Friday, December 30, 2011

Poison in Baby Shampoo Update

Did you know I use Johnson Baby Shampoo?  I use it to avoid an allergy that I have to some preservatives used in shampoos. I often get rashes from the cheap hotel shampoo.

I was really surprised when I learned that Johnson's Baby Shampoo has two strikes against it for health and safety.

One is that it is using Quaternium-15 a preservative that emits formaldehyde as it degrades, and the second is that it contains less than 4 ppm of dioxane. It should be pointed out that dioxane, a carcinogen, is not dioxin. Dioxin is the short name given to chloronated dibenzodioxins which are very toxic, but not very similar to dioxane, but it sounds similar.

Dioxane; found
in shampoos

Dioxane is an unintended biproduct of ethoxylation processes; these are used to make milder detergents. To make a gentle baby shampoo, sometimes this is needed.

Quaternium 15, is a complicated amine that many people are allergic too. It degrades into formaldehyde, because it was made from formaldehyde and simpler amines.

Susan Nettesheim from J&J says that there are only tiny amounts of formaldehyde and dioxane in the product, and that they will try to get rid of the problematic preservatives. I know that in polymers the industry has been switching away from these preservatives for years, and that J&J is behind the curve, although the replacements might be too irritating for a baby shampoo. J&J promised advocacy groups to do this.

In the meantime, I am going to continue using the Johnson's product, though I am worried about Quaternium-15.  I have no way of finding out which products have it, and which don't.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

How Organic is Organic?

A central entertainment at Holiday dinners at our family is an argument about what food is healthy, and what isn't healthy.

This year so-called "organic" food was in focus, pushing aside vegetarianism, hi-carb and lo-carb.

There are two ideas: that the "organic animals" are better treated, and that organic food is healthier.

Being a chemist is completely natural to me to divorce the question of animal treatment from the additives used to make the agricultural product. Organic advocates are always saying that organic animals are treated better by their "loving owners" as opposed to "evil corporate wage-slaves" raising other animals. I was surprised to learn there are animal husbandry standards in the FDA organic regulations. I still don't think that organic farmers love animals more than other farms. For example, egg farmers have standards on how to treat chickens in their large cage-based  chicken farms. Here is something similar for dairy cattle from a farmers group.

I downloaded the approved additives in organic foods lists from the FDA. This puts forth when synthetic materials can be used in "organic" foods, and still be organic. There are actually two lists, one of synthetic materials that are OK, and another of bio-derived materials that are not OK.

One surprise is the amount of antibiotics that "organic" beef can receive, for example Atropine -- which is a weak toxin and dilates the eyes.

Another is a list of synthetic or non-organic biomaterials that can be used in organic foods, for example, like hops or pumpkin juice for color.

The bottom line is that "organic" does not mean what most consumers think it means. Food is actually a more technical and more complex product than anyone cares to know. Having said that, organic food is not any less healthy than standard foods, although it is less healthy for the wallet.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve Novel in Six Word Shopping List

I found this shopping list in my shopping basket at Wal-Mart this morning, which is Christmas Eve morning.  It is a whole novel in six words. Who wrote the shopping list, and what is her story?  Just three items, probably in a woman's handwriting:

Egg Nog
Shoes (Dad) 

p test 

Egg Nog -- sounds like a Christmas Party. Or is it a treat just a treat for herself? Hard to think you'd make a special trip to the store for Egg Nog to drink alone.

Are the shoes a gift for Dad? Probably, looks like she only has one more gift to buy. Dad is going to get his new shoes from Wal-Mart. I have looked at the shoes at Wal-Mart, and they are not fashion-forward, but they are practical and cheap. On the other hand, maybe Dad is sick and can't buy shoes for himself for some reason. 

I think she going to give the shoes to Dad at the Christmas Party.

Most interesting is "p test," which has to be a pregnancy test.  There are other things a "p test," could be, but only a pregnancy test is available at Wal-Mart.

