Waxing #atozchallenge

A couple of years ago, when I was doing words that started with the letter of the day and ended with the next day’s letter, my word for W was “wax,” when I discussed waxing the floor. This is another kind of waxing.

One of the things that you’d always see in the weather report in the newspaper was the phase of the moon. What that had to do with the weather, I have no idea, but it was always kind of interesting to me.

Phases of the moon for Atlanta, 2019. Source: timeanddate.com

This past Sunday was Easter, which commemorates the day that Christians (including Orthodox Christians) believe Jesus, having been crucified a couple of days earlier, rose from the dead and exited the tomb to which he had been committed. The official day that we celebrate Easter is defined as “the Sunday immediately following the first full moon of spring.” However, we don’t rely on the astronomers to determine the date of the vernal equinox (i.e. the start of spring). Rather, the beginning of spring is presumed to be March 21, and an involved algorithm is used to compute the date of Easter based on the year. The result yields a date between March 22 and April 25. The formula is actually pretty accurate: you’ll notice from the table above that the first full moon of spring was on April 19, meaning Easter would fall on April 21, the same date as the formula gives us. (Orthodox Easter, being based on the Julian calendar, is a week later. This year, anyway.)

So, what does all this have to do with waxing? Nothing, really. Just took you on a side trip.

Looking at the calendar above, we see the dates of the new moon, first quarter (when the right-hand half of the moon is lighted), full moon, and last quarter (when the left-hand side is lighted). Between the new moon and the first quarter, the moon is waxing crescent; from the first quarter to the full moon, it’s waxing gibbous; from the full moon to the last quarter, it’s waning gibbous; and from the last quarter to the new moon, it’s waning crescent.

There’ll be a test on this next week. Class dismissed.

Watt-Hour #atozchallenge


I’m including this because it was one of my great “duh!” moments. I mean, I’ve only been reading and paying electric bills for 40 years, you’d think I’d have understood this. Usually, when we’re talking your electric bill, you see “kilowatt hour,” or more frequently the abbreviation kwh, and you’re charged per kilowatt hour, right? Well, one day I got to thinking “what exactly is a kilowatt-hour?”

So, off to Wikipedia I went, and learned that a watt (named for James Watt, who helped develop the steam engine, not the former Secretary of the Interior) is one joule per second. Which told me nothing, since I was so bad at physics, and that it’s a measure of energy transfer. But I know my times and gazintas, as Jethro from The Beverly Hillbillies would call them, so I figured out that one watt-hour is 3600 joules, and thus a kilowatt-hour is 3,600,000 joules, or 3.6 megajoules. All of which told me as much as what a watt and a joule were.

So I looked up kilowatt-hour, which I should have done in the first place, and it told me that a kilowatt hour is the number of kilowatts times the number of hours. So, if I leave a 60-watt bulb burning for one hour, it uses 60 watt-hours, or 0.06 kilowatt-hours. At 10.7 cents per kilowatt-hour, that cost me 0.6 cents.

Now, here’s where all this comes in handy. I have a ceiling fan in my office which I have a tendency to leave running all the time. Mary sees this, turns it off, then reminds me to turn it off when I’m not using it. So I got to thinking: what would it cost if I left it on all the time? I did some research, and learned that the fan draws 75 watts of power. Leaving it on for 24 hours would consume 1.8 kwh, which would cost 19.3 cents. Leaving it on for a month would cost me $5.79, and $69.50 for the year. Not exactly nothing, but it’s not going to break the bank.

I showed these calculations to Mary, and she said, “turn the fan off when you’re not in your office.” So much for that argument.

Maybe I should buy stock in The Southern Company

Wax #atozchallenge


Doing the research for this, I realized that the subject of wax is much more complicated than I originally thought. So I’m going to limit this discussion to just one kind of wax, the kind that housewives put on their kitchen floors up until the mid-Seventies.

Building custodians still use this sort of wax, as we can see in this video on the right way to do it.

There are many more videos on how to do this on YouTube. I just wanted to show you that it’s still being done. Just not at home, with the advent of no-wax vinyl floors that (supposedly) get that wax shine without the wax.

Daytime TV used to have at least ten ads for floor wax each hour. OK, I’m exaggerating; more like seven or eight. Here are some of them. We used Glo-Coat, because it shielded against black heel marks.

Just so you know, no, a heel doesn’t magically appear under your foot when you step on the floor. Glo-Coat was manufactured by Johnson Wax, now called S. C. Johnson because almost no one waxes their floors anymore. Johnson Wax also had Klear as an entry into the floor wax battle. Where Glo-Coat Shielded against black heel marks, Klear didn’t yellow floors.

