Friday, April 30, 2010

Apple #453: Geographic Tongue

I have to tell you about my geographic tongue.

Last month I was pretty stressed out, more than I realized.  I went to the dentist for a regular check-up and when they do the thing where you have to stick out your tongue so they can pick it up and move it around, the dentist said, startled, "Oh! You have a geographic tongue!"

I had never heard of such a thing, let alone that I had one.  She said it's no big deal, some people have it and some people don't.  It doesn't mean anything except that sometimes it's more apparent when you're stressed out but it's really nothing to worry about.

The phrase was so intriguing, of course I had to look it up.  It's a pretty simple topic, actually, and I was going to let this one go by, but I've been sort of fascinated by the whole idea since I learned about it.  Every so often I check on my tongue, to see what's the latest geography.

  • A geographic tongue is one on which the papillae fall off in patches. 

The places where the tongue looks burned are places where the papillae have fallen off.   This is a typical amount of patchiness on my tongue on any given day.
(Photo from World Articles in Ear, Nose, and Throat. Unless you like being completely grossed out, you do not want to look at the other photos on that page.)

  • The tongue is covered with four types of papillae, or tiny protrusions.  Three of the four types of papillae hold taste buds.  The fourth kind that we're concerned with, called filiform papillae, do not have taste buds.  So the fact that these things fall off does not mean that your sense of taste is compromised.
  • Filiform papillae do have a function, though.  They are abrasive and give the tongue a rasping and cleaning capability.  These same things are on cats' tongues but much more prominently so. They are what makes cats' tongues so effective at cleaning their fur.

Filiform papillae have spiky tips that are actually coated in a fine layer of keratin, which is what makes them rough.  On cats, these papillae are longer and they stand up, where on humans, the filiform papillae are shorter and lie flatter on the tongue.
(Photo from Southern Illinois University's School of Medicine)

  • The papillae replace themselves about every week, but often more will fall off in another location, so it will appear that the bald patches move around.
  • They also regenerate themselves on the outer edges of the patches first, so it might look like there is a white or sometimes bright red bumpy line around the outer edges of each patch.  

Here the faint white lines at the edges of the patches are visible.
(Photo from DermNet NZ)

  • The official medical phrase for "geographic tongue" is "benign migratory glossitis."  That name is actually a better description of what's going on.
      • Benign = not harmful, no worries. 
      • Migratory = it moves around.  
      • Glossitis = swelling. The red patches are actually places where the tissue of the tongue has swollen, and that's what causes the papillae to fall off.
  • About 3% of the population have a geographic tongue.  It seems to be a genetic condition.
  • Within that 3%, it is almost twice as common among women than men. 
  • Many people who suffer from psoriasis also have a geographic tongue.  But a lot of the people who have a geographic tongue do not have psoriasis. 
  • People with eczema, asthma, or allergies -- some extra sensitivity to their environment in other words -- also seem to be more likely to have a geographic tongue. 
  • It's also fairly common among people who have diabetes.
  • But just because you have a geographic tongue does not mean you should worry that you have any of these other conditions.  It might be linked to those conditions, but chances are it isn't.
  • Women who take birth control may notice that it's more pronounced on day 17 of their cycle, a fact which leads doctors to surmise that it has something to do with hormones.
  • Other people think that deficiencies in the B vitamins might be a contributing factor but that, too, is currently only a theory.
  • The fact that it does seem to get more patchy when people are stressed out and immune levels are low seems to bolster the B-deficiency theory. 

When there are more patches or when they show up more obviously as they do on this woman's tongue, I'm pretty sure that's when I'm more stressed out.
(Photo from eMedicine)

  • Oddly, the condition is less common in people who smoke. 
  • Some people think that hot or spicy or acidic foods might make the patches appear.  
  • Or maybe drinking too much alcohol makes the tongue get patchy.  
  • As the multitude of conjectures suggests, doctors don't really know what causes it or why it happens.  It doesn't seem to affect anything, so there's really no reason for anybody to look for a treatment, so there isn't one.
  • Some people do say they experience a burning sensation where the patches appear, but most people with this condition don't sense any change.
  • If you do experience discomfort, try rinsing with an antiseptic mouthwash.  That's supposed to help cool the burn.

