PSA – The Dangers of DHMO

I usually reserve this space for amusing anecdotes about my life or nifty little nuggets of trivia that I’ve come across, but this is serious stuff and needs to be disseminated to anyone who can read so they can be forewarned about the dangers of DHMO.

Dihydrogen monoxide (DHMO) can act as both (either) an acid or a base – it is amphiprotic. It can be found in solid, liquid, and gaseous forms.  Its pH is 7, higher than any other acid known to man. It is both tasteless and odorless.

Extensive research has shown that water bottles stored on grocery store shelves for more than a month contain extremely high levels of DHMO. This applies to both plastic and glass bottles.

Starbucks (as well as most all coffee shops) use thermally agitated dihydrogen monoxide in all of its coffee-based beverages. DHMO is known to cause severe burns when it comes in contact with the skin, and once DHMO comes into contact with skin, it cannot be washed off.

Large U.S. manufacturers routinely dump vast quantities of DHMO in our lakes, rivers and streams – and it never biodegrades.  Research has shown that dihydrogen monoxide is deliberately sprayed on organic crops in the U.S.

Scariest of all for parents: If you give your children juice boxes, you should know that each juice box contains more dihydrogen monoxide than an ounce of methamphetamine.

Breathing in too much DHMO can lead to certain death. In fact, the sad truth is that 100% of people who come in contact with dihydrogen monoxide eventually die.

Please be sure to check all labels – don’t mistakenly ingest this dangerous compound, lest you meet a horrible fate! Dihydrogen monoxide is not to be trifled with. If you’re the political activist sort, please write your Congressperson and/or Representative and let them know that you fully support a ban on any products containing this harmful chemical.

It’s up to us to be the change in the world we want to see!

Is that a supercomputer in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me?

While listening to a podcast about the Simulation Hypothesis Argument, I ran across an interesting set of numbers.

To start, by way of comparison, the human brain can process anywhere from 38 thousand trillion (3.8 x 10^16) to one billion billion (1 X 10^18) processes per second, depending upon whom you ask. Those are pretty big numbers:



Per second. It’s breathtaking, and truly amazing.

By contrast, in 1985 the Cray 2 supercomputer came online at the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, CA. If you took a small automobile and stood it up on its end, you’d get a general idea of the size of this supercomputer. Certainly not the room-spanning computers of the 1950’s and 1960’s, but not a small machine, either.

This state-of-the-art supercomputer could run 200,000,000 processes per second, and it was replaced within three years by the Cray Y-MP.

That’s 200 million. Not human brain-type processing, but pretty spectacular, nonetheless.

Just over thirty years later, Apple Computer released a supercomputer that could run 600,000,000,000 – that’s 600 billion, with a ‘b’ – processes per second. That’s a processing increase of 3,000%.

30 years. 3,000%. Astounding.

And the name of the supercomputer Apple released, this computational powerhouse that out-processed a thirty-year-old supercomputer by a factor of 3,000? You may have one in your pocket – you certainly own something similar, if not the precise model itself.

Apple called it the iPhone X.

Fast (and Furious) Food

Although I still eat way too much fast food – I’m a lazy “cook,” sue me – I find most of it gross and unpalatable. It’s more of a convenience than anything. This, of course, does NOT include the Frenchie sandwich at Jimmie John’s…mmmm, love me some Frenchies!

Here are a few of my favorite fast food (and fast food-related) facts:

Fried Chicken  Wild fowl were domesticated about 9,000 years ago in China and the Middle East. It made it’s way to Egypt, where you can see chicken represented in many hieroglyphs. It was also used to feed the slaves who built the pyramids.

Eventually making it’s way to Britain via Greece, it is believed that fried chicken was introduced to the U.S. by Scottish settlers (or invaders, if you prefer). These were pan-fried birds; the South were the first to fry them up in vats of hot oil.

In the late 1920’s or early 1930’s, Harlan Sanders opened a restaurant in Corbin, Kentucky to sell his secret recipe fried chicken. The restaurant bombed out, but Sanders soon hit upon a brilliant strategy. He hit the road, selling his recipe and the rights to use his trademarked phrase “Kentucky Fried Chicken” in exchange for a nickel for every piece of chicken sold.

