October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween and Merry Trick or Treating.  About every seven years we celebrate the day on Sunday, much to the consternation of people and lawmakers around the country who desperately try to make people celebrate on Saturday, despite the calendar.  Mondays suck, but no one ever tries to 'move' Christmas when it falls on an inconvenient day.  Here is a two year old cartoon worth repeating, in the interest of politicians worldwide who have become much too involved in things that government was never intended to stick their noses in.

October 30, 2010

Useless Halloween Law

According to this article, cities in at least 5 states have enacted laws that prohibit trick or treating by kids older than 12.  Wow, those cities must be great places to live, if all they have to worry about is legislating kids that they think shouldn't be going door to door on Halloween.

For the record, anyone who comes to my door in costume is going to get candy.  Lots of candy.  No one trick or treats in my neighborhood, but I buy candy anyway, always holding out hope.  Today's lazy kids won't walk the distance it is from door to door on my street.  Occasionally, we get a pack of kids that are in a golf cart or driven by someone's parents.  I wish they would come, because Mr Harper is dying to mock up one of those real-person-posing-as-a-fake-person-to-scare-the-bejeesus-out-of-kids scenarios when they step onto the porch

Seriously, if you take the time to put together a thoughtful costume, even if it is straight out a package, I will give you candy.  I am not giving candy to the high school football players that are just wearing their jersey and jeans.  But, if they come in full pads, or with some zombie face paint - that's worth a Snickers.  You can be 2 or 82, if you are in costume, I will provide.  If you are in a shitty costume, you are getting the hard Tootsie Rolls, Laffy Taffy, or maybe an Atkins bar from the pantry.  Good costumes, full size Hershey bars, Kit Kats, Reese's.  I got the candy going on.

As it is, I usually carry candy to give out, as we take our kids around a walkable subdivision.

Some of the best trick or treaters I have seen in my life were college/adult age folks that had some great costumes and really weren't out for the candy, so much as the experience of entertaining people.  I think that is great and screw any city making a law against fun.  Such people will be invited in for a Shiner Black.

Today is my son's 13th birthday.  Tomorrow he is trick or treating for UNICEF, something that a friend at school organized.  He will be in costume, and if anyone wants to give him some candy, he certainly won't refuse it.  In fact, anyone giving him a hard time should worry about me retaliating.  I enjoyed being a kid, but there is a certain joy in knowing that, as an adult, I have unlimited access to a vehicle, a bank account that can finance a most serious toilet paper purchase, two large dogs (and a horse) with equally large output, a Costco-sized box of brown paper bags and several decades of experience in not getting caught.  

October 29, 2010

L'il Ron

I love, love, love Halloween costumes that are creative.  Anyone can go to Wal-Mart and buy a mass produced cartoon character (or the growing segment of any female character as a whore costumes - seriously folks, Dorothy's skirt was not that short). 

This little man from Keller, TX is cute as can be.  I believe he actually shaved his head!  Now that is dedication.  Let's hope his enthusiasm will turn this Series around. 

From the GMAFB file

Witch's Wit is one of Port Brewing Company's Lost Abbey beers, which the distributor calls "inspired beers for saints and sinners alike." Each beer sports a label that aims to tell a story about the struggle between good and evil.
But Vicki Noble, a famed healer, astrologer and spiritual leader in the pagan community, saw only evil in Witch's Wit after a worker in a liquor store called the bottle to her attention last week.
Incensed at the image of a witch being burned at the stake, Noble sent an e-mail to her followers, asking in the subject line: "Can we stop this brewer from their hate imagery?"
"Can you imagine them showing a black person being lynched or a Jewish person going to the oven?" she asked. "Such images are simply not tolerated in our society anymore (thank the Goddess) and this one should not be, either."
I suppose my neighbor needs to take down their witch-crashing-into-a-tree and the skeleton hanging from a noose Halloween decorations.
To all Wiccans who might end up here.  We are all free to be whoever we want, but your fringe religion/cult doesn't become mainstream just because you say it's so.  Thank the Goddess.  Don't ever come around me comparing your beliefs with the atrocities that the Nazi party inflicted upon the Jewish people.  It will not end well.
For being such a famed leader of the pagan community, Vicki Noble apparently knows jack shit about the persecution of accused witches.  During the Salem Witch Trials, those convicted of witchcraft and executed were HANGED or STONED TO DEATH.  Incidentally, witch trials throughout time and the world have centered on paranoia and fear of the unknown.  Give birth to a baby with a birth defect...bam, accused witch.  Epileptic seizure, must be a witch.  We know better now, and none of those situations or reactions had a damn thing to do with your tree hugging, pentacle altar, bowl of salt, herb potion 'religion'. 
Burning at the stake has never been a punishment reserved for witches.  It was the preferred method of execution during the Spanish Inquisition because the Roman Catholic doctrine forbade the shedding of blood and it was believed that burning cleansed the soul.  
Burning at the stake was also the preferred punishment for women convicted of heresy and high treason in early England, as the usual punishment was to be drawn and quartered, but that involved nudity - which would have somehow been worse, so they just burned the treasonous women.
Incidentally, Ms Noble might need to check her Wiccan principles, namely number 11:
As American Witches, we are not threatened by debates on the history of the craft, the origins of various terms, the legitimacy of various aspects of different traditions. We are concerned with our present and our future.
The Wiccans might also remind one another that one of their guiding principles is to "...live wisely and without harm to others..." and call off their boycotts, press conferences and general bitchiness toward this brewer.

October 28, 2010

Check back later, when I have time to think

I cannot recall a busier week, in recent memory, than this one has been.

Mid-semester grades came out, which in terms of my kids meant a giant 'WTF?' moment. Judging by the number of parents attending conferences and specially called curriculum meetings, my kids aren't doing poorly, they are in a 'learning' period that the staff expected, but failed to warn parents about. I guess where some schools ease into a new school year, our school has more of a trial by fire mentality.

Next week marks my second busiest week of the year for work.  Getting ready for it runs a close third.  If you aren't familiar, I help produce a community music festival.  Tickets go on sale next week.  You would not believe the number of emails and phone calls I get from grown adults (many of them well beyond 'knowing better' age) with the most ridiculous reasons why I should make an exception and set aside the specific seats they want.  It is particularly interesting because I have an excruciatingly detailed memory (augmented by a detailed documentation system) for repeat customers, so I catch on quickly when, last year, Mr Smith needed a specific row and aisle seat because of an old war injury to his left hip that requires him to stretch out his leg, but then the next year he is requesting the opposite aisle, claiming the same issue for the right hip.  If I were a little quicker with my military knowledge/Google, I could trip him up.  But, the customer is always right - right?

On the home front, Mr. Harper is grieving the death of what was supposed to be a Super Bowl season for his beloved Dallas Cowboys.  I am much too catty to leave it alone and have been rubbing salt in that wound every chance I get.  The Rangers' first World Series loss was painful to watch.  Hope they come back strong. DFW's NBC affiliate sports reporter Newy Scruggs filed this rather humorous report:

October 26, 2010

Who's going to hell?

