Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Where did Amusement Parks Come From?

The Roller Coaster Shijingshan Amusement P  Amusement Parks also known as Themed parks are found all over the United States and the World.  You know them and might have even been to one.  Even as an adult, I love going to Disneyland in California.

Other amusement parks include Seven Flags, Knotts Berry Farm, etc.  How long have they been with us?  When did our focus move from traveling circuses to stationary places of entertainment.

Amusement parks developed around the same time as some of  World Fair's in the late 1800's.  They developed from pleasure gardens which were plots of public land set aside for people to gather for recreational and entertainment activities.  The earliest amusement parks provided a place for working men to bring their families for inexpensive food and entertainment.

The 1893 World's Fair provided one model with its midway for amusement parks to have shows, rides, and concession stands to bring in money.  The more of these at the park, the more people drawn and the more profit the owners made.  At about the same time, Steeplechase Park opened on  Coney Island.  This park offered the opportunity for patrons to race mechanical horses around a 1,100 foot steel track.  In addition, it had a Ferris wheel for those who did not want to race.

This was joined by Dreamland which operated only between 1904 and 1911. This park offered people the chance to ride gondolas in Venice, ride the mountains in Switzerland, relax at a Japanese tea house, visit Lilliput, check out a "freak" show or see wild animals from Africa and other countries.  This helped Coney Island gain a reputation for having spectacles,  thrills, rides, and the more appealing "freak" shows.

 Eventually, a third park joined Steeplechase and Dreamland called Luna Park. This park visitors a chance to experience 20,000 leagues under the sea all the way to the North Pole, or even to the moon. People could ride elephants, visit Delhi, or visit countries such as Japan, Ireland, or Italy.  Since people liked disasters, the owners even recreated Pompeii and the flood of Galveston.

 It wasn't until the 1940's that amusement parks started growing and becoming part of American culture.  In 1946, Santa Claus Land opened in Indiana near the town of Santa Claus. The 260 acre amusement park filled with a small alpine village, rides, and a daily visit from Santa Claus attracted quite a few visitors.  Along the way, they added Halloween and July 4th to create Holiday World. 

Then in 1955, the most well known amusement park opened in Southern California.  It was the dream come true of Walt Disney who created Disney Land.  Originally, they used the admission and per ride cost structure but then switched over to the one price covers everything.

Six years later in 1961, Seven Flags over Texas opened in Arlington, Texas. This park offered the first inclusive price model which provided for admission and all the rides so the only thing people had to pay for was food and souvenirs.  The idea behind this amusement park is that each of the areas focused on one of the cultures which helped shape Texas.

This entity is considered the largest amusement park operator with over 30 properties in North America and others around the globe.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Four Other New Olympic Sports

Karate, Sunset, Fight, Sports  In addition to skateboarding, four other sports have been approved to make their premier appearance in Tokyo in 2020.  I don't remember the last time this many new sports made an appearance.

Many of these sports did not exist when the modern Olympics premiered back in the 1890's.  The first brings to mind those Karate Kid movies from way back when.

Yes, karate has been approved as one of the new Olympic sports.  There will be two different competitions within the Karate umbrella. First is the Kata which strings together self-defense techniques into a performance routine lasting 2 to 3 minutes.  The second is Kumite or the fighting elements  where two athletes face each other and score points through the use of kicks, punches, throws, sweeps, and strikes.  The rules are in place but many of those who make it to the Olympics will be world ranked.  Furthermore, its only been accepted for this one Olympics.  In order to become a regular event, it will have to be proposed and accepted for future Summer Olympics.

Next is baseball/softball which is being restored to the 2020 Olympics after an absence of 12 years.  It last appeared in the 2008 Summer Olympics.  The fear with this is that major league players would be sent but there is a sense that only minor league players would qualify because it would require MLB to close down games during the middle of their season.  However, it is said that South Korea, and Japan will shut down their seasons so they can use their best players at the Olympics.

Next is something called Sports Climbing or as the layman might comment "Those guys who climb everything with minimal equipment."  The sports climbing will cover three facets: lead climbing, bouldering, and speed climbing.  The winner  will be the one with the highest scores from the three events.  Speed climbing is done against the clock while lead climbing requires them to climb a wall that does not have premade supports and bouldering has them climbing on low routes without safety lines.  Only a total of 40 (20 male and 20 female) competitors will be allowed to participate in this event.

The last new sport for the 2020 Olympics is Surfing.  Surfing is something I grew up with.  Its what students disappeared from school to do because the day was beautiful and the waves were perfect.  No I never got the hang of it but I enjoyed watching those who could do it.  They voted to have surfing happen in the ocean where most people traditionally surf, not using manmade waves. There will only be 20 females and 20 male short boarders but the method of choosing them has not been developed yet so I don't know how they will be chosen.  The events will be held at Shida Beach, about 40 miles from Tokyo.

These new sports will add 18 events and 474 athletes but will not effect any of the other sports already a part of the Summer Olympics.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Skateboarding and the 2020 Olympics

  Since snowboarding and fancy skiing have joined the ranks of the Winter Olympics, it wouldn't be long before skateboarding joined the Summer Olympics.  So now in 2020, skateboarding becomes an official Olympic sport.

Skateboard, Skateboarder, SkaeThere will be two types of events, street and park skateboarding.  Not being a skateboarder, neither term means much to me but to a skateboarder, they tell so much.

