THE GIRL IN THE WOODS

May 15, 2018


A teenage schoolgirl is found on a nature hike being taken by a group of grammar school children.   They found a severed human foot wearing pink nail polish.  Gruesome but invaluable clues that lead forensic pathologist Birdy Waterman down a much darker trail to a dangerous psychopath whose powers of persuasion seem to have no end.  Only by teaming up with sheriff’s detective Kendall Stark can Birdy hope to even the odds in a deadly game of hide and seek. It’s a fateful decision the killer wants them to make and the only manner by which Birdy and Kendall can find their way to the murderer who is ready and willing to kill again.

Details on the book are as follows:

  • Series:A Waterman & Stark Thriller (Book 3)
  • Mass Market Paperback:416 pages
  • Publisher:Pinnacle (October 28, 2014)
  • Language:English
  • ISBN-10:0786029943
  • ISBN-13:978-0786029945
  • Average Customer Review from Amazon:0 out of 5 stars 

I always like to know something about the author so here is a very brief biography of Mr. Olsen.

BIOGRAPHY OF GREGG OLSEN:

New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author, Olsen has written nine nonfiction books, nine novels, a novella, and contributed a short story to a collection edited by Lee Child.

The award-winning author has been a guest on dozens of national and local television shows, including educational programs for the History Channel, Learning Channel, and Discovery Channel. He has also appeared on Dateline NBC, William Shatner’s Aftermath, Deadly Women on Investigation Discovery, Good Morning America, The Early Show, The Today Show, FOX News, CNN, Anderson Cooper 360, MSNBC, Entertainment Tonight, CBS 48 Hours, Oxygen’s Snapped, Court TV’s Crier Live, Inside Edition, Extra, Access Hollywood, and A&E’s Biography.

In addition to television and radio appearances, he has been featured in RedbookUSA TodayPeopleSalon magazine, Seattle TimesLos Angeles Times and the New York Post.

The Deep Dark was named Idaho Book of the Year by the ILA and Starvation Heights was honored by Washington’s Secretary of State for the book’s contribution to Washington state history and culture. His Young Adult novel, Envy, was the official selection of Washington for the National Book Festival.

Olsen, a Seattle native, lives in Olalla, Washington with his wife, twin daughters, three chickens, Milo (an obedience school dropout cocker spaniel) and Suri (a mini dachshund so spoiled she wears a sweater).

This book is the first in the Waterman and Stark Thriller series linking two ladies into a crime-solving team.  Dr. Birdy Waterman is a forensic pathologist and Kendall Stark is the Chief of Police for a very small town in the Pacific Northwest–Washington State to be exact.  The book is definitely worth buying and reading although I have several wishes I feel would be very helpful.  These are as follows:

  • I would love to see Mr. Olsen give more, maybe much more, background information on the characters. I feel he missed a great opportunity to explore their characteristics and how they came to their respective professions.  He does not do them justice but simply “plops” them down to solve the crime mentioned. Since “GIRL IN THE WOODS” is the first in the series, it would have been very helpful and would have set the stage for succeeding books.
  • Olsen is a good writer but not really a “word-smith” or at least for this novel. His writing is very straightforward with few flairs and embellishments.  There are no “trick”—memorable phrases in this book.  That’s OK with me but I feel his capabilities are there but not demonstrated in this book.
  • The ending is brief with no real explanations. It just ends.  I would like to see more descriptive information that he has given.

REVIEWS:

We are all different so I would like to give you several independent reviews of others who have read “Girl in the Woods”.

CONCLUSIONS:

As you can see, the reviews are mixed but all-in-all it is a book worth reading.  I feel you are either going to love this book or put it down after several chapters and go on to another author.  Just my thoughts.

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DOMESTIC TRANQUILITY

April 28, 2018


I am gong to deviate from my usual STEM post and do a little politics, the subject being “Domestic Tranquility”.  The need to achieve domestic tranquility goes back a long time.  Remember this?

“We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of the Unites States of America.”

