Category Archives: Random Thoughts

What? That Can’t Be Right!

that_cant_be_rightHave you ever tried to research something on the internet (commonly known as “Googling”) and said “What? That can’t be right!” ? Well, I know that’s happened to me, and I’m usually right–it wasn’t right.

In my former career as a Personal Fitness Trainer, I was often called upon for information on the latest gadget, supplement or product. I would typically look it up on the internet or in my trade journals. What I found was that the latest, hottest thing was claiming bigger than life results with absolutely no regard to even the most elementary scientific studies.

Think back to your grade school days. In about fourth grade you probably did your first science experiment. Once you had your topic, generally a question you were going to answer, and hypothesis, generally what you expect the answer is to your question, then you do experiments to see if you are correct.

In your experiments you need to try different things: variables (Is this coming back to you at all yet?); have a control: what happens if you just leave it alone; and collect and analyze the data. Then you repeat the process at least two more times to make sure you are getting consistent results.

In my research of the newest fitness topic, I soon realized that companies were not following even fourth grade protocol. Many products were touted as the greatest simply based on one small study. The scientific community is supposed to share ideas, so “more research” can be done to prove it works (or not). So when a company won’t share their data or study information, that should raise a huge red flag.

My point with all of this is to help you get valid information off the web. Here are some tips:

Find a website that is reliable.

A .org website is meaningless. You do not need to submit documentation to get a .org web domain, so don’t use that to determine if the information on the site is valid. A .gov or .edu website is not issued unless there is substantiating documentation. Those are more reliable websites. Just because you saw it somewhere on the internet does not make it true.

Find a second and third source for the information.

This can be tricky. Sites will mention the same studies, which is not a bad thing, just be aware that you may be seeing the exact same information on more than one site. That does not satisfy the condition that the experiment/study needs to be repeated with the same results.

If you see the statement “more research needs to be done,” believe it. That usually means the study was small or the controls weren’t tight enough. It will usually say why.

If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

That is such a great mantra. If you’ve struggled with weight loss and you hear about a revolutionary new product with all kinds of claims that don’t include the known factors of diet and exercise…you get the idea.

This past week, 7 days to be exact, I’ve been housebound with a for-real stomach virus. The 10-14 day kind. So I’ve spent a TON of time on the internet (I also read two nice big books), which is probably why I chose this topic for this week’s blog post. I even took a Facebook quiz. I found out that I am a Creative Genius. So tell all your friends to hire me to do their creative work. After all, I’m sure it’s right – I saw it on the internet!

Happy smart surfing!

May 5th is NOT Mexican Independence Day

cincodemayoCinco de Mayo (Spanish for “fifth of May”) is celebrated in the United States and in Mexico, primarily in the state of Puebla, where the holiday is called El Día de la Batalla de Puebla (English: The Day of the Battle of Puebla).

It originated with Mexican-American communities in the American West in the 1860s as a way to commemorate the cause of freedom and democracy during the first years of the American Civil War, and today the date is observed in the United States as a celebration of Mexican heritage and pride.

In the state of Puebla, the date is observed to commemorate the Mexican army’s unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín.

In the United States, Cinco de Mayo is generally mistaken to be Mexico’s Independence Day but it is not. That most important national holiday in Mexico is celebrated on September 16. (Sounds like another opportunity to celebrate with Margaritas to me!)

For more, check out Wikipedia.

Happy Earth Day

earth-dayAh! That’s why there was no post yesterday. Well yes, that – and I just got really busy!

I remember the very first Earth Day. Yes, I’m THAT old. At first I thought What? Then I started listening and reading more about what the day was about and was totally on board. I’ve tried to be earth-friendly ever since.

So here are some great Earth Day tips:

  • DON’T PRINT YOUR EMAILS! Seriously, unless you need to take it somewhere, or it’s a bill you need to file. If it’s something you need to take action on, just move it to a folder in your computer or cloud’s email program that you have labeled IMPORTANT or TAKE ACTION
  • To encourage recycling, the BEST thing I’ve seen is labeling your garbage can LANDFILL and your recycling – well, RECYCLING. Putting something in that landfill bin makes you pause.
  • Change light bulbs to the CFL. There are only 2 or 3 in our house NOT CFLs.
  • Use your garbage disposal or better yet, compost if you are able.
  • Take public transportation, bike (as in bicycle) or walk whenever you can.
  • Look for ENERGY STAR ratings on appliances when you buy them.
  • Conserve water with shorter showers and no more pre-washing dishes.
  • And of course you are already using your own shopping bags, right?
  • For more ideas visit the EPA site: http://www.epa.gov/earthday/tips.htm

What is your favorite?

Happy Pi Day (no, that’s not a typo)

Pi Day - March 14Today is Pi Day. Math nerds around the world celebrate this mysterious number today. Your favorite Pie Shop may even run a special on pies today. Go ahead, celebrate!

The number π (sometimes spelled out as “pi”) is a mathematical constant approximately equal to 3.14, hence the celebration today, March 14. It is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. It’s been used since the mid-18th century.

It is what mathematicians call an irrational number, meaning it can not be expressed exactly as a common fraction. So its decimal equivalent never ends and never settles into a permanent repeating pattern.

Mathematicians have been trying for thousands of years to accurately compute the value of π. With  today’s high powered supercomputers, 20th and 21st century computer scientists have extended the decimal representation of π to over 10 trillion digits! Now, scientific applications generally require no more than 40 digits, so the primary motivation for these computations is the human desire to break records. But the calculation of π has been used to test supercomputers’ ability to compute high-precision multiplication algorithms.

In layman’s terms, they do it for fun, but have developed a use for it. I suppose not unlike the person at 3M who accidentally invented Post-Its, or the chef who was looking for a short cut for baking chocolate cookies and came up with chocolate chip cookies instead.

You will probably see a few minor headlines today about my fellow math nerds as they celebrate Pi Day with record-setting calculations. They’ll have to work pretty hard – the record for a MEMORIZED value of π is over 67,000 digits!! (One of the back pages of my high school math book had my own attempt at the value – the ENTIRE page, full of glorious numbers!)

Happy Pi Day!

2014 Oscars

oscars2014selfieI had undoubtedly the best time watching the Oscars last night. Ellen DeGeneres was so funny. I loved the pizza gag. We actually had to look up “Liza Minelli look-alike” to find out that that really WAS her…oh the comments around the sofa!!

But, of course, the biggest non-award news of the night was the selfie craze that crashed Twitter! The picture on this page show me in the selfie!! Did you see it? It’s not too hard to pick out. You can do it, too. Just find a picture of yourself, or take a new one, and go to this website: http://www.urturn.com/documents/C60EE8F1-7070-0001-9FDB-DCA51A62E1A0?pretty=true  The directions are pretty simple and it’s just too much fun.

I just have one burning question. This year, and last year, there was a definite lack of necklaces worn by the stars. Are there any fashionistas out there that can help me out here? What’s up with that?

PS: I promise a post with more meat in it next week!!