Jim Learns About Induction Cooktops

I’m learning about induction cooktops. I know I’m way late in the game. The house we bought a little over two and a half years ago came with an induction cooktop. It’s the first one we ever had; we always used gas or electric stoves.

The main topic here are the noises including clicking noises we heard when using the induction cooktop. I say “we” but I should say Sena because I am allergic to kitchens.

I had to search the internet about induction cooktops. I found out way more than I wanted to know about them. I guess I can summarize that in a few lines:

Induction cooktops:

  • They work using electricity, not gas. They generate energy from an electromagnetic field below the glass cooktop surface which transfers energy to the magnetic cookware, which causes them to heat up.
  • They’re more energy efficient than gas.
  • The electro magnetic field (EMF) they emit have not been shown to increase the risk for cancer.
  • Although some chefs say hard anodized cookware won’t work on induction cooktops, they will if the bottom of the cookware has a ferromagnetic surface (meaning it has iron in it).
  • You can tell most of the time if a pan will work on induction cookware by holding a magnet up to the bottom of it and checking to see if the magnet sticks. If the magnet sticks, you’re good to go.

I finally checked that last point about magnetism by suddenly realizing that we had a magnet. It happens to be the magnetized lid for the space holding a deck of cards and pegs on our large cribbage board. It stuck to the bottom of one of our new KitchenAid hard anodized pans.

The old pans we had clicked a lot and there are reasons for the variety of noises you can hear. Most of the websites I noticed which describe this problem also have videos about which don’t have audio. Many of the websites say that some clicking is normal. Others will make an effort to identify the cause for the noises.

Our new cookware doesn’t make any noise at all. And they heat up very quickly. You don’t need to crank up the heat and can keep the power level pretty low.

The sound of screaming is probably from the extraterrestrial you’re trying to fry. Don’t do that.

Evolutionary Thoughts

By now, you’ve probably read the digital news article describing how we’re all going to evolve into beings who resemble extraterrestrials (ETs) because of our preoccupation with digital technology.

The authors describe us as eventually developing another eyelid that’ll protect us from the blue light emanating from our gadgets. Our hands will become claw-like and permanently flexed because of the way we’re always gripping our smartphones.

You’ll also develop a third hand that protrudes from your butt so you can catch your cell phone as it slips out of the back pocket of your skinny jeans. Come to think of it, that’ll also give rise to a weird new meaning for the term “butt dialing.”

Of course, the article is a criticism of our preoccupation with our gadgets, but it’s still fascinating as speculation about how creatures, including humans, evolve in response to the pressures in our environment.

This kind of thing makes me wonder whatever happened to Neanderthal. The males were huge, especially their arms, which came from frequent arm wrestling with Sasquatch for the last shred of beef jerky. Neanderthal had a very prominent brow which developed to keep snow and pterodactyl droppings out of his eyes.

And this reminds me of the discovery of the fossil of a giant creature on the Greek island of Crete in 2003 (I think). The skull had a huge nasal opening in the center of the skull. That was probably for a trunk, as in elephant trunk. But paleontologists thought it might have been the explanation for why ancient Greeks came up with stories about the terrifying one-eyed cyclops.

And what about that carp with a human-like face on the top of its head? I saw that one a week ago on the show The Proof is Out There. I thought sure Michael Primeau, the forensic video analyst on the show, would dryly dismiss it (“This video is clearly faked.”). Instead, the other experts thought it was natural. Tony summarized it as an example of the “plastic” evolution, by which I think he meant phenotypic or evolutionary plasticity. These are changes in a creature’s appearance, morphology, or physiology in response to changes in its environment. Regarding the carp, one expert opined that the face would confuse its main predator, the eel, by confusing it.

I still don’t get that one. How would the carp species even begin the evolutionary process? Does the carp just think, “Huh, I think that eel might get confused if I had a face like a human”? I get it that the changes occur at the genetic level, but how exactly does it get started?

Could you google the answer? I couldn’t find anything specific, like x plus y equals human-like face on a fish that many humans would not care to eat.

And how about writing? I wrote this blog post longhand using pen and paper, something I gave up doing years ago but which I am sort of rediscovering gradually. I had an old typewriter for a while, which gave way to something called a word processor, which was a stand-alone device made writing and editing text, and eventually I got a computer—which really messed things up.