These words are the preamble to our Constitution.  Basically, if I read this correctly, a more perfect union just might depend upon justice, insuring domestic tranquility, providing for the common defense and promoting the general welfare.   Most people will agree, we really are not there with no real signs of getting there too quickly relative to tranquility, domestic or otherwise.   Domestic tranquility generally means peace at home. It is meant with reference to family as well as states. Domestic Tranquility with regard to constitution is referred to peace among the states. Constitution gives power to federal government squash rebellion and to smooth tensions between states

Recent polls have confirmed that Americans are feeling bitterly split. A Gallup poll conducted just after the 2016 presidential election found seventy-seven (77) percent of Americans see the country as “greatly divided when it comes to the most important values,” up from sixty-six (66) percent in 2012. A Washington Post-University of Maryland poll, conducted nine months into Trump’s presidency, found that seven in ten (10) Americans think the nation’s political divisions are as bad as during the Vietnam War.  Kwame Anthony Appiah, a professor of philosophy at Princeton University, said this kind of division has been rare in the U.S. While the country has faced many periods of intense disagreement and strife, he said, what’s unusual is the current tendency of some Americans to argue that others don’t belong in the country at all. This approach to politics has appeared only occasionally in U.S. history. For example, in the Jacksonian period, Andrew Jackson’s supporters sharply defined Americans as English-speaking Christians of European origin, while in the McCarthy years, people with particular political views or lifestyles could be declared un-American and denied basic constitutional protections.

One element in today’s world that divides us even more is social media.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Social media may be society’s gateway to a global connection that we have never seen before, but if we look closely, social media has played a significant role in dividing us more than it connects us.  Take any issue or topic developing domestically or internationally. Whatever this issue is, social media platforms, such as Facebook Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, etc. play a prominent role in adding fuel to the fire. With the ability to express ourselves without face to face interaction, this opens the door for a much different form of debating. We are all a part of the term “keyboard warrior.” At one point, we have all fallen into this category. It feels as if this is the direction our country is moving in. Nothing is being resolved because we don’t look for resolutions anymore. We just look for the next opportunity to slander the opposite belief. I feel as if this won’t change but it will just get more and more relevant as we extend further and further into our newly found self-extension that has become our social media profiles.  This is demonstrated each night with late-night comics working towards greater ratings.  They use as their platform the political issues of the day.

Our social skills are falling while our social media skills are rising. This idea that our Facebook rants will change the world is far from true. The truth is if you want change, get off your high horse and go out and do something about it. Your Facebook essay on why something is wrong isn’t going to do anything but make you look like a fool. Stop sitting around and waiting for the change you seek and go out and become the change you so desperately want to see invoked in our world. We must take a hold of this issue before it consumes our youngest generation. These kids will one day be our executives. If they grow up in a solely social media-dominated world, it will have devastating effects on generations to come.

Let’s take a look at what course of action might help achieve domestic tranquility.

  • ELIMINATE POLITICAL PARTIES: When George Washington became President of the United States in 1789, there were no political parties. Political parties first emerged during Washington’s first term in office with the Alexander Hamilton’s Federalist Party in 1791 and in the following year, the formation of the Anti-Federalist Party or Democratic-Republicans under the leadership of Thomas Jefferson. The two political parties formulated their views of how government ought to operate in the new republic. At the end of Washington’s first term, as he was preparing to retire and go back to Mt. Vernon to just be a farmer again, the leaders of the opposing parties both wanted him to reconsider with Hamilton and Jefferson pleading with Washington to stay on for a second term. Washington was against political parties and felt they would detract from governing.
  • EXTEND THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES TERM TO FOUR (4) YEARS. John Larson (D-Conn.) is pushing to extend the terms of House members to four years to free them from the pressures of constant fundraising. In an interview with The Hill, Larson said extending the terms and staggering them so that half of the House is up for reelection every two years would let members prioritize learning the ropes in Congress over campaign cash. “I think the two-year cycle and all the demands that places on individuals tends to lend itself to one chasing their tail in terms of raising the money required to get reelected,” Larson said. Larson said new members arrive in Washington for freshman orientation only to be told to start dialing for dollars again.
    “The first orders that the Republican Conference and Democratic Caucus give is, ‘Get on the phone and start raising money again. You’ve got an election coming up.’ And I think that we ought to reverse that priority,” Larson said.
  • MAKE THE LEGISLATIVE BRANCH OF OUR GOVERNMENT ABIDE BY THE RULES THEY PASS: Republican Senator from Kentucky, Rand Paul, introduced a Constitutional Amendment in the recent past that would prohibit members of Congress from passing laws “applicable to a citizen of the United States that is not equally applicable to Congress.”

