Saturday, December 28, 2013

What's in Your Water?

Residents of USA can query the Environmental Working Group's (EWG) National Drinking Water Database to find out what's in their water.  Results for homes that draw well water are not included in this database.

While browsing the EWG's website, be sure to check out the articles on Bottled Water.  Here's one page you can start with.

Friday, December 20, 2013

A Santa Non-Believer

I have never believed in Santa.  I cannot remember a time when I ever believed in him.

When I was five years old, I was shrewd enough to realize that Mom wrapped all the presents.

First of all, she liked to save the wrapping paper and reuse it for next year.

Second, she bought and wrapped the gifts well ahead of time.  And then she stored them on a shelf near the ironing board, covered with a sheet.  The fact that the ironing board was in a scary part of the basement, near the smelly and grumbling furnace, did not deter me.

 There was also the fact that we had no fireplace.

As well, the top of the chimney was tiny.  And the bottom, well, that terminated above the furnace, ending up as an eight inch diameter metal flue with a metal flap over it.  There was no way that Santa could enter our house except through the door.

Supposedly, Santa would come to everyone's house at exactly midnight, at which time he'd fill stockings with trinkets, arrange the presents under the tree, and snack on cookies in milk (although we never left any for him).  Please, what am I, stupid?

My parents would allude to Santa, mostly as a form of coercion.  For example:
  • "You'd better behave if you want Santa to bring you anything."
  • "Santa doesn't bring presents to children who don't eat their vegetables."
  • "Hurry and go to bed, otherwise Santa won't come and bring your presents!"
That's what they'd say.  But what I'd hear was basically, "Do what we tell you to do, otherwise we won't give you anything."  And I'd comply, because I wanted toys.

The funny thing is my wife and I brainwashed our daughter about Santa.  I was very detailed about it, too.  We have a fireplace with glass doors, so before our daughter went to bed, I'd say out loud, "I'm opening the fireplace doors so that Santa can come in."  And later on I'd make footprints on the hearth with the ashes so that she'd see them in the morning.  I think one year I even went on the roof and disturbed the snow near the chimney to make it look like someone was up there.  Still, she now claims that she figured it out when she was ten.

Tell me about your Santa beliefs.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Wednesday Weigh-In 20131219

I've been going to bed too late, getting up too early, and drinking too much coffee in between. The result is weight gain.

Waist = 39.0"
Height = 5' 9"

  1. Wikipedia BMI page
  2. Tanita Scale with Body Fat monitor
  3. Javascript must be enabled to view the data.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Energy-Saving Myth of LED Holiday Lights

If you use strands of lights for holiday decorating, you may be wondering whether you should trade in your sets of traditional incandescent lights for the new LED lights that have become popular.

The answer is no if:
  • Your incandescent light sets are in good condition.
  • You have (or know how to get) spare bulbs for your current lights.
  • You use the lights sparingly...
    • Only a few hours per day.
    • Only a few weeks per year.
  • You use the lights indoors only during cold weather days when you heat your home.
Understand that the incandescent lights you use now convert most of the electricity into heat.  So that any energy savings you might realize by switching to LED lights will mostly be offset by an increase in the energy you'll use to heat your home.  And if your home uses electric heat, you'll never re-coup your savings.

So by all means trade in your traditional incandescent lights for the new LED lights if:
  • You use the lights outdoors or in unheated areas.
  • You use the lights when the weather is warm.
  • You can't find replacement bulbs for your current set.
  • The wiring in your current set has cracked or missing insulation.
  • You use more lights than your house wiring can handle...
    • When you turn them on a fuse blows (or the breaker trips).
    • The outlet or extension cord feels very warm.
I continue to use two sets of incandescent lights that are rated at 75W each.  They use special C7 bulbs that are designed with an internal bimetallic strip.  When the light is on, the strip heats up and bends to interrupt the current flowing to the filament.  This enables each one to blink on and off randomly independent of the others.  It's a lovely effect, one I've not seen duplicated with LED sets.

Besides, the LED light sets that I've seen have an annoying flicker to them.  LEDs turn on only when current flows in one direction.  They remain dark for half the cycle unless a special "full-wave rectifier" has been included in the design.  Unfortunately, the packaging won't tell you anything about the design, so you have to take your chances.  Be sure to buy light sets at a store with a good return policy and save your receipt.

