Posts Tagged ‘brain game’

Grab Bag Future Fixation:

“Minority Report”, here we come:


Thalmic Labs has developed an armband to be released later this year that will allow us to play the Tom Cruise part to control our own electronics…


This could be the start of a whole new world in computing, gaming… who knows what else. The mind boggles…. watch this video:

Gesture Control Thalmic Labs

Grab Bag Cone of Shame Be Gone!:

If you have a dog for long enough, you will likely run into the need for one of these devices, which stop the poor critters from licking wounds and such …

This first customer looks far too happy about his situation:


Definitely a commercial photo shoot.

Most dogs with these contraptions, mine included, look more like this:

cone-of-shame dog-cone-of-shame dekster_wounded__day_3 Vizsla-in-Cone images

Of course, you could always have fun with these things….


… but that gets old after the picture is taken.

So imagine my chagrin when one of our beloved labs had to have a large tumor (probably malignant, but very contained, prognosis is good, we hope) and a smaller lipoma excised from two spots on his belly. One big incision, one small, lots of stitches, and a cone around his neck were his parting gifts from the vet. ūüė¶

Cut to …..a guy in the pet store turned us on to a “cone for the new age”:


Not only is this more comfortable, but Fido won’t crash loudly into furniture, he can drink and eat with no problem, and when he lies down it gives him a little pillow! Brilliant!!

Here’s our good dog, Harley, modeling his new “cone”:


I bought the 21st Century brand, but there are others out there as well.

If you are a dog owner, you might consider either buying one from now, or at the very least I would look for them at your local pet store, so when you need one you know where to go.

Grab Bag Chemical Revamp:


Fire retardant chemicals, required by (California, primarily) law used on children’s clothing, upholstery, mattresses and more has been a very hot topic (pun intended).

These chemicals can now be found in the bloodstreams of everyone… yes… you and me. There is a growing opinion that these chemicals may be harmful to our health, and there is a strong debate brewing over their use.

Personally, I take the position these and other chemicals are guilty until proven innocent, and the dangers they are designed to mitigate are overshadowed by the potential harm they can elicit, if only based on sheer numbers affected.

This report below is a prelude to hopefully sweeping changes in California’s fire retardant chemical stipulations. Let us hope that this will bring amount meaningful changes to this serious source of chemical burden to which we are all exposed:

Sacramento, Calif. (Feb 8, 2013)‚Äď California Governor Jerry Brown today proposed to end the widespread use of highly toxic fire retardant chemicals in foam furniture sold in the state.

“The new rules, when enacted, will ensure that furniture doesn‚Äôt pose unintended health risks,” said Bill Allayaud, director of government affairs for the California office of Environmental Working Group. “California‚Äôs current fire safety rule does not protect us against fire dangers but contaminates our bodies and those of our children with chemicals linked to cancer and other serious dangers to health.”

Brown’s move is expected to have an impact nationwide because California, with 10 percent of the U.S. population, exercises so much purchasing power that most American furniture makers fabricate their products to comply with California flammability standards.

‚ÄúThis decision is a public health victory for all Americans,‚ÄĚ said Sonya Lunder, EWG senior research analyst.

Last year, in a directive to overhaul the state’s fire safety law, Brown cited a groundbreaking EWG study, conducted in 2008, which found that children’s blood contained concentrations of fire retardants three times higher than their mothers’ blood. The reason: children who play on the floor come into contact with fire retardant chemicals shed from treated foam furniture.

EWG has been investigating the toxicity of fire retardants in furniture since 2003. That year, EWG’s tests found toxic fire retardants called PBDEs in the breast milk of 20 American mothers, with an average concentration 75 times higher than the average PBDE level in European mothers. This dramatic distinction was attributed to California’s inflexible fire safety rules. The California legislature banned PBDEs, and several other states enacted their own restrictions. Eventually, PBDEs were phased out across the U.S.

Recently, tests by scientists and consumer advocates found that California fire safety rules had triggered the widespread use of chemical fire retardants in couches, car seats, changing table pads and other baby products, both in California and the rest of the country. Chlorinated tris has been substituted for PBDEs in many cases, even though California regulators have formally listed this chemical as a carcinogen. Firemaster 550, another replacement for PBDEs, is suspected of disrupting the hormone system.

The new regulations proposed by Brown will allow manufacturers to use safer technologies like fire-resistant fabrics in place of chemically-treated foam. Baby products will no longer be required to contain fire retardants, since their small size makes it unlikely that they could cause a serious house fire.

Extracted from EWG.org

Grab Bag Tool Time:

Ladies and gentlemen, I want to talk to you today about my favorite all-around power tool,

The Dremel Multi Max

WAIT!!!…. girls…. don’t leave…

¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† here…..


I’m pretty sure Ryan uses a Multi Max.

So, now that our interest levels are all back on the same page, let me continue.

I don’t build houses for a living. But I do appreciate being able to do little things myself. I asked for and received my Multi Max for Christmas a few years ago. At the time I thought I would use it for a few craft projects I had in mind. Little did I know I would turn to this Renaissance tool for a host of tasks that I would have never thought I could accomplish otherwise.

I guess what I am saying is you don’t know what you’ll use it for¬†until you have one and you realize what it can do. So get one, and uses will begin to appear.