Section 1. Congress shall make no law applicable to a citizen of the United States that is not equally applicable to Congress.

Section 2. Congress shall make no law applicable to a citizen of the United States that is not equally applicable to the executive branch of Government, including the President, Vice President, ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, and all other officers of the United States, including those provided for under this Constitution and by law, and inferior officers to the President established by law.

Section 3. Congress shall make no law applicable to a citizen of the United States that is not equally applicable to judges of the Supreme Court of the United States, including the Chief Justice, and judges of such inferior courts as Congress may from time to time ordain and establish.

Section 4. Nothing in this article shall preempt any specific provision of this Constitution.’

I hate to say it, but the law doesn’t have a chance at passing. If it did, Congress would understand the destress many Americans feel toward laws that restrict activity and commerce.

  • REGULATE SOCIAL MEDIA: Basically, no hate speech.  (This would never pass due to too much backlash from the “talking heads” on television and the politicians themselves.)

I certainly welcome your comments and I’m sure there are many many more action items that could contribute to tranquility.

MOT HAI BA

April 19, 2018


một hai baNorth Vietnamese Cuisine

Mot Hai Ba is located in the Lakewood Neighborhood of Dallas at 6047 Lewis Street and is one of the many gourmet restaurants in the city of Dallas.  When I think of Dallas I think of brisket, BBQ, ribs, flank steak, etc. I do NOT think of North Vietnamese cuisine—at all. Not at all. Quite frankly, I’m not too sure I have ever eaten Vietnamese food and I do not think we have Vietnamese in our “neck of the woods”.  When I saw the “North Vietnamese Cuisine” sign on the door I was a little concerned about finding a plate I could eat without calling the fire department.

Our daughter-in-law took my wife and me to Mot Hai Ba last night for dinner.  It was a marvelous surprise.   As you walk down Lewis Street to the restaurant, you first see a fairly small terrace that can accommodate four tables and about twelve or fifteen people.  Fortunately, the weather last night was sixty-one degrees with a cloudless blue sky.  We sat outside.

I went inside to take a look and discovered the area you see in the following photograph.  Once again, not too large but certainly a very cozy atmosphere.

I was very interested in the table settings.  As you can see, at each place was properly positioned chop sticks, small plate, napkin and one water glass.  No chairs, just padded stools.

Very small bar area with minimal seating for customers.  This is a place you eat and not hang out and drink. That fact became very obvious at first glance.

Now for the food.  I have copied the menu below from their web site due to my inability to capture the entire menu and provide readability.  Please forgive the segmented portrayal.

I had braised scallops on an eggplant sauce that was out of sight.  I love scallops but not a real fan of eggplant but this was absolutely marvelous.  Truly a great meal.  I don’t know if you travel to Dallas but if you do, please check out một hai ba. You will not regret this one.

 

THE MOSES ILLUSION

April 8, 2018


Portions of this post were taken from an article in The Chattanooga Times-FreePress.

Let’s do a quick quiz:

QUESTION:  In the Biblical story, what was Jonah swallowed by?  How many animals of each kind did Moses take on the ark?

Did you answer whale to the first question and two of each kind to the second question?  Most people actually do, even though they are aware that Noah, and not Moses, built the ark in that story.  Noah—not Moses.  You knew that.

