NFL goes even more “mobile” this season.

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Can you hear me now?

The NFL’s coach-to-quarterback radio connection has been a part of the game for three decades, the most popular sports league has not always been on the cutting edge of technology.

“There was one time when I was doing it and it happened to be on the same frequency as an airline in a certain city,” Roman said. “And it was a critical situation in the game and all you hear is Southwest pilots talking.”

Such scenarios are now a thing of the past.

The NFL switched from the old analog system coaches used to relay plays to their quarterbacks and launched a mobile network that uses digital technology. The system was tested during the preseason and Pro Bowl in 2011 before getting rolled out in every NFL stadium permanently in 2012.

The manufacturer, Nebraska-based Gubser & Schnakenberg LLC, also designed the headsets to be more user-friendly than the former Telex technology.

There is no delay preceded by a beep to wait for the frequency to clear. Instead, coaches now push a button and can talk instantly and with a consistently clear sound.

Since coaches and coordinators began talking to quarterbacks with radios in 1994, miscommunications and mishaps had been an occupational hazard.

Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave will never forget when he was the quarterbacks coach for Atlanta on a November 2008 trip to the Oakland Coliseum. It just so happened that a certain Material Girl was putting on a concert that same day at the adjacent Oracle Arena, where the NBA’s Golden State Warriors play.

“The frequency was tied in to the Madonna concert that was going to go on there in Oakland that night where the Warriors played,” he said. “We were listening to Madonna rehearse that afternoon prior to her show. That was going to be confounding to (quarterback) Matt Ryan.”

Apparently the tunes didn’t deter the Falcons. They beat the Raiders 24-0.

After decades of relying on hand signals, color-coded wristbands or sideline posters, headset technology has still proven to be the best form of in-game communication.

The NFL expanded the use of headsets when owners approved a communication device for defenses ahead of the 2008 season. Most teams opted for a linebacker to wear the helmet in a move made to level the playing field against offenses. But there are still limitations.

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Each team is only allowed one live helmet, designated by a small green dot on the back, on the field at a time. Once the 40-second play clock begins, coaches have 25 seconds to make a call and pass on information. The microphones for all the radio transmitters shut off automatically at the 15-second mark. A league official also is on site to monitor.

The NFL has said there are some 268 million different military-grade encryption codes protecting the frequencies. And while security is strict, teams also do their due diligence to protect transmissions.

“Game day our guys have to work hard to find a good frequency for us,” Seattle Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. “That happens a lot at stadiums and particularly away stadiums a lot. You’re trying to find the frequency, you pick up police radio, you pick up air traffic controllers, you pick up all kinds of stuff.”

Coaches and players said they often have more problems on the road than at home. Most admit that’s probably because they’re used to the nuances at home and not because of any ill intentions by an opponent trying to gain a competitive advantage.

The league is still talking to companies in Silicon Valley and elsewhere about ways to implement other new technology.

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One idea the league explored and has implemented this season is hand-held devices for coaches on the sidelines that replaced the black-and-white photos of formations that have been used for decades.

When it comes to any advances, the only certainty is that some are easier to please than others.

“I was just glad when we got rid of the cords,” Denver Broncos coach John Fox quipped. “You’d trip or get your head torn off. I almost lost a couple of ears.”

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Is the internet replacing our memory?

Well the web and google have certainly put all the answers I need at my fingertips but has that wreaked havoc on my ability to remember even the simplest trivia? Doh!
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I can’t remember the name of the movie last saw last year starring Emily Deschanel’s sister. Or that restaurant where I ate chicken curry just last week but with an Internet connection and a few keystrokes, I can probably figure out the answer in a matter of minutes, tops. My mom had me googling every half hour.

What happened to Zasu Pitts? Or where is the Singing Nun today?  These were just a couple of her most obscure searches.
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The flip side, suggests new research in the Journal Science, is that when you rely on having information stored somewhere, you may be less likely to remember it yourself.

“We are becoming symbiotic with our computer tools, growing into interconnected systems that remember less by knowing information than by knowing where information can be found,” the study authors write.

