Elena

I am nearsighted and often find it interesting to learn what people think about it. Not about me.

I have gotten a lot of interesting replies, but seldom one that really understands the subject (unless they themselves are near sighted).

The cornea and the lens of eye work together to focus Light into the back of the eye (a bit like the projector thingies that you can hang from ceilings to display images in a white canvas a bit further away), where the images from the outside will be "developed" (where you have the cells that help make sense of what you are seeing and transmit the info to the brain).

When you are nearsighted the lens shape is a bit off, so the whole light conduction to the back is a bit fuzzy.

When you squint you change the shape of the lens (with all the muscle pressure) just enough to improve the vision a little bit. Your pupil gets bigger and smaller to let in more or less light.

When your pupil is big, light from a single point in the real world is entering the eye at slightly different angles. The eye focuses the light from these slightly different angles back into a single point to make a sharp, clear image. But if you're nearsighted and aren't wearing glasses, light from far away won't be in focus. Instead of the light focusing to a point, it hits your retina (the part of the eye that senses the light) in a circle shape. Because of this, you see a blurry image.

When you squint, you're blocking part of your pupil with your eyelids and eyelashes. Everything looks darker, but the light isn't spread out as much on your retina.

If you take a camera and set the aperture (the camera's pupil) to be big, you'll notice that only a small part of the image is in focus, and everything else is blurry. Now if you close the aperture to make it smaller, a lot more of the image looks sharp. This is for the same reason. Unfortunately you can't control your eye's pupil size - which is why we have to squint to achieve this effect.

Interestingly, if you look at a bright small light in a photo taken with a wide aperature, you can sometimes see big blurry circles or hexagonal shapes where the light was.

This shows the shape of the aperture and how much the light from a point spreads out on the camera's light sensor. Therefore, short lenses (a pinhole) provide very clear focus, while tall lenses (your normal eye) provide a much shorter focal distance.

If your eyes are having trouble focusing, it can make a big difference.

Elena

My half sister is getting married. Yay! I have found the whole process fascinating to watch. Not just on a family level, but on a human one as well.

If you were to propose to you girlfriend/boyfriend would you know what the traditional engagement etiquette is?

Her fiancee did. And he made it a very public display and chose to include both family. Risky, but it paid off for him.

But for an engagement there are a couple of things that I wanted to point out. The engagement ring is typically given by the man to the woman when the proposal is done. Often, this ring is a diamond ring.

Typically, the woman will want to be surprised on some level prior to the proposal, however most couples will already know they are essentially engaged (i.e intend to marry each other) prior to the actual proposal itself.

I know some women who would want to know every single last detail of the rings and proposals and some who would prefer to stay completely in the dark. I suggest it would be a good idea to have an idea of what your lady wants before making any solid plans either way.

Typical engagement lengths can be anywhere from 6 mos to 2 years. Anything longer than that, people will start saying it's a long engagement.

The wedding bands are usually chosen by the couple together, at some point before their wedding. These are the ones that are exchanged during the vows.

In most cases, she will wear the engagement ring for the rest of her life, so you want to really get an idea of her style before you buy it. That, or buy a temp and then exchange it for a real one that you both pick out later (many places will do so for no charge).

The Engagement Party

An engagement party is not the same thing as getting engaged. You will hold this later. This can be a group celebration or only include the parents of the bride and groom.

An engagement party is not the same thing as a wedding shower which also includes both the bride and groom.

Many people frown on a wedding shower, thinking that a couple shower is avoiding traditional values.

Remember that every tradition and practice surrounding engagements and weddings is totally socially constructed, and you can do whatever you and her want.

What I'm saying is, maybe you should discuss the process with her first and see what she wants.

For instance, I didn't want an engagement ring, and I would have felt really weird if my husband had proposed to me with one.

I also have friends who wanted very specific types of engagement rings (like a family heirloom ring) and would probably have been bummed if they didn't get to use it.

And please do not buy into that stupid rule about need to spend a large portion of your salary on a ring. If you want, ask her parents for their blessing. It's not mandatory but a sweet gesture.

Elena

My kid was lamenting why they had to keep blowing their nose. Couldn't they be empty? Colds right?

So why is it that you can't empty your sinus?

Some of the immediate fullness you feel is not mucus instantly generating, but your sinuses swelling back up and blocking the nasal passages.

That's why you can repeatedly blow your nose, have just a little bit come out, but still feel like you need to blow again.

The mucus comes directly from the surface of your nose, called a mucous membrane because it produces mucus to protect itself and as lubrication. This mucus is a combination of long, stringy proteins and water, which allows it to stick to most surfaces.

See, your sinuses are inflamed when you're sick. When you blow your nose, you kind of flex them as well so they get a bit narrower to let stuff out. Then when you're done blowing/flexing those muscles, they swell back up.