I voted today.  I have done my part, now it is up to the rest of you, and then those elected, to do the right things for our country.

The early voter turn out has been high.  My town has a population of about 3,500.  Our polling location has had over 1,000 early voters so far.  In Texas, you can vote at any polling place in your county during early voting.  So, it stands to reason that people from surrounding communities have stopped in to vote, probably as they bring their kids to school in town.  On the other hand, just as many local voters are likely to be voting in other towns, as they go shopping or to work, etc.  I usually vote elsewhere, myself.

I was chatting with the election workers who told me that they were using the same number of machines and staffing levels as they had for the last presidential election.

I was thinking that my solidly republican county was maybe seeing higher numbers than others, but-
The Texas secretary of state's office says, through Sunday, about 10 percent of the registered voters in 15 counties, or 842,204 ballots, had been cast, compared to 476,845 early votes made through the same number of days in 2006.

The tally includes in-person voting and mail-in ballots.

Voters in the 15 counties make up almost 63 percent of the state's nearly 13.3 million registered voters.
Sounds like the sleeping giant has been awakened, at least in Texas.  I can't imagine that all those people are running to the polls because they are so happy with the status quo that they are voting for incumbents and Dems.  

Ed Koch is predicting a republican tsunami.

I like Obi-Wan Kenobi's superwave theory.  I particularly like the bit about how Obama on the campaign trail is reminding so many of us why we can't stand him.  He's a candidate, not a leader.  Who's running the country while he crosses the nation, trying to salvage control of the Senate?

I think that vitriol being spewed by libs will continue to push moderate liberals to the right.  Who in their right mind would listen to shrill, hate-filled hags like Joy Behar and decide that they wanted to play on that team?

October 25, 2010

Bitterly clinging to my gun and my Bible, here in the back seat.

While campaigning in Rhode Island, where the Democratic candidate for governor has told the president that he can 'take his endorsement and shove it', Blowie let loose with this gem,
"...He said Republicans had driven the economy into a ditch and then stood by and criticized while Democrats pulled it out. Now that progress has been made, he said, "we can't have special interests sitting shotgun. We gotta have middle class families up in front. We don't mind the Republicans joining us. They can come for the ride, but they gotta sit in back."
Tell me, could an (all) white president get away with that comment?

Hell. No.

Why the constant double standard?

October 24, 2010

Skyball 8

I spent nine solid hours on my feet yesterday, shlepping food and drink at 'Skyball VIII'.  I can hardly walk today, but it was awesome!  Skyball and the Fort Worth Airpower Foundation, "...support North Texas military families, and Sky Ball proceeds help provide financial assistance. ..Support comes in many forms, including financial aid for those with a family member who has been deployed; departure and welcome-home receptions; support for welfare and relief projects of the units based in North Texas; and care packages and gifts to soldiers wounded in battle who are recuperating at military hospitals.  All Sky Ball proceeds directly benefit the Navy-Marine Corps, National Guard Relief Fund and families of those stationed at the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth. Last year's event raised more than $600,000 for families of deployed troops."

Most of the crowd is made up of military members who get to come on free tickets provided by sponsoring companies. Having been an Air Force brat and an Army wife, I wasn't expecting to have such a blast with sailors!! Navy guys (and girls) are fun.

Now for the name dropping...

This year's theme was a tribute to 'The Greatest Generation'.  There were over 200 World War II veterans in attendance.  One was Glenn McDuffie, he's the sailor in this iconic photo:

There were Tuskegee Airmen, Choctaw Code Talkers (who said a gorgeous prayer in their native language and never mentioned their casinos), WASPs, a USS Indianapolis survivor and the 82nd Airborne Division's most decorated office ever, LTC 'Maggie' Megellas.

Jane Russell was there!  Still beautiful at 89, though not quite as hot as she was in her heyday...

Remember the viral email about the teacher who had all the desks taken out of her classroom, telling her kids they had to earn the right to sit at desks, then had 27 U.S. veterans file in carrying the desks to teach the kids that military men and women earned the desks for them and continue to defend our freedoms?  Her name is Martha Cothren...she was there!

Radney Foster performed a heartbreaking song called 'Angel Flight' about the pilots who fly fallen heroes home to their final resting places.

Last year at Skyball, Tony Orlando performed.  This year, Terry Fator, via video from Vegas, impersonated Tony and sang 'Tie a Yellow Ribbon'.

Twenty young men and women took their oath of enlistment at the event, right there in the middle of everything.  It was encouraging to see young people anxious to serve their country.

The evening ended with a concert by Gary Sinise and the LT Dan Band.  They rock!  Since all of the members have other careers and only get together for performances, their afternoon sound check was more of a complete rehearsal, so I got to hear their set twice.  It was a little surreal to be setting out silverware and plates with Gary Sinise jamming on the bass ten feet away from me. 

It was an amazing night, and I was working my tail off.  I know the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines in our section had a good time - we made sure of it.  I hope they realize how much they are appreciated, and I hope to see every single one of them again next year.  God Bless our Military men and women.

October 23, 2010

I wonder if veterinarians can do mammograms?

Little Crash got his arm cast this week, after two weeks in a splint.  Good timing, as the outer 'Ace' bandage clearly wasn't built to withstand two weeks of 3-year old play and nose wiping.

Taking CenTexTim's advice, we went with the waterproof cast option.  The friendly 'casting tech' warned that insurance doesn't cover the waterproof cast material and that it is $50 extra.  After two weeks of plastic bags and tape before bath time, there was no price too high.  But it made me wonder how many regular casts insurance would pay for.  If we just got it wet every day and went back for a new one, would they cover it?  Is there no point at which they realize that $50 for waterproof material (on a preschooler, no less) is worth the investment?  

Between the hospital's 'courtesy' notice of the total amount of charges submitted to our insurance and the same information found on the doctor's bill, Crash's current couch dive price tag is nearing $10,000.  Our out of pocket so far is just over $300.

The day after Crash got his cast, our younger dog had surgery on his paw.  He had some sort of mass between two of his toes.  It had come and gone a couple of times, but came back worse each time.  Including prior visits to diagnose and administer steroid shots to shrink the swelling, the surgery - complete with anesthesia, bloodwork, IV fluids, antibiotics, radiology, pathology, bandaging supplies, ear cleaning, nail trim and a new $27.95 Elizabethan collar (Mr H picked him up and came home with it.  I pointed out that we have at least two other E-collars.  Mr H liked this one because it is transparent, so the dog won't run into walls.  I replied that a transparent collar can't fix a clumsy dog.).  Still, all in, under $600.

