Common Misconceptions, Part Two

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Napoleon was Vertically Challenged

I used to find solace in the fact that someone so short could still have such a profound effect on history. My God! The man practically invented canned food. Well, not literally. But he did set things in motion that eventually led to the canning of all sorts of foods.

I, myself, am vertically challenged. Short is a much better way of putting it really. Gets right to the point. At not quite 5′ 1.5″, I fall very firmly below the national average for the height of an adult American female. That would be five feet and four inches. Maybe I should move to Bangladesh. I’d be tall there. But Belgium and Bosnia are out. The average heights there are 5’6″, and 5’7″ respectively.

I recently learned that is has come to light that Napoleon was not actually all that short. It seems his purported shortness was due to a discrepancy between the French system of measurement and the British one. In French measure, he was five feet and two inches. But in British measure, it equated to five feet and six inches; an average height for a male at that time. So dang!

But apparently he did actually put his hand inside his jacket. This was a fad at the time and meant to impart a sense of calm leadership. Don’t blame me, that’s what it said online. And everything you read online is true. Right.

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Microwave Ovens Blow Up when you put Metal in Them

It’s simply not true. But it’s still a bad idea in general.

Consider the fact that the inside of the oven is made of metal. And for good reason. Yes, it’s painted but it still reflects the microwaves. Also there is a metal grid in the window. Both of these things keep the microwaves from escaping the oven and cooking you along with the food.

Only some metals are safe. Actually, it has a little more to do with shape and proximity than type. A small piece of aluminum foil smoothed over a dish is okay. A small metal tray is also okay. Also, some microwave ovens come with a metal shelf. Obviously that will be okay to use.

So what’s the deal?

If two pieces of metal are close together in the microwave, the energy is reflected between them and can build to the point where it will ignite anything flammable in the oven. Crinkled aluminum foil will actually burn. Smooth will not. And sparks can occur between the tines of a fork. There are even some foods that will occasionally spark.

I have this happen sometimes when I am warming my chopped salad. I love salads and eat them all year long for dinner, but in the winter, they are too cold for me. My favorite is a chopped cruciferous salad of cabbage, kale, broccoli, Brussels’ sprouts and radicchio. Now and then it sparks. I thought it was maybe something adulterating the salad, but when I looked it up, it turned out it was the salad itself.

Dense vegetables contain a higher concentration of minerals. It’s these metallic minerals, like iron, magnesium and selenium, which cause the arcing and the sparks.

So, food absorbs the microwaves and metals reflect it. What this means is that if there is enough microwave absorbent material (food) in the microwave to “catch” the reflected microwaves from any metal in there, you do not get arcing. If the ratio is wrong, then zaps happen. This is one of the reasons why they also say to never run the microwave oven empty. All that energy will just zing around in there with nothing to absorb it, except for the emitter of those waves: the magnetron tube. If it goes on too long, the tube will overheat and be damaged. But it still won’t blow up.

We pretty much all have and use microwave ovens. We don’t really give them much thought. But apparently, in order to use them safely, you need to keep in mind a few salient facts about the shape of the metal and the metal to food ratio. So the basic warning to never put metal in your microwave oven is the safer bet. But it can be done. Just be smart about it.

Oh, and when you are talking with your insurance claims adjuster, please be sure not to mention my name.

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The Buddha was not Fat

Those happy (or laughing) Buddha statues that people put in their gardens do not in any way reflect the reality. I have to digress for a moment. My mom had one of those. The Happy Buddha was sculpted sitting in a half lotus position rather than a full lotus. So one of his feet was tucked in close in to his groin with the toes pointing out. My mom thought that was hilarious because when it was viewed from the side, his foot looked like a penis. She loved to point that out to everyone. I just found it to be embarrassing. A lot of what my mother did was like that. Sigh.

It could be that Budai (an ancient Chinese god that was depicted as fat and always smiling) was confused with Buddha. Or it could be that the Buddha was depicted as fat because long ago, being fat was considered a sign of being well-to-do and who wouldn’t be more well-to-do than the Enlightened One. Hey, I’m just reporting what I’ve read recently. People have all sorts of ideas about all sorts of things. I’m a prime example.

It has been more years than I care to think about since I read “Siddhartha.”  But I’m pretty sure that I remember he gave up his princely title, became an ascetic, lived off of hand-outs, and became very thin. And if you boil down all that Buddhism has to say about the best way to live your life, you might be able to put that into one word: moderation. So a fat Buddha would be out of the question. So would a very skinny one for that matter.

I know that in the big scheme of things, whether or not the Buddha was fat doesn’t make a bit of difference. But, in my opinion, it never hurts to take a second look at something you take for true.

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Published by Dianne Lehmann

I'm a writer. But I'm also a wife and a mom to a couple of fur babies. You could call me a cook (but never a chef, I'm not that good) and provisioner as well. Laundress? Yeah. Probably. I design jewelry and I crochet. But mostly I love to write. I love words and how they sound. I love their meanings and origins. I love stringing them together. And of course, I love to read. Thinking about it just now, I realize that what I love most is life and the people around me with a special place set aside for my wonderful husband, our adorable dog and our inscrutable cat. It's the world and the people in it that fuels my writing. So thanks to you all for being the amazing beings that you are.

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