But before you freak out about machines doing all the remembering for you, consider that people have always relied on each other for retrieving information, even before computers.

In fact, in any group of two or more people who know each other, there develops what’s called transactive memory systems. That means that you use other people as external memory, because they have specific knowledge and expertise that you don’t.

“The internet, when you think about it, is people putting content online. And so what it’s doing is, it’s allowing us to have access to much more external memory. Our network of people is just vastly expanded.,” said Betsy Sparrow, assistant professor of psychology at Columbia University and lead author of the study.

In one of Sparrow’s experiments, participants read and typed trivia statements that could be found online, such as “An ostrich’s eye is bigger than its brain.” Participants were told that the statements would be saved to different folders with generic names such as “Facts, etc.” They then had to write down as many of the statements as they remembered and were asked to name the folder in which the information had been saved.

Remarkably, people were much better able to recall the folder names of the trivia statements than the trivia itself. In other words, people remembered the “where” better than the “what.”

As with people accustomed to looking up their questions on resources such as Wikipedia and Google, participants may have expected information to remain available indefinitely, and so the source of the information stuck with them better than the trivia statements themselves, the study authors said.

Another experiment showed that people seem to remember information better if they believe it won’t be accessible later, and more easily forget items that they believe will always be available.

“I thought that telling people to try to remember it, even though it would be accessible, would do something. It did absolutely nothing,” Sparrow said.

But Sparrow isn’t worried that relying on external memory systems like the Internet is going to cause our brains to atrophy. There might be things that we used to know and forget, but we’ll still hang on to what’s useful on a daily basis, she said.

“The stuff that we’re experts in, that we’re the source for other people, is stuff I think we’ll always remember, regardless of whether it’s online or not,” she said.

I look at it yet another way, before if I did not remember a fact I just put it out of my head totally, now I look it up and try and commit it to memory. Where are my keys.

Creative minds are rarely tidy.

My office/apartment has become a disaster and now I am on the road so much that my car has become a makeshift, unorganized closet.

There’s an old saying that seems to apply: Creative minds are rarely tidy.
I am going back to that adage to explain the state of my  SUV.

A picture is worth ten thousand words. A person’s mind and his desk………..

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William F. Buckley

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Nat Hentoff

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Albert Einstein

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Barrack Obama

Leeches, a medical marvel in Tokyo.

Dr. Asenoff my doctor while I lived in Tokyo is a medical marvel himself still practicing at 95 years of age…I was very happy to find an English speaking doctor and one that was so worried about my health, especially my gout

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However one day as I was getting yet another steroid shot to relieve the swelling from my monthly gout attack I noticed in his window a site that belonged in a scene from medieval ancient medicine, when doctors applied the worms to patients to ”cure” just about every condition and yes when the Druids danced by the light of the moon. But there they were, leeches in a Mason jar near stethoscopes, electronic devices and bottles of modern miracle drugs like Viagra and Prilosec.

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I asked him about the leeches and he told me that Japanese often apply leeches to their arms in the belief that their health will improve when their body produces a fresh supply of blood in response to the few ounces painlessly lost to the leeches. My doctor was using them to reduce swelling in some cases.

Leeches in modern medicine? A horrifying thought. I am sure in American medical school, nothing is taught about the use of leeches. All I remember about that visit to the doctor is that leeches are one of the most shocking examples of the cultural differences I found in Asia.

Well, I shouldn’t say too much about the cultural divide when even Demi Moore made a public declaration that she uses leeches to keep herself “looking fresh and feeling healthy.” While I don’t endorse the personal use of leeches Demi is a great case history and it seems that leeches in her case are medical marvels.

Today doctors actually do use leeches, as well as maggots, with great success. Surgeons, for instance, use medical leeches to remove blood from the site of skin grafts or reattached parts and to relieve congestion in the blood vessels.

The leeches used for medical purposes are a European variety called Hirudo Medicinalis and are raised on special leech farms. Sounds like science fiction or just fiction doesn’t it?

The Hirudo leech works some additional magic by secreting a chemical in its saliva that acts as an anti-coagulant to prevent blood clotting…hirudotherapy.
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The Stay at Home Mom is a Profession.