Psychologists call this phenomenon the “Moses Illusion”.  This is just one example of how people are very bad at discerning factual errors in the world around them.  Even when people know the correct information, they often fail to notice errors and will even go on to use that incorrect information in other situations.  An “official” definition of this illusion goes something like this:

“In pragmatics and psycholinguistics, the Moses illusion is a phenomenon whereby listeners or readers fail to recognize an inaccuracy or inconsistency in a text. It is also called the semantic illusion.”

Research from cognitative psychology shows that people are naturally very poor fact-checkers and it is very difficult for individuals to compare things we read or hear with what we already know about a specific topic.   The Moses illusion (also known as semantic illusion) was first identified by T.D. Erickson and M.E. Mattson in their article “From Words to Meaning: A Semantic Illusion” (Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 1981).

In this era of “fake news”, this reality has very important implications for how people consume journalism, social media and other bits of public information.  In the study mentioned above, eighty (80) percent of the participants failed to notice the error in the question despite later correctly answering the question, “Who took the animals into the Ark? The failure occurred even though participants were warned that some of the questions would have something wrong with them and were given an example of an incorrect question.  Psychologists call this “knowing neglect”.  People have relevant knowledge but fail to use it.

OKAY, why are human beings so bad at noticing errors and misinformation? Psychologists believe that there are at least two forces at work.

  • First, people have a general bias to believe that things are true. (After all, most things that we read or hear are true.) In fact, there’s some evidence that we initially process all statements as true and that it then takes cognitive effort to mentally mark them as false.  At one time, I personally believed just about everything written.  I suppose it was because I considered this to be somewhat of a legacy relative to the writer.  In days gone by, a non-fiction writer would write to inform and not to confuse.  Back then I felt that most writers did NOT have a political agenda. Today, I would be absolutely incorrect with that supposition.
  • Second, people tend to accept information as long as it’s close enough to the correct information. Natural speech often includes errors, pauses and repeats. (“She was wearing a blue – um, I mean, a black, a black dress.”). One idea– to maintain conversations we need to go with the flow and accept information that is “good enough”. Just move on and if people

don’t fall for these illusions when the incorrect information is obviously wrong. For example, people don’t try to answer the question “How many animals of each kind did Nixon take on the Ark?”.

Detecting and correcting false information is difficult work and requires fighting against the ways our brains like to process information. Critical thinking alone won’t save us. Our psychological quirks put us at risk of falling for misinformation, disinformation and propaganda. Professional fact-checkers provide an essential service in detecting incorrect information in the public view.  They are one of our best hopes for zeroing in on errors and correcting them, before the rest of us read or hear the false information and incorporate it into what we know of the world.

FAKE NEWS:

Why on earth is there so much fake news?

There are two main creators of fake news. The most egregious creator comes from non-journalists who put out spammy garbage you see on the web that’s simply untrue. As mentioned earlier, we generally believe just about everything written with the goal of checking it later, then there is no later.  The second creator of fake news is not so much fake news, but biased news coming from journalists with an agenda. Biased news isn’t as egregious since we all have our biases that are hard to extricate from our actions. However, biased journalists can do greater damage due to their large platforms. I would like to see a disclaimer at the beginning of each blog or tweet, when needed— “WARNING:  this is garbage.”  Don’t hold your breath for this to happen.

With the use of clickbait titles, misinformation, and satire, fake news has the ability to affect public opinion about a person, country or issue. I am amazed at the number of people who gain information, political and otherwise from the late-night television shows.

Findings indicate viewers of late night talk shows tend to be politically unsophisticated and low news media consumers, relying on incidental exposure to news about current events that are introduced throughout the day in the course of other activities (i.e., news headlines on email servers, jokes in late night monologues) with one notable exception.  Viewers of “The Daily Show,” are on the other end of the political spectrum, reflecting high levels of political sophistication and high news media consumption. They tune into “The Daily Show” for a “twist” on news stories with which they are already familiar, expecting Stewart and his team to provide a humorous slant on current events. Apparently, the other late-night shows—-not so much.  It’s mostly relative to political discourse garbage.

