Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Lake Tahoe Park Officials Warn Hikers To Stop Taking Selfies With Wild Bears -

Lake Tahoe Park Officials Warn Hikers To Stop Taking Selfies With Wild Bears - 

Hike into most California state parks and you’ll be greeted by a slew of signs asking visitors not to feed wild animals. Now, parks officials in South Lake Tahoe are upping their warning: don’t take selfies with bears.
Taylor Creek Visitor Center staff say guests are getting too close to bears to take pictures, leading the US Forest Service to issue advisories warning visitors to keep a distance from the animals.

 “Bears are unpredictable, wild animals and may attack if threatened,” forest Supervisor Nancy Gibson told CBS Sacramento.
And if a bear attacks a human, it may be captured and killed.
Taylor Creek typically sees an increase in bears gathering for the kokanee salmon spawning season, which make their annual swim through the creek.
If the problem continues, park officials have threatened to close off the visitors center.


Need a snuggle? Uber delivers kittens on demand -

Need a snuggle? Uber delivers kittens on demand - 

Cuddly kittens got busted Wednesday at the security desk of the Washington Post.

The Express decided to try out Uber’s Wednesday-only offer to pay $30 to have a kitten delivered to you for 15 minutes of snuggling. The delivery seemed to not be a problem: Two kittens, Sneezy and Sleepy, showed up in a crate at The Washington Post’s main lobby, according to pictures from our Express colleagues.

But apparently The Post’s security wouldn’t let them inside the offices, according to Holley Simmons, dining editor at The Washington Post Express.

She told us in an e-mail “security wouldn’t let us take Sneezy and Sleepy up to our office.”

It was not immediately clear why the fur balls weren’t allowed into the office.

Simmons said that at the end of the 15-minute kitten snuggle time, Uber took the little ones back.

Uber is running its kitten promotion Wednesday from noon to 4 p.m. in seven cities, including D.C. The six other cities — New York, Chicago, Austin, Phoenix, San Francisco and Seattle. But in New York, they say, kittens can be delivered only to offices.

Uber states on its blog, “Once the kittens arrive, you and your friends will get to enjoy 15 minutes of kitten cuteness!” And it gives a tip — “make sure to have an enclosed space purrrfect for playtime!”

Most of the kittens are eligible for adoption — although it is doubtful you can keep them under your cubicle for the rest of the day. Participants are advised to ask the kitten delivery person for more details on adopting the fur balls.

The money from the publicity stunt goes to local shelters participating in the event.


Alan Greenspan: QE Failed To Help The Economy, The Unwind Will Be Painful, "Buy Gold" -

Alan Greenspan: QE Failed To Help The Economy, The Unwind Will Be Painful, "Buy Gold" - 

It appears it is time for some Hillary-Clinton-esque backtracking and Liesman-esque translation of just what the former Federal Reserve Chief really meant... As The Wall Street Journal reports, the Fed chief from 1987 to 2006 says the Fed's bond-buying program fell short of its goals... and had a lot more to add...

Mr. Greenspan’s comments to the Council on Foreign Relations came as Fed officials were meeting in Washington, D.C., and expected to announce within hours an end to the bond purchases.

He said the bond-buying program was ultimately a mixed bag. He said that the purchases of Treasury and mortgage-backed securities did help lift asset prices and lower borrowing costs. But it didn’t do much for the real economy.

“Effective demand is dead in the water” and the effort to boost it via bond buying “has not worked,” said Mr. Greenspan. Boosting asset prices, however, has been “a terrific success.”


He observed that history shows central banks can only prick bubbles at great economic cost. “It’s only by bringing the economy down can you burst the bubble,” and that was a step he wasn't willing to take while helming the Fed, he said.


The question of when officials should begin raising interest rates is “one of those questions I cannot answer,” Mr. Greenspan said.

He also said, “I don’t think it’s possible” for the Fed to end its easy-money policies in a trouble-free manner....