The thing is, I can remember getting something called writer’s cramp. If you remember that, then you probably recall how painful it was. Back then, did anyone ever wonder whether that would lead to the evolution of a claw like hand?

Could evolution have consequences pertinent to people who are always looking up at the sky looking for UFOs? Some of them, for some unexplained reason, never seem to have a smartphone with them. Anyway, could their eyes migrate, carp-like, to the top of their foreheads to counter neck strain? And could this lead to the evolution of a third eye in the center of the forehead? It would prevent falling into manholes. There are other consequences from evolving into a cyclops.

We would be adept at forging thunderbolts. We would be very talented at cultivating vineyards and herding sheep and goats. But our tempers would still be pretty bad, even worse. We would abandon courts of law and ignore justice. We would be violent giants, feasting on the flesh of ordinary humans. All this because we kept searching the sky, hoping to see UFOs and see ETs, which we would eventually resemble anyway because of our preoccupation with our devices.

I have a pretty good supply of pens and paper.

The Secret of Patience

The secret of patience is to do something else in the meantime.

Croft M. Pentz

A few days ago, Sena noticed a noise in one of the sunroom window shade wand controls. She can hear noises I can’t hear, which is a good thing. She wondered if the wand battery needed recharging. We have 3 window shades like this and they came with a recharger that works the same way a cell phone recharger does. You plug the small end into the back of the wand which has control buttons for raising and lowering the shade. You plug the two-prong end into a regular electrical outlet.

We had never recharged them. The instructions said that when plugged into the charger the wand indicator light would shine red. When fully recharged, the light should turn green.

I waited one hour, then two hours. I checked the red light every few minutes or so. Finally, I quit looking and did other things. I replaced the refrigerator water filter. I purged the system. I emptied the ice bucket. I did a load of laundry. I vacuumed the carpet in the house. I exercised. I sat in mindfulness meditation. The light was still red. I checked it after 5 hours—still red. I finally just forgot about it.

About 6 hours later, I passed by the sunroom, glanced at the window and didn’t see the red light. I looked at the wand and couldn’t see the indicator light very well. I got the magnifying glass out and caught the light just right. It was green! Sena said the noise was gone.

I plugged in another window shade wand. The red light didn’t turn green until 8 hours later. I checked it several times. There was nothing to do but be patient.

I finally just did something else. I checked my blog site and was amazed to find a comment from a colleague, Dr. Ronald W. Pies, MD. He is according to a brief bio: professor emeritus of psychiatry and a lecturer on bioethics and humanities at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, New York; a clinical professor of psychiatry at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, Massachusetts; and editor in chief emeritus of Psychiatric Times™ (2007-2010). He is the author of several books. A collection of his works can be found on Amazon.

I had written a short shout-out blog post about the article he and Dr. George Dawson, MD had written and published on September 26, 2022 in Psychiatric Times, “Antidepressants Do Not Work by Numbing Emotions.”

What was unusual about Dr. Pies’ comment was that it actually turned up in my spam box! If I had not patiently waited a second to read it carefully, I would have automatically trashed it. That was close.

And I would have missed the golden opportunity to tell him that I consider both him and George my friends.

About a half hour before the wand control light turned the green, our cable TV and internet went out. Wow. I had been watching a TV show rerun, probably for the 100th time, so it was no great loss. There was the usual message you get when the service is out: Please wait while this channel is being restored kind of thing. You can’t do anything but just be patient. It was getting late in the evening and I usually don’t do much on the computer then.

A little later, after Sena had gone to bed, I thought of writing this post. I didn’t want to clack on the keyboard and wake her up, so I did something I haven’t done in years. I got pen and paper out and did some long-hand writing. I had skimmed some articles on the internet before it crashed about how reading and writing on paper were better for your brain than doing those on a computer.

It felt good to write. As I did in the distant past, I scribbled in the margins, drew arrows above lines and carets to corrections and notes. It was a mess—a partly satisfying mess.

I say “partly” because it was also not quite right. I didn’t try to type it that night or even the next day. In fact, I couldn’t post anything the following morning to my blog because the internet was still out. The cable TV came back sometime during the night. Obviously, there had been a service outage.

But because the internet was still out, I called the cable company. This was another exercise in patience. I don’t know if every other cable company puts those automated telephone recordings in front of you before you can reach an actual person. They are nuts.