How old is she? I'm guessing she was shopping by herself, and so she is old enough to drive. Is she 16 and hoping to be not be pregnant? Is she wondering what she is going to tell Dad at the Christmas Party? Maybe she is she 38, and wishing to be pregnant instead.

Maybe she is a little ashamed, and that is why she wrote "p test," instead of "pregnancy test." The list is torn out of a spiral notebook, and usually students have those, so most likely she is younger than 23. 

Is she poor?  Not too poor, she has enough money to buy shoes and Egg Nog. If she were wealthy though, she'd be buying Dad's shoes at Macy's instead of Wal-Mart.  

Looks to me like a young woman with a little money, not too much, who might be pregnant, and is going to bring Egg Nog to a party. Maybe she even lives with her parents. 

I wonder a million other things: Is she really pregnant? Is she happy about it? Who is the guy? Does she live with her parents? Is she still in high school? What do her friends think? Oh, and what shoes did she buy, and did Dad like them? Is her boyfriend going to be at the Christmas party? 

Whoever she is, she lives within a few miles of me, and I'll never know her story. 

Good Luck to her this Christmas Eve.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

What Countries Work the Hardest?

Where do people work the longest? The Organization for Economic Development calculated it all out.

The most surprising thing is that nearly broke nations like Greece work far more than thrifty nations like Netherlands and German.

Not surprising is that France has a short workweek, but suprisingly it is far shorter than places like Mexico or Italy.

It seems that high wage rates enable people to work less. This is data from 2008, so it is from before the recession. No doubt that the work week is shorter now.

It seems to be more important to work smart than to work hard.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

BASF is Number Five on the Happy Employee List

I was surprised and pleased that BASF has popped to top of the happiest employee list from CareerBliss. CareerBliss is a website that rates employers like Yelp rates restaurants; it also has consulting operations.

This rating should help recruiting at BASF because BASF does not have a lot of visibility. 

CareerBliss interviews employees to obtain its ratings.  How are the winners selected? According to the company: "CareerBliss data evaluates the key factors which affect work happiness, including: work-life balance, one’s relationship with their boss and co-workers, their work environment, job resources, compensation, growth opportunities, company culture, company reputation, their daily tasks, and job control over the work that they do on a daily basis."

The 2011 Top Ten.                                       .

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Who Do Americans Like? Me! or Maybe You? Jesus!!

Maybe the political process is broken, and partisans all hate the other side. Who is the person that everyone likes?  Happily, everyone likes someone -- themselves.

A polling company called Public Policy Polling did the study, and found that nearly everyone likes Abraham Lincoln and Jesus -- besides themselves.  I adjusted their numbers so that only people who have an opinion are registered. For example, people who don't know who Mahatma Gandhi are not counted in the Mahatma Gandhi total.

Caravaggio's Narcissus
But people like themselves most. It is too easy to quip that Americans are narcissistic, since I suspect 99% of the world's population think highly of themselves. There are a lot of people who hate themselves too. That would be another interesting poll. 

Everyone on the list, except for yourself, is dead -- although Steve Jobs and Nelson Mandela have not been dead that long. 

Why don't we like anyone alive? Some of the answer is the rapid communication we have. Spreading information around makes us think that no one is better than anyone else.  There is always someone to knock down everyone else -- look at the way the Republican presidential candidates keep knocking each other off.  People learn quickly that their hero is just a human like them. 

Superbowl quarterback Aaron Roger does pretty well, at least in Wisconsin with 89%. 

Another interesting statistic is that Santa only has an 84% favorable rating. I will assert that Santa is not a historical person  -- sorry kids. The 21st Century Santa is more complicated than my Holiday English Toffee Recipe. He is a concoction of myth, religion, a poem, a song, and a Coca-Cola ad. He is as real as Ronald McDonald.  How real is Ronald McDonald? 

Saturday, December 3, 2011

How Do 3D Movies Work

Barco's DP-2000 Cinema Projector
which can show Real D
I just saw Hugo, which is the best 3D movie since Avatar.

