Monday, June 2, 2014

Through the Keyhole - June 2014

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Through the Keyhole

Informative & Interesting... not your everyday company newsletter.
Say Hello to June!

The days are getting longer... This month we celebrate the Summer Solstice or the longest day of the year on the 21st.  People all around the world celebrate this day as it officially begins the summer season in the northern hemisphere.  On this day, the North Pole receives 24 hours of daylight (sorry Santa).  During this month in Chicago, the weather actually turns toward fabulous and should last through most of September.  Get out there and enjoy it!

Last month's winner of the "guess the location" game was Dr. Robert Crane (again) by guessing the Matterhorn in Switzerland.  More about the location below.

And now for a new picture above- Can you guess where it is by looking through the keyhole?  "This City is dangerous and London may replace it in 2016. The beaches are packed in this 'marvelous' City and is really popular 6 - 7 weeks before Easter every year. "

Correct answers will be given recognition but half the fun is trying to figure it out.  The correct answer will be revealed in the subsequent issue.  Good luck and have fun.

If you like this newsletter, forward it to someone else or sign them up HERE.

As always, send any items you think are newsworthy, interesting or just plain odd to

Matterhorn, Switzerland - Keyhole Answer

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"This place is truly breathtaking and deadly. Beautiful, isolated, and rarely seen without clouds.  This place is no Disneyland."The elevation of this magnificently famous mountain is 14,692 ft. and was first ascended in 1865. The attempt ended in tragedy when the rope supporting a number of the climbers broke and they plummeted to their deaths. It is the 10th highest mountain in Switzerland and one of 48 Swiss peaks that is above 14,000 ft.

The four faces of this mountain face the four cardinal directions (north, south, east and west).

A fit climber will ascend and descend this mountain in 7 to 9 hours but it has been done is 2 hours, 33 minutes.  Wow.

Over 500 people have died climbing the Matterhorn, mostly on the descent.  Deaths average about 12 annually due to falls, inexperience, underestimating the mountain, bad weather and falling rocks.

Disneyland in Anaheim, California features a 1/100 scale replica of the Matterhorn that is 147 feet high. Matterhorn Bobsleds is a popular ride on the peak. Mickey Mouse and friends, climbers in disguise, sometimes climb it clearly visible from the park.  The Matterhorn attraction was inspired by the movie "Third Man on the Mountain" (which in turn was inspired by the book "Banner in the Sky"), and opened on June 14, 1959. It was the first steel roller coaster in the world. Incidentally, there is a small basketball court inside the Matterhorn Mountain attraction.

The Matterhorn and Switzerland are inseparably linked to each other. The pyramid shaped colossus of a mountain, which is very difficult to climb, is said to be the most-photographed mountain in the world. The Klein-Matterhorn ("Little Matterhorn"), which can be reached via a funicular, lies adjacent to the Matterhorn.

Video of climbing the Matterhorn

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It's World Cup Time!

fifa 2Most of us Americans care little about the most watched sporting event throughout the world known as the World Cup.  This competition takes place every four years and is a source of great pride and prejudice worldwide. 

It is the time where all of the best players in the world return to play with their homeland's best. Players like Luis Suarez remove their Liverpool reds to play with Uruguay's national team.

The World Cup is one of the most exciting events you will ever witness and if your country wins, there is no doubt you will have 4 years of bragging rights.

Whether you get into soccer or not, this is a big deal.  This year the competition takes place in Brazil and goes from June 12 to July 13th.  Games in the 2014 World Cup will be played in twelve Brazilian cities: Belo Horizonte, Brasilia, Cuiaba, Curitiba, Fortaleza, Manaus, Natal, Porto Alegre, Recife, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, Sao Paulo.

Fun Facts:

32 teams participate

A phase called the "Preliminary Competition" takes place in the three years preceding each World Cup, where teams must compete in qualifying matches in order to be eligible for 31 slots. The host nation automatically qualifies to enter.

The teams are drawn into eight groups of four teams each at the beginning of the tournament. The top two teams in each group will advance to the second round group of 16 teams, which play in successive rounds to reach the finals.

