Thursday, September 28, 2017

Not quite glowing in the dark

kw: autobiographical entries, medicine, heart disease, nuclear materials

A few weeks ago I was seeing a doctor on a follow-up about blood pressure, and mentioned I had had a brief dizzy spell with mild nausea. I was standing, felt off balance, then a bit nauseated, and sat down until it passed. In total, about a minute. A day or two later I had a milder moment of dizziness while sitting down. He said I needed to have my heart checked. I guess he thought it might be atrial fibrillation or a precursor to a heart attack.

A few days later I had an "ordinary" stress test. This is a pretty quick test, 8-9 minutes on a treadmill that definitely makes a guy sweat and breathe hard! All while hooked up to ten leads of a fancy EKG machine. Then they did a heart ultrasound and attached a Holter monitor to me, which I wore for two days. Fortunately I was allowed to unhook it for showers.

I got a phone call that the stress test was "slightly abnormal" and that they were ordering a stress test with a "tracer". I was to consult with a cardiologist the next day. He wrote the order and explained a little. He also said that, though my heart rate is slow, it is not alarming (yet). I told him of my father, whose heart slowed down a lot when he was my age, and that he has worn a pacemaker ever since. The doctor said I show no signs of "blockage" in the cardiac nerves, so my natural pacemaker is doing fine.

I studied what I could about the tracer material. The tracer is trademarked "Cardiolite®". It is a solution containing the synthetic element Technetium, the metastable isotope Tc99m. This is an amazing, mildly radioactive nuclide with a half life of 6 hours. It emits only a weak gamma ray, with an energy of 140,000 eV (conventional X-ray machines emit a spectrum of X-rays that typically range from 30,000 to 100,000 eV). After emission a Tc99m atom becomes Tc99, which is a beta emitter having a half-life of 211,000 years. It emits no gamma rays, just the beta particle (energetic electron) and converts to Ruthenium 99, which is stable. The beta particle's energy is 292,000 eV.

All this is good for several reasons. The gamma photon is low energy so it does less damage than the ones emitted by more familiar elements such as Uranium or Radium, which are 4-5 million eV. The beta particle is also in the same energy range. After a day, only about 1/16 of the Tc99m dose remains, and after two days, only a quarter of a percent. It is soon undetectable. The Tc99 that remains has very low activity. Its half life is about 300 million times as long, which means the number of particles released per second is one-300-millionth as much. I just didn't know what the dose would be.

First thing this morning I had the test. I asked the technician, a nice young man (and very skilled putting in an IV), named Mark, "how many milli- or micro-Curies?" He said, "For you, 7.4 milli-Curies." Now I had a number I could conjure with later.

Once Mark put in the IV he infused the tracer material. He said it was manufactured to order in Philadelphia, made a few percent stronger so it would be the right strength when it arrived, which takes no more than one hour. I sat for half an hour to give the stuff a chance to circulate everywhere. Then I was put in a scanner, which is a little like a MRI machine, but a special scanner swings up alongside and above the chest. It scans for eleven minutes, gathering "counts" of the gamma rays it detects. The detectors can tell the direction of each gamma particle.

Right after that I went to the next room where the EKG was hooked up and the treadmill test began. I lasted a little longer than I had a week earlier, but was still quite exhausted after 9 minutes. Partway through the test Mark put some more tracer in. My heart rate got to 144 (they needed it at 129 or above), and blood pressure rose to 180/100 during the test. My usual blood pressure is about 135/75, now that I take a medication for it. It was 20 points higher before that. When the nurses unhooked the EKG they left four electrodes in place, that Mark would use.

After five minutes of cool-down it was back in the scanner for another eleven minutes, this time hooked to a less elaborate EKG. Then I was free to go home. I guess I'll get a phone call in a few days with the analysis. I come from a family that doesn't get heart attacks, so it is a puzzle what might be happening.