"Recent episodes in which Fed officials hinted at a shift toward higher interest rates have unleashed significant volatility in markets, so there is no reason to suspect that the actual process of boosting rates would be any different, Mr. Greenspan said.


“I think that real pressure is going to occur not by the initiation by the Federal Reserve, but by the markets themselves,” Mr. Greenspan he said.
And finally - while CNBC's audience is told what a terrible thing gold is, "The Maestro" believes otherwise...

Mr. Greenspan said gold is a good place to put money these days given its value as a currency outside of the policies conducted by governments.


Friday, 24 October 2014

Sunlight is key to fighting childhood obesity and diabetes -

Sunlight is key to fighting childhood obesity and diabetes - 

A natural gas called nitric oxide, which is released by the skin after exposure to sunlight, helps people to control their metabolism and slow weight gain.

Rubbing a cream containing nitric oxide on to the skin can have the same effect, experts from the University of Edinburgh have found.

The discovery could lead to a treatment that halts the progress of Type 2 diabetes, which is fuelled by obesity and an unhealthy lifestyle and costs the NHS £9billion a year.

Scientists from Edinburgh and Southampton, led by colleagues at the Telethon Kids Institute in Perth, Western Australia, found applying nitric oxide to the skin of overfed mice had the same effect of curbing weight gain as exposing them to ultra-violet light.

The mice displayed fewer warning signs of diabetes, such as abnormal glucose levels and resistance to insulin.

The findings, published in the journal Diabetes, show the benefits of moderate exposure to the sun’s rays.

Dr Richard Weller, senior lecturer in dermatology at the University of Edinburgh, said: “We know sun-seekers live longer than those who spend their lives in the shade. Studies such as this are helping us to understand how the sun can be good for us. We need to remember that skin cancer is not the only disease that can kill us and should perhaps balance our advice on sun exposure.”

Previous studies have shown that nitric oxide can lower blood pressure after exposure to ultra-violet lamps.


Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Lost parrot that spoke with perfect British accent returned -- but now speaks Spanish! -

Lost parrot that spoke with perfect British accent returned -- but now speaks Spanish! - 

Long gone: African grey parrot Nigel, pictured, had been without his British owner for four years and had picked up Spanish instead

A British-sounding parrot called Nigel went missing for four years - and came home with a Spanish accent.
Nigel, who lived in Torrance, California with his British owner, Darren Chick, flew away one day in 2010, and was gone so long he was given up for lost. 
But, in a case of mistaken identity, Nigel was returned to another pet owner, who was also looking for their African grey parrot, and was able to pass him on to Chick.

Long gone: African grey parrot Nigel, pictured, had been without his British owner for four years and had picked up Spanish instead
However, during his long absence, Nigel had forgotten all about his British roots - and started speaking Spanish.
Rather than swapping pleasantries in English, the bird now fires off a '¿Que pasa?' to passing humans, the Daily Breeze reported.

After Nigel went missing, he lived in the wild - presumably around Torrance - until he was found a few months ago by a local business owner, Julissa Sperling.
After hearing Nigel making noise outside her house, she took him in and searched for potential owners. Instead of his actual owner, she found an ad put out by Teresa Micco, a local vet.
When the mistake emerged, Micco noticed that Nigel had a microchip, and used it to find Chick and reunite the two. 
Sperling, a Panamanian who speaks Spanish, said Nigel might have picked up some of her phrases while waiting in the shop.

Coastal: Nigel went missing in the California town of Torrance, near Los Angeles
She said: 'He was the happiest bird. He was singing and talking without control. He was barking like the dogs. I'm from Panama and he was saying, "What happened?" in Spanish.'
However, when Sperling handed Nigel over to Teresa Micco, a local vet, she realized he wasn't the right bird.
Micco had been searching for her own African grey parrot, Benjamin, who flew away this February.
But Micco was able to track down Chick with information from Nigel's microchip, and brought him home shortly after taking him in.
She said: 'I introduced myself and said, "Have you lost a bird?" He initially said no. But he thought I meant recently.'
When she verified Chick's name and said she had his African grey parrot, 'He looked at me like I was crazy.'
Chick says last week's reunion brought tears of joy to his eyes - despite the fact that Nigel bit him when he first tried to pick him up.
He said: 'He's doing perfect. It's really weird. I knew it was him from the minute I saw him.'
Nigel is the fifth parrot guided home by Micco, who has been running ads for her own missing bird for nine months.