CONCLUSION:

I know I need to slow down and take the time to ask the question—is this information true, partially true, completely false?  What do I know relative to this new information?  I am to the point of turning off the television set and reading a good book.  Who do you believe these days?  What news or media outlet gives a non-bias, only-the-facts, information-filled narrative?  I honestly can NOT answer that question at this time.

MARCH MADNESS AND STEM

March 17, 2018


Right now, many in the United States and overseas are tuning in to “March Madness”.  Every year the number of viewers increases due to the suspense.  People fill out their brackets and eagerly wait for games to verify their choices. This morning, millions of brackets have been destroyed due to the following: “They played loose and fearless, simply because they had nothing to lose. A No. 16 seed had never beaten a No. 1 seed in the N.C.A.A. men’s basketball tournament. Who would ever think that the tiny University of Maryland-Baltimore County would be the ones to break through?” Just a reminder, you cannot quantify desire.  The UMB team demonstrated that yesterday.

According to the NCAA website, in 2017, live game coverage across the four Networks on Sunday, March 19, averaged eleven-point nine (11.9) million viewers, up thirty-four percent (34%) from 2016 (eight point nine 8.9 million), making it the most-watched first Sunday in twenty-four (24) years (since 1993).  Overall, the 2017 NCAA Tournament was the most-watched in twenty-four (24) years through the first Sunday of coverage, with an average of 9,325,000 million viewers, up ten percent (10%) from 2016 (8,513,000).

Additionally, NCAA March Madness Live (MML) has generated an all-time record sixty-nine point one (69.1) million live streams through the first Sunday of the tournament, an increase of twenty-four percent (24%) over last year.  NCAA Tournament games garnering the most live streams to date include: Notre Dame vs. Princeton (5.4 million streams); Virginia vs. UNC-Wilmington (4.3 million streams); Michigan vs. Oklahoma State (4.2 million streams).

Official March Madness social media sites have generated twenty-six million (26) social engagements across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram through the first Sunday, which is up twenty percent (20%) over the corresponding time period last year.

There is another side to March Madness.  According to USAToday; In 2017 ten billion dollars ($10 billion) was wagered on that year’s tournament, only three hundred ($300) million of which will be done legally at sports books in Las Vegas.  This is according to the American Gaming Association. 

SPORTS VS STEM

It has been argued that money is a form of free speech and if this is correct, U.S. colleges are talking about a “ton” of money and not that much education. A KDM Engineering infographic shows the annual scholarship awards to STEM endeavors being one point six ($1.6) billion dollars while scholarships for athletes being two point nine billion ($2.9). If you think about this relative to the U.S. economy, that would translate to eight point six (8.6) million jobs for science, technology, engineering and math students and eleven point eight (11.8) million jobs for professional athletes.  These numbers indicate that colleges invest $180.00 per potential STEM worker and $245,763 per potential professional athlete.

Now, the average career of a professional athlete is three to five (3 to 5) years whereas the average individuals in STEM professions is forty to forty-five (40 to 45) years.   The numbers are as follows:

  • NFL:  3.5 years
  • NBA: 4.8 years
  • MLB: 5.6 years
  • NHL:  5.5 years

On point I think is very commendable: more student-athletes than ever are earning degrees at Division I schools. The most recent Graduation Success Rate data, collected for student-athletes who entered college in 2007, show eighty-four (84 %) percent graduated within six years.  This is really big and indicates college athletes realize their professional sports lives are finite AND most will NOT make it into the bigs. To me, that is some consolation relative to money spent.

WHY DID I NOT THINK OF THAT?

February 17, 2018


Portions of this post were taken from Design News Daily.