Street type skating generally refers to skating in the streets, parking lots, or any public place. This is the most popular type of skating.  Park skateboarding is when obstacles are installed in a limited area for people to skate in.  Some of the obstacles include pyramids, banks, ledges, and boxes scattered around.  Many of the tricks are the same as done in the street but the parks substitute for the street and is often safer.

For the Olympics park skating will focus on dome shaped bowls and complex curves while street skating will focus more on rails, stairs, ledges, and curbs.

Why would the Olympics include skateboarding as one of the official sports?  They are looking to attract more of the younger crowd. The crowd who are likely to be out on the street performing their own ollies, bowls, riding ledges, and kick flipping and who might see themselves performing side by side with the Olympians.

I've watched skateboarding in a park near the library when I've visited my siblings but how would these tricks be scored at the Olympics?  According to an article, judges will look at speed, height, and combination of moves along with the composition of the moves when they judge skateboarding because it is a free performance competition.

So when the competition begins, they will be scored on originality, composition, style, and consistency but in street skating they add in  overall board control  while in park skating they consider  height and speed of air tricks.

Makes you wonder who will make the first United States skateboarding team in 2020 and what it will take.  There is already a lot of talk about Shaun White medal winning snowboarder being on the team but I have not found the process by which skateboarders will be selected to compete.  I did discover that skateboarders are under the folds of the International Federation of Roller Sports but nothing more.

It sounds like this sport is still so new they have not had time to figure out how the skateboarders will qualify for the United States Team.  I know there are tons of talented skateboarders who prowl the streets and parks but will they have the chance to qualify?  I hope so but I don't know.

Let me know what you think.  I'd love to hear.


Friday, February 23, 2018

New Take on Olympic Sport.

I apologize for not publishing yesterday.  I was stuck in Bethel which has been having internet issues for several months and the internet they have is not always reliable.  Its only good enough to check your mail for periods of time.  I finally made it home about 3:30 and went straight to bed for a nap.  I've been fighting a flu bug while trying to survive my presentations at the conference.

So I got to the airport at a nasty 7:30 am with a bit of blowing snow and roads that made it look like early spring complete with pot holes and jarring teeth.  You have to log in that early for the first flight which doesn't usually leave till almost 10AM even though its scheduled to leave at 8:30.

Unfortunately, the first flight was cancelled due to the runway being too icy for any planes to take off.

We looked out the window and saw the employees outside on the ice with cones spread between two planes.  A few of them had regular brooms and a couple of spare tires from the airplanes. We watched them slide the tires across the icy ground with people sweeping in front as the tires were more likely to run into cones than get to the end.

In addition about 50 percent of the time, the person trying to throw the tire across the ice ended up on his belly after loosing  his footing.  Although this took place at the airport in Bethel, Alaska, the guys put as much enthusiasm and determination as the Olympic competitors in South Korea.

What made it even more interesting is the fact that the United States was in the middle of a game with Canada at the same time the guys played their game.    We won the game by one point at the Olympics but I don't know about the local game.

It was so entertaining that people lined up against the windows to watch, take pictures, and even snap videos due to the entertainment value of this unusual event. It was fun watching the guys laugh every time the slung a tire, fell, managed to sweep as they slid to their butts, or any other move. 

Honestly, the form was not quite the same because a tire does not have a handle as the rock and I don't think they even weigh the same amount.  Their form was more primitive than most Olympic curlers but their enthusiasm made up for their lack of form.

Have a great day, let me know what you think.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Frustrating Technology

Smartphone, Hand, Technology, Computer
It is frustrating from my point of view to learn about all the neat products I can use in my classroom to improve student interest and to help them develop the skills necessary to survive in a rapidly changing world but realize you can't use them as you'd like. 

I was at a speech where the presenter talked about encouraging students to be creative and do something new like build a prosthetic hand for other children via a 3D printer.  He also talked about how many of the jobs we see right now will be gone in the next 5 years and the skills needed to succeed are changing.

He highlighted many of the largest companies that have succeeded with no real product such as Uber which transports people yet does not own a single taxi, or AirBnB has multiple places to stay, yet does not own a single property.

I discovered I have access to a program because the state bought it but I have to get permission from people at work to use it.  Will I get the permission?  I don't know.  Even if I get permission, the schools infra structure is old enough that everything needs to be replaced.  This program offers moves, concept mapping, primary sources, reading related material in different lexile levels, quizzes, movie making, etc but it relies on the internet.

 I want to put my students on this program and on others that will help make them more independent learners with the skills needed to survive in today's world but with the system at school having its issues, I can't always do that.  When we do online testing, I cannot have my students on the internet because it could kick students off the test.

On the other hand, its hard to convince students they want to learn applications of technology rather than using only books, worksheets, and learning via the "older" methods because they live in a remote enough rural area that many children have never really left the village. They don't understand they could start a web based business to market their native artwork and earn a living.

To so many of my students, the only places to obtain employment is one of the stores who only hire people part time, the police department which doesn't pay well and cycles through employees, the school which doesn't pay over the summer, the city or tribal and that is about it.  There families work there.  I know one woman who has tried to start her own body care business but hasn't had much luck because the ability to purchase extras happens only during the first few days of the month.

Its hard to convince my students they need to learn technology as a tool when it provides games for them to play and they do not see it being used to create businesses or the possibilities that exist in that realm. 

I hope we get the infrastructure updated so I have a chance to convince students they do want to learn about all this amazing technology which can help them in a constantly changing world.  Tomorrow, I'll chat on a certification I intend to earn and its not Google Educator. That is for another day.

Let me know what you think.  I'd love to hear.

Roaming Bears!

