Saturday, July 20, 2019

Is nosology the medical study of noses?

No, although it sounds like it might be. Instead it is defined as a branch of medical science that deals with classification of diseases. (The Greek word for disease is nosos). Poet Matthew Arnold (1822 – 1888) once lamented:

“Not bring, to see me cease to live,

Some doctor, full of phrase and fame,

To shake his sapient head and give

The ill he cannot cure a name.”

Painted images of noses for Napoleon and George Washington came from Wikimedia Commons.

Monday, July 15, 2019

PETA wants Chicken Dinner Road changed to just Chicken Road – but they asked the wrong official

On July 3, 2019 People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) issued a press release titled PETA Asks Mayor to Change ‘Chicken Dinner Road’ Name. They asked the mayor of Caldwell, Idaho. But that road is outside of Caldwell, which is the seat for Canyon County. If you look on Google Maps west of Lake Lowell, you will find that Chicken Dinner Road runs north from Deer Flat Road up to Upper Ridge Road. PETA got newspaper coverage in the Idaho Statesman, but locals probably thought they were clueless.   

PETA’s objection was based on the story for the name involving folks inviting officials to drive down a road in need of maintenance before eating that chicken dinner. But the name equally well could refer to the joke shown above – What does a chicken eat for dinner?

I think that PETA should have been far more upset by the other name of Deer Flat Road. How do you make a deer flat? Run him over with a steamroller!

Back on July 25, 2017 I blogged about Answering questions about geographical names – the joy of impromptu speaking (Table Topics), and mentioned Chicken Dinner Road.

An image of a vintage steamroller came from Wikimedia Commons.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

A little research finds a remedy is questionable

Many people have some skin tags, like the one shown above on my neck. Wikipedia says that a skin tag (or archrodon) is a small benign tumor found where areas of skin rub together (or form creases) like the neck, armpit, or groin.

Over at Walmart I saw a package of ProVent skin tag remover. The label said the active ingredient was Thuja Occidentalis – an essential oil present at a homeopathic concentration of 6X. You are supposed to put a few drops of the liquid on the tag every day, and after a few weeks it will be gone. But before I bought it I decided to look up reviews at Amazon (and also Walmart) to see if others found it was effective.

First for comparison I looked up a serious pain relief product -  the Salonpas Lidocaine Pain Relieving Maximum Strength Gel Patch. As shown above, 69% gave it a 5 stars and only 9 % gave it 1 star.

For ProVent the Amazon reviews were relatively poor. As shown above, just 27% gave it 5 stars, but 53% gave it 1 star. At Walmart reviews were even worse – 29% gave it 5 stars but 62% gave it 1 star.

Looking around on Google, I found a dismissive article by Harriet Hall, M.D. on June 18, 2013 at Science Based Medicine about a similar product (with the same active ingredient and concentration) called Tag Away that had been advertised on television.

As shown above, reviews of Tag Away at Amazon were even worse than for ProVent – 19% gave it 5 stars but 56% gave it 1 star.  Back on January 6, 2016 I blogged about how According to Consumer Reports, homeopathy is an emperor with no clothes.

What really works for removing skin tags? The Wikipedia article mentions ligation – tying a string around it to cut off blood flow. Wikipedia also mentions cryosurgery (freezing). At PubMed Central I found an article in  Jay E. Taylor on pages 998 and 999 of Canadian Family Physician for December 2016, titled Just a pinch - Technique for skin tag removal in sensitive areas.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Chekhov’s Gun - speechwriting advice from a cartoon

Since July 23, 2018 Dave Kellett has been publishing Sheldon cartoons about famous writers in a series titled Anatomy of… On July 8, 2019 there was one titled Anatomy of Anton Chekhov (with lots of text in red) which taught me:
“ ‘Chekhov’s Gun’ is a dramatic principle that says every element of a play must be necessary; and irrelevant pieces must be removed. So if you have a gun onstage, the implicit dramatic promise is ‘that gun is gonna be used at some point.’ “

Both Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations and the Yale Book of Quotations state it as:
“One must not put a loaded rifle on the stage if no one is thinking of firing it.”

At the TV Tropes web site the main page on Chekhov’s Gun lists a series of variations titled Chekhov’s Gun Depot which include:
“Chekhov’s Gunman: When a character seems to be there for no reason, they must be important.”

“Chekhov’s Volcano: If it wasn’t going to erupt, it would have just been a mountain.”

“The Legend of Chekhov: If someone tells a fairy tale or legend, it’ll turn out to be true.”

The July 8 Sheldon cartoon was playfully preceded by one on July 5 titled Anatomy of Chekhov, but it instead was about Ensign Pavel Andreieivich Chekov – a character from the original Star Trek television series.

Obviously not everything in these cartoons is true. For example, the August 8, 2018 cartoon about J. R. R. Tolkien says his initials stand for Jebediah Ricky Roscoe although they really stand for John Ronald Reuel. And the August 22, 2018 cartoon about Carolyn Keene (collective pen name for authors of the Nancy Drew mysteries) claimed that:
“Nancy carries like seven flashlights on her at all times, in case you need her to pose for a book cover…. (She will flat-out refuse to solve a mystery if it doesn’t feature a flashlight).”