9291 dremel_multimax20_threshold._V166721290_ hqdefault dremel_multimax20_stair._V166721288_ DremelCordlessMulti-Max_HeavyDutyGroutRemoval DremelCordlessMulti-Max_SandingCabinetDoor hqdefault-1 dremelprojects sanding-dremel-multi-max-oscillating

And remember… (and this is what I kept repeating when I taught myself to cut my own hair)… it’s not brain surgery, so most tasks really aren’t that complicated… especially when you can usually get tips, videos and instructions for almost any task online.

Here are a few of my tasks:

  • Teak outdoor furniture arm rests were a bit rough… put on the sanding head.
  • Walking sticks to long…. put on the wood saw blade and cut them down to size.
  • Two tiles cracked and needed replacing… used the cutting blade for the grout and the lifting blade to remove.
  • Small piece of wood trim needed replacing… wood saw blade cut new piece to correct length.
  • Wanted to shorten some makeup brushes for my travel case… a few seconds with the wood saw blade and DONE!

Check out this Multi Max report from The Review Broads… I’m not the only X chromosome lovin’ this thing ūüôā

Grab Bag Cuteness Alert:



ATT00003 ATT00001 ATT00002 ATT00004 ATT00006 ATT00005

Grab Bag Brain Game:

Test your knowledge of quotes from famous folks:


Grab Bag Funny Stuff:

AmerFuture BritSurvey GulIrony Illiterate obesity Outback Psychic smallisBeaut Tires Trash

Read Full Post »

Grab Bag Shirt-For-A-Cause:

Sevenly is a great company based on a great concept. They pick a worthy cause each week, offer really great t-shirt designs for sale, and $7 of every shirt purchase goes to the charity.

Designs for past campaigns can be seen on the site, along with how much moola they raised for each cause.

This week’s charity is Angel Faces, benefiting teen burn victims in the quest to restore healthy self esteem. I just bought a cool dark gray dolman tee with the “Give Your Life Away” graphic:


Other graphics this week:

Sevenly Artwork


Like the idea, like the execution, like the result.

Instead of GIVING the shirt OFF your back, here’s to GETTING the shirt ON your back, and benefiting great causes in the process:



Grab Bag Betterment Boost:

So hopefully you’ve helped others at Sevenly, and now let’s focus on YOU.

I don’t know about you, but I have some personal goals that tend to be a bit elusive…. like getting into the habit of meditating… even just a little. Or sleeping better…. ya, that would be good.

Most people have at least a few personal goals that they need help with; eat less, exercise more, drink more water, keep a journal, recognize gratitude…. and the list goes on.

Fig App

Fig is a new (FREE) app for your iPhone/Android that let’s you create goals in the areas you want to improve your habits, and then provides end-of-the-day reminders, nudges and reportable records to help you reach those goals.

And to capitalize on our tribal instincts, Fig allows you to connect and share your goals, if you so choose, with the family and friends of your choice... and they with you. Supporting each other in pursuit of our goals is a very good thing.

Fig Screens

Screen Shot 2013-01-28 at 8.52.01 PM

Mashable says this:

Only you know what your body, mind and spirit needs. So, you can choose to wake up 15 minutes early this week to make breakfast, watch the sunset, skip fried foods, drink less coffee or take a few breaks at work. Once you’ve completed your wellness goal, hit the “+” sign next to the task, and feel like a million bucks.

Here is Fig’s mission statement:

Our mission

We aspire to redefine wellness and make it reachable for most Americans.

Advertisers try to convince us that we’re not thin or muscular enough. They appeal to our insecurities to sell us stuff. But deep down, most of us realize that wellness isn’t superficial (a size zero dress or bulging biceps). Wellness is a journey of holistic transformation and our capacity for fulfilling our life missions.

We started Fig to lower barriers (time, complexity, etc.) to wellness and make it easier for loved ones to encourage one another forward.¬†Our team is laboring to create a future where most Americans achieve radically higher wellness ‚Äď a future where we experience more richness in our most important relationships, more physical vitality, much less disease, and more spiritual and emotional fulfillment.

Our team at Fig is just getting started. We hope you’ll join us. Together, let’s enhance human flourishing.

I downloaded it (click any of the pictures above to do the same), have created some simple categories, and I have received end-of-the-day reminders that I still have time to accomplish some of my goals. I do wish there was a setting to prompt the app to push reminders to me throughout the day, but it’s still a good system.

I like what what it’s doing for me already. Hope you do, too.

Here’s to a better, happier, healthier us.

Grab Bag Wowzer Bowzer:

From People.com, this incredible story of



Cats, not dogs, are supposed to have nine lives. Obviously Dosha never got the memo. On April 15 the Clearlake, Calif., pit bull mix was hit by a pickup truck, shot by a police officer to put her out of her misery and placed in the local animal-control center’s freezer, awaiting disposal. But two hours later a worker opened the freezer door by chance and “found Dosha sitting up,” says Denise Johnson, Lake County’s Animal Control director. “She was alive.”

Dosha’s harrowing ordeal began that morning, when owner Louetta Mallard, 40, let the 10-month-old out in the front yard; Dosha jumped a 4-ft. cyclone fence and was hit by a pickup truck. “She wasn’t moving and was glassy-eyed,” says neighbor Rolf Biegiela, who arrived after the accident. “I said to myself, ‘That’s a dead dog.’ ” A Clearlake police officer arrived on the scene and shot the collarless Dosha in the head. Then a public works employee transported her to the animal-control center. “It’s amazing what things animals can stand,” says veterinarian Debra Sally, who treated Dosha, after she was found alive in the freezer, for hypothermia and removed the bullet, which had traveled along Dosha’s skull‚ÄĒbarely missing her brain‚ÄĒand settled in the skin under her jaw.

