Friday, March 30, 2018

Good Friday

Passion, Cross, Good Friday 

Out here in the village, the week between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday is important regardless of the denomination.  Although we can do things on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday evenings, we do not plan anything for Thursday to Sunday or its considered disrespectful to the culture and to the churches in town.

I wish everyone who celebrates this weekend has a wonderful time.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Where Did 11 Easter Traditions Originate?

Easter Egg, Easter, Pussy Willow, Egg  We all have those family traditions at Easter time from dying eggs, to Easter baskets but where did all these traditions come from?

We all love to dye eggs different colors.  No one is sure exactly when it began but it has been speculated that this tradition goes back to ancient times.  Often people gave colored eggs as gifts welcoming the spring.

Then there is the story of the Easter bunny going hippity hop but the idea of the bunny again came from agent times but it is thought that the idea of the egg laying rabbit came to America with the German immigrants in the 1700's.

Don't forget the hallow chocolate rabbits everyone loves to see in their Easter baskets.  The reason the candy rabbits are hallow is a safe guard for your teeth.  If those huge rabbits  were solid, you'd break your teeth because they'd be so thick and solid, like a brick.

Did you every wonder about Easter Baskets?  they come from the German immigrants again.  They believed that you if you wanted the egg laying hare to stop by, you needed to build a nest.  The nest evolved into the basket we see now.

Of course, if you grew up in certain places, you'd have eaten hot cross buns, those sweet buns with the sign of the cross cut in the top.  I remember eating them when I lived in Australia.  No one is sure when they started but it's thought that hot cross buns began in the 12th century when a monk made the sign of the cross in his buns on a Good Friday.  The earliest record comes from the 1730's in Poor Robin's almanac.

Somewhere along the way, a superstition arose where it was believed that if you wore new clothing on Easter because it would bring good luck for the rest of the year.  In the 1800 parishioners from various churches paraded down fifth avenue after services let out.  The tradition continues to today although the term "finery" has changed over the years.

It is said that when Mary opened Jesus's tomb at sunrise on the Easter and the tomb was empty so many churches hold sunrise services so people can remember.  The first record of a sunrise service shows that a group of young men gathered at a church in Saxony, Germany in 1732. The following year, the whole congregation met for the sunrise service.  the idea spread and within fifty years, sunrise services had made it to the United States.

The tradition of having ham at Easter has been around since at least the sixth century in Germany.  Hunters would go after pigs in the fall and allow them to age over the winter so come spring, pork was one of the first meats ready to eat in the spring. 

In Bermuda, they celebrate Easter by flying kites.  Apparently someone flew a kite to demonstrate how Jesus ascended into heaven.  The idea caught on so now this has become a tradition on the island.

Then there is egg knocking an event dating back to medieval Europe.  Two people, each with an egg, tap the eggs end to end until one cracks and the other survives.  This became a big thing beginning in Marksville, Louisiana where people gather by the courthouse to egg knock until one person is left.  It is so important that some families feed their chickens special foods in the hopes the shells become stronger.

Finally is Osterbrunnen which is a celebration in Germany where people decorate wells with greenery and Easter eggs.  This particular tradition is only about a century old but it has grown so over 200 villages participate including one in Michigan.  This tradition began as a way to honor water and Easter.

So now you know where eleven Easter traditions originated.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

14 Easter Traditions From Around the World.

Easter Eggs, Egg, White, Easter Nest Easter weekend is fast approaching.  Sunday is the day when we celebrate Easter.  Here in the village its often times too hard to put the eggs out in the snow so teachers have often organized egg hunts inside the school building. 

Easter is celebrated in different ways in other countries so I thought I'd share several with you.

First is Australia where a group called Rabbit Free pushed to replace the rabbit with the rabbit eared bandicoot because in Australia, rabbits destroy crops and land so now instead of a chocolate rabbit, they sell chocolate bilby's. 

2. In Florence, Italy, they have this unique custom of setting fire to a cart filled with fireworks. This custom known as "Scappio Del Carro has been around since the first crusades and meant to ensure a good harvest.  They fill the cart with fireworks, push it through the streets before stopping in front of the Duomo where the Archbishop of Florence lights the fuse during Mass.  

3. In Finland and other Scandinavian countries, children dress up as witches with made up faces, scarves wrapped around their heads, and carrying twigs with feathers attached as they go around begging chocolates from people. 

4. Poland has an interesting custom dating from 966 AD based on the baptism of the local Prince.  On Easter Monday, boys try to drench others using buckets of water, squirt pistols or other vessel.  If a girl gets drenched, it is said she will marry within the year.

5. Over in Haux, France they celebrate Easter Monday by making a huge omelet using over 4,500 eggs.  It feeds over 1000 people. Supposedly, the tradition began when Napoleon visited the area and loved the omelet he was served so much, he ordered people to gather their eggs and make one for his army.

6. The residents in Corfu, Greece people gather their pots, pans, and anything else made of earthenware and throw them over the balconies to smash on the ground.  It is thought this was originally started to welcome spring.

7. In Norway, book sales of thrillers increase due to the habit of Norwegians reading crime novels so publishers publish special "Easter Thrillers" at this time of the year.  It began as publicity stunt in 1923, when a publisher promoted a new thriller on the front page.  Unfortunately, the add looked so much like regular news that people didn't realize it was a publicity stunt.

8. At the Vatican, there is a huge Way of the Cross held at the Coliseum complete with all 14 stations.  There is a huge cross with burning crosses to illuminate the sky.  Mass is celebrated on both the Saturday night and Easter Sunday and huge crowds await the Pope's blessing.

9. Now over in Slovakian countries, men spank women with whips made of willows and decorated with ribbons.  The idea is that the willow being the first tree of spring transfers its vitality and fertility to women when  spanked.

10. Verges, Spain is host to the death dance where people dress up in skeleton costumes to recreate scenes from the Passion so they parade down the street and ends with skeletons carrying boxes of ashes.  The dance begins at midnight and ends at 3 in the morning.

11. Let us not forget the Easter egg roll held on the front lawn of the White House.  Children roll hard boiled eggs across the lawn using spoons.  It started out smaller but now it also hosts music, sports, etc.

12. Hungry has a variation of the Polish tradition but instead of throwing buckets of water, they sprinkle perfume or perfumed water on girls and asking for a kiss.  This started out with boys throwing buckets of water but it calmed down over the years till they just sprinkle.

13. In Jerusalem, Chrisitans walk the path Jesus walked as he carried the cross for his crucifixion.  Some people carry a cross but come Easter Sunday, they attend a service at the Garden Tomb, the area where it is believed Jesus was buried.

14. Last is the celebration in Sicily, Italy where  locals are dressed in red outfits and bother souls to buy them drinks before the Virgin Mary and Christ after his rising chase away the devils thus saving everyone.

So this is a quick look at how Easter is celebrated around the world.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

MacGyver Strikes again.

American, Aspartame, Background  I remember watching the original MacGyver with Richard Dean Anderson in reruns as I grew up.   I liked it so much, I bought the whole series when it was on sale on Amazon. Of course, I knew that many of the "quick" fixes were strictly make believe especially after Myth Busters tried a few things and declared them busted.

