Monday, August 30, 2010

Pop Goes The Bubble

Today is one of those days where I just don't have any energy.  All I want to do is play with Perpetual Bubblewrap

Rolling your mouse over a bubble wrap pops it.  If you turn the speakers up, the popping noise is really satisfying.

The bubbles quickly regenerate, so you can keep popping to your heart's content!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Let's Go Ride A Bike

We have several bicycles hanging up on the garage wall.  They haven't been used for years.

When we were in Vancouver this summer, one of the things we did was rent bikes to ride through Stanley Park.  It was a lot of fun, and it inspired Tony to get his bike off the hook when he got home.  He's been riding in the mornings before work, and occasionally in the evening.  After a couple of weeks of hearing about his exploits, I decided that it might be fun to join him.

Before today all I did was talk about it, but this morning Tony had to go to the library to pick up a movie he'd requested.  Rather than getting in the car for the five-mile trip, he suggested a bike ride.  He had a route mapped out through the subdivisions, and a plan for the portion of the trip on the major road.  There was one big hill on each leg of the trip, but Tony was sure I could handle it.  I wasn't  quite as confident, but said I'd give it a try.

I found an old fanny pack to hold my essentials-water bottle, chapstick and cell phone, strapped on my helmet, and we were off.  It was a lot of fun until I got to the first hill.  Even with my bike in first gear I only got three-fourths of the way up before I got off and walked the rest of the way.  The trip went quickly; we moved easily from one subdivision to another.  Sometimes Tony was in the lead and sometimes I was ahead of him.

When we got close to the library we had to navigate a short section of Big Bend, which is five lanes wide at that point.  Technically we should have crossed the road for two blocks, and then crossed again to turn onto the library street, but we ended up riding on the sidewalk on the wrong side of the road and cutting through a parking lot instead.

There was a bike rack right outside the library door, and Tony's cable lock was long enough to take care of both bikes.  It only took a couple of minutes for him to get his movie, and we were on our way back home.  This time we were able to ride on the correct side of the road the whole time.  We backtracked our way from one subdivision to another, and soon I had to face the second hill.  Sadly, I failed again.  This time I only made it halfway up.  Tony breezed past me as I walked my bike the last portion.  Once I got to the top, I got back on and peddled the rest of the way.

When I got home I hung my bike up, and attached my helmet to the handlebar.  The trip had been fun.  Even though it wasn't my errand, I felt a real sense of accomplishment.  I hope if I keep working at it, soon I'll be laughing as I zoom up those hills!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Don't Let The Bedbugs Bite

This is Cimex lectularius, otherwise known as the bedbug. Isn't it lovely?

The common name is derived from the insect's preferred habitat of beds or other common areas where people sleep.  They were mainly eradicated as pests in the developed world in the early 1940s (largely with the use of DDT), but  in the last decade they've been making a comeback.

I was going through a box of material scraps the other day and found a pair of decorative pillow covers I though I'd gotten rid of a couple of years ago.  At one point they coordinated with the window coverings in the family room, but when I redid the valance I used scraps of that material to recover the pillows.  When I found the "old" covers last week, I decided they would look nice in one of the upstairs bedrooms.

What to do for the pillow forms?  In the past I've just gone to a thrift store and found something the right size.  (The color or pattern doesn't matter since no one sees the original covering.)  However, this time I was a bit hesitant.  What if I inadvertently brought Cimex lectularius into the house?  When I found a perfect-shape pair of green brocade pillows at Goodwill for one dollar each, though, I decided to research how to get rid of bed bugs.

The Websites I consulted had conflicting advice.  Some suggested that freezing would take care of any problem, some said heat was the way to go, while others said enclosing things in plastic would do the trick.  I decided to cover all the bases.  First I put the pillows in the freezer downstairs.  It's pretty empty right now, so the pillows actually added some mass to fill it up.  After a couple of days I took the frozen pillows out and put them in the dryer for 20 minutes on high heat.  Feeling just a little OCD, I encased the warm-from-the-dryer forms in plastic grocery bags, stuffed them into the waiting covers, and tossed them on the bed:

Whew! I would think that any organism that was lurking in those pillows is now gone.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


I woke up waaay too early this morning.  My mind was racing, so I turned on the radio for distraction.  Before 5:00 AM, our local NPR station broadcasts programming from the BBC.  Before I fell back asleep, I heard a fascinating interview with Natalie Merchant,  part of a series called Striking a Chord: songs that speak to a generation, country or culture.