Now recovering at the Clearlake Veterinary Clinic, Dosha is in high spirits, vigorously licking visitors’ hands. She has some hearing loss in her right ear but will be allowed to move back in with Mallard as soon as the owner erects a taller fence and buys a harness that will stop Dosha from jumping. “That dog had everything go wrong, but someone was looking out for her,” says Johnson. “This was her lucky day.”

Grab Bag Doggie Diabetes Beater:

This perked my attention. If this pans out in a larger study, this could have implications for Type 1 Diabetes cures for humans, one would hope. Check out the opening of this article from ScienceDaily.com:


Type 1 Diabetes Cured in Dogs, Study Suggests

Researchers from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), led by Fàtima Bosch, have shown for the first time that it is possible to cure diabetes in large animals with a single session of gene therapy. As published this week in Diabetes, the principal journal for research on the disease, after a single gene therapy session, the dogs recover their health and no longer show symptoms of the disease. In some cases, monitoring continued for over four years, with no recurrence of symptoms.

Read the rest of the article here.

Grab Bag Just Because:

Just because I covet these three animals today….




Grab Bag Brain Game:

Drag the letters from the bottom of the screen and correctly place them to complete the words above, as fast as you can. Kind of addicting!


Screen Shot 2013-02-10 at 3.13.30 PM

Grab Bag Funny Stuff:

Men we all know and the women they could be….


Photo credit: Worth1000.com

Read Full Post »

Grab Bag Breast Video Ever:

Now HERE is a community service message we can all pay close attention to… really…. try to ACTUALLY LISTEN to what these guys have to say:

Breast Video Ever

Many thanks to Carolyn M. for sending this to me

Grab Bag Teach Dream:

12 minutes of absolutely inspiring teaching by a model human being:

Many thanks to Jo Ann N. for sharing this with me

Grab Bag Rollin’ With The Homies:

Lifestyle blogger extraordinaire Slim Paley (her blog is permanently linked under “Favorite Blogs” on the right side of this page) is in the running for Apartment Therapy’s Best Home Design & Inspiration Blog.

If you haven’t seen Slim Paley, enjoy! Gorgeous, inspirational, eye opening, globe trotting… this site has it all. From fashion to home design to REALLY DECADENT things to eat, Slim hits the fashionable nail on the head every time. Click on the AMAZING roses below to enter Slim’s world:


To vote, please go here, register in 2 seconds (Apartment Therapy is a GREAT site, by the way) and vote for Slim in this first round… top vote getters move on to the finals. Go, Slim, go!

Grab Bag Stem Cell Youth:

Gotta love the brains at UC Berkeley! Go Bears!


A new study led by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, represents a major advance in the understanding of the molecular mechanisms behind aging while providing new hope for the development of targeted treatments for age-related degenerative diseases…..

….Researchers were able to turn back the molecular clock by infusing the blood stem cells of old mice with a longevity gene and rejuvenating the aged stem cells’ regenerative potential. The findings were published online on Jan. 31, in the journal¬†Cell Reports…..

….over the past 10 to 20 years, there have been breakthroughs in scientists’ understanding of aging. Instead of an uncontrolled, random process, aging is now considered highly regulated as development, opening it up to possible manipulation.

Read the whole Science Daily article here.

Grab Bag Fitness Myth Busters:

From Zen to Fitness, a great fitness blog, comes Sargeant Michael Volkin‘s myth busters:

Busted! 5 Fitness and Health Tips That May Make You Cry

1- Myth: The more ab exercises I do, the skinnier my waist will be.


BUSTED: Doing stomach exercises can strengthen your abdominal muscles, but it won’t burn body fat to give you that 6-pack you’re after.  If you want your ab muscles to show, you need to either be naturally skinny or embrace a diet low in carbohydrates and high in proteins with a decent helping of healthy fats and fruits and vegetables.

2- Myth:My diet includes diet soda, it’s zero calories so it has to be good for me. 


BUSTED: According to a recent University of Texas study, drinking just two or more cans a day accelerated waistline expansion by 500%. The artificial sweeteners disrupt the body’s ability to regulate calorie intake. In other words, your body is being tricked into thinking it’s ingesting sugar, so you crave more food and as a result, eat more food than you would have without drinking the soda.

3- Myth:By working out, I can convert fat into muscle.


BUSTED: You cannot convert fat into muscle as they are completely different.  In fact, when working out it is best to focus on either losing fat or gaining muscle.   In order to gain muscle, you have to eat more calories than you burn and, in order to lose body fat, you must burn more calories than you consume.

4- Myth:Cardio is more important for fat loss than weight lifting.


BUSTED: You will definitely burn calories completing a cardio workout, but to lose weight your primary concern should be muscle loss.  Muscles make it easier for your body to prevent fat gain.  Your body will burn more calories maintaining muscle than maintaining fat. In other words, the more muscle you build, the more calories your body will burn each day.  The less muscle you have the lower your metabolism.  A great weight loss program should focus on (in this order) your caloric intake, weight training and then cardio.

 5- Myth:Stretching before a workout prevents injury and increased my performance.


BUSTED: I know, you grew up stretching before a workout or sporting event because your coach or parents told you it was beneficial.  You were probably told that stretching prevents injury, when in fact, the opposite is true.  Recent studies show that stretching before a workout will weaken the muscle by up to 30%.  By elongating your muscles before strenuous exercise you actually may be increasing the risk of injury. Instead of stretching before a workout, get your blood flowing through your muscles with some low impact cardio for 5 to 10 minutes.  Stretching after a workout is great and still proves to be beneficial.