Everyone can see that the Real D system uses polarized glasses, but if you look back at the projector, there is only one lens showing only one image on the screen. (Review what polarized light means here.)

How are they putting two different images on the screen at the same time with just one set of optics? The answer is that the images are switching back and forth at 144 times/sec. So the images are flickering faster than your eye can see it. Movie frames change just 24 times a second, so in a 3D projector each frame is shown three times to each eye.

Another part of the secret is the screen; the screen must not change the polarization of the light. One way to do this is to coat the screen with silver -- like in the old days of Hollywood, the silver screen is coming back! If you used a glass coated screen, the polarization might shift, and blur the effect. There are cheaper alternatives like aluminium coatings and pearlescent coatings.

Real D's web site studiously avoids any discussion of their technology or the specs of their equipment. This is because Real D just licenses technology, the projectors are made by other companies like Sony and Kodak. There are some Real D patents, and they relate to the technology for switching polarizations.

Critics, most notably my DW, say that 3D movies are darker.  3D movies are darker due to the absorption of the filters. A projector system designed for 3D would simply use a larger lamp to attain the target brightness that the theater owner wants.  If a theater owner is upgrading a theater for the premiere of a new 3D movie, s/he will buy a machine that will provide the best experience he can afford. As always you get what you pay for.

It might pay to shop around for a better theater if you find 3D movies too dark.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Poison in Baby Shampoo

Did you know I use Johnson Baby Shampoo?  I use it to avoid an allergy that I have to some preservatives used in shampoos. I often get rashes from the cheap hotel shampoo.

I was really surprised when I learned that Johnson's Baby Shampoo has two strikes against it for health and safety.

One is that it is using Quaternium-15 a preservative that emits formaldehyde as it degrades, and the second is that it contains > 4 ppm of dioxane. It should be pointed out that dioxane, a carcinogen, is not dioxin. Dioxin is the short name given to chloronated dibenzodioxins which are very toxic, but not very similar to dioxane, but it sounds similar.

Dioxane; found
in shampoos

Dioxane is an unintended biproduct of ethoxylation processes; these are used to make milder detergents. To make a gentle baby shampoo, sometimes this is needed.

Quaternium 15, is a complicated amine that many people are allergic too. It degrades into formaldehyde, because it was made from formaldehyde and simpler amines.

Susan Nettesheim from J&J says that there are only tiny amounts of formaldehyde and dioxane in the product, and that they will try to get rid of the problematic preservatives. I know that in polymers the industry has been switching away from these preservatives for years, and that J&J is behind the curve, although the replacements might be too irritating for a baby shampoo. J&J promised advocacy groups to do this.

In the meantime, I am going to continue using the Johnson's product, though I am worried about Quaternium-15.  I have no way of finding out which products have it, and which don't.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

How Internet Works on the Plane

Gogo's EVDO System
I have taken to using Gogo internet when I am traveling on business. The price depends on the length of the flight, a short flight can be $5 and a longer flight $10.

I wondered how it worked. It is simpler than I thought. It is just like a cell phone in the car.

The plane is picking up signals from Gogo's cell tower network across the country.  The towers look just like regular cell towers so much that there was no reason to have a picture.

Antenna for reception of ground based internet using
Gogo's EVDO system. 
The plane has a small antenna mounted on the bottom to accept the signal. Just like a regular cell phone, the plane switches between towers based on reception.

There is another system for aircraft internet involving an antenna on top the plane and reception from satellites. United just picked Panasonic Avionics Corporation for its Ku satellite based technology.  Panasonic Avionics makes the passenger entertainment systems that show movies and plays music. (For example Delta uses Panasonic Avionics to show movies on its longer flights.)

Gogo is planning an upgrade to a faster technology soon, and they are thinking about a satellite based solution for the future. It is possible satellite based is cheaper.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Amazon Kindle Fire and the Whole Amazon Universe

I sold my old Mac on eBay, and pocketed enough money to buy a new color reader -- even after the exorbitant eBay fee which was over 9%. Anyway, I want a better way to get my news or magazines.