I love my kids beyond measure and I think we make good decisions about when and where to seek medical care.  We have good (expensive as all hell) insurance, paying more for the option of choosing our own providers.  I think my dogs get better health care.  I feel more empowered to question the methods and administration of the vet care, where I wouldn't with my kids.  The vet takes the time to explain everything, answer questions,etc.  I have his cell phone number.  I have a small pharmacy of potent drugs that I am entrusted to administer, orally, rectally and by injection, as needed.  The post-surgical phone call from a tech was specific and detailed, not just - 'how's he doing?'.  Even though I have clearly told my vet that one of his partners is not allowed anywhere near my dogs (due to her bitchy attitude), I don't feel like he made a note in my chart or harbors any ill will toward me (Remember the Seinfeld episode where Elaine tries to get Kramer to steal her medical chart because it says she was 'difficult'?).

So what's the difference?  While there is still a ton of regulation in the vet care world, it is a drop in the bucket compared to human health care.  Seems out of whack, considering that vet's take care of millions of different species, not just one.  Take the government out of the equation and providers can provide better care and a lower price.

October 22, 2010

World Series Bound

from here

And this morning's NY Post headline:

Don't feel so bad, Yankee fans.  We're still paying that guy on the right, too.

Dear Disney, get over it already.

Disney is pissing themselves over supposed 'new' revelations about Keith Richards' drug use in his new book entitled, "Life"Rumors are rampant that Keef's small part in the latest Pirates of the Caribbean installment will end up on the cutting room floor.

If Keith Richards' drug use is a new revelation, then it is the worst kept secret in the history of mankind.  Anyone at Disney not previously aware of it, say back in 2006-2007 when Keefer filmed his first Pirate's cameo and when his joke about snorting his father's ashes went viral as a true revelation, has been living under a large, deafening rock.

As a service to the Disney execs, here are a few clues that you missed: 
Circa 1977: guitarist/composer Keith Richards, 33, was busted and charged with possessing heroin—$4,000 worth, allegedly—with intent to traffic. It was Keith's fifth and most serious drug bust in 10 years, carrying a maximum sentence, if convicted, of life imprisonment.
Ron Wood tells of drugs, loves, wives and the odd behaviour of fellow Rolling Stone Keith Richards, in this excerpt from his 2007 biography...Several months before that incident, we'd met a couple of strung-out dealers who would hang around with the Band (Robbie Robertson and his boys Richard Manuel, Rick Danko, Levon Helm and Garth Hudson).  They were doing some dealing, which is why we befriended them. One of them in particular, Cathy, left a bad taste and smell.  She was always offering Keith "favours", but he couldn't stand her.
 She seems to have worked for us for a while, although I can't remember what she was doing. Whatever it was, she was always hanging at the house.  We decided we wanted to get rid of her, but she wouldn't go, and at one point she actually threatened to blackmail us.  That's when Keith reached for his gun, clamped Cathy's head in a door and said: "Here are 45 reasons to get out of this house."
Gram Parsons had been hanging out at the Joshua Tree National Monument for several years -- he went there regularly...and later with Keith Richards, to get high, commune with the cactus, and watch the sky for UFOs.
Commune with the cactus?!

From the book "i was keith richards' drug dealer",  ...tells about how Keith Richards attacked one of his suppliers with a sword; how he later had a change of blood to come off heroin; and how they lived one step ahead of the law despite their massive and conspicuous intake of drugs 
And, from the horse's mouth, a collection of timeless Keef quotes:
'Someone put strychnine in my dope. It was in Switzerland. I was totally comatose but I was totally awake. I could listen to everyone, and they were like, 'He's dead, he's dead!', waving their fingers and pushing me about, and I was thinking, 'I'm not dead!'''

"I've never turned blue in someone else's bathroom. I consider that the height of bad manners."

"There was a knock on our dressing-room door. Our manager shouted, 'Keith! Ron! The Police are here!' Oh, man, we panicked, flushed everything down the john. Then the door opened and it was Stewart Copeland and Sting."

"Miraculously, due to abstinence and prayer, my teeth grew back." 

"Let me be clear about this: I don’t have a drug problem, I have a police problem."
If that doesn't do it for you, consider this visual:

Keith Richards (on right) 1962


October 21, 2010

The games Dems play

Three van loads of Hughes High students were taken last week – during school hours – to vote and given sample ballots only for Democratic candidates and then taken for ice cream, a Monday lawsuit alleges...When they got out of the vans, the students, the suit alleges, also were accompanied by adults who appeared to be campaign workers or supporters for U.S. Rep. Steve Driehaus, D-West Price Hill, the congressman being challenged this fall by Steve Chabot...the suit alleges they were given sample ballots containing only Democratic candidates.
And that is how they do it in Cincinnati.

Even in my small town, a desperate local candidate has discovered the treasure trove of newly minted 18-year olds that are a captive audience Monday through Friday.  The modus operandi around here is to take voter registration cards to the high school during lunch periods, then host a 'party' and run a hayride to the polling place.  While just as distasteful to me (because they were obviously influencing these 'children' rather than giving them all of the options), at least it wasn't taking away from instructional time.  I don't understand an education system that legally compels children to attend school, but then allows so many non-educational things to monopolize their class time.

October 18, 2010

Go Commando and Save the World

Waaaay back in the I-used-to-be-a-young-cool-party-girl days, I might have woken up a time or two in a state of dress that required adjustment.  I have watched the 'walk of shame parade' across campus on weekend mornings.   When your clothes are on wrong, or perhaps don't actually belong to you, there are usually telltale little signs that will alert you that something is amiss.  Perhaps it is just the sensation that something doesn't feel right or the first glance down with a bloodshot eye may reveal a wardrobe malfunction.

For instance, if you go tubing on the Guadalupe River in a tasteful one piece bathing suit and wake up in what resembles a man's wrestling ensemble - it is a likely assumption that your suit is on backwards.  A situation that most girls would be quick to rectify.  (I'm not saying that it happened, or anything, just suggesting.  If you were on the river in the summer of '89, you didn't see anything either).

Only in our current day Bizarro America could the first lady (and I use the term loosely) not only get away with wearing her clothing backwards, but be flippin' lauded for it. 
The first lady — who is, at times, hailed as fashionista-in-chief — seems to have morphed into a recessionista in residence: Michelle Obama has been seen recycling her outfits. Now, this is change we can believe in.
The latest example: On October 2, Mrs. Obama spent family time at Camp David looking chic in a navy sweater with an open back paired with a floral blouse underneath.
Then in Ohio on Sunday, presto change-o, the outfit was repeated with a twist: The cardigan was now worn the other way, with the lace-up in the front. The majority of a poll on Huffington Post (which tracks the first lady's looks) liked the look both ways. One commenter noted, "Either way, the sweater looks good. I like how Mrs. Obama shows off her unique style."
Unique style?  She wore her sweater backwards!?! 