 I have just spent the past few days in Anchorage, attending an Educational Technology conference.  I presented  on three different topics and think they went well. 

The thing about Anchorage is that every time I go in, I find different things to see. There is a sign posted to the front door that says to beware the moose if you see any.  Yes its a city but that doesn't stop the animals from coming in to check things out.

I think this may be the only state where opening the front door and coming nose to nose with a moose is a good reason for being late to school.

As you can, bears roam downtown Anchorage. These are psychedelically colored and much friendlier than the normal bear.
 The above bear is found over near the Inlet Tower.  Point of interest.  The Inlet Tower survived the 1964 earthquake that wrecked the rest of the town.

It is amazing it survived the 9.2 rumble of the earth in a time where tall buildings were not built to modern earthquake standards.  I've stayed there and its a bit outdated but its prices are quite reasonable.

The bear to the right is Alaskan from its nose to its tail.  Notice its outfitted with AK Tough boots.  This is a play on the fact that people up here wear the tough booths during spring, summer, and parts of fall.

I own a pair that are insulated so I can wear them longer, even through the early stages of winter.
This particular bear leaves its mark on a piece of land down the street from Benihaha.  It is surrounded by a bunch of parking lots since it is almost in the center of downtown. 

Both bears have character and personality that shines through its being stationary. I know both are sculptures but they still make me laugh since they look as if they are frozen in time like a photograph.

These bears are so much friendlier than most bears in that a child could climb on them without fear of being attacked.

I love this time of year when I visit Anchorage and find something delightfully new and joyful.  I am going to miss the snow sculptures artists are preparing for the Fur Rondy.

Don't worry, I"ll tell you more about the opening events of the Fur Rondy when I get closer to that date.

I hope you enjoyed seeing these two roaming bears.  I adore them.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

A Month of Races.

Snowmobiles Winter Yellowstone National Pa  Its the time of races here in Alaska.  The Yukon Quest, just finished a few days ago.  Right now the Iron Dog race is on and in a week or two,the Iditarod,  the biggest race of all times begins.

The Yukon Quest is a dog race covering 1000 miles from Fairbanks, Alaska to White Horse Yukon.  This race has happened every year since 1984 without fail.

The routing follows the gold rush and mail routes from the turn of the century, celebrating the highways used for transporting supplies across the norther frontier.  The race can last from 10 to 16 days depending on conditions, weather, etc.  It is always run in February.

Then there is the Iron Dog, a race of man on his snow machine against nature.   The racers cover over 2000 miles between Anchorage and Fairbanks via Unalakleet, and Nome.  It follows the northern path of the Iditarod race on its way to Fairbanks.  Originally, it was named the Iron Dog Iditarod but along the way the name changed to the Gold Rush Classic before it was changed to the Iron Dog Gold Rush Classic and it was changed one more time before it settled on the Iron Dog race.

Stops are set out no more than 120 miles apart and may be a real town or a tent with fuel set up along the trail.  Due to the cold temperatures, these racers often have the suspension break.  The race often takes days to finish.  The results give the time including the average miles per hour but the quickest ones can make the run in 40 hours of actual traveling but if you include the mandatory rests, it takes them about 75 hours.

Then comes the Iditarod race beginning on March 3rd with the start in Anchorage and the restart in Willow the next day.  This year they will be using the Southern routing which is about 1000 miles long.  It should take less than 2 weeks as long as conditions are good but right now the participants of the Iron Dog race are on a mandatory break due to weather issues on the way.

If you don't know the story, the original run happened in 1925, when the children of Nome were dying from diphtheria.  The closest medicine was in Anchorage.  It could not be shipped via water because the Nome harbor was frozen.  In desperation, the medicine was shipped up to Nenana where 20 drivers and over 150 dogs took turns riding cross country to get the medicine to Nome. 

In 1973, they revived the run to celebrate what the heroic nature of those who completed the run.  Although there was a budding aviation industry, in the lower 48, the dog sled was still the primary form of transportation in most of Alaska at this time. 

By the time the Iditarod is over, Alaskans know it is time to look for the longer days that signal spring.  Even if the snow does not melt till May, we know it will get warmer and spring is around the corner so to speak.

Let me know what you think.  I'd love to hear.

Monday, February 19, 2018


Snowboard, Snowboarding, Sunny, Downhill  If you ready my blog, you know I do not have a real television signal.  This means I miss out on the latest shows, even sports events but I am currently in Anchorage attending a technology conference so I amm staying in a hotel room and have a chance to watch the Olympics.

Its rather interesting watching some of the crazier sports such as the one where people jump, turn flips, ride rails with their skies.  I have never seen such aerobatic jumping.  They do lots of spins while grabbing their skies.  it is so impressive watching them turn, jump on and off some rails, head up a ramp, leave the ground and defy gravity in a way I didn't know could happen.

It is called Free Style Skiing on a slope style course.  Free style because they go crazy with multiple turns as they try to go further and higher to set records.  One of the athletes, pushed so hard, he missed the last slope because he couldn't regroup and was out.  Another guy, only managed to get to the end of one rail for a touch before jumping on.  

It was fun watching them turn around or up and over where they kept their hands on the skies.  In most cases the skies were crossed behind the feet and the skies remained in place when the athletes landed and kept going.

There is also a snow boarding event where they leave the ground, spin several times and land perfectly some of the time.  One of the newest events is the big air snowboarding where snowboarders ride down a ramp before taking off to perform their best tricks before landing.  This is the first year for this event.