NOTE TO COMMENTERS: I very much appreciate your comments and your interest in this topic.  But I am not a doctor.  I can't tell you whether what you have is a geographic tongue or not.  If your tongue hurts for some reason, I can't tell you why that is or what exactly will work for you.  All I can do is tell you about my own tongue and what I've found generally on the subject. 

If you still have questions, re-read this entry, or do some more reading elsewhere about the topic.  You were enterprising enough to find this page, surely you can find more information if you try (you could start with the sources listed below). Or better still, take what you've learned to your local friendly doctor and ask him or her for a diagnosis and advice.  Happy exploring!

International Geographic Tongue Support Group
Medline Plus, Geographic tongue
Robert D. Kelsh, DMD, Geographic Tongue, Medscape's eMedicine, October 6, 2009
Dr. Greene, Geographic Tongue
Maxillofacial Center for Education and Research, Migratory Glossitis (Geographic Tongue)
DermNet NZ, Geographic tongue (benign migratory glossitis), Geographic Tongue and Filiform Papillae
Inner Body, Filiform Papillae

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Apple #452: Forests

I'm sorry the Daily Apple has been getting short shrift lately.  I've been spending a lot of my free time in the woods.  Literally.

There are several large parks that surround the city where I live, and many of them include large tracts of forest.  For the most part, these are lands that were converted to farmland in the early to late 1800s but for one reason or another have become overgrown again and are now natural preserve areas. Walking or hiking trails wind among the trees which are just now beginning to pop out their new leaves all over the place and little wildflowers are beginning to bloom, and the streams are starting to make delightful trickling noises, and those woods are such wonderful places to be, I keep going back.

I've also taken lots of pictures. If you're curious, this is the type of camera I have.

Forest of hardwoods near where I live, on a typical sunny day.
(Photo by the Apple Lady)

There are many depressing facts about forests.  If you want to read about how forests are disappearing and how we're using too much wood and all that, you can read about those things here or here.  But I want to talk about the good things about forests.

There so many different types of plants and animals and bugs and birds that live in forests, and I could talk about all of them.  But for the sake of keeping this entry focused, I'm going to talk mainly about the trees.

Here's one of the biggest old trees in the woods. You come around a curve in the path and come upon this thing and you feel like you've wandered in front of a giant, mossy wizard.
(Photo by the Apple Lady)

  • The UN's Food and Agricultural Organization defines a forest as 
    • a piece of land bigger than 5,000 sq meters, which is slightly larger than one acre
    • with trees higher than 5 meters, or 16.4 ft tall
    • with a tree canopy cover of more than 10%
  • There are different types of forests.  A primary forest is one that has essentially never been disturbed by human activities.  The majority of primary forests left on Earth are in Brazil and, surprisingly, the Russian Federation.
  • Other types of forests are ones that have been cleared at some point and regenerated, either naturally or by having trees replanted by humans.  
  • There are also forest plantations, where people have planted a ton of trees, usually of the same species.  Sometimes they're planted to produce wood but other times they're planted with a protective or ecological purpose in mind such as combating desertification.
  •  About 30% of the total land on Earth is covered by forests of one kind or another.
  • The data for the US is similar.  About 33% of the total land in the country is forest land.

Typical hillside, with lots of tall trees and new growth as well. This was taken in June.
(Photo by the Apple Lady)

    •  The number of species of trees in a forest varies quite a lot depending on the climate.  Generally, the forests containing the greatest diversity of species are in the tropical regions.  Forests with fewer numbers of species are in cold climates where mainly coniferous trees grow.

    Map of the number of tree species in forests, by country
    (Graphic by the FAO's Global Forest Resources Assessment 2005, sourced from Green Facts)

    • Pines, oaks, and spruces are the three most common genera of trees worldwide.  They account for nearly 24% of the total types of trees around the globe. 
    • Fir, birch, beech, and poplar are the next most common, in descending order of prevalence.
    • In the US, the data about tree species diversity gets more fragmented.  Forests are categorized in terms of two or three genera names linked together.  Those names indicate that those types of trees are the most prevalent, but they are by no means the only types of trees that grow there.
    • For example, in the Eastern US, the most common type of forest is the oak-hickory.  In the West, the most common category is "other softwoods," which refers to a variety of coniferous trees.  It's easiest to show you the charts.