Read more: - 

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Ahead of Halloween, the Sun Resembles a Jack-O’-Lantern -

Ahead of Halloween, the Sun Resembles a Jack-O’-Lantern - 

The sun is in the Halloween spirit early this year.

Scientists at NASA have combined images of the active regions of the sun from Oct. 8, to create a composite photo making the sun look like a jack-o’-lantern. “The active regions appear brighter because those are areas that emit more light and energy—markers of an intense and complex set of magnetic fields hovering in the sun’s atmosphere, the corona,” NASA describes on its website.

The images they used are of two sets of light wavelengths, one at 171 and one at 193 angstroms, typically colorized in gold and yellow, respectively.

According to NASA, specialized instruments  are used to observe light not visible to the naked eye. Extreme ultraviolet light of 171 angstroms can show the sun’s atmosphere, or corona, when it’s quiet. It also shows giant magnetic arcs known as coronal loops. Light of 193 angstroms shows a slightly hotter region of the corona, and also the much hotter material of a solar flare.


Thursday, 9 October 2014

Sounds like the start to a good joke - A Horse walks into Cheshire police headquarters... -

Sounds like the start to a good joke - A Horse walks into Cheshire police headquarters... - 

It sounds like the start of a joke but a horse really did walk into a Cheshire police station early on Monday morning.
The noble steed, who lives in a nearby field, ambled into the force's headquarters in Winsford, much to the surprise of security staff.
A Cheshire Constabulary spokesman said the animal was "quickly escorted" back, adding: "We like to ensure a warm welcome to all our guests at HQ and at neigh point did the horse pose a risk to security!"
This footage has no sound.


49 Brilliant uses for your Smartphone's Camera -

49 Brilliant uses for your Smartphone's Camera - 

I recently read an article about 10 Snapshots You Should Keep In Your Smartphone’s Photo Album that I thought was pretty interesting. But what was fascinating was all the OTHER great ideas I got for using my phone’s camera from the comments! I spent all afternoon reading and digesting them all and decided I would take my favorites and share them with you.

If you’re like me you already use your smartphone to keep notes and lists of things you want to remember…but today I realized not only is my camera phone faster and more accurate than taking notes…..the number of things it can help me keep track of is life-changing! :-)

Camera phone tips 
49 Brilliant Uses For Your Smartphone’s Camera

Take pictures of credit cards, front and back, and store them in a “locker” app on your phone. Whenever buying something on the internet you won’t have to take out your wallet, just take a look at the pic. (Click here for Android.)
Keep a photograph of your driver’s license and/or passport identification page in a “locker” app on your phone.
OR…..take a picture of your wallet opened, showing just enough of each card so you can identify what cards are in there in case it’s ever stolen and you have to call the credit card companies.
Snap a photo of your license plate for use when you are at the DMV or filling out a form for a parking pass. I can NEVER remember my license plate number when I need it! :-)

Camera phone tips 
If you keep a dry erase or chalk board in the kitchen to write down stuff you are out of, instead of transcribing the list to take to the store, simply snap a photo of it!
When grocery shopping for a recipe, snap a photo of the ingredients list before you leave the house for easy access.
Pictures of labels from wine bottles that you’ve tried and loved at a party or a restaurant.
Instead of searching for paper and pen when you see a recipe in a magazine or on TV that you like, snap a picture!

Camera phone tips 
Keep a photo of your pet and their ID/vet tags. That way you don’t have to carry the originals, and you can report it immediately if your kitty or puppy goes missing.
Reward program cards with membership numbers.
Meeting agendas and menus to text to latecomers (e.g. here’s what you’re missing, and can I order something for you?)

