What You Don’t Know About Gold

Sometimes the writing gods throw your next subject in your face, and you don’t realize it. I was reading a passage in the Bible about the building of Solomon’s temple.

“He overlaid the inside with pure gold, and he also overlaid the altar of cedar.

Gold. It never dawned on me how long we have revered gold. This metal was precious in biblical times, and today we still admire its value. I might have to do a little research on this. I’m curious.

The research started shaping up. I think this is interesting and something my loyal readers would find interesting too.

The next day I received my “This Day in History” email and lo and behold on Aug. 16 in 1896, gold was discovered in the Yukon. That was definitely a push to travel this path.

What sealed the deal? The Italian Job came up on my television when I turned it on. If you don’t know the movie it’s about stealing gold. The writing gods don’t have to hit me over the head a fourth time. I was supposed to write about gold.

The wonderful thing about the internet is that it makes any writer’s research easier.

But that convenience comes with a downside. You have to sift through all the information, evaluate your sources and make the best judgment you can.

Most of this information comes from websites selling gold. I also use the Encylopaedia Britannica website. Most of the same information was found on more than one website so I feel confident that it’s accurate. If anyone has objections, feel free to let me know, and I’ll take it under advisement. I’ll then have my lawyers call your lawyers.

Fun Facts About Gold

1. Evidence of gold use dates back to Ancient Egypt. The capstones on the Pyramids of Giza are made of solid gold.

2. Gold is the oldest precious metal. The lure of gold can be attributed to its beauty, its scarcity and its malleable property making it easy to use for adornment.

3. Gold is one of the heaviest metals. The volume is 19 times heavier than water. One cubic foot of gold weights 1206 pounds.

4. Ancient Greeks regarded gold as a status symbol.

5. A gold brick weighs about 27 lbs.

6. Gold is considered a noble metal, so it doesn’t oxidize under normal conditions

7. Pure gold is soft, about the hardness of a penny.

8. The proportion of gold is measured in karats, 24 karats being the purest form. 14 karat gold has 14 parts gold to 10 parts of metal creating the gold alloy.

9. The largest gold mine in the United States is the Homestate mine in Lead, South Dakota which is opened 1876.

10. In 1792 the United States passed the Mint and Coinage Act placing our country on a bi-metallic, silver-gold standard. This remained in one form or another until 1976.

11. George Harrison from South Africa discovered gold in his backyard in 1868. That discovery changed South Africa forever. It is now the highest producer of gold in the world.

12. By 550 BC the Greeks were mining for gold throughout the Mediterranean and Middle East regions.

13. It is rarer to find a one ounce gold nugget than a five carat diamond.

I hope these facts will pique your interest enough to do some reading on your own. The history of gold is more interesting than I though it would be. Many thanks to the writing gods for their subtle suggestions.


Why You Should Use Flipboard As Soon As Possible

If you haven’t heard of Flipboard, get yourself a cup of coffee, sit down in a comfortable chair and keep reading. I’m about to make your life simpler. Thanks to Scott Biddulph over at Two Drops of Ink, I took his advice and checked out Flipboard. I have fallen in love with this app, and I know you will too.

Flipboard provides a free format for reading and collecting information. Think of this as a Pinterest for magazine articles. Instead of creating boards, you create magazines.

The app was originally created for mobile readers, but now there is a desktop version. In 2015 there were 34,000 topics and 21 million magazines; I can’t imagine what the statistics are now. If you can’t find something you like, you’re not trying hard enough.

Imagine a newspaper or magazine delivered to your door that was custom written for you. You no longer have to browse through every page looking for the articles that piques your interest. Now everything is interesting, and you don’t have to feel taken because you forked out $5 for a magazine stuffed with those annoying stuffers.

First step is to sign up for Flipboard. Then let the fun begin. You get to tell Flipboard what you want to read.

Up in the right hand corner, click on the button that says “What’s your passion?” Scroll through the list and find the main topics that interest you. Many of these will have subtopics. I love American history, so I clicked on the topic. Under it were over 25 subtopics providing an opportunity to narrow my passion.

If you’re interested in something that is not listed, go up to the magnifying glass and type it in to see what’s available. Choosing a passion signals Flipboard to automatically create a magazine.

When you start choosing your list of passions, resist the urge to go crazy. I’ve created thirteen so far and receive more than enough articles delivered to me. Think of the Smart Magazines as individual magazines divided up by genre. If you’re into cooking, you’ll get all the cooking magazines dumped into your smart magazine. You’re probably not going to read every article. I’m already thinking of deleting a few because of over information overload.