These two sports fall under the extreme label.  At the time snow boarding joined the Olympics, most resorts still refused to let snow boarding happen but Japan allowed the event with snowboarders.  By adding this sport, they began attracting a younger group  of followers.  It was added bevore the first Winter Extreme games so it had a ways to go as it grew into adult hood.

Have fun watching.  Enjoy yourself. 

Friday, February 16, 2018

Sunscreen and Vitamin D.

People, Man, Woman, Holding Hands  With spring on the way and the days getting longer, we are heading into the time of year when people spend more time outside than in.  The sun provides vitamin D which is used to help the body absorb calcium used in building bones.

The body produces vitamin D when skin is exposed directly to sun, it uses Ultraviolet B(UVB) rays with a protein in the skin to create D3.

If you've followed any of the current advice, it is recommended everyone wear sunscreen every day, even inside or on cloudy days to protect the body from the damaging rays of the sun.  Use of SPF 15 or higher will cut down on the chance of squamous cell carcinoma, melanoma, and premature aging.  In addition, sunscreen cuts down on the possibility of DNA mutations leading to skin cancer.

Even with this information, it is often mistakenly assumed that in addition to protecting the skin, sunscreen will keep the body from producing vitamin D naturally because the sunscreen blocks the sun's rays.  Although the higher SPF sunscreens are designed to block out much of the UVB rays because they are the rays that causes sunburn and skin cancer, they are also the rays that trigger vitamin D production.

There are no studies out there which support the idea that when you wear sunscreen, you block your body's ability to produce D3.  Instead the studies show that even with high SPF sunscreen, the body is able to produce sufficient vitamin D because they do not block all the rays.  Even with the best sunscreen between two and seven percent of the rays manage to get through to the skin.

It does not take much UVB to produce enough vitamin D in your body to meet its needs.  Even though there is a belief that a person should expose their unprotected skin to the sun for 10 to 15 minutes no more than three times a week but even that short exposure can cause damage.

When in doubt, there are other ways to make sure your body has enough vitamin D.  It could be done with food such as certain fatty fish, vitamin D fortified foods, and if all else fails take it in supplemental form.

If a person does not get enough vitamin D, their bones can soften.  In children, this condition is referred to as rickets while older adults who do not have enough vitamin D and calcium, they can develop Osteoporosis.  

So the bottom line on the question is go ahead, wear sunscreen, make sure you eat well and add supplements if you are not sure but limit the supplements because you do not want to experience Vitamin D toxicity. 

Let me know what you think.  I'd love to hear from you.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

The History of Kool-aid.

Drinks, Wire, Mixed Grain Powder  Did you drink Koolaid when you were growing up?  I did but my mother always got the unsweetened type so she could add sugar to it.  Now kids I know us the unsweetened variety to dye their hair.  After all it does stain the carpet, especially the red colored type.

Edward E. Perkins, the person who came up with Kool-aid,  spent his early years looking to make and market all sorts of things from nicotine relief to creams, etc.  All through high school and his early married career, he kept making and selling things.

Along the way, he bought his own printing press to create labels for his products, while publishing the local paper.  After high school, he became postmaster of the local town and with his printing press and his own mail order businesses, he increased the amount of mail through the post office so it went from cancellation to a salaried position.  He sold anything and everything he could.  He even went so far as to finding agents to sell his items for  cut of the sales.

Eventually, he created Fruit Smack which was a concentrated fruit drink meant to be mixed with water. The Fruit Smack came in six flavors and was sold in four ounce bottles sealed with a cork.  Unfortunately, it was difficult to ship due to breakage, leaking, and the cost of glass bottles all presented problems.

He knew it could be made into he tinkered with the basic recipe of dextrose, citric acid, tartaric acid, flavoring and food coloring for his powdered version he sold under the name Kool-ade in 1927 but later renamed it Kool-aid.  Creating the power drink was easy, it took longer to create a suitable package for the mixture.  After much experimenting, he finally settled on using a soft waxed paper interior with a lithographed colorful outer cover.

After a lot of experimenting, he could finally market it but he missed the summer of 1927 and could not think of marketing it until next summer due to it being seen as a seasonal drink. It wasn't until he took on a new partner and moved the business to Chicago that it began taking off.  Even through the depression hit hard, he was still able to convince people to buy it and sales jumped from just under $400,000 in 1931 to over $1,500,000 in just five years.  Over the years, its continued to grow and thrive.

Along the way, several other companies have created their own versions of powdered drinks but none seem to be around in the same manner as Kool-aid. Do I drink it now?  No because I don't like it but I loved all the commercials as I grew up with the animated character and kids.

Let me know what you think.  I'd love to hear.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

16 Odd Facts About Valentine's Day.

Valentine'S Day, Love, Affection, Heart  Today is February 14th, the day when people, especially children, give valentines cards to each other.  When I was a child, I hoped against hope I would be one of those children who got a pile but it was never to be.

1.  One theory regarding the origin of Valentines Day, is that one of the Roman emperors did not want his men to marry during war time but Bishop Valentine disregarded his rules and married people anyway.  For this he was killed.

2.  In Victorian times, they did not sign valentines cards because it was considered bad luck.

3. According to the latest retail statistics, it is not only people who give gifts to each other on this day, three percent of pet owners give their presents to their animals.

4.  It is estimated that around one billion valentines cards are exchanged each year, making it the second largest time of year for sending cards.

5. In Finland, they celebrate Friends day so you remember your friends rather than your loved ones.

6. The X representing a kiss comes from Medieval times when illiterate people signed an X in front of witnesses. The X was then kissed to show their sincerity.

