May 2, 2008

Origin of baseball term “can of corn”

Baseball fans know that a ‘pop fly’ or lazy fly ball, that is an easy catch, is called a “can of corn.”

The first time I heard the term was while listening to an old radio broadcast replay of a Brooklyn Dodgers baseball game. The play-by-play announcer Vin Scully (pictured) said, “on a 3-2 curve ball Pee Wee Reese hit a pop fly into short right field - it’s a can of corn.”

So what does a lazy fly at the ballpark have to do with a can of corn?

The phrase is said to have originated in the nineteenth-century and relates to an old-time grocer’s method of getting canned goods down from a high shelf. Using a stick with a hook on the end, a grocer could tip a can so that it would fall for an easy catch in his apron.

That explains the ‘easy catch’ but where does corn come into the equation?

In the very early days of baseball, the outfield was called the “corn field.” Especially in early amateur baseball the outfield may have been a farm field.

Hospital has one wing and thousands of legs

A tiny hospital in Baralaba, Australia is fighting a poisonous spider infestation.

The Baralaba Multi Purpose Health Service will close for 24 hours starting Thursday morning so officials can fumigate the building to get rid of redback spiders (see photo) that have been found in large numbers in the main part of the hospital.

Redback spiders, common throughout most of the country, have a painful bite and a toxic venom, although an anti-venom is available.

The redback spider looks much like the black widow spider.


Eat well to have a boy. Diet to have a girl

Mom's diet seen as factor in whether her baby will be a boy or girl.

Snips and snails and puppydog tails ... and cereal and bananas?

That could be what little boys are made of, according to surprising new research suggesting that what a woman eats before pregnancy influences the gender of her baby.

It is not proof, but it fits with evidence from test tube fertilization that male embryos thrive best with longer exposure to nutrient-rich lab cultures, said Dr. Tarun Jain. He is a fertility specialist at University of Illinois at Chicago who wasn't involved in the study.

It just might be that it takes more nutrients to build boys than girls, he said.


May 1, 2008

Ferrari FXX pedal powered go cart

The Ferrari FXX is out of reach for almost everyone unless you happen to have an extra $1,720,000.00 laying around. And that’s not counting tax.

Well, here is the next best thing. It’s a cool FXX pedal powered go-cart by Berg Toys.

This is a very serious toy that even has an on-board chip to measure lap times and top speeds.

Link here and here.

Apr 30, 2008

Prius does more environmental damage than Hummer

There was an eye-opening article last year at the link below exposing the ‘not so green’ hybrid car underworld. In doing so, it compares the Toyota Prius to the Hummer.

The intent of the article is not to promote the Hummer but to use the fuel hungry behemoth as a comparison.

Building a Toyota Prius causes more environmental damage than a Hummer that is on the road for three times longer than a Prius.

The Prius is partly driven by a battery which contains nickel. The nickel is mined and smelted at a plant in Sudbury, Ontario. This plant has caused so much environmental damage to the surrounding environment that NASA has used the ‘dead zone’ around the plant to test moon rovers. The area around the plant is devoid of any life for miles.

The plant is the source of all the nickel found in a Prius’ battery and Toyota purchases 1,000 tons annually. Dubbed the Superstack, the plague-factory has spread sulfur dioxide across northern Ontario, becoming every environmentalist’s nightmare.

Wait, I haven’t even got to the best part yet.

When you pool together all the combined energy it takes to drive and build a Toyota Prius, the flagship car of energy fanatics, it takes almost 50 percent more energy than a Hummer - the Prius’s arch nemesis.

The Prius costs an average of $3.25 per mile driven over a lifetime of 100,000 miles - the expected lifespan of the Hybrid.

The Hummer, on the other hand, costs a more fiscal $1.95 per mile to put on the road over an expected lifetime of 300,000 miles. That means the Hummer will last three times longer than a Prius and use less combined energy doing it.

So, if you are really an environmentalist - ditch the Prius. Instead, buy one of the most economical cars available - a Toyota Scion xB. The Scion only costs a paltry $0.48 per mile to put on the road. If you are still obsessed over gas mileage - buy a Chevy Aveo and fix that lead foot.

One last fun fact for you: it takes five years to offset the premium price of a Prius. Meaning, you have to wait 60 months to save any money over a non-hybrid car because of lower gas expenses.


Drivers can give rude messages electronically

Now you can be nice (or rude) to other drivers the new hi-tech way.

Put this Drive-E-Mocion in your car rear window and communicate with other drivers.

Control this electronic device as you drive. It’s battery operated so there are no wires.

Single or multiple message options are available including smile faces, frown faces, polite words and some words that could get you in trouble.


