Saturday, May 31, 2014

Arrr - Exe

prescription-bottle

It has occurred to me that one advantage of having prescriptions labels generated by computer is that the bottles now come with my name spelled right.

Back when labels were being hand-made with a typewriter, my drugs almost always said they were for Robert Cough.  Habit and/or muscle memory made it nearly impossible for physicians or pharmacists to write C-o-u without the next letter being a g.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Unfiltered Update

As I mentioned back on April 25th, I listed our pool pump and filter for sale on Craigslist, and the results were so frustrating that I pulled the ad.

After taking a week or so to restore my sanity, I reposted the ad May 13th.  I had one email asking if I still had the filter for sale, then nothing at all until yesterday afternoon. 

That’s  when a lady phoned to see if it was still available.  When I told her yes, she said let me call my husband, and we’ll get back to you.  I hardly had time to think Well, that was another waste of time before he called saying that he was on his way. 

It turned out to be a fine example of serendipity – truly a match made in heaven – they desperately needed what I was trying to sell.

They are a young couple, with a 10-rear-old son, who recently bought a house with a pool and then discovered that the housing on the pool filter had an non-repairable crack.  He was happy to get the pump, but I think he would have paid my asking price just to get a working filter.  After a few minutes showing him the filter and explaining maintenance, etc., he handed me the cash and we loaded it up.

Then I started hauling out pool stuff we didn’t need anymore – PVC fittings, vacuum heads and hose, an almost full bucket of 3” chlorine tabs, and another with about 10 lbs of chlorine granules, and an extension pole, etc.

By the time I was through, my garage was almost clean, the back of his truck was full, and he was grinning like a kid on Christmas morning.

I’m still trying to sell the old 8-N tractor, and the responses I’m getting are still driving me nuts (the subject for at least one more separate post) but  this gives me new hope.  Sometimes, things really do work out best for all concerned.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Melt

 iceberg-water-full

There have been lots of doom and gloom stories in the media about the melting of the polar ice caps. 

They predict everything from the submersion of Miami to massive fish kills brought about by changes in the ocean’s salinity.  Some of the claims are patently outrageous, but at least some of their predictions are possible- maybe even likely, and the moral is it is all our fault.

Hey! Not so fast there, Buddy! 

Is the ice actually melting?

Yes it is, but the latest scientific evidence proves that it has been in a melting trend since the last ice age. Working in the Antarctic, scientists determined that the shrinkage of the vast ice sheet accelerated during eight distinct episodes over the past 20,000 years, each causing rapid sea level rise.

"Conventional thinking is that the Antarctic ice sheet has been relatively stable since the last ice age, that it began to melt relatively late and that its decline was slow and steady until it reached its present size," said lead author Michael Weber, a scientist from University of Cologne in Germany.
"The sediment record suggests a different pattern - one that is more episodic and suggests that parts of the ice sheet repeatedly became unstable during the last deglaciation,"

These cycles have been going on for at least the last 20,000 years, with a big meltdown about 14,500 years ago.  At that time, the sea level on a global basis rose about 50 feet in just 350 years - or about 20 times faster than sea level rise over the last century," according to Peter Clark, an Oregon State University paleoclimatologist. "We do not yet know what triggered these eight episodes or pulses, but it appears that once the melting of the ice sheet began it was amplified by physical processes."

Hmmmmn….  Wonder what kind of S-U-Vs those evil humans were driving back then.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Traffic

cph traffic

A recently released study by Michael Emerson of Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research compared Houston and Copenhagen.  He found that both residents of Houston, the nation’s most automobile-dependent city, and Copenhagen, the Green Capitol of Europe, agreed that traffic was their city’s biggest problem.

The difference came in how they define traffic:

“In Houston, an area almost completely dependent on cars for mobility, people think there are too many cars for the number and size of roads, and more lanes are needed to improve the traffic flow,” Emerson said. “This was starkly different from what Copenhagen-area residents regarded as ’traffic problems.’ To them, traffic meant too many cars causing pollution and a lower quality of life, and too many people not using the alternative forms of transportation.”