Cable Company Voice (CCV): Hello, please hold on while I check your account. OK, there, I found it. Am I speaking with the owner of the account or Bozo the Clown?

Me: Nobody here but us bozos.

CCV: Great, how can I help you, Bozo?

Me: Was there a power outage in my area?

CCV: OK, I see you’re having a problem with your internet connection. I can help you with that. Are you in front of your computer now or on the roof of your house dancing the merengue?

Me: In front of my computer.

CCV: Great! Please unplug your modem and wait 3 millenia; then plug it into your toaster. This will reset the incoming signal. When you have completed this step, say “Continue.”

Me: Continue.

CCV: That was a rather quick 3 millenia. Which would you prefer: Going through another dozen more trouble-shooting steps with me or speak to an agent?

Me: Speak to an agent.

I finally got to an agent whose mere presence on the line seemed to lead to an immediate, magical restoration of our internet connection. When I specifically asked her if there had been a service outage, she said that, indeed, an outage in our area had occurred. She then arranged for an account credit to ensure we would not be charged for service during the time of the outage. Patience.

This post does not look much like the hand-written one. But waiting a while to let the thing simmer probably didn’t hurt.

Noisy Alien in Computer Removed

Well, this afternoon the computer repair guy returned and fixed the computer in about 15 minutes. The noise was gone after he replaced the power supply unit, the fan of which was the source of the mini-helicopter noise.

Obviously, this was a case of extraterrestrial invasion.

Seriously, though, once we got past all of the stuff about software checking, the repair was very quick. It turns out you can’t check the condition of the power supply unit fan with software. The noise problem was solved the old-fashioned way.

Computer Crisis Progress Report

The title of this post is supposedly about progress toward fixing my Dell computer, the one with a mini-helicopter noise in the tower. The Tech drove to my house yesterday from Ouad Cities. He had the parts the Agents ordered for fixing the noise in my PC tower.

The parts were wrong. He drove an hour to get here and was done in about 15 minutes. He looked and listened to the noise before and after removing the case cover. He knew right away it was not a software problem. He ordered the right part and now the next step is for him or another Tech to return on Monday to do the job.

There are Agents and Techs working for Dell. For 2-3 days, Agents pestered me with software shenanigans, even to the point of insisting I reset my PC. Agents never looked at my machine. I sent them the video of the PC and its racket. I’m not sure they listened to it.

I think the Dell Company pays Techs more money than it pays the Agents. That’s probably why Agents spend more time with customers, maybe distracting us with chores like PC resets.

But I’m trying to look on the bright side. The Agents are polite and trying to be helpful. They evidently know a lot about software, which can create problems for which they have a long list of suggestions. The Techs know how computers actually work as machines.

It’s a little like the difference between a couple of the reality TV shows (though the analogy is not exact). Compare the heavy wrecker operators (the tow truck guys) on the shows Highway Thru Hell and Heavy Rescue 401 to the Bigfoot researchers on the show Expedition Bigfoot.

The tow truck guys focus on getting the Canadian highways open and do it with their hands, hooks, chains, and heavy trucks. They have to know something about the physics of the job. It looks real.

The Bigfoot researchers know a lot about Bigfoot lore and what little science there is about it. The only Bigfoot you’ll ever see on the show is a doll the size of GI Joe pinned on a researcher’s backpack.

Keep looking up. You don’t want Bigfoot to drop out of a tree on you.

Another Computer Crisis

Another day, another computer crisis. I’ve been hearing this mini-helicopter noise from my PC tower for a while and finally contacted the manufacturer’s computer support center on the web.

I have hopped through many hoops in the past couple of days, including resetting my computer. Remember I had to do that with Sena’s computer?

How can a noise which seems to be a hardware problem (a rattle in the tower) be a software problem? I don’t know.

The most recent request from support services was to make a video of the noisy tower. Yes, I said video. So, I took the video, with enough audio (I hope) to convince people that the problem might be something physical inside the machine.

I’ve got my fingers crossed.

Dumbphone Making a Comeback?

Here’s a side note on my recent post about using a smartphone to help you find where you parked your car. I just saw a few news items about something people are calling the “dumbphone.” I gather they’re making a comeback, and not just for old folks.

Hey, I used to have one of those. It was a flip phone. Several years ago, before I retired, residents rotating through the general hospital psychiatry consultation service suggested I graduate to a smartphone.