The 500-pound gorilla in the floor wax business had to be Aerowax, mostly because it was cheap and had the best commercials. This is a mid-1950’s commercial for Aerowax as seen during the popular (at the time) soap opera, Love Of Life. This isn’t an especially good commercial, but it is a demonstration of the commercials where a spokesman for the product spent sixty seconds trying to browbeat you into buying the product, kind of like political commercials these days.

There are plenty more commercials for floor wax and other defunct products on YouTube. I try to feature a couple each week, for no reason other than I feel like it. Anyway, I’d like to end with a joke:

A policeman calls his sergeant. “I’m at a house where a woman murdered her husband because he walked on the floor she just finished washing and waxing.” The sergeant said, “Have you arrested her?” The cop says, “No, not yet.” “Why not?” the sergeant asks. “The floor isn’t dry yet.”

Did your mother (or you, for that matter) wax your floors?

The Top 5 from WLS Radio Chicago, April 27, 1974 #atozchallenge


WLS logo during the 1970’s. Source: WLS History Site

Just so you know, by the time you get this, I’ll be getting poked and prodded by my doctor. My first annual Medicare checkup…

1974 was a big year in my life, and WLS was my favorite radio station, so this was just meant to be. Here are the Top Five from their survey on this date 42 years ago.

#5: Hooked On A Feeling – Blue Swede: The band from Stockholm had borrowed Jonathan King’s arrangement of this classic B. J. Thomas song and rode it all the way as high as #1 in Chicago, where it moved back and forth with Elton John’s “Benny And The Jets.” It was down from #2 the week before, and was out of the Top Five the following week.

#4: The Loco-motion – Grand Funk: By this time, they had dropped the “Railroad” from their name and had added Craig Frost on keyboards, making them a quartet. Up from #7 the week before, this would capture the top spot the following week.

#3: Come And Get Your Love – Redbone: The Native American band took this song to #2 the following week, and it stayed in the Top Five until Memorial Day weekend. It was their only song to be an international hit.

#2: The Lord’s Prayer – Sister Janet Mead: My mother was a teacher, and remembers the day the kids in her class were dancing to this, apparently oblivious to the fact that it was the Lord’s Prayer. Sister Janet, an Australian Sister of Mercy, is the second nun to chart, the first being Soeur Sourire, “The Singing Nun,” who had an international hit with “Dominique” in the early Sixties. This was as high as it got, being knocked out of the Top Five the next week by Marvin Hamlisch’s “The Entertainer” and a new entry, Ray Stevens’ “The Streak.”

#1: Benny And The Jets – Elton John: This spent three weeks at #1, but by the following week it fell to #5 and was out of the Top Five the week after that, when the #1 song in Chicago was Ray Stevens’ “The Streak.”

So that’s what we were listening to 42 years ago.

#atozchallenge: Webinar

webinar =
World Wide Web + seminar


By now, anyone who works for, or used to work for, a high-tech or an international company has taken part in a webinar. They’re great, because no one has to travel. Instead of getting on a plane and flying to the meeting location, you sign in to a website like Webex or GoToMeeting at a specific time and enter a key they give you, and at the appointed time, or whenever you reach a quorum, the seminar begins. The leader can speak and share things from their computer screen, from PowerPoint, and everyone signed in to the webinar can listen watch. If someone has a question, they can click a button on their screen which pops up a place for them to type their question, and when the leader sees someone has a question they can read it and answer it. The same technology can be used to conduct other types of meetings, and often is, again if people are geographically dispersed. You can then archive the meeting, so people who can’t be there at the time can access it when it’s convenient and hear and see what went on.

Some personal experiences:

  • The last company I worked for used webinars and web meetings a lot, because we had offices around the world and people onsite with clients all the time.
  • After that company and I parted ways, I worked for my brother, who’s in Kansas City, and I never had to actually be there: he could call me, or we could use Skype to talk to one another.
  • I’m a member of a writer’s group in Ann Arbor, Michigan. We meet using Google Hangouts.

The hardest thing about webinars and web meetings is coördinating people’s times. With people all over the world, a time that might be good for Asia might not be good for North America, and having to remember how many hours ahead or behind everyone is can be a pain. We ran into this with the Twitter chats we had for the Challenge, especially when the US went on Daylight Saving Time. A good website to use is TimeAndDate.com, which uses world time and computes local time based on the time zone and whether or not they’re on summer time.

Have you participated in any webinars or web meetings?