Grab Bag Antioxidant Superstars:


Here’s some really good news…. huge group¬†(93,600 women… nurses, actually) followed for a long-term study (18 years)… showed that consuming blueberries or strawberries 3 or more times a week reduced risk of heart attacks by 32%. That’s THIRTY TWO PER CENT, just by poppin’ berries in your pie hole at least 3 times a week.

The science behind the news lies in the FLAVANOIDS in the berries… in particular the anthocyanins so plentiful in purple, blue and red foods.


Other good choices include blackberries, cherries, black currants, grapes, red wine, eggplant, plums and raspberries.

Oh, by the way… go organic, OK? If fresh is prohibitive, Costco sells bags of organic frozen blueberries… and frozen is just as good… sometimes better… than fresh.

Grab Bag Brain Game:

Auditory and visual skills come in to play as you are asked to match an animal’s sound with its picture:


Grab Bag Funny Stuff:

Read Full Post »

Grab Bag Wow Moment:

One of the beauties of the tech age is that we can experience things we would never get a chance to otherwise. Such is this video…. a fantastic voyage through the International Space Station, giving us all a small sense of what life is like 222 miles above us, traveling at roughly 17,227 miles per hour:

Space Station Tour

Thanks to Corinna G. for sending this in.

Grab Bag Hotel Hack:

This is a pretty solid idea from Lifehacker.com that is worth a try, should you find yourself within the penalty period for cancelation of your hotel reservations:

Most hotels will charge you a fee if you cancel your room booking less than 24-hours before you’re supposed to check in. Ideally, that shouldn’t be a problem, if you’re not going to make a trip or vacation, you’ll usually know it ahead of time. However, if your flight is cancelled, re-routed, or there’s another emergency, Redditor¬†drwired¬†has the solution: don’t cancel the room, push your arrival time out by a few days, hang up, call later and¬†then¬†cancel it, once you’re safely more than 24-hours from your check-in date.

hotel bell

Grab Bag Tie One On:

Men, let’s get back to the real deal. Tie one on like a REAL man. A useful and well done video… I will put a permanent link in the Information section on the right, for those times you need it.

Grab Bag Zit Zap:

Also from Lifehacker.com, and a good tip for any acne-prone face:

Sleep with a clean and freshly washed towel or pillowcase on your pillow every night. It is said to be more effective than acne meds.

I researched this a bit and there are lots of comments on sites like acne.org and others that all say using a fresh pillow case or fresh towel over the pillow every night makes a BIG difference for acne.

pillow cases

Grab Bag Breakfast Bonanza:

It truly is, at the risk of overstating it, the most important meal of the day.

There is irrefutable evidence showing that consuming a healthy, balanced breakfast helps in a plethora of health aspects, foremost among them your weight, your blood sugar and your energy levels; three very good reasons why you need to eat healthy as the day begins.

Do not come with the, “I’m just never hungry in the morning” or, “I never have time”. Not listening.

Here are 8 healthy breakfast suggestions from Prevention magazine:

Yogurt With Almonds

1. Greek yogurt is a powerhouse breakfast, packing up to 18 g of protein into just one 6-ounce container. Plus, one serving of plain can tally only 100 calories and 0 g of fat. Mix in some almonds and a fiber-rich fruit, like fresh pear, to round out the meal.


2. Grab a bar, but not just any one: Many are laden with sugar and fat. Try Kind fruit and nut bars, which have up to 10 g of protein and 5 g of fiber, plus antioxidants.

Spinach Feta Wrap

3. ¬†If the drive-thru is your only option, avoid morning calorie sinkholes like muffins, bagels, and pancakes, and order a protein-packed egg sandwich instead. To save calories, hold the cheese. (Note from LK: Starbuck’s has a couple of clean options… spinach feta wrap and low-fat turkey bacon and egg breakfast sandwich.)


4.¬†If your body’s not used to having breakfast, ease yourself into it by sipping on a smoothie (we like Odwalla) throughout the morning to start your day with vitamins and nutrients. Also, curb late-night snacking, which can suppress your morning appetite.¬†Up for making a smoothie yourself? One of these¬†20 delicious smoothie recipes¬†will totally hit the spot.


5.¬†If you need to fuel a workout, carbs and protein are essential for repairing your muscles post sweat session. Kashi’s 7 Grain frozen waffle has 7 g of fiber and 4 g of protein per serving. Pair it with a protein-packed serving of peanut butter, some sliced bananas, and a glass of fat-free milk and you’ll have a winning start.


6.¬†If you’re trying to lose 10 pounds, swap your morning cup o’ joe for a mug of green tea‚ÄĒresearch shows that it can rev your metabolism. As for your main meal: Fill up on two eggs any way you like ’em. Studies show that people who incorporated eggs instead of bagels into a reduced-calorie diet lost 65% more weight.¬†(Note from LK… I told you so, on both these counts!)

Breakfast Burrito

7. If heart health is your priority, try a breakfast burrito chock-full of heart-friendly monounsaturated fats. Fill a whole wheat wrap with sliced avocado, scrambled eggs, and a splash of salsa. Also check out these other tasty breakfast burrito ideas.


8.¬†If you need more fiber, don’t settle for a cereal with fewer than 5 g of fiber per serving. Some varieties, such as Fiber One, contain as much as 14 g. To add even more¬†fiber-filled food¬†(and flavor): Toss in raspberries. (Note from LK: Kashi Cinnamon Harvest is one of my favs!)