Emerson said that nearly half of Copenhagen residents – 46 percent – use public transit, compared with only 4 percent of Houstonians.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Make Your Bed

I have never seen the point in making my bed each morning - never saw the point in tucking in corners and arranging pillow shams that would be coming right back off in just a few hours.  In my mind, that’s why the bedroom came with a door.

Now I learn that, according to Admiral William McRaven, that has been the source of all my shortcomings. 

McRaven

In this year’s commencement address at the University of Texas, McRaven says the most important lesson he learned in Navy SEAL training was to make your bed.

You can see the entire 19 minute speech HERE, but the part about making beds was

“Every morning in basic SEAL training, my instructors, who at the time were all Viet Nam veterans, would show up in my barracks room and the first thing they would inspect was your bed.

If you did it right, the corners would be square, the covers pulled tight, the pillow centered just under the headboard and the extra blanket folded neatly at the foot of the rack—rack—that's Navy talk for bed.

It was a simple task—mundane at best. But every morning we were required to make our bed to perfection. It seemed a little ridiculous at the time, particularly in light of the fact that were aspiring to be real warriors, tough battle hardened SEALs—but the wisdom of this simple act has been proven to me many times over.

If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another.

By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter.

If you can't do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.

And, if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made—that you made—and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.

If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.”

Monday, May 26, 2014

Seventeen - Forty

We met our friends the Sheltons for dinner yesterday, and on the way home I got a check engine light on the truck.

There is a diagnostic trick on  a Dodge – without starting the engine, turn the key on and off three times and then leave it on – that will display the OBD-II code(s).  I did that when we got home and the code displayed was P1740.

That code indicates that engine rpm did not drop fast enough to satisfy the on-board computer when shifting to a higher gear.  It could be something as simple as a poor connection, or as complicated and expensive as a bad torque converter. 

It is a fairly common code, and often shows up after a transmission has been serviced.  Ours was, but it was several thousand miles ago.

The consensus on the Dodge Truck forums is that if everything else seems normal, you should just reset it and see if it comes back.

I’m going to try that, but with the way my luck has been running lately……

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Lordy, the Flies

green-bottle-fly-illustration_1500x1200

The old Boggy Thicket has been invaded by flies.

We haven’t been inundated by huge swarms of them, but when one is too many, a few still qualifies as an invasion.

The insects in question are Green Bottle Flies, a big, fat critter about twice the size of your average housefly.  They are a brilliant iridescent green, and if their habits weren’t so disgusting, they might even be considered attractive.  Well, that may be going a bit too far, but they are a pretty color.

According to the Orkin Pest Control website, Green Bottle Flies are common around farms.  The adults lay their eggs in feces, or in dead or wounded animals.  They seem to be particularly fond of dog crap. They are also common around privies, and the vault toilets found in national forests and parks.

Their only saving grace is that their maggots are being used successfully in hospitals to treat necrotic wounds.

The ones we’ve seen so far have confined themselves to our bathrooms, but I’m not sure why – we do have running water, and we can and do flush our toilets. 

We have no idea where they are coming from or how they’re getting in, but none of them have made it out alive. So far, I’ve killed two in the bathroom off the hall, and Honey has become a fly-killing ACE, having zapped six of them in the bath off the master bedroom.

These flies are definitely green – not blue – but since the first one appeared a week or so ago, I keep catching myself humming Jimmy Crack Corn.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Camel-Leopard

meteor shower

Last night we were supposed to be able to see a meteor shower if it wasn’t too cloudy. 

The local weatherman had a Hell of a time trying to pronounce Camelopardian, a name meaning the meteors came from  Camelopardis, a wedge-shaped constellation in the northern sky.

Camelopardis was named by an astronomer in the 1600s who thought it resembled the camel that Rebecca rode into Canaan in the book of Genesis.  Apparently, he was better at astronomy than etymology – Camelopardis was actually the Latin word for a Giraffe.

Since the best chance of seeing a meteor was between one and three this morning, I had no intention of being up to watch.  As luck would have it, I did wake up about 2:30, so I went out and watched for a while. 

There were some thin clouds, but the stars were plainly visible, so I thought I had a pretty good chance.  I did see the entire sky light up twice in brief flashes similar to heat lightning, but I never saw a meteor.

