a powerful tool for truth and justice might literally be in your hands.

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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Manly uses for Tampons

Website "The Art of Manliness" features 10 Survival Uses for Tampons, originally titled Yes, That’s a Tampon in My Mouth: The Swiss Army Survival Tampon — 10 Survival Uses

The site recommends men put out of mind the feminine uses that might them squeamish and think instead of a tampon as the "Tactical Adventure Medical Preparedness Outdoors Necessity". The tampon is actually regulated in the US by the Food & Drug Administration as a Class II Medical Device.
  1. Medical Bandage
    Tampons are sterile and ultra-absorbent making them the perfect first aid bandage for heavy bleeding.
  2. Crude Water Filter
    Won't work on chemicals or bacteria but can filter out grit and sediment from water
  3. Survival Drinking Straw
    Suck dirty water through a tampon if there's no other way to purify the water.
  4. Fire Tinder
  5. Tampon string can be used as a candle wick
    Make an emergency oil candle with rendered animal fat and string
  6. Use Tampon string directly
    It's not much of a string but could be used to make a deadfall trap or tie things together
  7. Use cotton as fletching for blow-dart
  8. Blow tube to heat up coals
  9. Waterproof case for matches
  10. Use packaging to make bobber for fishing line
Can you think of other survival uses for a tampon?

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Shake that broom

'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free,
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be"
- Shaker hymn

If you're familiar with the Shakers, then you probably know about the lovely boxes they made. And perhaps Shaker furniture. But for a religious group that embraced "Simple Gifts" they were surprisingly inventive. According to Wikipedia...

"Shakers won respect and admiration for their productive farms and orderly communities. Their industry brought about many inventions like Babbitt metal, the rotary , the circular saw, the clothespin, the Shaker peg, the flat broom, the wheel-driven washing machine, a machine for setting teeth in textile cards, a threshing machine, metal pens, a new type of fire engine, a machine for matching boards, numerous innovations in waterworks, planing machinery, a hernia truss, silk reeling machinery, small looms for weaving palm leaf, machines for processing broom corn, ball-and-socket tilters for chair legs, and a number of other useful inventions. Shakers were the first large producers of medicinal herbs in the United States, and pioneers in the sale of seeds in paper packets"
Perhaps lost in the list above is "flat broom". What, you ask, could there be any other shape for a broom?  Slate magazine has well-written history of the broom,
bundles of twigs, reeds, corn husks, and other natural fibers have almost certainly been used since ancient times to sweep up ash and embers around fires and, later, hearths. 
“what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it?” - Luke 15:8
For over two thousand years brooms looked like the image at right; what we think of today as a witch's broom and sometimes called a "besom" broom. About 200 years ago, farmer Levi Dickinson discovered that a sorghum grass, now called "broomcorm" made a great besom broom. This was modernized and sold in mass production.
"The Shaker intervention [...] was simple but ingenious: Instead of lashing the broomcorn in a round bundle to the handle, they found that securing the corn with wire, flattening it with a vice and sewing it tight resulted in superior cleaning tool. [...] The Shakers also pioneered the smaller whisk broom, perfect for one-handed dusting and sweeping of higher surfaces" -
Next time you use a flat broom, give a prayer of thanks to the Shakers.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Keeping water cool?

In Mediterranean countries, one can find ceramic containers that look unfinished to me. Where's the glaze covering? Won't it leak without some kind of outer seal over the ceramic?

The best known example is the Spanish 'botijo' and it is unglazed and leaky by design. Water slowly seeps through the ceramic and evaporates on the outside and this evaporation cools the contents within; up to 30 degrees F cooler in optimal conditions. We humans use the same technique to keep cool when sweat evaporates on our skin.

The botijo "jar" usually has a wide, spherical belly with two openings on top, a wide opening for pouring water in and a smaller opening as a drinking spout. The jar may also have one or two handles to carry it and tilt it. Traditionally people drink from a botijo by lifting it and tilting the spout to pour water into their mouth (but not touch the lips, that's considered very bad manners).

