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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.

dr_bronner_magic_soap_colle

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.

LOOK AT THIS THING!!

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.

cordyceps_campanotus1

Grab Bag Good Start:

waterbottles

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

Bravo.

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¢ 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 🙂

Water

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 😳

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Grab Bag Trivia Test:


Q. Half of all 
Americans live within 50 miles of what?

Q. Most boat owners name their boats. What is the most popular boat name requested?

Q. If you were to spell out numbers, how far would you have to go until you would find the letter ‘a’?

Q. What do bulletproof vests, fire escapes, windshield wipers and laser printers have in common?

Q. What is the only 
food that doesn’t spoil?

Q. Which day are
 there more collect calls than any other day of the year?

Answers can be found at the bottom of this post.

Grab Bag Poll:

What is/are your favorite product(s) that you have purchased from a TV commercial or infomercial… the ones that actually WORK? I have a couple I will be sharing, but I want to gather your favs as well.

Here’s just a sample of some of the “Hall-of-Famers” in this category:


Please share your TV-driven guilty pleasures in the Comment section at the bottom of this page. I will post some or all of the products in an episode to come.

Grab Bag Photoshop School:

I’ve had Adobe Photoshop, in various iterations, on my computers for years and years. I probably use about 2% of it’s capabilities, not because I don’t want to, but because the program is SO flipping complicated.

But I’ve found some websites that offer free tutorials. I have been gazing over them, and trying some that offer methods that will be most useful for me. Here are some examples and the sites that offer them. Each of these tutorial sites offer far more than just the examples I show here.

Click on the PHOTO to link to that specific tutorial, or the WEBSITE NAME to link to their tutorial listings.

 

PSD TUTS+

This specific tutorial might be very useful for those who love their photos, just not the other people in them. 😆

Remove a Person from a Photo

 

 

ALFOART

 

 

 

 

DESIGNIOUS TIMES

 

 

(Check out the original images that were used to make the one above.)

 

 

CREATIVE FAN

 

 

 

PHOTOSHOP TUTORIALS

 

 

WEGRAPHICS

Grab Bag Giddy Grub:


Hmmm… Do certain kinds of food make us happier?? Seems there may be more reasons to reduce our intake of animal protein than dietary and cardiovascular concerns.

Personal statement… I am not a vegetarian. However, in the last few years, I have reduced my intake of red meat to once a month or so, and I have increased my non-animal meals to several a week. I think this is a good thing.

I’ll let the good boys (Drs. Oz and Roizen) at RealAge tell you what’s up:

These dinner sides don’t just make your waistline little. They put a serious smile on your face, too.

We’re talking about carrots and eggplant, squash and lima beans, and just about any other vegetable you can get your hands on. Research confirms that people who eat the most vegetables have the brightest moods.

Load Me Up
In a study, the people who loaded up their diets with vegetables and skipped meat altogether had happier moods compared with the people who included any form of animal protein (fish, chicken, or beef) in their diets. Which was a surprise to the researchers who assumed the brain-friendly fats in fish would be key to emotional well-being. But it turns out that vegetables — as well as plant-based proteins like nuts — have a mood booster of their own called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). ALA is a plant-based fatty acid that helps keep a lid on an inflammatory compound linked with depression. (Do this for 20 minutes today and you’ll feel happy for 12 hours.)

Plant Joy
Yep, eating lots of vegetables and no meat had lots of emotional upsides in the study — including less anxiety, less depression, and less hostile feelings. But if you’re not ready to go vegetarian, don’t fear. There are plenty of other ways to get some extra happy into your day, like exercising more, stressing less (deep breathing exercises work wonders), and spending extra time doing the things you love. (One more trick: Spend more time with your good-natured pals. Here’s why.)


Grab Bag Remember December:

Back on December 26th of last year, I shared some info on how the little caps at the end of our chromosomes, called telomeres, can dictate the signs of aging (and by that, I mean visible signs, like more  wrinkles, gray hair, as well as brittle bones, heart disease and cancer, just to name a few delights and highlights of the aging process). That post mentioned stress, lack of exercise and a poor diet as the great “telomere guillotines“.

Now, new research shares some very interesting results showing a distinct telomere benefit to those with higher levels of omega-3 consumption… high omega-3 fish or supplements (my choice is Krill Oil). According to a post on RealAge.com;

Telomeres guard DNA the way plastic shoelace tips stop your sneaker laces from fraying…. Scientists suspect that the omega-3s in fish dinners (or lunches, or supplements) activate the body’s antioxidant defenses against telomere-munching free radicals. These healthy omega-3 fats may also boost activity of a telomere-pampering enzyme called telomerase. Which probably helps explain why the volunteers in a recent study — who all had heart disease and were in their 50s, 60s, and 70s — showed such dramatically different telomere length. During the 5-year study, telomeres appeared to shorten three times faster in the people with the lowest blood levels of omega-3s, compared with people with the highest levels.

And here’s a telomere fun concept I found, reported from research at King’s College in London:

King’s College London examined more than twelve hundred non-alike female twins aged between eighteen and eighty years and found those with more than one hundred moles were half as likely to grow osteoporosis as those with less than twenty-five. People with abundance of moles are known to generate white blood cells having long telomeres.

So….. don’t hate your moles, bulk up on salmon and/or omega-3 supplements, and your telomeres should look like this:

Grab Bag Trivia Answers:


Q. Half of all 
Americans live within 50 miles of what? 



A. Their birthplace

Q. Most boat owners name their boats. What is the most popular boat name 
requested? 



A. 
Obsession

Q. If you were to 
spell out numbers, how far would you have to go until you 
would find the letter ‘A’? 


A. One thousand.

Q. What do bulletproof vests, fire escapes, windshield wipers and laser printers have in common? 



A. All were invented 
by women.

Q. What is the only 
food that doesn’t spoil? 


A. Honey Q. Which day are
there more collect calls than any other day of the year? A. Father’s 
Day

Grab Bag Brain Game:

Yahtzee… without all the noise (there IS bad music, but you can hit MUTE for that) 🙂

Ya! Dice

Grab Bag Funny Stuff:

It’s the 21st Century and….

1. You accidentally enter your PIN on the microwave.

2. You haven’t 
played solitaire with real cards in years.

3. You have a list 
of 15 phone numbers to reach your family of 
three.

4. You e-mail the 
person who works at the desk next to you.

5. Your reason for 
not staying in touch with friends and family is that they 
don’t have e-mail addresses.

6. You pull up in 
your own driveway and use your cell phone to see if anyone is 
home to help you carry in the groceries.

7. Every commercial 
on television has a web site at the bottom of the screen.

8. Leaving the house 
without your cell phone, which you didn’t even have the first 
20 or 30 (or 60) years of your life, is now a cause for panic and you turn around to go and get it.

9. You get up in 
the morning and go on line before getting your coffee.

10. You start 
tilting your head sideways to smile. : )

11. You’re reading 
this and nodding and laughing.

12. Even worse, you 
know exactly to whom you are going to forward this 
message.

and a Video Funny Stuff following up on “The King’s Speech”:

Thanks to Soheir K. for this!

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