Did you know that her song "Wonder" is a song about a woman with a physical disability? Her attitude is that differences in her physical body aren't handicaps or deformities, but wonders. What a wonderful outlook on life!
Hearing the interview, interspersed with snippets of the song, made me remember how much I like it. 
Note: I couldn't find the "official" video on YouTube, and this one didn't embed well.  Clicking on the link underneath the screen will get it to play.

Doctors have come
from distant cities
just to see me
stand over my bed
disbelieving what they're seeing

they say I must be one of the wonders
of god's own creation
and as far as they see they can offer
no explanation

newspapers ask
intimate questions
want confessions
they reach into my head
to steal the glory
of my story

they say I must be one of the wonders
of god's own creation
and as far as they see they can offer
no explanation

I believe
fate smiled and destiny
laughed as she came to my cradle
"know this child will be able"
laughed as my body she lifted
"know this child will be gifted
with love, with patience
and with faith
she'll make her way"

people see me
I'm a challenge
to your balance
I'm over your heads
how I confound you
and astound you
to know I must be one of the wonders
of god's own creation
and as far as you see you can offer me
no explanation

I believe
fate smiled and destiny
laughed as she came to my cradle
"know this child will be able"
laughed as she came to my mother
"know this child will not suffer"
laughed as my body she lifted
"know this child will be gifted
with love, with patience
and with faith

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

On The Run

Earlier this month we found out that our cat Jackson needed to lose some weight, because he's carrying around the equivalent of 30 extra pounds.

The first thing we did was buy him some lower-calorie food. However, I know that weight loss works best if you use both diet and exercise, so we had to find some way to get Jackson more active. By nature he's pretty sedentary.  Unlike his brother Pepper, who gets up from his naps to investigate every unusual sound, Jackson is content to lay sprawled on the floor, a couch, or the bed for large chunks of the day. 

Jackson now has an aerobic program he unwillingly participates in twice a day. In the afternoon and evening we make him run circuits through the house--from the kitchen to the family room, through the living room and the dining room--before he's rewarded with kibbles in his bowl.  Depending on how much Jackson will put up with, he does somewhere between three and six laps.

This afternoon I found another way to incorporate exercise.  Jackson had to chase after his food before he could eat it!  I sat on the floor in the kitchen and threw the kibbles out one at a time, waiting for him to retrieve and eat it before tossing him another.

 The pieces were lightweight enough that they slid across the kitchen floor easily.  Jackson's a pretty smart cat. If I threw the food too far he wouldn't go after it, but once three or four were in the same general direction he'd get and eat all of them.  For variety I banked some of the food off the kitchen cabinets, so Jackson couldn't predict where it was going.  I think he liked that too; he'd pounce on it like it was alive and finish it off.

When the food was about two-thirds gone, I decided to give him a break, and put the rest in the bowl.  I think Jackson was thankful.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Are You Paying Attention?

I received a thought-provoking email the other day about habits--the things you do day in and day out without thinking about them.  Habits can be useful; often it's the most efficient way to get something done, but they become a liability when you start to move through the day on autopilot instead of being conscious of your actions.

The message offered as an example tooth brushing.  How did I do it?  I realized I didn't have a clue, so yesterday I made a real effort to notice.  Much to my surprise, I figured out I did it the exact same way every time.  Talk about being on autopilot!  After I wet the brush and put toothpaste on it, I brushed my left outer, right outer, and center front teeth.  Next I moved to the inside surface  and cleaned bottom right, bottom left, top left, top right, top front and bottom front. Then I ran the brush along the chewing surfaces and repeated the whole procedure a second time.  After everything was cleaned I "swished" with water, rinsed the brush, and put it away.

I guess it's a good idea to have a pattern for brushing so that I don't forget any areas. But today in the interest of practicing awareness I reversed my teeth brushing pattern and went backwards.  First the chewing surfaces, then the insides, and the outsides last.  It was not intuitive; I had to think about it as I was doing it, and it took a lot longer, but I had the satisfaction of being truly aware of what I was doing.

Friday, August 20, 2010


PersonalsĀ®  Premium Ice Cream  Bunny TracksĀ®
Today after a nice, healthy lunch I realized I needed something else to eat.  Something sugary, fattening, and unhealthy.

I popped into the grocery store to buy some meat and frozen veggies that were on sale.  Just down the aisle from the vegetables were the ice cream treats, including these cute Blue Bunny personal sized containers that just happened to be on sale.  There were three types: premium, light, and frozen yogurt.  Since I was looking to indulge myself today, it wasn't much of a surprise that a container of the Premium Bunny Tracks flavor ended up jumping into my basket.