After ten minutes or so, I began to feel like those men in Huckleberry Finn who paid to see the Camel-Leopard.  If the weatherman had been around , he might have been in danger of tar and feathers.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Debtors’ Prison

jail

Debtors prisons were outlawed in the United States nearly 200 years ago. And more than 30 years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court made it clear: Judges cannot send people to jail just because they are too poor to pay their court fines.

That decision came in a 1983 case called Bearden v. Georgia, which held that a judge must first consider whether the defendant has the ability to pay but "willfully" refuses.

The NPR Website has an interesting article about this subject, pointing out that “pay the fine or go to jail” is still the way things work today– even when the judge’s ruling makes absolutely no sense.

What should be done with a person who has committed an offense and can’t or won’t pay the fine? 

Obviously, we can’t just say Okay and let them go Scot free.  The old “thirty days or thirty dollars” type of sentencing makes perfect sense in spite of those bleeding hearts who say it isn’t fair that the rich pay fines and the poor go to jail. Calling it Debtor’s Prison is simply misleading and inflammatory.

Like Bobby Blake used to say on Baretta, “Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.”

 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

----- Your Way

burger king

In an ad campaign beginning this week, Burger King is dropping its 40 year old Have It Your Way slogan in favor of a new tag line saying Be Your Way.

The new slogan, which apparently puts the King’s stamp of approval on diversity, is part of a new campaign to boost sales to a growingly health-conscious lunch crowd.

Urging people to be themselves should be very successful – after all, do you really have a choice, and who else would you be, anyway – but I have no idea how it is going to sell hamburgers.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Blah, Blah

eeyore61_5881

 

Yesterday sucked!

I suppose that it is impossible to reach my age without gathering a collection of minor aches and pains, and most days I don’t let them bother me.  Yesterday was one day when I did.  Nothing was seriously wrong, but the accumulation of various minor problems, headache, queasiness and a generally tired feeling, got the best of me. 

I gave in to my blahs and didn’t accomplish a single thing all day.

One advantage – or possibly disadvantage – of being retired is that I can take a day off and nobody but my wife knows or cares.  Honey does worry, and it’s hard to explain that there is nothing really wrong, I just don’t feel like doing anything.

If I were still working for a living and woke up feeling like I did yesterday, I would man up, get dressed and go to work.  By about 10 o’clock, I would either be back to normal or I might feel bad enough to actually justify taking the rest of the day off.  Being retired makes it way too easy to just crawl back into my shell and hibernate.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Getting Agitated

agitator

The agitator in our washing machine looks something like the one pictured above.  It is  part of a Roper brand washer, made by Whirlpool, and has given great service for over twenty years.

Just over a week ago, it quit working the way it should – when it’s working properly,  the part on the bottom switches back and forth, and  the upper part that looks like a big screw  turns in only one direction, causing the clothes on top to circulate to the bottom of the tub.  I noticed that the washer sounded different, and when I looked, I found that the upper part wasn’t turning.

A quick check of the mechanism showed that the directional cogs ( or dog ears as they are known to us washing machine experts ) were worn out.  An on-line search led me to easyapplianceparts.com, where I was able to buy an agitator repair kit for $7.87 – a total of $15.36  including shipping.

334650_1_M

I ordered the kit on Saturday, and on Tuesday about 5 p.m., the FedEx guy was dropping it on our doorstep.  I had the washing machine up and running like new by 6 p.m. 

It was a really easy job – the only hard part was getting a non-magnetic 7/16th bolt to stay in my socket wrench long enough to line it up about four inches down inside the top of the agitator.

It’s funny how good even a minor victory can make you feel.  This was not a difficult job – an easy diagnosis of an obvious problem, with a quick and easy fix – but I felt the glow of a job well done for days. 

That glow got a boost as I was writing this.  I went to the website to download the pictures I posted here and found that the price of that repair kit has almost doubled.  Today it is listed at $14.97.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Monday

Monday-motivation

The day of the week shouldn’t matter one way or the other since I have been retired for years, but somehow it does.  Mondays are still Mondays, and for whatever reason, it’s just a little harder to get my brain in gear and my body in motion.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Squirrel Dissuader

feeder

The squirrels discovered the bird feeder this winter, and once they did, they have been getting most of the food we put out.