How many times have you said that? It’s called the Eureka moment – a sudden flash of intuition that leads us down a path to a wonderful, new, productive solution. Most of us have had such moments, but a select few have parlayed them into something grand, something that changes the world. That was the case for Arthur Fry, inventor of the Post-It Note and Richard James, inventor of the Slinky toy. They took simple ideas – such as a sticky note and a coil spring — and touched hundreds of millions of lives with them.  Given below are nine Eureka Moments that actually produced workable and usable devices that have revolutionized and made life easier for all of us. Let’s take a look.

If you could see my computer and associated screen, you would see a “ton” of post-it-notes.  Most with scribbles, PIN numbers, telephone numbers, etc etc.  We all use them.

Legend has it that Post-It Note inventor Arthur Fry conjured up the idea for his product when the little scraps of paper in his Sunday hymnal kept falling out. To solve the problem, he used an adhesive developed by a 3M colleague, Dr. Spencer Silver. Silver’s reusable, pressure-sensitive adhesive was failing to stir interest inside 3M until Fry came along and made the mental connection to his hymnal.

In 1974, the two partnered to put the adhesive on small sheets of yellow paper and … a mythic product was born. They passed their sticky notes to fellow employees, who loved them. “I thought, what we have here isn’t just a bookmark,” Fry said. “It’s a whole new way to communicate.” They later put their product on the market, receiving an even stronger reaction. Lee Iacocca and other Fortune 500 CEOs reportedly wrote to praise it. Post-It Notes, as they soon became known, eventually were sold in more than 100 countries. At one point, it was estimated that the average professional received 11 messages on Post-It Notes per day. Fry received 3M’s Golden Step Award, was named a corporate researcher, became a member of the company’s Carlton Society and was appointed to its Circle of Technical Excellence.

(Image source: By Tinkeringbell – Own work, Public Domain/Wikipedia)

Ansa baby bottles are virtually impossible to find today, but they were all the rage in the mid-1980s.

The bottles, which have a hole in the middle to make them easy for babies to hold, were the brainchild of William and Nickie Campbell of Muskogee, OK, who designed them for their infant son. After filing for patents in 1984, they took out a loan, launched the Ansa Bottle Co., manufactured the plastic bottles, and enjoyed immediate success. They received editorial coverage in American Baby and Mothers Today, while inking deals with Sears, K-Mart, Walgreens, and Target, according to The Oklahoman. Their bottles even went on display in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

(Image source: US Patent Office)

Rolling luggage is an accepted fact of air travel today, but it wasn’t always so and I’m not too sure what we now would do without it.  The concept was slow to take hold, and achieved acceptance in two distinct steps. The first step occurred in 1970, when inventor Bernard Sadow observed an airport worker rolling a heavy machine on a wheeled skid. Sadow, who was at the time dragging his own luggage through customs after a trip to Aruba, had the proverbial “eureka moment,” according to The New York Times. Sadow’s solution to the problem was a suitcase with four wheels and a pull strap. To his surprise, however, the idea was slow to take off. That’s where the second step came in. In 1987, a Northwest Airlines pilot and workshop tinkerer named Robert Plath took it to the next level — developing an upright, two-wheeled suitcase with a long stiff handle. Plath’s so-called “Rollaboard” was the missing ingredient to the success of rolling luggage.

Today, his 30-year-old concept dominates air travel and is built by countless manufacturers — any patents having long since expired. The initial slow acceptance remains a mystery to many, however. Sadow, looking back at it years later, attributed the consumer reluctance to men who refused to take the easy way out. “It was a very macho thing,” he said.

(Image source photo: Design News)

OK, who on the planet has NOT owned and/or played with a slinky?  In 1943, Naval mechanical engineer Richard James was developing springs for instruments when he accidently knocked one to the floor, permanently altering the future of toy manufacturing. The spring subsequently stepped “in a series of arcs to a stack of books, to a tabletop, and to the floor, where it recoiled itself and stood upright,” writes Wikipedia. James reportedly realized that with the right steel properties, he could make a spring walk, which is exactly what he did. Using a $500 loan, he made 400 “Slinky” coil springs at a local machine shop, demonstrated them at a Gimbels department store in Philadelphia, and sold his entire inventory in ninety (90) minutes. From there, Slinky became a legend, reaching sales of 300 million units in 60 years. Today, engineers attribute Slinky’s sales to the taming of the product’s governing physical principles — Hooke’s Law and the force of gravity. But advertising executives argue that its monumental sales were a product of clever TV commercials. The song, “Everyone knows it’s slinky” (recognized by virtually everyone who lived through the 1960s and 1970s), is considered the longest-running jingle in advertising history.

