Wayne Adult Community Center

Feature article from the May, 2002 Newsletter

In the spirit of the supermarket tabloids,

with their overblown and often misleading headlines,

we proclaim:

*****  IN THIS ISSUE *****

YOU MIGHT HAVE   Lions in Your Yard,
Vampires In Your House,
 and a Hurricane in Your Shower!


In you garden, you may have noticed small, conical depressions about an inch deep, in particularly dry or sandy areas of the soil.  If so, you have LIONS!

They are Ant Lions, the adult form of the "Doodlebug". An ant lion builds a conical pit up to two inches deep in dry or sandy soil, then buries itself at the bottom and waits for an ant or other insect to blunder over the rim.  The insect is unable to climb back up the loosely packed sides, and so it tumbles to the bottom where the Ant Lion lunges out, grabs the insect in its pincers, and sucks it dry.

Ant Lions are found primarily in the southern United States, but they have wings and have migrated to other, widely distributed areas including ours.

How many devices in your home have remote controls?  The TVs?  The VCR?  The CD player?  And how many devices, perhaps your computer printer, have a big, heavy  "cube" somewhere along their electrical cords?

All those electronic gadgets are VAMPIRES, but they don't suck blood, they suck power:  In order to be ready to respond to a remote control, a portion of the controlled device must remain on continuously, even when the device is shut off.  If your TV also has an "instant on" feature, even more of it remains on at all times.

In addition to the devices mentioned above, which take power even when nominally off, there are items such as the cordless devices you keep on continuous charge (such as electric oothbrushes, shavers, and cordless phones) as well as clocks and clock radios.

Most power vampires drain only a few watts each, but the amounts add up.  It has been estimated that power vampires taken together, account for between 4% and 7% of all US power consumption.  In California, for example, that amounts to the output of one-and-a-half power plants.

More efficient electronics are being developed, promising a reduction in the amount of power drained away by devices that are just waiting to be activated remotely.  In the meantime, when you receive your next electricity bill you might calculate how much you pay each month for the convenience of being a couch potato.

If your shower has a curtain, you've noticed that while you're taking a shower, the bottom of the curtain tends to be sucked into the tub.  Scientists used to believe that this was caused by the rising warm air creating a partial vacuum.  Now, however, a study in the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of Massachusetts indicates that the air currents actually produce a horizontal "vortex" or, in plain terms, a HURRICANE (in miniature) turned on its side.

W. A. Shapiro