I am all for Mrs Blowie wearing an outfit, or the components of it, more than once.  I think it is asinine to do otherwise.  The woman wears the same sweater twice and the libs want to give her a fuggin' prize for recycling in these tough economic times.  The slideshow accompanying the article shows her wearing the same pair of shoes twice.   Damn, I hope so.  Those heels, now over two years out of season, are going for $700 on the discount market.   (I am currently rocking a three year old pair of New Balance with my Old Navy jeans and hand me down flannel shirt over a Rangers T-shirt, where's my accolades?) The fact that people track every stinkin' pearl and ugly belt that this woman wears speaks volumes about their collective intelligence.

How Lowe's has screwed me yet again.

You might recall that back in June, I purchased a new fridge from Lowe's.

Despite the inaccurately quoted delivery window and general ineptitude and ignorance displayed at different levels of the Lowe's customer service hierarchy, I had, for the most part, chalked it up as a lesson learned.  I had filed away the experience for future reference and have even ventured back into my local store and spent some money (on a part to fix a P.O.S. Home Depot faucet - rant on that forthcoming).  Lowe's was, mostly, forgiven.  Of course, I didn't think I would be shopping for another major appliance so soon - but that is what I get for living in an old house whose former owners were quite frugal.  The appliances are old and/or not top quality.

In what I consider to be a fortunate coincidence, my hatred for Lowe's has been rekindled, just as I need to shop for a new dishwasher.  Looks like Best Buy or Sears will be getting that chunk of change.

My "new" fridge has, what I consider to be, a design flaw.  It has two ice makers; one up top in the refrigerated section, that provides the water and ice through the door and one in the bottom freezer section.  The top ice maker, especially when one uses the 'crushed ice' function, gets pieces of ice caught in the metal teeth near where the ice exits the maker.  As this is located in the refrigerated part of the unit, the ice eventually melts and water leaks into the produce and deli drawers, and also fills up the chute in the door, so the next hapless person that puts a glass up to the ice dispenser gets a soaked sleeve and a puddle to clean up.  That is, if it hasn't already leaked out and down the door on its own.  

I don't know if there is anything that can fix it, but figure maybe there is an adjustment or something that can be made to the ice crusher-thingy.  I finally have some time on my calendar to accommodate a day wasted waiting on the repairman, so I contacted Samsung for service.   When the warranty says 'one year from date of purchase', it means the day you went to the store and paid for it.  Seems like common sense, and if I had thought about it, the ugly truth might have occurred to me sooner.  In my case, 'date of purchase' was nearly a month before I took delivery of the unit.  So, one month of the warranty was already gone before I had ever laid eyes on the fridge.

I suppose I might have just chalked it up as another lesson learned were it not for one other little detail - in placing the service order and plugging in my serial number - I learned that my fridge was manufactured two days after my purchase date.  I was losing days on my warranty before the sucker even existed.

I can understand the need to secure payment on an item before ordering it, but on the other hand, it wasn't custom made or specialized.  It is a regularly offered item, easily sold if I reneged.  Many companies don't charge for an item until it ships, but I wonder if the ultimate 'sale' date ends up being the order date or the ship date, in those cases?

Either way, I am arguing the date with Samsung, 'cause with my luck, there will be some major issue with the fridge in that month of lost warranty time. 

October 17, 2010

I call bullshit on US Airways

A motivational speaker with cerebral palsy said he was humiliated when he was kicked off a U.S. Airways flight after being told he was too disabled to fly alone.
"I was raised to believe I could grow up doing what I wanted to do and it didn't lead me to any entitlement," Johnnie Tuitel, 47, told The Grand Rapids Press for a story Saturday. "By them denying me the ability to fly, I couldn't do my job."
Tuitel, 47, of Grand Rapids Township, Mich., said he has flown over 500,000 miles to give motivational speeches, but he missed one because of the Sept. 23 incident at Palm Beach International Airport.
After helping him into his seat aboard a flight from West Palm Beach to Kansas City, a U.S. Airways gate agent returned and wheeled Tuitel back to the terminal, he said.
"He told me I could fly on U.S. Airways if I could find a companion to go with me because I was a danger to myself and others if something went wrong," Tuitel told WZZM-TV. "Trust me, they made a mistake."
A US Airways spokesperson claims that the gate agent was only enforcing policy:
"The airline requires that the passenger has to be physically able to assist himself or herself in the event of an emergency. If the passenger can not, the airline requires that someone else travels with the passenger who can provide assistance in the event of an emergency," she told the television station.
I clicked on over to the US Airways site, and found the information pages for traveling with various 'special needs'  Here is their policy:
US Airways requires that the certain passengers travel with a personal safety assistant. The attendant is required to purchase a ticket. A safety assistant is someone to help the passenger to exit the aircraft in case of an emergency evacuation or to establish communication with US Airways for purposes of the required safety briefing.
  • A passenger who, because of a mental disability, is unable to comprehend or respond appropriately to safety instructions from US Airways personnel, including the safety briefing required by FAA regulations or the safety regulations of a foreign carrier's government (for international codeshare flights)
  • A passenger with a mobility impairment so severe that the person is unable to physically assist in his or her own evacuation of the aircraft
  • A passenger who has both severe hearing and severe vision impairments.
If US Airways determines that a passenger meeting one of the criteria listed must travel with a safety assistant, contrary to the passenger's self-assessment that he or she is capable of traveling independently, US Airways is not required to find or provide a safety assistant. If the passenger is unable to arrange for a safety assistant to accompany him or her, US Airways may deny boarding to the passenger.
  • US Airways personnel do not provide personal care services (e.g., assistance in using lavatory facilities or with eating).
This gentleman travels the country, sometimes by plane, sometimes by driving himself.  He is a motivational speaker.  What is it about him that makes this airline feel like he isn't capable of following directions or doing what is needed in the case of an evacuation?

I am not a road warrior, but I fly a dozen or so times a year.  I've been on regional flights and I have been on international flights so long that there were two flight crews.  I have been seated next to children, elderly, obese and stupid people to whom this policy could have been enforced.  In fact, I was once seated next to an obese man that was literally sitting on top of me.  He was unable to move during the flight, due to his size.  Had there been an emergency, there was no way I was getting out.  Why would someone with cerebal palsy be singled out as incapable of responding appropriately in the event of an emergency?

Adding insult to injury is the airline's 'unaccompanied minors' policy.  Children as young as 5 can travel without a parent or family member with them.  The airline will charge an 'unaccompanied minor' fee and then take about two extra steps when dealing with the child on the plane (they will make the child wait on the plane so that a member of the flight or ground crew can escort them to the adult picking them up and they will provide a cheesy plastic pilot's wing pin as a means of inflight entertainment).  There is not a 5-year old on this earth that can comprehend what should be done in an in-flight emergency.  Granted, they will probably do what they are told in a scary situation, unlike unaccompanied teenagers who are likely to refuse anything an adult tells them to do.

I can tell you what happened on Mr Tuitel's flight.  Some bitchy old hag of a senior flight attendant took one look at him and decided that she didn't feel like doing her job that day.  So she picked up the phone, called the gate agent and pulled rank.  I fully comprehend the need for airplane passengers to comply with flight crew 'orders' as they relate to safety during a flight, but the power that is granted to them to enforce ambiguous policies in the name of safety is out of control.

