Saturday, September 28, 2019

13 Things NOT To Put In The Microwave

Microwave ovens—you will find them in almost every residence whether house, condominium, apartment, or college dorm room.  They are also in many places of business, both for use by employees only and for use by the public.  Those for consumer use come in various sizes and power from the small .7 cu. ft. 700 watt dorm room size to those large enough to hold a turkey with a power rating of 1250 watts or higher.  They can be counter top models, installed under a cupboard, or above/part of the stove.

The first microwave oven was invented after World War II from radar technology developed during the war. The Radarange, as it was called, was first sold in 1946 but was prohibitively large and much too expensive for all but the largest of commercial applications.  The home-use microwave oven was introduced in 1955, but was still too large and expensive for general home use. The practical countertop home-use microwave oven was introduced in 1967. For those of us 'older' folks, we quickly adapted to their use.  The younger among us grew up with them.

This list of 13 items relates to specific dangers from trying to heat certain items in your microwave.  I imagine we've all learned the hard way (no pun intended) what happens when we try to microwave bread-type products rather than heating them some other way.  That one is not dangerous, but it dries out the food and when the items start to cool they become too hard to eat. This can be somewhat circumvented by wrapping the food item (i.e. sandwich or whatever includes a bread type food) in a slightly damp paper towel.

1)  Aluminum Foil—we all know that one, it literally catches on fire.

2)  Stainless Steel—we all know not to put our metal pots and pans in the microwave.  That also includes our stainless steel travel coffee mugs.  In addition to possible harm to the microwave, the metal blocks the waves so it won't heat your cold coffee anyway.

3)  Plastic Storage Containers—these contain chemicals that could be toxic, or at the least alter the taste of the food you are reheating. Now there are plastic containers listed as being microwave safe. Make sure you verify this before putting it in the microwave.

4)  Chinese Take-Out Cartons—the metal handles on the carton are dangerous and the cartons themselves contain plastic.

5)  Styrofoam—this is plastic.

6)  Raisins—these smoke when heated in a microwave.

7)  Grapes—if raisins are bad, it follows that the fruit that gives us raisins are also a microwave no-no.  The grapes will catch fire.

8)  Plastic Bags—the type the store uses to bag your purchases in addition to the more heavy-duty storage type.  These are toxic and can catch fire.

9)  Brown Paper Bags—these are as dangerous in the microwave as the plastic bags the stores use.

10)  Eggs—if in the shell, they will explode.

11)  Dried Hot Peppers—chemicals are released.

12)  Sauce—without a lid, it will splatter all over the inside of the oven and create a messy cleanup.

13)  Nothing—to run an empty microwave can harm the appliance as there's nothing there containing water molecules for it to absorb.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

7 Bizarre Predictions That Actually Came True

Prophecy…making predictions…seeing into the future—the province of charlatan fortune tellers or a reality to be taken seriously? And those predictions that do turn out to be true—lucky guesses or someone who has the gift?

Michel de Nostredame, better known today as Nostradamus, is probably the most famous prognosticator of all time. He lived in 16th century France and in 1555 published a book of his predictions written as quatrains (a poem or stanza using 4 lines). He seemed to write in some sort of code, not saying exactly what he meant. This has allowed people down through the ages to attach interpretations of his predictions to all kinds of happenings and always after-the-fact rather than prior to the event. Prediction is supposed to relate to something that has not yet happened. Is it valid to take an event that has already happened then back track it to a prediction?

Here are 4 of his predictions that, many centuries later, were applied to specific historical events. And after these, I have 3 more bizarre predictions that actually came true.

PROPHECY:  "The blood of the just will be demanded of London, Burnt by the fire in the year 66."
EVENT:  1666 is the year of the Great Fire of London. It is estimated to have burned the homes of 70,000 of the city's 80,000 inhabitants. Yet there were few deaths reported.