Camera phone tips 
Photos of playlists that you like from other iPhones/iPods.
Take pictures of furnishings you are thinking of getting (ideally with price tag showing) to run past a friend or partner for second opinions.
Speaking of furnishings…take photos of the stockroom info tags at IKEA – no golf pencil required.
To go along with IKEA stops, if you keep a picture of the dimensions of the tailgate of your car you’ll know what will fit, and what won’t.

Camera phone tips 
Snap a picture of your kids when you are heading out to a crowded amusement park, mall, sporting event, etc. so that if anyone gets separated you will have an accurate description of exactly what they’re wearing.
A lot of people use their phone’s camera along with Evernote for the ultimate organization. The combination of a camera phone coupled with an App called Camscanner lets you capture anything in a photo and turn it into a PDF file. Send the PDF to your Evernote account, which has OCR, and then you can search for any word in the capture.

Camera phone tips 
When walking through the bookstore, take photos of books you may want to check out from the library.
Snap a photo of your printer cartridges, making sure you can see the model numbers.
Take a screen shot of your iCE – In Case of Emergency – Contact Information and make it the lockscreen of your phone. That way, if you’re in an accident, and incapacitated, someone can easily get to your iCE info.
Keep a photo of your home’s wireless name and password to text to visitors.

Camera phone tips 
In case of a minor fender bender in rush hour traffic, pull out your phone, document the damage, snap pictures of insurance cards and drivers license info and get back on our way. Could help avoid a much more serious situation.
Keep a photo of the ever-changing monthly class schedule at your local spa, gym, recreation center, etc.
Take a picture of all of your appliances, including the manufacturers logos and serial numbers, for future service calls.
Take a picture of the cable placement on any audio/video gear before unplugging anything!

Camera phone tips 
Take pictures of tags on clothing, bar codes, product info etc. You can often find the exact same thing online for a cheaper price.
When traveling to remote areas where it’s likely there will be “No Service” or where roaming is expensive, screenshot online map routes and save them to your phone so they will be accessible offline as well.
When renting a car, take a picture of the car and its license plate. This helps when checking in at a hotel and registering the car, not to mention finding it when you have forgotten what the car looks like!
Take pictures of each room for insurance purposes in the event of theft, fire, or other disaster.
Take pictures of your favorite makeup and hair products (including names and shades) to make it easier when shopping to replace them.

Camera phone tips 
Take pictures of the business hours posted on the door of places you go to occasionally, like the library, post office, etc.
Keep a running Shopping or To Do list while at work on a pad of paper, then before you leave, snap a photo and put it as your screensaver. Instant list that can’t be lost or misplaced!
Snap a picture of the class list on the 1st day of school to help learn your child’s classmates’ names.

Camera phone tips 
Document lovely gardens, interesting yard art, and holiday decorations you drive by to try and duplicate at your own home.
When you find a great artist on Pandora or Spotify, take a screenshot for reference later.
When traveling out of the country, take a screenshot of a currency converter “cheat sheet.”
When buying from a bulk bin at the grocery store, snap a picture of the cooking instructions (for grains or beans).
When you have time, take pictures of yourself trying on different outfits in your closet for mornings when you can’t figure out what to wear!

Camera phone tips 
Take a picture of your spice drawer or rack before heading out to restock so you don’t end up with 5 bottles of dill weed and no cinnamon!
For students:  Take pictures of that particular nights homework assignment so you don’t have to pack all your books home.
Also for students:  If your teachers occasionally “misplace” school papers that you know you have turned in…start taking pictures of your homework before you hand it in and don’t delete it until you get the paper back with a grade on it! Brilliant!
When shopping with the kids, take pics of the toys they want for Christmas or their birthday. Then later they can go through the pictures in your phone and make their lists.
Take a picture of all the hardware and software specifications on your computer screen and save on your phone.