The bagger conveniently set my ice cream on top of everything else in the bag before she handed it to me.  It was hot and humid again today, and I didn't think my treat would make it home without melting.  I happened to have a spoon in the car, so I popped the lid of the ice cream and dug in before I started the car. Bunny Tracks has vanilla ice cream mixed with chocolate fudge and peanut butter caramel ribbons, chocolate covered peanuts, and peanut butter-filled chocolate bunnies.  Good stuff.

The Nutrition Facts suggested there were 2 servings in the container but I ate the whole thing while I watched a storm roll in from the west.  When the ice cream was gone I licked the spoon, and tossed it and the empty container into my bag for the drive home.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Challenge Completed

Last week when I realized that the date August 9, 2010 could be written numerically as 8-9-10, I asked for ideas for ways to celebrate the day.  Dawn of Dawn and Aggie suggested I go to the grocery store and find ten things priced at 89 cents. Unfortunately, I read her comment after I came home from getting my eyes dilated, and I figured it was a good idea not to go out in the car again, so I filed her interesting idea for future reference

Today, one week later, I had a bit of free time and decided to take Dawn up on her challenge at my local Aldi store.  She told me it would be hard, so I didn't know what to expect, but it ended up being surprisingly easy (taking less than 10 minutes). It helped that the vast majority of Aldi's prices end in 9, so all I had to do was look for a corresponding 8.  I found most of my ten items in the baking and snack aisle, but there were also some in the drink and side dishes area. 

After my success, I bought a package of romaine to make a salad for tonight's dinner.  Sadly, it was NOT 89 cents, but it still cost less than it would have at another store.

My items:
 1.   Baker's Corner miniature marshmallows
 2.  Baker's Corner yellow, devil's food, or white cake mixes
 3.  Lunch Buddies vanilla or chocolate pudding cups
 4.  Sweet Harvest regular or cinnamon applesauce cups
 5.  Sweet Harvest chunk or crushed pineapple
 6.  Tuscan Garden white vinegar
 7.  Mixade assorted drink mixes
 8.  Gridlock regular or low-carb energy drink
 9.  Chef's Cupboard chicken or corn bread stuffing mix
10. Reggano pasta salad kit

Monday, August 16, 2010

Would You Like A Tomato With That?

I think the tomato plants LOVED the hot and humid weather we've had the past few weeks.

Aren't they beautiful?  This is the first year I've grown "non red" tomatoes.  The yellow and orange ones have been particularly productive. It's hard to keep up with the cherry fruits, but I keep their number in check by popping one in my mouth every time I walk by the bowl.

The five-day forecast calls highs in the 80's every day.  Hallelujah!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Play Ball!

A couple of weeks ago I purchased a Groupon for a Gateway Grizzlies baseball game, so last night Tony and I got in the car and headed to the stadium in Sauget, Illinois.

The Grizzlies play in the Frontier League, an independent minor league baseball league.  I've seen the River City Rascals, another Frontier League team that plays in O'Fallon Missouri, but this was my first Grizzlies game.  Last night was the first game of a series against the Oakland County (Michigan) Cruisers. The Grizzlies are currently third in their division, with a record of 41-33.  The Cruisers are first in their division, but their record is 45-31, so it looked like the teams would be well-matched.

 We arrived just as the gates were opening.  After scoping things out, we went to get our food.  Our vouchers entitled us to two of "Baseball's Best" food items and two bags of potato chips.  The dedicated Groupon food line was very short, and it only took a couple of minutes to place our order.  We had three choices for our "Baseball’s Best" food items:
  • A hot dog topped with bacon, onions, sauerkraut and cheese sauce.
  • Tri-colored tortilla chip nachos topped with Philly beef, roasted onions and peppers, and Monterrey Jack cheese sauce. (These were featured on the Travel Channel's show Man vs. Food. Adam Richman, the host, honored them with a second-place position on his list of favorite baseball foods).
  • A hamburger with a unique twist--a quarter pound patty with cheddar cheese and bacon between a sliced Krispy Kreme donut.  (Also featured on Chowdown Countdown, a Travel Channel show.)
Tony chose the nachos (he let me taste one-they were great), and I went with the hamburger, because I just had to see what it was like.  I'm glad I did, but I don't know if I'd do it again.  The burger was messy to eat; the meat was much larger than the donut, and the cheese and bacon made everything slide around when I tried to take a bite.  One edge of the donut was a bit charred and burned-tasting (probably because of the sugar in the glaze), but once I got past that portion the sandwich was an interesting combination of sweet, salty, and savory.  The chips came from the Billy Goat Chip Company in St. Louis. They were very good.