Grab Bag Brain Game:

A variation on the “Stroop” effect, this game asks you to click on the color of the word, not the color that the word actually spells.

Adding to the challenge, the color of the background is changing as the words and their colors are changing also. Give it a few rounds…. you’ll get better…. and it will improve your focus and concentration.


Brain Bender

Grab Bag Funny Stuff:





217369119485388773_n9dGdRns_c 120541727496570868_pyBOovag_c

Read Full Post »

Grab Bag Scattagory:

The opening line of Thrillist.com‘s review of this product had me laughing so hard I thought this might be a Funny Stuff entry. But if it is well made, there is surely a place for this product.

Aside from the couch potato visual that first comes to mind, I’m thinkin’ seniors, handicapped, and really anyone with limited capabilities, might truly benefit from the possibilities of this concept.

Adding in the fact that this is in the vein of my guru Joseph Pilates, a man who invented “furniture” which he envisioned in people’s home that would convert to exercise equipment, and I am sold on the “useful idea” category, Thrillist’s opening line notwithstanding:

This is what you’d get if an exercise bike banged a La-Z-Boy….

….the ChairMaster’s not only a crazy comfortable recliner “great for watching TV”…¬†…. but its undercarriage actually slides out to reveal a set of stationary adjustable-resistance pedals, providing little excuse for you to not get fit while you sit. What’s more …¬†there’re seven accessories including resistance bands, a “mini-stepper”, and velcro ankle straps that, when added to specific parts on the rig, enable a full-body workout comprising 50 different exercises to keep you entertained while watching¬†Wicked Tuna: Hooked Up.

Grab Bag Soap Dope:

I have mentioned my recipe for hand soap in a prior post, but it’s time to come clean and share my delight. It is the best hand soap I’ve ever useddoes not dry out your hands, no chemicals, no artificial fragrance, feels great, smalls great, inexpensive, no gross slimy soap bar… I could go on and on.

BUT…. perhaps the BEST PART is that I have now used this as my FACE WASH for over a year and it is fantastic.

So here it is:

Find foam pumper bottles. Since I use this soap for all my hand soap, face soap, bath and shower, I order the bottles from SpecialtyBottle.com. I use the bigger ones at sink, tub and shower, and the smaller one for travel:

Foam Pumper Bottles

I also like this Cuisipro foam pump that I found at Sur La Table, as it has a suction cup on the bottom which keeps the bottle in place:

Then you will need Dr. Bronner’s 18-in-1 Castille Soap in the (natural) scent of your choice. It rates a beautiful 1 on EWG’s SKin Deep Cosmetics Database. They offer many sizes in 8 scents:¬†Rose, Eucalyptus, Tea Tree, Citrus, Almond, Lavender, Peppermint, and Baby Mild (unscented). I like the lemon, rose and unscented.

You can get these Whole Foods and at most health food storesTrader Joe’s usually offers at least one scent. Or order online at a bazillion sites.

Fill the bottle only about one-seventh to one-eighth¬†with the Bronner’s liquid soap, then fill the rest of the way with water. Swirl a bit and your soap is made! It should feel velvety and lather well. If it feels too watery, add more soap.

As I said, in addition to hand soap, I no longer buy special face or body cleanser. This leaves my skin really clean and never dry. Love, love, love.


Grab Bag EEeeeeewwww Review:

In answer to the burning question¬†I am sure you have all been asking, “What are the most interesting parasites”?, this list was offered up on Quora.com by some dude named Hung Lee… there’s a joke there somewhere, but I digress…

So…without further ado, here is a list of Hung’s “most interesting parasites” (I’m thinking Hung doesn’t get out much….):

1.¬†Cymothoa exigua¬† or “tongue eating louse”. This little nightmare crustacean gains access to its fishy host be crawling in the gills. It attaches itself to the base of the fish’s tongue, using claws to draw blood for food. Wow. So far, so good, right?

Oh but THEN, then the tongue eventually atrophies from lack of blood, FALLS OFF, and the little parasitic prawn thingy ATTACHES ITSELF IN PLACE OF THE TONGUE, and it stays there as a little living tongue until the fish dies a natural death.


It is the only known case of a parasite functionally replacing a host organ, and the fish continues to live on, with a crustacean for a tongue, apparently to little ill effect.

parasitic prawn

2. ¬†Symbion Pandora-¬†A tiny half millimeter long parasite that lives on the lips of the Norwegian Lobster.¬†Probably has the most complicated reproduction cycle on earth, including both sexual and asexual reproduction, multiple larval / feeding stages, male / dwarf males, 3 different types of larvae from the same ‘mother’. No one knows its evolutionary history, or why it reproduces in this way. It’s so weird, that when it was discovered in 2010, it was given a phylum all of its own.

Symbian Pandora

3. Sacculina carcini-¬†Type of barnacle which is a parasitic castrator of crabs.¬†The larval form of the female Sacculina carcini attaches itself to a crab, finds a joint in the carapace and¬†injects itself into the host.¬†The parasite grows inside until it is large enough to force its way out as an external sac below the¬† abdomen where the crabs eggs would normally be incubating. A male Sacculina carcini finds the now visible female,¬†injects himself¬†into her and begins fertilising her eggs. The host is now no more than a living automata, controlled by hormones manipulated by the female Sacculini, and will care for the parasitic eggs as if it were her own…Infestations of male crabs by female Sacculina carcini result in body & behavioural modifications of the host, in order for the host to ‘act female’, which is essential for the dispersal of the fertilised eggs. The guy crabs start behaving like mommy crabs. Amazing.