After I finally got one, I used it basically as a phone and did little else with it for a long time. It was my smart dumbphone.

I gradually added apps to it, including a step counter, epocrates, and whatnot. But I’m not constantly on it playing games and checking the news, mail, and so on.

The battery swelled up on it a couple of years ago, which worried me. But I took it to a cell phone repair shop where the battery was replaced and it’s been fine ever since.

I still use it mainly as a phone. However, I wonder what I’ll do, say, if the battery swells up again. I don’t know if it would make any sense to go back to the dumbphone.

The Kindness of Strangers in a Parking Lot

This is a post about how easy it is to forget where you parked your car in a big parking lot, say at the grocery store, and ways to help prevent it. This sometimes attracts the kindness of strangers, which is puzzling because it’s not very clear how helpful they can be in this situation.

But you want to say more than something like, “Oh, that’s too bad, hope you find it before the ice cream melts.”

The other day, Sena forgot where she parked the car at the grocery store. The circumstances were a little unusual. She parked near one entrance to the store and after getting the groceries, left from an entrance on the other side of the store way across the parking lot. The landmarks were all different.

This is how things started: she ran into a guy with his little boy. The guy actually couldn’t remember where he parked his car and was trying to use his car key fob remote to locate it. This is actually pretty common nowadays. I remember leaving the eye clinic a few months ago and hearing a small symphony of beeps from a number of people using their key fob remotes this way trying to find their cars in the large parking garage.

Sena was sympathetic to the guy, but it was understandably really difficult to help him. He eventually found his car using the key fob trick.

Then the situations were reversed. Sena had trouble finding our car. She was roaming about the parking lot, pushing the grocery cart, obviously looking lost. This attracted 4 different persons (including the first guy she met) who were sympathetic and offered advice—mostly on how to use a key fob to locate the car by pressing one of the buttons (probably the lock/unlock although there might be a panic button). They demonstrated it by pressing the key fob button while standing right next to their cars. They suggested holding it far above your head.

This trick usually works best when you’re fairly close to the car because the key fob remote is a transmitter which uses low-power signals. The operating range may sometimes be limited. Sena was probably pretty far away from our car. She actually began to suspect our car had been stolen. She eventually found it by trial and error.

This episode resulted in attracting a number of people who were kind to her. That’ s encouraging since it looks like kindness is often in short supply. On the other hand, it’s not always good to be alone in a large unfamiliar parking lot, perhaps at night, looking lost and surrounded by strangers.

We can’t remember having this problem years ago before the era of keyless fob remotes, which I read was in the mid-1990s. And we didn’t have them until years after that. I guess we were just more careful about noting landmarks in large parking lots.

There are few things to do in order to avoid forgetting where you park.

You can try to find your car using your key fob remote, although the effective range of the signal might be too short to trigger the horn or the lights. And it might not work if the fob remote battery power is low. And if you’re surrounded by a lot of other people hunting for their cars using the same method, you might have a little trouble discriminating which beep is yours. This could become a YouTube meme, especially with different beep tones (like the 5 tones in the movie “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”).

You can pick a landmark which will make it easier to remember where your car is. Many parking lots have large signs with numbers and letters which can help you.

You can take a picture of your car’s location using your cell phone, including more permanent landmarks than just the other cars adjacent to it—which can be driven off by their owners.

You can also use a cell phone with Google Maps or another geolocation app to help guide you back to your car. Just about all smartphones have this feature. You can consult the owner’s manual for instructions for flip phones, some of which have this function. I don’t think car owners’ manuals typically have instructions for how to use the key fob remotes to find your car. At least ours doesn’t.

Good luck.

We Are Going to Be Like the Jetsons!

Sena has been telling me for years that someday soon we’re all going to be like the Jetsons, flying around in bubble-top saucers.

It turns out she may be right.

There’s a news story out about the Jetson Flying Car, which I saw on the Good News Network.  It’s a compact flying car that runs on batteries that are good for about a 20-minute commute. Reports about the altitude the Jetson car can achieve vary, but some say you can get up to about 1500 feet and tour along at a little over 60 miles per hour.

And the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) says you don’t need a pilot’s license.

Can you say “mass mid-air collisions?”

I doubt there’ll be a lot of buyers because the sticker price is close to $100,000, not counting insurance, extra batteries (you’ll need 8 if you want to swap out to recharge), and attorney fees.