I like my second generation Kindle. I like the size of it at 5 x 8 in and 290 g. The screen (9 x 12 cm; 108 cm^2) could be bigger for viewing pdf files though. The iPad's screen at 15 x 20 cm is a lot better at 300 cm^2. The new Kindle Fire's screen is 10.7 x 14.2 cm or 151 cm^2, or 25% bigger than my Kindle, but half as big as an iPad.  The iPad 2 weighs 539 g and the Kindle fire is 414 g.  The Nook Color is almost the same size and weight as the Kindle Fire -- 14 g lighter.

A important advantage of the Kindle Fire is that it can show free video for Amazon Prime members, which I am. There are a large number of pretty interesting titles, like the first season of Lost or 24. My problem with video is that I never have time to view it. I could also see it on my Mac easier. My Mac Air has a 432 cm^2 screen, but it weighs 1392 g.

I saw the Kindle Fire and the Nook Tablet at Best Buy, and they were the same price. The Kindle Fire worked well, but the magazine text was hard to read.  It looked like the source file was too low in resolution, and the pages were stored as images. The Nook Tablet's screen was harder to work, and seemed less touch sensitive. The Nook has a faster processor and more storage. It should be faster.

Both the Fire and the Nook Tablet glow in the dark so I can read at night, but they have fairly short battery life compared to the ePaper versions.

Amazon is also allowing Prime Members to borrow one of 5377 book titles for free, and a large number of TV series and old movies.  Since I am an Amazon Prime member this is a good deal. This is a pretty good reason to be in the Amazon ecosystem.

In Summary: Color readers are best for video and color books. The magazines are OK, but not great. The newspapers are better on an iPad because Android does only offers a few newspapers as apps like the NY Post. For real books, the ePaper readers are better because they are lighter and have much longer battery life. For text, one does not need the weight or the big screen. The Nook Tablet is better for surfing the web, but Barnes and Noble does not offer the extra sweeteners that Amazon does like the Prime Service.

I'll let you know what I buy.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Super Giant Protozoa

How big can a single living cell be?
A 4 inch wide single cell protozoa living on the ocean floor. Related
species can be twice this size.

This  cell is a xenophyophores from the western Pacific.

They are a single cell with  a single nucleus.

However they are pretty disgusting too. They are scavengers who root around in the mud looking for food. They exude mucus and the mucus entraps articles from around them, including their own feces. 

 The feces get infected with bacteria, and then the xenophyophores eat that. 

Monday, October 31, 2011

Scariest Halloween Pictures

 It's Halloween, so here are some favorite spooky pictures.

The Eyes!
Day of the Dead Girl

Probably the scariest of all

A great mask


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Big Flyers

While preparing the previous post on rude passengers, I came across two obese passenger pictures that I could not resist posting.

An obese passenger having trouble fitting in one seat.
(Said to be a stewardess' picture on an American

No words required.

Anti-Social Flyers

Twice now I have sat next to plane fliers who don't care about flight rules and who distain authority. 

The clearest was the guy in first class who kept using his wireless-enabled iPad throughout the flight. Not only did he have it on during landing -- he had the cell phone connection on and was surfing the internet. 

I am skeptical about how much electronic interference can really crash a modern jet, but most people give the benefit of the doubt. ABC News did a report last summer on it, and there were anecdotes about interference with the aircraft's electronics. Sensor gear can detect the interference from electronics -- what is unclear is how seriously radar and aircraft computers are affected. Aircraft manufacturers try to design in protection, and Boeing does not say that there is a problem.  Landing is a critical time, and this person might be endangering people is a problem. 

The second, was a person who put her seat back into recline immediately after the flight attendent sat down for take off  -- thus she would not be caught.  Airlines keep the seat backs up so that people can evacuate the plane quickly, and the landing and tack-off portions are the most dangerous parts of the flight. This was an early morning flight -- I got up at 3:50 AM to get there, but her priority on her own comfortable sleep should not be at the expense of other people's risk of death.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Carpet Mis-Fire

We were waiting for the carpet guys to install a new rug today. We moved furniture to get ready, and have it stacked all over the kitchen, so we can hardly walk. Then five minutes before they are supposed to come, the call from the carpet guys: Oh! the brakes are out on our truck. We aren't coming. Forget the installation. 