Sacculina carcini

And here are three submissions from Marc Srour, invertebrate paleontologist:

The Jewel Wasp:¬†It parasitises cockroaches. The female adult delivers a sting at a very precise spot in the cockroach’s brain (with truly surgical precision, it’s always the same spot). This makes the cockroach not quite paralysed – it can still move its legs, but it loses conscious control of them (its all done with a specific chemical cocktail in the sting). The wasp then bites on the roach’s antennae and slowly guides it back to a special nest where the larva is. The cockroach – still alive and breathing, mind you – serves as the food source for the larva. It can’t attack back or run away since its lost control of all its limbs.

Jewel Wasp
Another¬†Parasitoid wasp parasitises¬†Plesiometa¬†spiders. The adult stings it much like it stings the roach, lays the egg on the spider’s back, and the larva slowly feeds on it – again, the spider can’t/doesn’t react. And right before it dies from having been fed on too much, the spider will build a very special web it doesn’t build otherwise, and this web serves as the pupation coccoon of the wasp.

Parasitic Wasp

Cordyceps: This is a fungus that infects insects and spiders. It takes root inside the insect and its hyphae slowly spread inside, feeding on the internal organs. Unimportant organs fo first, slowly going to the important ones. As it progresses further, the host starts acting weirder and weirder (obviously). The last thing to go is the nervous system, but not before it does something spectacular. The host will go to a position that is humid and windy, and stick itself there by any means it can (ants will bite down on a big leaf vein, for example). Then the host dies, and over the next 2-3 weeks, the mushroom bursts out of the head and grows on a stalk and the spores get dispersed. The intersting part is how Cordyceps makes the host go to that specific place advantageous to its own reproduction.


Grab Bag Good Start:


As of January 1, 2013, the town of Concord, Massachusetts has banned the sale of disposable plastic water bottles.


We all need to be thinking about how to voluntarily replace this habit so that similar legislation will not be such a difficult concept to pass in our own burbs.

So while you’re buying your foam pump bottles at SpecialtyBottle.com, check out these 12 oz. bottles I use as my water bottles:
Sauce Bottle

They have white caps instead of black available (call them). I suggest buying at least a couple of dozen (depending on how many thirsty mouths you have) at a time. At 86¬Ę a pop you won’t be sorry.¬†

Then find the best way to get the purest water to fill them. I have amazing water straight out of the tap where I live most of the time, but I also have terrible water at our second home. I have not installed an under-sink filtration system there, but I’m thinking about it. Right now I take the filtered water from my fridge door and poor it into a filtration jug, so it’s double -filtered. My 2 year old grandson calls this “making water”, and it’s a favorite chore we do together ūüôā


However you “make” your water, the point is we HAVE to stop using so many disposable plastic water bottles, for the good of our environment. It’s that simple.

Grab Bag Brain Game:

AARP happens to have a really good collection of free online games to play. They have instituted a registration process, but once done you don’t have to bother again.¬†

Crosswords, backgammon, sudoku and a lot more are offered 24/7. 

Here is their version of an old favorite, Yahtzee!!

5 Roll

Grab Bag Funny Stuff:

Gotta smile, cause getting older is better than the alternative ūüė≥






Read Full Post »

It’s coming… December 31st, 2012…

it’s the end of something…

and the beginning of something else…

… just like any other day ūüôā


Sorry, but I am a total Scrooge when it comes to fixing hopes and dreams and goals and plans and change and all the rest of it onto the rollover of this man-made, cliff-pushing, tax-ending, device we so religiously cower to called the calendar.

The things that matter the most; our loved ones, our health, our happiness… these things have no use for calendars. No… these things of which life is truly made need love, common sense, focus, commitment, forgiveness and understanding. I don’t think those can hold more meaning because they are freshly penciled in next week.

So let’s play the calendar game only where we must, but let’s not serve ourselves the injustice of tying a shift in our soul, a surge forward in our lifestyle choices, or an elevation of our consciousness to the turn of a page.

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it!‚ÄĚ

~Unknown (inaccurately attributed to Goethe)

Or…. in the words of Nike, Goddess of Oregon sporting goods,

“Just do it”

Grab Bag Beauty at Any Age:

Gorgeous women, all over 50… a breath of fresh air ūüôā

Grab Bag Hubbie Hubris:

Gotta love this guy’s candor... a single dad who feels he had his share of screw ups that led to the end of his marriage. He’s laying them out for all to see… and learn from… his mistakes.

Grab Bag Interval Training:

Yes… I know… you really want to lose weight… and/or get fit…..starting in a few days…. just happens to be the New Year. OK… I’m calling your bluff. I’m a big fan of all 3 methods described in this brilliant little info graphic by Greatistgive these a try:

Interval Training

Grab Bag New Years Solution:

Should you imbibe a touch too much on New Years Eve, here are Greatist.com’s lists of food and drink that will both hurt and help. Better yet? Moderate ūüôā In case that doesn’t occur….