3.2 billion people worldwide watched the 2010 World Cup - 46.4 percent of the world.  Why shouldn't you be one of them?

Most wins - Brazil has won the World Cup five times, in 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, and 2002.  The USA is in one of the toughest brackets having to face Germany, Portugal, and Ghana.  We will be lucky to win a single game.

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Video Facts

Watch the promotional video and see the excitement...

Not your Grandma's Double-Wide

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Is this the house Millennials want?The concept home is 1,200 square feet. Clayton expects to roll out similar homes within a year, appealing to the smaller footprint that Millennials seem to desire. They're projected to cost about $80,000 (not counting the land they'd be placed on).

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"This generation wanted the cooking area to be close to the front door" and the living area, says Clayton Homes VP Alan Neely. You enter the home through the door on the right, behind the couch between the kitchen and the living area. Neely says the term "living room" is dated for this space; instead, he calls it the hub, because as the main part of the home it's open and serves multiple purposes.

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The fact that there are two cooks in the kitchen these days dictated a larger, more flexible prep space, Neely said. The chalkboard message wall is another small touch that Clayton thinks younger buyers will appreciate.  Because space is limited, the designers relied on expandable features to maximize the kitchen area. A rolling cutting-board cart stores under the counter, a knife block hides in the drawers, and an electrical outlet pops up from the island.

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The home's bright colors are based on research that muted neutrals are less appealing to the younger crowd. The colorful door near the TV opens to the "flex room." The flex room can remain open and add to the main "hub" space, or it can be closed off with two sliding doors.

An Airplane Cabin Experience of a Lifetime

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Etihad Airways has unveiled an ultra-elite new class of service that includes The Residence—a lavish seven-star cabin on the A380—scheduled to launch in December in addition to First Apartments (which are exactly what they sound like and pictured above).
The Residence contains three rooms (living room, bedroom, and bathroom), a butler trained by the Savoy in London, and a dedicated VIP concierge team. Oh, and did we mention that the rates for a flight from Abu Dhabi to London start at $20,000 one way? No, that wasn’t a typo.

Each of the First Apartments has a full-length bed and a mini-bar (to chill your bottles of Dom Perignon, surely). he downside to the First Apartments: there’s just one shower, to be shared by all. Then again, there’s no better in-flight experience than bathing as you soar through the clouds. 

Hot Doug's Closes

Last month I told you about this place in Chicago. This month Hot Doug's announced that they are going on a permanent vacation on Saturday October 4th.  Really?  Get em while they're hot.


Confessions of a Fed Up Flight Attendant

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Airplane meal in 1939.
“Betty" is a real-life flight attendant who has had enough.

You think you’ve got it bad when your inflight entertainment conks out, the Pixie-Stix addicted kid behind you mistakes the back of your chair for a vertical trampoline, and the plane runs out of “Good Morning Sunshine” cheese boxes? That’s child’s play.

Welcome to Confessions of a Fed-Up Flight Attendant, a Yahoo Travel series where "Betty" describes the harrowing, real life situations she and her comrades in the sky face every day, 35,000 miles away from a foot massage and premium whiskey.

On a recent long-haul international night voyage another flight attendant noticed something unusually pale in the aisle. She blinked before realizing it was a totally nude man from coach, gunning straight for first class. She began to run after him and then hesitated. You never know what a stark-naked man might do if you don’t approach him the right way.

Upon closer inspection, my co-worker heaved a sigh of relief. He was just an Ambien zombie...

Seriously, just STOP IT!


You SHOULD NOT refrigerate pants (you should FREEZE them).  You shouldn't refrigerate a live mongoose but you should refrigerate your milk. 

When I travel to other parts of the world it is commonplace to see butter and eggs out at room temperature.  It must be okay as I eat those foods and have never been sick from it.

Definitely DON'T Refrigerate:
Melon (until after you have cut them up)
Stone Fruits (peaches, apricots, etc.)
Hot Sauce
Peanut Butter

MAYBE DON'T Refrigerate:
Condiments (Refrigerate after opening is overkill)
Salad Dressings
Soy Sauce


Microwave This!

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Many people have a microwave in their home, and most of those people use it every day. Odds are, though, they’re just using it to heat up day-old pizza or frozen dinners.