7. The saying "To wear your heart on your sleeve" comes from the middle ages when men and women drew the name of their valentine from a bowl.  They'd then pin the name to their sleeve for one week so all would see.

8. King Henry VII officially declared February 14th as Valentine's Day in 1537.

9. The first box of chocolate produced for this holiday happened in the late 1800's by chocolate maker Richard Cadbury.   This year, more than 35 million heart shaped boxes of chocolate will be sold.  In addition over one billion dollars worth of chocolate will be sold.

10. Over half the Valentine's day cards sold are sold in the six days prior to the holiday.

11. Red roses are considered the flower of love because the color red is the color of romance.  185 million roses are sold last year to celebrate the day.

12. Teachers receive the most valentine cards each year.

13. There are an average of 220 million marriage proposals made on this one day.

14.  Each Valentine's Day, the Italian city of Verona receive over 1000 letters addressed to Juliette of the famous pair Romeo and Juliette from Shakespeare's play.

15.  The most popular gift on this day are flowers.

16.  The first valentine is alleged to have been given by the Duke of Orleans to his wife with a poem in the 15th century. 

I hope you enjoyed these 16 odd facts about Valentine's day.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Unusual Yarns

Yarn, Wool, Cords, Colorful, Green, Blue  Anyone who knits, crochets, or weaves is aware of the standard wool, cotton, acrylic, or mixtures of yarns sold in places like Joannes, Michael's, or Hancock's craft stores.  Out here, the corporation store carries acrylic yarn for knitting but the colors are quite limited.

If you manage to visit a real yarn shop, you might find yarns made out of unusual fibers which make crafts a bit more fun.

I love trying unusual fibers just because I have a curiosity on its feel, the texture, how well it knits up or even its feel on my skin.  There are some fibers which are soft and nice while others might be used for rugs.

1.  Camel hair yarn is made from the two humped Bactrian Camel found in colder climates such as Mongolia.  The fur on their underbellies is the softest and collected every spring when the camels shed its winter coats.  This fur is spun into a yarn that is warm, soft, and lightweight.

2.  Muskox produces a layer of under wool closest to the body that is used to produce a yarn. The yarn does not shrink, is quite strong and warm.  Its called Qiviut and is made up of fibers found rubbed against trees or plucked off the body during the spring when they shed.  A male muskox can produce up to seven pounds of wool a year.  It is also quite expensive.

3.  Sugar cane yarn is made out of the fibers which remain after the sugar cane has been processed to remove the sugar.  The fibers are then shredded, broken down, liquidized, and shot through small holes to create long strands that are colored and spun into yarn.  Sugar cane yarn has a beautiful sheen and is quite silky. It is considered an eco friendly fiber.

4. Seaweed yarn is made when Icelandic seaweed is combined with cellulose fibers from eucalyptus  trees to form a yarn called Seacel. It produces on of the most breathable fabrics on the market and is reputed to be good for the skin because it supposedly releases nutrients.

5. Milk Fiber was made back in the 1930's and 1940's to replace the wool used in the war effort.  Milk fiber was made out of milk casein and the technique has been around since the early 1900's.  It was used successfully for designer clothing.

6. Banana fiber yarn is made out of the plant once the bananas are harvested.  Once made, it spins well, is lightweight, and is great at absorbing and releasing moisture.

On the scientific front, there are new and interesting fibers being created, some good, some not so good but its interesting where they are coming from.  Scientists have discovered a type of bacteria that ferments cheap red wine into fibers.  The clothing made out of this has a bit of an odor and it produces vinegar as a byproduct.

Fibers are being made out of wood pulp, spiders silk, corn, spoiled milk, recycled plastic bottles, used coffee pods, recycled newspaper, coconut husks, and cassette tape.  I am not sure I'd want to knit any made with these items but you never know where the future will take us on this.

Let me know what you think.  I'd be interested to hear.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Stop To Smell The Flowers Race.

Plant, Primrose, Cowslip, Primula  Years ago, when snow was much more prevalent and the winters seemed so much longer, everyone looked forward to spring.  Most places define spring as starting in March, however in Alaska, the snow doesn't melt until late April or mid May when people start calling it spring. By then people are sick of the cold and snow.

So the Army started a tradition of celebrating spring by having a race where people stopped to smell the flowers along the course.

It was not a serious race designed for people who love to run miles every week. It often provided humor on a dreary day when notices were read over the radio, advertising the race.

The Army set the date and began running announcements so people could get ready for it.  As the day grew closer, people anxiously watched the levels of snow to see if it would all melt away in time or if the military would need to take extra measures to provide a delightful race.

I remember one year when the winter snow was still fairly deep as the day approached.  One of the announcements advertising the run assured people there would be pots of flowers along the course, even if they had to go out the night before, dig holes, and place potted flowers in the holes.

Imagine the poor privates sent out in the dead of night armed with shovels and a truck load of potted plants to place these beautiful plants out in time for the beginning of the race, early the next morning.  The military actually expected people to do more than smell the flowers, they were even encouraged to pick some to take with them.

The race was a thing of joy and wonder because people hadn't seen flowers since the previous August or September, depending on when the frosts hit.  It signaled that spring wasn't far behind and that it was time for the golfers to start practicing.  Its not unusual to see golfers out on snow covered grass, swinging their clubs at an orange or green ball parked on a tee standing upright.

In Alaska, we marvel at the first flowers that poke their heads out of the ground, letting us know that winter is over.  Know that sometimes, we cannot wait for that moment and we do crazy things like participate in the Stop To Smell the Flowers Race.  We are all too ready for the short summer.