Pretty bad. 

It was about the worst case. We did all the moving, and did not get the rug. Now we have to live without furniture until their truck gets fixed, or put the furniture away, and then move it again later. 

Wife Jenny, who helped move the furniture is livid.  She calls Lowe's which turns out to be a good idea. She gets hooked up with the carpet installation person, and she is mad at the contractor. She makes calls.  

When she calls back the excuse is a flat tire, and not bad brakes. Hmmm

Monday, October 10, 2011

Strange Loops in the Brain or Strange Loops are the Brain
Two of my favorite books are I am a Strange Loop, and Godel, Escher, Bach - An Eternal Golden Braid both by Douglas Hofstadtler. These talk about the nature of thought and personality. The first is poetic and the second is more an essay.

Into this mix, are two great stories on Radio Lab on these themes. It talks about loops in life. Two relate to the themes in Hofstadtler's books.

One story is about a woman who has short-term memory loss, and she just repeats the same conversations over-and-over like a computer stuck in a loop. It suggests the brain has aspects of a mechanism. One can speculate about causality and free-will in this circumstance. How much control did the woman have over her actions?

The second story is about Godel himself. I thought Godel was a regular mathematician, but it turns out he was frequently mentally ill. The fact that mentally ill people make huge mathematical break-throughs should tell us something. More specifically, mentally-ill people may be more driven to proven revolutionary conclusions than more socialized mathematicians.

Anyway, listen to the episode.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Why was Jobs Successful with Such an Old Fashioned Management Style?

We know that Steve Jobs was a demanding boss, and that he insisted on his ideas. We know that he sometimes fired staffers who disagreed with him. This seems like pig-headedness.

Business guru have been saying these are BAD practices, but they worked for Steve -- Why?

Sara McInerney agrees saying "He was a "high-maintenance co-worker" who demanded excellence from his staff and was known for his blunt delivery of criticism."

Ironically, business gurus also say that Steve Job's is a business leader in the company of Henry Ford and Thomas Edison. First, this proves how fickle business gurus are, and how they will use any example to illustrate their points regardless of how well it fits.

Eric Jackson, a blogger at Forbes, wrote  "Top Ten Lessons" from Steve.  I like it because it is fairly factual, and has some actual quotes from Jobs.   The lessons are in red, and are followed by my commentary.

1. The most enduring innovations marry art and science. My comment: really enduring inventions arn't that arty consider the wheel, or the locomotive or pneumatic tires or penicillin -- none of these seem arty to me.  Let's think of an arty invention, how about fat, decorative bows on eyeglasses frames. Do you think fat frames are going to outlast locomotives?

2. To create the future, you can't start with focus groups. I tend to agree with this.  Groups of customers mostly give you nothing useful. First you start with a germ of an idea. Groups are useful in refuting bad ideas.

3. Never fear failure. It was a management fad to say this in the 1990's. This is not original advice. Is it true? For people with good job skills and a little bankroll. Failure is tougher on the poor and unskilled.

4. You can't connect the dots forward -- only backward. This is a cute little proverb. On the other hand, forecasting is best when it extrapolates from the past. The problem is it misses the revolutionary changes. I think this is something one says to consultants who disagree with you.

5. Listen to the voice in the back of your head that tells you if you're on the right track or not. I like this one, but normal humans need to persuade colleagues to go along. Only someone who has spent a whole life being the big boss, would think that listen to your heart is a strategy. Real people need to form arguments to support a behavior.

6. Expect a lot from yourself and others. There is nothing wrong with expecting a lot. The problem is getting belligerent when you don't get get it, so some say Steve did. It is unclear how much of this is actually true. Nonetheless, high expectations help achieve high results.