    (Source: USDA, US Forest Resource Facts and Historical Trends 2002)

    (Source: USDA, US Forest Resource Facts and Historical Trends 2002)

    • Lest you think that "oak-hickory" means that only oaks and hickories grow there, another study about trees growing in forests in Michigan says they found that 63 different species of trees grow in "oak-hickory" forests.  
    • In Michigan, by the way, the type of forest with the greatest diversity of species is the northern hardwood forest, which are home primarily to maple, basswood, beech, and yellow birch trees.  These forests contain 71 total different species. 

      This is how one of the forests looked only a month ago.  No leaves yet, but pretty nonetheless with the sun and the clouds peeking through.
      (Photo by the Apple Lady)

        • In the US, as of the year 2000, 28% of the country's forests were in counties with large urban centers, or more than 20,000 people.

        (Source: USDA, US Forest Resource Facts and Historical Trends 2002)

          • Forests do all sorts of good things for us. Not only do they help reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the air, they also 
            • absorb heat energy and provide a cooling effect
            • trap and intercept wind-borne pollution
            • protect soil from wind erosion
            • protect coastal areas from shoreline erosion
            • reduce the impact of avalanches
            • moderate the impact of floods
            • protect water resources by filtering pollutants and mitigating salinity
          • Every type of forest, whether it's primary or otherwise, does at least some if not all of these things.

          If this doesn't shout, "I support life!" I don't know what does.
          (Photo by the Apple Lady)

            • Even trees that have been felled and lie in landfills or those that have been converted to lumber, and yes, even the paper resting in your laser printer right now -- all of those once-upon-a-time trees still retain much of the carbon that they absorbed when they were living trees.
            • About 51% of the country's fresh water supply originates in forested land.

            At the far edge of the woods are bluffs that drop down to a river. Lining the far side of the riverbank are sycamores. Took this at sunset a few days ago.
            (Photo by the Apple Lady)

            • An average tree exhales about 120 pounds of oxygen per year.  One person needs one pound of oxygen to breathe per day, so it takes about three trees to provide enough oxygen for one person to breathe each day.
            • According to the USDA, "In the last half of the nineteenth century, an average of 13 square miles of forest was cleared every day for 50 years." 
            • Today, 55% of the country's timber is younger than 50 years old.  6% of the country's trees is older than 175 years. 

              (Source: USDA, US Forest Resource Facts and Historical Trends 2002)

              One of the huge white oaks that grow in these forests. They're so massive in diameter as well as height that I can't capture the entirety of one of these trees in a single frame.  There are several that are even larger, but I chose this photo because I'm hoping the fencepost in the foreground gives you an idea of the size.  Park officials estimate that these white oaks were planted somewhere around the time of the Civil War.
              (Photo by the Apple Lady)

              • Though there are fewer forests than there used to be, the rate of net loss of forested areas worldwide is declining thanks to increased forest planting and the natural expansion of forests on land that once once developed but has since been abandoned.
              • In the US, the most forested land is still in the West.  Each region of the country has seen a decline in the amount of forested land since 1850.  But in recent years, all areas have increased the amount of forested land.

              (Source: USDA, US Forest Resource Facts and Historical Trends 2002)

              • The amount of forested area in the South will continue to increase, since that area has seen the largest amount of tree planting, with extensive planting programs carried out in the 1950s and again in the 1980s.

              Hopefully the future will hold more trees, more paths, more woods to explore.
              (Photo by the Apple Lady)

              Green Facts Scientific Board, Forest and Scientific Facts on Forests
              FAO, Global Forest Resources Assessment 2005, Chapter 3: Biological diversity
              USDA, US Forest Facts and Historical Trends 2000
              Michigan State University Extension, Tree Diversity Within Michigan Forest Types
              Weyerhauser, Forest Facts

              Sunday, April 18, 2010

              Apple #451: Suspicious Minds

              I had this song in my head when I sat down to do the next Daily Apple, so I thought, all right, that'll be the topic.