As I mentioned back in February, greasing the pipe the feeder hangs on did little or nothing to deter the little rodents, but last week, I came up with something that seems to be working so far.

I took the aluminum reflector from an old clip-on style shop lamp and mounted it on the pole just above the point where the squirrels jump to start their climb.  The hole in the lampshade is slightly larger than the pipe and it is not permanently affixed to the pole.  It is just sitting atop a hose clamp that is a little bit bigger than the hole.

It looks kind of trashy – definitely an example of Redneck engineering – but so far it’s working.  We haven’t had a squirrel in the feeder in over a week!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Quite a Trek

usa-map

A few years ago, when Honey first started walking for exercise, she could barely make it to the end of the driveway and back. 

She was determined to improve, and she did.  She now walks four miles each morning for an average of 20 miles each week.

We were talking about that this morning and realized that – even with time off recuperating from her dog bite – she has walked over 1,000 miles in the past year!

Honey said something like “If I’d kept going, I would have been out of Texas.”  and I said “Yeah, but you’d be stuck in the desert outside of El Paso.”

Actually, she would have gotten a lot further than that.  Using Google Maps, and assuming she took major highways, I determined that if she:

  • Headed west – she would get almost to Tucson, ending up somewhere past Benson, Arizona. A round trip would have taken her to Pecos County and back, with a U-turn about halfway between Ozona and Ft. Stockton.
  • Headed east – with a right turn at Jacksonville, she could make it to Cape Canaveral, Florida.
  • Headed north – She’d be in Waterloo, Iowa
  • Headed south – assuming she could walk on water, would find her somewhere near Merida, Mexico on the Yucatan Peninsula
  • A little east of north – she could make it to the southern suburbs of Chicago, Illinois
  • And northwest – she would be on the outskirts of Denver, Colorado

I have to admit that I’m pretty impressed – and I’m really glad that her daily walks brought her back home.

 

Friday, May 16, 2014

Shrinking Eye

jupiter eye

The so called “Eye” of Jupiter is shrinking, and it’s getting rounder. 

Known to astronomers as the Great Red Spot since its discovery by Italian astronomer Giovanni Cassini in 1665 (though he shares the credit with Englishman Robert Hooke) the spot is actually a huge storm.  A strong east-to-west jet stream to the north and a west-to-east jet stream to its south help hold it in position and contribute to its counterclockwise rotation.

Calculations put the diameter of the Eye at 25,500 miles across in the late 1800s and  Voyager spacecraft measured it at 14,500 miles as recently as 1979.  Now it is down to a measly 10,250.

Scientists are not sure why the Eye is shrinking – they’re not totally sure what caused it in the first place or why it has lasted so long – but if it were happening here, they would be blaming Global Warming.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Arlington

arlington

This year marks the 150th anniversary of Arlington National Cemetery. 

Six weeks of special observances got underway this week with a wreath-laying ceremony at the grave of the first soldier to be buried there.  Special observances will continue through June 16th, with a special ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, on the date that Arlington was officially designated as a national cemetery.

Arlington, the family estate of General Robert E. Lee, is on the banks of the Potomac River across from Washington D. C.  It was confiscated by the Union Army when Virginia seceded from the Union.  It was turned into a graveyard, at least in part, to spite the commander of the Confederate Forces.

The soldier buried in that first grave is Private William Christman, and he did not die as a result of battle.  The twenty-year-old soldier enlisted in the 67th Pennsylvania Infantry in March and promptly contracted measles.  He died in a military hospital five weeks later and was buried on May 13, 1864.

That rock sitting atop the gravestone in the picture above is a piece of the Christman home in Pocono Lake, Pennsylvania.  The house was built using funds from the dead soldier’s military benefits.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Wet

Back in March, I discovered a wet spot in the carpet in our 5th Wheel, and the trailer spent several weeks in the shop while it got a brand new roof.  The total cost of the repairs was several thousand dollars, most of which was covered by insurance.