Besides topics, you can also search for specific people or publications you would like to follow. Make sure you choose the real deal, though. Some people might title a magazine the name of the publication or person you happen to be looking for.

You can stop here and let Flipboard do all the work going on your merry way reading and discarding. But I doubt you’ll be happy stopping here. There will be articles, videos, and pictures that you’ll want to save. Now you’ll need a magazine or two, or ten to organize your gems. I don’t know if there is a limit, but if there is, I doubt you’ll reach it.

I currently have eight magazines. Among the eight I created three magazines to coincide with my website: Simple, Smart, and Sassy. Here is where I put my blog posts. I can also collect other articles that have subject matter similar to mine and put them into these magazines. Besides these three magazines, I also created magazines on topics that I would collect and store.

Think of this as your own magazine rack. For example, when I find an article on writing, I’ll save it to my “Writing Well” magazine. This magazine also includes my articles from Two Drops of Ink. Flipboard allows for self-promotion, so take advantage of it.

I would recommend a magazine to collect articles that you may not have time to read right away. I call mine “Read Later.” Brilliant, I know.

There is also a profile section if you want to share some background information. Since I use Flipboard as another social media outlet for my website, I completed the profile to coincide with my writing website.

Remember, the magazines you create will only have the articles you put into them. The Smart Magazines have information that changes based on your interactions and interests. Flipboard users will only see the magazines you create.

You can also decide to make a magazine private or public. Click on the magazine and look in the lower right corner for the edit button. Click and you’ll come to this page.

Under settings you’ll have the option to set your privacy. I have a few magazines that don’t coincide with my website, so I keep these private. If one of my friends wants to see one of these private magazines, I can add her to the share list.

If you enjoyed an article, like it by clicking the heart. This tells Flipboard that you want to read more articles like that one. You can also comment if you so desire. These are strictly Flipboard comments which means only fellow Flipboard users will see them.

If you find that you’re receiving too much information, or the information you’re receiving you don’t like, delete the magazine. This is easy to do once you figure out how, so pay attention so you don’t waste as much time as I did.

Click on the magazine that you want to delete. You’ll see three dots after the title.

Click on the dots. You’ll see three options:

  1. Delete from home
  2. Personalize, or
  3. Delete. Clicking “delete” will remove the magazine completely.

As you become an active Flipboard user, you’ll see articles in your daily feed that come from sources you don’t like or trust. You can tell Flipboard to mute the source. I couldn’t find this option on the computer version, so do it on your phone. In the bottom right corner will be three dots. Click on the dots and find “mute” in the listing.

What happens if you find an article or blog that you want to flip but you’re not reading it in Flipboard? I have an answer, and it’s simple. Find the Flipboard extension and add it to your Google Chrome.

  1. Open a Chrome browser.
  2. Click on the three dots in the upper right corner of the tool bar.
  3. Scroll to More tools.
  4. Click on Extensions
  5. Click on Get more extensions.
  6. In the search window, type in +Flip it
  7. Click on the blue box where it says Add to Chrome.
  8. You’ll see the icon in your toolbar. Make sure that you enable the extension.

When you want to save your article to one of your magazines, click on the F icon. Choose which magazine to put it in, and you’re done.

I’ve covered the basics that will get you started on your information junkie journey. We are surrounded and inundated with information on a daily basis, and here is a simple tool to help you harness that information and only receive what you want to. Flipboard is your filter and your siphon for the information overload we encounter every day.

I encourage you to check out my magazines and if you see something you like, follow the magazine. Or, if you find me extraordinary or exceptionally interesting, feel free to follow all of me. I promise not to think you’re a stalker.

Let me know how you like Flipboard and how you plan to use it. If you have a question or problem, let me know. I’ll try to help.

Thumbs Up or Down for Google Home?

I received a Google Home for Christmas last year. It sits in the living room listening to our every word, watching the TV with us, quietly and patiently waiting for us to ask it a question. Half the time we get the standard, “I don’t know how to answer that,” answer. Then my husband will say snidely that you have to learn to ask it the right way.

For the last five months, we’ve asked Google maybe fifty questions. What year was this movie released? When did so and so die? Is so and so alive? We’ve also used the timer a dozen times and played a few ballet tunes so we could watch our granddaughter dance. I knew that we weren’t getting our money’s worth, so I decided to research and find out what this hot little cone can do.

