Sunday, April 24, 2016

10 Warning Signs Of Midlife Crisis

The silver-haired 50-year-old suddenly trading in his life in the suburbs, his wife of 30 years and his sensible car for a Harley motorcycle and a 21-year-old girlfriend is certainly the stereotypical image of midlife crisis.

Obviously every period of doubt or depression that occurs in middle age is not connected with the panic about getting older. But how do you know if what you are experiencing is actually the anxiety of midlife crisis or not, especially in today's youth obsessed society?

I recently read an article about 10 warning signs that say you might be going through midlife crisis. I'd like to share them with you here.

1)  You have a growing sense of regret over unattained goals.

2)  You have new feelings of being self-conscious around more successful colleagues.

3)  You now place a new emphasis on remaining youthful when the effort previously seemed unimportant.

4)  You desire to spend more time alone than previously, or with certain peers who could be characterized as youthful or as those who are comfortable in their own skin.

5)  You have developed a new tendency to abuse alcohol.

6)  You place a new importance on acquiring unusual or expensive items when the same purchases were previously considered frivolous or impulsive.

7)  You are experiencing a sharp increase in self-criticism with a corresponding decline in self-compassion.

8)  You now obsess over your physical appearance in areas where you previously didn't pay that much attention because everything was okay.

9)  You place an unusual amount of pressure and stress on your children to excel in a variety of fields.

10)  You enter relationships with younger partners than previously considered viable.

Even though midlife crisis is usually and traditionally associated with middle-aged men, it certainly applies to women, too. Now, where did that 25-year-old bronzed stud of a lifeguard disappear to (she asks as she slowly rakes her gaze across the men on the beach)?

Sunday, April 17, 2016


…some of which could come in handy in today's society.

I discovered this list a while ago and thought it would make an interesting blog.

Lots of stories from ancient times describe incredible inventions, some purported to be real and others attributed to magic and wizards.  It's fair to say that most of them are nothing more than fanciful tales with no relationship to reality.  However…when three separate historians describe something, it wouldn't hurt to take a closer look.  One such story comes from the reign of Emperor Tiberius Caesar and tells of a glassmaker who came to his court with a drinking bowl. The Emperor threw it on the stone floor where it merely bent rather than shattering. He had the man beheaded because he feared the flexible glass would undermine the value of gold. Some speculate that this tale presages the development of tempered glass, but even that doesn't bend, leaving the truth lost to the ages.

Some truly great inventions came from unlikely sources which is how you'd explain Starlite. Jane's International Defense Review contained the first announcement of Starlite, a revolutionary insulation created by hobbyist Maurice Ward in the 1980s. Live TV tests showed the material keeping an egg completely raw after 5 minutes of a blow torch. Several noted scientists vouched for its incredible ability to resist heat and impact. Unfortunately, Ward died in 2011 before sharing the secret of Starlite to anyone and the material hasn't been seen since.

Ever since the invention of the automobile people have been looking for ways to improving fuel efficiency. Most of them are worthless or scams (i.e., the dozens of "gasoline pills"), but every so often one comes along that's more believable. In the 1970s, a man named Tom Ogle developed a new type of carburetor that pressurized gasoline into a vapor and injected it into the firing chambers. After installing it in his Ford Galaxie, the car got a verified 113 miles per gallon. Unfortunately, Ogle died in 1981 before revealing the design of his carburetor.

Here's a lost invention that's very modern, one that fascinates data storage experts. In the late 1990s Romke Jan Berhnard Sloot, a Dutch electronics technician, announced the development of the Sloot Digital Coding System. He described it as a revolutionary advance in data transmission that could reduce a feature-length movie down to a file size of just 8KB. Sloot demonstrated this by playing 16 movies at the same time from a 64KB chip. After getting a bunch of investors, he mysteriously died on September 11, 1999, two days before he was scheduled to hand over the source code.