Now, what can I do with the number I got, 7.4 milli-Curies (mCi)? A Curie is a large unit, a standard of radioactivity, equal to 3.7x1010 "breakdowns" per second. That is 37 billion. It is the number seen with one gram of pure Radium. The SI unit of radioactive decay is the Becquerel, which is one per second, so the Curie is 37 billion Becquerels. 7.4 mCi is just under 274 million per second. Once the tracer is injected and spreads around, that is 274 million for the whole body. I weigh about 100 kg. My heart probably weighs 1/3 kg, or 330 kg more or less. So it gets 1/300th of the dose, which would emit about 900,000 counts per second. I don't know how many of these the scanner captured. I glanced at the screen as I left the room and saw a vague heart shape composed of a few hundred white dots, and a sort of oval shape that looked similar. Probably front and side views of my heart in gamma vision!

Who knew a moment of dizziness could lead to all this?

Book history for non-historians

kw: book reviews, nonfiction, book history, history of printing

When I saw the title, Printer's Error: Irreverent Stories From Book History, I thought a moment, then opened the book to confirm an immediate surmise. You'd be tickled to do the same. Authors J.P. Romney and Rebecca Romney give us eleven very enjoyable narratives that cover the history of Western printing, from Gutenberg (practically sued out of existence a decade after printing the famous Gutenberg Bible) to the demise of the "dollar book" in the 1930's, brought about by P.R. agents on behalf of the publishers (I wonder what the authors may write later on about the "influence" of electronic publishing).

Much of the chapter on Gutenberg and incunabula (material printed before 1500 AD) dwells on an opponent of printing, named Trithemius, who in 1492 printed (!) a diatribe against the impending demise of calligraphy, In Praise of Scribes. I am sure all the wonderful people who practice calligraphy either as a hobby (Neil DeGrasse Tyson) or professionally (Mark Van Stone) would find Trithemius's book both gratifying and amusing. So would the twenty-odd calligraphers and illuminators who worked with Donald Jackson to produce the Saint John's Bible. I was privileged to see certain folios that toured the U.S. last year. This is one of my photos from that exhibit.

But Gutenberg the unknown inventor, and Trithemius the well-known opponent of his legacy, are the subjects of Chapter 2. Chapter 1 is about a famous forgery, of a proof copy of Galileo's Sidereus Nuncius from 1610. The chapter illuminates just how very difficult it is to perfect the paper, the ink, the typeface, the sewing, the binding, and a myriad of other details needed to truly fool the experts. Nobody, but nobody can do everything, and while many experts were indeed fooled from 2005 to some time in 2012, eventually a number of details (such as cotton rather than linen in the "rag" content of the paper) revealed the forgery.

This brings to mind an allied subject. I am not sure why anyone would wish to forge an "early" computer tape, say a magnetic tape from the 1950's. If they did, they would encounter a similar level of difficulty. I worked for an oil company in the 1980's and was involved in security and contingency planning. An oil company's most valuable possession is the seismic data from all the "shoots" they have carried out or commissioned over many years. Until recently (the past decade), however, they have been unable to afford to keep all that data totally online. The 9-track tapes used in the 1980's would seem "small" in capacity today, but at that time 150 Mbytes was a lot of data, and a 150 Mby disk drive cost hundreds of times as much as a tape. A seismic "shoot" could generate a dozen tapes full of data. Earlier generations of the same sort of 10-inch reel of tape held either 20 or 40 Mby. Prior to that there were 7-track tapes, and further back yet, analog recordings on various sizes of tape. But the plastic composition changed over the years, and after the early 1990's various tape cassettes (we called them "black square tapes") replaced 9-track. Each format requires a different machine to read it and write it, so "forging" a data tape, purportedly from some era of interest, would require locating, and probably repairing, a machine that hadn't been used for decades. I found it amusing that the oil company diligently stored old tapes in a dozen obsolete formats in a salt mine in Kansas, but hadn't thought to store appropriate machinery to be able to read those tapes.