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I started thinking about the work that goes into being a “Stay at Home” mom when I watched my first daughter try to tackle her new life as a working mom. I was reminded again when my middle daughter gave birth to her son Cullen this summer and has not skipped a beat with her goal to become a nurse.

I had forgotten how tough the task of just being a mom could be even without adding the full-time job or nursing school.

Since jobs are sometimes valued solely for their monetary yield, it’s no surprise the dollar value of running a household and raising a family full-time is debated. Last year there were over 5.1 million stay at home moms.

The calculation can be disparaging or romanticized, depending on who does the math.

When Salary.com looked at all the jobs that moms do and what each would cost in the working world if you hired someone.  The stats were revealing, a stay-at-home mom’s work is worth a whopping $112,962 a year.

I am sure I am leaving out something but here is a list of some of the jobs moms do: driver, cook, babysitter, janitor, housekeeper, and bookkeeper. Salary.com also estimated she works about 94 hours a week.

Working mom’s try and squeeze those 94 hours worth of tasks into their already tiring 40 hour traditional work week.

So next time you see a working mom show some respect.

Hallmark “Job Loss” Cards…a Sign of the Times.

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In September of 2011 Hallmark released a new line of six greeting cards that specifically addressed job loss and the recession. Some were humorous, while others offered some sensitive words of encouragement. The company said customers called-in the need and the cards sold very well.

At the time the unemployment rate was holding steady at 9.1 percent – which translates to 14 million people – there’s a good chance you knew someone out of work.

This month the Department of Labor announced the unemployment rate dipped to 6.1 percent from 6.2 percent in July, matching the lowest rate in nearly six years. But that was mainly due to the fact that 64,000 people gave up looking for work, taking themselves out of the ranks of the officially unemployed.

The report went on to say much of the job growth has been due to illegal immigrants joining the workforce…I think the economy is still in the tank and many of my friends are either unemployed or woefully underemployed. The underemployed workforce is a number that is rarely spoken of but is now showing up in the stats…The mean income in the USA has gone down from nearly $36,000 to approximately $34,000.

Hallmark better keep creating those cards!

One of the Hallmark 2011 cards read, “Don’t think of it as losing your job. Think of it as a time out between stupid bosses.”

Another card read, “Sorry you lost your job, but please remember your job is not who you are. You have many great qualities, and that’s what really matters. Until someone realizes your unique abilities, I hope you’ll take pride in all you’ve accomplished and realize how much you have yet to give.”

As the card says your job is “not” who you are. I think we often attach too much weight to who we are by what we do for a living. That is harder to do when your new job pays less with less benefits, often includes no healthcare, and perhaps is even in a lower level position.

Going the humorous route – depending on how you know the person – may be the best way of helping people talk about it. Anyway you look at it job loss is a sensitive issue so think carefully before you slip one of these cards in the mail.

Japanese “Manga” Newspapers Report Current Events in Graphic Detail

This would be prefect for the USA papers as we have such dramatic headline news stories…Oil spills, Tornados, hostage situations.

Japan is newspaper-crazy. Its biggest daily, Yomiuri Shimbun, has 10 times the circulation of The New York Times. They have their own baseball team the Giants!

For now just as in the USA, young people in Japan aren’t reading newspapers as often as their parents. But the Japanese seem to have a solution: Manga No Shimbun, (Manga Newspaper), an online outfit that covers the week’s events in comic book form.

Here is a translated version…
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These aren’t the funnies or political cartoons—they’re actual news articles about everything from foreign policy to pop culture to murder trials. The site employs more than 100 manga artists to cover breaking stories, updating 10 or 15 times a day. Graphic style varies—some pieces are in color, others black-and-white; some are realistic, some exaggeratedly kawaii (cute).

Manga News is also available via an iPhone app and will come to Android and other mobile platforms later this year. There’s even talk of international versions.

Good idea, especially if Astro Boy gets elected to parliament or Speed Racer runs for President! But given the reduced literacy in our schools here in the USA we may have to create text books like this