Saturday, July 26, 2014

9 Fast Food Fascinating Facts

Fast Food has pretty much permeated the entire planet, some places more than others.  I'm sure all of us, whether only on a rare occasion or several times a week, have utilized that drive-up window to grab a quick bite to eat.  After all, "fast" indicates we don't have time to get out of our cars and go inside a building. :)  Here in the U.S., it has become a way of life for some.

I recently came across a list of fascinating and fun facts relating to fast food and I'd like to share them with you.

1)  McDonald's chicken McNuggets come in four shapes—the ball, the bow-tie, the boot and the bell [all beginning with B, planned or coincidence?].

2)  The largest fast food chain in the world is NOT McDonald's—it's Subway.

3)  Singer Jason Mraz sells avocados to his local Chipotle.

4)  A 30 oz. large McDonald's iced tea [sweet tea] has as much sugar as two Snickers candy bars.

5)  The founders of the Outback Steak House chain have never been to Australia [although I do not consider Outback to be a fast food eating establishment].

6)  Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream has chunks in its various flavors because Ben has anosmia [loss of the sense of smell] so he relies on "mouth-feel" when eating.

7)  A traditional Christmas dinner in Japan consists of KFC [that's "new" tradition rather than long time traditional  :)].  They place their Kentucky Fried Chicken order as much as two months in advance.

8)  In the contiguous U.S. [lower 48 states, excluding Alaska and Hawaii] you can never be more than 115 miles from a McDonald's.

9)  Pizza Hut once spent one million dollars to deliver a pizza.  What?  Did you hear that correctly?  You certainly did, but you need to take into consideration where they delivered it.  The destination was quite a distance away [definitely not within that 115 miles mentioned in #8].  They sent it…into space.  I don't know if it was the most popular pepperoni or something more exotic.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

What Your Ice Cream Says About You

The third Sunday in July is National Ice Cream Day.  For the year 2014, that third Sunday is July 20th. 

For millions and millions of people around the world, ice cream is THE favorite treat.  What used to be the three basics of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry have become what seems like millions of flavors.

And guess what (surprise surprise)—someone did a study of what your favorite flavor says about you.  And also guess what (again, surprise surprise)—I'm going to share that information with you along with some miscellaneous tidbits about ice cream trivia.

If your favorite is chocolate you're more likely to be dramatic, lively, charming, flirtatious, seductive and gullible.

If your favorite is vanilla you're more likely to be impulsive, easily suggestible and an idealist.

If your favorite is strawberry you're more likely to be tolerant, devoted and introverted.

If your favorite is chocolate chip you're more likely to be generous, competent and a go-getter.

If your favorite is chocolate chip cookie dough you're more likely to be ambitious, competitive and a visionary.

If your favorite is rocky road you're more likely to be aggressive, engaging and a good listener.

If your favorite is mint chocolate chip you're more likely to be argumentative, frugal and cautious.

If your favorite is pralines 'n cream you're more likely to be loving, supportive and prefer to avoid the spotlight.

If your favorite is jamoca you're more likely to be scrupulous, conscientious and a moral perfectionist.

If your favorite is rainbow sherbet you're more likely to be analytic, decisive and pessimistic.

Where did ice cream come from?
The true origins of ice cream are unknown, but early versions of iced treats date back to the second century B.C. to Alexander The Great who liked to top snow and ice with honey and nectar.

Ice cream used to be for the rich only.
In the early 1800s, before refrigeration became widely available, ice cream was very expensive.  Only the elite could afford such a luxury.  Today, the average American consumes 48 pints of ice cream a year. [hmmm…a pint is only 16 oz. and there's 52 weeks in a year, so that averages out at a little over 14 oz. a week which is only 2 oz. more than one can of Pepsi per week.  Doesn't seem like so much when you break it down that way. :) ]

Which city and state eats the most ice cream?
According to a survey, Washington D.C. is the most ice cream crazy place in America with its residents eating 85% more than the national average per person.  Rhode Island was in second place and Wisconsin was third.