Mr. Tuitel is a better person than I am, as he wants to meet with the airline and see what he can do to help them to develop different procedures to ensure that other people aren't embarrassed like he was.  Had it been me, I think I would have flopped out of my wheelchair in the jet way, making sure to incur some injury, as I screamed about their incompetence while simultaneously sending out an RFP to every ADA lawyer on the planet.

Shame on you US Air.

October 16, 2010

From our northern neighbors

I was unfamiliar with Algonquin Park prior to watching this video.  Looks like a beautiful place, especially now with the fall colors. I have to admit being equally ignorant to the 'group of seven' reference, but have since rectified that hole in my knowledge of art history .

Cute video about black bears.  This Rick Mercer guy is funny!

October 15, 2010

Now he can make it rain

A South Florida man may have a few more dollars to toss around at strippers after he won $650,000 in a settlement for injuries he suffered during a lap dance.
 'suffered during a lap dance' seems like an oxymoron.

I can see how those stripper heels could be dangerous and I am sure it was painful, but, really?  Suing a stripper for clipping you during a lap dance?

I guess the guy was determined to get his happy ending, one way or another.

The hypocrisy of our goverment, example #8,927

Can we just put it all right out on the table?  The government does not give a rat's ass about our health.  This headline says it all, "Political cowards love the sin tax".  If they can add, 'it's for your health' or 'it's for the children', to their reason for a sin/luxury tax, idiotic Americans roll over and take it.

The recent hot button issue is 'sugary drinks', notably soft drinks. The politicians scream and quote small independent studies proclaiming, People would lose 5 pounds a year if soda cost an extra 18%Several states are considering a tax on soda, based upon the belief that soda makes people fat, fat people are unhealthy and the result is increased healthcare costs. Several of the supporting groups point to other 'sin' taxes like the exorbitant ones on tobacco products, claiming that the tax is responsible for the decline in the number of users. Sodas have sugar and/or high fructose corn syrup (GASP!) and when you have too much sugar and too little exercise, PEOPLE GET FAT.  Fat people get sick and die young.  What they call a health crisis, I call survival of the fittest.

How about the government raises the taxes on every overweight educator, coach and teacher who contribute to an educational system that uses the law to require kids to be a still, quiet audience for 8 hours a day?  How about the same levy on every overweight politician?  We can charge a dollar for every pound that those people are overweight, as a 'bad example' tax.  That oughtta balance the budget.

My arguments about what has made America fat can wait.  What I am really ticked about is the whole 'sin tax' mentality.  The feds don't care about our health, they care about re-election and they can't get re-elected if they don't generate revenue with which to (partially) finance their programs.

How does the government decide which things are bad for us and should be BANNED and which things are bad for us, but could GENERATE A BUCK for them?  There are a litany of diseases, conditions and accidents caused by things that the government allows, but taxes as a luxury or sin - most notably, alcohol and cigarettes.  The government clearly accepts that the user is taking the risks and must pay for that privilege.  Why does that concept not apply across the board?

Marijuana is safe enough to treat several debilitating health conditions, but is illegal for use by healthy Americans in the privacy and comfort of their own homes.

Fen-Phen was prescribed over 18 million times.  About 30% of users in various case studies show some increased incidence of cardiac problems.  What about the 70% that did fine on the drug and lost weight?  Why not leave it on the market and charge a 'sin' tax for those willing to take the risk?

As the 'Political Cowards' author alludes to, MP3 player headphones are causing hearing damage and Americans consume ungodly amounts of caffeine each day, without the feds intervening on behalf of our health.  She believes it to be an attack on the lower classes, I just think that the politicians hadn't thought of it yet.  Or Steve Jobs and Starbucks have enough lobbying clout to shut them down.

October 14, 2010

Stimulus Sign Map

The embed code is wonky and the map isn't interactive once loaded, so go here.

Got an email from Representative Michael Burgess of the 26th District of Texas. He is a little ticked off about the federal government's denial of assistance for damage caused by Tropical Storm Hermine. The email claims that signs promoting stimulus projects could end up costing taxpayers $192 million dollars. That's a lot of signs.

The Committee of Oversight and Government Reform is asking the public to photograph the signs and upload them to their site, so they can continue to map them and illustrate both the waste of American taxpayer money on signs, as well as the catastrophic waste of the stimulus in general.

October 13, 2010

A different kind of golden shower

I know, I gotta knock it off with the double entendre post titles.  Going on fumes here, having had about 3 hours of sleep.

I am referring to the clubhouse celebration the Texas Rangers bestowed on player Josh Hamilton last night.  Old Joshie used to tear it up on the club scene, resulting in many embarrassing cell phone photos showing up on the Internet and years of a severe alcohol and drug addiction problem.  When the Ranger's won their division title, Josh retreated to a training room, rather than enter the booze soaked celebration in the clubhouse.  He didn't make a big deal about it or anything, he just chose to make the best decision for himself and stay away from a situation that could knock him off the proverbial wagon.

After last night's American League West title win, there was a different sort of celebration:
Left-hander C.J. Wilson and equipment manager Richard "Hoggy" Price supplied the team with bottles of ginger ale. The team waited for Hamilton to hit the clubhouse door and then doused him with the soft drink.
Being part of the festivities meant everything to Hamilton, who has battled alcohol and substance-abuse problems.
"It meant a lot," Hamilton said. "They were waiting on me out there. They came around the corner, they doused me with the ginger ale. I had no idea they were doing that. It says a lot about my teammates, them understanding the sensitivity of my situation and not wanting to send the wrong message to other people out there."
Hamilton celebrated with his teammates for a few minutes, and then left the clubhouse when the beer and champagne showers started.
I think that was a nice gesture.  Go Rangers!

October 12, 2010

Chi! Chi! Chi! Le! Le! Le!

It is conceivable that I will sit here all night with this laptop on my knees watching BBC World coverage of the Chilean miner rescue. The sense of euphoria and unity is palpable and contagious.

The differences in Chile's leadership and that of our country are stark. Presidente Sebastian Pinera and his lovely wife have been frequent visitors to Camp Hope and the rescue operation. Tonight they sat, in hard hats and mining coats, among the families as final preparations began, with miner's children on their knees or hugging their legs. Once the rescue began, they stood with the family members as their loved ones were brought to the surface.

El presidente is shown saying a prayer and making the sign of the cross before and after each rescue. The two miners that have surfaced so far embraced him as if he were a well loved family member. On September 17th, the world learned that the miners were alive when they attached a note to a probe that had been sent down into the mine.