Yesterday, after almost two months, we got the very first measurable rainfall since we got the trailer back. 

Once the rain stopped, I opened the trailer to find the same spot – a three-foot square in the left rear corner – soaking wet.  To say I’m disappointed is an understatement, and Honey is furious. 

I don’t know where the leak is – there is a small window directly above the wet carpet, but NO evidence I can see that the water is getting in there.  I do know the trailer is headed back to the shop.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Under Water

Sometimes the “News” just isn’t news to anybody who has been paying attention. 

wet truck

Last night, Channel 2, the local NBC affiliate, had a story that trumpeted that “Over a hundred cars were submerged in Houston area bayous.” 

Well, that shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody.  People dump all kinds of crap in bayous, creeks and rivers – they shouldn’t, but they do.  And, of course, people do occasionally run off bridges, etc. and accidentally end up in the water.

I even had a story HERE a couple of years ago about pulling abandoned vehicles out of the drink.

The Channel 2 story turned out to be about a long-standing argument between Houston Equusearch  and the Houston Police.  The group’s founder, Tim  Miller, says that in late 2011, while his Texas Equusearch teams were searching Brays, Sims and Buffalo bayous in Houston with a sonar-equipped boat, they made the surprising and accidental discovery of 127 cars, trucks and even what is believed to be an intact big rig.  When they reported their findings to the police, they were told the HPD didn’t want to hear it - that there was no money in the budget to do anything about it, anyway.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Rollover

 

We were having a nice, but dull, day Saturday until the phone rang.

Our daughter, Cheryl, was on the line and the first thing she said was “Everybody is okay.”

A line like that is meant to diffuse the situation – it’s meant to be reassuring, but it causes your mind to fly off in all kinds of directions – none of them pleasant.

What happened was that our grandson Bryce was talking his stepmom to Georgetown on Hwy 29 to do some shopping when he had a blowout and rolled his truck. 

He was fine. 

Kelley banged her head and was taken to the hospital for tests.  Thankfully, she wasn’t seriously hurt either, and after brain scans showed no injury she was released.

Cheryl sent a picture of the truck from her phone . Bryce's truck

The old Dodge didn’t look that great before the wreck, and didn’t look as bad as I expected after, but I’m pretty sure it is totalled.

One of the policemen who investigated the accident told them that the tire that blew was notorious for causing that kind of mishap, and had been the subject of a class-action lawsuit.  That happened several years ago, long before Bryce got the truck, so it probably doesn’t matter.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mothers Day Musings

Today is Mothers Day – with or without the apostrophe. 

Apparently, you can put one before or after the s, or leave it out entirely.  As long as they are remembered, Moms don’t really care, so Happy Mothers Day!

Not much in the news about Mothers Day this year, but an awful  lot about sexual orientation….. EurovisionSongContest-003f3

For those who still harbor traditional opinions about sex, marriage and gender-identity, headlines  in the last 24 hours must have been hard to take.

A judge in Arkansas (yes, Arkansas) has ruled their law against same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

Michael Sams became the first openly gay player to be chosen in the NFL draft.

The annual Eurovision Song Contest was won by a drag queen with a beard.

If you are among those who are feeling  despondent over the way things are going, take heart.  My next-door neighbor, the mother of two, has posted on Facebook that she just won an AR-15.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Little Whatchamacallits

In a fine example of your tax dollars at work, the US Social Security Administration just released their list of the most popular names for babies born in 2013. 

Baby Names

Rank    Male name                             Female name

1             Noah                                            Sophia

2             Liam                                             Emma

3             Jacob                                           Olivia

4             Mason                                          Isabella

5             William                                        Ava

6             Ethan                                           Mia

7             Michael                                       Emily

8             Alexander                                 Abigail

9             Jayden                                       Madison

10          Daniel                                         Elizabeth


The SSA Website doesn’t just list the names, it contains search engines that let you check out the most popular names by the name itself, or by state or year for any year since 1879.  Jacob, for example, was the top name for boys in the 2000s until Noah took the number one spot this year.