Here are some pretty nifty microwave hacks that you can use to make your life easier. You can thank us later.

Pictured to the right is the RadarRange first used by my family in the 70s.  My grandparents were afraid of this mysterious machine that heated coffee and hotdogs within seconds.

1) Tear Free Onion Cutting...  Trim off the end of your onion, heat it for 30 seconds on high and your eyes will no longer sting when you chop them.

2) Remove a stamp you mis-licked...  Simply place a couple of drops of water on the stamp and microwave it for 20 seconds. The stamp will come off easily.

3) A Brick of Brown Sugar?  Just place a dampened paper towel in the brown sugar box, close it tightly and put the whole thing in the microwave for 25 seconds.  Voila!

4) Cleaning Caked on Explosion...  Heat a glass bowl of water with a little vinegar in the microwave for 5 minutes.  This will make the inside nice and steamy.  Wipe it down easily after that.

5) Eat stale chips.  Potato chips that have lost their crunch can be placed on paper towels in the microwave oven and heated briefly.  The towels will absorb the moisture and restore the chips to crack-a-lackin' crispiness.

Word of the Day

Bowyang-Man 2Bowyang- Noun \ˈˌyaŋ\Australia
:  a cord or strap tied around a worker's trousers just below the knee —usually used in plural

(Historical Terms) history Austral and NZ a pair of strings or straps secured round each trouser leg below the knee, worn esp by sheep-shearers and other labourers
[C19: from English dialect bowy-yanks leggings]

Bowyangs are also cloth cones that are tied or held by elastic over the pants leg just above the ankle, and extend down to cover the top of the shoe or boot. This is to stop dirt, cement or brick powder, or any other matter getting inside the sock or footwear via the top or shoelace holes. They are commonly employed on Australian building sites, and are sold commercially for this purpose.

Bowyangs are the straps that pilots, and other flight-crew, wear just below the knee that connects to their ejection-seat mechanism in such a way that the seat's ejection stroke hauls both legs back against the seat (to clear the instrument panel above) and restrains them from flailing about in the slipstream before the seat is slowed and steadied. The attachment is released as the pilot is released from the seat during its automatic sequencing. This colloquial use of bowyangs was started in the Royal New Zealand Air Force and spread, via the seat-manufacturer, to other air forces.

Travel Gadgets that will change your life

speaker 2Here are a few of the nine devices that every traveler should have in his / her traveling arsenal.

1. A speaker the size of your thumb: Most travel speakers are so unwieldy that we just conveniently leave them at home and then lament not being able to listen to Billy Ocean while we lounge by the pool. You’ll never complain about this little guy taking up too much space. Put it on your keychain and get up to six hours of playback with easy USB charging.

2. An in-flight entertainment hack: I’m still surprised by the number of planes that haven’t moved into the 21st century when it comes to in-flight entertainment. Quit your whining. This device mounts your tablet/e-reader/smartphone on the back of the seat in front of you for easy viewing and reading. 

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3. Electronics hammock: I am an outlet stalker. I will plug in anytime, anywhere, whether it is on the floor of the airport or a dirty bathroom in Costco. My No. 1 concern isn’t that my device will be stolen (I stay close by), but that it will be stepped on. This adorable little German hammock will cuddle your phone and keep it safe.

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Full Article here

Huh?  Interesting.

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Our illustrious winner of the "guess the location" for the last two months, Dr. Robert Crane, wanted to contribute where the term "Pontiff" came from (the pictures of Italy brought out the subject).  Being as I had no idea, it figured to be a nice point of trivia to include this month (especially coming from a nice Jewish boy).

The English term derives through Old French pontif from Latin pontifex, a word commonly held to come from the Latin root words pons (bridge) + facere (to do, to make), and so to have the literal meaning of "bridge-builder".

The word "pontiff", though now most often used in relation to a Pope, technically refers to any bishop.

Interestingly enough, the word "pontificate" means either to officiate as a bishop, especially at Mass OR to express one's opinions in a way considered annoyingly pompous and dogmatic.

It is always entertaining to learn the origins of words and how those meanings can be altered throughout the course of history and through the evolution of language.