What is the most popular ice cream flavor?
According to the International Ice Cream Association, vanilla is the most popular flavor at 29% with chocolate second with 9%.

Needless to say, there are lots of flavors not represented on this list of favorites.  I'm a long time chocolate fan, but I came across an ice cream a while back that just blew my mind…Godiva white chocolate raspberry swirl, which is something like a million calories per pint.  :)

So, there you have it.  My tribute to National Ice Cream Day.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

10 Unexplained Ocean Mysteries

The Mary Celeste
The vast briny deep has been the source for many a tale of the unexplained and unexplainable. Even though water covers a majority of the planet, we know more about outer space than we do about what exists beneath the surface of the oceans. The mysteries of the deep date back to ancient times. Modern science has been able to dispel many of these tall tales, but not all of them.

I recently came across a list of ten unexplained ocean mysteries, shown here in no particular order. There are, of course, many more strange and unexplainable occurrences than the ten listed here.

10)  "The Bloop" and "Julia"
Several creepy sounds have been recorded by underwater microphones off the Southern coast of South America. Nearly all of these sounds have been attributed to volcanic activity and shifting icebergs. There are, however, two incidents that have baffled scientists. The Bloop occurred in 1997 and lasted over a minute. In the same region, two years later, they recorded something that sounded like a watery voice saying Julia. Both seismic and human activity were ruled out in each case. Scientists agree than an animal is responsible for Julia, but no currently known creature is large enough to produce such a noise.

9)  The Mary Celeste
In 1872, a merchant ship named Mary Celeste set sail from New York with ten people on board.  Eight days later the ship was found adrift in the North Atlantic, intact with the exception of one missing lifeboat. A six month's supply of food was on board as were the crew's belongings along with the ship's logbook and some charts. Neither the lifeboat nor any bodies were ever found. So, what happened to the sailors, the captain and the captain's family? With valuables left on board, a pirate takeover wasn't the answer. An experienced crew and well-liked captain ruled out error and mutiny. To this day no one has an explanation for what occurred on board the Mary Celeste.

8)  The Sonar Flying Saucer
Swedish researcher Peter Lindberg was using sonar to search for a shipwreck between Sweden and Finland in 300 feet of water. In July 2011, he discovered a perfectly round circle approximately 60 feet in diameter with deep scars nearby on the ocean floor suggesting the object had moved across the ocean bottom. Released sonar images immediately had a number of news outlets claiming the object was a UFO. Although finding a perfectly round object of that size on the ocean floor is very strange, sonar specialists declared the resolution of the image too low to identify it as anything in particular. Until more money is available for improved equipment and more exploration, the object will remain a mystery.

7)  The Montauk Monster
In the summer of 2008, an unidentified dead animal washed up on the shore at Montauk, New York. Although several people reported seeing it and photographs surfaced, the carcass disappeared before police were able to recover the remains. Newspapers ran the story along with a grotesque image. Locals speculated that it could be a mutant resulting from experiments at nearby Plum Island Animal Disease Center. Others suggested that it was nothing more than a hoax. Many scientists who studied the photographs think it was a known species heavily damaged and decomposed as a result of time spent in the water. The raccoon claim seems to be the closest, but the Montauk Monster's legs are longer than a normal raccoon leaving us without a definitive conclusion.

6)  The Vil Vana
A 41-foot fishing trawler with a seven man crew mysteriously vanished off the coast of Santa Cruz Island in 1993. With no signal for help and very few ship remains ever found, it was determined that the boat sank quickly and fully intact. For two decades, investigators have been baffled by the fact that no diesel fuel ever bubbled to the surface and no bodies were ever found. Some of the victim's families believe that a military submarine may have accidently caught one of the boats' nets and dragged it under. This is rare, but possible. Four years earlier a submarine sank a tugboat in the same area. The case of the Vil Vana is still open and unsolved.