Camera phone tips 
When moving from one apartment/home to another, take pictures of your wall groupings so you can remember how you had them hanging, and can duplicate them in your new place.
Take pictures of your friends with the stuff they borrow from you so you’ll remember who has what.

Camera phone tips 
And last but not least….a few more that just plain made me laugh! ;-)

Take a picture of your coat check ticket (especially if you plan on drinking…)
Take pictures of “Help Wanted” signs to send to your kids.
Before leaving the house for a trip, take a photo of your stove in the “OFF” position for those moments when you freak out, wondering if you left it on.
Keep a copy of your best “selfie” shot for emergency updates to your Facebook profile.


Wednesday, 8 October 2014

China's Economy Just Overtook The U.S. In One Key Measure - GDP is worth $17.6 T vs $17.4 T for the US -

China's Economy Just Overtook The U.S. In One Key Measure - GDP is worth $17.6 T vs $17.4 T for the US - 

This was inevitable, but it still feels momentous: By one important measure, China's economy is now the biggest in the world, topping the United States.
China's gross domestic product is worth $17.6 trillion, adjusted for China's relatively low cost of living, compared with $17.4 trillion for the U.S., the International Monetary Fund estimated as part of its latest World Economic Outlook. Here's how that looks in chart form:
china gdp
Note the chart extends to 2018. The IMF expects this trend to continue indefinitely. (h/t to Business Insider for the news and the idea to use Google Public Data's amazing charts.)
Here's another way of looking at it -- China's share of the global economy is now slightly bigger than America's, at 16.5 percent to 16.3 percent:
china share
It's important to note that these figures are adjusted for the relative costs of living in both countries, known to fancy economists as "purchasing power parity." It's something economists do to try to make comparisons between countries more fair. It is crazy cheap to live in China and crazy expensive to live in the U.S., so a trillion U.S. dollars are worth a lot more in China than in the U.S.
And that has something to do with the fact that China is manipulating its currency to be worth much less than the dollar. It does this to help make Chinese stuff cheaper than U.S. stuff on the global market. American politicians regularly pretend to be super angry about this, but don't much mind getting all the cheap Chinese stuff. And China's booming factory sector has, in turn, helped make China's economy rapidly get bigger and bigger.
In terms of sheer size, however -- meaning, not adjusted for costs of living -- the U.S. economy still dwarfs China's, at $17.4 trillion to $10.4 trillion:
absolute dollars
GDP breaks down to nearly $55,000 per capita per year in the U.S., compared with less than $8,000 per person in China:
per capita
Again, though, that $8,000 goes a long way.

Read  more - 

Monday, 6 October 2014

The US government is spending 1/2 million dollars to find out why obese teenage girls have a hard time getting dates -

The US government is spending 1/2 million dollars to find out why obese teenage girls have a hard time getting dates - 

The federal government is spending nearly a half a million dollars to find out why obese teenage girls have a hard time getting dates.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) awarded a $466,642 grant last week for the study, which will examine whether social skills have an impact on why obese girls have fewer dating experiences than their less obese counterparts.

“Mounting evidence demonstrates that weight influences intimate (i.e., dating and sexual) relationship formation and sexual negotiations among adolescent girls,” the grant’s abstract states. “Obese girls consistently report having fewer dating and sexual experiences, but more sexual risk behaviors (i.e., condom nonuse) once they are sexually active.”

“The conceptual framework that has guided this research presumes that differences in the social skills for relating to peers and intimate partners along with differences in the relationship experiences of obese and non-obese girls account for these differences,” it said.

“However, no studies have actually examined whether the interpersonal skills and intimate relationships of obese and non-obese girls differ.”

Professors at the Magee-Womens Research Institute and Foundation in Pittsburgh will try to answer this question over the next four years. The end date for the project is listed as May 2018.

The study will specifically look at whether overweight teen girls develop relationship skills later in life, and will compare their “trajectories of romantic and sexual relationship characteristics” with others. The researchers will also contrast “obese and non-obese African American and White adolescent girls.”

The grant called the project “innovative.”

Read more -