Category Archives: Technology

HUH!?

Today’s post comes from Ben.

Down by the barn is a small, 75 gallon water tank with a tank heater in it. And by ‘Tank Heater’ I mean it keeps the water just warm enough to keep it from freezing. I’ve never tested it, but it might be 34 degree’s for all I know.

I’m doing my chores one morning. And while I’m doing my chores, I put the chickens water buckets that have frozen, in that tank and leave them for a few minutes.
Then usually the ice around the edges has melted just enough that I can knock it out of the buckets.

This one particular morning while working I notice a smell from the tank. Kind of stinky, like sewage. And I thought to myself, “Huh! That’s odd” and I go about my chores. A few minutes later I’m back with another bucket of ice that I put in the tank and then I go around back to the pole barn and get a bucket of straw for the egg boxes. And when I get back, this bucket of ice has melted about half an inch all the way around and I thought “Huh! that’s interesting.”
And I dump out the ice and refill the bucket and continue my chores.
A little bit later, I’m in the tractor working down there and I notice the tank is steaming more than usual.
And I think “Huh! That’s weird.” And I go about my way.

Ah–  but then I come back and take a second look. And I put my hand in the water and it’s like a hot tub! A dirty, stinky, hot tub but still; way hotter than it should be.
Evidently there is something wrong with this tank heater.

Got a new one and all is well. And I thought to myself, “Took ya long enough to pick up on those hints.”

What’s the last thing that made you say “HUH!”?  

Not Science

I know that anecdotes are not science. Just because you know two people who know two other people who have had something happen to them doesn’t mean it is science.   When the anecdotes don’t agree with your own world view it’s pretty easy to refute them.  But when it happens to you, it’s a little harder.

For many years I didn’t get a flu shot because they were made with thimerosal as a preservative and I’m sensitive to that. Then about 8 years ago, they started making the shots without the preservative so I signed up at work and got the shot.  A month later I was as sick as a dog; since I’d had the flu shot I was sure I had food poisoning and that was when I got a lesson in flu coverage by my doctor.  The flu shot is an educated guess about what will be coming around each flu season; sometimes they work, sometimes they miss the mark.  But the memory of being that sick made me hesitant to get a flu shot again.

Fast forward to last spring when I had pneumonia (ick). My doctor told me that the flu shot would be a helpful preventative against pneumonia so I dutifully got the shot this year.

You know where this is going, right? As I sat in Urgent Care yesterday with chills so bad I could hardly drive and a temperature over 103, the doctor (of course) asked me if I had gotten a flu shot this year.  I said “yes, and a lot of good it’s done me”.  She repeated to me that every now and then the current flu serum for the year really doesn’t help that year’s flu strain at all.  This is one of those years.  And apparently 8 years ago was one of those years as well.

I understand that this is a complete coincidence that both years I got the flu shot were the only two years that I’ve gotten the flu in the last couple of decades. My brain knows that getting the flu shot didn’t really give me the flu…. but just the same, my hearts thinks it’s going to be really hard for me to go get that shot next year!

Has your brain ever disagreed with your heart?

 

 

Trail of Ice

I’ve written here before about my fond memory of ice skating on the Iowa River north of town, early in the winter before it became completely snow-covered. My dad would tell of following “their” creek for miles as a kid. Once you’ve skated a distance like that, a rink no longer seems very romantic.

Enter Minnesota’s first Ice Skating Trail, in the Northwest Minneapolis suburb of Maple Grove. From the December 2017 AAA Living magazine: “Lampposts offer a warm glow, and the surrounding trees’ white twinkle-lights brighten both trail and mood.” I imagine skating there at dusk, as the sun goes down.

One of only a few in North America (see also Chicago and Toronto), it’s an 810-foot loop that feels “more like a stroll in the park” than the laps you skate at a traditional ice rink, according to Minneapolis Northwest, a regional newsletter(For reference, a regular hockey rink has a 570’ lap.)