              Could be it's playing in my brain because it was Elvis week last week on American Idol and I saw Siobahn what'shername do her version of it.  I didn't care for her rendition.  Crystal Bowersox is my choice among this season's contestants, anyway.

              • "Suspicious Minds" was originally recorded by its songwriter, Mark James in 1968.  But it flopped.
              • Elvis recorded it in a late-night, 4 a.m. session in 1969.  

              Elvis in 1969.
              (Photo from Elvis Presley Lyrics - Australia)

              • He'd been doing all those movies and their yawnsville soundtracks, The Beatles and the British Invasion had arrived on the scene and absorbed a lot of his fans, the King was in danger of becoming old hat.
              • Then he did his NBC TV special in 1968 and people's excitement about him got stoked up again.
              • So he went back to Memphis, where he hadn't recorded since he was at Sun Records in 1955, and recorded a bunch of songs in night-time sessions in September of 1969.  Sang his ass off, pretty much.
              • He got two records out of these 1969 sessions, From Elvis in Memphis (which is where you'll find "Suspicious Minds") and Elvis Back in Memphis
              • Other songs from these sessions that hit the charts include "Kentucky Rain," "In the Ghetto," and "Don't Cry Daddy."

              Digitally remastered 3-CD set released in 2009 of the 1969 Memphis recordings also includes some of the songs originally released on Elvis Back in Memphis. "Suspicious Minds" is #13 on the second CD.

              Another 2-CD collection where you can find the 1969 "Suspicious Minds." 

              • A lot of people say that From Elvis in Memphis is one of his best albums, or one of his most important albums, since it breathed new life into his career for a few more years, and since other singers afterward tried to match his vocal intensity.
              • The fade-out at the end of "Suspicious Minds" sounded to me for a long time like an accident, as if somebody bumped the volume button in the middle of everything, did a whoops and turned it back up again.  
              • But apparently that was intentional.  There is some debate about the reasoning behind this.  Some people say that when he performed the song live in Vegas, they did the fade-out on stage, and when he got to the studio, the producers wanted to replicate that.  Other people say the fade-out is supposed to be a thematic representation of the relationship depicted in the song, that just when you think it's over, it's not.
              • Whatever the reasoning behind it, you may not always hear the entire song through the fade-out and beyond.  A lot of DJs will cut it when the volume drops away.
              • Regardless of the confusion over the fade-out, "Suspicious Minds" spent 15 weeks on the charts, topping out at--where else--number one.
              • I didn't know songs could be inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, but apparently they can.  This one was inducted in 1999.
              • Dutch fans of Elvis chose this song as their number one all-time favorite song of his.

              Elvis signing autographs outside Graceland in June 1969.
              (Photo from Images of Elvis Presley)

                • Another sign of a song's staying power is how many people record covers.  Here are some of the major performers who've covered "Suspicious Minds."  There are lots more besides these.  If I didn't give you a link to the cover on YouTube, never fear, you can find the song in iTunes.  In fact, all of these are on iTunes.

                  For your convenience, here are the lyrics:
                  We're caught in a trap
                  I can't walk out
                  Because I love you too much, baby.

                  Why can't you see
                  What you're doing to me
                  When you don't believe a word I say?

                  We can't go on together
                  With suspicious minds (suspicious minds)
                  And we can't build our dreams
                  On suspicious minds.

                  So if an old friend I know
                  Drops by to say hello
                  Would I still see suspicion in your eyes?

                  But here we go again
                  Asking where I've been.
                  You can't see the tears are real I'm crying (tears I'm crying).

                  We can't go on together
                  With suspicious minds (suspicious minds)
                  And we can't build our dreams
                  On suspicious minds.

                  Oh, let our love survive
                  Or dry the tears from your eyes
                  Let's don't let a good thing die
                  When, honey, you know
                  I've never lied to you.
                  Mmm. Yeah, yeah.

                  We're caught in a trap.
                  I can't walk out
                  Because I love you too much, baby.

                  Why can't you see
                  What you're doing to me
                  When you don't believe a word I say?