We produce a ton of it while we have upper respiratory tract infections like the common cold because our immune systems are trying to isolate the virus causing the infection and prevent more from getting in. This measure isn't actually that effective, as it only slows down viruses and bacteria can swim right through it, but we do it anyway.

Allergies do the same thing because they are an attempt by the immune system to attack something that isn't actually a disease, like pollen. We are less clear on why allergies happen, but some hypothesize that they occur due to infants and children living in environments that are far too clean.

Their immune systems don't have anything to fight, so they start fighting random things instead.

Elena

Our government seems to be in a perpetual state of being in debt, and it isn't like to change.

But why?

Most likely no, it will never come to pass that either the US government will ever be debt free. There is no real incentive for them to eliminate all debt, and there is significant demand for government debt.

It's easiest to think of it like a business (governments are not businesses ), the mechanics of it are similar.

I'm going to focus on the US but most government debt is in the form of government treasury bonds. These bonds are bought by citizens and companies as a form of investments because they are a very safe investment. The first step in eliminating a nations debt would be to stop issuing new debt. This means no more bonds to invest in.

The next step would be to look at what the borrowed money is used for. The answer is pretty much anything. Highways, dams, military equipment, payroll, etc... In order to eliminate our debt, we would have to at least balance total government income with total government spending. This makes large scale spending projects much more challenging.

All this assumes that the government doesn't just "print" its way out of debt. This strategy would lead to high inflation rates, which could hurt everyone. They exist to improve the public well being.

If they were turning a profit, they would be taking more money than necessary, and not providing people with any benefit from that excess.

Ideally, a government would break even. This is a hard target to hit. The next best thing is to have a deficit. There can be some disadvantages if later generations end up with a larger burden of that debt.

However, generally later generations benefit from having better schools, healthcare, and transportation options as a result of government spending.

The only time debt is bad for a government is when it can't be paid. This gives the government a lower credit rating, which means higher interest rates. That bridge that the government wants to build now costs a couple extra million in interest.

But the bridge is no better because of that interest.

The only difference is that the people who loaned the money are taking a larger risk, so will get more money back in return provided the government continues to pay its debt.

Elena

I don't know about you but I see these programs on TV all the time. They spend so much money building extravagant houses for people. But who pays for it, and how do they earn that money back?

The short answer is:

The show is funded by the network, in this case ABC. These homes, built in such a quick time, may cost $500-700,000.

That might seem like a lot. Let's compare to some other show budgets:

"Friends" in the later seasons cost $10 Million per episode, as each of the stars were making over $1 Million per episode.

"Frasier" cost $5 Million per episode.

There are many others that cost even more.

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition required no locations other than that of the "winner", no cast other than Ty and crew which was the same every time, no sets, absolutely no special effects to speak, not a single "artistic" lighting scene, or anything.

You pay the cast (none of which were huge celebs), you pay the crew, you build a big house in a week. All in all, you have spent way, WAY less money than a single sitcom episode. reality type shows are super cheap to create relative to scripted TV. You're not paying script writers, big name actors, set designers, renting locations, special effects, etc. The hosts make good money, but not star of sitcom/drama money by a long shot. The participants do it for free. There are not a bunch of locations that require moving truck loads of equipment for a 30 sec scene. So your labor costs are a tiny fraction of scripted TV, and the construction costs are probably less than an actual show that needs sets, on-location set-ups in many places, etc.

The remodels are partially subsidized by products mentioned or that buy sponsorships. Then the shows have ad time in them that is sold.

So a production company spends $100k on a remodel, $100k on crew & host, $50k on post production. Then they sell the episode for $300k to HGTV, who sells $500k in ads against it (might only be $50k per airing, but they run each episode like 5x a week when new, and run re-runs later on).

Elena

And clean ones at that. This is something that I learned at a young age.

In places that receive heavier rain, gutters can prevent erosion, but more likely are there to prevent flooding of lawns, homes and gardens.

If your roof was real close to the ground. Since your roof is far away from the ground, the water dripping from the roof accelerates to a pretty high speed. Then it hits the ground. It makes a tiny crater, that can collect the water that follows. While the water is a little way out from the wall, it's not far enough to avoid foundation damage. Gutters get the water to the ground, and then splash it on a little chunk of concrete that it can't crater.

If you have clay in your soil then it can expand in the region that was dug up to bury your basement. This can fail your basement wall. Repairing the basement in my last house cost me $23K. If the previous owner had put up gutters, they would have paid for themselves.

My previous home did not have gutters.

It took about 3 years to cause the damage, based on the two "home improvement" projects he did when he should have been putting up gutters.

It did have sandy soil and a french drain all around the foundation. The only real problem we had was rain splashing on the deck, causing water damage both to the deck board closest to the house and to the siding at that point. But where we had a strip of decorative stones for the rest of the house, there were no problems, other than periodically refreshing the stone.

My current home has gutters, but no trees really close. We've never had a need to clean the gutters. One of the downspouts got crushed a bit by a car, but still carries the rainwater.

We see no reason to remove them.