I hope this helps you in some way!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The "What Have I Done So Far" List

This is an exercise in Barbara Sher's "Refuse to Choose"  She writes, "Take out a sheet of paper or your Scanner Daybook and write a list...with as many experiences and accomplishments, big and small, as you can think of...."

As well, a post by "HappyMind" on the Barbara Sher message board inspired me to "put it into gear."  And long time reader Rummuser gave it the gas to go.

Well, here is my list, just whatever I could think of, which means I might've forgotten some things...
  • Music
    • Play bass guitar and sing in:
      • A Top 40 wedding band.
      • Orchestra pit for musicals.
      • Religious folk group.
      • Various improvisation groups playing rock or jazz.
    • Play tuba and Sousaphone in an orchestra and marching band.
    • Learn music theory.
    • Transcribe music.
    • Sing bass in a chorus / choir and a small solo part in a musical.
    • Write a song.
      • Set someone else's lyrics to music.
      • Set my own lyrics to music.
    •  Study other musical instruments
      • Piano, guitar, harmonica, penny whistle, plus ad-hoc sound-making objects.
    • Repair / modify bass guitar.
    • Select components for, and put together, a stereo system.
    • Build and organize a record / CD library.
    • Enjoy and discover new music with Pandora and Reverbnation.
  • Effect home repairs / maintenance.
    • Replace light switches.
    • Replace light fixtures & ballasts therein.
    • Replace bathroom sink faucet.
    • Clear drains.
    • Fix running toilet.
    • Interior painting (with light spackling).
    • Remove wallpaper.
    • Remove ceiling tile.
    • Bicycle maintenance, plus replace components for upgrade / customization.
    • Repair cassette tape and stereo receiver.
    • Repair various appliances.
    • Fix leaky faucet.
    • Replace shower head.
  • Automotive
    • Maintenance / Repair
      • Change engine oil & filter.
      • Replace coolant.
      • Replace fuel filter.
      • Replace spark plugs. 
      • Check tire pressure and re-inflate when necessary.
      • Check fluids and top off.
      • Clear drain plug of cabin A/C system.
      • Touch up chipped paint.
    • Operate passenger car.
  • Electrical Engineering
    • Earn B.S.E.E.
    • Research, Develop and Design new products.
  • Computer ...
    • Earn technician certificate.
    • Repair.
    • OS installation and setup.
    • Operate and customize a wide variety of programs. 
    • Set up network-wide anti-virus program and automate updates of virus definitions.
    • Programming.
      • Learn new programming languages (self-taught).
        • Assembly (x86 and 68xxx)
        • Pascal
        • C
        • Fortran
        • Basic, Visual Basic and Visual Basic Script
        • Perl
        • MS Office Automation (VBA)
        • Lisp
        • HTML
        • MS-DOS batch
      • Create and maintain DLLs.
      • Create and maintain software.
      • Tutor college students.
    • Create, maintain and contribute to blogs.
    • Learn...
      • TCP/IP fundamentals.
      • Administration of MS Exchange Server.
      • Network administration.
  • Draw and paint with media such as...
    • pencil, pastels or charcoal on paper.
    • pen and ink on paper and parchment.
    • paint on paper and canvas.
    • stratchboard
  • Woodworking, design and create....
    • CD / VHS tape / DVD rack.
    • Bookcase.
    • Frame for nature collage using tree branches.
    • Stand for a piece of cat furniture.
  • Writing of
    • Poetry.
    • Articles for magazines and newsletter.
    • Blog posts.
    • Business and cover letters that Get Results.
    • Book reviews.
    • Journal / Diary.
    • Lists of things that I've done so far.
  • Pet care
    • Up to four cats, feeding, litterboxes, trimming claws.
    • Rescue unfortunate mice from said cats.
    • Dog grooming, training.
  • Horticulture
    • Propagate, re-pot and care for houseplants.
    • Design, create and maintain outdoor vegetable garden.
    • Landscaping and tree pruning.
    • Create and maintain compost.
    • Foraging.
      • Wild mushrooms.
      • Herbs.
  • Crafts
    • Crochet.
    • Sew to repair / hem clothes and even make simple curtains.
    • Rock polishing (Lapidary)
      • Create and sell jewelry from polished, semi-precious gemstones.
    • Create ceremonial masks.
  • Sport / Recreation
    • Fresh water fishing with spinning reel and lure or live bait.
    • Crabbing.
    • Play soccer.
    • Play tennis.
    • Hiking.
    • Yoga.
    • Bicycling.
    • Swimming.
    • Canoeing. 
    • Karate (Green Belt)
  • Photography
    • Nature, mostly: insects, cats, dogs, sunsets, flora, wild animals.
    • Street / fair scenes.
    • Shadows.
    • Artwork (for electronic portfolios)
  • Health and Nutrition
    • Learn Reiki level I.
    • Explore various diet systems.
      • Anti-inflammatory.
      • Atkins.
      • Blood Type.
      • Paleo.
      • Vegan.
      • Gluten Free (with and without Casein Free).
      • Feingold.
      • Ideal Protein.
      • Genotype.
      • Weight Watchers.
      • Dean Ornish.
      • The ADA's evolving food pyramid.
      • SAD.
    •  Learn about
      • Autism / Asperger / PDD
      • Allergies
      • ALS
      • MS
      • Lupus
      • Sjögren's
      • Hashimoto's Thyroiditis
      • Parkinson's 
      • Stenosis
      • Guillain–Barré
      • Obesity, Metabolic Syndrome, Diabetes
      • Glaucoma
      • High cholesterol
      • Drug - Food interactions
      • Sleep
      • Obsessive - Compulsive Disorder, specifically Hoarding.
  • Volunteer as Leader of a 3000-member professional organization.
  • Organize annual dinner meetings
  • Miscellaneous Learning
    • Feng Shui.
    • Religions.
    • Paranormal phenomenon.
    • Lucid dreaming.
    • Meditation.
    • The Answer to Life, the Universe and Everything.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Wednesday Weigh-In 20131211