After we ate we found our seats, which were in the first row of a section immediately behind the Grizzlies dugout. Only a short cinder-block wall separated us from the athletes. Before the game, a parade of kids came up to the wall to ask the players for autographs.  Once the game started the pitching staff sat on a bench right in front of us. The first row of seats were at field level, so I had a hard time seeing over the players; we moved back a row and I had a much better view.

Independent league baseball is quite different from its major-league counterpart.  Between each inning there was some kind of promotion.  The craziest involved two pairs of children who ran the bases in a three-legged race, using pairs of giant tighty-whities with the team logo on the back.  The team mascot Izzy the Grizzlie threw out swag to fans a couple of times, and there was a kids parade through the stadium concourse. Another promotion, which went on for most of the game, was a 50/50 raffle.  They gave away $450, and their portion of the money went to support the players on road trips.

We left at the top of the ninth inning, but listened to the game on the radio as we drove away. The Grizzlies ended up winning 9-3.   All in all, it was a very enjoyable evening.

Friday, August 13, 2010

I Can Do It!

I used to go to the gym most mornings before work, because I didn't have to be there until lunchtime.  Then my schedule changed, so now my day starts at 8:30.  In order to take care of my morning tasks, get to the gym, shower, and drive to work, I'd have to set my alarm for before 6:00. I refuse to get moving that early!

It's too hot to do any type of exercise outside, so I've been trying to hit the gym on the way home from work in the early afternoon, with mixed results.  I really do better with a structured class setting, and there's nothing available at that time.  Using a treadmill (or cross trainer or exercise bike) is not something I enjoy.  Yesterday I decided to wait until the evening and go for a class. There were three consecutive options, but the one that fit my schedule best was called "Dynamics".   The name didn't give any clues about the structure of the class, but I figured I would give it a try, so right after dinner I put on exercise clothes (so I wouldn't get sucked into Internet World) and left the house.

The parking lot was packed, and shortly before the class started people started assembling in front of the group exercise room door waiting for the previous class to finish.  When the door opened, there was a small group of 20- and 30-something women and several fit-looking men.  And me. 

The instructor, one of the gym's personal trainers, told us to set up the complete compliment of equipment: a step and risers, a barbell, hand weights, and a mat. While I gathered my things I checked out the competition.  Some people were carrying six or eight risers for their steps and 10 pound hand weights.  I decided to take four risers (two on each side),  pairs of 5 and 8 pound weights, and a barbell with small and medium plates so I could be prepared for anything. 

I claimed my favorite spot in the back of the room, right under a ceiling fan.  That turned out to be a good thing.  The instructor didn't wear a microphone, so it was hard to hear the instructions over the music, but from my vantage point I could watch everyone else and figure it out. I could also check out their progress.  A couple of them were going all out, but I was pleasantly surprised that I could keep up with the majority of the group, except for anything that required shoulder strength (the right one is weak as a result of a stupid dodge-ball incident a couple of years ago).

The class lasted 45 minutes, and it was an intense series of circuit training exercises (one minute for each exercise).   It helped that the music had a good beat, and it was easy to match my pace to it.  At the end I was sweaty, energized, and happy.  And ready to take 'em on again next time.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Little Fish In A Big Pond

According to BlogPulse, there are 144,637,323 blogs in existence. I don't know what percentage of those are active, but I figure mine is close to the bottom of the pecking order.

Today I received this e-mail:
I just wanted to let you know that your website was featured in one of our our latest posts on The Travel Insurance Blog entitled 44 Family Vacation Stories.
Wow! What an ego boost. I've got a group of blogging buddies I've acquired over the years that are nice enough to stop in on a regular basis. Sometimes they even leave comments. But they feel more like friends. It was flattering to think I had strangers reading my ramblings, and they thought enough of them to pass them on to others!

I clicked over to The Travel Insurance Blog to check it out. It looks like a great resource, with travel insurance tips and lots of information about buying it. There's also some interesting non-travel insurance information, like the post I was part of, which linked to 44 different blogs that talked about the topic of vacations. Down near the bottom was mine, a post about my trip to Vancouver in July.

I'm always looking for great new blogs to add to my Reader, so I'll be spending a bit of time in the next couple of days browsing through some of my fellow traveler's stories.