7. Don't care about being right. Care about succeeding. This is good advice. Too often people get trapped in being right, when it is better to be pragmatic. Always agree to another plan when it is better. This is about maturity. It is also about getting along well with others.

8. Find the most talented people to surround yourself with. When I am hiring people, I always go for the over-qualified person if I can get them. Stronger people are always better. Stop worrying about looking weak in comparison -- that is all in your own head.

9. Stay hungry. Stay foolish. I truly don't get this one. He said this during a speech at Stanford. I don't even know what he means. Perhaps don't take yourself too seriously or too stuffy. Maybe someone could help me.

10. Anything is possible through hard work, determination, and a sense of vision. This is a nice inspirational proverb, and I like the focus one work & determination. I think that talent is an over-valued characteristic. However, in today's world some people are too disadvantaged for Anything to be possible.  This proverb is a good thought exercise, and the optimism and positive-thinking can only help.

As a big boss, Job once said to Steve Levy that about his role that "My best contribution is not settling for anything but really good stuff, in all the details. That's my job, to make sure everything is great.”

A big boss can only have simple messages to a large organization, and does not have time for all the details. It is good for the boss to insist on fundamentals.

The worst Steve Jobs stories seems to be from his early career when he must have been a big asshole. Perhaps all the Buddhism soaked in, and he mellowed later.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Frederick Taylor -- Scientific Manager

Frederick Taylor was an engineer during the Industrial Revolution in the US working 1883-1906.  He was a practical man who wanted to make factory better by making it more efficient --often making it more efficient made the work ergonomically easier.

For example, he did work on the so-called science of shovelling. He determined that a worker should shovel 21 lb per shovelful so that he could go the longest time. He also coached workers to use their body not their arms to lift. Today we know that sore backs are a big chronic problem, and that sore arms are less serious.

Taylor wrote a large book called The Principles of Scientific Management, which happily is free on Kindle and on Google books. Scientific management is not the management of science, but rather the use of experiments to improve productivity.

Taylor's work is hard to summarize, but three principles:

  • Inefficiency hurts America
  • Systematic management helps efficiency, not hiring for extraordinarily good workers
  • Management is a science that has laws, rules and principles.

  • Some of what Taylor advocates might be called worker training today. That is, if we show people how to shovel, then they shovel better. In the 1890's workers were assumed to know how to do their work, and the bosses often did not.

    When I was in business school I admired the idea that studying the work at hand could make accomplishing it easier. I particularly liked taking a detailed approach to relatively simple workplace problems.

    Reading Taylor today,  social issues problems and class distinction are on every page. Taylor regarded himself as progressive in his day, and he tries to give what he says as a reasonable view. The country, and actually the industrializing world of the time, were all grappling with these issues. It may have taken another fifty years before some resolution is achieved.

    More: Taylor writes about "soldiering" which means workers who slow their work-pace deliberately to get paid more or so that the employer needs to hire more workers. Maybe  we'd call that goldbricking or featherbedding today. Taylor understood that paying by piece-work only helped so much. He thought his system led to greater productivity, and the ability to pay higher wages which would motivate the workers to have a better attitude and work harder.

    Even More: This an excellent web page on early management theorists. 

    Monday, September 26, 2011

    Wine Label Art

    Cool bottle from Honey Moon Winery in Bellingham, Washington.
    This is a bottle of mead, which is made from honey.

    I came across a great collection of labels in Coolist.

    Wine labels are probably the best commercial art out there.

    This label was banned in Alabama as too revealing. It is
    also pretty weird with the flying bicycle.

    Saturday, September 24, 2011

    Fertilizer from the Air and Its Invention

    Carl Bosch
    Carl Bosch, who was a chemist for BASF, and developed a practical industrial process for making ammonia from the air. It is called the most important chemical process ever discovered making fertilizer that allows farmer to feed so many people. It is said that half of the nitrogen in the human body has been synthesized from the air.