5)  The Lost City Of Atlantis
In 360 B.C. Plato wrote "in a single day and night of misfortune" a major sea power called Atlantis mysteriously sank into the ocean. Some historians have labeled Plato's account a myth while others have dedicated their lives to finding the lost city which they believe was a super power devastated by a natural disaster. It's been suggested that Plato was describing the Minoan civilization on Crete and neighboring Santorini where a devastating volcanic eruption happened in 1600 B.C. During the last fifteen years several research teams claimed to have located Atlantis, but this 2000 year old puzzle is still waiting to be solved.

4)  The Bermuda Triangle
Certainly one of the best known ocean mysteries, this stretch of water between Bermuda, Miami, and San Juan has also been called The Devil's Triangle. Most of today's theories say that nearly all reported incidents are due to equipment or human error combined with the areas strong currents and frequent (and sudden) storms. Others strongly believe that paranormal activity or a magnetic anomaly are to blame. A few of the Bermuda Triangle accidents have escaped any type of scientific explanation. The U.S.S. Cyclops with 306 people on board disappeared in 1918 between Barbados and Baltimore with no signal for help and no remains discovered. Five Navy bombers disappeared off the coast of Florida in 1945 with neither the planes nor any bodies ever found. A DC-3 plane with 3 crewmen and 29 passengers on a flight from San Juan to Miami with perfect visibility radioed in just 50 miles from landing saying all was well, but the plane never arrived and has never been found.

3)  Alaska's Loch Ness Monster
In Bristol Bay, Alaska, a fisherman managed to get some film footage of what the locals refer to as Caddy, a creature with undulating body, horse-like head, long neck, big eyes and back humps—much the same as descriptions of sea serpent sightings from Scotland's Loch Ness and of Lake Champlain's Champ on the New York-Vermont state line. This footage shot in 2009 has the distinction of being the first hard video evidence. After studying the footage, scientists have determined that the creature isn't a whale, seal, shark, eel or fish. It has been suggested that the film shows a Cadborosaurus, a beast named for Cadboro Bay in British Columbia combined with the Greek word saurus (lizard) that's been popular in Alaskan lore for nearly 200 years. But, without more physical clues no definite conclusions can be drawn.

2)  Quackers
In various parts of the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans during the peak of the Cold War, Soviet submarines reported hearing mysterious sounds they called quakers (the Russian version of our own ribbit of a frog). Using sound recording from various ships, scientists concluded that the noises were made by a moving object with the behavior of a living creature or manned vessel. The origin of the sounds seemed to show interest in and occasionally circle the subs. However, their sonar was unable to find anything to account for the sounds. The Soviets claimed it was secret U.S. technology. Others believed it was giant squids that evaded sonar because they don't have a rigid skeleton. The most mysterious part of the quaker puzzle is that the sounds stopped in the mid 1980s.
(Note: spellings of quackers and quakers is the way it appeared in the article)

1)  The Baychimo Ghost Ship
For centuries there have been stories about ghost ships either manned by the dead or possessed by some type of unknown force. While most of these stories are considered myths, one actual ghost ship did exist. Baychimo, a 1322-ton cargo steamer became trapped in pack ice in 1931 where the crew had to abandon ship off the coast of Alaska. A harsh blizzard hit and the ship was nowhere to be found. The crew assumed the ship had sunk, but Inuit hunters reported several sightings over the ensuing months. Many reports were received for nearly 40 years from people claiming to have seen the unmanned vessel sailing the waters around Alaska as if still in use. The last reported sighting was in 1969. The ultimate fate of Baychimo is a mystery.