                  Again, 1969
                  (Photo from Images of Elvis Presley)

                  Cached page from Rolling Stones magazine
                  Songfacts, Suspicious Minds
                  Elvis Presley Lyrics (Australia), Suspicious Minds
                  Elvis: Artist of the Century (Amsterdam), Suspicious Minds
        , discussion about Suspicious Minds
        , "Suspicious Minds" - why the early fade out and back up again?

                  Sunday, April 11, 2010

                  Apple #450: Screws, Bolts, and Nuts

                  Last week, I needed a tool to loosen a rusted fastener.  I could not get it to budge.  I decided to ask friends for a tool to borrow that would help.  Of course they wanted to know why I needed said tool, and I had a heck of a time explaining why because I wasn't sure exactly which type of fastener it was that I was dealing with.  Once I finish the entry, I'll be able to tell you what it was.

                  You handy-man-people might be laughing at me for not knowing this, but I'm not the only one who has trouble discerning the difference between bolts and screws.  Apparently the terms "bolt" and "screw" have been used interchangeably, or confusingly, for a long time.  In fact, some people say that there is not A universally accepted method of distinguishing the two.  So I'm not the only one.  Besides, 8th grade Shop with Mr. I-Love-the-Feel-of-Wood-Chips-in-My-Chest-Hair Benson was a long time ago.

                  But now, after having looked around online at various sites, I'm going to tell you what generally seems to be the case about bolts versus screws.

                  SCREWS VS. BOLTS
                  • Whether it's a screw or a bolt is not determined by the head where you drive the thing, but by the end that gets driven into the wood or other material.  
                  • Basically, screws have pointy ends and bolts have blunt ends.

                  Fairly typical screw.  Note the pointy end.
                  (Photo and screw from Fastenal)

                  Fairly typical bolt. Note the blunt end.  
                  Confusing matters, Fastenal calls these "heavy hex bolts" on their main page. Once you drill down to the pages about the individual items, however, they change the name to "heavy hex cap screws." There is actually a slight difference between a hex bolt and a hex cap screw. But both seem to have blunt ends. I'm sure if I'm wrong some generous reader will be quick to correct me.
                  (Photo and bolt from Fastenal)

                  • Bolts also usually require a nut to be attached to the business end in order to keep the bolt from unscrewing itself.  I say "usually" because not all bolts need nuts.

                  Nuts are threaded internally and are designed to marry -- that is the technical verb for it -- with bolts that are threaded externally to similar specifications.
                  (Nut and photo from Home Depot)

                  • Sometimes, though, a thing that has a pointy end and does not require a nut still gets called a bolt.  In those cases, the reason seems to be that it's fairly thick in diameter, larger than most household screws. But that only generally seems to be true.
                  • But let's pretend that I have successfully separated the bolts from the screws. Within the worlds of screws and bolts, there are all sorts of variations. I'll describe some of the more common variations within each.  In addition to what I'm going to show you here, there are many more types, and within each type, there are further variations in terms of what the head might look like, or what dimensions the threads have, or what material the thing is made out of or coated with. 


                  (Okay, yes, I'm aware of the pun on "screw" and in some situations on this page, that pun is pretty funny. Rest assured, any time you notice it, I've noticed and chuckled at it, too.)

                  • Concrete screws are usually blue and they are often coated to resist corrosion.  They were designed to secure other materials to concrete or masonry.  These screws are sometimes also called Tapcons, after the brand name of concrete screws often sold in the US.  They have a unique set of threads that will cut threads into the base material as it is being driven.

                  A Tapcon flat concrete screw
                  (Photo and screw from Tapcon)

                  • Deck screws are very similar to drywall screws (next item).  The main difference is that they usually have additional coating to make them resistant to corrosion, since they are more exposed to the elements, and they're also usually larger.

                  Deck screw and photo from Fastenal

                  • Drywall screws have very pointy ends so they'll pierce the drywall material easily.  The threads are "coarse" or spaced fairly wide, since drywall may crumble easily. It also has what's known as a bugle head which helps to keep the drywall attached to the studs.