    Bosch was assigned to the project by his bosses, who bought rights to the invention of Fritz Haber. Haber was a Professor at Karlsruhe, when he developed a high pressure process to fix nitrogen using a ruthinium catalyst in 1907.

    Haber had a number of collaborators including Le Rossignol for the pressure equipment, Nerst for the thermodynamics, and Ostwald for prior art in catalyst selection.

    The point here is that Haber had a network, and Haber and his bosses at BASF were plugged into it. Networks and the interfaces between organizations continue to be important in transmitting ideas. The isolated genius is not a very important phenomenon in science.

    Didn't Fritz Haber have cool glasses? Oh, that is
    his lab set up in the hood.
    A Bosch Reactor
    Bosch's project was the biggest chemical engineering plant at the time. It is an early example of Big Science. Significant technical projects today are increasing efforts of hundreds of people. Bosch's project was fast. He had the plant up in just five year making 7 million kg of ammonia a year. Today BASF makes 110 times that much in Germany.  Bosch got that plant up in 4-5 years. He was motivated by the threat of a British naval blockade, but also things just moved faster back then.

    Sunday, September 18, 2011

    Heimliched at McDonalds

    I was at McDonalds killing time before a business meeting on the road. Just behind me woman started choking, and the women at the table were wondering what to do, then they said loudly, "She's Choking!" A guy the next table got up, and grabbed the woman and did the Heimlich maneuver on her. I was wondering what to do, but I didn't do anything.

    The woman was chubby, and that made it hard to get good leverage, but the guy kept doing it. The women turned blue in the lips, and kept trying to gasp for air. They just kept trying to Heimlich her, every minute or so.

    The McDonald's workers noticed, and soon the store manager was there. He was pretty tall, and he tried to Heimlich her too. He was fast; he just kept Heimliching over and over. He pulled her up in the air when he pulled, and hardly let her down to the ground in-between Heimlichs he was pulling so hard and so fast.

    The poor lady looked really desperate, and tired and scared and blue. She fainted or maybe she fell. The manager picked her up and kept trying. She had foam at her month since she couldn't swallow either.

    The woman's friend (her 16 year old niece as it turns out) got on the phone to 911, and was trying to work the 911 operators question tree -- no she is not unconscious; no she can't talk; she was eating chicken nuggets and french fries...

    The second time she fell; it was all the way to the ground, and she laid back. This time her head was right next to me since she fell across the aisle. She lost strength in her legs or she fainted, and the people couldn't hold her up. She looked just terrible.

    In 2-3 minutes, a fire truck is coming down the street, and a guy is hanging out of the doorway waving for the firefighters to come in. The fire captain wasn't tall, but he was beefy, and he stopped the restaurant manager. Then he said something to the woman's friends, and started Heimliching himself. He was slower,  smoother and more rhythmic than the others.

    I don't know if the woman was breathing, but she much have been getting some air. Soon they stretched her on the ground, and they were giving her an abdominal message -- something like a Heimlich maneuver but lying down. It looked like a heart message, but actually it was in the abdomen not the chest.

    The color in the woman's face got better, and I exited the restaurant.

    After watching all this, I felt terrible. This poor lady had been thought this terrible ordeal -- frightened and choking. I felt worn out from just being there.

    Thursday, September 1, 2011

    Lion Droppings (Issues with Mac OS 10.7)

    Everyone knows that Apple issued a new OS, and it is the biggest re-write in years. It brings a more iPad feel to the desktop, and geeks say that it brings far more security. It drops support for PowerPC code; that is applications native to OS 8 or OS 9.

    This means that lots of specialty applications don't work.  I deleted about eight old programs including a screen capture program,  and a font manager. Notably the driver for my ancient Canon scanner no longer works. Looks like I am going to start photographing documents.

    Most important to me is accounting software that my wife uses in her business -- AccountEdge 2004. This no longer runs in Lion, and it needs to upgrade to AccountEdge 2011 for $300.  Jenny's business is a lean operation, and $300 is a lot of money.   The main issue is that she uses a few features all year, and then we need to make statements for income taxes at the end of the year. Now $300 is less than an accountant would cost, so I suppose that it is cheaper. I guess a dual boot system  is the way to go.