Back to printed books. My favorite chapter is Chapter 6 on Ben Franklin, who created a publishing empire that became the 18th Century version of the Internet, at least for the American colonies and the new nation they became. He was also a cutthroat businessman. When he had to, he went half-and-half with another printer to publish a psalter because of a paper shortage. Thereafter he started his own paper mill, and eventually established 18 of them. Once he had sufficient paper, he produced a quality product that drove the other publisher out of business. The many details in this chapter (as in all the others) bring to life the printing business of the mid-1700's.

And then the prior chapter tells of William Shakespeare and the early editions of certain of his plays that are called "the bad quartos". Did old Bill really have Hamlet saying, "To be, or not to be, Aye there's the point, / To Die, to sleepe, is that all? Aye all."? I grew up with the proverb that Shakespeare never edited; what he wrote was what was printed. Not so? Very likely!! The chapter doesn't dwell long on the bad quartos, though, being occupied with the risky venture four men carried out to produce the "First Folio" edition. They succeeded well enough, and today a First Folio, where it can be found, is worth a pretty penny: the most recently-auctioned one went for $5 million a decade ago.

Despite the title, few "errors" are seen. The subtitle is the real title, and the "irreverent" (I'd have said, "cheeky") stories are, as Mary Poppins sang, the "spoonful of honey" that "makes the medicine go down."

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Presenting CWWN v12 – The Spiritual Man (1)

kw: book summaries, watchman nee, christian ministry

Watchman Nee's landmark book, The Spiritual Man, was written while he was dangerously ill with tuberculosis. He considered that he might die of the disease, as had many of his countrymen, and he wanted to produce a sort of detailed handbook of the spiritual life. As he wrote in Issue #3 of The Present Testimony, "This book puts particular emphasis on spiritual reality." Years later he shared that a few times during the period of writing he visited a doctor for an X-ray of his chest. One day the doctor told him not to come back, showing him another X-ray, saying, "You are in worse shape than this man. He died last week." But after the book was finished Watchman Nee was miraculously healed, and outlived that doctor by many years.

The whole book takes up volumes 12-14 of The Collected Works of Watchman Nee, and this first volume contains three of the ten sections. The first section and its four chapters is so foundational to spiritual experience and progress that it ought to be required reading for every child of God. I cannot let God down by failing to provide a very brief summary of this section, titled "An Introduction Concerning the Spirit, the Soul, and the Body."

Before I first heard ministry based on this book, I had no idea that there is a human spirit. I knew only of evil spirits and the Holy Spirit, though we usually called Him the Holy Ghost. Practical spiritual life for me began when I learned these important facts:

  • Based on 1 Thessalonians 5:23, we have "…spirit and soul and body…".
  • The body is all our physical parts and deals with the external world, as directed by the soul.
  • The soul includes primarily mind, emotion, and will, and deals with psychological matters, using the body as its instrument or tool kit in the external world.
  • The spirit includes primarily intuition, fellowship, and conscience, and deals with divine and spiritual matters. If we permit (and how to do so is a major subject of this book), our spirit leads and directs our soul, so that we can live "in spirit".

I purposely listed the parts of the soul and spirit in parallel to emphasize that, for example, the intuition of the spirit interacts with the mind of the soul, so our mind can be renewed. Thus we read in 1 Timothy 1:7, "God has not given us a spirit of cowardice, but of power and of love and of sobermindedness": "power" because the conscience empowers our will to choose righteousness, "love" because the fellowship part of our spirit enables our emotion to love God and His people, and "sobermindedness" because the intuition supports our mind in every way so as to be fully sane, sober and sound, able to properly interpret the things of God.

For me this is key: we can only know God by using our human spirit. If we do not know the spirit, we only know soulish matters and techniques. A soulish Christian is described in 1 Corinthians 2:14, "But a soulish man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him and he is not able to know them because they are discerned spiritually." Numerous modern sects are founded on experiences of the soul, whether mental, emotionally ecstatic, or duty-bound (willful or "fundamentalist"). None can please God! We must learn to use our human spirit!

