Friday, July 30, 2010

Six Gentlemen

The last two weeks have been quite a paradigm shattering eye opener for me, regarding alternative medicine. I've learned that
- heat on an injured knee actually works better than cold, to assist healing. Yes, cold helps when it is in Massive Pain, but once the initial swelling starts to go down, and it becomes chronic pain, then heat works better.

- acupuncture is more effective than NSAIDs (Naproxin Sodium). 2 sessions of acupuncture 4 days apart, and my pain was gone! And before I tried acupuncture, I used to think it was hokum, baloney, non-sense. Now, I am a believer, as I can walk normally again.

- Fish Oil is even more awesome than I originally thought. Combined with Glucosamine, Chondroitin and MSM, it helps to lubricate all the internal joints and reduce inflammation. I'm up to 5 grams of Fish Oil a day now, and two doses of nasty tasting Glucosamine Chondroitin MSM syrup.

- Chinese Herbal Medicine has some benefits, particularly the "Six Gentlemen" formula (in Pinyin: Liu Jun Zi Tang). I had previously figured that most herbal remedies are only mildly effective, or probably psychosomatic. But on my first acupuncture treatment, my health practitioner gives me a bottle of "Six Gentlemen" formula and tells me to take 2 pills, three times a day, to help with high blood sugar. He explains to me, that in China, Diabetes is treated with diet and herbs, and considered a temporary ailment. Only those who adopt a Western diet and 3 large meals a day high in carbs in China can't kick their myelitis. So I try to keep an open mind, and take the herbs home. I then begin to check my blood sugar, about 10 times a day, to see if there's ANY effect of these herbs. To My Amazement... my blood sugar drops by 10 points, consistently, over the next 2 days.
For the last year, I've been bouncing around 100 to 130 mg/dL, eating right, or sometimes eating carbs I know I should avoid. In two days of OCD blood sugar checking, I'm registering low 90s to 110 throughout the day. And this was by changing only one variable - adding the Six Gentlemen. My diet did not change. My activity and physical exertion actually DECREASED since my knee was not at 100% and I was trying to be gentle and careful with it to not re-injure - many yoga poses were impossible without pain, so I was rather sedentary. So on the 2nd visit to the acupuncturist I told him of the successful statistical drop in blood sugar, and he told me he'd order a Much Larger bottle for the next visit to keep me well stocked.

The Six Gentlemen are: Condonopditis Pilosulae Root, Poriae Cocos Sclerotium, Atractylodis Macrocephalae Rhizome, Pinellaie Ternatae Rhizome, Citri Retculatae peel, Glycyrrhizae Uralensis Root. AKA, in Pinyin: Dang Shen, Fu Ling, Bai Zhu, Ban Xia, Chen Pi, Gan Cao. (link here)

They work. At least they worked for me, and I am going to keep taking them, keep my fruit intake low, protein & fiber & veggie intake high. 5 grams of Fish Oil a day, minimum, and the slimy glucosamine cocktail for additional joint lubrication. Good stuff, all around.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Not Black & White, It's Brown & Many Shades of Gray

"Where Is JustJoeP On AZ 1070?"
I'm getting asked repeatedly by co-workers, friends, relatives, "what do you think of that 1070 immigration law?" And honestly, I have mixed feelings on it. I'm not a xenophobe, bigot, or racist, nor am I a 'bleeding heart" ACLU card carrying liberal who thinks every city should be declared a "sanctuary city". As the son of legal Eastern European immigrants myself, I do believe strongly that the legal path should be taken. But I also know it is not an "either/or" dichotomy as so many on the Far Right want so desperately to believe. It's very messy, with many shades of gray.

What do I like about the 1070 law? The parts that US District Judge Susan Bolton did not block:
(link here)
1) provisions creating a new state crime of human smuggling

2) stopping a motor vehicle to pick up day laborers, and

3) knowingly employing illegal foreign residents.