President Pinera has carried the note with him ever since, and pulled it out to show the family of Florencio Avalos as they waited for him to surface.  Cecilia Morel, the Chilean First Lady, stood by sobbing as Mr. Avalos came into view.  In his brief remarks to the media, Pinera spoke of the love and devotion that the families of the miners have shown.    
For nearly four hours I have sat here recognizing that if such an event were taking place in America, Blowie would most certainly show up at some point, but it certainly wouldn't be the appreciative lovefest that is happening in Chile.  He would come in his suit or maybe his mom jeans.  Maybe Michelle would wear the pinata dress.  They would be arrogant and off putting.  They would work only a rope line, flanked by Secret Service.  A speech would be made from a podium, teleprompter in place.  Much credit would be given to the government, with no mention of wanting to shit can NASA (whose assistance was instrumental in this operation).

Tonight, all of the rescuers and dignitaries sang the Chilean anthem as the first rescuer was lowered down into the mine.  They all knew the words and exhibited respectful enthusiasm, something hard to come by in the U.S. of A. anymore.  I don't think that Chile is for me, nor do I wish any sort of disastrous mine collapse to unite our country.  I just want to live in a country that knows what patriotic unity would look like.

Viva Los 33

I am so excited for the miners and their families, hoping that everything turns out okay.

I have had several MRIs in my time, all of them the traditional torpedo tube type.  I have been stuck in an elevator.  I have been stuffed in a locker (it happens when you are short).  I cannot imagine the anxiety of those events magnified a thousand times to reach the level of what the miners will have to endure to get to the surface.  Even if I had been trapped underground for two months, I doubt you could get me into a tiny rescue capsule that was going to travel through a narrow shaft drilled in solid rock.  There is no appropriate level of sedation other than out cold.  During testing of the capsule, they never lowered the capsule all the way into the area with the miners, for fear that one or some of them might try to get in it!

from Fox News
Now they have announced that 2 - 4 people that are going to go down into the mine to help with the rescue.  Wow.  Doubt those people have gotten much sleep recently.

Sure, sure, there are a few guys that will be forced to face the music, the wife and the girlfriend when they reach the surface.  If nothing else, you can't say that they haven't had time to think about what they are going to do.   

In the true spirit of Latin machismo, the miners have been arguing over who will be last to leave the mine - many of them wanting to claim, and capitalize on, the title of the one who was underground the longest.  They say that they have agreed that they will all equally share the title - but they don't fool me.  There can be only one king of the collapsed mine.

The Chilean government has carefully orchestrated the rescue and will be closely controlling the media coverage.  Good for the miners and their families, bad for us voyeurs who want to see the miners as they emerge from the earth.  I am sure that American media coverage will quickly fade, and we may never know how all of the family drama played out after the rescue. I might have to start reading Chilean news sites.

I'll be keeping a good thought until all are back above ground.

October 11, 2010

FOD stats

7 high profile departures of key White House staff members

52 rounds of golf since inauguration

9.6% unemployment

30 waivers from health care "reform" granted allowing those companies to maintain minimal coverage below the new law's standards for about 1 million people.

-11  Obama's approval change number in the Rasmussen Daily Presidential Tracking Poll

27% of Americans say they or someone they know have avoided buying a GM car because of the bailout.  18% say they or someone they know bought a Ford specifically because they didn't take bailout money.

34.6% of Americans identify themselves as 'Democrat', an all time low

59% of Americans have an unfavorable opinion of Pelosi

46 R - 48 D - 6 Toss ups, in Senate Races 

210 R -186 D - 39 Toss ups, in House Races

66,882,230 voted for him, how many are regretting it?

from here

October 10, 2010

Two more reasons I love Texas

Spent the weekend in Austin to attend a family wedding.  I was treated to an entertaining billboard each direction of the drive.  Outside of Jarrell, coming home this morning, there was a billboard that had a picture of three or four babies and the text, "Welcome to the world.  You each owe the federal government $398,000".

On the way to Austin, around the 316 mile marker on I-35 southbound, was this gem:

Sometimes I feel a little isolated, and think that I must live in a rare conservative enclave, since people out there got Blowie and his crew elected.  Driving toward the most liberal city in Texas, I didn't expect to see such grand expressions of anti-Blowie sentiment on the highway.   Thanks, billboard renting people.

October 8, 2010

Killing time on my dime

Once a month, just after midnight, the beeping checkout scanners at a Walmart just off Interstate 95 come alive in a chorus of financial desperation.
Here and at grocery stores across the country, the chimes come just after food stamps and other monthly government benefits drop into the accounts of shoppers who have been rationing things like milk, ground beef and toilet paper and can finally stock up again.
Red flag number one...'ground beef'.  Not the cheapest cut of meat, especially if you price it out per serving, not per pound.  Think of all the moisture and grease that cooks out.  Lean roast cuts are often less than $2 per pound.  Grind it yourself.        
Shoppers mill around the store after 11 p.m., killing time until their accounts are replenished. When midnight strikes, they rush for the checkout counter.
 'Killing time'.  Hmmmm.  Maybe they could be working, or looking for work or taking steps to improve their marketability.
"The kids are sleeping, so we go do what we've gotta do. Money is tight," Martin Young said as he and his wife pushed two carts piled high with ground beef, toilet paper and other items.
I have a family of six.  I have never, ever, even after being out of town for two weeks and having nothing to eat in the house, had two carts piled high.  Even on Costco runs wherein we needed BIG items (dog food, paper towels, cases of drinks) - never two carts full.  We have two large dogs and a horse.  If I could buy their feed and ours at the same place - still wouldn't take up two whole carts!  Do they ever stop to think that maybe buying in more reasonable quantities would stem their inability to appropriately 'ration' their supply?

This mentality is a huge issue:
"They can go to the fridge and get whatever they want in the beginning of the month, and we have bigger meals," a reprieve from the rationing that is the rule for the rest of the month, she added.
None of these people seem to have any basic budgeting or financial skills.
The couple said they need food-stamp benefits, which are electronically deposited onto debit cards, because his job as a restaurant server doesn't quite cover expenses for their five children.
I really hate to go here, but I am going to go here.  I was a restaurant server many years ago.  While a server, making $2.13 an hour plus tips, I used birth control.  Money well spent.  I will stop there.

The article says 'his job...doesn't quite cover expenses', what does she do all day?  Why does our welfare system enable people that won't try to help themselves?  If their children can be left at home while they go to the grocery store at midnight, and she is able to make the trip - then they obviously have childcare and she is able bodied enough to get a JOB.
Not counting Social Security, one in six Americans now receives some form of government assistance, including food stamps, Medicaid and extended unemployment benefits.
These government payouts now account for about 20 percent of Americans' total after-tax income, said David Rosenberg, an economist at investment firm Gluskin Sheff. The average over the past half-century is 13 percent.
The high number of people on government assistance is atypical for this stage of an economic recovery. Usually at this point, growth in assistance rolls should be flattening, Rosenberg said.
It isn't going to change.  We have created generations of people who expect the government to be their back up plan.  Actually, few of them even think that far ahead, and have given any thought to what they would do without a job.  Some of them were raised on the government teat and think that is just how one lives.
Americans relying on government benefits are doing their homework to stretch the payments. The vast majority interviewed by The Associated Press as October dawned last week were carefully scrutinizing prices and had a game plan of what to buy where. 