(Image source: Wikipedia)

The Band-Aid (or “Band-Aid brand,” as Johnson & Johnson calls it) is in essence a simple concept – an adhesive strip with a small bandage attached. Still, its success is undeniable. The idea originated with Johnson & Johnson employees Thomas Anderson and Earle Dickson in 1920. Dickson made the prototype for his wife, who frequently burned herself while cooking, enabling her to dress her wounds without help. Dickson introduced the concept to his bosses, who quickly launched it into production.

Today, it is copied by many generic products, but the Band-Aid brand lives on. Band-Aid is accepted around the world, with more than 100 billion having been sold.

(Image source photo: Design News)

Today, it’s hard to imagine that an upside-down bottle was once considered an innovation. But it was. Ketchup maker H.J. Heinz launched a revolution in packaging after deciding that its customers were tired of banging on the side of glass bottles, waiting for their product to ooze out. The unlikely hero of their revolution was Paul Brown, a molding shop owner in Midland, MI, who designed a special valve for bottles of ketchup and other viscous liquids, according to an article in the McClatchey Newspapers. Brown’s valve enabled ketchup bottles to be stored upside down without leaking. It also allowed liquids to be easily delivered when the bottle was squeezed, and sucked back inside when force was released.

Brown was said to have built 111 failed injection-molded silicone prototypes before finding the working design. To his lasting delight, the successful concept found use with not only with Heinz, but with makers of baby food, shampoo, and cosmetics, as well as with NASA for space flights. In retrospect, he said the final design was the result of an unusual intellectual approach. “I would pretend I was silicone, and if I was injected into a mold, what I would do,” he told McClatchey. The technique apparently worked: Brown eventually sold his business for about $13 million in 1995.

Players of pinball may take the games’ dual flippers for granted, but they were an innovation when Steve Kordek devised them in 1948. Working for the Genco Co. in Chicago (a company he became acquainted with after stepping into its lobby to escape a heavy rain), Kordek became the father of the two-flipper pinball game. His lasting contribution was simple, yet innovative — the use of direct current (DC) to actuate the flippers, rather than alternating current (AC). DC, he found, made the flippers more controllable, yet less costly to manufacture. Over six decades, Kordek reached legendary status in the industry, producing games for Genco, Bally Manufacturing, and Williams Manufacturing, always employing his dual-flipper design. He worked until 2003, designing the Vacation America game (based on the National Lampoon Vacation movies) at age 92. But it was his DC-based, dual flipper design that shaped his legacy. “It was really revolutionary, and pretty much everyone followed suit,” David Silverman, executive director of the National Pinball Hall of Fame told The New York Times in 2012. “And it’s stayed the standard for 60 years.”

(Image source: By ElHeineken, own work/Wikipedia)

It’s difficult to know whether any individual has ever been credited with the design of the ergonomic bent snow shovel, but the idea is nevertheless making money … for somebody. Bent-handle snow shovels today are sold at virtually every hardware store and home center in the northern United States, and they’re a critical winter tool for millions of homeowners. The idea is that by putting a bend in the shaft, the horizontal moment arm between the shovel handle and the tip is shorter, putting less strain on the user’s lower back. Although there’s some argument on that point, it was recently proven by engineering graduate students at the University of Calgary, according to a story on CTVNews.com.

Studying the bent-handle shovels in the school’s biomechanics laboratory, engineers concluded that they require less bending on the part of users, and therefore reduce mechanical loads on the lower back by 16 percent. “I think that’s a pretty substantial reduction,” researcher Ryan Lewinson told CTVNews. “Over the course of shoveling an entire driveway, that probably would add up to something pretty meaningful.”