This book details the condition of a Christian under many circumstances, and tells how to learn spiritual reality to cope with every circumstance. Thus the rest of this first section illuminates the relationship between the spirit and the soul; explains what happened when Adam sinned, leading to partial numbness of the spirit; and shows the way of salvation from a spiritless life and living.

The second and third sections deal with "The Flesh" and "The Soul", in uncomfortable detail, perhaps, because brother Nee certainly knew how to drive a point home. These sections' goal is for us to hate our flesh, not only for its sins, but even for things that seem good but are fleshly; and that we would cross out our soul-life (see, for example, Matthew 10:39). Whether we are crude or cultured, if our soul is not subject to our spirit we cannot properly serve our dear Lord Jesus.

I had read only portions of The Spiritual Man in the past. Now, embarking upon reading it in its entirety, I find it challenging but also emancipating. Two volumes and seven sections to go.

Monday, September 25, 2017

The referential Clausiliid

kw: species summaries, natural history, natural science, museums, research, photographs

The gathering of biological species into genera (plural of genus), and of genera into families, can be a difficult matter. This is particularly true of animals that are variable in their expression, including mollusks, and gastropods (snails) in particular. The history of discovery proceeds to-and-fro: Species after species will be collected and described, and at first, many similar creatures will all be described under a certain genus. A later researcher may then distinguish a common set of features for certain of those species, and a different set of features for others, leading to setting them aside as a new genus. A similar but more arduous process is needed to discern family membership…usually.

In the case of a unique family of terrestrial snails, the Clausiliidae, one and only one distinguishing feature is needed to determine whether a newly discovered species belongs: the presence of a clausilium. This requires a little explanation.

You may know that many marine snails have a kind of "door" that they can shut behind them when they retreat into their shells. It protects them from many predators and also keeps them from drying out when they are exposed to the air for too long. These two pictures show different species of whelk; the operculum for each is visible. First we see a Lightning Whelk all pulled inside after a wave threw it up onto the beach. Its operculum is the brown oval thing in the aperture.

The second photo shows a different species of whelk crawling on the sand. The animal's foot, at the lower left, is white with dark spots, and the operculum is also brownish, attached atop the end of the foot. Many, many families of marine gastropods have opercula (the plural of operculum). Twenty families of freshwater gastropods also have opercula, as do a small number of non-pulmonate (that is, gilled) land snails. Only one prominent family and two very minor, though related, families of pulmonate land snails have opercula. A pulmonate snail has a lung rather than gills, or in addition to gills, and can thus spend prolonged amounts of time out of the water.

A clausilium is not an operculum. This structure is not kept external to the shell, as an operculum is, but is internal, as seen in these semi-transparent shells. Rather than being attached to the animal's foot, it is attached by a muscular structure to the columella, the central column around which the whorls of the shell are wrapped. When a Clausiliid snail retreats into its shell it pulls its body inside, then deploys the clausilium to block the aperture. So the clausilium's purpose is the same as that of the operculum, but is a distinct evolutionary development.

In addition, whereas an operculum is sometimes thin and even translucent, it is usually robust and may be a thick shell in its own right with a spiral structure. By contrast, a clausilium, although always calcareous, is thin and rather fragile. Apparently, members of the Clausiliidae, being small and having a small aperture, do not encounter the determined predators that attack many marine snails.

Today in my work on the current project at the Delaware Museum of Natural History I began to take inventory of a little more than 1,000 lots of the family Clausiliidae. The type genus of the family is Clausilia, described by Jacques P.R. Draparnaud in 1805. He based his description of the genus on the species Clausilia dubia, but a later evaluation by physician and malacologist Louis C.G. Pfeiffer led to a re-description of the genus as referred to Clausilia scalaris Pfeiffer, 1850. Ironically, this species has been renamed and then made synonymous with another species, and is now called Muticaria macrostoma (Cantraine, 1835; Cantraine originally called the species Clausilia macrostoma).