PROPHECY:  "From the enslaved people, songs, chants and demands. The princes and lords are held captive in prisons: In the future by such headless idiots. These will be taken as divine utterances…before the war comes the great wall will fall. The king will be executed; his death, coming too soon, will be lamented. [The guards] will swim in blood. Near the River Seine the soil will be bloodied."
EVENT:  The French Revolution, a bloody rebellion in 1789, resulted in aristocrats and royalty being arrested and beheaded. The Bastille (a great walled fortress) was demolished and LouisXVI was executed in 1793.

PROPHECY:  "From the depths of the West of Europe a young child will be born of poor people. He who by his tongue will seduce a great troop; his fame will increase towards the realm of the East."
EVENT:  The person referred to in this prophecy is invariably taken to be Adolph Hitler, chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945 and the person responsible for World War II and the Holocaust.

PROPHECY:  "Volcanic fire from the centre of the earth will cause trembling around the new city: Two great rocks will make war for a long time. Then Arethusa will redden a new river…"
EVENT:  Dedicated Nostradamus followers interpret this prophecy as being a prediction of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center. These avid believers in Nostradamus' predictive powers claim 'centre of the earth' as the trade center and 'new city' as New York and the 'two great rocks' as either the WTC towers or the religions of Christianity and Islam.

PROPHECY:  Spanish conquistadors in Mexico.
EVENT:  The power of prophecy definitely worked in favor of the Spanish. In 1519 Hernan Cortes was sent to conquer and claim Mexico for the Spanish crown. Luckily for Cortes, his arrival coincided with the Mayan calendar that said a man-god named Quetzalcoatl was due to return in order to reclaim the city of Tenochtitlan. The Aztecs believed Cortes was that god—a mistake that aided Cortes in capturing Mexico with relative ease.

PROPHECY:  Lincoln's assassination.
EVENT:  Three days before his death, Lincoln had an eerily prophetic nightmare. To quote his words about this experience, "There seemed to be a death-like stillness about me. Then I heard subdued sobs, as if a number of people were weeping. I thought I left my bed and wandered downstairs. There the silence was broken by the same pitiful sobbing, but things so mysterious and so shocking, I kept on until I arrived at the East Room, which I entered. There I met with a sickening surprise. Before me was a catafalque, on which rested a corpse wrapped in funeral vestments. Around it were stationed soldiers who were acting as guards; and there was a throng of people, gazing mournfully upon the corpse, whose face was covered, others weeping pitifully. 'Who is dead in the White House?' I demanded of one of the soldiers. 'The President,' was his answer; 'He was killed by an assassin.' Then came a loud burst of grief from the crowd, which woke me from my dream."

PROPHECY:  Kennedy's assassination.
EVENT:  The morning of November 22, 1963, Jackie Kennedy saw a full-page ad in the Dallas Morning News. It unnerved her…more for its appearance than its content. The ad accused Kennedy of being a communist sympathizer. The part that concerned her was the black border around the ad which she thought resembled a death notice. JFK tried to calm her by saying if someone wanted to shoot him from a window with a rifle that no one could stop it so there wasn't any reason to worry about it. The fact that Kennedy made such a comment on the day he was assassinated is coincidence enough but his mention of the precise method of his death is truly bizarre.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Say Goodbye To Summer And Hello to Autumn

Monday, September 23, 2019, marks the official end of summer and start of autumn here in the Northern Hemisphere—the Autumnal Equinox, the date that daylight and darkness are equal.

Earlier this month, in my little corner of the world we had a delightful taste of the fall weather to come.  That crisp feel in the air with cooler temperatures replacing the heat and dryer air shoving aside the retched humidity of summer.  That change to cool dry air brought a renewed vigor, a revived energy to replace the lackluster feeling resulting from the summer heat and least for me.  (Do you get the impression that I don't function well in heat and humidity?)

Just as I love the renewal of life in the spring—bright green new leaves on the trees, colorful flowers, the awakening of nature from winter's long hibernation—I also love the change of the leaves to their brilliant array of fall colors in autumn.  This year we've exceeded our average amount of rainfall, so I'm hoping for a more colorful autumn than we've had the last couple of years.