The evaporating-cooling trick can be applied in other clever ways. Most Army/Boy Scout canteens have a cloth outer cover or carrying bag. That cloth should be soaked when you fill the canteen and it will cool the contents as it dries. For water bottles you can make your own instant covering by placing the water bottle inside a thick, wet sock. If you try this I'd keep the bottle/sock strapped outside your backpack, not inside it.

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Monday, June 25, 2012

115 year-old turtle wants a divorce

Here's an unusual story from the AustrianTimes. The Austrian Zoo has a pair of giant turtles that have been together for over 100 years.
Zoo boss Helga added: "They are both 115 years old - they have been together since they were young and grew up together, eventually becoming a pair.

But the honeymoon is over...
Zoo management have called in animal experts to try and give the pair counselling - feeding them romantic good mood food, ... but so far without effect.
Zoo staff realised there was trouble then Bibi attacked her partner and bit off a chunk of his shell. And then continued attacking. (Not tonight, I have a headache?)
"For no reason that anyone can discover they seem to have fallen out, they just can't stand each other."
The zookeepers refuse to give up hope of reconciliation,
"We have staff talking to and trying to engage the two in interacting, and we hope that they might find their harmony again."


Friday, June 22, 2012

10 Lessons from Greece

theEconomicCollapseBlog notes 10 Things That We Can Learn From The Economic Collapse In Greece.

#1. Food Shortages Can Actually Happen
"In Greece, many people are starting to totally run out of food.  Even some government institutions (such as prisons) are now reporting food shortages."
#2. Medicine Is One Of The First Things That Becomes Scarce
"The Panhellenic Association of Pharmacists reports shortages of almost half the country’s 500 most-used medicines."
#3. When An Economy Collapses, So Might The Power Grid
"Greece’s power regulator RAE told Reuters on Friday it was calling an emergency meeting next week to avert a collapse of the debt-stricken country’s electricity and natural gas system. "
Greece faces the threat of rolling power blackouts as the economic crisis leaves utilities without cash to pay for natural-gas imports and operate power stations.  
#4. You Cannot Take Water For Granted
In America, "Without truck deliveries of purification chemicals, water supply plants will run out of drinkable water in 14 to 28 days."
#5 Your Credit Cards And Debit Cards May Stop Working
  If banks collapse, so do the cards they issue.

#6. Crime, Rioting And Looting
"British electrical retailer Dixons has spent the last few weeks stockpiling security shutters to protect its nearly 100 stores across Greece in case of riot."
#7. Average Citizens Will Start Bartering
 "alternative currencies have already been popping up in Greece."
#8. Suicides Spike
"Suicide statistics in Greece have been absolutely soaring during the last couple of years."
#9. Your Currency May Rapidly Lose Value
"Greeks are pulling their money out of the banks because they are worried that their euros will be turned into drachmas which would rapidly lose value."
#10. The Government Will Not Save You
  In Greece the government is the problem.

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

What happens when a country runs out of money?

John Donne once wrote, "No man is an island, Entire of itself. Each is a piece of the continent, A part of the main." What is true of humanity is doubly true for countries, even island nations (metaphorically speaking).

The nation of Greece is a study of what happens when a country cannot pay its bills. And when a majority of the people rely on government benefits and subsidies, the people suffer then the money stops flowing.

According to
Migrants are being attacked and are desperate to leave the country. Pharmacists are now refusing the government benefits card and demanding cash only for life saving drugs because they fear not being paid in Euros by the Greek bureaucracy, as payments are already many months behind in reimbursements. Sadly, soup lines are the longest since the end of World War II as the middle class has fallen into dire straits of poverty, forcing dumpster diving by parents and children around the nation.
And it is expected to get worse. Greece imports 40% of its total food supply and exporters from other nations no longer trust Greece pay its bills in a timely manner (if ever). Typically in such circumstances Greece would pay on credit or else shipments would be insured against default.
But the lines of credit for many importers in Greece has already been greatly reduced if not outright terminated by many European companies due to the crisis.
a more dire blow was struck this week when several major insurers declined to cover shipments of goods into Greece in case there is a default on payment.
Could this happen in America? The US government ignores debt risk and says, we can just print more money. But all countries are part of a larger global economy and if other nations stop trusting a currency or ability to pay, then the country is doomed.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Shelf-stable foods

From the USDA, some interesting facts about Shelf-Stable foods and cans

What does "shelf stable" mean?Foods that can be safely stored at room temperature, or "on the shelf," are called "shelf stable." These non-perishable products include jerky, country hams, canned and bottled foods, rice, pasta, flour, sugar, spices, oils, and foods processed in aseptic or retort packages and other products that do not require refrigeration until after opening.

