Core Charges & Car Batteries


We bought a battery for our new-to-us camper a month or so ago, and I just now got around to filing the receipt. (I’m keeping it because the battery has a 1 yr. warranty.) I remembered though, that we had been charged a $5 battery recycling fee on top of the cost of the battery. So before I stuck it in the file, I called Menards and asked about the charge. The fee is a “core charge”, basically the same as when you pay a deposit of $.05 per can of pop/soda, intended to motivate you to return a product for recycling.  In the case of car batteries; the lead, plastic, and electrolyte are recycled.

In Iowa, Code 455D.10 mandates that a person selling new lead acid batteries must accept from the customer a used battery at the point of sale.  Land disposal of these batteries is prohibited, so it’s best to trade it in (i.e. get it out of the garage) while you are getting the new one.  In Iowa, the core charge amount may vary depending on retailer…a couple places I called quoted $18-$20…even better incentive!

I drug the old (dead and frozen) battery back to Menards and got my $5 back. But if I were you, I’d see if you can get someone else to do it…those suckers are heavy.


Cheetah, Leopard, Jaguar?


-from Wild Kratts via my son-

My son was in the living room watching TV the other afternoon and came in all excited to tell me, “Cheetah’s have small spots, and Jaguars have ‘rogettes’ that make circles.”

Sometimes I’m a bit confused by the things he says, but he get really frustrated if I keep asking something because I can’t understand him.  I was feeling lazy, so I just said, “Really?  That’s cool.  Where did you learn that?”…Wild Kratts, of course!  (See episode 209: Shadow the Black Jaguar)

I guess I have to go back to 7th grade science to get started here.  (Man, the things I once knew and have since forgotten!)  Animals, and all other life forms, are classified by a series of more and more specific groups based on their characteristics.  Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species.  The Latin words in an animal’s scientific name are the genus name followed by the species.

All these cats are in the same family “Felidae”You have to dig a little deeper, and track down the genus and species to find the distinctions between them.

The cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) is the only living species in the Acinonyx genus.  Cheetahs are the fast cats, with a top speed around 60 mph.  They have deep chests and narrow waists that facilitate their speed and agility.  They have round, solid black spots, around 1″ in diameter.

Leopards (Panthera pardus) are in the Panthera genus of the subfamily Pantherinae of the family Felidae.  (Cheetahs were in a different subfamily).  A leopard’s fur is marked with rosettes; circles formed by black spots.  They are smaller and shorter than cheetahs and are great tree climbers.

Jaguars (Panthera onca) are the animal with the print we should confuse with leopard.  They too have rosettes of spots, although theirs are more variable, and often have a small spot in the center of the rosette.  They can have solid spots on their necks and heads.  Jaguars are larger with a stockier build.  They are the largest cat in the Americas and the only Panthera species there as well.

I have a black and tan animal print sweater.  It’s not cheetah or leopard.  I guess it might be jaguar?  Oh, and I clarified with my son that the Jaguar had rosettes (with an s, not a g).

Un-fuzzing Velcro

-from Google-

I bought a coat at the thrift store yesterday for my daughter to wear next year.  It was $2, in great shape, and didn’t have a hood (hoods are a hated thing).  I couldn’t pass it up.  I washed and dried it, but when I went to hang it up I noticed how full of fuzz the hook side of the velcro was.  I picked some of it out with my fingernails, but my thumbs were sore after just a couple pieces (dry winter skin here).

If you google how to get fuzz out of velcro you’ll come up with several ideas, most of which I tried.

-Scrape with the teeth of a scotch tape roller…nope, made it fuzzier, but didn’t lift it off.
-Rub with the hook side of another piece of velcro…nope just distributed the fuzz evenly between the two peices.
-Slide a toothpick under the fuzz and lift…nope toothpick was way too weak for this hard core fuzz.

Playing off that last idea, I grabbed a small nail out of the kitchen junk drawer (you have one of those, right?), and used it to slide under and lift up the fuzz.  This worked pretty well, but of course, I was back to picking it off with my fingernails to finish.

Go find your kid’s velcro strap tennies or winter coat, make that velcro stick again, then go wash your hands.  Who knows where that fuzz came from!

Velcro Blog-2

Gingerbread Houses & Hot Glue


-from the other Sister-in-law-

Yesterday my mom gave my daughter a gingerbread house kit.  (She said at 90% off, how could she resist?)  We got to talking about some of the really ornate houses we have seen made, and wondering what in the world is in the frosting that makes them sturdy enough to hold all the decorations.  I suggested silicone caulk and my sister-in-law said someone in her MOPS group told them the secret was a hot glue gun!

I resisted trying it out today because the kids have plans to eat it as soon as they’ve had a chance to show Dad and Grandma.

Cold Temps. and Fluffy Snow


-from the Sister-in-law-

Last Friday we were standing outside waiting for the school bus and discussing the weather forecast.  This comes up in pretty much every conversation when you are outdoors, as it has been sooo cold here lately.  I derisively mentioned that they had predicted a possible 3 inches of “fluffy” snow, and my sister-in-law chimed in saying that “the colder it is, the fluffier the snow.”

“Really?  It doesn’t even snow when it’s this cold!  It seems like it is usually 20 or 30 degrees when it snows.”  (You know what I am googling as soon as I get inside somewhere warm enough to use my fingers.)

And here is what I found out…
“Fluffy” is not an official snow descriptor.  I don’t know what exactly the forecaster meant, but I take it to mean light and dry and easy to shovel.  Let’s assume I’m right (I usually am, just ask my husband).  If that’s the case, the expression just might be true.  When it’s really cold there’s less water vapor in the air and the air is more dense and less likely to lift somewhere to form ice crystals.  So yes, it’s less likely to snow.  But when it does, the snow will be drier and lighter, with a snow to liquid ratio as high as 20:1 instead of the average 10:1 (10 inches of snow melts to 1″ of water).

On the other hand, when it’s warmer the surface of the flakes can melt as they fall, creating liquid that evaporates, causing the air to cool around it, and allowing more vapor to crystallize on the original snowflake.  This leads to big, heavy flakes…best for snowmen, snowballs, and someone else to shovel.

This Too Cold to Snow? blog post was the clearest explanation I found for a for a non-meteorologist.  Or maybe I just liked it because it made me sound right (again).

P.S. It didn’t snow.

My apologies to any meteorologists.  My understanding of this is very elementary, so feel free to point out any errors in the comments and I’ll make corrections as necessary!

The Spanish American War

Partial view of Fort Screven and the coast from atop the Tybee Lighthouse.

-from the Museum Docent-

Before I could write this post I had to look up what the job title was for the person that welcomes you and answers questions for you at a museum.  That’s another tidbit for the memory banks.  If only it would stay there…I’m sure I used to know that word!

We took a trip to Georgia during the week between Christmas and New Year’s, and one of the places we visited was the  Tybee Museum on Tybee Island, GA.   The museum is located in “Battery Garland” of Fort Screven.  (One of several gun batteries at the fort.) For an explanation of artillery batteries check out this link.   Artillery Battery on Wikipedia

As we walked into the museum the docent welcomed us and explained that because the building was originally a fort, and not designed as a museum, the path through the exhibits was a bit convoluted.  When asked about the fort, she explained that it was for the coastal defense of Savannah.  Built in 1897, it was manned during the Spanish American War (1898), but never saw any action.  I shamefully admitted that I didn’t know what the Spanish American War was so she gave me a quick overview of the United States intervention in the Cuban War of Independence (from Spain).  And in passing she mentioned that the whole thing might have been the result of an accident.  AN ACCIDENT?  We went to WAR because of an ACCIDENT?

Well, not really.  Most people agree that the war would have happened eventually whether the battleship USS Maine had blown up or not.  It did blow up, and the U.S. did go to war…

On February 15, 1898, a large explosion ripped a hole in the hull of the USS Maine while it was in Havana Harbor on a “friendly” visit in an effort to protect the American people and their interests in Cuba from the Spanish forces.  The cause of the explosion was ruled to be a mine in the harbor, which in turn caused a magazine to explode, and Americans called for action against the assumed culprits, Spain.  Today there is still uncertainty about the cause of the explosion and sinking of the battleship.  Some believe that an internal magazine explosion or spontaneous combustion in the coal bunkers caused the sinking.  Hence the docent’s statement that an “accident” led to the Spanish American War.

The U.S. declared war on Spain April 25, 1898.  This not only involved us in Cuba’s fight for independence but also Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and Guam.  When all was said and done, Spain and the U.S. signed a peace treaty on December 10, 1898 which established the independence of Cuba, and ceded Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines (for a cool $20million) to the United States.

And now you know how little I know about American History.  Surely we covered this in high school at some point?

As is obvious, I am no expert on the above topic; if you are, and would like to notify me of any errors or omissions, please feel free to post a comment.


Glaucoma Testing

 -from the Optometrist-

I had an appointment with the optometrist kijhbfe4tgfa few days ago to get my prescription checked and contacts ordered before my vision coverage ran out at the end of the year.  One of the first things they do is sit you down at the machine to do a glaucoma screening, aka puff test.  I’ve always accepted this without thinking about how blowing air at my eyeball can possibly tell them anything about the health of my optic nerve!

I had taken my contacts out at this point, so after the test, they led me back to the chair for my visual acuity check (read the lowest line you can see clearly) and to check my prescription. (This is the refraction assessment, “Which is better, 1…or 2?”).  After the puff of air and the super bright lights, my eyes were bothering me so while I waited for them to recover I started asking him questions about glaucoma.

As he explained it, a common indicator of glaucoma is increased pressure in the eye.    The pressure in your eye is maintained with intraocular fluid; produced in the eye, filling the space behind your cornea, and draining continuously.  If the drainage is blocked in any way, pressure inside the eye can build due to excess fluid.  This increased pressure can push against the optic nerve, damaging fibers and leading to progressive loss of vision.

So, back to the puff of air test, and what it actually does…
My optometrist explained that the (non-contact tonometry) machine blows a measured amount of air at the eye while sensors measure how much the cornea deflects, thus estimating the pressure inside the eye.  From further googling, it seems that other machines might measure the amount of air required to flatten the cornea a specific amount.  Either way, comparing this result to an average gives an indication as to whether additional testing is needed.

Go have your eye exam, tolerate the “puff test”, and know that early diagnosis and treatment can help save your sight.