So when I discovered there is a remake that is in its 2nd season.  Remember, I live in the middle of Alaska where we have one over the air channel unless I want to purchase satellite so I wait and purchase DVD's on sale.  I am working my way through the first season and wondered if the stuff he does this time is more accurate.

To start with, the production hired a physicist to make sure the capers are possible even if they can't be done within the same time frame MacGyver does. The physicist and others even searches the web for ideas from others on the web from makers and others.  Ideas that can easily be included as part of the show.

Some of the ideas harvested and used in MacGyver include:
1.  A laser microphone which reads the sound waves against the window.  He uses the laser from a CD player, a photocell, and chewing gum to make one.  yes it will work but not with sensitivity on the show due to the shortness of time involved.

2.  A fire starter to light a fire.  He uses pine sap from pine bark to start a fire.  This really works but do not use too much or you might end up with a huge out of control fire.

3. MacGyver makes a gas mask out of a soda bottle early in the series.  He cuts out enough of a side to fit his face, seals it against his face with inner tube, then stuffs wet newspaper into the small opening to filter fumes.  In reality it can so some lightweight filtering of smoke but not for anything more serious.

4. In another episode, MacGyver creates a hot air balloon out of a dry cleaning bag with an aluminum foil platform to carry a cell phone.  Unfortunately, the hot air cannot lift that much weight so it works in theory but not in reality.

5. The last instance of creativity is when he makes a Leyden Jar Battery.  It was used in the 1800's when scientists studied electricity.  The Leyden Jar is a huge capacitor that is too large to use in a radio.  MacGyver made his out of a plastic bottle, salt water, hand cuffs, and a piece of metal and then used a lightening storm to charge it.  It can work but if you make too big of one, you could be electrocuted.

Its nice knowing that most of these work or at least work in theory.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Ice Cream on a Stick!

Ice Cream, Dessert, Sweet, Frozen  There are three innovative creations, invented between 1915 and 1925, that changed the face of dessert.  They are all related and we enjoy all three on a hot summer day.

Do you remember back when you were young.  It was a hot sweaty day, no blowing breeze.  You just couldn't get cool without running through the sprinklers so when you heard the music in the distance, you rushed home to get a bit of money for a frozen treat?  I do but I don't know if they still do that because so much has changed in the past 10 or 15 years.

Three men, contributed to our enjoyment of those wonderful frozen desserts.  First is the Eskimo Ice Cream bar, next came Good Humor, and finally is the Popsicle and I'm sure most of us have eaten all of them at some point in our lives.

I listed them in this order because they appeared on the marked in that order.  The Eskimo Ice Cream bar came from an incident when a young man came into Christian Nelson Kent's sweet shop in Ohio around 1919 or 1920.  He asked for an ice cream, changed his mind and wanted a candy bar.  Christian asked him why he changed his mind and the young man said he wanted both but only had enough money for one. 

This lead to a search for a way to cover ice cream with chocolate.  After a lot of searching, trying things, and finding cocoa butter, he and his partner Russel Stover of Stover Candies produced a chocolate covered brick of vanilla ice cream. Originally called I-Scream Bars, the first run of 500 bars sold out so Nelson and Stover looked for someone to manufacture the frozen dessert after patenting it in 1922.  They changed the name to "Eskimo Pie Bars" before selling the rights to various ice cream companie to produce the bars for between $500 and $1000.

In 1920, in another part of Ohio, Henry Burt created a chocolate coating that stuck to ice cream. His sun suggested they freeze a stick inside chocolate coated ice cream and voila, you have a popular frozen dessert.  He tried to patent it but after waiting 3 years, Henry traveled to Washington D.C with a five gallon container filled with his "Good Humor" bars.  They immediately granted him the patent.

The name "Good Humor" came from the idea that a person's humor or temperament is based on the humor of his palate. In the beginning, Good humor bars were sold from 12 street vehicles outfitted with bells, bicycles, and push carts.  Over the next 40 years, the company created an additional 84 types of ice cream desserts.  By 1976, the company sold its trucks so it could focus on selling ice cream in the stores.

About the same time the Popsicle made its appearance on the scene.  In 1905, an eleven year old, Frank Epperson accidentally created the first Popsicle by mixing a dry soda powder with water and leaving it in a cup overnight.  Temperature dropped, the solution froze and the frozen dessert became a reality.

Soon after he began selling the "Epsicles" around the neighborhood.  In 1923, he extended his sales area to Neptune Beach, California because of its amusement park. Neptune Park was quite popular that the Epsicles and snow cones did quite well.    In 1924, he applied for and received a patent for his "frozen confection which would not be contaminated by hand, spoon, or other implement.

His children suggested he change it to Pop's Sicle or Popsicle as we know it today.  However, later in the 1920's he ended up having to sell off the rights to his creation due to needing money.  The Joe Lowe company purchased the rights and sold it nationwide.  During the depression, when money was short, the company created duel Popsicles to make it go further. The new version sold for 5 cents.

At the same time, Good Humor sold their chocolate covered ice cream on a stick.  Lowe sued for copyright infringement but the judge declared Good Humor ice cream confections while Lowe could only sell water based confections.  Lowe began marketing a milk Popsicle which lead to years of suits where the companies argued over definitions of sherbets vs ice cream. 

Eventually Good Humor and Popsicle ended up being acquired by the same company.  Its amazing how a few accidents launched frozen confections most of absolutely adore.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.

Friday, March 23, 2018


Food, Eat, Diet, Rasp, Pop, Tart I have friends who live off of Pop-Tarts. They eat them as a quick on the go breakfast, snacks, lunch, even dinner.  Usually they don't bother to heat them up in a toaster, just crack open the bad and eat them.  I will be honest, I'm not particularly into them, not even the chocolate ones and I'm a chocoholic.

Pop-Tarts have been around since 1964 when they were introduced by Kelloggs but they didn't introduce the first toaster pastry.  The idea came from dog food.  You read that correctly!  Dog food.  Apparently, in 1963 or so, Post's pet food division created Gaines Burgers, a dog food half way between canned and dried that didn't need to be refrigerated.

Post used the same technology to create a fruit filled pastry that could easily stored and shipped.  Once Post had the concept, they announced the product, "Country Squares"  in 1963 but it was months away from hitting the supermarket.  Kellogg's took advantage of the delay and  introduced Pop Tarts, their version of a shelf stable toaster pastry.

Before introducing Pop-Tarts, they marketed them in Cleveland in 1963 to see how they'd do and were an instant hit. When they introduced Pop Tarts in 1964, they came in four unfrosted flavors: Dutch Apple, Raspberry, Concord Grape, and Brown Sugar Cinnamon. Kellogg's planned to name this product "Fruit Scones" but decided to change the name to Pop Tarts after Andy Warhol's pop art of the same time period.

The success of the trial marketing convinced Kellogg's to increase initial production for 10,000 to 45,000 cases and within two weeks of their original release, Pop-Tarts sold out completely.  Kellogg's had to publish an note about running out of the product so fast.  Within a short time, the next ship of Pop-Tarts hit the shelves.