(Image source photo: Design News)

Erno Rubik, a Hungarian sculptor and professor of architecture, invented his famous game cube while trying to solve a structural problem. Although his goal had been to put moving parts together in a mechanism that wouldn’t fall apart, it gradually dawned on Rubik that he had created a puzzle of sorts.

His puzzle consisted of 26 miniature cubes, each having an inward extension that interlocked to other cubes, allowing them to move independently and in different directions. Initially called the Magic Cube, it was released in Budapest toy shops in 1977. It was later licensed to the Ideal Toy Co. in 1980, which changed its name to Rubik’s Cube to make it more distinctive. Its broader release started a craze in the early 1980s. Rubik’s Cube won Toy of the Year Awards in Germany, France, the UK, US, Finland, Sweden, and Italy. Between 1980 and 1983, 200 million cubes were sold worldwide. Clubs of “speedcubers” popped up around the world, it appeared on the cover of Scientific American, books were written about it, and The Washington Post called it “a puzzle that’s moving like fast food right now. “Today, Rubik’s Cube continues to sell and enthusiasts continue to test their skill against it. Total sales are said to have passed 300 million. In 2017, a speedcuber named SeungBeom Cho set a world record for solving the puzzle in 4.59 seconds.

(Image source photo: Design News)

CONCLUSIONS:  We all have ideas.  The difference is persistence in developing and marketing those ideas.

SMASHVILLE

February 17, 2018


New word, right? SMASHVILLE!  For me also.  Our youngest granddaughter, Sophie is a die-hard Predators fan.  She loves the NHL and the Predators.  I have no idea where this came from but she knows all of the players, their names, numbers, the number of goals they have scored, the record last year; you name it, she knows it.  For her birthday, we gave her tickets to the PREDATOR’S game this past Thursday evening.  That essentially, I’m told, made her year.  Sophie’s picture is shown below.

The Nashville Predators played the Calgary Flames in a four (4) to three (3) heart-breaking loss. Thursday night was a tough night for Sophie.   This game was the eighty-fifth (85th) sellout for the team.  Nashville and the surrounding areas LOVE the NHL and the Predators. (Who would have thought die-hard football fans would love NHL hockey?)  The program for that event may be seen as follows:

The Predators are in the Central Division of the Western Conference along with the Winnipeg Jets, St. Louis Blurs, Dallas Stars, Minnesota Wild, Colorado Avalanche and the Chicago Blackhawks.  Last year they won their Central Division championship so, these guys are really good. The team plays in the Bridgestone Arena shown below.

The arena was designed at an angle on the corner of Broadway and 5th Avenue in physical homage to the historic Ryman Auditorium which was the original home of the Grand Ole Opry.   The arena has a seating capacity of 17,113 for ice hockey, 19,395 for basketball, 10,000 for half-house concerts, 18,500 for end-stage concerts and 20,000 for center-stage concerts.  As you can see from the JPEG below, the seating configuration is notable for the oddly-shaped south end, which features two large round roof support columns, no mid-level seating, and only one level of suites, bringing the upper-level seats much closer to the floor.  The arena also features 43,000 square feet of space in the trade show layout.  The facility was completed in 1996 and has remained the home of the Predators ever since.

We started the game with an absolutely beautiful rendition of “Oh Canada” and then the “Star Spangled Banner”.  I wish I could remember the name of the artist but can certainly say she had a marvelous voice.

As you might expect, just about every manner of refreshment known to man was available before, during and after the game as well as a very well-stocked gift shop. Sophie found the gift shop before and after the game.

Nashville or Smashville as Predator fans know it, is a fabulous town with a remarkable number of restaurants, shops, bars, tourist sites, etc. for every citizen and tourist to enjoy.  I can certainly recommend a Predator’s game, if you can get tickets.

Hope you enjoyed this one.

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