                  This particular drywall screw has a Philips head.
                  (Photo and screw from Fastenal)

                  • Self-drilling screws are so-called because the funny-looking smooth end creates a starter hole, rather than you having to drill one.  The pointy tip pierces through soft metals and the smooth starter portion allows the screw to sink a ways into the material, and then the threads begin to bite.

                  This particular variety of self-drilling screw has a hex head with a built-in washer beneath it.
                  (Photo and screw from Fastenal)

                  • Sheet metal screws were originally designed to work with sheet metal.  The threads are sharp enough to cut through the sheet metal.  But those sharp threads make this type of screw popular with other materials like plastic or wood.  These make a good all-purpose screw.

                  This variety of sheet metal screw has a hex head plus washer, and the head also has a slot for a screwdriver. Can't get much more all-purpose than that.
                  (Photo and screw from Fastenal)

                  • Thumb screws.  You know that phrase, "putting the thumb screws to a person?"  That used to refer to applying a particular method of torture to a person's thumbs.  This is a different type of thumb screw.  It's pretty obvious where you're supposed to put your thumb here.

                  Ignoring the fact that it has a blunt, bolt-like end, this is a thumb screw, designed to be turned by hand.
                  (Photo and thumb screw by Fastenal)


                  There are lots and lots of different kinds of bolts.  I'm going to talk about only a few of the most commonly used ones.
                  • Carriage bolts have a domed head and a square hunk beneath the domed head.  These are designed to drop into holes that have already been drilled into wood.  The end of the bolt where the threads are sticks out on the other side of the wood and the nut is tightened onto the threads. As it is tightened, the bolt is pulled farther into the wood and the edges of the square bite into the wood, keeping it snug.

                  Carriage bolt with domed top and square section just beneath it.
                  (Image from Bolt Products, Inc.)

                  • Stove bolts are bolts, but they are defined as a type of machine screw.  They may have either a round head or a flat head, and the head may fir a Philips head screwdriver or be a single slot.  They are typically made of lower grade steel. Home Depot, Lowe's, Fastenal, and Bolt Products, Inc. don't sell them.  This was the creature I was trying to un-stick.  Perhaps now you can understand why I wasn't sure whether to call it a bolt or not.  The fact that the store where I went for help doesn't sell them may also explain why the clerk seemed to be very confused when I said I was using a screwdriver and a wrench simultaneously to try to loosen it.

                  Drawing of stove bolt from Milspecfasteners

                  • Tap bolts are threaded from the blunt end all the way to the head. These are designed to be dropped into holes that have already been drilled to the same diameter as the bolt and "tapped" into place.  They are used often in boat-building and woodworking.

                  Tap bolt and photo from Fastenal

                  • Toggle bolts are used when you can't get to the other side of the material where the end of the bolt will stick out, such as the other side of a wall or a ceiling.  Toggle bolts have a flaring hinged wing on the business end.  The wing is folded up as the bolt is screwed into the material.  Once the end of the bolt clears the other side of the material, the wing pops open and acts as a nut to keep the bolt in place.

                  This particular variety of toggle bolt has a slot on the head to allow the bolt to be turned with a screwdriver.
                  (Toggle bolt and photo from Ameribest)

                  • U-bolts look like their name suggests.  They're used to attach pipes to other things.  U-bolts that have squared-off corners are used for attaching lumber.

                  U-bolt and photo from Fastenal


                  There are some fasteners with names that still muddy the waters.
                  • Eyebolts have a loop for a head where you could tie or attach something like the strings of an awning, for example. Some of them have pointy ends like screws and others have flat ends like bolts. 

                  Home Depot calls this a "stainless steel screw eyebolt."

                  Here is an eye bolt sold by Fastenal.

                  • Hex cap bolts have heads, or caps, with hexagonal sides.  These are designed to be turned with wrenches or sockets that have hexagonal openings.  There are also hex cap screws.  Hex cap screws are slightly smaller in diameter than their bolt counterparts, but often the terms are used interchangeably.