Those are all good things. Even though MSNBC mocks the concept of not knowing who is illegal and who is legal when they get in a van, it is mainly the illegals who hang out at the periphery of nearly every Phoenix Home Depot (NOT at Lowes... Lowes has a company policy of "no loitering" on their property). Living here, one can see fairly clearly, how the illegal immigrants without documentation or a steady job repeatedly hang out at Home Depot. Home Depots with a bus station near them draw Larger crowds or day laborers as they can have the appearance of waiting for the bus, not trying to be picked up for cheap labor.

What is still in effect in the law that is stupid? "A provision allowing Arizona residents to sue any state office or agency for failing to fully enforce immigration laws." That's dumb. It will encourage superfluous law suits and was written into the law by Colorado founded anti-immigrant lobbyists who have made a pattern out of suing local and state governments in order to fund their xenophobic lobbying. And it encourages vigilante-ism.

The parts that Judge Bolton struck down, I understand why she struck them down, and I do not disagree with her.
- Where would you house all the thousands of suspects picked up, under suspicion of being illegal (while they committed other crimes and misdemeanors like traffic violations) while they had to go get their papers? You say that every green card holder MUST carry it on them at all times? Really? While tubing in the Salt River? While sleeping in their apartment that catches on fire from a neighbor's negligence? When they're in an accident and their clothes have to be cut off in a medical emergency? A green card is not tattooed or chipped into a person's skull. There's going to be lots of LEGAL residents who might LOOK illegal, who do not have their green card, driver's license, pass port, or birth certificate on their person. It is Not so simple.

- How long is it "reasonable" to detain such suspects? 90 days, like it is in France, if you're suspected of a Federal crime? Over night? And if you're a legal resident, how pissed off are you going to get while detained because of how you look? How well is that going to work?

- Of the 15 million or so illegal immigrants in the US, 500,000 are estimated to be in Arizona, 1/2 of them are children. So there will be a 1/4 million children separated from their parents in Arizona, put into an already under funded and over burdened foster care system... yeah, that's gonna work really well. Those kids - all who were born here, like me, are legal citizens - will be very well adjusted, well taken care of, and smoothly integrated into their communities. No drug dealers, bullies, prostitutes, hustlers, addicts, severe co-dependents will come result. Maybe we can get some fundamentalist Christians to convert them to their specific cult... er... I mean sect... and abolish the speaking of Spanish in their homes and religiously funded schools while their at it. The fundamentalist congregations could maybe get state education vouchers to make tax payer funded indoctrination with this new youthful army of conscripts a glorious reality! It worked so well with the Native Americans in Arizona last century - let's try it again, this time with children of Mexicans, Central Americans, and South American illegal immigrants!

So the practicalities of enforcement are very messy, very gray, and very unrealistic. Where would you put those arrested? How long would you hold them? Why would you destroy their nuclear families by stripping the matriarch and patriarch leadership who were the primary wage earners, rent payers, mortgage holders, care givers... adding to the public burden of the foster care system, ballooning foreclosures, exacerbating the commercial property glut (with empty apartments, abandoned shops, lower sales volume). It doesn't make sense financially, morally, ethically.

And to those angry white people who say "get them illegals out, Americans need jobs!" I want to invite them to Yuma Arizona, in August (ambient temperature 115F), to pick lettuce for minimum wage, or even for the $50/hr McCain quoted (link here). I want to invite them to a Perdue slaughterhouse to work for less than minimum wage in dangerous conditions (link here). Those Sharon Angle devoted tea baggers in Nevada need to understand that the Las Vegas Hotel association opposes immigration reform, since it will greatly decrease their cheap labor pool (link here).

Yes, the border needs to be secured - I don't want Al Qaeda or Al Qaeda wanna-bes trying to walk over the Southern Border, or Northern Border... and we need a reliable national worker ID card that can't be forged or faked, and businesses that knowingly hire illegals need to be prosecuted. But mass deportation is not a viable solution.

"There is nothing to be gained by staying"

William Pfaff has a good article posted (link here) on his website this week. It talks about Afghanistan in depth. The gist of it is "There is nothing to be gained by staying". After having read 4 hard back books that were written in the last 3 years about the region (links here and here and here), I have to say, I agree with Pfaff.