In Harlem, shoppers were running back and forth from Target to Costco to compare prices just after 10 a.m., the time most of the stores open, on the first day of the month.

Sandra Bennerson, 66, who is retired and gets Social Security on the first, was in the detergent aisle at Target, explaining to a reporter why Costco had a better deal on Tide. Costco was offering 20 more ounces for the same price.

"Every penny counts," she said.
Oh really, Sandra?  Have you accounted for the cost of your Costco membership?  What is your time worth?  Do you ever place any value on the time you spend running back and forth, making a career out of spending my tax dollars on your 'bargains'?  Time that you could be spending making your own damn grocery money?  And Tide?  The number one name brand laundry detergent in America...by far not the least expensive.  I know, I use it - but I also pay for it with my own fucking money.

Way back (in my food server days) I had a friend who had a baby way too young.  She was on the WIC program.  I don't know if it has changed, but the way it worked back then was she got certain items from the WIC office and she got a coupon book for other stuff.  The coupons were for specific items, like Cheerios, milk and fruit juice.  I assume the government had a set price that they would reimburse retailers for those items.  No debit cards, no comparison shopping, simply a list of nutritious items and the means to secure them each month.

I am not for government programs, but if I were, it surely would be something more narrow and controlled like the WIC program.

My grandparents didn't talk about the things they learned or did during the Great Depression - they lived them.  My grandmother never met a bread bag, a Cool Whip container or a piece of aluminum foil that wasn't worth saving for future use.  They had a drawer of string, a bag full of wooden thimbles, a jar of buttons and a cellar full of canned goods from their garden.

There are lessons in frugality and saving that have been learned in this Great Recession.  Unfortunately, they are lessons of austerity for the middle and upper classes, as they have cut back, saved, downsized and watched their retirement accounts dwindle, as government assistance programs swell.  We have been forced to do more with less, to finance a better life for those who don't even try. 

October 7, 2010

A mild grocery related rant

Dear Keebler Elves:

Knock it off with the Cheez-Its. Number one, I try not to purchase any item that isn't spelled correctly. I am sure it is hard to learn proper English, stuck there in your magical tree factory, but you seem to do okay with the spelling of your other products. Maybe I am mistaken and 'cheez' is an actual food product. That would explain the taste.

Number two, and the reason I am writing, is the inclusion of the dry little cheese crackers in each of your variety assortments. No one likes the Cheez-Its. Goldfish fill the dry little cheese cracker niche at our house. They are, after all, the snack that smiles back!

My kids like the 100 calorie sized bags of cookies for their lunches. They mow right through the Fudge Stripes and Grasshopper cookies and then I am stuck with 9 bags of Cheez-Its that no one wants. Even the lunchroom mooches won't take the Cheez-Its. There are no palatable recipes using Cheez-Its. I have tried throwing them in the yard, but even the birds look upon them with scorn. Give it up little elves and remove the Cheez-Its from the snack assortment multi-packs.

Thank you,


P.S. Noticed your new 'Coconut Dreams' cookies at the store. Way to stick it to the Girl Scouts with your Samoa knock-off.

Democrats blaming Obama

When the people you throw under the bus have the same letter after their names...

October 6, 2010

Crash goes boom

Monday, while home due to the ever mysterious 'teacher inservice' day, my kids had been entertaining themselves by building competing 'forts'.  When the boys invoked a 'no girls' rule on one of their creations, I upped the ante for my little girl - supplying king size sheets, clothes pins and dining room chairs for structural stability.  We transformed the living room into the Taj Mahal of blanket forts.  By afternoon, they had decided to pool their resources and were stacking every pillow in the house on the couch to raise the roof of the fort.  The 3-year old, we'll call him 'Crash', can't resist a pile of pillows and scrambled to the top, only to go right over the back of the couch and land on his arm.

It was clear from the moment he sat up, that the arm was broken.  It was a closed fracture, but angulated, making his forearm look oddly curved.  As we discussed which hospital ER we wanted to go to, we put ice on the arm, got our shoes on and called Grandma to come get the other kids.  (One of those times I was extremely grateful that we live a quarter mile away from my parents).

Crash was a brave little guy, courageously suffering through the poking, prodding, x-raying and then the I.V., sedation and setting of his arm.  I can't say the same for Mr. Harper, whom I had to peel off the floor when they slid that needle into Crash's tiny little hand.  Six hours later we were home, armed with our discharge instructions, a Rx of liquid Tylenol 3 for pain and one duly splinted left arm (cast to follow in a week or two).

It is sad that the first thing I did yesterday morning was look up every doctor and radiologist that worked on my son, to see if they were 'in network'.  I think it is unconscionable that people can walk into an ER that is 'in network' and then get billed by seven or eight specialists and labs that are 'out of network'.

More than once, we commented on the level of care that we experienced and wondered how much it will differ, if Obamacare moves forward without any changes.  When our baby was hurt, we (quickly) discussed the pros and cons of the four nearest emergency rooms, which orthopedic doctors we knew were on staff at each one and the level of pediatric care they provide.  Were the injury more serious, we could have chosen to go to either of the renowned children's hospitals in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

At the hospital, we were quickly ushered into triage, then taken directly to a room and had seen the ER doc within 20 minutes of arrival.  When the x-ray tech arrived and saw that the patient was a little guy - scared, in pain and unsure of what was going on - he chose to go get a portable machine and take the x-rays bedside.  When it was confirmed that there was a fracture (both forearm bones, actually), the ER staff asked our preference of orthopods.  When our first choice was unavailable, they came to us with options.  Options!

Granted, we are decent people - we don't yell or belittle those who are trying to help us.  We are fortunate to live in a nice suburban area, with highly rated hospitals and practitioners.  We chose to go to a facility that scores high marks for customer service and treats their employees well.  We pay more to have insurance that doesn't require pre-authorization.  All of these variables add up to a better than expected experience when seeking emergency medical care.  I can't imagine what things will be like if our government continues to intervene in a system that should be based on caring for people, not regulating their care.

October 5, 2010

They walk among us...

An Arizona woman reached for eye drops and instead used superglue -- and it happens a lot more often than you might think, MyFoxPhoenix.com reported.

To get back at his neighbor for owing him money, Paul Ewing resorted to a series of drive-bys toting a water gun filled with Roundup weed killer, the Bradenton Police Department reports...In the front yard, Ewing gunned down flowers and bushes, the report stated. To get to the plants in the backyard, he filled water balloons with the weed killer and tossed them onto his neighbors property.

Senator Jim DeMint said if someone is openly homosexual, they shouldn't be teaching in the classroom and he holds the same position on an unmarried woman who's sleeping with her boyfriend — she shouldn't be in the classroom.