First stop was the Google Home Help features page.

I looked at all the features to see if anything would make my life simpler, or at least more fun with as little hassle as possible. Listed on the page were about 40 features broken up in various categories. A few sounded fun, searching for a You Tube video and playing it on your TV and controlling your lights and thermostat, but I knew those were way way too involved with what I wanted to do.

You could check flight schedules. Big deal.  I don’t fly. You could check traffic. Big deal. I don’t commute. You could find recipes. No thanks. My husband does the cooking, so none of these features appealed to me.

This little device is capable of incredible things, but the power comes with the add-ons. In order to play the You Tube videos and sync your Netflix with Google Home, you need Chromecast, a streaming device you plug into your TV after purchasing for $35.

Although Chromecast sounded like a fun toy to use by itself, I wasn’t going to purchase it to use with my Google Home. I didn’t need to make my TV work by voice activation. Half the fun of sitting down to watch television is surfing the channels to see what’s on and what you’re missing.

On to another feature. IFTTT, which stands for “If this then that.” There are hundreds listed, but you need to look through them to find the ones that work with Google Assistant.

Google Assistant is the app you’ll need on your phone that syncs with Google Home.

You have to sign up for IFTTT account to get started. Once you’ve signed up, search under Google Assistant so you’ll be looking at applets that you can use with the Google Home. I scrolled through the possibilities and found three that I could see myself using, creating a note in Evernote (include links), texting, and find your phone.

I tried configuring all three apps and had luck with only one, find your phone. This is a handy app when you’re searching for your phone. We’ve all misplaced our phone and how often have we asked someone to call our phone so we can find it. Now you don’t have to rely on another person. Google Home will do it for you. Just ask Google to find your phone. Simple to set up and simple to use. My kind of app.

The texting feature is now available on Google Home but alas doesn’t work for me. All I get is “I can’t text at this time.” Again, the point is to not waste a lot of time trying to get these applets to work. It defeats the purpose of leading the simple life we’re striving for. The other drawback to this applet is that it is person specific because you have to configure the applet to a specific phone number. If you have one person you text a lot and feel that Google Home would come in handy, then by all means play around and see if you can get the applet to work.

Finally, I decided to try the Evernote applet one more time. While searching for answers about why this wouldn’t work, a little window popped up to chat with a Google rep. I had a few minutes, so I decided to ask if the problem was that my Evernote account used a different email.  Being first in the queue it only took a few minutes for the rep to contact me.

Try using the Google chat.

She answered that the email was not the issue and that she would like to help me solve my problem. Ninety minutes later she did it. I was impressed that she stuck it out that long. I was ready to give up, but decided to see it through. At least I would have an answer and more information to report back to you.

Instead of using one of the available applets, she led me through the process of creating my own applet. Once we figured out what we were doing wrong, the process was easy. Maybe there’s a problem with using the available applet. I’m going to try creating my own applet for texting my husband to see if this works. If not, I’m done.

I’m so glad that I spent time with the Google rep because she showed me possibilities. If you find yourself repeating a task that Google Home could do, create your own applet. You are only limited by your imagination. And it’s free.

Smart Apps is another feature used with Google Home. These are what you’ll need to adjust thermostat and lights for example. You’ll also need the lights and thermostat that work with this feature, plus money and more time. This one is not for me.

The music lover should check out Google Play.

If you are a music lover, then I would recommend setting up your music in Google Play and learning how to use it on your Home. Under Google Play you can create music stations and then “cast” whatever station you want to listen to.

Home will not play any music that you transferred from CD to you Google music library. You’ll have to play those on a CD player. You can also ask Home to play the specific music station you created as long as you give it the correct name, or just ask for a specific genre and it will choose for you.

This casting feature will also work with anything you’re listening to on your phone, for example, a podcast. Go to you Google Home app and under settings, select cast. I’m listening to history lectures from a Hillsdale College course and found that I can cast these to my Google Home device.

Now that I know about all these features, I’ll be on the look out for ways that Google Home can make my life simpler. I know that I’ve only expanded my Google Home use a little, but it’s a start. I began with the basics, asking a few questions and setting a timer for my cat to enjoy the winter weather. Now I can listen to my music stations, put a note in Evernote and cast my history lectures.

I’m closer to giving Google Home a thumbs up. Now it’s your turn. Tell me what you use your Google Home for and how it makes your life simpler.

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