20 April 2018

If you were blind, you'd know why this doorknob is knurled


From the International Building Code:
26.11.4 Special hardware: Doors opening into hazardous areas shall have door-opening hardware which is knurled or has a roughened surface to give tactile warning to persons with visual impairments. Hazardous areas shall include but not be limited to loading platforms, boiler rooms, and electrical equipment rooms.

Of course then I had to look up "knurl" -
knurl:
  1. A contorted knot in wood.
  2. A crossgrained protuberance; a nodule; a boss or projection.
  3. A lined or crossgrained pattern of ridges or indentations rolled or pressed into a part for grip.

etymology:

knur +‎ -le (diminutive), from Middle English knar (knot in wood), earlier sense “a stone”, of Unknown origin.
gnarl is a later variant, from gnarled, via knurled.
Knurl related to "gnarly."  Cool.  You learn something every day.

Image cropped for size from the original at the Mildly Interesting subreddit.

"Industrial-scale" farming of cucumbers in central Wisconsin


100 years of polio in the U.S.


Quite a remarkable graph; the Salk vaccine was developed in 1952, tested in 1953-54, then used widely.

I was a "participant" in that epidemic of 1952.  My mother used to tell of me crying through one night with muscle cramps; I have no memory of that, but I do remember waking up the next morning, trying to stand by the bed, and falling to the floor because both legs were paralyzed.  After that followed a series of adventures in a Sister Kenny facility in Minneapolis and in later years the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, all of which undoubtedly molded me into the person I am today.

Graph from a superb webpage on polio statistics at Our World in Data - where you can find other pages on other health-related issues (smoking, suicide, cancer, HIV, malaria, etc).

Note - the embed is a screencap; the graph is interactive at the website.

Sheep farming in the hill country of New Zealand


I suppose some farmers have tried using drones not just for photography, but for the herding as well.  I hope drones never replace the dogs.

Vodka aisle in Polish supermarket


Via the Mildly Interesting subreddit.

This skull was extensively trepanned. For scruples. Updated.


Explained at io9:
Researchers at the University of Pisa, Italy, have solved a longstanding mystery around the honeycombed skull of one of the Italian martyrs beheaded by 15th century Ottoman Turk invaders when they refused to give up their Christian faith...

The skull was later drilled, most likely to obtain bone powder to treat diseases such as paralysis, stroke, and epilepsy, which were believed to arise from magical or demonic influences...

"The perfectly cupped shape of the incomplete perforations leads(us) to hypothesize the use of a particular type of trepan, with semi-lunar shaped blade or rounded bit; a tool of this type could not produce bone discs, but only bone powder," Fornaciari said...

This would make the Otranto skull a unique piece of evidence supporting historical accounts on the use of skull bone powder as an ingredient in pharmacological preparations...

Indeed, in his Pharmacopée universelle, a comprehensive work on pharmaceutical composition, French chemist Nicolas Lémery (1645 –1715) detailed how powdered human skull drunk in water was effective to treat "paralysis, stroke, epilepsy and other illness of the brain."

"The dose is from half scruple up to two scruples," Lémery wrote.

"The skull of a person who died of violent and sudden death is better than that of a man who died of a long illness or who had been taken from a cemetery: the former has held almost all of his spirits, which in the latter they have been consumed, either by illness or by the earth," he added.
Yes, I had to look it up too:
Scruple: a unit of apothecary weight, with symbol ℈. It is a twenty-fourth part of an ounce, or 20 grains, or approximately 1.3 grams. More generally, any small quantity might be called a scruple.  
Note this harvesting of bone powder with a trepan tool is a bit different from trepanning to treat disease in the patient on whom it is done.

Reposted from 2015 to add this photo of a trepanned cow skull:


Here's the abstract:
The earliest cranial surgery (trepanation) has been attested since the Mesolithic period. The meaning of such a practice remains elusive but it is evident that, even in prehistoric times, humans from this period and from the Neolithic period had already achieved a high degree of mastery of surgical techniques practiced on bones. How such mastery was acquired in prehistoric societies remains an open question. The analysis of an almost complete cow cranium found in the Neolithic site of Champ-Durand (France) (3400-3000 BC) presenting a hole in the right frontal bone reveals that this cranium underwent cranial surgery using the same techniques as those used on human crania. If bone surgery on the cow cranium was performed in order to save the animal, Champ-Durant would provide the earliest evidence of veterinary surgical practice. Alternatively, the evidence of surgery on this cranium can also suggest that Neolithic people practiced on domestic animals in order to perfect the technique before applying it to humans.
The full study is published in Nature (via Gizmodo).

I do wish that people would stop referring to trepanation as "brain surgery."  It is - as the Nature article authors state - "cranial surgery."