My own name, Robert, was a solid number two behind Michael the year I was born, but last year it was 62 nation-wide, behind almost every name you can find in the Old Testament.  It did beat out Josiah (69) but trailed Jeremiah (58) and over a dozen others on the way to the top. 

In Texas, I fared even worse.  Robert drops to 63 – and that’s  22 places behind Jesus. 

 

Friday, May 9, 2014

Deposits

dumper

The Woodland Heights area of Houston is being plagued by a serial pooper – a man who is going around the neighborhood and taking a dump in their yards.  He seems to strike between one and four in the morning, and usually leaves his deposits on their driveways.

One frustrated homeowner set up his infrared deer camera in a tree in his front yard, and it caught the poopetrator in the act.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Long Day

We had a long and interesting day yesterday. 

It actually started about 6 p.m. Tuesday when we got a call from our daughter Cheryl.

I’m coming.” she said, “I’ll be there about 10.”

Okay.” said Honey, “But, why?”

Well, I guess there were multiple reasons, including Mother’s Day coming up this weekend, but the main reason was that Honey was having minor surgery yesterday morning.  In Cheryl’s mind, surgery equates with be there.

The surgery, a Mohs procedure to remove all remnants of a mole that biopsy said was possibly – but not definitely - a basal cell carcinoma, went well.  The only hitch was that the site is at the top of her nose where her glasses normally sit.  Since Honey wears progressive lenses, and can’t see without them, that became a big problem.  Having the glasses sitting at a strange angle caused headaches and nausea.

Still it was a good day, and we had a great visit with Cheryl.

Probably the worst thing about the day was that I fell asleep and snored all through CSI last night.  Honey said she tried to wake me several times, but I don’t remember.  I do know that by the time the 10 o’clock news came on, she was ready to kill me just to shut me up.

 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Insult to Injury

A woman who was gang-raped by eight men is now facing public caning in Banda Aceh, Indonesia.

The men reportedly caught he 25 year old widow having sex with a married man in her home.  They beat her and her partner, doused them with sewage and then turned them over to police.

Under Sharia Law, a local judge says she now faces up to nine stokes of the cane for violating laws against extramarital relations.

If there is any justice in this story at all, the eight rapist/vigilantes also face punishment – up to 15 years in jail.  Three are in custody and the other five are being sought.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Dog Talk

There are “experts” who will tell you that dogs don’t understand English, or whatever language you speak in your household, that they only respond to body language and your tone of voice.  I don’t buy it.  If that were true, how would they differentiate between commands like stay and come?

Then there are those folks who are sure their dogs talk to them.  I always figured they were just as wrong as the first group  - until today.

Dusty, our little red miniature dachshund, is absolutely sure she runs the house, and she barks at us all the time.  She not only understands English, she even knows what we are talking about when we try spelling  stuff we don’t want her to understand.

In addition to barking, she also makes weird noises I can’t really describe.  Not a whine, more like a loud extended yawn, but it’s not that either.  When she does it she moves her mouth around this way and that, and varies the pitch. Then she looks at you afterword as if expecting a response.

A few minutes ago, as I got up from the computer, Dusty made one of those noises, and it definitely ended with a question mark.  Don’t get me wrong, it was not clearly enunciated, but I swear it sounded like “Goin’ outside?”

Well I said “Yes.” and both dogs jumped up and ran for the door.

Monday, May 5, 2014

The Great Gout Adventure

gout-foot

That is what my foot looked like a couple days ago.

Wednesday morning the joint at the base of  my right big toe was red and swollen.  It wasn’t nearly as painful as my first gout episode twenty years ago, but I was pretty sure that’s what it was.

Thursday, it was a lot better, and I thought maybe I had dodged a bullet.  Then Saturday morning about 4 a.m. it woke me up – hurt like blazes and my whole foot was pink and swollen from the toes to the instep.  I didn’t want to spend all day in the ER, so I decided to try an emergency care clinic in Atascosita.

Right after I arrived – before I checked in – the doctor took a quick look and said “Looks like gout.  We can treat that.”  Then they took me back to the waiting room to check in, fill out all the forms and wait.  I didn’t see the doctor again for over an hour and a half.