“I dread success. To have succeeded is to have finished one's business on earth, like the male spider, who is killed by the female the moment he has succeeded in his courtship. I like a state of continual becoming, with a goal in front and not behind. "
- George Bernard Shaw

How to pack a ton of stuff in a suitcase

I have heard many differing opinions about packing clothes in a suitcase.  From rolling to folding to vacuum packing to clothing cubes - everyone has a method.  What I will share here is a few simple steps to get the most in your bag. The important thing to do is NOT to OVER PACK.  That is the first rule.  After that, I offer the following guidelines which have worked for me.

1) Put your socks (and belts / other small items) in your shoes, if you can wrap them in plastic (from the cleaners or zip locks) and place them in the bottom of your suitcase.  Try to get a flat surface to build upon.  

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2) Next, fold in 8 - 12  inch sections and roll your pants, shorts, jeans, dresses and place them on top of your shoes.
3) Now gather all of your dress shirts and blouses that you do not want to wrinkle and get them in order of most prone to wrinkle to least.  Button EVERY BUTTON on each shirt / blouse.
4) Lay the most prone to wrinkling item on a flat surface.  Then take the next most likely to wrinkle item and place it the opposite way where collar goes towards the waist of the shirt you first placed down. Alternate until you reach your least wrinkleable item (maximum of 5 items).

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5) Take some soft items like t-shirts, pajamas, underwear, etc. and make a pod to place on top of this stack of dress clothes.

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6) Fold one arm over the "core" you just made (You go IRONMAN).

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7) Now the other arm.


8) Fold the "tail" of one side over and tuck it in nicely.

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9) Now finish this pack and add to your suitcase.

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10) Suitcoats are next.  While holding the suit jacket upright, pop in one of the shoulders and pull it inside-out as seen below (some choose to pull the entire sleeve inside out as well, but this is not necessary):

11) Now tuck in the opposite shoulder into the one previously popped inside-out until the entire length of the lapel is lined up nicely.  Fold the suit jacket vertically so that everything is lined up to the width of one shoulder.


12) Now fold or roll (depending on your taste).


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13) You can place each item in plastic to continue wrinkle free but it is really only necessary to have one large piece of plastic over the top of your finished, full suitcase.  Then close it and zip it up.

14) Now weigh the bag and make sure you are not over the 50 lb. (in most cases) restriction. 


15) By one of these handy scales here.

Happy Packing!


Tip of the Month
Use a post it note underneath your drill to catch the dust...Try it.

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The OSHA Awards.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has standards to ensure the workplace is safe.  Here are some of the most creative offenders worldwide.

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Falling off the bone RIBSribs

Just in time for summer, try this tried and true method for cooking BBQ Ribs.  Serve with coleslaw, a baked potato and corn for a great summer meal.
INGREDIENTSAs many slabs of Ribs that you think you need (Baby Back Pork Ribs are my favorite).
Your favorite off the shelf BBQ sauce (I am partial to Sweet Baby Rays)
Garlic Salt


Preheat oven to 225 F
This method does not use the grill (although you can finish the ribs on it). 

Remove the membrane from the back of the racks of ribs.  If have never done this before, now is the time to start doing it.  This will make a big difference.  Slide the back end of a spoon under the membrane to get it started and then use a paper towel to carefully remove the membrane.

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Prepare a broiling pan by using tin foil to cover the bottom of the pan and as much of the surfaces as possible.  This will make for an easier clean up.

Place about 1/2" of water in the bottom of the pan and then place the rack of ribs on the grate.  Keep the ribs out of the water.  You may need several broiling pans.  Cover the slabs with a generous amount of garlic salt and pepper.

Cover the ribs with a tin foil "tent" that will allow the steam to cook the ribs slowly over time without allowing any of it to escape.

Place the ribs in the oven that is at 255 F and let cook for at least 4 hours.  Check the ribs at the end of this time.  You should begin to see the bones protruding and meat falling off the bone.

Now coat the ribs with as much BBQ sauce as you prefer and place back in the oven (uncovered). You may wish to turn the broiler on or do this step on the grill.  Get the ribs to your desired color (a little charred) and serve. 


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