Drinks that Help:
  • Water.¬†The elixir of life should be your number-one priority after waking up with a pounding head. Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it pushes liquids out of the body. When nothing‚Äôs left in the tank, the body will¬†draw water from any available source, including the brain ‚ÄĒ hello, headache. Drinking some H20 before heading to bed can help prevent some painful hangover symptoms, but grabbing the water bottle in the morning doesn‚Äôt hurt either.
  • Sports drinks and¬†coconut water.¬†Sugary sports drinks can do a workout¬†more harm than good, but such is not the case with a killer hangover. Reach for a Gatorade or similar beverage to restore liquids and electrolytes stat. Even better, pop open a juice box of coconut water, which has five of the¬†electrolytes found in human blood, while most sports drinks only have two.
  • Ginger or peppermint tea. For a soothing brew, look no further than granny‚Äôs favorite herbal tea. Studies show that¬†ginger¬†tea can reduce nausea and motion sickness[2]. Peppermint tea (a common morning sickness cure for pregnant ladies) can also ease stomach pain and decrease nausea[3].
  • Fruit juice.¬†Pour a glass of apple or cranberry juice to kick start the recovery process. The fructose in sweet fruity drinks gives the body some instant energy, and may even help boost metabolism to get rid of those gnarly alcohol toxins. Juice also contains vitamins and plenty of water to get the body rehydrated.
  • Pickle juice.¬†This hangover remedy is so weird that it must be true!¬†The sour liquid¬†contains vinegar, salt, and water, which can help rehydrate and replenish electrolyte and sodium levels. To make the most of it, sip 2 ounces (measure it out in a standard shotglass) before hitting the bars and another 2 oz in the morning.
Foods That Help:
  • Bananas, kiwi, and¬†spinach.¬†These brightly colored fruits and veggies are¬†loaded with potassium, an important electrolyte that is often depleted due to alcohol‚Äôs diuretic effect. Not feeling a salad first thing in the morning? Add some yogurt and blend these bad boys into a hangover-fighting smoothie.
  • Eggs.¬†This breakfast staple is a brunch all-star for a reason.¬†Eggs¬†are chock full of hardworkingamino acids like cysteine and taurine. Taurine boosts liver function and can help prevent against liver disease[4]. Cysteine breaks down acetaldehyde, the yucky headache-causing chemical that‚Äôs left over when the liver breaks down ethanol.
  • Chicken Noodle Soup.¬†Nothing says ‚Äúwild night out‚ÄĚ like a bowl of mom‚Äôs¬†chicken and rice soup, right? It might not be the most conventional hangover food, but a cup o noodles can restock sodium and water levels in the body. Chicken and some vegetables contain cysteine, which give the liver a much-needed boost.
  • Miso Soup.¬†Sushi is the¬†last¬†thing most people want to eat with a hangover, but there‚Äôs no reason to eschew all Japanese food. Like traditional chicken noodle,¬†miso soup¬†is a great morning remedy ‚ÄĒ the broth rehydrates and restocks sodium levels while the fermented miso can help aid digestion[5].
  • Crackers or Toast with Honey.¬†Crackers¬†can be loaded with preservatives, so pick a healthier option like¬†Wasa¬†or a 100 percent whole-wheat variety. Crackers and toast are both simple, bland carbs thatraise blood sugar¬†without upsetting the stomach. Add a drizzle of fructose-laden¬†honey¬†to help the body burn off alcohol quicker.
  • Oats.¬†Take this¬†superfood¬†for a spin when you‚Äôre feeling less than stellar in the morning. A hot bowl of¬†oatmeal¬†has plenty of¬†essential nutrients¬†like B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, and iron. Oats can help neutralize acids in the body and raise blood sugar levels, giving you an instant energy boost.
  • Tomatoes.¬†Leave the Bloody Mary, take the tomato juice. Tomatoes contain¬†lycopene, an antioxidant that reduces inflammation in the body[6]. Tomatoes also contain¬†fructose¬†and vitamin C to give the liver a boost.
Foods and Drinks to Avoid:
  • Greasy food.¬†Contrary to popular knowledge, heading to the local greasy spoon is not a great hangover cure. A large, fatty meal is¬†better at preventing a hangover¬†than curing one. Chowing down on a big burger before the liquor starts flowing can help insulate the stomach, preventing alcohol from being absorbed into the stomach lining and bloodstream[7]. A fried feast the morning after can actually irritate a sensitive stomach, so leave the basket of fries for later.

  • Hair of the dog.¬†This wacky expression comes from a¬†Norwegian folk saying¬†that claims the best cure incorporates the substance that did the damage in the first place. Scandinavian wisdom aside, boozing in the morning is not the solution to a hangover. An alcoholic beverage can help take the edge off in the morning, but it will further dehydrate the body and lead to¬†even worse hangover symptoms¬†later in the day.

  • Coffee.¬†Zero energy, pounding head‚Ķ sounds like the right time for a cup of Joe. Nope! Like alcohol,coffee is a diuretic, so that latte will only dehydrate the body even more. Coffee is a vasoconstrictor ‚ÄĒ a substance that causes blood cells to swell ‚ÄĒ so a morning espresso will only take a headache to the next level. To feel better, stick to caffeine-free options like herbal tea, juice, or plain old H20.

  • Orange juice.¬†A glass of this mellow drink may help you rise and shine during the week, but¬†lay off the OJ¬†after a night on the town. Sour citrus like orange and grapefruit can irritate an already sensitive stomach.

Grab Bag Brain Game:

Looking at the entangled figures, try to select the individual layers that make up the complete picture:


Entangled Figures

Grab Bag Funny Stuff:


Research now shows that, starting in the New Year,

your period can officially be referred to as “Shark Week”.

Out of the crayons of babes….

What Mommy does...

A fluffy....