Bluebells

A woman sits on a tree trunk in the Hallerbos as bluebells bloom, in Halle, Belgium, on Thursday April 19, 2018. Bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) are particularly associated with ancient woodland where it may dominate the understorey to produce carpets of violet–blue flowers. The forest is a crowd favorite thanks to the beautiful purple flowers. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert) (via)
4/20 has a different meaning for me than for many of my generation.  That is the approximate date on which the Blue-Eyed Marys (Collinsia verna) would be in peak bloom in the Raven Run nature sanctuary outside Lexington, Kentucky.  I have some memorable photos, but they are all on Kodachrome slides, and I need to find a way to digitize my old photo memories for the blog. [Iain, I haven't yet looked into the slide scanner you recommended]

Wealth inequality in the U.S.

According to Torsten Sløk, the chief international economist at Deutsche Bank Securities, income inequality is a major factor that has been holding back the U.S. economy for nearly a decade.

“One important reason why the expansion since 2009 has been so weak is that wealth gains have been unevenly distributed,” he wrote. “A decline in the homeownership rate and the number of households holding stocks has dampened consumer spending growth for the bottom 90% of households.”

Per his data, the median net worth for all income percentiles except the wealthiest one dropped between 2007 and 2016, usually by double-digit amounts
The wealthy and the corporate CEOs continue to recite the mantra that wealth "trickles down."

Afghan mother determined to get an education


The video tells the story.

Cat owners will understand the humor


Via, where original credit is not listed.

Big hair


From a gallery of "hair-tossing horses."  Credit Wiebke Haas.

Enjoy a piano duet - updated



"Fran & Marlo Cowan (married 62 years) playing impromptu recital together in the atrium of the Mayo Clinic. He'll be 90 in February."
Found at Within the Crainium.

Addendum: The piece is “Put on Your Old Gray Bonnet.” More about the couple at MinnPost.

Updated from 2009 to add some new links.  After that spontaneous duet captured on the first video, the couple were invited back to the Mayo Clinic for other performances.

This video in 2010 compiles several of their routines.

This 2011 video covers their "final performance."

It's "old-time fun." 

Battle of the seasons


Spring and summer duking it out here in the Midwest.  A month ago I was weeding the garden and raking the yard.  Then winter returned.  Two days ago we got 7" of snow, bringing the April total to 13.5 - more than December, January, or February.

The crocuses in our front yard have been frost-bitten a couple times already.  (p.s. - my Green Bay Packer-fan neighbors haven't yet noticed that the crocuses in our front yard come up purple and gold in tribute to a different NFL team...)

Robins and other migratory birds are really suffering; many of them are ground-feeders, and unlike mammals their need for flight means they don't have large fat reserves to burn.  We and others in the area are putting out extra seed, and the birds swarm to those locations.  50-degree temps returning today, so hopefully these anomalous conditions are over.  For now.

13 April 2018

TYWKIWDBI is down - again (updated) [returning Friday, see Addendum]


Yesterday when my iMac started up, the usual "susumi" sound was absent and the screen opened up dark instead of grey.  The Apple logo appeared, along with the expected progress bar.

The progress bar evolved way too slowly, then stopped.  After an hour it was still frozen at about 95% complete.  I restarted while zapping the parameter RAM; that accomplished nothing.  And rebooting in the Safe mode (shift key down) didn't help.

So I went to my old Mac to look for help online.  When I rebooted in Recovery mode (command-R), I at least got a response:


I had already been to multiple other help sites, several of which suggested that the frozen progress bar at the end of the startup process probably indicated a problem with "permissions," which should be fixable using Disk Utility.  So I opened it...


... and clicked on the First Aid logo...


... and ran First Aid, hoping to repair permissions.  First Aid ran successfully...


... but after clicking "Done" the iMac still wouldn't complete the rebooting process.

On my old Mac (the one I'm using right now to access the blog) (running OSX Yosemite 10.10.5), the First Aid program presents the  option of repairing permissions:


But this new, crashed, iMac running OSX 10.13.something doesn't seem to offer that option.  ???

Of course, his may not be a permissions problem at all.  Does anyone know what might be causing this?

Of possible note, I did try to option of seeking help online at Apple, and the frozen computer did connect me, so much of its guts, including web access, appears to be functional, but I just can't access stored material.

My next option is to restore using a Time Machine backup.  Here's where I have to offer a "mea culpa" and admit that I don't keep the Time Machine constantly attached to the Mac because my desk is so full of gadgets (printers/scanners, digital microscope, USB extender, lamp, SAD light etc.  So my last complete backup was in mid-February.  I can restore from there, losing a couple months of bookmarks for the blog (many hundreds of them) and various Word documents and uploaded photos.

More importantly, restoring to February status will lose my entire Turbotax tax return, which I had joyfully completed yesterday.  Today was to be the day to file online and submit payment.  I don't know if I can retrieve the entered data from Turbotax online on this old computer or whether it's only stored on the crashed hard disk.

So I am frantically looking for some way to revive the Mac with the frozen progress bar.  I'll be seeking help from Apple online and perhaps over the phone.  In the meantime I'm seeking help from readers who might have any suggestions for me.