An entire book could have been written about the inventions that Nikola Tesla took to the grave with him. One such invention was the ability to distribute power wirelessly on a global scale. Tesla had dazzled crowds with demonstrations of short-range wireless power through the air, using coils to light bulbs as far as 100 feet away with no physical connection between the coil and the light bulbs. Tesla claimed he had a significant upgrade on that technique that allowed for electricity to be transmitted through the Earth's atmosphere, using high-altitude receiving stations. He began constructing a prototype in 1901 but funding fell through and it was never completed.

Warfare has always been a driving force for the development of technology. Apparently we humans never tire of coming up with faster and more painful ways to kill each other. In the 7th century, eastern Roman emperors were purported to have deployed an incendiary weapon exceptionally effective in naval warfare, as it could be shot from siphon-like devices and continued to burn even when it came in contact with water. The substance has come to be known as Greek fire, and although we've certainly invented other similar weapons, the composition and manufacture of this one was such a closely-guarded military secret that no records remain.

Some lost technologies don't seem all that impressive on the surface, but modern man still can't figure them out. A good case in point is the stonemasonry of the ancient Inca people of Peru. Working with huge, rough-hewn stones is extremely difficult especially without modern machinery. But the fit of the blocks in Inca structures in Macchu Picchu is so tight and precise that it's been said you couldn't fit a razor blade between them. It's still unknown how the Incas of the time were able to transport the massive stones—some weighing as much as 300,000 pounds—and place them with such precision.

This item is a plant rather than an actual invention.  It's what the ancient Romans did with it that makes it notable. This member of the fennel family grew wild in North Africa and was used as a primitive contraceptive, with its leaves ground into a resin and used as a spermicide. The settlers of the area quickly began exporting silphium in large quantities resulting in the plant quickly being rendered extinct. To this day, we don't know what in silphium's biological makeup allowed it to serve as birth control.

Another Nikola Tesla creation. Thankfully, this one never saw the light of day. In the late 1930s, Tesla approached the U.S. military with a proposal.  He would create a new style of weapon for them that could be fired great distances. The exact blueprints for this weapon have never been revealed, but there are a number of speculations. Some believe it might have been a primitive laser, while others think it was an electrostatic generator that blasted microscopic pellets of tungsten at intense force a distance of over 300 miles. Tesla's death device has since been lost forever.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

24 Historical Quotes That Proved To Be Very Wrong

There are the statements made, then there is the reality that follows.  Here is a list of 24 historical quotes probably believed when they were first spoken but have since been proven to be very wrong.

24)  "There is not the slightest indication that nuclear energy will ever be obtainable.  It would mean that the atom would have to be shattered at will."
  --Albert Einstein, 1932

23)  "We don't like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out."
  --Decca Recording Company on declining to sign the Beatles, 1962

22)  "This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication.  The device is inherently of no value to us."
  --Western Union internal memo, 1876

21)  "Reagan doesn't have that presidential look."
  --United Artists executive after rejecting Reagan as lead in the 1964 film THE BEST MAN.

20)  "Train travel at high speed is not possible because passengers, unable to breathe, would die of asphyxia."
  --Dr. Dionysius Lardner, 1830

19)  "I think there is a world market for maybe five computers."
  --Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943

18)  "X-rays will prove to be a hoax."
  --Lord Kelvin, President of the Royal Society, 1883

17)  "Everyone acquainted with the subject will recognize it as a conspicuous failure."
  --Henry Morton, president of the Stevens Institute of Technology, on Edison's light bulb, 1880

16)  The horse is here to stay but the automobile is only a novelty—a fad."
  --The president of the Michigan Savings Bank advising Henry Ford's lawyer not to invest in the Ford Motor Co., 1903

15)  "Television won't last because people will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night."
  --Darryl Zanuck, movie producer, 20th Century Fox, 1946

14)  "No one will pay good money to get from Berlin to Potsdam in one hour when he can ride his horse there in one day for free."
  --King William I of Prussia on trains in 1864

13)  "There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home."
  --Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), in a talk given to a 1977 World Future Society meeting in Boston