Let me know what you think.  I'd love to hear.

Friday, February 9, 2018

11 Weird Jobs

Baby, Girl, Sleep, Child, Toddler  I've always wondered about doing something else in life.  Maybe write a book, start a business, become a famous artist who creates paintings no one understands but who is paid a ton of money for them.  I'm thinking inside the box, not outside to the odd jobs no one thinks about.

Did you ever think about becoming a professional sleeper?  A professional sleeper was hired by a hotel in Finland to test its beds for comfort.  The person sleeps in one bed each night before writing a review.  I'd wonder about this because everyone likes a different hardness.

Then there is the man who gets paid to watch paint dry in the United Kingdom.  He paints cardboard with new paint mixtures, then times how long it takes the paint to dry while watching for changes in texture and color.

Third is the full time Netflix watcher where Netflix hired a person to watch all its content before it is released to the public so the tags are all correct.  This means if a person wants a romantic comedy, they find it easier to locate.

In Japan, you could get a job as a Train Pusher.  You are the person who helps shove people into trains from the outside before the doors close. 

In Southeast Asia, the more people crying at a funeral, the better so people hire professional mourners to cry loudly and weep throughout the service.

If you want a dangerous job, apply for one as a snake milker. This person is paid to milk venom from poisonous snakes for use in antivenom and other medicines.

Perhaps you'd enjoy being a dog food taster who tries all new products to report on the flavors.  They compare the new product with others for flavor and texture.

Maybe you'd rather be hired to remove gum from tables, theaters, and sidewalks.  When gum has been stuck to tables for a while, it becomes quiet hard.

If you are good at creating portraits from ash, there is a company who would love to hire you to do it with people's ashes after their death.

Of course, if you are good at apologizing, you could get a job in Japan as a professional who are hired to apologize on behalf of people.

And last for today, is the professional elephant dresser who works hard on dressing elephants up for ceremonies in places like Sri Lanka.

Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.


Thursday, February 8, 2018

Perfumes, Colognes, Toilet Waters, and Other Scented Products.

Aroma, Basil, Preparation, Natural  I am not much on wearing scents due to having grown up in a household where no one wore it.  Well except for my father who used Old Spice every time he shaved. 

When I did look for scents, I ended up buying very specific scents such as Plumeria, or Jasmine usually in the form of toilet water.  I couldn't afford perfume and now I find too many scents to be either too strong or they bother my nose.

In the mean time, I've decided to learn more about the topic and the legal requirements for the different types of scents.  The term perfume comes from per meaning through and fumare meaning smoke.

The type of fragrance depends on the percent of oil mixed in with alcohol and water.  The amount of percent of oil used in each type of fragrance tends to vary according to the company who makes it. 

First is Eau Fraiche or Fresh water is the weakest of the dilutions where between one and three percent oil is mixed with alcohol and water and lasts no more than an hour.  People like to use this if they cannot afford the more expensive perfumes.

Next is Cologne also known as Eau de Cologne is the oldest term for perfume. It originated in Cologne Germany in 1709, made by a homesick Italian, thus its name of water of Cologne. The fragrance took off and was purchased by many of the royal households.  It's price was equal to half a years wage of a civil servant.  It usually has between two and four percent fragrance oil composed mostly of essential  oils and the absolute.  The mix lasts for up to two hours.  Younger people tend to prefer this type because the scents are more fruity and light.

Then we have Toilette or Eau de Toilette often found as a light spray with 5 to 15 percent pure essence dissolved in alcohol and lasts for up to three hours. It is often referred to as Aromatic waters and is used during the warmer months of the year.  This dates back to 14th century Europe when Queen Elisabeth of Hungry created the first toilette water.  This variety is recommended for daily use because of its lightness and its ability to dissipate.

This is followed by Perfum or Eau de Perfum has between 10 and 20 percent pure essence with the lasting power of up to eight hours.  It has a lighter scent than perfume and is sold either in bottles or as a spray.

Finally is Perfume with the most concentrated amount of pure essence of between 15 and 40 percent and a single application can last up to 24 hours.  It has a slightly oily feel and must be sold in stopper bottles.  it is never sold in a spray due to its cost and too strong.

The perfume essence is the base for all scents and provides the actual fragrance.  It is composed of essential oils such as sandalwood or lime, absolutes such as jasmine or rose, animal extracts such as musk, and any synthetic fragrances.  It often does not smell good alone due to its concentration so it must be diluted with alcohol or water.

Let me know what you think.  I'd love to hear. 

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

The History of Instant Coffee.

Aroma, Beverage, Brown, Caffeine When we think of instant drinks, most people think of coffee but not me because I drink tea.  My parents drink it and drank instant most of time when I grew up.  

Instant coffee has been around for a lot longer than I would have guessed.  The first known as a coffee compound was given a patent by the British Government in 1771.  It wasn't until 1851 that the first American instant coffee was created.

These cakes of instant coffee became part of the government issued rations during the Civil War. It wasn't until a New Zealand scientist created a hot dry air process which produced an instant or soluble coffee more familiar to us in 1890 but it was not the most successful method. This was developed in 1901 by a Japanese American chemist from Chicago who patented it in 1903.  Another American entrepreneur worked on his own version and marketed the first commercial instant coffee in 1910 under the name "Red E Coffee".  Again the Americans bought lots of this coffee to include in ration packs during World War I. Soldiers referred to it as a "Cup of George" named after the man who marketed the first commercial brand. 