I can say with all sincerity that I'm happy to welcome the end of summer.  Oh, yeah…also happy to welcome the start of fall.  But it's mostly the end of summer's heat and humidity that thrills me. I do have to admit that the summer of 2019 was a strange mixture of several triple digit temperature days and periods of cooler temperatures. However, we did have many super high humidity days.  Ugh!

Welcome autumn...I'm thrilled to see you!  But, on the other hand, I'm hoping for a mild winter.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

It's Friday the 13th —Does it make you stop and think?

Triskaidekaphobia:  Fear of the number thirteen.

Paraskevidekatriaphobia:  Fear of Friday the 13th.

An obviously irrational concept that a mere number can bring bad luck to someone.  Or that a specific day of the week can be unlucky.  But that doesn't stop us from dwelling on the possibility.

This week gives us Friday the 13th.  The tradition of Friday being a day of bad luck dates back centuries with some of the more common theories linking it to significant events in the Bible believed to have taken place on Friday such as the Crucifixion of Christ, Eve offering Adam the apple in the Garden of Eden, the beginning of the great flood.

Many sources for the superstition surrounding the number thirteen and its association with bad luck also derive from Christianity with the Last Supper being cited as the origin.  Judas was the thirteenth person to be seated at the table.

And when you put the two bad luck symbols together you get Friday the 13th—the day associated with misfortune.

One legend of the origin of Friday the 13th as unlucky comes from the persecution of the Knights Templar. Philip IV of France borrowed enormous sums of money from the very wealthy Templars to finance a war with England. An ineffectual king and an even worse military commander, Philip was easily defeated. He saw a way of both currying favor with the Pope and eliminating his huge debt. On that fateful day of Friday, October 13, 1307, he ordered all Templars arrested and their property seized. The Grandmaster of the order, Jacques DeMolay was thrown in prison along with several other high-ranking members of the order. The Knights Templar, which had dominated medieval life for two centuries, were no more. Unfortunately for Philip, the Templars had learned of his planned treachery before hand. Many of them escaped and their vast stores of treasure were hidden from the King's soldiers. Jacques DeMolay was burned alive after being tortured when he refused to admit to any wrongdoing. Another legend that has also persisted is that Jacques DeMolay cursed both Philip IV and Pope Clement V, as he died. Philip and Clement died within months of DeMolay's death.

Superstition is a belief or notion not based on reason or knowledge.  An irrational belief.  Lots of superstitions came into being during the Dark Ages, a time when living conditions were so severe that people reached out to anything that might bring them help and solace with the results being explanations for what seemed unexplainable at the time.  Religious beliefs and lack of scientific knowledge helped to spawn many superstitions.

Superstitions differ from culture to culture, but we all have them even if it's only paying surface homage to the concept.  We don't believe in the good luck vs. bad luck of chain letters, yet it often comes down to saying what's the harm, then sending the letter on to avoid breaking the chain.

We often follow the tradition of the superstition without really knowing why it's the traditional thing to do.  If we blow out all the candles on our birthday cake with one breath while making a silent wish, then the wish will come true.  When expressing a desire for good luck (we'll be able to go on the picnic if it doesn't rain), we grin, then we knock on wood as we emit an embarrassed chuckle.
In Western folklore, many superstitions are associated with bad luck.  In addition to Friday the 13th, there's walking under a ladder, having a black cat cross your path, spilling salt, stepping on a crack, and breaking a mirror among others.

In addition to cultural superstitions, there's also certain occupations that evoke various rituals to bring on good luck.  It seems to me that gamblers and sports figures have the most superstitions and rituals to insure good luck.

Do you have any superstitions that you hold dear?  Are they more of a traditional situation handed down through your family or are they superstitions that have come down through history?

And I'm sure there won't be any unpleasantries or bizarre accidents this Friday (knock on wood).