Fattening up for the hibernation that I'd love to settle in for but won't.

Waist = 38.75"
Height = 5' 9"

  1. Wikipedia BMI page
  2. Tanita Scale with Body Fat monitor
  3. Javascript must be enabled to view the data.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Topics of Future Posts

I've closed my Spigot of Creativity when I achieved my goal of posting daily for NaBloPoMo in November.  But the flow of ideas isn't so easy to stop.  Here are some of the other topics I'd thought of posting about in November:
I'm devoting less time now to blogging, so I'll let you choose what I should write about next.  What would you like to read about?

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Wednesday Weigh-In 20131205

On Tuesday, I enjoyed a huge holiday dinner with mixed greens salad, rack of lamb, grilled asparagus, and flourless chocolate cake, all washed down with two beers and then a coffee. And I snag many of the communal treats I see left out in the cafeteria.

Waist = 38.5"
Height = 5' 9"

  1. Wikipedia BMI page
  2. Tanita Scale with Body Fat monitor
  3. Javascript must be enabled to view the data.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Weigh-In Five Year Graphical Summary

I'm past the 5 year mark and have the graphical data to show it!

The main reason I publish this is to demonstrate that weight is not constant. It's important to weigh yourself regularly and not take any one reading too seriously. That goes for both low readings and high ones. So if you've been trying to lose weight and get a reading that's at or below your goal, you can celebrate briefly and perhaps switch to a maintenance plan. But then remember to keep checking your weight and revert back to the weight loss plan if the weight is consistently higher.


Sunday, December 1, 2013

NaBloPoMo 2013 Wrap-Up

Well, NaBloPoMo 2013 is over.  I achieved my goal of posting at least once each day in November.

The 30 posts totaled 19 pages (in MS Word 2000, Times New Roman 12 pt font, sans comments and dates), approximately 7,806 words and 35,322 non-space characters (43,331 including spaces).

The most viewed post was "Foodbook" with a whopping 157 page views!  This was followed by "Thanksgiving on the Blood Type Diet" with 13 and "Thanks For These Stats" with 12.  Total page views for the entire month came to 1,309.

I hope you enjoyed at least some of the daily posts.  I have more content in my head than I had time to write, and I'll post it at a relaxed pace in December.  Perhaps I'll post the topics or post titles of upcoming posts and let you decide which ones I should write first.