The CEO of the company that makes the Jetson car says you can be a pilot in about 5 minutes.

Funny, that’s about the same time it seems to take the typical semi-truck driver in Canada to get a commercial driver’s license, judging from how busy the tow truck operators are up there.

What if the heavy rescue operators in British Columbia and Toronto had to do recovery work on the Jetson cars? True, the cars aren’t that heavy (about 250 pounds), but what if the number of crashes overwhelms Jamie Davis (think Highway Thru Hell on the Weather Channel)? There wouldn’t be enough tow truck guys to drag all the cars out of the ditches.

Did you know the Jetson Cars come as a DIY kit? That’s right, you have to finish assembly of that expensive toy yourself. You better make sure the batteries are hooked up right since you get just 20 minutes of running time before you need to recharge. Average commutes are longer than 20 minutes.

The Jetson car comes equipped with something called a ballistic parachute, which should be enough to send most potential buyers running out of the showroom. Hey, why would I need a parachute?

No worries, you’re unlikely to be flying much higher than 16 feet anyway, according to the co-founder of the company, eVTOL (electrical vertical take-off and landing).

Let’s see how many traffic signs and trees we can take out on the way to the drug store to pick up some Dramamine.

Only one person (the pilot) can fit in the Jetson Flying Car. And of course, there’s a weight limit; it’s 210 pounds, which is going to raise a hue and cry from the equity, diversity, and inclusion police. There’s no flying family eVTOL—yet. That’s a good thing because there will have be some survivors left to collect on the insurance.

On the bright side, there are no ashtrays to empty, no flat tires to change (nobody remembers how to do that anyway these days), and no radio stations to cycle through. You’re going to be paying too much attention to the birds getting caught in the rotor blades and the bugs splatting on your visor.

That’s assuming you’re a multimillionaire and can afford to fly like the Jetsons. Don’t buzz the pedestrians.

The Written Word is Blurred

I ran across this quote the other day: littera scripta manet. The English translation is, I think, “the written word endures.”

Not to dwell too much on the prosaic side of the issue which is that, for me, often the word has been blurred because of problems with my vision. I just had retinal detachment surgery a little over a month ago and I’m making a good recovery. But early on I had a lot of trouble with blurry vision, tearing, and light sensitivity.

Just the other night though, I was able to read a section of a book without having as much blurred vision as I did before the surgery when I looked up from the page at something distant. I’ve been wearing progressive lenses for many years and it probably got worse because of the detached retina, which was chronic or maybe acute on chronic.

Now to get beyond trivialities, I saw the quote above in an issue of the University of Iowa publication, Iowa Magazine. It was in the last Old Gold column of University Archivist, David McCartney. He retired in March of this year. The title was “Old Gold: The Enduring Power of the Written Word.”

He notes the Latin expression is on the seal of the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. McCartney’s point is that technology can undermine as well as strengthen the power of the written word. He identities Horace as the originator of the expression, “the written word endures.”

I went pecking around the internet and found out that a lot of people think an educator named Neil Postman was the originator of this quote. What makes me doubt this is that the original is in Latin, which suggests a much older origin. He was born in 1931 and died in 2003. Interestingly, Postman criticized the effect of technology on thought and culture.

A website that seems dedicated to explaining English translations of Latin indicates that the quote comes from a longer expression: Vox audita perit, littera scripta manet, which translates to “the spoken word perishes, but the written word remains.” One contributor says the originator was Horace. Another insists that “littera” does not mean word at all, although concedes that the proposed translation is correct, nevertheless.

Further, there is a Wikipedia entry which cites the Latin expression differently, “verba volant, scripta manent,” which in English is “spoken words fly away, written words remain.” The author says the proverb originated from a speech of senator Caius Titus to the Roman Senate.

Anyway, McCartney points out that the world is becoming increasingly digitized and that the average website lasts only a little over two and a half years. Some important digital records have been lost, unreadable (blurred?) because of improper management.

My previous blog survived about 7 years but is lost. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing. My current blog is a little over 3 years old. So far, I’m beating the odds as far as typical longevity, but is it worthwhile?

Both written and digital records have strengths and weaknesses in terms of durability. And deciding what to preserve and how is essential to any society. We need good stewards to help us decide.

Good luck in your retirement, David McCartney. I’m sure the University of Iowa treasures your stewardship. Let the written word endure unblurred.

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