Friday, November 29, 2013

I’m Going on a Blog Break – See You Again on December 3rd

Good Day World!

I’m going to pull myself away from my computer and wander around in the real world for a few days. Who knows what adventures I’ll encounter?

While I’m gone, I invite you to look at the right-hand side of this page where you’ll find links to stuff I’ve written for newspapers, other websites, my novella “Rafter’s Redemption,” and blog posts going back five years.

Here’s a few examples of subjects I’ll be commenting on when I get back (in no particular order):

1) It's not quite a "do nothing" Congress – but it's not far off.

With only a handful of remaining legislative days on their calendar, this current Congress is on track to go down as one of the most unproductive in modern history. 

2) The question is one you may have asked yourself while standing in line at the airport or when trying not to scream in frustration while sitting on the tarmac waiting to take off:

“If airlines know there will be a surge of passengers during the holidays, why don't they add capacity in the form of extra flights?”

IMAGE: Frozen

3) I’m going to the movies with my six-year-old granddaughter this weekend. We’re going to see “Frozen,” Disney’s latest movie.

It's the rare film that actually is worth the ticket surcharge for 3-D, and it's a princess film that defies the someday-my-prince-will-come stereotype, creating two princesses who stand firmly on their own feet and earn the crowns they wear!

I’ll let you know what she thinks about it.

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving Friends, Family and Readers!

Good Day World!

Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving wherever you may be.

I feel blessed to be able to have a day where my family gathers together and enjoys good food and conversation. We’re not much on the pilgrim story that still stubbornly attaches itself to the day, but we have fun.

A couple of turkeys named “Popcorn” and “Carmel” are feeling pretty blessed after President Obama pardoned them for unknown crimes and declared they weren’t going to be the main course for some family’s Thanksgiving meal.

Some people will be standing in line on Thanksgiving Day to get deep discounts on electronics.

The next time you come across a flyer advertising a Black Friday deal that takes 50 percent off the retail price, you may not want to regard it as a "steal."

Retailers are still making big profits even while slashing prices, according to Vincent Quan, associate professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology.

There's a science behind holiday markdowns. Retailers adhere to specific formulas set six to nine months in advance, and each discount is closely mapped out to lure consumers into the stores during Black Friday weekend and beyond.

Last year I put together a board on Thanksgiving that still resonates this holiday season. It offers some history, health advise, and ways to have fun.

 Time for me to walk on down the road…

Oh! Wait a moment!

I forgot to mention that today is my beautiful wife’s birthday! Happy Birthday Shirley Ann Holloway-Stancliff! I love you more every Thanksgiving!



Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Batter Up! The Pancake Man Can Create Tasty Art When He’s Not Playing in his Band

Good Day World!

I want you to meet Dr. Dan the Pancake Man.

Did your mother ever tell you not to play with your food? Well, she probably never saw ‘Dr. Dan the Pancake Man’ who turns batter into art.

Daniel Drake has been creating pancake art at the Courtesy Diner in St. Louis, MO for four years, but recently got national recognition thanks to a Reddit post. It linked to Imgur photos uploaded by one of Dan’s friends showing his cool creations, affectionately called Dan-cakes. So far, he has whipped up pancakes that look like a dog, Aladdin, a jellyfish, and Pac-man to name a few.

He even has his own Facebook fan page with over 1500 admirers flipping over his creations! When he isn’t fulfilling diners specially requested Dan-cakes, Dan is playing in the band ‘The Psychedelic Psychonauts.’

Dan says he started creating the pancake doodles after he saw someone make a Mickey Mouse pancake. His first creation was a huge smiley face for a male customer who laughed at the pancake, and then left a $15 tip. Dan knew he was on to something.

He even has his own Facebook fan page with over 1500 admirers flipping over his creations! When he isn’t fulfilling diners specially requested Dan-cakes, Dan is playing in the band ‘The Psychedelic Psychonauts.’ via Yahoo Trending Now

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

One big wobbly step for a humanoid robot preparing for challenge


 Good Day World!