    News reports are that Flash is not supported in Lion, but I can say that it is. It runs on my computer fine.

    The so-called "iPad" feel of Lion is overblown to me. Notably the window dragging gesture has been reversed on the Mac to make it more like the iPad. This seemed weird at first, but it actually is more natural -- more like push a piece of paper across a desk. On the other hand, I expect I will always be confusing the direction with that on my Windows PC. There are some changes in the menus, and indicator bars. There is a default full screen option, that gets rid of the desktop clutter. Overall look and feel is not that different.

    Tuesday, August 23, 2011

    Etsy has Bugs

    DW Jenny makes her living selling stuff and lately patterns on Etsy, the website for crafters. Etsy has attracted mockers in the form of Regretsy, which is adolescent but occasionally funny.

    Etsy had been growing rapidly with sales on pace for $450 million for 2011 over the $314 million in 2010.

    Etsy Sales; Note the 2011 sales are in
    the original caption.
    Our issue with Etsy is a bug in their software. Most sellers forward their customers to Paypal automatically to pay. Paypal extracts several percent commission, but usually this goes flawlessly. Yesterday, Etsy sent incorrect email addresses to my wife's customer -- creating confused and angry customers.

    I am posting about this since there have been almost nothing on-line about this bug. (We did find a similar issue on the Etsy bulletin board.) It looks like Etsy restored some old data; presumably because the newer data got corrupted.  Jenny had her old defunct email address replace her current one, and Paypal posted the funds to the wrong account.

    Etsy seems to have had a hacker attack, a virus or perhaps just bad luck with hard drives.

    Anyway. Jenny lost a $60 sale, and had a customer leave multiple bad feedback. All for a software bug at the host website.

    Etsy is so understaffed that it does not try to answer complaints one-at-a-time. Jenny got a form-letter back when she contacted Etsy.

    I suppose it could be worse. The customer will keep her money, and no harm was done.

    If anyone has had similar issue, please leave a comment. Thanks.

    Saturday, August 20, 2011

    iPod Nano Woes (5th Generation)

    My iPod died, and I found no helpful posts on-line about fixing it.

     Depth-of-Processing fans might remember the multiple posts about my woes with the ill-fated iPod Shuffle (3rd Generation,) and how Apple eventually mailed me a iPod nano (4th Gen) to resolve the problem, which lasted a short while and then died. I work my iPods pretty hard.

    Well my current iPod Nano (5th Gen) is seemly irretrievably wrecked after about two years of faithful service. It randomly pauses and/or produces buzzing noise at the pitch of the last note it made. Also the click-wheel works slowly -- like the processor is busy. I tried the usual stuff like resetting (hold menu and center,) diagnostic mode (reset, but quickly hold menu and rewind,) and restoring using iTunes -- and all were no help. 

    There is very little on the internet about this problem, which suggests it must be a pretty rare problem.  It sounds like hardware, and I don't want to try to open up the iPod to fix it.  

    My solution is to get a new one. Off to Best Buy.

    Thursday, August 18, 2011

    Arctic Tern

    My new hero is a 100 gram bird, the Arctic Tern. We  were planning a trip in the fall to a point on Lake Erie in Ontario where birds hunker down before flying across the lake, when I found out about the world champion and utterly amazing bird that flies from the arctic to the antarctic, and back each year.

    It flies 22,000 miles each season, from Greenland to Antartica and back! Over 44,000 miles because they don't fly in a straight line; often going 10% too far to catch the wind. The live for thirty years flying 1,330,000 miles in a lifetime, which is just mindlessly too much.

    Arctic Terns don't like water, and they don't like land much either. They prefer to catch insects in the air, and they stay aloft. They mostly eat fish like other terns.

    Baby Terns fly too much too. One three month old tern was found in Melbourne, over 14000 miles from Britain where it was born.