                  Hex cap screws and bolts are also supposed to have ends that do not taper, but on this particular one, the end is chamfered, or beveled, in order to make the initial insertion easier.
                  (Hex cap bolt and photo from Fastenal)

                  • Lag screws are sometimes also called lag bolts, though the folks at Wikipedia say these are "clearly screws." My dad loves these things. The pointy end means he doesn't have to drill a hole first and he doesn't need a nut, the hex head means they're turned with a wrench and he prefers using wrenches over screwdrivers which can slip off the head more easily, and the "lag" or smooth space where there are no threads provides all sorts of benefits. One is that it allows metal to be joined to wood, or if you want to join wood to wood, the head will sink below the surface of the wood and not stick up. If you give my dad a bag of lag screws for Christmas, he will say, "Ohhh, lag screws!" and chuckle with delight.

                  Again, Fastenal muddies the waters. On their main page they call these lag bolts. But on the individual pages, they call them lag screws.
                  (Photo from Fastenal)

                  • Machine screws.  All sorts of things seem to get classified as machine screws.  Even though they're called "screws," some of them are used with nuts.  Sometimes, like bolts, they're driven into driven into tapped or pre-drilled holes.  But sometimes the phrase is used to indicate smaller-size, run-of-the-mill screws.  They might have hex heads or they might have slot or Philips heads.

                  Philips head machine screw from Fastenal. Note its bolt-like blunt end.

                  Home Depot classifies this as a type of machine screw, but the page where it's listed individually describes it as a durable lag screw.  Note the pointy, screw-like end.

                  There.  I feel better.  At least I know what the thing I was trying to loosen is called.  And at least I know I was not an ignoramus for being somewhat confused by bolts and screws all this time.

                  Danny Lipford, How to join wood using a carriage bolt video
                  Bolt Products, Inc. Bolts and Screws
                  Fastenal Fasteners pages
                  American Society of Civil Engineers, Task Committee on Fasteners, Mechanical connections in wood structures, Chapter 3: Lag Screws and Wood Screws
                  Wikipedia, Differentiation between bolt and screw

                  Monday, April 5, 2010

                  Apple #449: Candy Bar Facts

                  To be honest, I had trouble coming up with a topic for today.  I'm not sure why.  Some days it's harder for me to hit on something than others.

                  I thought about how sometimes you get candy in an Easter basket, and I started thinking about chocolate, but I've already done a couple entries about chocolate in general.  I thought I might try to find out which chocolate candy bars are the best-selling in the US, but I wasn't able to find current, reliable information for free -- I know I could find it in business market research, but I'd have to pay for that and that's not the point of this here blog.

                  So I decided I'll find out a fact or two about candy bars that seem to be the most popular.  I'm not going to assign numbers to them because I can't promise which is the favorite or which are better-liked than others.  I'm going strictly by my observation and choosing the ones that seem to be crowd favorites and going from there.

                  (Photo by Steve Hopson on Flickr)

                  • Milk Duds are so named because at first they tried to make perfectly round candies. When they discovered this was impossible, that all of them were essentially "duds," that became their name.  The "milk" part refers to the fact that the recipe uses a lot of milk.
                  • Butterfingers were originally made by the Curtiss Company in 1923.  Their first promotion was to drop the candy bars from airplanes in several cities. When the product was sold to Nabisco, the story goes that the recipe to make Butterfingers was lost and the Nabisco employees had to figure out how to make them on their own.

                  To make the inside of a Butterfinger, roasted peanuts are made into peanut butter that is then blended with a sugar candy to make something that isn't quite peanut brittle or anything else, for that matter.
                  (Photo from Uelis Welt)

                    • The origin of the name of Baby Ruth candy bars is very much in dispute.  Most people assume that they were named after Babe Ruth, the baseball player.  However, the company maintains they were named after the daughter of President Grover Cleveland, who was in office at the time.  But young Ruth Cleveland died of diphtheria years before the candy bar was released.  So it is probable that the candy bar was named after Babe Ruth, but they didn't want to pay him any money to use his name. Baby Ruths were also made by Curtiss, and Nabisco reportedly lost the recipe to Baby Ruths, too, when they bought Curtiss.
                    • 3 Musketeers used to be three separate candy bars in one wrapper: one with vanilla nougat, one with chocolate nougat, and one with strawberry nougat.  Because of rationing during World War II, Mars dropped the vanilla and strawberry and made only the chocolate nougat versions, but still kept the name.  Which confuses people enough now that some even wonder whether the folks at Mars got 3 Musketeers and Milky Ways mixed up (they did not).

