Today’s entry might seem a bit unusual to some; however, I’ve found the website we’ll be discussing quite interesting and have actually obtained a great deal of helpful information which could also be considered a good resource in help for seniors and elderly assistance when utilizing the internet. Now I must ask, have you ever heard something or read a story online and wondered if it were true? Snopes.com is the perfect site on which one can decipher truth from fiction including everything from food and beverage preparation tips, identifying what day pre-packaged bread was baked on to outrageous urban legends.
Numeric codes on produce stickers - Although the following statement found on Facebook in 2012, “Those stickers on fruits and veggies tell you quite a bit! 4 numbers mean they were conventionally grown. 5 numbers starting with number 8 means they are genetically modified (GMO). And 5 numbers starting with 9 means they were organically grown.” holds some truth in that:
“PLU codes are 4 or 5 digit numbers which have been used by supermarkets since 1990 to make check-out and inventory control easier, faster, and more accurate. They ensure that the correct price is paid by consumers by removing the need for cashiers to identify the product; e.g., whether or not it is conventionally or organically grown. They are primarily assigned to identify individual bulk fresh produce (and related items such as nuts and herbs) and will appear on a small sticker applied to the individual piece of fresh produce. The PLU number identifies produce items based upon various attributes which can include the commodity, the variety, the growing methodology (e.g., organic) and the size group.” Snopes.com states that the PLU codes found on all forms of produce are not a reliable consumer guide.
Easter Island moai statues - The focus of one photo circulating on the internet is in regards to the “giant head” moai statues on Easter Island. Those wondering about the validity of the photo and recent claims will be interested to learn, “In recent years the Easter Island Statue Project (EISP) has undertaken efforts to excavate and study some of the moai, thereby revealing previously hidden portions of the statues.” So yes, the moai statues do actually have recently unearthed bodies.
The tapioca freighter – Would you believe that, “A freighter carrying tapioca nearly sank when a fire in its hold (and the water used to extinguish it) cooked the cargo” ? Though it sounds a bit outrageous this is in fact true!
“In August 1972, stacked timber that the Swiss freighter Cassarate was carrying in its upper holds caught fire. The crew kept the situation under control by wetting down the smoldering wood for 25 days, until the blaze flared up and the ship was forced to dock at Cardiff, Wales. Unfortunately, the Cassarate was also carrying 1,500 tons of tapioca in its lower hold, and the heat from the timber fire, combined with the extinguishing water sprayed on it (which seeped down to the lower holds), proceeded to cook the tapioca. The mass of tapioca — enough to make hundreds of thousands of plates of pudding — started to expand as it reached its boiling point, threatening to buckle the ship's steel plating before it could be offloaded from the hold…”
What stories have you heard or topics you are curious about? As mentioned, one of the sites I have found most reliable in distinguishing fact from fiction is Snopes.com so, you might wish to start there in looking for answers. Online research can be both fun and interesting!
What is Snopes.com and what are its origins?
The Snopes were a family of characters weaved throughout the works of Nobel Prize-winning American writer William Faulkner. When David Mikkelson, creator of snopes.com, first came onto the Internet in the late 1980s, he worried even back in those relatively uncrowded days that no one would remember yet another David. He was thus inspired to adopt a nom-de-Net, selecting one that honored those fictional Faulknerian characters, and began signing his newsgroups posts as "snopes."
Over the years snopes established a fearsome online reputation for his ability to thoroughly research and debunk false claims. When it came time to name our domain, www.snopes.com seemed the obvious choice.”
One such example of obtaining information was when, just a few days ago, an elder neighbor asked if I would pick up some hearing aide batteries. Given someone had told her that a particular discount store offered 100 batteries for only $8.00 she asked that I make the purchase from that specific retailer. Although I could not imagine any batteries would be available in that quantity at such a low price, I went ahead and checked both the store and then their online website and found neither offered what she was told. [Helpful hint: Some may not realize that retailers often have more items to choose from on their websites than what is in stock in store.] Still wanting to find her the best price, I searched the web and ended up at a familiar auction site where I frequently have found the best deals. After ordering 76 batteries for the low price of $12.50, I was then curious as to the best means of storage. Having grown up with batteries kept in the refrigerator to prolong their life, I wanted to know if that still held true. Interestingly enough, though this might have been true in the past, batteries are made a bit differently today; therefore, putting today’s batteries in a refrigerator or freezer results in condensation build-up which in fact lessens shelf-life.
One might also wonder about such things as:
Plastic bread tags - Why are the plastic tags utilized in securing bread bags different colors? Is it true that the colors indicate which day the loaves were baked on? This is in fact the case and; for those who are interested, following are the color of tags used to indicate which day of the week each loaf is baked on.
Please also note, this type of tag also includes the sell by date.
Safely brewing sun tea - Is it safe to brew tea by allowing it to steep in the sunlight? In truth no as it can harbor dangerous bacteria. Scopes.com tells us that, “According to the Centers for Disease Control, using the sun's rays to make tea can facilitate the growth of bacteria. Tea steeped in a jar on your porch won't get any hotter than 130° Fahrenheit, about the temperature of a really hot bath and not nearly hot enough to kill nasties lurking either in the water or on the tea itself. For that, water needs to be heated to 195° for three to five minutes.”
Further, Snopes.com adds:
“The following rules have been recommended for those who brew sun tea:
Use a container that has been scrubbed in warm, soapy water. As an additional precaution, dip the container in a bleach solution made with 1-1/2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon of bleach per gallon of water.
If the container has a spigot, clean it carefully after each use, preferably by taking it apart. If you can't clean inside the spigot, don't brew sun tea in that vessel — find yourself something else to use.
Do not leave tea to brew in the sunlight for more than three to four hours.
Do not prepare more tea than you plan to use that day.
Refrigerate the drink as soon as it is ready and keep it refrigerated.
Discard tea if it appears thick or syrupy. Those ropy strands are bacteria.”