And two from my community paper's police blotter page:

The pastor of a church told a Denton County sheriff’s deputy Sunday that he received an e-mail from the church treasurer announcing her resignation. Her message said she had been taking money from the church treasury for three years. She said the Lord had forgiven her and she hoped the congregation would, too.

A man told sheriff’s deputies Saturday that he was robbed while attempting to buy illegal drugs, a report states.

October 4, 2010

Defying Darwin

As I thumbed through the paper this morning I read about the re-vamping of the food pyramid. I recalled a post that Whited wrote a few months ago about how his (quite successful) diet employed methods that are the exact opposite of what the food pyramid suggests.

It's hard to place a finger on when America's obesity epidemic started, but obesity graphs show spikes after each World War, and a marked rise since 1980.  Sure, there are many factors along each of those graphs that people latch onto and blame for the obesity problem.  The introduction of  high fructose corn syrup, the size of restaurant servings, television, the home video game console, etc.  Everyone has a different theory about the why's and how's but I think placing blame on any one product or lifestyle change is oversimplifying the matter.  The one thing that hasn't changed?  Government meddling.

In 1956 the USDA released the four food group model that most of us grew up with.

By 1967, hunger and malnutrition among the poor caused American people to demand the expansion of food assistance programs and create a 'Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs', chaired by George McGovern.  The committee was successful in eradicating American hunger by 1968, but, in true government style, they wanted job security and began rooting around in other areas of health and nutrition.

As Gary Taubes writes in his article The Soft Science of Dietary Fat:
"It was Senator George McGovern's bipartisan, nonlegislative Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs--and, to be precise, a handful of McGovern's staff members--that almost single-handedly changed nutritional policy in this country and initiated the process of turning the dietary fat hypothesis into dogma."
In January 1977, after listening to the testimony of doctors and scientists promoting the unsubstantiated Dietary Fat-Heart hypothesis, the Committee published the "Dietary Goals for the United States" recommending that all Americans reduce their fat, saturated fat and cholesterol consumption, and increase their carbohydrate consumption to 55-60% of daily calories.

The meat, dairy and egg lobbies were apoplectic.  Their influence did get the report revised by the end of 1977, but the damage had been done.  Consumption of meat, dairy and eggs saw a significant decline - yet this is the exact time where obesity graphs show a notable increase.

In 1992, our government unveiled the Food Pyramid.  Did you ever wonder where they got that model?
In 1988, several USDA scientists obtained copies of Sweden’s food pyramid at an international conference, and used it as a graphical basis for a new guideline in the US. (Not a smart move, since Sweden’s heart disease death rate is even higher than the US rate).
Even though multiple studies from many different sources have confirmed the efficacy and healthfulness of a low carb, whole foods diet, the USDA food pyramid still does not reflect current scientific research results.
 Today's article started out by saying:
The federal government updates its dietary guidelines for Americans every five years. This year, with most Americans overweight or obese and at risk of high blood pressure, policymakers are working to reinvent the familiar food pyramid and develop advice that is simple and blunt enough to help turn the tide.

Although most people do not read them, the guidelines have a broad impact on Americans' lives. They dictate what is served in school breakfasts and lunches, in education materials in the food stamp program and in the development of nutrition labels.
Is there any belief that December's announcement will be much different than the status quo?

The clear 'blame' front runners in American obesity causes are government intervention and poverty.  Study after study and survey after survey point out that the poor are fat.  Don't believe me?  Volunteer at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen, where the meals are often provided by, or the contents dictated by the government.  Take note of the chunky kids at school and, dollars to donuts, they are on the 'free or reduced lunch program'.

Price controls, farm subsidies, transportation costs, taxes and import/export fees affect the cost of food goods.  We can thank our government that is is cheaper to order off the dollar menu at Mickey D's and Taco Bell, because making the same meal at home would cost three times as much.  We can thank our government that an organic, locally grown potato, that has gone from field, to pick up truck, to the corner produce stand, costs more than a Super Bowl party-sized bag of chemically processed, foreign grown, week's worth of sodium,  potato chips.

We can thank our government for public assistance programs that enable the lazy to remain on their asses and be fed, clothed and cared for by the tax paying citizenry.  We can thank our government for health care systems that provide expensive pharmaceutical and treatment based care for self-imposed diseases that could more simply and effectively be cured by diet and exercise.

Poor people used to be gaunt, sickly folk who worked hard trying to provide for themselves and would do almost anything for a good meal.  Our government has turned them into fat, greedy sloths who defy Darwin.

Resources here, here, here and here.

October 2, 2010

Hey Betty on flight 2541, be more like this...

This was not my flight. I was on American with three bitter shrews festooned with union lanyards and buttons. Say what you will about the method, but every person on this plane is paying attention to the safety instructions:

Rahm's Carp

"...departing chief of staff Rahm Emanuel was given a gift by Council of Economic Advisers chair Austan Goolsbee: a dead Asian carp.
This was an allusion to the Emanuel legend of his sending a dead fish to a pollster for whom he didn’t care, replicating the scene from The Godfather when the Corleones were alerted of Luca Brasi’s death with a dead fish wrapped in Brasi’s bullet-proof vest. The specific species was a reference to Emanuel’s focus as a member of Congress and White House chief of staff on the aggressive, invasive Asian carp, bane of the Great Lakes, a plankton-devouring creature heading towards Chicago.
Goolsbee said: “I talked to the policy team and we wanted to give you a going away present—something to show how we feel about you but also shows we understand your new possibilities.  I was the natural go between—I voted for you all three times you ran for Congress and even in that first primary.  So here is your present.” 
Emanuel opened the package, which was wrapped in copies of the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune.
“This is a dead fish!” he said.
Goolsbee: “To most people, it looks like a dead fish.  But to a future mayor of Chicago, it looks like a dead Asian Carp.  And you’ll be happy to know that it wasn’t easy to find one of these”
Said White House press secretary Robert Gibbs: “In Chicago, this is how friends say goodbye.”
Rahm's box of carp
Ahhhh, I hate it for my Chicago friends and family, but love that he is out of Washington.  I am not sure whether to be amused or concerned that White House staff members are so well acquainted with mafia methods of communication.

October 1, 2010

Packing up, headed home

I am wiped out.  I think I have had about 15 hours of sleep this week.  Looking forward to my own bed and the ability to discipline anyone making noise in the hall at 5 am.

Some of my favorite things from this week:

I love the frequently seen T-shirt that says, "Paddle faster, I hear banjo music"

Extremely talented kids who aren't out to be the next big thing - they just love to play music.

Nashville fashion - the elder gentlemen of country and bluegrass music invented Bedazzling.

There is always a large Japanese contingent at this conference.  They are entertaining and have embraced what they think is an authentic Tennessee wardrobe; trucker hats, bib overalls and Crocs.  Together.  In bright colors.

The Gruhn Guitar Shop.

Meat and three.

Yazoo beer.  It ain't Shiner, but it isn't trying to be, so it is okay by me.

Earl Scruggs with a guitar in his hands.