Monday, August 9, 2010

New Year, New Job

My new year as a preschool teacher assistant started last month.  When it did, I moved down the hall to work in a new classroom.  The basic job description is still the same, but I've noticed quite a few differences.

I'm now working with the youngest children in the building.  They're two and three years old, and for some of them this is their first time away from Mom.  It's getting better, but at first there were some tears.  The first day there was someone crying almost all the time.

The lead teacher in this classroom is also a Kathy (actually a Cathy), which led to a lot of confusion when someone would call out the name. Since she's been there longer, she's Miss Cathy, and I'm known as Miss G.

This classroom has a higher percentage of special needs students than the last classroom., including three non-walkers.  One is on the cusp of walking-she takes several steps in a row, but the other two use a walker.  If not, they have to be carried.  Fortunately they have some of the smallest bodies, so it's not too difficult.

Because the school is inclusion-based, every classroom  has a team of therapists assigned to it.  In addition to the lead teacher and assistants who are there all the time, the Occupational Therapist, Physical Therapist, and Speech Pathologist spend time in the room as needed,  Sometimes there's almost as many adults as children!

In the old classroom, only a couple of the students hadn't mastered toileting.  Now I split the daily diaper duty with the other teacher assistant.  Only a handful of the children are wearing "big boy" or "big girl" underwear, and we clap and cheer when one of them is dry..

There's a daily lesson plan that includes large group activities (circle time, snack time, and outside play) and small group projects.  So far, I've supervised coloring, gluing, and finger painting.  On any given day, I could be helping someone complete a puzzle, string beads, or play on the floor with cars.  We do dress-up, read books, and listen to music.

In the old classroom my schedule was different each day, but now I have regular hours.  Although the classroom operates from nine until noon, I arrive a half hour early and stay after until everything is clean and put away. It's great having the same schedule every day.  However, there is one disadvantage. I get really hungry. For the past year I've been having lunch at 11:30.  Now, though, I don't eat until after I've cleaned the classroom after the session's ended at noon, so lunch is closer to 12:30.  I'm sure my stomach will eventually adjust.  If not, I'll have to start enjoying snack time with the kids.

I Just Realized...

That today (August 9th) is 8/9/10. 

I'll have to find something to do in honor of the day.  Any ideas?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

If You've Happy And You Know It

According to the Secret Society of Happy People, August is Happiness Happens Month, and today (August 8th) is Happiness Happens Day.

Founded in 1998, the Society's mission is to help people recognize and talk about happiness. It encourages the expression of happiness and discourages parade-rainers, people who don’t want to hear happy news.

How does one celebrate Happiness Happens Day? The Society recommends...
celebrating the day by wearing your SILVER shades, donating your SILVER coins-pay someone's toll, bus or subway fare, buy a soda, or take up a donation for your favorite charity, or passing out SILVER kisses. Why SILVER? Because not-so-secretly happy people have a way of finding the SILVER lining in even the darkest clouds.
I know that happiness doesn't just happen.; you have to work at it. Abraham Lincoln said, "Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be", so today I tried to find the silver lining in the inconsequential things that happened as I went through the day:
  • It was hot today, with a heat index pushing 100°.  However, the tomatoes love this time of year. I picked three full-sized and a dozen cherry fruits, and noticed there'll be some more ripe tomorrow.
  • Hot weather also keeps the squirrels away from the bird feeder, so there's actually food there for the birds. 
  • A sinus headache had me sitting on the couch doing nothing in the middle of the day.  Instead of being frustrated about it, though, I took the opportunity to close my eyes and listen to the soothing noise of the cicadas outside.    
  • Twenty minutes of  work in the back yard yielded five mosquito bites, but also some nice-looking, weed-free beds.
  • We took a walk after dinner, and my clothes were completely soaked by the time we finished.  However, it was late enough in the day that I didn't have to worry about sun exposure. And I don't get mosquito bites when I'm walking. And I got to walk through a sprinkler along the way.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Fat Cat

The other day Tony and I took both cats to the vet for their yearly physicals and shots.  The two cats are from the same litter, but only one of them, Jackson, has issues with his weight.  His brother Pepper eats whatever he wants and still manages to stay slim and trim. A while back we noticed that Jackson was looking a little extra chunky, so we started giving him less food each day, but despite our efforts, the vet told us that Jackson had gained some weight since last year.

We left the office with information on Jackson's recommended calorie amount-220 per day.  To figure out how much food that was, the vet suggested we contact the manufacturer to find out how many calories a cup of food contained.  With that information we could figure out how much to feed Jackson.