I found that DMNH has just one lot containing shells of this species, which is endemic to the island of Malta. The collector, whose material was obtained by Ralph Jackson in the 1950's and later donated to the museum, notes that this species is "very rare". Yet he somehow obtained six shells.

This photo shows the shells close to natural size. It is hard to see in this image that the shells are well-decorated with ridges or striations. Clicking on the image to see it larger is a little better, so I also took a closeup through a low power microscope.

The species name "macrostoma" means "large mouth". Clausiliids all have small apertures, and the aperture of this species is only "large" by contrast to many other species in the family, and that primarily because of the wide lip around the "mouth".

All the shells in this lot have the first one or two or three whorls broken off. That fact and the ridges indicate that these little animals live in a rather high-energy environment. I became curious about the locality so I looked it up, and found that Mistra is on a protected bay. Malta is not very large, being 17 miles long and 8 miles wide (27x13 km), but it has room for at least five places named "It-Torri", which means "red tower". The nearest to Mistra is about three miles to its northwest. This is a much windier locale than Mistra, so perhaps such environmental stresses shaped the species.

Few clausiliids are so heavily decorated, and, indeed, most are smooth or nearly smooth. So it is ironic for this to be, in effect, the "poster child of the Clausiliidae."

Monday, September 18, 2017

Fake news isn't new

kw: book reviews, nonfiction, essays, science, sociology

A headline or tweet is too small to elaborate anything useful. When Dr. Feynman received a Nobel Prize in Physics a generation ago, a reporter asked him, "Can you briefly tell me what you did?" He replied, "If I could tell that to you in one minute, it wouldn't be worth a Nobel Prize."

If everyone had to learn the basics of the sciences to graduate from high school, as it was in the past, and learn the kind of critical thinking required to "do science", maybe the American populace would be harder for quacks, charlatans, and a dishonest Media machine to manipulate. And, just maybe, the purported "national leaders" we call Senators and Representatives wouldn't make so many utterly boneheaded decisions whenever there is a scientific fact involved. The "critical thinking" taught in this generation's high schools would be laughed out of Plato's Academy.

Into the fray wades Joe Schwarcz, a Chemist who writes best-selling books, one after another, that frequently discuss how most Americans and most purveyors of the news get science wrong nearly all the time. His latest is Monkeys, Myths and Molecules: Separating Fact From Fiction, and the Science of Everyday Life.

