Wednesday, July 9, 2014

How much gold is really in Goldschl├Ąger?

Goldschl├Ąger is a Swiss cinnamon schnapps that contains actual gold flakes. MGS Refining filtered multiple bottles for a concensus and found that there is approximately 0.1 grams of gold contained in the beverage per 750ml bottle.

Gold Contained in Grams = .01
Converted to Troy Ounces (Gold is priced by Troy Ounce) = .00311
As of today, 7/9/14, gold is trading at $1325.59 p/ t oz

= $4.12

So a bottle of goldschlager contains just over $4 worth of gold.

Right now, North Carolina ABC Stores ("State Stores" aka Liquor Stores) are selling 750 ml bottles for $23.95

Monday, May 12, 2014

Why is Raleigh, NC located where it is?

Living in Raleigh, that is a question that begs to be asked. It's not that any particular aspect of its location is wrong, but there's no real reason for it to exist where it is. It sits near the middle of the state, but on the lush, mostly featureless landscape of the piedmont. 
For being established in 1788, it doesn't have the most prominent aspect of most state capitals - a waterway. In fact, Raleigh is one of only three state capitals not established on a waterway (the other two are Helena, MT and Carson City, NV).
From Wikipedia:

Raleigh was chosen as the site of the new capital in 1788, as its central location protected it from attacks from the coast. Officially established in 1792 as both county seat and state capital (incorporated on December 31, 1792 - charter granted January 21, 1795), the city was named for Sir Walter Raleigh, sponsor of Roanoke, the "lost colony" on Roanoke Island.

The city's location was chosen, in part, for being within 11 mi (18 km) of Isaac Hunter's Tavern, a popular tavern frequented by the state legislators. No known city or town existed previously on the chosen city site. Raleigh is one of the few cities in the United States that was planned and built specifically to serve as a state capital. Its original boundaries were formed by the downtown streets of North, East, West and South streets. It was planned to be laid out in an axial fashion, with four public squares and one central square.

Monday, April 21, 2014

What exactly is "sea level"?

Everyday we read facts that include an elevation. Whether is be the last known altitude of the Malaysian airlines flight, or the elevation of an avalanche on Everest. How is it calculated? What is the baseline for "sea level"?

Of course when you are speaking of such large measurements in respect to jet altitudes and Himalayan peaks, it is all based on barometric pressure. I used to known how to calculate it mechanically with a Brunton device, but that knowledge has long since been covered with dust in my brain. Most measurements have a known that all others are calibrated off of. For example the Kilogram is based on a physical artifact cast in platinum and iridium 120+ years ago, but even that is being replaced with a mathematical equation.

An accurate measurement of sea level is very hard to pin down. But it is an important measurement for two main reasons:

  • By having an accurate sea level measurement, it is possible to measure the height of everything on land accurately. For example, calculating the height of Mt. Everest is complicated by sea-level measurement inaccuracies.
  • By knowing sea level, we can determine if the oceans are rising or falling over time. The concern is that global warming and other weather changes caused by man might be leading to an overall rise in sea level. If so, coastal cities are in big trouble.

To truly measure sea level, you must remove all of the factors that cause the ocean level to fluctuate: rain, wind, undersea geological disturbances, rivers, planets, the moon and the sun (among other smaller factors). If you removed all of the factors and allowed to ocean to settle like a still pond, it would achieve a point of consistency called a geoid.

To mitigate these effects, scientists try using tide gauges. A tide gauge is a large (1 foot [30 cm] or more in diameter), long pipe with a small hole below the water line. This pipe is often called a stilling well. Even though waves are changing the water level outside the gauge constantly, they have little effect inside the gauge. The sea level can be read relatively accurately inside this pipe. If read on a regular basis over a time span of years and then averaged, you can get a measurement of sea level.

Barometric altimeters are calibrated based on Mean Sea Level (MSL), but frequently, elevations are calculated on Local Mean Sea Level (LMSL) which is more accurate to a particular locale and not based on a universal benchmark

Friday, April 4, 2014

An interesting unknown

This was a found curiosity that ballooned with enthusiasm. Anyone that knows me personally knows that I have the loyalty of an old dog. I'm faithful to brands, models, styles, colors, and principles. One of these is Jeeps, specifically Cherokees (the XJ Cherokee, not that new Italian-designed jellybean).

I knew that after Jeep had shuttered the Cherokee factory in mid-2001, the tooling and forms were sold to a firm somewhere in the middle east to be used for military vehicle production. To my knowledge, and the best of my googling, it never came to be. A variation of it was made in Beijing called the 2500, but I digress...

I gave a read to the Wikipedia page for the Jeep Cherokee, and noticed something that was either added recently by an enthusiast, or I had never seen before. Most likely the former, because I would have remembered this factoid:

I was immediately struck by this. In 14 years of driving a Cherokee, the spare tire placement has baffled me, and any other person who has owned or looked into the hatch of a Cherokee. The spare tire is prominently located vertically against a window. This is great if you have a flat. If you have never had a flat, it's the object you curse when things don't fit in the trunk. Most of the vehicle's initial reviews in '83/'84 note this, but the XJ was retired in 2001 with it's spare tire perched proudly in the boot. I knew Jeep had considered other options - an external mount was an aftermarket Mopar option from 1997-1999 for the newer body style, and a handful of 1987-1994 Cherokees came from the factory with a mounted swing-away. The switched in the early 90's from a bumper/body mount to a bumper-only mount. It was explored, but was never introduced into regular production.