…. Oh stop it…. look again…..it’s a DOG…lying down ūüôā

Read Full Post »

Grab Bag Awesome Awe:

Another “People are Awesome” compilation, this one with a good deal of high-def shots and slow-mo, to truly appreciate how awesome these feats are. Full screen button doesn’t seem to be available, so click the You Tube button lower right and you can then see it full screen on YouTube.com.

Grab Bag Stuffy Nose:

According to the docs at RealAge.com, the winter season is no bueno for easy breathing. Read on for a clear nose and a better night’s sleep:

Tranformational breathing 1

A stuffy nose that just won’t go away? Don’t blame a lingering cold. Think allergies instead. Nearly a third of Americans, and hefty numbers of people in other countries, are allergic to dust mites (really, it’s their droppings, but we’re not going there), which live inside your pillow and mattress and other stuffing-filled places you’ve spent time.

And in winter, when your home is all sealed up to keep heating costs down, your Kleenex costs are likely to rise — along with your chances of a bad night’s sleep as well as an increase in your risk of asthma, eczema, or chronic sinusitis. The first step in treating allergies is limiting your exposure to them.

(Are these 4 triggers flaring up your allergies?)

  • Avoid clutter and dust and mite-poop catchers — knickknacks, drapes, stacks of books, papers, or toys — especially in the bedroom.
  • Bare your floors (and damp mop them frequently). If you do have carpet, vacuum often, and clean under the furniture and in closets.
  • Use only polyester pillows, and frequently wash them — and all bedding — in very hot water (130 degrees Fahrenheit). For extra protection, zip mattresses, box springs, and pillows in allergen-proof coverings that block particles of one micron or larger.
  • If you have a forced-air heating system, change the filters monthly. Cold and warm air ducts should be professionally cleaned at least every 4 to 5 years.
  • Use an air cleaner with a HEPA or electrostatic filter.
  • If you get symptoms during housecleaning, wear a mask over your nose and mouth while doing chores. Better yet, have your spouse do the cleaning!

Grab Bag DIY Almond Milk:

I really like almond milk.. actually prefer it on my (whole grain!) cereal. But what I am BUGGED about is trying to find an almond milk without carrageenan, a seaweed-based thickener which is often used in commercial almond milk (to read why it is best avoided, read Dr. Weil’s article here).

So imagine my delight when friend Peggy H. told me she has been making delicious almond milk, and it is a SNAP. Ingredients? Almonds and water. Throw in some honey, stevia or dates as a sweetener should you prefer it sweetened, and/or a bit of vanilla extract if you like that taste.


I made my first batch this week and, Yay!. Love it!

And because you thankfully use zero preservatives, keep the batches on the small side… it only lasts 4-5 days.

Here’s a link to the one item you may need… a nut milk bag to strain the milk. And here’s a simple video to get you going…

Grab Bag CYA:

Ya… so about that “end of the world” thing looming in a few days….

Just in case you want to cover your a‚ÄĘ‚ÄĘ on this, you might want to check out a few likely scenarios.

Short story? Brush up on your survival skills, my friends…

Apocalypse Now

Grab Bag Cable Label:

Here’s a tip I started using a few years ago, and it has made a world of difference all year long:

Tuck some supplies near the tree (or in the bottom of your own Christmas stocking) so that when someone inevitably opens something with a cable or charger, it is immediately labeled for future reference.

Labeled zip-loc bags to store the accessories/cables/chargers once the box is tossed out are also great to have on hand.

My Christmas morning supplies:

Christmas Morning Supplies

‚ÄĘ Scissors and/or a plastic clamshell opener as in the picture above

‚ÄĘ Long, skinny labels that can be cut to size or wrapped around a cord

‚ÄĘ Fine permanent marker to write on labels

‚ÄĘ Quart and maybe gallon size Ziploc bags

‚ÄĘ Thick permanent marker to label Ziplocs


If you want it to look fantastic, and you have a label maker (which I do but never thought about using it for this), by all means go to it.

This tip has helped to eliminate an ever-growing box of random cables and chargers that no one could remember what they went with. Throw the manuals (if there are any… these days…not so much) in there, too. This system is also helpful when you go to sell your electronics… value is higher if all original accessories are offered.

And don’t forget to tuck a roll of garbage bags near the tree for all the (recyclable!) Christmas morning trash.


And I hope I can encourage you to use the LEAST amount of gift wrap and boxes possible this year to reduce the absurd amount of waste this holiday seems to generate. Check out this post from two years ago on reusable boxes, bags, recycled cards and ribbons that make up most of my holiday gifting. A few examples:

ross-gift001 gift-bag001 dscn0258

Grab Bag Kitchen Progress Check:

Courtesy of Houzz.com, this fantastic glimpse back 40 some-odd years:

Honeywell Kitchen Computer

In 1969 it was actually possible to buy a futuristic-looking kitchen computer in the Neiman Marcus Christmas catalog.

Called the Honeywell Kitchen Computer, the device was impossibly hard to use (it came with a two-week computer programming course). You had to enter data in the form of numbers, and it gave you answers in the form of blinking lights, which you had to learn how to “read.”

It cost $10,000.

Nobody bought one.

And here we are today…
iPad iPhone Recipes

Grab Bag Brain Game:

Use any of the available numbers no more than once, specifying the function, to reach the target number in as few steps as possible:



Grab Bag Funny Stuff:

Yes…. December 21st, 2012 is the day that the Mayan calendar ends and, some say, so do we.

This just discovered in the cartoon section of an ancient Mayan newspaper:


… plus other assorted giggles:




Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: