Metric System, Zero Degrees, and Can Cats Count?
I have three questions:
1. The metric system. Since I was a tyke going to school in the 80s, it was constantly taught that the U.S. would be switching to the metric system of measurement. My mom said they told her the same thing 20 years before me! What’s the hold up?
2. I understand that when it’s 0° Centigrade, that zero is the freezing point. What was zero supposed to represent in Fahrenheit? It seems arbitrary since it’s already way below freezing by that point. Perhaps 0° F is the point where people in Michigan put on long Underoos?
3. Can cats count? I usually have to get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. The cats don’t follow me there, even though it’s in the same direction as the kitchen. But when I wake up in the morning, they DO follow me! Do they just know not to follow me the first two times I get out of bed each night? I wake up early, so it’s still dark out. I also wake up without an alarm clock, eliminating the chance of that tipping them off. What gives? - Anonymous
Anon: I numbered your questions to make them easier to address. I’m trying to stop laughing from your third question because it’s difficult to type, but I’ll get there.
The metric system hasn’t made it in the United States because there are too many people who don’t want to change. It’s that simple. However, if you don’t believe me, there is a neat U.S. metric system timeline by Dr. Don Hillger from Colorado State University that gives a lot more information. Just click here: U.S. Metric System.
The Fahrenheit scale was invented by German scientist Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit (1686-1736) and was based on three fixed points on his thermometer: (a) Zero degrees was the temperature of an ice, water, and salt mixture; (b) 32° (roughly) was the temperature when salt was eliminated from the mixture and water froze; and (c) 96° (Fahrenheit was wrong) was established as the temperature of the human body.
By the way, the Celsius scale (Anders Celsius, 1701-1744) and the Fahrenheit scale are relative scales and include negative degrees. The only scale without a negative temperature is the Kelvin scale (an absolute scale), where 0° is absolute zero—all motion in matter stops. The Kelvin scale was developed by Lord Kelvin (real name William Thomson 1824-1907). While the Kelvin scale supposedly has no temperature below 0°, some scientists disagree, suggesting that even matter without motion has a temperature. Absolute zero on the Fahrenheit scale is -459º and -273º Celsius.
OK. Here we go. Can cats count? I’m still laughing, but I have a few options for you so you can select the best one.
Cats can count, but only as high as one. Why one? Because that relates to the “paw” digit they seem to give to any human who asks them to do anything. For example, ask a cat to “sit,” or “fetch.” What happens? A single paw digit demeanor, as if to say, “Hey! Fetch THIS!” I assume you have two cats. Therefore, after each cat reaches its counting limit, they both know it’s time to follow you.
Cats are extremely smart, and even though you don’t think so, they know you’re not going to the kitchen, but to another room and they think, “Hey, that’s a place where we’ll find out more than we want to know about this dude.” Result? They don’t get up.
The cats want you to leave so they can run around and ruin things, so they mess with your head so you’ll go to work.
Animals are apparently keenly aware of human behavior and can detect even small things we don’t realize. The same thing happens with dogs. For example, a dog owner picks up the car keys and immediately the dog does the tango, seemingly saying, “Hey, take me, take me.”
While I don’t think it’s appropriate to attribute human behaviors to animals, it is clear that cats and dogs (and other animals) are habitual in nature. You have established a habit they have learned. In addition, although you may go to the kitchen while it’s dark, the cats may sense (I don’t know) that it’s close to sunrise…and that’s the time you go to the kitchen.
I know there are 289 rated markets via Arbitron, but how many commercial radio station home markets are there? Thanks! - Anonymous
Anon: First, according to Arbitron's website, the company conducts ratings in 297 markets.
Next, I'm not really sure what you mean by "commercial radio station home markets," but if you're asking how many Metropolitan Areas there are in the United States, the answer is 367 and you can see the list if you click here.
You might also want to read this information about Core Based Statistical Areas.
Mexican Jumping Beans
OK, so this is not a radio question, but if anyone would know, it would be you. How do those novelty ‘jumping’ beans work? This perplexes me. Thanks. - Bill
Bill: This is what I found on the Internet about jumping beans:
"The Mexican Jumping Bean is actually a larva deposited by the Mexican Jumping Moth into the seed capsule of the Mexican Bean Shrub. The bean, which is about the size of a marble, appears to move and jump about as the larva moves and eats the inner shell. To make them more active, put them under a lamp until they start to move about. For best jumping action, put in direct sunlight. Touching the beans while in action only makes them stop jumping. They will make more noise depending on what you keep them in. After several months, depending on the temperature, the action stops and metamorphosis begins. Approximately six months later, a moth emerges from the capsule through a door prepared by the larva. The moth will eventually die unless it finds a Mexican Bean Shrub and reproduces."
You said you'll try to answer any question. How about this one? Whenever I cook a frozen hamburger or sandwich in the microwave, the bun or croissant is almost rock hard in places. Is there any way to avoid that? - Anonymous
Anon: Yes, there is. Put a glass of cold water in with the food and the bun or croissant will be soft when you take it out of the microwave. You will probably have to cook the food for about 30 seconds more than usual because of the glass of water.
What are the U.S. rules or guidelines for mileage markers on Interstate highways? I heard about this once, but can’t remember. - Jason
Jason: As you know, all U.S. Interstate highways, and many other roads, have mileage markers. In reference to Interstate highways, the mile measurement begins either at the start of the Interstate or at the state border—whichever comes first. The miles are measured from West to East or from South to North. So, if the mileage markers increase as you are driving, you are heading East or North. And (duh) if the markers decrease, you’re heading West or South.
Now, if you’re one of the "Direction Deficient" types and the mileage markers don’t help, then check the route number. Even numbers (I-70 or I-80) indicate an East-West route; odd numbers (I-25 or I-95) indicate a North-South route.
It’s time for the test. Which direction are you going if the mileage markers decrease and you’re on I-70?
If you're still lost after all this, then ask a wom . . . no I won't say that.
Miller's Magic Number 7
Would you explain the stuff about the "Magic Number 7?" I heard that the other day and don’t know what it means. Thanks. - Anonymous
Anon: I believe you are referring to what is known as "Miller’s Magic Number," a theory developed by psychologist George Miller in 1956. Miller found that the amount of information most people can remember in one exposure is between five and nine items, (7 + or – 2), so the number 7 became the "magic" number of items most people can hold in short-term memory at one time.
Miller was fascinated with the number 7. In the conclusion to his 1956 paper, he wrote:
" . . . [W]hat about the magical number seven? What about the seven wonders of the world, the seven seas, the seven deadly sins, the seven daughters of Atlas in the Pleiades, the seven ages of man, the seven levels of hell, the seven primary colors, the seven notes of the musical scale, and the seven days of the week? What about the seven-point rating scale, the seven categories for absolute judgment, the seven objects in the span of attention, and the seven digits in the span of immediate memory? For the present I propose to withhold judgment. Perhaps there is something deep and profound behind all these sevens, something just calling out for us to discover it. But I suspect that it is only a pernicious, Pythagorean coincidence.
You can conduct a simple "test" of Miller’s number this way: Get about 20 pennies. Randomly select a sample of from 1 to 20 pennies and throw them on to a table. How fast can you count them? You’ll notice that you can almost immediately count up to 9 pennies, but most likely, not over 7. You’ll find that you don’t need to count the number of pennies if there are less than 7 on the table . . . you just "see" them and say, "4" or "6." But when 10 or more pennies are on the table, you’ll probably have to count (by ones, twos, or some other small group until you count them all).
By the way, can you see how this might relate to a variety of things? How about the number of songs a radio station plays in a row?
For more information about "Miller’s Magic Number," do a search for it on Google.
Yo, Doc: I heard a story about Miller moths invading the Denver area. What’s up with that? - CT
CT: Here is a picture of the guilty party:
The Miller moth is a mature army cutworm and has a wingspan of 1.5 to 2.0 inches (3.81-5.08 centimeters). They migrate every year to the Rocky Mountains from Kansas, Nebraska, and eastern Colorado—an event that happens only in Colorado.
No one is sure why Miller moths migrate to the mountains every year. One explanation is that the mountains have plenty of summer flowers, a source of nectar for the moths. Another idea is that the cooler temperatures in the mountains allow the moths to live longer. Whatever the reason, they are just a nuisance and don’t pose any danger to humans, plants, clothing, or fabric.
In some years, the moths aren’t that noticeable, but in other years, the moths invade the cities along the foothills and fly in huge swarms. Driving a car and riding a motorcycle during the invasions is a real treat. It’s common to have dozens of moths smacked on the windshield or face mask. (I can’t imagine riding a motorcycle without a helmet, especially when the Miller moths are around.)
The birds love to eat Miller moths. However, their love for the moths creates problems at intersections. For some reason, Miller moths are attracted to automobiles stopped at intersections…maybe the heat of the engines or the exhaust. When traffic is stopped, the moths swarm around and they attract dive-bombing birds. Literally. There may be dozens of birds at an intersection that dive-bomb the area around the cars. People who walk across intersections have a tough time getting across the street. It looks like a scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s movie, “The Birds.”
Click here is you would like more information about the pests: Miller Moths.
(Roger Miller) Song Question
Doc: I need your help find the title of a song my dad can't remember. It's driving him crazy and he's driving me crazy asking about it.
My dad said part of the lyrics are, "Roses are red and violets are purple," but that's all he can remember. He said a male singer performed it in the 1960s and it was a humorous type of song. Do you have any idea what he's talking about? Please help me so I can get my dad settled down. - Mike
Mike: Oh, I think we can get your dad settled down. In fact, I don't even need to search the Internet for this one.
The song your dad is trying to remember is probably "Dang Me," the number one song in 1964 by Roger Miller. The lines from the song are:
Roses are red and violets are purple.
Sugar is sweet and so is maple surple.
You and your dad can listen to the song on YouTube—there are several versions. In the search bar, enter, Roger Miller Dang Me. The lines in question come at about 1:10 of the song.
By the way, Roger Miller died in 1992.
Million Dollar Homepage
Doc: Have you seen the "Million Dollar Homepage" by the student from London? - Ken
Ken: Yes, I have seen it, and the reaction by me and everyone else I know who has seen it is, "Why didn't I think of that?" It's a great idea, and like most great ideas, there are already many copycats on the Internet.
However, I think the idea is fantastic and it's also a major "slap in the face" for the big-time ad agencies people who spend so much time developing pop-ups and other silly Internet advertising. I'm sure that many people and businesses will use this idea, including radio stations. For example, I think a radio station could use this for something called, Find the Secret Pixel (or something like that) — similar to the approach used in the Where's Waldo? cartoons. The "secret" pixel could be used as a contest entry, a prize, or a coupon for one of the radio station's advertisers. I think the uses for this approach are almost unlimited.
Here is a good article about the website, and although there is a link in the article, you can get there quickly by clicking here.
If you're interested, here is an interview with the young guy who came up with the idea. As I mentioned, many people have copied the "Million Dollar Homepage" idea. Click here for a partial list of the imitators.
Million Dollar Homepage Question
Doc W: Like many people, I saw the Million Dollar Homepage and would like to try doing something like that myself. Is there software available to do that, or what is involved? Thanks. - Anonymous
Anon: Sorry it took a few days to answer your question, but I'll explain the reason later. On to your question . . .
There are several software packages available to help you design your page, such as this one. Most of the packages cost about $150 - $200. However, you can save money if you already have FrontPage or Dreamweaver, because you can "work around" not having a page divided into pixel cells.
This "work around" is why it took me a few days to answer your question. For the fun of it, I decided to try developing my own "million dollar website" approach using FrontPage. My goal was not to design something to make money, but to see how easy it is to do.
My idea came from a course I taught (Fall 2005) at the University of Colorado-Boulder. I had an Introduction to Mass Media class with 214 freshmen business majors (Oh, my), and I developed a PowerPoint presentation for the section on advertising. Part of the presentation included a section on company logos, so I could explain the process of copyrights and trademarks, as well as the necessity to make sure that a logo design isn't already "taken" somewhere in the world. I decided to try to find logos for companies with "Wimmer" in their name (a bit self-serving, but I was in charge).
OK, so I took the logo "slide" from my PowerPoint presentation and developed a "million dollar" page using FrontPage—World Wide Wimmer.
The process isn't difficult, but it is time-consuming to copy and paste the logos, get things organized in a clear way, and add the links to each company's website. When I finished, though, it became clear that this approach has a lot of potential. It can be used on any radio, television, or newspaper website to display the advertisers' logos.
I think the "million dollar" website approach is unique and I think many variations will appear in the near future. I know it's a fad/trend right now, but I think the approach is unique and fun and will be used for quite some time.
In this popular TV game show, contestants can use ‘lifelines’ to help answer a specific question. One lifeline is a phone call via AT&T to a friend or loved one. I have seen almost every episode and what gets me is that when the phone call lifeline is used, the person is always home! I just wonder what the producers of the show do if there is no one home? - Anonymous
Anon: First, the show is taped. Before the taping begins, the producers contact each of the contestant’s phone call lifelines and ask the person to be near the phone in the event they are called—that’s why the lifeline person answers so quickly and that’s why Regis says something like, "I know you can’t see us right now."
I know this isn’t a research question, but it’s driving me crazy. A few weeks ago, a friend sent me a link to a cool miniature golf site where you can play the game. I lost the address and so did my friend. Do you know what I’m talking about and can you find it for me? - James
James: Yes, I know what you’re talking about, and I’m sure this will go over well with bosses who see their employees playing the game while at work. But I can’t worry about that. (The game is actually fun and addicting.)
Because websites often change, here is a search for you that should include a few sites with the putting game.
Missing Child - Penny Brown
I have received an email from several people about a missing little girl. It starts like this:
“We have a store manager (Wal-Mart) from Longs, S C who has a 9 year old daughter that has been missing for 2 weeks. Keep the picture moving on. With luck on her side, she will be found I am asking you all, begging you to please forward this email on to anyone and everyone you know, PLEASE. My 9-year-old girl, Penny Brown, is missing. She has been missing for now two weeks. It is still not too late. Please help us”
Do you know if this email is for real? - Anonymous
Anon: I have received the same email, or a version of it, from several people in the past few weeks. I immediately suspect garbage when I get a “forwarded-forwarded-forwarded…” email sent to hundreds of people. (Note: I’m amazed at how many people don’t know how to forward an email without eliminating all the previous forwards.)
Although my guess is usually that stuff like this is pure garbage, I go to Google and search for things mentioned in the email, such as penny brown missing. If you do this, you’ll find that this email (or a version of it) has been around for at least two years and is a hoax. Check this out: Penny Brown Hoax.
Mr. Leonard (WHTZ)
In reference to your question about Mr. Leonard, he was a personality who worked with Scott Shannon at Z-100 New York morning zoo in the 80s and was always late to get to the radio station, etc. Ross Britton was also with them. Mr. Leonard was a funny character…very witty, stupid at the same time, but loved by everyone because of his innocence. You would probably get more information at Z-100 New York or Scott Shannon who is also in New York. - Tito
Tito: Thanks for the information. The person who wrote the original question asked for the name of the person who was “Mr. Leonard.” That’s the answer I don’t have yet.
Mr. Leonard Again
If you go to AirChexx.com and check out the Scott Shannon/Z100 Anniversary tribute, there is plenty of audio from the old Scott and Ross “Morning Zoo” that includes Mr. Leonard. - Anonymous
Anon: Thanks for the information. I made a link with the information you provided.
Mr. Leonard Identity
Hey Doc, “Mr. Leonard” was John Rio. - Thomas
Thomas: Thanks for the help.
MobilTrak - Automatic Rating System
I keep hearing things about a ratings system that is setup on the side of a major road or highway and detects what people are listening to on their car radios. One instance I heard of this happening was for some new billboards that will utilize the system to custom the ad on the board to the demographic best represented in the group of cars sitting below it. If a bunch of people were listening to NPR or Classical, for example, the board would change to an ad for an upper class dealership or golf course.
If this technology is available, how come people haven’t gotten more excited by it? I’d like to know how it works and why this isn’t more commonly used to complement Arbitron! After all, you have EXACTLY what people are listening to in their cars! - Anonymous
Anon: The system you are referring to is called Mobiltrak and it reportedly records the radio station that is on in vehicles as the vehicles pass and area where the devices are located. However, so that I don’t have to reinvent the wheel here, you can read more about the system by clicking here: MobilTrak.
I’m all for new types of research, but I think it’s a bit early to wonder why, as you say, this isn’t more commonly used. Just because a technology is new doesn’t mean that it’s reliable and valid. In addition, before the MobilTrak system becomes readily acceptable, it will have to be accredited by the Media Ratings Council.
Without much knowledge of the MobilTrak system, I have a few questions and comments:
Is the method valid? Does it accurately record the radio station that is on in the vehicles that pass the detection device?
Is the method reliable? Does is consistently record accurate information?
According to what I have read, the system does not record who is listening to the radio station; it reportedly records only which radio station is on in the vehicle. Is there any value to the data with specific demographic information?
What is recorded if a person is scanning through the dial at the moment the vehicle passes by the recording instrument?
Why is this information necessary? For example, if the system records radio stations on in cars as they enter an amusement park, what value are those data for the present or future? How can the data be used? (I understand the procedure about personalizing a billboard as a vehicle passes, but I don’t understand the value of that technology either.)
As I said, I’m all for new things, but I’ll wait to pass judgment until I see some scientific evidence
Finally, when I searched for MobilTrak, I found several other references to the MobilTrak name, such as, www.creativemobile.com/mt.asp – a data retrieval system and www.mvpenterprisesusa.com. My guess is that there will be a few problems in the future, but what do I know.
Anyway, read the material on the MobilTrak website. If you have any questions after that, please feel free to write me.
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