Current Pop-Tarts are a bit different than the original ones because when first produced, Pop-Tarts had a diagonal perforation the consumer would separate the pastry into two parts so the gooey filling oozed out. The original Pop-Tarts also had rounded edges instead of being square as they are now.  In addition, they were packaged two to a packet because the machine that wrapped them in foil was quite expensive and it was cheaper to do two in one package.

According to Kellogg's, strawberry and brown sugar cinnamon are the two top selling flavors.  Currently Kellogg's sells over 2 billion Pop-Tarts every year. The frosted version has 10 fewer calories than the unfrosted one. Back in 2001, Pop-Tarts were one of two items to the Afghani to promote good will.  At one point, the company made both a Pop-Tarts cereal in the 90's, special edition college Pop-Tarts in 2012 for 5 colleges and available in 5 states, and in 2010 Pop-Tarts had its own store in Times Square but it did not last long.  But the number of this product sold has been on the rise over the past 32 years.

 I  will admit the only ones I ever enjoyed were the toaster danish they used to make but they have been disconnected.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Why 10,000 Steps Per Day?

Leg, Foot, Shoe, Female, Person, PeopleI've keep running into the idea of walking 10,000 steps per day.  There are DVD's out there guaranteeing you'll do 10,000 steps by the time you are finished for the day or you can just make sure you take 10,000 steps for the day but why is 10,000 the magic number?

Let's start with the general recommendation of performing 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week.  The suggestion of 10,000 steps per day should include the 30 minutes per day of moderate exercise.

The 10,000 steps per day represents 5 miles of movement each day.  This means you are burning between 2000 and 3500 extra calories per week and 3500 calories equals one pound. So the thought behind the 10,000 steps is that it is an easy way to loose weight without going on a severe diet.

I can tell you from personal experience, it is not hard to rack up 10,000 steps per day if you choose to do things like take the stairs instead of the elevator.  Park your car at the back end of the parking lot and walk in.  If you are going to several stores in close proximity to each other, park in the middle and make a loop.  Instead of driving a block to pick up something, walk it.  My motto is that if it is within a 3 to 5 mile radius, it can be walked.  I even have friends give me a 20 min walking head start for a 10 mile drive into town so I'm by the gas station when they pick me up.

If you aren't sure about making the 10,000 steps per day, get yourself a pedometer to wear.  I own two but I keep loosing them.  What is interesting is that the 10,000 steps per day originated in Japan in the 1960's when they released the Manpo-kei or 10,000 steps meter. 

The benefits of walking so many steps each day besides loosing weight includes slowing down mental decline, lowers blood pressure, improving sleep, and decreasing mental stress. One study shows that walking 30 minutes every day cut the risk of a stroke by 20%.  One side effect walking 10,000 steps per day is the person is healthier and will need less medical care in the long run, saving money because there is a good chance of decreased chronic health issues.

If you are not at a point of being able to walk 10,000 steps per day, then start where you can and increase the number of steps each week.  For instance if you can only walk 3000 steps per day, begin there.  Once you start building up your stamina, add 500 steps per day and repeat.  Eventually, you'll work your way up to 10,000 steps per day. 

The thing remember about the 10,000 steps is that they need to be on the brisk side.  If you have trouble getting motivated to do it, walk your dog.  If you don't have a dog, perhaps you can borrow a friends dog so you have to walk.  Another way to make a walk more pleasant is to add music to your walk.  Bring the family for a walk.  I used to take long walks with my parents around the block to get exercise.

If you work at a job, walk over to your coworkers desk rather than sending an email.  Schedule a short walk outside during your lunch.  When its time for your short break, do a quick walk about the building.  As stated earlier, park a distance a way so you have to walk or if you take the bus, get off one stop early so you have to walk further. 

The bottom line is to sit less and move more.  The goal of 10,000 steps is not written in stone, it is a way to increase your movement in a way that does not necessarily add additional "exercise" time.  let me know what you think. 

Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  And yes, I love to walk because I get to see more of the country side.  Have a great day.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Grocery Store Chains

Aisle, Background, Buy, Clean, Food  Most of us grew up with grocery stores.  We'd go over, fill our carts with everything we needed or wanted for the next week or two, check out and bring everything home.

The self serving grocery store which is what we are accustomed to shopping at has only been around since the early 1900's. 

Up until then, you'd walk into a store, give the clerk your list and they would get it from the shelves, ring it up, and you'd walk out of the store with your items sort of like that store in Little House on the Prairie.  Most people at that time were not as brand aware as we are today because the clerks chose the brands, not the shoppers.

The first recognized self service grocery store was actually patented by Clarence Saunders in 1914 and he opened his first Piggly Wiggly store in 1916.  He took time to franchise it across the country to create one of the first grocery chains.  Safeway purchased the west coast stores between 1928 and 1935 before they became part of the Safeway name.

At about the same time Clarence was starting his chain, Alpha Beta was becoming self serve in Southern California.  What set it apart from most other grocery stores is the owners alphabetized all the products from A to Z, thus the name.

Early self service grocery stores were also known as Groceterias after the idea of cafeterias that were becoming popular at the time.  It wasn't until the 1920's that these chains took off.  Safeway formed in 1926 when Skaggs Cash stores merged with Seelig stores. Other chains such Kroger and A&P exploded taking over the country.  Around the same time in California, the "drive-in" market began where several smaller specialized stores opened in the same mall so people could get everything in one stop.

In general, most stores tended to be more specialized such as selling meats, or tea rather than being what we are used to at this time but during the 1920's and 30's stores there were more mergers between grocery or dry goods stores with produce or butchers to create a larger more complete market.  It wasn't until 1930, when Michael Cullen opened his chain of King Kullen's.  This chain is considered the first supermarket but everything was sold out of crates, no decor but lots of free parking. So the products there cost less than competing stores.

Throughout the 1930's stores continued combining to become bigger and bigger but most continued owning both the newer supermarkets and the older specialty stores. Slowly over the next 20 years, the specialty stores disappeared after being absorbed by supermarkets so they had largely disappeared by the 1950's.  The 1950's and 60's gained the reputation of being the age of the supermarkets because new ones opened regularly but by the 1970's zoning regulations had stores backing off on their extreme designs and both discount and warehouses began to grow.

In the years since, some have merged with others, some have closed down, there have been a few new ones such as Trader Joes, and Whole Foods emerging as players in the crowd.  Others such as Fred Meyers and Walmart sell both groceries, clothing, kitchen supplies, furniture, sporting goods, etc.  In addition, Amazon and those meal services will provide food through online ordering.

What is the future of grocery stores and supermarkets?  I don't know but I'd love to hear your thoughts on the topic.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Cold Cereals

Cereal Spoonful Strawberry Spoon Food Brea  Most kids grow up eating one of the popular cold cereals.  I really didn't eat that much until I went off to college.  I grew up eating oatmeal and rice.  Rice with cinnamon, or raisins, or butter topped with sugar and milk.