There is no useful way to summarize 65 essays as diverse as I find between these covers. I'll just touch a point here and there:
  • "A Tale of Two Cantaloupes" in the section "Swallow the Science" discusses first an outbreak of Listeria in 2011, carried by feces-contaminated cantaloupes, that eventually killed 35 people. Cantaloupes sit on the soil at they ripen, making them particularly prone to harboring infectious bacteria if "natural" (manure-based) fertilizers are used. The second cantaloupe saved lives: during the research to turn penicillin from a laboratory curiosity into an industrial scale medicine, in 1941 a particular strain of Penicillium that makes cantaloupes rot was found to produce the antibiotic with a concentration ten times that of other strains of the mold. The principle developed here is that context matters.
  • "Capturing Carbon Dioxide" in the section "Chemistry Here and There" looks beyond the technologies of snagging the gas from smokestacks and such "emitters". The technology is well known. Its costs are inescapable, about 20% of total energy production. Than what do you do with millions of tons of this gas? The author discusses numerous things that we can do with CO2, such as making soda pop, using it to feed algae for biofuel production, and making chemical intermediates. But these don't add up to enough "uses" for the stuff to use up the supply. We burn a lot of fuel! Pumping it into the ground has its own problems. Besides the difficult matter of ensuring it won't just leak back out, the recent rash of earthquakes in places where "fracking" for oil is being carried out show that shoving anything into the earth in large quantities can have wide-spread and possibly devastating effects. Y'gotta think things through.
  • Several of the essays discuss the trouble folks sometimes cause by taking the results of tests done on mice and extrapolating them to humans. "Of Mice and Men" in the section "Stretching the Truth" is an example. A study had shown that intense sessions of treadmill running made changes to muscular and molecular structures, that were not found by longer sessions of less intense activity…at least for mice. Mice are convenient. You can work them half to death for a week or so, and then kill them and dissect their muscles to figure out what might have changed. Can't do that with people. As it happens, there appears to be a threshold in this effect, and it is probably so high that very few people ever work out with sufficient intensity. This essay takes a side trip into the possible effects of chocolate on Alzheimer's disease. This was also based on mouse work. But it was even more indirect: nobody fed cocoa to mice or to people. They dosed mouse nerve cells with various cocoa extracts. I guess there was enough of an effect that exciting headlines and review blurbs could be written. But nothing is yet known about whether the chemicals so tested will cross the blood-brain barrier when you EAT chocolate, rather than injecting it directly into the brain. Oh, well. The point here is, you need to determine what was actually found out, before concluding it is anything useful in the real world.
Dr. Shwarcz has wide-ranging interests, and his essays cover topics from acupressure to vitamin deficiencies (and how they were discerned). I hope many folks read this book, and at the very least learn a little more caution about news headlines that tout "discoveries" that soon drop out of sight.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

A must-read if you care about your internet presence

kw: book reviews, nonfiction, internet, privacy, security, self help

The subtitle of the book should catch your attention: "Are you naked online?". Are you? If so, what might you do about it? Ted Claypoole and Theresa Payton drew on broad experience in the online security arena, including Ms Payton's service in the White House, to write Protecting Your Internet Security: Are You Naked Online?. Start by reading this book.

Privacy as we once knew it is a thing of the past. The security of everything online is similarly threatened. It doesn't have to be. I took certain pieces of the authors' advice, and before noting the results, I should perhaps explain something that may be a little uncommon about me.

I decided from the time I started this weblog that I would go to certain lengths to divorce its identity from my own. There are a few clues here and there in my posts, so a persistent and diligent person could track me down. I tend to trust in "security by obscurity", as compared to more technical means. So these results might indicate how successful I have been.

Of course, the authors recommend that we all fire up a browser window in Private (or Incognito or Stealth or whatever) mode, and search our name. In my case, for historical reasons, there are six variants of my name, and two variants of this blog's name. But the search was not nearly as arduous as I expected. From the longest to the shortest ways to look up my name, always putting the entire thing on quotes (but none of those ways using a first initial rather than a first name):
  • 4 text hits, 3 of them reporting my first marriage in various newspapers.
  • 1 text hit.
  • Though Google initially said 279, there were 17 actual hits, and 12 were about me. There was also one picture of an ancestor of mine in an Image search, but none of me. More briefly for the rest...
  • 164 at first, then 19 of 21 text hits.
  • 1,330 at first, then 31 of 35 text hits, plus 3 of about 170 images are actually me.
  • 2 of 532 text hits are actually about me.
And for the blog names:
  • "polymath07": 3,930 at first, but only 33 if you look at returns pages. Hundreds of pictures in the Image search, most from this blog, in which I frequently post pictures.
  • "polymath at large": 7,590 at first, but only 26 actual hits. Many, many pix, nearly all from this blog.
All in all, the pages Google finds about me are nearly all positive, and of course the blog post returns are as I wish. I'd call that success.

Now, from an open browser page, I went to the Open Data Partnership "choices" page, which immediately ran a status check. It returned a long list of entities that either are or are not modifying ad choices based on my browsing behavior. Those who are, that I recognized, include Adobe Marketing Cloud, Amazon, Experian, Google and Microsoft. Some that are not doing so include LinkedIn and Ziff Davis (publisher of many magazines including PC Magazine, to which I once subscribed). One may easily opt out of all of their chicanery, but I have learned instead to do most searches for "stuff" in Private mode.