And as a footnote to Ghost Ships:
This didn't actually involve a ship, but it is about a large man-made object that ended up navigating thousands of miles of ocean on its own. The large destructive tsunami following the March 2011 Japanese earthquake ripped apart four large sections of dock and set them adrift on the ocean, each about the size of a freight train box car. One landed on a nearby island, two were never seen again, but the fourth managed to find its way across 5000 miles of ocean without any type of help and came to rest on a beach in Oregon. So…I guess a ship without a crew could continue to stay afloat and move with the currents and tides for an indeterminate amount of time.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

9 All Time Unsolved Mysteries

Antikythera Mechanism
About a year or so ago I saw a list titled 9 All Time Unsolved Mysteries.  The items listed…well some were a surprise that they made an All Time list and I was curious about some that were left off the list.  This list seems to consist only of places and things without any mention of specific people.  I guess that explains why the mystery of Jack The Ripper's identity, what happened to Amelia Earhart, and exactly who took that ax and gave Lizzie Borden's parents all those whacks didn't make the list.

Two of the items on the list were new to me—the Chase Vault and the Taos Hum.  I've been to Taos…didn't hear any mention of this mystery and didn't hear the hum.

So, confusion in hand about what made the list and what didn't, I present 9 All Time Unsolved Mysteries.

9)  ATLANTIS—location unknown
Myth or reality?  The lost continent from ancient times [rather than the current Caribbean resort :) ] is one the world's favorite legends.  Most of what we know about Atlantis comes from the Greek philosopher Plato who wrote about it approximately 2000 years ago although the story of the ancient civilization places its time at 9000 years prior to that.  He described Atlantis as a huge island where brave and virtuous people…a highly advanced civilization…lived in a kind of paradise.  He placed its location west of the Pillars of Hercules, known today as the Straits of Gibraltar.  The story claims that the physical disappearance of the actual island came as a result of a massive earthquake or volcanic eruption that caused it to sink into the ocean.  To this day debate continues about whether Atlantis was real or myth and people continue to literally search all over the world for the remains of the lost continent.

Discovered in October 1900 in a shipwreck off the coast of the Greek island of Antikythera, this machine contains the oldest known complex gear mechanism…sometimes referred to as the world's first analog computer.  It's estimated to have been made in the first century B.C. and appears to have been constructed on theories of astronomy and mathematics.  The device is believed to be made from a bronze alloy of 95% copper and 5% tin, but its advanced state of corrosion from having been in the ocean for almost 2000 years has made it impossible to perform an accurate analysis.  It's precise functions have not been scientifically confirmed.

7)  THE CHASE VAULT—Barbados
This mystery begins in 1808 in Barbados when the wealthy Chase family purchased an 80 year old vault to inter their dead relatives.  At the time they acquired the used vault, it contained only one occupant—Thomasina Goddard.  Col. Thomas Chase made the decision not to disturb Goddard, so she was not moved to another vault.  Shortly after that, young Mary-Anne Maria's body was added to the vault.  Then 4 years after that, the vault was opened to inter her sister's body.  Only a month after that, Col. Thomas himself passed away.  And that's when the legend takes hold.  Coffins had moved, some were standing on end.  Vandals were blamed.  Everything was returned to its original position and the vault once again closed and sealed.  From then on, every time the vault was opened to admit another coffin, the vault's contents would be in disarray, including Col. Thomas' heavy casket which took 8 men to lift.  No seals had been broken, no evidence of illegal entry into the vault, no evidence inside the vault of anyone being there as the sandy floor was undisturbed with no signs of flooding or earthquake.  The Chase family bodies were eventually moved to other burial sites in the cemetery and all incidents stopped.

The Nazca Lines were discovered by accident when a small airplane flew over the arid Peruvian coastal plains in 1927.  More lines were discovered nearby at the end of the 1980s.  The lines depict animals and geometric forms, many of them several kilometers in length with some of them only recognizable from an airplane.  The most outstanding shapes depict the figures of a spider, monkey, dog, small lizard, hummingbird, condor, and what appears to be an astronaut.  The lines were scratched into the desert between 500 B.C. and 500 A.D.  They are believed to have had ritual astronomical functions.  Others believe they were meant as sign posts for ancient extraterrestrials.  UNESCO named the Nazca Lines an Archaeological World Heritage Site in 1994.