The big push to instant coffee came when Nestles was stuck with a ton of coffee beans in Brazil due to the stock market crash of 1929.  Nestles researched the problem using a variety of methods before hitting upon the best way to produce a flavorful coffee which dissolved easily in water.  In 1937, they struck gold when they discovered they needed to dry equal parts of coffee extract with soluble carbohydrates.  They marketed the new product in 1938 under the name of Nescafe in Switzerland. 

Again, the coffee gained popularity during World War II because the government purchased it from Nestles and packed it in with rations given to the soldiers. The United States Government purchased over one million cases of Nescafe, the entire amount produced by the company.  All through this time, Nestles continued working on producing a better instant coffee and by 1954 they'd managed to produce a coffee made of only coffee with no soluble carbohydrates.  Come the 1960's, companies discovered freeze drying created a great tasting coffee with better color and flavor. 

Now for some interesting facts about coffee in general:

1. Both the New York Stock Exchange and Lloyd's of London began as coffee houses.

2. Turkish bridegrooms must promise to always provide their wives with coffee.  If they do not, it is grounds for divorce.

3.  The first European coffee was sold as a medical remedy in pharmacies as early as 1615.

4. In 1732, the coffee cantata was written by Bach.

5. Pope Vincent III heard people claim coffee to be the devil's drink, so he tried it and liked it so much, he baptized it.

6. Coffee is the second most traded product in the world after oil.

7. There are 53 countries who grow coffee and are located around the equator area.

8. The average coffee tree produces a kilogram in a year.  The fruit is red when picked but does not turn brown until they are roasted.

9. Europeans originally referred to coffee as "Arabian Wine".

10. There is a claim that people used to drink coffee out of saucers because the drink cooled faster that way.

Let me know what you think.  I'd love to hear.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

The Infamous Russian Tea and Tang.

Orange Juice, Juice, Vitamins, Drink  I had a relative who always provided something called "Russian Tea" at any family gathering.  It was kind of a spiced version of Tang and tea that everyone drank.  It was not my favorite due to the orange flavor as I do not even like orange juice.

The other day, I wondered where this "Russian Tea" came from and if it was even Russian in nature.  Since the drink is based on Tang, I thought I'd look at its history first.

Tang was invented by a chemist who worked for General Foods back in 1957.  General Foods started marketing to the public in 1959 but the powdered drink did not take off until 1962 when NASA chose it to accompany astronaut John Glenn on his flight into space and again on the Gemini flights in 1965.

The biggest reason Tang was chosen for the space program was that it covered the odd taste of the water.  The use by NASA brought it to the public's attention and launched the myth that NASA invented it.

No one is sure who created the recipe for Russian Tea but its general sugar, tea, spices and sometimes instant lemonade. There is speculation that the recipe evolved from an earlier version where a strong tea concentrate was made then added to a cup where it was diluted with water.  A sweetener and lemon finished it off to make a Russian type tea.

Researchers have found recipes from the early 1880's for Russian Tea made in this fashion but by 1942, recipes for this drink contain added spices such as cinnamon and cloves and both orange and lemon juices.  In 1953, the Russian Tea recipe used orange jello for the orange flavoring rather than orange juice.  By 1966, the traditional Russian Tea recipe using 1 large can of Tang, 1 cup of sugar, 1 tsp of cinnamon,  half a tsp of cloves and 1/2 cup of instant tea.

That means it was becoming a staple to American life and this could be drunk either hot or cold depending on how your family did things.  The gentleman who invented tang didn't stop there, he also created many other things that became a part of American life.

1.  He invented Pop Rocks, the candy that exploded in your mouth, Cool Whip, quick setting Jello, powdered egg whites and a tapioca substitute for use during World War II during a Cassava shortage.

2. He invented Pop Rocks accidentally as he worked on creating an instant carbonated drink.  In addition to being a chemist, he was a playwright.  One of his plays had a young boy eating magical pop rocks which transported him to another world every time he ate them.

3. In 2016, the sales of Tang generated over $900 million.  In fact over half the amount of Tang sold in the middle east is sold in the 6 week period around Ramadan.

4. Tang is sold in 35 countries around the world.  People in Brazil, Argentina, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, and Mexico consume the most Tang.

5.  The variety of flavors vary according to the tastes of the country such as Mango, Soursop, and Pomelo in the Philippines while Tamarind and Horchata are more popular in Mexico.  The orange variety is served a lot out in the bush of Alaska due to it lasting a long time.

Let me know what you think.

Monday, February 5, 2018

A Brief History of The Winter Olympics.

Bobsled, Team, Run, Olympics, Ice  I have always preferred watching the winter Olympics.  The ice skaters and dancers were so elegant and coordinated.  I also enjoyed watching the ski jumpers for the split second they lose balance and wipe out.

I've often wondered when they started and why.  I do know they started a bit later than the original Olympics. Although the first official Olympics began on January 25, 1924, there had been "Winter Olympic" type events held earlier.

In 1901, the first Nordic games were held in Sweden with only athletes from Scandinavian countries attended. This event was held every four years like the Olympics but only ever in Sweden.  The first real winter Olympic event was held at the summer Olympics in London in 1908 but it was held three months after the rest of the events had concluded.

The International Olympic Committee proposed that Sweden hold the first Winter Olympics at the Sweden games in 1912 but not wanting to lose their Nordic Games, they declined.  In addition, Germany wanted to host the 1916 Winter Olympics but World War I caused both games to be cancelled. 