 Have you ever noticed that most robots basically mirror humans?

 Not all of them of course. Robots come in all shapes and sizes.

The first known robot was created around 400-350 BC by the mathematician Archytas and was a steam powered pigeon.

Archytas, who coincidentally is known as the “father of mechanical engineering,” constructed his bird out of wood and used steam to power the movements of the robot.  This bird was then suspended from a pivot bar and at one point the bird managed to fly as much as 200 meters before it ran out of steam.

Leonardo da Vinci designed and built the first known humanoid robot around 1495. This robot was an armored knight that could sit up, wave its arms, and move its head while opening and closing its jaw. You can imagine how many jaws dropped when it first appeared in public!

Isaac Asimov formulated the Three Laws of Robotics, and in the process of doing so, coined the word "robotics."

And speaking of robotics, the first real Robotics Challenge trials will be held at Homestead Speedway in Florida on Dec. 20th and 21st.

It's open to the public and free to attend, so local robotics enthusiasts can come and see a few state-of-the-art robots trying to drive, operate machinery and get across rough terrain.

“The Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition put up a video

Atlas got some modifications to compete in new challenge
last week to show how even without using its sophisticated sensors, which the researchers disabled, their robot – Atlas - could make its way across reasonably rough terrain.

IHMC is modifying the Atlas, originally built by Boston Dynamics (of BigDog fame), to compete in DARPA's Robotics Challenge. DARPA, the research arm of the Defense Department, is offering a $2 million prize to the best-performing robot in a series of tests made to simulate "disaster response operations."

IHMC took first place in a virtual version of the challenge performed in June, and was awarded an Atlas robot to use for the next phase, a trial run of the real-world tasks due to take place in December.”  full story here

 More information on the event will appear here as DARPA makes it available.

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Monday, November 25, 2013

A Life of No Respect Lives On! Visit the New Rodney Dangerfield Website

 Good Day World!

 If he were alive today, Rodney Dangerfield would be grinning from ear-to-ear!

His widow, Joan Dangerfield, unveiled an online tribute to her late husband on Nov. 22, which would have been his 92nd birthday if he were still with us.

If you’re a big fan of Dangerfield like myself, this site is the Mother-of-All repositories for Rodney Dangerfield memorabilia. Check out his old movies, stand-up routines, and the story of his remarkable comedic career.

His signature comedy routine about never getting respect was always greeted with howls of laughter from audiences worldwide. The fact is, he got a lot of respect in his lifetime and was honored many times for his work.

Born Jacob Rodney Cohen in 1921 to Hungarian Jews from Long Island, he grew up largely without his father, a vaudeville performer who abandoned the family when Rodney was very young.

How did he come up with that signature respect routine?

Inspiration struck while eavesdropping on the mobster-types who hung around comedy clubs. "He overheard them saying, 'Hey, respect her, she's with me.' That kind of language. And he thought, 'That's it!' "

Years later, Jack Benny, Dangerfield's hero, called to offer his admiration: "He said, 'You have the best image of all time. Because everybody feels that at one point on another they're not getting respect.' "

Thanks for the laughs Rodney.

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Airplane Traveler: ‘I’d rather have snakes in the cabin than cell phones!’

Good Day World!

 Heard at 30,000 feet…”Can you hear me now?”

If you think people talking on cell phones while checking out at supermarket lines are obnoxious, wait until the airlines new policy of letting passengers jabber at 30,000 feet on their cell phones happens. It’s going to ruin your day – not to mention your flight.

Frequent flyers are facing a new pain-in-the-ass on their trips having to listen to a cabin full of inane conversations along the lines of, “Did you hear that Betty turned down that bartender job? It isn’t going to be pretty.

The skies are getting a little less friendly. Flight attendants are aren’t happy about the new development either. It means one more chance that someone is going to get irritated at a fellow passenger.

The way people act on cell phones on land and in cars is bad enough, but wait until they take to the skies with their iPhones and Smart phones. Super duper earplugs anyone?