Not all canned goods are shelf stable. Some canned food, such as some canned ham and seafood, are not safe at room temperature. These will be labeled "Keep Refrigerated."
How does canning make food shelf stable?Food is placed in airtight, vacuum-sealed containers and heat processed at 250 °F (121 °C) to destroy microorganisms and inactivates enzymes. As the food cools, a vacuum seal is formed that prevents any new bacteria from getting in. Once the container is opened, however, bacteria can enter and begin growing in the food. Any unused portions must then be refrigerated in clean containers.

Do cans contain lead?The canned food industry in the United States stopped using lead-soldered cans in 1991. In 1995, the Food and Drug Administration issued a final rule prohibiting the use of lead solder in all food cans, including imported products.

Is it safe to use rusted canned foods?Discard heavily rusted cans. Cans that are heavily rusted can have tiny holes in them, allowing bacteria to enter. Surface rust that you can remove by rubbing with your finger or a paper towel is not serious.

Is it safe to use food from dented cans?If a can containing food has a small dent, but is otherwise in good shape, the food should be safe to eat. Discard deeply dented cans. A deep dent is one that you can lay your finger into. Deep dents often have sharp points. A sharp dent on either the top or side seam can damage the seam and allow bacteria to enter the can. Discard any can with a deep dent on any seam.
If a can hisses when opened, is the food safe to eat?Some cans make a hissing sound when opened because they are vacuum-packed and the noise is a result of air pressure. This is perfectly normal. However, if a can hisses loudly or the contents spurt forcefully out of the can when opened, it may be an indication that the food is unsafe. Do not taste or use such food.

Is the dating of shelf-stable foods required by federal law?Except for infant formula and some baby food, product dating — having a "use-by," "sell-by," or "best-if-used-by" date — is not required by Federal regulations. Dating is for quality, not safety.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

What makes fruit rippen?

Our fridge at home has two drawers at the bottom, one marked fruit, the other vegetables. I thought this was just decorative but it turns out there is a good reason for storing fruits and vegetables separately. Many fruits generate ethylene gas while they ripen; ethylene (C2H4) is odorless, colorless and natural. The refrigerator acts as a trap for ethylene gas which can lead to early spoilage of gas sensitive fruits and leafy veggies like lettuce.  By understanding this process you can force some items to ripen faster or prevent other items from spoiling quickly.

Ethylene's affect on fruit was discovered by accident when lemon growers learned that newly harvested green lemons ripened faster when kept warm in kerosene heaters sheds. But the lemons no longer turned yellow in time for shipping in new eclectically heated sheds. In 1959 researchers found that the secret ingredient was not the heat but ethylene gas emitted by the kerosene heaters.

The Ethylene-producing fruits include: (VH=very high, H = high, M = medium, L = low, VL = very low)
  • Apples (VH)
  • Apricots (H)
  • Avocados (H)
  • Bananas (M)
  • Blueberries (L production, also L sensitivity)
  • Cantaloupes (H)
  • all Citrus (VH, except for grapefruit VL)
  • Honeydew melons (M)
  • Kiwis (L production but H sensitivity)
  • Mangoes (M)
  • Nectarines (H)
  • Papayas (H)
  • Peaches (H)
  • Pears (H)
  • Plums (M)
The Ethylene-sensitive fruits and vegetables are:
  • All the fruit listed above, and...
  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Green beans
  • Lettuce, Kale and other greens
  • Parsley
  • Peas
  • Peppers
  • Potatoes 
  • Spinach
  • Summer squash
  • Sweet potatoes and yams
  • Watermelons
Note that the ethylene producing fruits are also ethylene sensitive. If you put bananas in a closed bag they will ripen faster as the gas builds up inside the bag.