After the war, in 1920, Antwerp, Belgium hosted the Summer Olympics where ice hockey joined ice skating as an event held after every other event.  Not long after, the Scandinavians agreed to hold a Winter Sports week in France which proved so popular that in 1925 the International Olympic Committee renamed it the Winter Olympics and designated the 1924 event as the first official Winter Olympics.

The first Winter Olympics held in Chaminox, France attracted 16 nations for  as ski jumping, bob sledding, and four other events.  Norway took the most metals while the United States came in third with their gold medal in the 500 meter speed skating event.  Of the 300 competitors attending the event, only 13 were women who competed only in ice skating events.  It was deemed a success when more than 10,000 people flocked to watch it. 

Beginning in 1928, the Winter Olympics were moved so they were held the same year as the summer Olympics.  This continued until 1989 when the costs became quite expensive so the International Olympic Committee changed the pattern so the Summer and Winter Olympics started alternating every two years beginning in 1994.

One sport, skeleton where a person lies face down on a sled received medals in 1928 and 1952 before becoming a regular Olympic sport in 2002.  Although Curling was a part of the original Olympics, it was dropped until 1998 when it was reintroduced.  Snowboarding was also added in 1998 as an Olympic Sport.

I hope you liked the short view of the Winter Olympics.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Probiotics and Reality

Yogurt, Breakfast, Berries, Food, Fruit  I've been hearing how good probiotics are for our health but if you go through the vitamin section of the store, you'll find pills filled with assorted bacteria that is good for your health.  Is it possible to take a pill to provide the necessary healthy bacteria for a healthy gut?  What do you need to know about this topic?

I admit, I've bought in to the buy a bottle of tablets, pop one, and think I'm set for the day.  Unfortunately, I should have done a bit of research before I started taking them.

Probiotics are actually good bacteria which grows in the gut while balancing the bad bacteria out. The bacteria is needed in your gut so you remain healthy.  It often comes in pill form or is added to a variety of foods with an assortment of attached claims.  Many of the supplements actually contain only one type of bacteria rather than a variety which is better for us.  The one type contained in the supplement, may or may not be the one we need.

In addition, if the pill you take is not designed to operate as a time release substance, most of the bacteria will be killed by stomach acid.  Its been found that only 10 to 25 percent of uncoated pills survive swallowing.  Furthermore, the bacteria needs to be alive when it reaches your gut in order to do any good and most probiotics that are added to foods are dead by the time the food hits the stores.

If you do decide to go the route of pills, make sure the bacteria is encapsulated, have at least one billion bacteria per dose, and are stamped with a best use by rather than a present at time of manufacture.  It is strongly recommended to add foods such as kim chi, kombucha or  yogurt to your diet but they should be the versions without any extra added sugar.

Unfortunately, if you read up on probiotics, you'll find claims that probiotics might cure certain diseases or can replace current medications.  It is recommended you not replace proscribed medicines with probiotics but their regular use could eliminate future problems.  Currently, its difficult to find actual research done on probiotics such as yogurt because people have to first register the food as a drug which means you would not be able to buy it on the shelf.

Furthermore, when buying yogurt, check the label to see if it states the yogurt includes live and active cultures because the yogurt may have been made using live cultures but they might have been killed during processing.  The same applies to most probiotic foods.  The bacteria in them needs to be kept alive for you to have full benefits.

Just to let you know, I'm now raising my own kombucha and yogurt so I can include them in my diet.  I have noticed some major changes since I've begun consuming the live bacteria versus ingesting them via my mouth.  The changes are good and help me with a problem or two I've had since I was 20.

Let me know what you think.  I'd love to hear.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Follow Up on Korean Skin Care.

About a month ago, I began following the Korean skin care method because it had been highly recommended by my niece.  I went through my books to discover I had one devoted to this particular regime. I admit, the whole description made it seem rather intimidating after having been taught by my mother and grandmother to clean my face with soap and water, then slather some face cream over it.

It started off having me clean my face with an oil based cleaner but its not one that leaves an oily film on my face.  Then you clean your face a second time using a water based cleaner so its been twice cleaned.  This section is finished off with a toner.  Once the toner has dried its followed by an essence, serum, eye cream and face cream before adding the final touch of sunscreen for protection.  In addition, they recommend people gently exfoliate their skin a couple time a week along with using a face mask that adds moisture to your face.

I took the jump and ordered supplies from Amazon. There were tons of choices ranging form not too expensive to more than I'm willing to pay.  As soon as the products arrived, I started using them religiously once in the morning and again at night.  I saved the face masks and exfoliation to do at night when I have more time. 

At first, it felt awkward because I'm not used to spending so much time on my skin and I only ever dealt with my skin at night because I don't wear makeup.  My mother always said that if you clean your skin at night and moisturize it, you're set for life.  After a few days, the regime began feeling comforting.  In addition, I've got the whole morning routine down to 15 minutes including making my lunch and packing my bag for work. 

I noticed my skin started feeling softer and it seemed to have fewer fine lines.  I started feeling as if my skin has improved so it looks so much healthier.  When I few down to visit my sister in the hospital, I went 36 hours with no sleep and I did not look like a hag or a creature who could scare children with one look.  My skin never itched or felt cruddy.

I really believe this method works.  I looked at a picture I took earlier in the year and one I snapped today and I can actually see a difference.  There are smile lines and under eye issues I'll never get rid of without plastic surgery because I inherited them from my father but I plan to keep using all these products since I'm convinced they work. 

If you look at the two pictures I've included, you'll see a marked difference between the two.  The left one is from before and the right one is after a month of following the regime.  If you follow the Korean Skin care method, let me know what you think of it.  Have a good day.