I remember going shopping with my mother and seeing the rows of cereals like  Captain Crunch, Life, Corn Flakes,  or  Fruit Loops but not usually getting to try them.

Its amazing that the first cold cereal made its appearance in a 1863 at a private sanitarium in  New York state.  The guy took dough made with graham flour, dried it, and then broke it into small chunks.  It was so hard, it had to be soaked in milk overnight.  Although it was rather tasteless, Granula was marketed by "Our Home Granula Company. 

In 1886,  Dr Kellogg was hired to help improve a sanitarium in Michigan.  After much research he renamed it the Kellogg sanitarium and he ended up marketing his own version of Granula but due to a law suit, he changed the name to Granola.  Then C.W. Post, a former patient of Kellogg, created and marketed Grape-Nuts.  Grape-Nuts was the first cereal to offer a discount coupon.  Post also used one thing Kellogg refused to - advertising.  That's right, Post advertised his product in magazine and newspaper ads.

The next cereal came out in 1896 when two Kellogg brothers found a way to create a cereal in flake form and marketed them as Granose Flakes later renamed them Corn Flakes.  Shortly after this the two brothers parted company and one went on to form the Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flakes Company later shortened to Kellogg company.  they began marketing it in the early 1900's with the first toy prize.  Post made his own version and named it Elijah's Manna but changed it to Post Toasties after religious groups protested.

It was also in Battle Creek Michigan that a doctor figured out a way to puff rice and sold the method to Quaker Oats in the early 1900's.   Quaker Oats used this to get  into the cold cereal business when they commissioned a machine to place rice grains under pressure causing them to explode into puffy shapes.  Quaker applied this process to wheat so they could market Puffed Rice and Puffed Wheat, advertised as "food shot from guns" and the "eighth wonder of the world." The phrase "food shot from guns" came about because the doctor originally puffed the rice by shooting them out of a cannon

Then in the 1920's a worker accidentally dropped a wheat bran mixture on a hot stove and Wheaties was born.  The slogan "Breakfast of Champions" didn't come out until the 1930's when it first appeared on a billboard for a minor league baseball team in Minnesota. Late in the 1920's, Rice Krispies hit the market  and provided real competition with Wheaties.

The 1930's brought us the earliest version of Wheat Chex called Shredded Ralston produced by Ralston Purina.  This particular cereal was designed to appeal to members of the Ralstonism movement who basically believed in the purity of the Caucasian race but in the late 1930's they marketed it as Wheat Chex.

The early cereals were all marketed as health foods because there was a strong health movement in the country but in 1936 that changed when Ranger Joe Popped Wheat Honnies, the first pre-sweetened cereal hit the shelves and sweetened cereals became the norm.

Of course Cheerio's made its appearance in the 1940's but under the name CheeriOats but it was quickly changed. Over time, Cheerio's has become the best selling cereal in the United States.  Beginning in the 1950's sugared cereals such as Frosted Flakes, Captain Crunch, Boo Berry, etc but it was in the 1970's when the FTC clamped down on how the companies promoted their cereals to the kids.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Ides of March????????

Krokus, March, The Return Of Winter  We've all heard that warning from Shakespeare, the one that says "Beware the ides of March.  I've read the play but the teacher I had never really explained the phrase when we stumbled across it in high school English.

My class slaughtered the written play as well as any class does when reading the Bard's plays. It wasn't until I had a chance to watch it done on the BBC that his words and plays made more sense.

The phrase "Beware the ides of March" appears in William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar when he is warned by a soothsayer of his impending death and  Julius Caesar is killed at the end of the play.  In reality, Julius Caesar was killed on March 15th 44 BC when 60 different conspirators stabbed him 23 different times on the steps to the Senate because he'd been declared "dictator in perpetuity".  They did not want him to become a tyrant and the Roman Republic died with him and ignited a civil war.

According to the Roman Calendar, every month had an ides or middle of the month.  In March, May, July and October, ides landed on the 15th while it was the 13th in all the other months.  The word ides itself means to divide.  In addition, the ides of March was the deadline for settling debts in Roman society because March was the first month in the original Roman calendar. Julius Caesar changed the calendar so January became the first month. 

The original Roman calendar was based off the lunar cycle so the middle of the month was supposed to coincide with the full moon but because the months were slightly longer than the lunar cycle, it wasn't long before the middle of the month no longer lined up with the full moon.  In addition, the days were counted in a strange way.  The first day of the month was Kalends. Days 2 to 6 were before Nones which was day 7.  Then days 8 to the middle of the month as before Ides.  Once they passed the middle of the month, the days became before Kalends.

The word "Ides" is one of those unique words that is both singular and plural at the same time.  Ides comes from Latin "Indus".  It is plural when referring to the middle of all the months but singular when used in reference to a specific month.

Is the Ides of March really a unlucky day?  You can find events that happened such as the Samoan Cyclone or the abdication of the Tsar in 1917 but the number of disasters is about the same as any other day.  So I'd say its just a saying, nothing more to make it stand out from the rest of the year.

Let me know what you think.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Happy Saint Patrick's Day.

St Patrick'S Day Saint Patricks Day Cauldr

Pizza vs Pizza.

Pizza, Meat, Dough, Greens, Olives  One time while visiting Indianapolis, several of us ended up eating at a restaurant where you entered through the kitchen to the dining room.  One of the ladies with us, grew up in Europe so she was accustomed to the way things were done there.

I ordered a pizza because there was one with eggplant Parmesan and other interesting vegetables.  It was strange because it arrived with a cracker like crust, no tomato sauce and only a sprinkle of cheese.

The European lady assured me, I'd received a real Italian style pizza.  At the time, I wondered about differences between American and Italian styles of pizza.  Even if you do not believe it, there are some fundamental differences including how its served.

First, American pizzas use a sauce of simmered tomatoes, spices, etc.  A sauce similar to spaghetti sauce which is what I usually use on my pizzas but in Italy, they use olive oil, fresh pureed or chopped tomatoes specifically San Marzanos, and fresh herbs made into a basic uncooked sauce.  If using cheese, it a good quality buffalo cheese is recommended for use or a proper mozzarella.

 In regard to meat, Americans love several types of meat on their pizza at once while Italians prefer only one type of meat so as to enjoy its unique flavor. 

As for the crust, it depends on where in Italy you are but you can have a crust that is cracker thin just like the one I had.  In addition, the crust is often made of a special Italian pizza flour, type 00, and allowed to sit at least 10 hours before being stretched out and made into a thin crust pizza, often cracker thin.  For the best pizza's, they should be cooked in a wood burning oven for exactly 3.5 minutes to get the signature blisters.  The size and shape is not always round.  I was told that Italian pizzas are often long and thin which was what I was served. They serve single slices folded in half and wrapped in paper, not like here where a single slice is placed on a paper plate.

The pizza started as workman's fare in Italy but has become something more here in the United States.  Now its the quick go to dinner when you are running late, need to feed an army, or  just want something for several meals.  Its gotten to the point, you can have just about anything on it.