The image of Calamity Jane holding a rifle came from the Library of Congress.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Club officers in Toastmasters International (VPPR and VPM) should use all the brains they can borrow

They can learn from articles published in the Toastmaster magazine. Also they can learn from what other Districts have been doing – via the Golden Knowledge Base. For the Division A Toastmasters Leadership Institute on June 29, 2019 I prepared a handout about Toastmaster magazine articles and Districts for the training sessions on both Vice President of Public Relations (VPPR) and Vice President of Membership (VPM).

Toastmaster magazine has a web archive of issues from 2012 to 2019 (and a separate Gallery for even older ones). For each issue there are links to individual articles in the web version (back to June 2016), and for a .pdf file of that issue. Here are dates, page numbers, titles, and links for some relevant articles.

Articles about Membership and Marketing
2019 05 P14 Build the club you want Link
2018 03 P16 Membership Retention: is your bucket leaking? Link
2017 07 P16 Stir Up Excitement with an Open House or Demo Meeting Link
2017 04 P17 How to resuscitate a struggling club Link
2016 10 P20 A roadmap for club growth Link
2015 09 P2 What do prospective club members want to know?
2015 08 P12 A ‘top notch turnaround
2012 01 P20 Building club membership

Articles about Public Relations
2019 04 P16 In public relations, persistence pays Link
2019 01 P7 Quick Tips: create a quality video Link
2018 11 P7 Did you know? Get the word out with good pr Link
2018 02 16 Spread the word: grow your club Link
2017 04 P14 When bad things happen to good clubs Link
2015 08 P14 Social media tips for your club
2015 08 P16 The power behind proper branding
2015 08 Putting the ‘PR’ in professional
2013 10 P12 Getting the message out
2011 01 P28 Stand out with video

Lark Doley is the 2018-29 president of Toastmasters International. She has a personal web site
containing the Golden Knowledge Base described as follows:
“Toastmasters Districts around the world have some AMAZING documents on their websites that can be used as resources to start, build, and strengthen clubs and their members. The Knowledge Base pages on this website have collected hundreds of these documents in one place sorted by category for you to use.”

The Base has pages there about Club Building, Club Coach, Club Meetings, Club Officers, Conference, District Officers, Education, Fliers, Membership Building, Membership Retention, Mentoring, Public Relations, Speech Contests, and Youth Programs.

I found a few mistakes there so far. In her page on Membership Building there is a line titled D28_Hundreds of Membership Building Ideas_ with an incorrect link instead to a pptx file on Executive Leadership Panels. I looked around and found the correct link to a wonderful eight-page .pdf file with 236 ideas. In her page on Fliers there are links to D49_purple-pill dot doc and D72_Pill vsn 1_Dale Hartle. But pills are forbidden - page 44 of the Toastmasters Brand Manual says:
“Images that should never be used alongside the Toastmasters brand:

Animals, landscape, children, food and appliances (this includes toast and toasters), MEDICINE (my capitalization), cartoons, architecture, other images or designs.”

I blogged about the Woodrow Wilson quotation back in June 2017. The image of a brain was adapted from one by TilmannR at Wikimedia Commons.  

Friday, July 5, 2019

The first time you use an acronym you need to define it

At the LinkedIn Official Toastmasters Members Group I recently found a post with a link to an article on June 19, 2019 at the website for the Operational Excellence Society titled Five leadership styles behind the success of giant MNCs. But the authors never bothered to define what that Three Letter Acronym (TLA) meant. If you didn’t know, then you would have to look it up. In biz jargon it is an acronym for a Multi-National Corporation. What else could MNC mean? Here are ten more possibilities:

Macadamia Nut Cookie

Major Non-Conformity

Masonry Non-Combustible

Maternal and Neonatal Care

Media Nusantara Citra

Missouri Nursing Coalition

Mobile Network Code

Modified Numerical Control

Mother Nature Calls

Mythical National Championship

MNC as an acronym for Multi-National Corporation is not what you might expect - Initial Letters of Three Words (ILTW). Instead it is made from Initial Letters of Two Words and a Hyphenated Prefix (ILTWHP), as are MNC for both Major Non-Conformity and Masonry Non-Combustible.

By the way, Macadamia Nut Cookie was a code name once used by Google for a version of the Android operating system on mobile phones. Media Nusantara Citra is an Indonesian Media company. ILTW might also mean that I Like To Watch.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

An unusual pushbutton failure on computer tape drives

On June 25, 2019 there was a Shark Tank article on the Computerworld web site titled Ready, set, go. It described how the operations manager of a computer center figured out why pushbuttons on their mainframe computers were repeatedly breaking during the night shift. The story took place back in the early 1980s and it involved large IBM 3420 tape drives used for data storage. Those tape drives were used for offline data storage, and the computer operator was told to mount a tape before running a batch job. After the tape was mounted, he or she was supposed to push the square READY button located on a control panel over five feet above the floor, as is shown above.  

The operations manager sneaked into the basement computer room and was horrified by what he saw. Instead of using a finger to press the READY button the rambunctious young operators were grabbing an overhead horizontal pipe, like an Olympian on the uneven bars, and doing a high kick. He applied a generous layer of soap to lubricate that pipe and discourage those late-night gymnastics.   

Images of a tape drive and an Olympian came from Wikimedia Commons.