12)  "If excessive smoking actually plays a role in the production of lung cancer, it seems to be a minor one."
  --W.C. Heuper, National Cancer Institute, 1954

11)  "No, it will make war impossible."
  --Hiram Maxim, inventor of the machine gun, in response to the question "Will this gun not make war more terrible?" from Havelock Ellis, an English scientist, 1893

10)  "The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value.  Who would pay for a message sent to no one in particular?"
  --Associates of David Sarnoff responding to the latter's call for investment in the radio in 1921

9)  "There will never be a bigger plane built."
  --A Boeing engineer after the first flight of the 247, a twin engine plane that held ten people

8)  "How, sir, would you make a ship sail against the wind and currents by lighting a bonfire under her deck?  I pray you, excuse me, I have not the time to listen to such nonsense."
  --Napoleon Bonaparte, when told of Robert Fulton's steamboat, 1800s

7)  "The idea that cavalry will be replaced by these iron coaches is absurd.  It is little short of treasonous."
  --Comment of Aide-de-camp to Field Marshal Haig, at tank demonstration 1916

6)  "I must confess that my imagination refuses to see any sort of submarine doing anything but suffocating its crew and floundering at sea."
  --HG Wells, British novelist, in 1901

5)  "The world potential market for copying machines is 5000 at most."
  --IBM, to the eventual founders of Xerox, saying the photocopier had no market large enough to justify production, 1959

4)  "It'll be gone by June."
  --Variety Magazine on Rock n' Roll, 1955

3)  "And for the tourist who really wants to get away from it all, safaris in Vietnam."
  --Newsweek, predicting popular holidays for the late 1960s

2)  "When the Paris Exhibition [of 1878] closes, electric light will close with it and no more will be heard of it."
  --Oxford professor Erasmus Wilson

1)  "A rocket will never be able to leave the Earth's atmosphere."
  --New York Times, 1936

Right now, somewhere in the world, there is a prominent person making a statement about some new emerging innovation that will give future generations a good chuckle.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

A Bunch Of Alligators Is Called What?

I was watching a quiz show on television (probably Jeopardy) and one of the questions referred to the collective group name for a bunch of crows. My first thought was that I knew the answer…a murder of crows. My second thought had to do with why a bunch of crows would be referred to as a murder of crows.

We've all used the commonly known term of herd when referring to a bunch of cattle or horses or buffalo. Different groups of animals are collectively referred to by specific designations. And many of those collective group names make us scratch our heads and wonder who called them that and why.

So, my curiosity got to me and I did a little digging into collective group names for various animals.

Here's some that I found particularly interesting…and strange.

Alligators? They congregate in a congregation. However, crocodiles group together in a bask or a float. And rattlesnakes are a rhumba.

Barracudas are referred to as a battery (seems more appropriate for a group of electric eels). Jellyfish group together in a smack. And sharks form into a shiver (a name that seems very appropriate and properly descriptive).

Buzzards bunch into a wake. Eagles form a convocation or an aerie. A group of owls is a parliament or a stare. Ravens form an unkindness or a storytelling (shades of Edgar Allen Poe). And swallows give us a flight or gulp (which seems to fit with swallow).

Cats…as a general collective they can be a clowder or clutter or pounce or dout or nuisance or glorying or a glare. Wild cats specifically form into a destruction.

Giraffes group into a tower (seems very appropriate).

Gnus are an implausibility (seems only right for an animal that starts with a silent letter).

Porcupines come in a prickle (again, an appropriately named collective).

Wolves, in general, group into a pack. However, if the wolves are moving they are known as a route or rout.

Zebras are known as a zeal or crossing or dazzle or cohorts in addition to the traditional herd.

And in the rodent community…we have ferrets grouped into a business. Squirrels are known as a dray or scurry.

But what about people, you might be asking. Well, here's a suggestion that I came across that might be appropriate:  a nag of wives and a jerk of husbands.  :)