Strange Packaged Foods

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A fancy name for corn smut

A fancy name for corn smut

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Warren Zevon – Keep Me In Your Heart for Awhile

This may be the best song about preparation and acceptance of death on what is certainly the best album on the same topic. When Warren Zevon recorded this song, and the album, “The Wind,” from which it came, he knew he had only months or weeks to live. He finished the album only a day or two before he passed on, but left us a phenomenal legacy in his music, and some great songs about the sublime acceptance of the inevitability of death which beckons to us all

Berries, Good for the Brain

fruit and berriesBerries could play an important role in clearing the accumulation of toxic proteins in the brain, according to a new study in mice.

The research, presented at the Experimental Biology 2013 meeting, showed that the brains of rats that consumed berries for two months were better protected against radiation, which is meant to induce accelerated aging in the mice.

Specifically, researchers found that the berry consumption was linked with increased autophagy, which is the natural process the brain undergoes to clear out accumulation of toxic proteins. They noted that phytonutrients, plant chemicals, in berries may be responsible for this effect; berries are known to be high in anthocyanins.

Researchers said that the findings could be especially meaningful if they also apply to humans, since diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease involve accumulation of toxic proteins. The next step is a study, currently being conducted, on humans ages 60 to 75 to see if berries’ have the same sort of effect.

Even though the findings have yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal, a past study from Harvard researchers also showed that eating berries regularly could help slow cognitive decline in older people.

What To Do When Your Credit Card Doesn’t Read In the Checkout Line

credit card readerIf the credit card reader in the checkout line won’t read your credit card, wrap the card in a plastic bag and run it through again. Most of the time it will then read the card. What makes the register read the card when it’s wrapped with a plastic bag?”

The black stripe on the back side of the credit card is made up of a bunch of tiny magnetic particles bound in plastic. The particles are arranged in magnetic and non-magnetic “zones” to encode the data—like your account number, expiration date, etc.—that the card reader on the register needs to process the transaction. When you swipe the card, the card reader reads the information by detecting the changes between the zones. For the transaction to work, the info needs to get from the card to the reader to the computer without any errors.

The strip is pretty delicate, and the data on it can be corrupted by exposing it to a strong magnet or scratching it. Damage can also occur gradually with use and carrying the card around in your wallet. Over time, some of the magnetic particles can get dragged out of position in a process called smearing. If enough magnetic bits move into a non-magnetic space to create a weak signal, the data gets corrupted and the card reader gets an error.

With just a little bit of magnetic material in them, the contaminated non-magnetic zones still have a much lower magnetic strength than the parts that are supposed to magnetized. Increasing the distance between the card reader and the corrupted zones is usually enough to get the reader to read those weak parts as non-magnetized again. A plastic bag, usually at-hand at the cash register, makes a great spacer. Wrapped around the card, the bag basically mutes the corrupted parts of the magnetic stripe so the reader is presented with the data as its supposed to be.

Two Robins

Two robins were sitting in a tree. “I’m really hungry”, said the first one.

“Me, too” said the second. “Let’s fly down and find some lunch.”

robinsThey flew to the ground and found a nice plot of plowed ground full of worms. They ate and ate and ate and ate until they could eat no more.

“I’m so full I don’t think I can fly back up to the tree”, said the first one.

“Me either. Let’s just lay here and rest in the warm sun”, said the second.

“OK.” said the first.

They plopped down, and stretched out in the sun.

No sooner than they had fallen asleep, than a big fat tom cat snuck up and gobbled them up. As he sat washing his face after his meal, he thought,

“I love baskin’ robins.”