 This article implies that an external mount was common before '97 (it wasn't), but it also gave me the name of someone who had come up with a unique solution. A name equates to a Google search for me, and into the rabbit hole I tumbled.

I searched for "Peter Gruich" and quickly found his resume online. A few things caught me, and this adds to his credibility, and presumably his ego. His resume is seven pages. SEVEN. And with a fairly small font too! Mostly in the vehicle design, having done work with Ford and Chrysler. I found his line about the Jeep Spare Tire Design, and headed down that road to find out more about his design worthy of a paragraph on the Wikipedia page of a vehicle that it had never actually been used on. I should note here that this fellow is very much an Engineer, as his long resume (yes, I read the whole thing) is riddled with grammatical errors and typos. Someone who doesn't proofread his resume and catch some of the glaring typos must be some kind of mad genius. The remarks about the work on the Cherokee is on page three, "...devised a solution and had it designed for fabrication in one week... patent applied for". Next stop, Google Patents!

There is no record of Gruich ever applying for a patent for that part. He has extensive patents, both personally, and as a contributor for corporate filings, but there is a gap in his applications and grants from 1994-1998. I wouldn't say he never actually applied for it, but any record of it is not available with my technological means. Based on the scant information on how it works and what made it novel, it appears his idea may have been previously patented by Edgar and Robert Burger from Valley Industries. Coincidentally, Valley was operating in the Detroit area in the mid-90's so it's reasonable to assume they were aware of each other.

But, Gruich does have some interesting patents. Especially:

Patent#4,749,149 - Single-hydraulic sustained-wing-batting Ornithopter coupled to a motorcycle. Who thinks of this, designs it, and patents it?!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Do blind people decorate the interiors of their homes?

I don't doubt that blind people are social, capable of living independently, and often have homes of their own. But how do they decorate the interiors? What demand is their for ornate molding or exquisite chandeliers when they could carpet the walls and decorate according to what is pleasing to their fully-functioning senses?

I couldn't pin down a decent answer for this one. This one has eluded previous attempts at an answer, but today I revisited the cold-question wild mild success.

From The American Foundation for the Blind and VisionAware: Resources for Independent Living with Vision Loss:

  • For a person who is "legally blind" and does not live in complete darkness, make use of contrasting colors to highlight important items in a room. If the room is white, paint electrical sockets and light switches black. Also, vivid colorations highlighted by lighting can create pleasant variety in what the eye picks up.
  • Arrange the furniture in a safe arrangement that does not inhibit "obvious flow" of traffic. If rugs rugs are used, make sure all edges are taped down to avoid tripping hazards.
  • Use varying textures to help the sightless re-orient themselves within the living space if necessary. Consider using different upholsteries for different chairs and pillows. Avoid patterns on upholstery and flooring - stripes and checks and create confusion for people who are moderately vision impaired.
  • Appeal to the sense of smell with varying incenses, potpourris, or fresh cut flowers to be inviting. Having a devoted place for the smells to originate from will also help the vision impaired to stay oriented in the room.
  • Windchimes and fountains can provide great audio cues within a home
  • Always push in chairs when they are not being used at a table
  • Use non-skid finishes on any hardwood or linoleum flooring

Friday, March 21, 2014

Can humans sneeze in their sleep?

Someone I know was recently having a go with their allergies and sneezing. They were fine all night, but as soon as they woke up - here comes the reflex*. That got me wondering - can humans sneeze in their sleep?


We actually should be more prone to sneezing during our sleep, as the mucous membranes swell when we lie down. This makes them more sensitive, but there usually isn’t as much airflow or movement to stir up irritating particles, so they aren’t as exposed to stimulants.
When we’re awake, particles, allergies or an illness can stimulate the nerve cells in the nose. The nerves then send signals to the brain in order to initiate a sneeze to get rid of whatever is irritating it.
But during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, certain neurotransmitters shut down- this state is known as REM atonia. This means that the motor neurons are not being stimulated, so they aren’t sending these signals to the brain.
In some cases, sufficient external stimulates will trigger the need to sneeze. But you will wake up to do so.

* = She is princess-like. She has been compared to a fairy, has long wavy hair, and seems as if she is full of magic. Above all else she is the most humble. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

How many baseballs get used in a game?

Watching the World Series, I see balls get fouled out of the park, homered into the stands, tossed to fans by players after retiring and inning, or just generally inspected by the umpire and judged unacceptable. It makes you wonder just how many balls get used in the course of a game...

According to MLB, between five and six dozen are used per game (60-70 balls).

Have to have 90 on hand

The home team has to have 90 new baseballs on hand for each game. That doesn't mean they'll use them all, but they must have them, just in case.

Average life of ball is 6 pitches

This is an interesting question. I am not sure if a true average can be reached due to climate and other issues and yet here is what I found on the web through yahoo. According to Ensley, "every major league game begins with six dozen balls." He goes on to explain that the average life of a ball is six pitches. Since most major league games average between 250 and 300 pitches, that would put the ball count at about 40 or 50 balls used per game.

About 72 balls

According to the MLB: "between five and six dozen baseballs are used during each baseball game, as many as 72 balls."
Each ball costs about $3-dollars, so that works out to $216-dollars worth of balls for each baseball game.


Using an average life span of a baseball in a typical game as 6 pitches and the average number of pitches being 275 per game. The number of balls used is 46. Factoring this number out to each team in the league playing 165 games and dividing by 2 since two teams play each other each game, the number of baseballs used during a typical MLB season would about 113,850 balls per year.