I didn't have any luck finding the information I needed on the company Website, so I called their information line this morning.  A nice woman was happy to help, but she explained that each variety (there are almost a dozen)  has a different number of calories. I buy several different flavors (because I figure the cats like a little variety), so I'd have to call back every time to get the information I needed.  There had to be a better way.  A little searching led me to the Pet Obesity Prevention Website.  It was full of great information and tools, including a chart that listed the calorie contents of the most common cat foods.

I didn't realize that there was such a large range of calories in the different formulations of our cat food.  It ranged from 362 calories per cup to 460 calories per cup.  Sadly, the flavor the cats are currently eating was close to the top of the calorie list.  I was unknowingly contributing to Jackson's weight problem!    A few calculations showed me that for Jackson's 220 daily calories he could eat a scant half cup of the current food, but if he changed to a different, lower calorie flavor he could have an extra two ounces! I've tried to lose weight enough to know that could be the difference between being hungry and grumpy or full and satisfied.

This afternoon I went to the pet store and purchased a bag of  "Healthy Weight"  cat food. In my diet there's a rough correlation between calories and taste (more usually means it's better).  I don't know enough about cat taste buds to know if Jackson will understand he's being consigned to the equivalent of bland portion control, but he's never been a finicky eater in the past, so I don't think we'll have a problem.  His new eating plan starts tomorrow.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Thirty Years Ago Today...

thirtieth anniversary.on August 2, 1980, Tony and I exchanged wedding vows.

A lot of things have changed over the last 30 years, but some haven't. Today's hot, sticky weather is the same as it was the day we said "I Do".  We got married at noon.  My house, where I got dressed, had air conditioning, but Tony's house didn't, so he went to his Best Man's place to get ready.

The bridesmaids and I met in the choir loft of the church.  One of them had a bottle of champagne, which we opened and toasted each other with.  I had been too nervous to eat breakfast, so I didn't want to drink too much on an empty stomach!  When it was time, we gathered in the back of the church.  The moms were escorted to their pews, then one by one the bridesmaids walked down the aisle.  It seemed like it took forever until it was my turn but when I saw Tony standing with the priest in front of the altar I forgot everything else.

I only remember little pieces of the ceremony.  The priest did a great job.  Even though now I couldn't tell you the titles of any of the songs we picked, they were beautiful.  After the ceremony was over we walked  down the aisle and I saw all the friends and relatives who had come to celebrate with us.

Tonight we celebrated with a special dinner. In honor of the occasion, the main dish was Chicken with Thirty Cloves of Garlic, which made the house smell wonderful.  Tony brought home a beautiful bouquet of red roses, which I put on the fireplace mantel so I can see them every time I step into the family room (and so the cats won't get them-roses are their favorite flowers too).

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Secret Code Of Credit Cards

Have you ever given any thought at all to your credit card number?  I hadn't until I learned about the Luhn algorithm.  Now I know that the numbers on my cards aren't just a series of random numerals.  They all have a meaning.

 The Luhn algorithm (or formula) was created in 1954 by Hans Peter Luhn, an IBM scientist.  When a card number is generated using Luhn's algorithm, various combinations of the digits on the card must add up to a number that is divisible by 10. For this reason, Luhn's formula is also referred to as modulus 10, or mod 10 for short.

The vast majority of credit card numbers have 15 or 16 digits. On a 16-digit Visa, MasterCard or Discover card, the first six numerals are known as the Issuer Identification Number (IIN) which identify the card issuer, and the next nine numerals are the card account number. (American Express uses an eight-digit account number, so their numbers are only 15 digits.)  The last digit in the number is a check digit. If you change or transpose any digits in a number, the Luhn formula will catch it.

I wanted to try out the formula, but I didn't want to use my real number.   I Goggled "credit card number generator", clicked on the first result, chose a random MasterCard number, and followed these steps:

The number I started with was
  • I removed the non numeric characters (dashes), and reversed the string:
4 8 8 0 8 1 5 3 7 9 0 1 6 5 2 6
  • Starting with the second digit, I doubled every other number (in red, to make it easier).
4 8 8 0 8 1 5 3 7 9 0 1 6 5 2 6
4 16 8 0 8 2 5 6 7 18 0 2 6 10 2 12
  • I took the sum of every digit. 

  • The last step is to divide the total by 10. If the remainder is 0 then the number is valid.
70 / 10 = 7 with no remainder 

4880-8153-7901-6526 would be a valid Master Card number!