Monday, February 29, 2016

Leap Year!!

This year there is a February 29th, and it only happens every four years. Why do we do this??

It takes the Earth this long to circle the Sun: 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 45 seconds. (So, almost six hours more than 365 days).
The end result is that we lose 6 hours a year. Thus, 6 hours x 4 years=24 hours. So, if we didn't add a day to the calendar, then every four years we'd lose a day. In 100 years, we would 'lose' 24 days.
We know to plan for Leap Year every 4 years. But, let's throw in some more math:
  • A Leap Year can be evenly divided by 4
  • If it can be evenly divided by 100, it is not a Leap Year UNLESS...
  • It can also be evenly divided by 400. If both are true, then it is a Leap Year.
  • These years are Leap Years because they are divisible by 400 and 100:2000, 2400
  • These years are NOT Leap Years because you can't divide them evenly by 400 and 100:1900, 2100, 2200, 2300, 2500

More on the Gregorian Calendar here:
If you're not completely confused, did you know there was such a thing as Chinese leap months??

It used to be unacceptable for a woman to propose marriage to a man. It's believed this started in 5th century Ireland, when St Bridget complained to St Patrick that women had to wait for a man to propose. The legend is that St. Patrick would allow women to propose to men on February 29 only: once every four years.

There is an opera called "Pirates of Penzance." The story is this:

The story concerns Frederic, who, having completed his 21st year, is released from his apprenticeship to a band of tender-hearted pirates. He meets Mabel, the daughter of Major-General Stanley, and the two young people fall instantly in love. Frederic soon learns, however, that he was born on 29 February, and so, technically, he only has a birthday each leap year. His indenture specifies that he remain apprenticed to the pirates until his 21st birthday and that he must serve for another 63 years. Bound by his own sense of duty, Frederic's only solace is that Mabel agrees to wait for him faithfully.


Enjoy Leap Day!!!

Monday, February 22, 2016

What Do You Know About: Hawaii

Mmmm....tropical....Sounds fabulous this time of year when you live in Hoth....

The islands we now call Hawaii were explored by David Cook, who named them the Sandwich islands. Hawaii used to be a kingdom; that is, ruled by a queen or king. The last was Queen Liliuokalani, who ruled until 1893. It became a United States territory in 1900, and a state on August 21, 1959.

Hawaii is 2400 miles from San Francisco, California. It's 3864 miles from Minneapolis to Hawaii.

There are three universities in Hawaii:
  • University of Hawaii at Manoa
  • University of Hawaii at Hilo
  • Hawaii Pacific University
                                                     University of Hawaii at Manoa

                                     Beachfront hotels and apartments

                                        You can stay in the water all the time!

  • The major crops produced in Hawaii include pineapple, sugar cane, and flowers.
                                               Pineapple farm
  • Hawaii has only 5 counties. (Minnesota has 87)
  • The population of Hawaii in 2010 was 1,360,300.
  • While there are other 'ordinary' jobs in Hawaii, their tourism industry means there is always a need for helicopter pilots, hotel workers and management, entertainers, and transportation managers.
                                       Helicopter tour at night

  • Because of the tropical climate, there is also a need for marine biologists and people who can care for flowers and plants unique to Hawaii.
  • Housing is very expensive in Hawaii, including apartment rental.
  • There are limited shopping opportunities for those living in Hawaii; many goods have to be sent from the 'mainland,' that is, California and the continental U.S.
  • Cultural groups living in Hawaii include American Indian, Asian, and Native Hawaiian.
  • There are several continuously active volcanoes in the Hawaiian islands. Three major ones are Kilauea, Maunaloa, and Loihi.
  • Hawaii has 109,000 acres of National Forest Reserves.


On December 7, 1941, Japanese warplanes attacked the U.S. Naval Base at Pearl Harbor. It was the first time foreign forces had attacked us on our soil (it was a U.S. territory at the time, so considered 'ours'). 2403 U.S. service people were killed.

                                    The ship USS Arizona is sunken underneath its memorial.


                                 Lava from volcanoes forms some of the shoreline

Meanwhile, in Minnesota: Tropical temperatures may hit 40 this week. Get out your flip-flops!


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Why We Care About Lead Poisoning

You may have heard about the water problems they're having in Flint, Michigan.
Here's the basics: Flint always took its water from Lake Huron, but to save money, the City leaders decided it would use the Flint River instead. That river is very polluted; in fact, some residents thought it was a joke when it was first suggested. It was to be a temporary solution, but went on for several years.
The water coming out of faucets in homes was brown and tasted bad. Not only did people hesitate to drink the water, but also to bathe in it or cook with it. Complaints were made, but nothing was done. Two years after the switch, some researchers came in and found the lead levels in the water to be much too high-19 times the amount found in Lake Huron water. The City of Flint hadn't followed Federal law regulating water quality. It was revealed that if the City of Flint had spent just $100 a day for a chemical to treat the water, the lead would have been eliminated or greatly reduced.
Where does lead come from?
  • It comes from old paint, which contained lead. Lead is no longer allowed as an ingredient in paint. Children have picked off pieces of old paint and eaten them, and if there is lead dust in the air it can be breathed in.
  • In the past, pipes used to set up water systems in cities were either made of lead or contained lead. Since this was so many years ago, replacing the pipes is a huge undertaking. Pipes can be lined with a safe coating that seals it off. 
  • Lead was also present in window blinds made long ago. Dust from these blinds can get into the air and be breathed in.
  • The ways it gets into our bodies is through eating or drinking things with high levels of lead or it can also be breathed in and absorbed through the skin.
It looks harmless...