Private mode isn't perfect, so if you want to avoid, or at least confuse, advertisers and their tracking gimmicks, page 78 has a list of nine suggestions such as the Blur feature by Abine. You can also analyze your own online profile—the real one, not any of the ones you created yourself—using Spokeo, for example.

Why should all this be necessary? If you are old like me, it doesn't matter as much, but think of a teenager whose entire online presence is rife with teen attitude, complaints about parental restrictions, kidding and teasing (and worse) of "friends" and others, and the general sort of things you'd expect from kids who don't yet realize they are mortal. Fast-forward five years, when they are applying to a college, or ten years, when they are applying for a job. Colleges and prospective employers track down all the social media you've been using, and they are better at it than you think. Just changing your name on FaceBook or Twitter isn't enough. If your likeness appears anywhere, a single well-composed image of your face can turn up a lot through Image Search in Google, at the very least.

Or maybe you are a 35-year-old trying to build a business who has attracted the ire of a competitor. Will the competitor create an account somewhere in your name and use it to publish inflammatory and defamatory material that would drive away customers who stumble across it and think it is you? An entire industry of Reputation Management has arisen to address just such scenarios. Even if your competitor didn't do you dirt, maybe your teenage self did already, and unpleasant traces remain of someone you once were, but no longer are. The internet has a longer memory than a jilted spouse! To many folks, what you were then, perhaps you still are, under that polished veneer.

This naturally leads to a section on guiding your children through their early years as a digital native. It will be hard work to keep them from shooting their future self in the foot, but it is necessary.

Another notion occurred to me: Phase your life, and use a different online avatar and screen name for each phase. Upon entering Middle School, a preteen might post a sign-off in a soon-to-be-unused FaceBook account, saying "Goodbye, I'll go silent now. Catch everyone later, and elsewhere." Then she can use a new version of her name to start a new account, and gradually import old friends, but only after they have undergone a similar transition. Hard as it may seem, it is best to discard "friends" who don't see the value in this approach. The end of High School is a good time for a similar changeover. Other phases come to mind. Think it through.

Also, such a time is a good one to go through the abandoned account and delete posts that will cause trouble to the "new you". Of course, the Internet Archive will still have them in its "wayback machine", but you cannot cleanse everything. That's why it is best to keep your most private thoughts out of the ether entirely. When you are musing darkly, the Cloud is not your friend! The Google Docs app isn't totally secure; nothing online is.

A lot of this is like getting a better lock for the front door of your house and a better security system. It doesn't guarantee the house won't be robbed, but it makes you a harder target, so most thieves will pick someone less diligent to burgle. And that's the best advice for anyone concerned about their online privacy and security. Take a little forethought to be a harder-than-average target. It is worthwhile, and these authors are good guides to doing just that.

Monday, September 04, 2017

Toothbrush support Life Hack

kw: life hacks, toothbrush support, travel

Here is a little item I haven't seen in any of the "life hack" viral videos:

When staying in a hotel, we never see a toothbrush stand. We had been using those flimsy plastic cups to hold the toothbrushes off the sink surface, but they tip easily. Then we hit upon an easy solution: half fill the cup with water. Now the cups are stable.

By the way, we also keep the plastic bags the little soaps come in. (They are behind the left cup). If we like the soap (some brands are too sticky to wash off) we let it dry a little and put it back in the bag to bring home. If we don't like the soap I get out a small bar I carry in the suitcase. The hotel throws the soap away if you don't take it.

I'll often try out the shampoo they provide and if it is good I'll take that also. They are small enough to carry in carry-on luggage for plane flights.

We had a holiday weekend but the spiders didn't

kw: blogging, blogs, spider scanning

I didn't log in for several days because of the Labor Day weekend. Here is what the Stats look like for the past week:

I wonder what the Russians are so curious about this time? Not that it matters much…