Over the years, pizza has spread out to other countries and each country has placed its own stamp on their version of a pizza.  In Spain, the traditional pizza uses a lighter dough than that found in Italy, thinly rolled and topped with caramelized onions with chorizo, fresh vegetables, anchovies, and olives while the French use the same type of dough but top it with creme fraiche, caramelized onions,  and  lardons or a fatty bacon used to make lard.  Another variation of the French pizza uses a thicker dough with caramelized onions and anchovies.  They feel the salty anchovies balance the sweetness of the caramelized onions.

In Germany, they prefer using raw onions and bacon.  In Turkey, they use a flat bread base with lamb and middle eastern spices such as cumin and cinnamon.  If you get to Japan, their similar dish is Okonomyaki has a disk of cabbage cooked in a pancake batter topped with anything from sea food to eggs. 

As you can see, pizza has made its way around the world.  I am going to visit Germany this summer, so I'll look for their version of pizza to check it out.  I'd love to hear what you think.  Have a good day.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

5 Weird Cars

Auto Union, Dkw, 1000 Sp, Roadster  The other day, we saw one of those small two seater cars that looked barely big enough to be considered a car and the first words out of my father's mouth - 'accordion in the making'.  Throughout the history of automotive production, car makers have created some unique cars, some we've never heard of.

1.  The 1936 Stout Scarab was built by William Stout owner of the early Stout Airlines.  He designed airplanes before cars and wanted to combine luxury with leisure. This particular model was designed as a diner car with a V-8 engine in the back of this extended aluminum body.  At $5000 per vehicle, less than 10 were sold because it cost more than a Cadillac or Packard.
Car 1936 Stout Scarab Art Deco Automobile

2.  The 1946 Oeuf Electrique aka Electric Egg which looks like a glass covered small chassis similar to those motorized tricycles cars on Waikiki Beach.  The Oeuf Electrique only had three wheels and used battery power long after most engines became gas powered.  The bubble that encloses the two person bench is made of aluminum with curved plexiglass.  There were no gauges but visibility was wonderful. The concept for this car came out of the Nazi Occupation of Paris when there were already gas shortages forcing the reintroduction of horses and carts.  Paul Arzens, an engineer, created it so he could zip around the streets of Paris.  Even with the electric engine, the whole vehicle weighed all of 90 kilograms.

3. The1947 Norman Timbs Special which looks kind of backwards with the cockpit in front with curves leading to a raindrop shaped tail.  Norman Timbs who was also an Indy Car Racer designed and built this car using a Buick Straight 8 engine located at the back end that could take a 1200 pound car to 120 mph. The chassis was constructed from aircraft tubing material while the aluminum body was hand crafted.  Parts such as brakes, steering came from a Mercury brand car.

4. The 1953 General Motors Firebird 1 XP-21 was unique in that it was a jet fighter with four wheels, a tail fin, and a bubble cockpit.  This vehicle had the first gas turbine engine which could produce 370 horsepower.  Since it was not actually a jet, the engine was modified so the Whirl Fire Turbo Engine acted on the rear wheels through the transmission.  The body was composed of a fiberglass reinforced plastic body.  It was also designed to see if gas turbine engines could be used.

5. The 1955 Chrysler Streamlined X "Gilda" named after the Rita Hayworth movie by the same name.  The car was actually designed by Ghia. Although they were going to use a turbine engine, they ended up installing a 1.5 liter engine designed for touring.  The two tone body and huge fins set it apart from other cars of the day.  The cockpit was in the front but smaller for the size of the car. 

Most of these cars were never produced for the general public either because they either were concept cars or were too expensive for most people or due to a shortage of materials.  These cars are unique and have a place in history.

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

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

What is a PLU Sticker?

Apple, Granny, Smith, Green, Variety  A PLU or price look up number is assigned to every piece of fruit or vegetables.  If there is no sticker on the produce, the cashier looks it up in their list, assuming they know what it is.  Otherwise they ask the customer and hope they find it.  But what do the numbers really tell you?

The PLU is either a four or five digit number.  If its a four digit number usually beginning with 3 or 4, you know the produce has been grown the traditional way with pesticides.

The five digit PLU's provide additional information.  If the first number is 8, then the produce has been genetically modified in some way while a first number of 9 indicates the produce is organically grown.

These codes are maintained by the International Federation for Produce Standards (IFPS). These codes have been used by grocery stores since 1990 as a way to make check-out and inventory much easier and more accurate.   They are primarily assigned to for use with fresh produce and reduces the need for cashiers to identify various fruits and vegetables.

The thing about PLU stickers is their use is voluntary by retailers so its possible to find produce without any stickers on them.  Second, these codes were actually developed for producers and retailers to help sort and price produce, not for consumers.  Further more, the codes are randomly assigned within the 3000, 4000, and other series.  Once the number is assigned to a specific fruit or vegetable, it appears in a data base.  Some are retailer assigned which means that the retailers may assign these numbers to various varieties of apples, or oranges.and cannot be randomly chosen.  The unassigned numbers are available for the IFPS to use in the future.

As mentioned before, the system is totally voluntary and is not mandated by any governmental body but there have been over 1400 codes assigned so far. If the produce is bagged up and sold it does not use a PLU sticker.  Instead it is tagged with a Universal Product Code.

The Universal Product Code is a bar code used for produce that is sold with a fixed weight, count, or volume such as 10 pounds of potatoes.  The UPC is a barcode with a 12 digit number number used to identify the produce.  There are two types of UPC's.  The first is the generic UPC which is assigned a 033383 prefix to identify a single item.  The second is a company specific UPC which is assigned unique company specific prefix which identifies both the item and supplier of the item.

The 12 digit code is broken up so the first six digits is either a generic prefix or the company specific prefix.  The next five digits represents the item reference number provides information on the item such as variety, region where grown, grade, package size, etc.  The last digit is the check digit and is calculated from the other numbers in the barcode.

Furthermore the company specific prefix ranges from 6 to 10 digits which means the reference number ranges from 5 to 1 digit and the check is always one digit.  There is also a UPC data base which contains over 12,000 generic UPC numbers for fresh fruits and vegetables.

I didn't realize that PLU's are only for bulk.  I thought they applied to the packages of produce so I learned so much writing this.  Let me know what you think.  I'd love to hear.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

13 Odd Facts About Early Cars + A Bit of History.

Vehicle Transport Auto Oldtimer Nostalgia  As I grew up, I heard stories from grandparents and others in their generation about the fun things they did to others in Model A's and other cars of that vintage.

One relative told me they'd have fun with new drivers when he was young.  One of them would sit right next to the driver so he'd be by the gear shift.  When the driver stopped at a stop sign, the person would carefully pull up the gear shift and disengage it.  When the driver wanted to start up again, they could shift. 

Another time, I was told that when the Pali on Oahu was brand new, it went up the side of the mountain.  He said cars had to back up the Pali because those early cars did not have a gas pump and if they went up the normal way, gas would not flow into the engine.  I also remember hearing about two cars in Ohio in 1912 who managed to run into each other.