After about an hour in the waiting room, I was taken back to an exam room where a tall stately black nurse took my vitals, etc.  She was very professional, except she kept calling me “Sweetie” which felt a little odd.

When she did come into the treatment room, the doctor, a soft spoken young Latina with a heavy accent– not Mexican, more likely Caribbean like Puerto Rican or Dominican, asked me “Did you enjoy it?”

I guess I was still reacting to being called Sweetie, because I replied “Oh, yeah. I’m having a ball.”

She looked at me like I was crazy and repeated herself.  “Did you injure it?”

Not that I’m aware of.” I said, and we went on with the exam.

They took some X-rays., and I learned that even small-time emergency clinics now do digital X-rays exclusively, so they went directly to their computer.

Then I got two shots – a steroid and an antibiotic, and she wrote prescriptions for some steroid tablets and some pain pills.  The injections worked so well that I never touched the pain pills;  by the time I got them filled, I didn’t need them.

There was one interesting side effect.  She had warned me that the steroid would make my blood sugar spike, and it did.  It went up about 60 points – just enough to make me want to sleep all afternoon.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Monkey Suit

chimp suit

It all started with a really sad story

Dave Sabo, who once owned of a bunch of performing chimpanzees passed away.  At the time of his death, Sabo had only one chimp left, an animal named Tommy, that he had raised from infancy.  Since Sabo apparently had no heirs, and was living at the Circle L Trailer Park in Gloversville, New York, at the time of his death, Tommy became the property of Circle L.

A lawyer named Steven Wise, after learning that Tommy was living in a tiny cage inside a dark warehouse, decided to sue Circle L on Tommy’s behalf.  Wise and a group that calls itself the Nonhuman Rights Project filed suit in a state court naming Tommy as the plaintiff.

I have no argument against requiring owners to provide appropriate food and housing for their animals, but allowing a non-human to file suit is something else entirely.

The tactic had been tried before, but not successfully.  In October 2011, despite Wise’s objections, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) filed a lawsuit on behalf of five Orcas at SeaWorld San Diego and SeaWorld Orlando, accusing the theme park of violating the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery. The suit was dismissed by Judge Jeffrey Miller of the U.S. District Court for Southern California, who wrote in his ruling that “the only reasonable interpretation of the 13th Amendment’s plain language is that it applies to persons, and not to nonpersons such as orcas.”

It’s been a long hard road, and many would argue that we are not there yet,  but in the last century and a half in the US we have gone from Africans being property to having an African-American as President of the United States. 

I shudder to think what the consequences might be should the courts decide that animals have the same rights as humans.

On the other hand, a Chimp as president couldn’t be much worse.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Movers

After writing yesterday’s post about the cities with the fastest declining populations, I came across an article about the desire of folks to live somewhere else. 

According to Gallup, about half of the residents of Illinois and Connecticut would prefer to move to another state.

moving poll

Folks happiest right where they were included residents of Hawaii, Montana and Maine where only 23% of those surveyed would be willing to move – followed closely by people from Oregon and Texas where 24% said they would be willing to pull up stakes and start somewhere else.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Where They Come From

There are often stories in the news listing the fastest growing metro areas in the US – Texas cities like Austin and San Antonio are frequently mentioned – but, until today, I hadn’t seen a report on which cities were losing residents the fastest.

It comes as no surprise that most of the top ten shrinking cities are in the “Rust Belt” of Michigan and Ohio, but I was surprised at the areas listed as number one and number two.

In second place is Farmington, New Mexico, with a net population loss of 2.8% since it peaked in 2010.  No one seems sure why folks are leaving at such a rate - overall income in Farmington isn’t great, but their 6.4% unemployment is well below the national average.  The folks doing the study did say that a recent uptick in oil and gas exploration in the area may reverse the trend.

The biggest loser was Pine Bluff, Arkansas, where people have been leaving in droves.  Since 2010, they have seen a population drop of 4.4%, and they are down 19.3% since the population peaked in 1980.  The study sites low income, high crime and a 10% unemployment rate as reasons for the decline, but the area is no worse than a lot of others that are holding their own.  The only sure thing is that a downward spiral is hard to stop.