Refrigerated fruits and vegetables should be kept in perforated plastic bags in different produce drawers of the refrigerator. You can either purchase perforated plastic bags or easily make your own by poking small holes in unperforated plastic bags (about 20 holes per medium-size bag).

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Monday, June 18, 2012

Leg Cramps

Last night my wife had a sudden cramp in a thigh muscle that would not go away. Fortunately I had blogged about this very topic two years ago.
I did not remember the exact details but I did remember there was a chemical imbalance and that pickle juice often helped although no one really understands why. People report results within a minute of drinking vinegar and that's way too fast for the stomach to process it and move it to the blood stream.
So I mixed up a cocktail of chemicals - a tablespoon of vinegar, another of lemon concentrate, some clear soda for sweetness and a dash of salt. This was followed by a water chaser since the taste was so awful. And it worked. We have no idea which item was essential, my wife was in pain and not interested in a lab experiment testing each item one at a time.
If the drink has failed I would have tried milk (for calcium) or a banana (for potassium). The required mineral is different for different people.
According to the Mayo Clinic ...
For most people, night leg cramps are merely an annoyance ... But in some cases, you may need to see a doctor.
Seek immediate medical care if you:
  • Experience severe and persistent cramping
  • Have night leg cramps after being exposed to a toxin, such as lead
Schedule an office visit if you:
  • Have trouble functioning during the day because leg cramps interrupt your sleep
  • Develop muscle weakness and atrophy along with leg cramps
See also

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Friday, June 15, 2012

What is a Hurricane Watch?

What is a Hurricane Watch?

Familiarize yourself with the terms that are used to identify a hurricane or any storm event.

A hurricane watch means a hurricane is possible in your area. Be prepared to evacuate. Monitor local radio and television news outlets or listen to NOAA Weather Radio for the latest developments.

A hurricane warning is when a hurricane is expected in your area. If local authorities advise you to evacuate, leave immediately. Before you are advised


Thursday, June 14, 2012

15 more things to do before a hurricane

On top of yesterday's list, here are 15 more things to do before a hurricane.

16. Evacuate if you live in a high rise near the coast.  Hurricane Ike shook buildings 60+ miles inland.  You may be safe from rising water, but not from wind damage and flying objects.  
17. Pick up loose objects outside before the storm hits, so they don’t become projectiles. Put away lawn chairs, tables, door mats, hammocks, potted plants, rakes, etc.
18. Buy batteries.  Lots of them.  All sizes.  
19. Flashlights - Have plenty around and know where they are if you have to find them in the dark.  
20. And know where your tools are too!
21. Buy candles or Kerosene lanterns.  Just be careful not to start house fires.  It happens.  
22. Purchase a battery charged TV or radio so you’ll know what’s happening.  
23. Buy long extension cords.  Your house lines may be down but your neighbor is sitting pretty with A/C and full service of all things electronic.  
24. If you evacuate, unplug all electronics and turn off your lights in the event of water damage.  
25. Invest in an emergency tire inflator and make sure your spare tires are full.  
26. Know how to replace a flat tire.
27. Fill your bathtub with water in the event city water lines are cut off.  You may need this for bathing AND flushing.  Yes, flushing.  
28. If it’s yellow, let it mellow.  If it’s brown, flush it down.  Just keep the lid down.  
29. Playing cards, reading material, board games … there’s nothing worse than a bored child, except a bored child in a hurricane with no video games or DVDs or TV.
30.  Don’t forget your pets! They need food and water too.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