Did you know the first car came out in 1769 with a steam powered engine but the first gas powered internal combustion engine made its appearance in 1807 but commercial production was not to happen until 1886 when Karl Benz designed a car with four wire rim wheels and a four stroke engine in the rear.  Benz is considered the inventor of modern cars because his produced its own power and he received the patent for it. The first cars produced used a lever instead of a steering wheel so the driver was operating the car basically using a joy stick.

Rolls-Royce, established in 1906, produced its very first car the Silver Ghost the same year. One year later, the Silver Ghost set a record for going 24,000 kilometers during a series of reliability tests. By 1916, the Model-T Ford made up 55 percent of the cars in the world.  This record is still unbroken.  Side note:  Henry Ford used to repair watches when he was younger using tools he made.  Even Hitler got into the car game when he ordered the Volkswagon (people's car) be produced in Germany beginning in the 1930's.

The thing about the early Benz and Rolls-Royce cars is that each one was manufactured individually so they were only afforded by the wealthy.  Henry Ford changed this when he devised a method of mass production due to a lack of skilled workers and having access to cheap raw materials.  In addition, there was a lack of tariffs among states providing a larger area for sales and the mass produced method produced cheaper and more consistent product.  By 1913, Ford produced about two-thirds of all the automobiles produced world wide. The rest is history.

Now for the fun facts.
1. The first steam powered engine produced in 1769, weighed over 8000 pounds and was used to move cannons.

2. The worlds first speeding ticket was issued in 1904 in Dayton, Ohio.  The driver was speeding along at 12 mph.

3. Most American cars beep in the key of F.

4.  Motorola tried to develop a record player for cars but ended up producing the first radio.  The name Motorola comes from Motorcar + sound.

5. When Al Capone was convicted of tax evasion, the government seized his armor plated limo.  The day after Pearl Harbor was bombed, President Roosevelt rode in this same limo to congress with his declaration of war.

6.  It takes about half an ounce of gas to start a car or about a third of a shot glass.

7.  If you drove 24 hours a day at 60 mph, it would take 157 days to drive to the moon and it would take another 150 years to reach the sun.

8. The record for removing the engine from a Ford Escort and replacing it is 42 seconds.

9.  Electric cars were being produced back in the late 1800's and continued being produced until 1920 when the gas combustion engine made it cheaper to run due to the cost of cheap gas.

10.  The first man killed by vehicular manslaughter in 1899 when he exited a trolley and was hit by an electric taxi cab. 

11.  There are more cars in the world than people.

12.  The average car is built using 30,000 parts 

13. The first accident happened in 1891.

I had fun researching this topic.  I've always wanted to know more.  Let me know what you think.  I'd love to hear.

Monday, March 12, 2018

The Arrows Point The Way.

Eastern Airlines, Airline, Logo  In today's society, we rely on air travel so much we don't think about it.  I use it all the time when I have to get in and out of the village. I still travel on such small planes, the pilot is the one who gives the safety talk as he's getting the small Navajo 6 or 9 seater warmed up for take off.

They use some sort of system which tells them where they are at all times.  It gives them headings.  Tells them when to turn.  Just about everything they need to make it from point A to point B but how did those early planes make it from New York to San Francisco before this technology?

In the early days of air service when the Post Office began flying mail across the country, most airplanes could only fly during the day because there were no street lights, nothing for them to follow.  When the post office began  air mail, it took 83 hours for a letter to travel from New York City to San Francisco since they could only fly during the day.  Once daylight started waning, they landed and the mail was put on trains to travel through the night. When dawn came, the mail was once again transported by plane.  The postal service used this  hybrid system until they figured out a way to place markers across the country.

Beginning in the mid 1920's, the United  States government decided to build a series of light houses on cement arrows to point the direction from the east to the west coasts.  Prior to this, pilots had to follow railroad tracks to fly across country but with this system of light houses, they could fly at night instead of off loading the mail to the train.  Once the system was finished, it reduced the time to 33 hours for the letter to fly from New York city to San Francisco.

The Transcontinental Airway System was built during the 1920's. Originally the first towers used acetylene gas powered lights fed by fuel kept in the sheds but eventually these were replaced by a 60 foot lighthouse with a revolving motorized light on top standing on a 50 to 70 foot cement arrow that pointed to the next station.  Each beacon had a small generator shed with the beacon number based on mileage painted on one side of the roof and the route destination on the other half.  Eventually, most of the beacons were built in the west since that was more sparsely populated.

Although the primary white light could be seen from about 10 miles away in good weather, the beacons used a secondary system of red and green lights to flash the Morris code letters as a way of identifying the beacon to the pilots.  In addition, the government built several emergency landing fields with lights that could be seen from 75 miles away.

The government  built 1,550 light houses across 18,000 miles by the time the system was completed.  It made the country feel smaller and safer.  The down side to this system was the maintenance cost which included paying for the rented land, paying for someone to keep an eye on the station, the light bulbs, and the mechanical parts.  One magazine estimated the cost at $110 per month or about $1500 in today's dollars.  Take that cost and multiply it by the number of light houses and you are talking in adjust dollars over 2 million per month to maintain these  beacons.

As technology improved, planes soon flew without the need to use visual based systems because of the development of the low frequency radio range system. The government began shutting down beacon system was shut down in 1933 but some continued operating into the 1940's and the very ast ones were shut down in 1973.

So if you ever come across a cement arrow in the middle of nowhere, this is its story from a slice of American History.  Let me know what you think.  I'd love to hear.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Angel of the Yukon

Dogs, Huskies, Animal, Dog Racing
We all know the Iditarod race is a recreation of the famous run when dog mushers struggled to get serum from Nenana to Nome to save all those children who suffered from Diphtheria. 

But there is more to the story than that.  While researching more on the reasons dogs were used rather than planes, I came across several references to a nurse who was seriously involved in this event but mostly behind the scenes.

Her name?  Emily Morgan, a woman who became a nurse in 1908 when she graduated from Missouri Methodist Hospital in St. Joseph Missouri.  Later she served in India, Panama, in Europe and Australia during World War I, Wichita, and in 1924, the Red Cross assigned her to run the hospital in Nome after serving in Unalakleet for one year.  She was there when the doctor originally diagnosed the infection as tonsillitis but she recognized the symptoms as diphtheria because she had contracted during her earlier assignment as a school nurse in Wichita right after World War I.

Once he was convinced it was diphtheria, he sent out the call and the mushers responded because the only planes in Fairbanks were in such bad shape they could not be flown.  They closed down the schools and other meeting places to help prevent the spread of diphtheria. Before the batch of serum arrived, they administered the five year old stock they had, not knowing if it was viable. 

 When the serum arrived, she was the one who went house to house to administer the serum to as many of the 1400 as she could.  She was warmly dressed in layers including a fur parka and fur boots.  She carried a bag with a flashlight, thermometer, needles, serum,  and tongue depressor as she climbed over snow piles to get to the mostly native families whose children were effected by the disease.  She prayed with mothers and helped fathers build coffins in her journey.  She rewarded children who accepted the shot with candy and encouraged those who feared it.