In the news:

Mere weeks after the FAA relaxed rules to allow the use of personal electronic devices during all phases of flight -- a running list of which airlines are allowing gate-to-gate use is here -- the FCC is getting in on the cellphone plane party and considering letting passengers talk and text across the whole country.

When the TODAY show asked, "Should the FCC allow cellphone calls on planes?" 96 percent of responding viewers using the hashtag #orangeroom said "NO."

Passengers making phone calls could extend beyond a mere nuisance, creating negative effects on aviation safety and security that are great and far too risky said the Association of Flight Attendants.” full story here

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Academics vs Creationists: Texas Board of Education Blocks New Biology Book

 Good Day World!

I’ve always been fascinated by people who are afraid of science and facts about the world we live in.

Looking back through the ages, the church persecuted people who did not accept it’s dogma about how we humans were created.

Supposedly we’re living in enlightened times, but you have to wonder when you read stories about conservative creationists who still refuse to face scientific facts about the evolutionary process.

Nowhere in the country are creationists more prevalent than Texas. I don’t know why. They actively ban and block publications all the time that go against their conservative Judo Christian beliefs like it was the 17th century!

Luckily they can’t torture disbelievers anymore.

Here’s the latest example of what I’m talking about: 

“The Texas Board of Education used a late-night meeting to give preliminary approval to new science textbooks for classrooms across the state late Thursday night, but it blocked signing off on a major new biology text until alleged "errors" in lessons over the theory of evolution are checked by outside experts.

Textbook and classroom curriculum battles have long raged in Texas pitting creationists — those who see God's hand in the creation of the universe — against academics who worry about religious and political ideology trumping scientific fact. At issue this time are proposed high school biology books that could be used across the state at least through 2022.

State law approved two years ago means school districts can now choose their own books and don't have to adhere to a list recommended by the Board of Education — but most have continued to use approved books.

The issue is important nationally since Texas is so large that many books prepared for publication in the state also are marketed elsewhere around the country.” read full story here

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Friday, November 22, 2013

Feds raid Denver marijuana dispensaries in premptive strike

(AP Photo/The Daily Camera, Mark Leffingwell ). A law enforcement officer walks past a pile of marijuana seized during a raid at Swiss Medical Industries in Boulder, Colo., Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013.

 Claiming that certain guidelines weren’t in place, the Feds descended upon Colorado pot dispensaries in a show of force.

Hiding beneath ski masks like thieves, federal agents devastated numerous grow sites and confiscated pot products, sending a chill down the newly legal marijuana market’s spine.

Pot advocates are really hoping the Feds aren’t sending a message in advance of January 1st, 2014, when it’ll be legal to dispense marijuana and cannabis products in the state.

Here’s what happened:

Federal agents raided an unknown number of marijuana dispensaries and growing sites on Thursday in Colorado, confiscating piles of marijuana plants and cartons of cannabis-infused drinks just weeks before the state allows sellers of recreational marijuana to open their doors.

The action appeared to send a message that federal authorities would be keeping a close watch on the industry as a state law legalizing pot is implemented.

The raids, conducted on a frigid, snowy morning, were the first in Colorado since the U.S. Department of Justice said in August that it wouldn't interfere with state marijuana laws as long as the drug is kept away from children, the black market and other states, among other guidelines.

In a statement, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Denver said the criminal investigations unit of the Internal Revenue Service, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration and Denver authorities were involved in executing the sealed search and seizure warrants.

The raided businesses were suspected of violating more than one of the eight guidelines issued by the Justice Department.Retail marijuana sales are set to begin on Jan. 1 in Colorado, though not all municipalities will be ready to regulate sales by then. For now, dispensaries are supposed to sell only to people with medical permission to use the drug. Many of the state's 500 or so existing dispensaries are making plans to convert to recreational sales.

People involved in Colorado's marijuana industry were quick to point out that the raids did not necessarily mean the federal government was going back on its word or planning to interfere with Colorado's recreational pot market.