This isn't the end of Life As We Know It, but absent a satisfactory recovery, especially of my tax data, I'm just not going to have time to blog for at least several weeks.

Nighttime Addendum:

You learn something every day.  Reader Charlie has introduced me to rebooting in Verbose mode (command-V).  I just did so, and the screen lit up with line after line of TMI-for-an-English-major:



Eventually it settled in to a mantra of "too many corpses" -


That continued past the 300th iteration before I finally had mercy on it and powered it down for the night.

Charlie, there may be a clarification of what's going on earlier in the readout, but I couldn't find a way to scroll up to get closeup photos.  Tomorrow after the Mac and I both get some rest, I'll try another Verbose boot with camera in hand.

If I ever start a band, "Too Many Corpses" might be an interesting name.  I've appended it to the title of this post for now...

Addendum #2

Excellent information at Robin Monks for any reader experiencing the same problem.

Addendum #3
Oh joy !!!


It looks like we are back in business, boys and girls.  TLDR: I reinstalled the operating system.  I don't THINK I lost anything, but I'm not touching anything right now until Time Machine is finished making a complete backup of whatever's there.

I'll leave some notes in the comment thread for those interested in the technical aspect of the problem and its solution.

Best case scenario I'll still be busy tonight and tomorrow with taxes and eBay and stuff.  TYWKIWDBI should reanimate Wednesday or Thursday.

Addendum #4: problem recurs

Gloom returns the next morning -


When I pushed the start button and heard no susumi chime and the screen started to open black instead of grey I had a sinking feeling.  The progress bar has been frozen at 99% for half an hour.

Thankfully I did get my taxes finished and e-filed just before midnight last night.

Now to resume troubleshooting.  Apparently reinstalling the OS was a workaround rather than a fix.  Whatever gremlin is doing this is still in there.  I'll be rebooting in various modes and probably ordering a USB-to-Thunderbolt or Firewire-to-Thunderbolt connector from Amazon, or else I'll just haul the iMac over to the Apple store.

So, no blogging for a while.  *sigh*

Addendum #5: problem gone (for the moment)

The sequence of events is getting a bit fragmented between the text of this post itself and the ever-enlarging Comment thread below.  I don't have time to "optimize" the narrative, but I'll summarize with another addendum -

When the frozen progress bar first appeared, rebooting in Safe mode (space bar) didn't help.  After I used the Recovery mode reboot (R) to reinstall the operating system (which incidentally also updated from OSX 10.13.3 to 10.13.4) I was able to access the desktop.

Then the problem recurred.  But this time (with new operating system in place) I was able to access the desktop via a Safe mode reboot.  I read (or one of the readers told me) that if the problem can be bypassed by a Safe mode reboot, then the problem probably lies in the login or startup files because the Safe mode deactivates login items.

So I restarted Safe mode, got to the desktop and went to System Preferences > Users and Groups to see what my "Login items" are. There were 6 of them: System Events, iAntiVirus, Microsoft AU Daemon, Adobe Resource Synchronizer, Dropbox, and SMART reporter.

I started looking some of them up to see what I could maybe do without.  Never did find exactly was "System Events" was.  The Microsoft "AU Daemon" is an AutoUpdater for Microsoft Office.  Dropbox and SMART reporter I remember as being add-ons that I never have used directly.

I couldn't find a way to "turn them off and back on" so it was late in the evening and I said (literally) WTF I'm just going to delete them.  Did so, pulled down the Restart command - and the iMac opened to the desktop !!  I was so happy I went directly to Civilization V and finished my Genghis Khan campaign.

This morning was the acid test.  Would I need a Safe Mode reboot?  Nope.  Started up fine.f

I don't know if the problem is fixed or dormant.  I could have an occult malignancy somewhere in the computer, but I'm guessing (it's only that) that one of the startup items caused a conflict with some other item that had been updated, or it became corrupted/went insane.  It would be ironic if the glitch that I was calling a "gremlin" turns out to be Microsoft's "Daemon."

If this problem stays fixed with this relatively simple intervention that can be performed by any elderly English major, I should probably revise the title of this post with some keywords that would be useful to others searching the same problem.

So, things are working and I have a current TimeMachine backup.  I also have dozens of new links for the blog that I bookmarked on my old iMac.  Eventually I should probably run some diagnostics.  But first, real life calls.  We're getting yet another snowstorm and I have some paperwork to attend to.

Barring surprises, I should be able to resume blogging on Friday.

12 April 2018

An example of "Troxler fading"


Fix your gaze on the center of this image (the black pixel) and stare at it for about 20 seconds.  The colors will disappear.
Troxler's fading has been attributed to the adaptation of neurons vital for perceiving stimuli in the visual system. It is part of the general principle in sensory systems that unvarying stimuli soon disappear from our awareness. For example, if a small piece of paper is dropped on the inside of one's forearm, it is felt for a short period of time. Soon, however, the sensation fades away.
An even more dramatic example is in the video at Digg.
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