By 1964, the year 1) I was born, and 2) Colonel Sanders sold his franchising business, there were 600 restaurants nationwide. As of 2014 (the most recent number I could find), there were almost 19,000 franchises around the world. That’s a lot of chicken!

Fast Food Stats  When it comes to fast food, there are a number of common ingredients. Here are a few I found interesting:

1. The most common fast food meat: Chicken. This isn’t by volume (that would be beef), but rather by number of menu items. McDonald’s, for instance, offers almost as many chicken options as burger options. And on average, fast food joints tend to offer more chicken options than beef options – when was the last time you had ground beef on your Caesar salad, for example?

2. The most common fast food spice: Salt.  There is sodium chloride even in things you wouldn’t expect – shakes and ice cream sundaes, for example. It is used in different combinations to add or enhance flavor to a myriad of items. One slice of the American cheese you’d find on a Big Mac contains 250mg of NaCl, making it one of the saltier options available. And that doesn’t take into account all the salt you may dump on your fries.

3. The most common color additive: Caramel.  While Red No. 40 is the most widely used food coloring in the world, fast food places seem to love their caramel coloring. Part of the psychology of eating is that for something to taste good, it must look good, and a nice, rich caramel tone seems to serve the industry pretty well.

Photographer: Greg DuPree, Food Stylist: Emily Neighbors Hall.

Tacos  Before the 1950’s, you would be hard-pressed to find a taco anywhere at any restaurant in the U.S. That’s when a restaurant owner in Southern California noticed the migrant Mexican workers packing tortillas in their lunches, and stuffing them with meats and vegetables from home.

Deciding that might be a good item to add to his menu, he began offering tortillas folded in half and stuffed with food he thought his customers might like – ground beef, lettuce, tomatoes, shredded cheese.

One problem in ran into pretty quickly was that flour tortillas didn’t keep for very long, so he couldn’t keep a very large supply of them at any one time. He solved this by shaping and deep frying the tortillas – thereby creating the first hard shell tacos.

This menu item went over so well that he opened a restaurant in 1962 devoted entirely to serving this new menu item.

His name? Glen Bell.

As of last year (2018), there were over 7,000 Taco Bells in 27 different countries. By state, California, then Texas, then Florida have the most restaurants. There is even a Taco Bell in Mexico…well, sort of. It’s actually in Tijuana. Close enough, right?

Mid-Year’s Day Resolutions

It’s been nearly four months since I’ve written anything, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to bring you up to speed on what I’ve been doing.

On July 1, I decided – a Mid-Year Day’s Resolution, if you will – to accomplish two things.

  1. Learn something new every day.
  2. Learn a new skill by the end of the year.

Number 1 is going very well. I’ve subscribed to a couple of very good email newsletters, and I’ve become immersed in the world of podcasts. Stuff You Should Know, hosted by Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant, is a particular favorite. Alex Williams’ Ephemeral is another podcast I’ve really enjoyed. The End of the World with Josh Clark, hosted by Josh Clark (duh!), is highly recommended (by me) as well.

When I can’t listen, or don’t have the time to devote 30-60 minutes to a podcast, short articles on the interwebs have become my go-to means of enrichment and entertainment. Google News, How Stuff Works, and Mental Floss all have permanent bookmarks in my phone’s browser.

I’ve given number 2 some thought, and I think I’m leaning towards learning to play tennis. Since I’ve done so well with golf – someone really needs to come up with a sarcasm font – I thought I’d give tennis a try. The worst that could happen is that I suck as badly at tennis as I do at golf, but I’ll be in better shape at least, right? RIGHT?!?!

Oh, who am I kidding? The worst that can happen is probably having a heart attack on the court as I’m lunging to return a well-placed cross-court smash from my opponent.

So, over the course of the remainder of the year, I hope to be able to share something new with you almost every day, whether it’s a status update on my tennis lessons or some seemingly insignificant-yet-interesting bit of trivia, like why golf balls have dimples or why you couldn’t get a taco in the U.S. until the mid-1950’s.

We’ll probably also get into my irrational fear of microscopic black holes – thanks, Josh Clark – but that’s another post for another day.