Mike Elliott, a spokesman for the Medical Marijuana Industry Group, said the industry itself has pushed for robust regulations and expects compliance with lengthy state regulations on how the drug and be grown and sold.” full story here

Faster is not always better: THC 'dabs' can be dangerous

Good Day World!

 It’s TGIF, and am going to be lazy and re-run a column I wrote on April 7th of this year.

You might want to pull out a note book, because the information in it has resonated for thousands of viewers for over six months and counting.

I wrote it for The Times-Standard, a daily newspaper in Eureka, California.

It’s popularity continues today (see daily top 50 stories on The Times-Standard online edition):

Americans are increasingly aware that marijuana has medicinal properties. Still, without a doubt, the flowering plant's ability to get a person “high” is what made it popular in the first place.

When marijuana advocates talk about marijuana properties these days, it's generally in a medicinal context -- something more acceptable to the general public and a more likely path to legalization.

It's not politically correct to say, “Hey, I smoke pot to get a good buzz!” Libertarians make no bones about a person's right to smoke weed. The issue to them is simple; the government has no business telling people what they can or can't do with marijuana.

Remember when corn cob pipes became popular to puff pot? Hookahs were the rage when Indian culture and gurus were considered cool in the '70s. People even used apples to make pipes.

Since the corn cob pipes, hookahs, glass pipes and joints, there's been a quantum leap in delivery systems. Most cannabis experts agree than a good vaporizer is the safest way to smoke weed.

There's just one delivery system that concerns me. Because it's become the rage recently among the younger set, I should explain what it is. You can now buy “wax” (high content THC Dabs) that have a stronger and faster psychoactive effect than any other delivery method can provide.

The user takes a single inhalation of vaporized or burned cannabis concentrate -- a dab -- that has been placed on a hot nail with a tiny spatula or needle. Dab concentrates are made from oil extracted from cannabis plants with a solvent.

The most widely used solvent is butane --better known as lighter fluid. You should know that butane extraction is against the law. People are serving time in prison for using butane as an organic solvent.

More important, butane is a fire and explosion risk because it is so highly flammable. Many people have been severely injured using butane to make cannabis oil extracts. And “butane” isn't pure butane; it contains contaminants.

Approximately 20 percent of the volatile fuel in common “butane” lighter fluid is a combination of other hydrocarbons including benzene, ethyl mercaptan, heptane, hexane, and other toxic impurities.

There are alternatives to using regular butane. A higher grade butane (USP grade or laboratory-grade) extract vaporized with a temperature-controlled device could be used if you can find it. However, using regular butane is the most common way to make dabs.

The nail used in the process presents a problem too. When heated with a torch to burn or volatilize the dab, the nail will gradually disintegrate and flake off, further polluting by the process. And let's face it, a stoner messing with an open flame is a recipe for a disaster.

According to High Times Magazine, dabs were the big hit (pun intended) at the High Times Cannabis Cup recently held in Los Angeles. Free samples were given out. You can only imagine the buzz that caused among visitors, some of whom openly walked around with torches and bubblers (a brand new type of multi-purpose bong that is dab friendly). Some people reportedly passed out and got sick from the sudden massive THC infusion.

There is an argument for using dabs. The hit is so intense it'll immediately help your condition (especially if you're in pain), and it lasts most of the day as opposed to conventional delivery systems (pipes, bongs, etc.) that may require multiple smoking sessions during the day.

There's a safe way to produce dabs, and there's a dangerous way, depending upon the process used. I think dabs are safer for people who have smoked for years and have built up some resistance to THC, as opposed to new users.

My research indicates that dabs first appeared in California, but their usage has spread to Oregon and beyond. Can a whole dab industry be far off? Dabs are the current fad and marketing efforts are popping up everywhere.

Nevertheless, the way I see it, if you're out to have a good time -- or need to medicate for whatever condition -- why mess with mother nature? When you mix toxic elements with your marijuana you take a chance of becoming an accident (or worse) a statistic.

As It Stands, once upon a time there was a jingle for Brylcreem (a man's hair wax) that went, “A little dab'll do ya ...” Buy wax today, and that little dab may do you harm!

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