15 things to do before a Hurricane

15 Things to do Before a Hurricane

1. Don’t rely on FEMA or the local, state and federal government: Remember Katrina.  
2. Protect legal documents like drivers licenses, ID cards, credit cards, passports, SSN cards, birth certificates, marriage certificates, insurance documents, etc. Place then in a waterproof container or at least two layers of ziploc bags.  Keep this high and dry and easy to reach if you must evacuate.  
3. GET CASH NOW.  Hurricanes hate electricity and ATMs.
4. Charge your cell phones, handheld gaming devices and any external batteries.
5. Write down all important telephone numbers in case your cellphone battery runs down. Put this piece of paper in your plastic bag for safety.  
6. Buy a cell phone recharger that works in your car..
7. Gas up all your cars and fill any gas tanks/cans you have as backup. Pumps won’t work if the power goes out.  
8. Treasured items – photos, mementos, baby shoes – keep them close and easy to put in a box if you need to get out fast.  
9. Stock up on bread, canned food items, bottled water, and any other non-perishable food items.  If your power is out for 10 days, like Houston after Hurricane Ike, peanut butter sandwiches get boring.  So think variety: saltines, crackers, nuts, candy, jelly, small cans of meat like Vienna sausages & tuna, cereal, pop-tarts, lunchables, cookies, etc.  
10. Purchase an ice chest and fill it.  Fill your freezer too.  You will use a LOT of ice if the power goes out.  
11.  First Aid kits.  Buy them for your house and for your car.  
12. Know how to disconnect your electric garage door opener so you can get your car out.  
13. Buy Sterno, charcoal or gas so you cook in your back yard with a BBQ grill. Do you have a grill???
14. Don’t forget matches or lighters.  

15. Refill medical Prescriptions.  Very Important!


Tuesday, June 12, 2012


My current commuting lecture series is about life in the Medieval Ages and like a Connecticut Yankee in King Author's Court I thought about how I would explain my job (computer programming) to someone Medieval. Instead of describing computers I decided I would call myself a philosopher of algorithms, or meta-thinking about how we think and prove things. This was the core of my university graduate training which then led me to realize how much I've forgotten.

It turns out in mathematics that foundations are really important and the simple concepts we take for granted are not so simple after all. Consider this story, There is a town where the barber shaves every man who does not shave himself. The barber is male. Who shaves the barber?  Think about it....

Mathematically this is equivalent to the set Z which includes all sets that don't include themselves.  Is Z in Z?
Suppose yes. Then by definition Z is not is Z.  Suppose no. Then by definition Z is in Z. Either way you get a contradiction so Z is impossible.

Suppose you argue that it's silly for a set to include itself and ban all such sets. This does not prevent Z described above, the set of all "legal" sets which don't contain themselves. Logicians realized that the problem was with the definition of "set". Just what is a set?

In 1908 Ernst Zermelo proposed a set of rules for defining legal sets. It was revised in 1922 by Abraham Fraenkel. Today we call this the Zermelo-Fraenkel axiomatic set theory or ZF for short.

0 Axiom of Existence. The empty collection is a set.
Optional. Some like this rule, some feel it is not necessary or assumed.

1. Axiom of Extensionality.  Two sets are equal if they have the same elements
Well, duh!

2. Axiom of Regularity or Foundation. For every non-empty set X, there is a member y such that X and y have NO elements in common.
This one sounds weird but it prevents sets from containing themselves. Let A be set. Consider {A} the set containing A. Since A is non-empty and only has one element, by rule 2 {A} and A must be "disjoint" meaning no elements in common. Since A is in {A}, disjoint means A is not in A.

3. Axiom of Regularity  If B is a set and f is a property on elements of B then the collection of elements x of B such that f(x) is true is a set.
Note that this new set is equal to or a subset of B and the role of B as a boundary is vital. The collection of all x such that f(x) is true with no boundary on x need not be a set like Z defined above.

4. Axiom of Pairing  if X and Y are sets then there exists a set containing X and Y
In other words, if X, Y are sets, then so is {X,Y}

5. Axiom of Union.  Let F be a set containing sets. Then there exists a set A that contains all the elements from each set of F.   If F is {B,C} then A = B  U  C with U as the Union symbol

6. Axiom of schema replacement. Given set B and f a function on B. Let Y equal all y such that y = f(x) where x in B. Then Y is a set.
Basically this says a set is not dependent on the symbols or values used. If we map symbols in set B to unique symbols in Y then Y is as set.