You can skate earlier in the season (and later) than most outdoor rinks, as the trail is refrigerated and maintained by a Zamboni. There is skate rental (and concessions like hot chocolate and popcorn) during Central Park’s warming pavilion open hours, but park benches are available anytime for putting on your own skates.

I would have loved to have this nearby when I was still skating.

What will get you out of doors this winter? 

Would you like to try driving a Zamboni, or some other heavy machinery?

 

 

Dieter Substitution

I didn’t have the television switched on too much today but I think I saw Marie Osmond at least three times. It occurs to me that I haven’t seen her hawking her diet system since before Halloween. Interesting that the diet ads start up right away on January 1.

Weight loss is the number one resolution in America these days (and has been for decades). And I read something recently that says most folks have blown through all their resolutions after six weeks.  I’m guessing that means we’ll have plenty of Marie Osmond until Groundhog’s Day.

I also saw recently that PETA wants to replace Puxatawny Phil with an animatronic groundhog. This seems absurd to me; would we really be able to program it to recognize its own shadow and forecast the end of winter? Of course, we could always program it to monitor diet ads; once spring and summer arrives, the ads drop off. This made me wonder if we replaced Marie Osmond with an animatronic dieter, maybe SHE could tell us when winter is ending and save PETA the trouble of replacing Puxatawny Phil!

What robot would be useful in your life?

 

 

Elusive Darkness

Today’s post comes from Barbara in Rivertown

Just as “sound pollution” makes it difficult in most of our country to find a place where there is complete quiet, “light pollution” means it’s difficult to find a place that is totally dark. You may have seen a map like this of the United States, showing our light-polluted spaces. Some of the ramifications in my life:

– The only time I have really seen the Milky Way was on a trip to Utah in 1995.

– I’ve learned to use an eyeshade in the times of more daylight, allowing me to sleep better. And when I get up in middle lf night, I don’t really need a night-light to find my way to the bathroom.

A dancer friend writes a couple of blog posts a month, and her November 28 post is about what she calls “holy darkness”.    I quote:

– “Darkness is the absence of light but it is not the absence of the Divine.”

– “Years ago friends told me about a lecture exploring how electric lights have completely changed our relationship to night and experience with darkness. Our conversation inspired us to experiment with fasting from electric lights for an entire night. We call it our holy darkness practice. We bring out candles and get very cozy. “

I hope to find a night soon, at this darkest time of year, when I can spend at least a couple of hours with just candle light, and experience what I can of darkness. How long I will last without my lamps, lighted screens, and phones I cannot say. I might read a book by candle light, or find someone to tell stories with. I will be sure to do this AFTER supper… I don’t feel like cooking over a candle flame.

What would you do with an evening of “total” darkness, except for candle light?

Phishing

The deadline for renewing our State psychology licenses looms large this week. Husband and I sent in all our papers and fees for renewal a couple of weeks ago.  Imagine Husband’s surprise yesterday when he received two  notifications from “Google ” telling him that he had better renew his license immediately, along with a link to do so.

I am happy to report that Husband didn’t fall for this apparent phishing attempt.  He had already received confirmation from  our Psychology Board office that everything was in order, and that any communication from the Board was directly from the Board, not from Google.  I contacted the Board office to report this scam attempt.

It amazes me how clever scammers are. It also surprises me how easy it is to fool people. Our State Government IT office sends State employees fake emails at work to try to teach us to spot suspicious communications, and a special button to click to report an email as either fake or suspicious.  It is pretty easy to spot them, I think.  Our agency IT guy told me, though, that 50% of the fake emails are actually opened by staff who don’t suspect a thing or are too trusting.  That is a big concern given how devastating it would be to have our system, with all our clients’ confidential information hacked or compromised.

I hope none of my fellow psychologists are duped by these phishers.  It is an anxious time around the renewal period, and anxiety makes it hard to be wise sometimes.

What are your experiences with scammers or hackers?  How do you keep yourself safe?