No more monster busses on Cuba streets

A change for the good under the guidance of Fidel Castro’s brother Raul.

The unwieldy busses (pictured) have been replaced by thousands of new city busses from China. One wonders how long before thousands of Chinese troops will arrive.

First comes the stink of diesel, then a metallic roar, and finally a tower of black smoke that tells you the "camello" (the camel) has reached your stop.

These hulking 18-wheeled beasts, iron mutants made of two Soviet-era buses welded together on a flatbed and pulled by a separate cab, have long been Havana's public transport nightmare — bumpy, hot and jammed with up to 400 passengers at a time.

Camellos have no shock absorbers, and every pothole sends a violent jolt through one's feet. At each stop more passengers crowd in — people carrying infants, backpacks, gardening tools and beer bottles stuffed with black market honey.

With no air conditioning, the tropical heat quickly becomes unbearable, and the stench sets in — fresh sweat and body odor, mixed with exhaust and rotting food. Those seated stick their heads out of the windows.


Coat of many patterns

Valeta’s new jacket. When a quilter decides to make use of scraps, they sometimes make a coat of many colors … in this case, a coat of many patterns.

Apr 28, 2008

Obama’s thoughts on Pennsylvania primary

Sopwith Camel WW1 biplane on NY skyscraper roof

This was found here on Google Sightseeing.

There appears to be a biplane, complete with runway on the roof of 77 Water Street, New York City.

Situated in the heart of the insurance district, 77 Water Street occupies the entire East side frontage of Water Street between Governuer Lane to the North of Old Slip to the South.

The property runs all the way through the block to Front Street on the East, covering approximately 60% of an acre. 77 Water Street is located at the foot of Wall Street.

The biplane on the roof is a sculpture designed by Rudolph de Harak and executed by the sculptor William Tarr in 1969.

The plane is a full-size model of a WW1 Sopwith Camel biplane, complete with runway.

It was put there to amuse inhabitants of surrounding skyscrapers including the World Trade Center before 9-11-01.

Click here to see the rooftop plane on Google Maps where you can zoom in and drag the picture around to see surrounding buildings, etc.

Nash Metropolitan the 1950’s sub-compact car

The Nash Metropolitan was a cute sub-compact car made for Nash Kelvinator by Austin in Birmingham, England from 1954 to 1961.

The lower picture shows an artists painting of the Metropolitan rendered for a magazine advertisement. The artist painted the driver to a smaller scale so the car would appear larger.

The diminutive Metropolitan was smaller than the Volkswagen beetle. The Metropolitan had a wheelbase of only 85-inches. It was powered by a 1.2 liter 4 cylinder engine driving the rear wheels through a 3-speed manual transmission

The cute little Metropolitan was available in 2-door hardtop and 2-door convertible models.

Nash originally intended to name this car NKI Custom (NKI - Nash Kelvinator International) before they settled on Metropolitan.

This little “baby Nash” was often referred to as the tiny car with a long name.

The Nash nameplate was removed from the Metropolitan in 1958 when American Motors decided to drop both the Nash and Hudson names.

Apr 27, 2008

Cities tampering with traffic lights to generate revenue

Does your city use red light cameras as “ticket traps” to increase revenue? Some cities do.

The traffic light camera controversy intensifies with the report that some cities are illegally tampering with traffic lights to increase revenue from traffic light cameras.

By using shorter yellow lights in order to issue more traffic tickets, cities are also creating accident hot spots.

If the yellow-light times are set below recognized standards, two things will happen -- traffic tickets will increase and accidents, that otherwise wouldn’t have happened, will increase.

The cities that are using their red light cameras as “ticket traps” are:

1. Chattanooga, Tennessee. The city of Chattanooga was forced refund $8800 in red light cameras tickets issued to motorists trapped by an illegally short yellow time.

2. Dallas, Texas. An investigation by KDFW-TV, a local TV station, found that of the ten cameras that issued the greatest number of tickets in the city, seven were located at intersections where the yellow duration is shorter than the bare minimum recommended by the Texas Department of Transportation.

3. Springfield, Missouri prepared for the installation of a red light camera system in 2007 by slashing the yellow warning time by one second at 105 state-owned intersection signals across the city.

4. Lubbock, Texas. KBCD, a local television station, exposed the city’s short timing of yellow lights at eight of the twelve intersections where the devices were to be installed.

5. Nashville, Tennessee. Even without red light cameras, police in Nashville, Tennessee have been earning hundreds of thousands in revenue by trapping motorists in conventional ticket traps at city intersections with the shortest yellow warning time.

6. Union City, California was caught trapping motorists with a yellow signal time 1.3 seconds below the minimum established by state law. As a result, the city was forced to refund more than $1 million in red light camera fines.