7. Axiom of Infinity. Define S(X) =  X U {X} for sets X.  Then there exists a set N such that the empty set is in N and for all Y in N, S(Y) is also in N.
What this means is that the collection of integers is a set. Take the empty set to be zero and define X+1 as S(X). Then N represents the integers 0, 1, 2, ....

8. Axiom of the Power Set. For any set X there is a set Y which contains ALL the subsets of X.
This is an important rule for making bigger sets. If  X = {1,2,3} then the power set of X, the set of all subsets = { {},  {1}, {2}, {3}, {1,2}, {2,3}, {1,3}, {1,2,3} }

Clear as mud? No wonder I did not remember all this from college.


Monday, June 11, 2012

Stay out of Debt Song

Here's a clip from one of Gilligan's Island best episodes where Shakespeare's Hamlet is set to music. (Couldn't all Shakespeare be improved this way?)  The tune is the Toreador song from the opera Carmen. The theme: stay out of debt.

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Friday, June 8, 2012

Online Education: Udacity

In addition to Coursera, Khan Academy and MIT online that I've blogged about, I'm near the end of two free online classes from a company called Udacity. The format for both was the same so I don't know if it's a company standard or just chance?

What I liked about the Udacity classes is that lesson topics are 3-6 minutes long with a quiz or exercise associated with most topics to ensure you get the point. There are many topics with about 2 hours of video per week, plus weekly homework assignments. It has been VERY hands-on, you learn by doing and end the class with a working program like a web browser or a blogging website.

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Thursday, June 7, 2012

Good to the Last Drop

If you're old enough, you may remember the ketchup commercial to the song of "Anticipation" by Carly Simon about waiting for the extra thick ketchup to pour from the bottle. Have ever tried to pour ketchup at a restaurant and had to slap the bottle or insert a knife to start it flowing?

It was rather clever of MIT to use ketchup to demonstrate its new non-stick coating for the insides of bottles. Scroll down the page at MIT’s Freaky Non-Stick Coating Keeps Ketchup Flowing to see a video of ketchup pouring out without leaving even a drop behind. This reminds me of a chemistry lab partner in college, born of two PhD chemists, who could empty a test tube with not a single drop left at the bottom of the tube.


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Creative Thinking

If you have not already discovered it, check out for wonderful, short, lectures on all matters of Technology, Entertainment and Design. Each day a new talk is published. I've learned a lot about new inventions in medicine, computers, engineering, and more. As well as theories about education, problem solving, and creative thinking.

Here's a good starting point,

Bart Knols describes his creative ideas in battling the Malaria mosquito. For example
1. His team investigated what part of the body the malaria mosquito was attracted to, the answer was feet.  What do feet smell like?  Stinky cheese. They tested that and discovered that Limburger cheese was an excellent bait for mosquito traps.

2. The best time to stop mosquitoes is as larva before they hatch. But how do you find mosquito breeding pools?  With trained dogs to sniff them out.

3. Turning the tables: Bart demonstrates a pill that makes human blood poisonous to mosquitoes. If they bite, they die and will never lay eggs.

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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Cola Wars

Billy Joel's song, We Didn't Start the Fire, serves as an excellent history test - how many of the events in the song do you know? It ends with this line, "Rock and Roll and Cola Wars: I Can't Take it Any More."  Cola Wars??? After singing about the H-bomb, drugs, etc, he ends with Cola Wars?

Well this is one long war between Coke and Pepsi that you can not escape seeing on TV, radio, movie theaters, etc. Recently I heard an ad for Pepsi that set my teeth on edge, "Live for Now".  Really?! That's the message for "a new generation?"  "What are you waiting for?", asks the Pepsi website, "Live for Now".

Besides being a dumb slogan, (why should living for immediate gratification mean drinking Pepsi?), it's also teaching a terrible lesson to today's youth. Failure to plan, failure to save money, failure to prepare, this is our new Pepsi Generation.