 *Interesting to note that it is closely related to tin. In the 1600s, tin used to be called "plumbum candidum (bright tin) and lead used to be called "plumbum nigrum (black tin)" see where the term 'plumbing' came to be.
But it's not meant to be put into the human body.
Here are symptoms of lead poisoning:
  • Brain damage, loss of IQ
  • Tooth decay
  • Hearing loss
  • Anemia
  • Seizures
  • Short attention span, ADD, hyperactivity
  • Abdominal pain and disorders
  • Memory Loss
  • Stunted growth-it affects the human growth hormone
Children are particularly vulnerable to brain damage; their bodies absorb lead very easily. Tests done on children from Flint show that they have lost several IQ points due to lead poisoning.   

People who work in these lines of work have often been exposed to lead, through breathing in fumes or through absorption through their skin-
  • Welders
  • Printers
  • People who work with X-rays and do not wear protective gear
  • Metal foundries
  • Miners
The lead dust can be brought into the home on the clothes of people and thereby expose the rest of the household by breathing or through their skin.

You can read about the ongoing crisis in Flint here, and about the doctor that made a connection and proved there was a huge problem.

The lines on these bones are from lead poisoning: they should not be there.

Here is info from the Center For Disease Control:

Monday, February 8, 2016

Depresssion: Recognizing It, Where To Get Help, How to Help

Depression: What do you know about it? Have you felt depressed, and what did you do about it? What would you want others to know?

While we all have days when we feel like we just want to stay in bed and not deal with life, if it reaches a point where a person literally cannot move, cannot simply 'get over it,' there might be need for professional help. Here are some signs to look for, whether in yourself or someone you know:
  • Lack of interest in things that normally do interest you
  • Wanting to sleep more than to be awake during a 24 hour period
  • Or not being able to sleep at all  (See Triogenius November 5, 2012)
  • Not eating
  • Overeating
  • Lack of conversation with others
  • Unable to concentrate
  • Problems with memory
  • A downfall in schoolwork or on the job performance
  • Not taking care of personal hygiene
  • Isolating from others: physically not being where others are
  • Not speaking to anyone, including texting or phone calls
  • Being angry all the time
  • Being frustrated easily and for a long time
  • Physical symptoms: Pain, breathing problems, stomach issues
  • Physically harming of self: Cutting, taking drugs, "overmedicating,"drinking too much

What can cause depression?
  • A change in your brain chemistry
  • Hormonal changes, such as seen in Postpartum (after childbirth) Depression
  • Genetic factors
  • Brain injury
  • Low self-esteem
  • Trauma: Something extremely upsetting has happened
  • Death of a loved one
  • Chronic illness
  • Alcoholism or drug abuse
  • Even some medications cause depression.

Depression that's severe and long-lasting probably indicates an imbalance in the brain. It is not going to pass and the person can't "just snap out of it." Take a look at the difference between a 'normal' brain and one that's been affected by depression:
Here are the parts of the brain. Those parts usually affected are the Amygdala, Thalamus, and Hippocampus:



What can help?
If it is mild, sometimes exercise is helpful. Movement increases the level of endorphins, the "feel good" hormones. Exercise can also help take your mind off things, include some social interaction, increase your confidence, and make you feel more in control. Speaking to a friend, a doctor, or a spiritual leader might help as well.

But when depression has become worse than a temporary funk, first, of course, be understanding if this is happening to a friend or to you.  Realize that it isn't a choice the person is making. Something is medically 'off' that needs to be helped. Therapy may be what's needed and possibly medications (anti-depressants) can help. Call your doctor, or that of the person in trouble, unless you feel the need for help is urgent. In that case, call 911 or take the person to an Emergency Room of your local hospital. Stay with the person until help is found. Remember that the brain is a part of your body, and it's not a sign of weakness that your brain isn't working properly.

If an anti-depressant is prescribed, be aware that it will probably be necessary to take it for several weeks before results are noticeable. Be patient.

Depression affects over 19 million adults every year.

Here is a more thorough explanation of how depression works, and how medications can cure it:

Here is the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. You can call 24/7 to talk to someone who can help you find help: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and press "1" for Veterans.

Please remember that you matter. Ask for help. It will get better.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Microblog: Careers with Minnesota Companies-3M

3M stands for Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing. It has been in existence since 1902. It uses the brand "Scotch," as in 'Scotch Tape,' among others.

Here are other products made by 3M:

  • Post-it notes
  • Command removable hooks
  • Scotchguard coating to make fabrics stain resistant
  • Safety goggles
  • Filters, such as for cars or filtering water
  • Sandpaper
  • Ace bandages (Ace is part of 3M)
  • Reflective stickers and reflective clothing
  • Thinsulate, used in winter clothing such as gloves, jackets, slippers
  • Nexcare bandages (Nexcare is part of 3M)
They also produce parts of cars and clothing.

3M has locations around the world. Most countries have a 3M headquarters. Here are areas in which jobs are currently available:

  • Accounting
  • Administration
  • Legal
  • Electrician
  • Marketing
  • Manufacturing Technician
  • Engineer
  • as well as many Student Internships

Those with a technically-savvy background will do well in a career at 3M, with a background in Technology, Engineering, Sales, Law and Patent Law, and those with a creative and scientific mind.