It was not just children who contracted the disease.  Adults did too.  There is a story of a miner who broke quarantine to visit a lady of the night and Emily entered the red light district to provide serum to those women.  Emily was willing to go places where proper single women normally avoided in an effort to make sure anyone who was stricken or possibly exposed had the serum.

She continued working in Alaska for another 20 years before she retired to Kansas where she was born.  She died in 1960 but not before sharing her story with others.  Often women are forgotten in history but I'm glad to have read about this woman.

Let me know what you think.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Cookies? They Tested What?

Christmas Cookies, Cookies, Star, Deco  When I was growing up, I'd spend hours making cookies from scratch.  I'd always double the recipe to get a half of one recipe.  It had something to do with my father and brothers always had to 'quality check' every pan of cookies that came out of the oven.

Sometimes, the cookies were still quite warm and they'd bounce the cookies from one hand to another till it was cool enough to eat.

As an adult, I hardly make cookies, mostly because I'd have to eat them myself and I don't want to eat 60 cookies before they get hard. I also choose not to find the time to make them as I can use the time for other things.

It is thought that cookies originally appeared when a little cake dough was thrown in the hot oven to see if it was ready to bake a cake.  The earliest cookies appeared in the 7th century Persia due to the production of sugar in the region.  The term cookie is said to be from the Dutch word 'Keokje' meaning little cake.

By the late 16th century, cookie recipes were appearing in recipe books but they were still referred to as fine cakes. At about the same time 'biscuits' appeared as hardtack which were solid and used on long ocean voyages.  With in the next few years, bakeries in Europe were run by the guild system so the quality of their product.

Sometime between the late 1600's and late 1700's recipe names changed from small cakes to cookies.  At about the same time, cookies made their way to the United States with some of the immigrants.  As the people spread out from the east coast and the railroad crossed the country, new food items made their way into new areas and these new ingredients soon became part of cookie recipes.

As for commercially prepared cookies, the original sweet ones were imported from the United Kingdom but once they became popular in the United States, Belcher and Larabee, cracker bakers in Albany decided to import the necessary equipment to make cookies here.  This was just after the Civil War when people wanted more luxurious items.

During this same time period, cookies became fancy treats in Victorian England and were often animal shaped.  "Zoologicals" aka animal crackers, made their appearance at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia.  When P.T. Barnum's circus traveled to the United Kingdom, manufacturers there created Animal Crackers which were considered a marketing tool.

Sometime during the 1890's the National Biscuit Company introduced machines which would individually wrap and pack crackers but the machines were easily adopted to cookies. Their popular and well known version of Animal Crackers were introduced in 1902 to the public.  At the time, the box was advertised to be a Christmas tree ornament which is why there is a string across the top.

In the 20th century is when commercially manufactured cookies took off due to improved technology and creativity.  Even the Girl Scouts have their own varieties which are commercially manufactured and sold.  If you go through any supermarket and check the shelves you'll see so many different flavors available.  I love Walkers Shortbread cookies and Keebler Sandies pecan cookies best but I seldom buy them as I'll sit there and eat the whole package in one sitting.

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

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Why You Should Eat Soup.

Soup, Vegetables, Broccoli, Leek, Pepper  I don't know if you've ever eaten at one of those restaurants which serve a soup before anything else.  The local Chinese and Japanese restaurants all include soup as part of the meal.  My favorite Japanese restaurant serves a wonderful miso soup before the rest of the meal.

When I'm sitting at the airport waiting for my flight, friends order a Chinese meal, they give me the soup because they don't like it.  But have you ever wondered why soup is served first many places?

There are several reasons including some that are scientifically based.  First off, when a person consumes a low calorie soup as the first course, they are more likely to eat twenty percent less than without it because it partially fills a person up. Low calorie is defined as not being creme based.  The added cream adds calories and will not help a person lose weight.  For the best results there should be about 15 minutes between when the soup is served and the next course so your body has a chance to begin digesting the soup.

There are other reasons to have soup as part of a meal.   I love hot soup on a cold night because it warms me up.  Soup is considered a comfort food.  I don't know about you but when I was growing up and sick, my mother would serve chicken noodle soup to help us feel better.  Now that I'm an adult, I enjoy a cup of miso soup whenever I'm sick because I am a vegetarian and don't eat meat or meat based stocks anymore.

Another good thing about soup is that it is a great way to increase your vegetable intake by adding tons of vegetables to your soup.  If I want a creamed soup, I don't add milk or cream, I use my immersion blender to blend it all up for a creamed soup.  I actually prefer the richer flavors.

As mentioned earlier, it helps you feel fuller so you eat less of other foods and lose weight.  Its easy to make even for the person who can't cook.  My mother was never a gourmet cook but she'd make soup over the weekend by throwing leftovers into a broth and serving it with hot bread and butter.  She called it "Surprise Soup" because it could have anything in it from left over rice and stir fry to a few pieces of tongue and baked potatoes.

Another advantage to eating soup on a regular basis is that it helps people stay hydrated. The soup provides liquid in a easily used form so you don't have to drink each day to meet the minimum requirement.  Furthermore, soups retain vitamins and minerals because you do not throw the cooking liquid out.  It stays in the soup so you use the vitamins and minerals when you eat the soup.

In addition, most soups are low in calories but high in fiber which benefits your body.  The best thing I like about soup is that it lasts a couple of meals and if I want, I can freeze the extra and eat it at a later date.  I can also make a small bit of soup out of the little bit of veggies I have left over just before my new box of fruits and veggies arrive or I can make a huge pot for 32 people, it just depends.

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

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Pykrete Now

House, Earth, Building  Again, this entry came from Mythbusters who explored this building material.  Back during World War II, when steel was becoming harder to obtain in Britain and their ships were being sunk by the Germans, a scientist by the name of Geoffrey Pike created this unique material.

He discovered that if you made a mixture of ice and sawdust, it was strong, melted slowly, and was extremely cheap to make.  It was named Pykrete.

It appears one of the the admiral of the fleet rushed into to visit Churchill in his bathroom to share this discovery.  Although Churchill was upset at his bath being interrupted, he understood the implications when some of the material was placed in a bathtub filled with warm water and it didn't immediately melt.  They saw its possible use in the northern waters which remained cold but there were a few problems which kept it from being used.

Although, the British government considered building an aircraft carrier from this material, it never happened due to the war ending.  Due to Mythbusters and another show, they discovered that the material does melt at a slower rate but not slow enough to keep ships from sinking. One thing that came out is that it takes a long time to freeze solid before its considered done.

Fast forward a few years to a group of students at the Eindhoven University of Technology is using the same technique of mixing 14% sawdust with water as a building material.  In 2014, they build a huge dome with a 98 foot span out of this material.  They inflated a dome, covered it in the mixture, and it froze solid enough that it created a real building. 

Sagrada Familia Cathedral Architecture Mon
Sagrada Familia
A year later, the same group began building a recreation of the Sagrada Familia in Juuka Finland.  The model is one fifth the size of the the original one.

They began construction on December 28th but due to weather issues, they did not complete it by the January 24th opening date but with a bit of push, they opened one day later.