                    For holidays, 3 Musketeers make special flavors like strawberry (2nd photo), raspberry, French vanilla, and mocha cappuccino. Apparently unlike Nabisco, Mars doesn't lose their recipes.
                    (Photos from 3 Musketeers and Candy Addict)

                      • KitKats are the number one selling candy bar in the United Kingdom. The candy bars were named after the KitKat Club in London, which itself was named after paintings called kitkats that were wider than they were high to accommodate the low ceilings in the club.  Every second, 418 KitKats are eaten. 
                      • Twix bars, though originally made in the UK, were called Raider bars in France, Germany, Austria, Belgium, and Switzerland.  In 1991 Mars decided to call them Twix in those countries, to many Raider-lovers' dislike.
                      • Reese's Peanut Butter cups: He really did get his peanut butter in their chocolate.  A guy named Harry Reese hated dairy farming and moved to Hershey, PA.  He saw how well Hershey's chocolates were doing so he decided to try his hand at it.  In the 1920s, he made his own specially processed peanut butter and formed them into cups inside Hershey's chocolate.  They sold like gangbusters and by 1963, Hershey's bought Reese's peanut butter cups and brought the whole concern into the fold.

                      (Photo from Ma and Pa's Candy)

                      • Hershey bars were invented by Milton Snavely Hershey, who first owned and operated a business making caramels. He sold that business so he could concentrate solely on making chocolate, and he built his factory in Pennsylvania, in the heart of dairy farm country so he could be close to a large supply of milk.  He hit on the winning formula for making milk chocolate -- a recipe that had been closely guarded by Swiss chocolate makers for decades -- through trial and error.

                      The five-pound Hershey bar.
                      (Photo from

                        • M&Ms were invented as a way to deliver chocolate to soldiers in the Spanish Civil War so that it wouldn't melt or freeze or get squashed.  The candies were originally sold and shipped in heavy tubes. Even in the coated-paper packages in which they're sold today, they still hold up in any climate, and they have even gone into space with astronauts as part of their food rations.
                        • Snickers bars were invented in 1929 by Frank and Ethel Mars.  They named them after their favorite horse.  In the U.K. and Ireland, Snickers used to be called the Marathon bar.  Coming full circle, there is now a Snickers Marathon Bar which is marketed as a "healthy" food.  There are Energy, Protein, and Nutrition varieties. 

                        (Photo from Imagine Annie)

                          Snickers Marathon bar, the Energy variety in chewy chocolate peanut. Sounds a lot like a Snickers bar, doesn't it?
                          (Photo from Walmart)

                          • And because I feel like a nut, I'll tell you a little bit about Almond Joys.  Each almond is individually coated in chocolate before it is added to the rest of the candy bar.  This is done not just to increase the almond-chocolate goodness but to protect the almond from the natural oils in the coconut which would otherwise make the almond soggy.

                          The Almond Joy is coated in milk chocolate.  One candy lover tried what I consider to be the pinnacle of the coconut candy bar option, which is an Almond Joy in dark chocolate.  He (I think it's a he) said that the dark chocolate masked the coconut too much for his liking.  I don't know; I think I might like it just fine.
                          (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

                          Hershey', Milk Duds Candy, KitKat, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Hershey Milk Chocolate bars 
                          Nestle Professional Facts About Kit Kat
                          Charlotte Kuchinsky, Interesting Facts About One of America's Favorite Candies--M&Ms, Associated Content, August 17, 2007
                , 3 Musketeers
                          Food, 3 Musketeers Candy Bar, Baby Ruth Candy Bar, Almond Joy
                , Curtiss Candy Company
                          Nestle USA, Butterfinger
                          Useful, Candy Bar Trivia - Butterfinger, Candy Bar Trivia - Twix, Candy Bar Trivia - Snickers
                          20-20 Site, Fun Facts About Twix 
                          Connie Whiting, Butterfinger Candy Bar Facts, eHow
                          The Great Idea Finder, Hershey Bar
                          The Fire Wire, 5 Facts About Snickers