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Monday, June 4, 2012

There's no place like home

Preparedness sites often speak of GOOD (Get Out of Dodge), meaning an escape plan for fleeing the house and reaching a remote safe location in case of hurricane or other mass evacuation. The problem with such plans is the "mass evacuation" part; roads become quickly clogged and a single accident can stop hundreds of thousands of people from going anywhere.

Few sites ever mention the reverse problem - going home during a crisis. Unless your home is in the immediate path of danger, like a fire or beach house in a hurricane, experts agree that it's the best place to be for the average person during an emergency. Hopefully your home is supplied with tools, food, warm clothes, etc that you'll need. It's a place you're familiar with and are comfortable with. [There are very few with a well-stocked retreat cabin in the country with running water and game to hunt, etc]

Take a look at Your Get Home Plan, by J.A.F., a typical urban commuter for Washington DC who every day must drive, take a train and ride the subway. Not unlike many workers in NYC.  Ideas include:
1. Have a good pair of walking shoes at your office. I got horrible blisters once walking a distance in my dress shoes in DC.
2. Have a go-kit with food & water for the trip home, along with a hat, suntan lotion, etc in case you have to walk when the train or subway is not working.
3. Learn alternate routes.  Can you use a bus or taxi? Do you know which neighborhoods are safe to walk in and which are not?
4. Find a place to stay. Is there a friend who lives near the office that you can stay overnight with?  Do you have a change of clothes if forced to sleep at the office because you have no-where else?

During the North East power black-out a decade ago or so, there was no commuting (no trains, no subways) and no hotels (electric key cards on most doors). Most shops with electric cash registers could not sell food or were forced to toss food with no refrigeration. I had no evacuation plan at the time but I did have a go kit (this was after 9-11).  So I slept at the office in Manhattan and ate my power bars.

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Friday, June 1, 2012

NEVER leave pets & children in hot cars

NEVER leave pets or children in a closed, parked vehicle; even for "a few minutes." Children, elderly adults, or disabled individuals left alone in a vehicle are at particular risk of succumbing to heat stroke. When the outside temperature is 70 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperature inside the car can exceed 120 degrees in minutes, even with the windows slightly open. Pets are even more susceptible than humans to heat stroke in cars, as dogs, cats and many other animals cannot produce whole body sweat.

Heat stroke can be fatal and occurs when the body gives up on trying to cool down. As temperatures climb, your heart beats faster to whisk away internal body heat via the blood stream to keep your insides and your brain at 98 F. Your skin sweats (dogs pant) to aid the removal of heat from the blood just beneath the skin.

If you've ever had a fever with a cold (or raised an infant) then you'll know that our body has very little tolerance for internal temperate change. Heat stroke is defined as an internal temperature of 104 F; that just 5.4 degrees above normal. At that temperature the brain can become confused and internal organs can become damaged. The body will work very hard to keep you below that limit but it's a losing battle when the air itself is hotter than 104 or when exposed to heat for a long time and you run out of sweat (dehydrated) or the heart becomes exhausted and just flutters rapidly instead of rapid pumping. One sign of heat stroke is the LACK of sweat.

For heat stroke call 911 and get help. Shade and water will help with heat exhaustion but with heat stroke the body is in serious trouble. The Mayo Clinic says,

Heatstroke treatment centers on cooling your body to a normal temperature to prevent or reduce damage to your brain and vital organs. To do this, your doctor may take these steps:
  • Immerse you in cold water. Your doctor may put your body in a bath of cold water or ice water to quickly lower your temperature.
  • Use evaporation cooling techniques. Some doctors prefer to use evaporation instead of immersion to lower your body temperature. In this technique, cool water is misted on your skin while warm air fanned over your body causes the water to evaporate, cooling the skin.
  • Pack you with ice and cooling blankets. Another method is to wrap you in a special cooling blanket and apply ice packs to your groin, neck, back and armpits to lower your temperature.
  • Give you medications to stop your shivering. If any treatments to lower your body temperature make you shiver, your doctor may give you a muscle relaxant, such as a benzodiazepine. Shivering increases your body temperature, making treatment less effective.

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