If their weather is anything like the weather in Alaska, weather gets weird during the end of December and January.  It can be messed up till the end of March.

Any creation made of this material cannot  survive year round because the ice will melt or sublimate at least once the temperatures get close to freezing.  Its something fun to play around with and could be used to create temporary winter housing or hotels but that's all it will every be until they figure out how to keep it from melting.

Let me know what you think.  I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Hikaru Dorodango Balls

Moeraki Boulders New Zealand Huge Balls MoI'd love to thank the old Mythbusters show for today's column.  Currently on Wednesday, the business teacher has to provide mandated training to students on relationships, etc.  Her class comes to my room and I've been showing one episode of Mythbusters.  This particular episode explored the idea that you can't polish poop.

So they went off to a zoo to collect a bunch of poop from eight different animals.  Once they had the poop, they dried it before deciding which ones were the best choices for the product.  After a few days of struggling to polish the poop, they brought in a man who showed them how to make Dorodango Balls or balls made out of dirt and water.

I thought the same thing.  You cannot create balls out of dirt but he has some beautifully shiny balls that looked so much like a natural substance you'd never have guessed they came from mud.  This activity is done by elementary children in Japan and does not take much.  Apparently, this dying art was brought back to popularity by a university professor used it to research how children played. You just need good dirt, water, and patience. 

First mix enough water to the dirt to create a thick mud so water doesn't pool around it nor does it fall apart.  It should be like a thick paste, almost like a dough.  Shape this mixture into a sphere that holds its shape.  While shaping the ball, you want to shake it occasionally to move pockets out of the way and make it more solid.  Place in a plastic bag and let it dry a bit, anywhere from 30 min to a few hours. 

Add a bit of dirt to the outside and sweep it off to begin creating an outer shell.  Once its covered, put it back in a plastic bag and let it dry out more, about 20 minutes.  During this time, the liquid will condense on the inside of the bag.  Take the ball out and place a layer of dirt on it again and put back in the plastic bag.

Repeat the process until you have a nice surface that feels leathery.  At this stage, you need fine particles of dirt or dust that you place on the outside of the ball and gently rub the ball with any that stick to your hand.  Continue until the surface moisture disappears and it feels powdery.  Place in a new plastic bag and let dry a bit before repeating.  When particles no longer stick to the ball, it is ready to be polished.

Remove the ball from the bag and let it dry about 20 minutes before polishing with a soft cloth.  If its not dry enough, the cloth could mar the surface.  Once the ball is completely dry, polish it till its nice and shiny.

The Mythbusters used this technique to create beautifully shiny balls from dried ground up dung mixed with water and polished to a high gloss.  Instead of leaving out in a plastic bag, they put the bag in the freezer for a few minutes between each step.  I honestly don't know if you really need to use the freezer but it works.

This might make a cool summer project to experiment with.  Imagine kids who get to play in the mud while creating a piece of art.  Let me know what you think,  I'd love to hear.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Yeast????? Where????? How??????

Bread, Food, Bake, Bakery, Wheat, Flour Although yeast has been around for a very, very long time, its only in the last 150 years that we've come to know what it is and how it works.  Louis Pasteur is the man who figured out how yeast works even though people have been making bread since ancient Egyptian times.

Louis Pasteur discovered that yeast feeds on starches in flour to produce carbon dioxide which is responsible for causing bread to rise.  Nine years after this discovery, Fleischmann's yeast was founded and the modern world began.

This type of yeast  is commonly referred to as bakers yeast.  Prior to yeast being sold in the store, most bakeries used yeast obtained from beer brewers but when they changed from a top fermenting to bottom fermenting yeast, the amount of yeast available decreased, there was a change in the way bread was made but it did not solve the lack of available yeast. 

In 1879, the process of making yeast in large tanks began in Great Britain. This new process lead to the cubes of fresh yeast being available to home bakers in the early 20th century.  World War II lead to Fleischmann's creating a granulated active dry yeast which didn't need refrigeration and had a longer shelf life for the military.   Since them, companies have invented a faster rising yeast which cut down on the time needed to bake bread and an instant yeast made for bread makers.

Currently, yeast is produced by selecting a strong and vigorous cell from the appropriate strain using a strong microscope.  The cell is then placed in a test tube filled with the proper nutrients and the cell reproduces using the budding method.  Once it reaches a certain size, it is moved to a glass flask filled with a nutrient where the cells continue dividing and reproducing.  The cells keep dividing and they are moved from tank to tank until it fills a multistory tank with about 60,000 gallons for nutrients and cells.  When ready, the yeast cells are washed and separated from the nutrient liquid by use of a centrifuge at which point it is finished off and sent to market.

For myself, I've discovered the best bread I've made is when I mix water, flour, and yeast to make a pancake like mixture that I set out for 12 to 24 hours.  At this point, I add oil, more flour, and all the other ingredients needed for a good loaf of bread.  By doing it this way, my bread is much softer, chewier, and is so much better than anything else I've made.

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

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Worlds Fair's When and Where.

Museum Of Science And Industry, Museum  Back in the mid 1800's the world seemed to be undergoing a technological explosion with all the new science and other developments hitting the market.

The idea behind the World's Fair was to show off the current industrial, scientific, and cultural items for a period of three to six months.

Sine the first one in 1851, there have been over 100 fairs held in over 20 countries.  They are called World's Fairs, Expositions, and Exhibitions depending on where they are held.

The first Crystal Palace Exhibition was held in 1851 in Hyde Park.  It was organized by Prince Albert, Queen Victoria's husband, because he understood the importance of showing what the United Kingdom could offer the world.  The Crystal Palace was built to house the exhibition and was the brainchild of a greenhouse designer whose design was accepted after all others entries had been rejected.

The technological and scientific displays came from all over the world, in addition to the art and craftsmanship displays.  Over six million people attended so the event made enough of a profit, that scholarships are still being given to engineering students out of the proceeds.  In the 40 year period between 1880 and 1920, over 40 expositions were held in places such as Melbourne, Hobart, Guatemala City, and Hanoi.

In fact, the United States held a Centennial celebration of the Declaration of Independence in 1876 in Philadelphia and it attracted over ten million people which kept the event from loosing money.  Many of these Fairs caused many of the most noteworthy buildings to be built such as the Eiffel Tower in Paris for the 1889 fair, or the first Ferris Wheel at the Worlds Fair in Chicago in 1893.  It also introduced the concept of the midway with live entertainment.

Although World's Fairs continued after the end of World War I, but not as frequently, nor did they do as well as those before the end of World War I.  The ones afterwards introduced things like the Art Deco Style, or  were designed to take people's minds off the depression.  The Fairs held in the 50's and early 60's provided the news media with the opportunity to compare countries as part of the cold war.

World Fairs continued on through the 70's, 80's, into this century but the focus canged to topics such as rivers, housing, sustainable development, oceans, leisure, and other topics.  They do not happen as often but still happen.  The last one happened in 2017 in Astana Kazakhstan and it focused on the future of energy.

The next one is scheduled for Queens, New York the end of April.
Let me know what you think , I'd love to hear your thoughts on the topic.