5)  EASTER ISLAND—Chile (South Pacific)
Roughly 64 square miles in area and located in the South Pacific approximately 2,300 miles from Chile, Easter Island was named by Dutch explorers in honor of the day they discovered it in 1722.  It was annexed by Chile in the late 19th century.  The mystery of Easter Island centers around the almost 900 giant stone figures that are centuries old and are distinctive from other stone sculptures found in various Polynesian cultures.  The purpose of the statues, how they were constructed and transported is still a matter of speculation.  Today, Easter Island's economy is based on tourism.

June 30, 1908, a mighty explosion occurred in this remote area of Siberia.  It was 1927 before a scientific expedition investigated the site.  They found 800 square miles of remote forest ripped apart, 80 million trees on their sides in a radial pattern.  They acted as markers pointing directly away from the blast's epicenter.  When the members of the expedition arrived at ground zero, they found the trees standing upright but all the limbs and bark had been stripped away, resembling a forest of telephone poles.  This phenomenon was seen again 37 years later at another massive explosion in Hiroshima, Japan, at the end of World War II.  A century after the Tunguska Explosion there is still debate over the cause, but the generally agreed upon theory is that a space rock approximately 120 feet across entered the atmosphere above Siberia at about 33,500 miles per hour, heated the surrounding air to 44,500 degrees Fahrenheit and self-exploded at an altitude of about 28,000 feet producing a fireball and releasing energy equivalent to 185 Hiroshima atomic bombs.  The majority of the asteroid was consumed by the explosion so there was no impact crater.

3)  PIRI REIS MAP—circa 1513
The Piri Reis Map is often cited as proof that civilization on Earth was once very advanced then for unknown reasons disappeared with man only now gaining any understanding of this mysterious cultural decline.  In addition to the map's historical interest, it contains details that no European could have known in the early 1500s.  The Sumerians in Mesopotamia are the earliest known civilization and appeared on the scene apparently from out of nowhere around 4000 B.C. but had no nautical or maritime cultural heritage.  Piri Reis' own commentary indicates some of his source maps in creating his map were from the time of Alexander The Great (332 B.C.).  The map shows that the makers knew the accurate circumference of the Earth to within 50 miles.  The depicted coastline and island shown in Antarctica are as they were prior to 4000 B.C. when they were ice free.  Debate continues with no clear answers of how Piri Reis could have created such an accurate map at that time.

2)  TAOS HUM—New Mexico
The Taos Hum is a low-pitched mechanical buzzing sound often heard in Taos, New Mexico.  Not everyone can hear it, but those who do say it's driving them crazy.  Apparently it begins suddenly as if someone had turned on a switch, never abates, interferes with their sleep, and is more noticeable inside the house than outside.  In 1993 residents requested that Congress carry out an investigation into the source of the hum, but no specific causes were uncovered.  In 1997, Congress asked various scientists from several elite research institutes to look into it.  So far, no concrete facts have been uncovered to prove exactly what is causing the hum or what it is that allows some people to hear it and others to not hear it.

There is intense debate among scientists, theologians, historians, and researchers about the origins of the shroud and its image.  The shroud is housed in the royal chapel of the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Turin, Italy.  It is a linen cloth showing the image of a man who appears to have suffered physical trauma of the type consistent with crucifixion.  This image is commonly associated with Jesus Christ, his crucifixion and burial.  In 1988 a multi-national scientific group did a radiocarbon dating test on small samples of the shroud and concluded that the samples they tested dated from the Middle Ages, between 1260 A.D. and 1390 A.D.  Since 2005, at least four articles have appeared in scholarly publications stating the cloth samples used were not representative of the whole shroud.  The shroud continues to be a much studied and controversial artifact.

Are there any unsolved mysteries of place or thing that you think should have been on this list?