We will never establish a strong central governed, Westernized, non-misogynist, equal rights, equitable, proud American-like Democracy in Afghanistan. There's too many fundamentalists, the environment is too harsh, the peasant subsistence farmers are far too desperate, the drug trade is far too firmly entrenched, graft and corruption far too wide spread, and we are funding the Pakistani ISI to the tunes of BILLIONS a year, who then fund and defend the Taliban.

It's time to draw down, and get the hell out of there. W and Gen Franks and Rummy and the Gen Sharif of Pakistan enabled 4000 Al Qaeda to escape, in Pakistani military airlift transports in 2002 (link here). Let Pakistan deal with it now. They hate Americans (95% of Pakistanis) there anyways.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Where's the Bugs?

"Hey... where's the bugs?"

Can't a girl lizard find some protein around here?

Monday, July 26, 2010

It's Better To Bike In Bangalore

Last year, during my trip to Bangalore, I recollected how in India it is the "little guy" who is not at fault in traffic accidents, even if the little guy is the cause of the accident (link here). It's nearly always the larger vehicle that is sited in an accident. And by "sited" I don't mean 'getting a ticket', I mean being surrounded by an angry mob, dragged out of their vehicle, and beaten or killed. When there's a billion people jammed together in a sub continent, "little guy not at fault" works.

So it was with great confusion, dismay, and anger, that I learned in Charleston SC, when you're riding your bike on a one way street at night, and an idiot in an SUV passes you, and then slows down, and then without signaling, TURNS INTO you and Runs You Over, sending you over the hood of their vehicle and crushing your bike's back tire, that it is the bicyclist who is cited for "turning into the path of the SUV". Seriously. It's the bicyclist's fault?

Disregard the fact that the bicyclist has two other witnesses riding a few meters behind him who clearly saw the SUV turn into the lead bicyclist. Disregard the fact that the SUV who ran over the bicyclist caused him to become temporarily unconscious. This is the first time in my life I ever thought "I wish we had Indian traffic rules here".

There are just some things I do not understand. I am going to go do yoga now, in an effort to become much less angry. I am happy that the bicyclist did not suffer a sub dermal hematoma, or any broken bones. It appears that an SUV's windshield wipers have a less than positive impact on a bicyclist's head when the SUV's driver tries to run the bicyclist over. =(

How to Lose 9 lbs In Four Hours

How To Lose 9 Pounds In 4 Hours, in Phoenix: Trim away years of pygmy palm neglect, in the summer time. If you wake up at an hour or two After sunrise on a weekend (instead of an hour or two before sunrise, as on a normal week day) and the sun is still low in the sky, with the ambient not yet climbing over 110F, get out your Fiskars power gear pruners, several sheets of cardboard (or old, low profile boxes), a pair of long trousers, a long sleeve shirt, double glove, and a hat to keep your head and neck from being sun burned. Then, sit yourself down under a cluster of palms, and begin trimming away the gnarly, sharp, spiked, dangerous stems that previous owners never trimmed correctly.

Move all around under the palms, looking at the trunks from various angles, to make sure you've trimmed off all the nasty spikes. Why does removing such spikes matter at all? Well, if you try to weed around the untrimmed trunks to pullout invasive grasses or other weeds, you'll gash your fingers with all the spikes. If you try to trim the fronds to make the palm less "bushy", and your knee or elbow bumps the jagged untrimmed trunk, you'll draw blood. Besides, bushy, gnarled un-kept natural growth bugs me. It's unorganized, and unsightly, and I prefer order to chaos in my life.

And, it's a great way to lose 4 or so kilograms of body weight, all at once. The first weekend I did this, I dropped 9 lbs. Most of it water weight, that was replenished after re-hydrating back in the house. The next weekend I finished the rest of the palms and did more yard work, and dropped 6 lbs, only 2 of which were water weight. Yesterday I worked on securing the lemon and removal of copious undergrowth leaves (before they blow into the pool from monsoon winds) and dropped 10 pounds, only one of which was then restored as water weight. And the geared rotary motion of the pruners went from small inconvenient blisters the first week, to robust calluses the 2nd and 3rd weeks. No permanent damage =)

Highly recommended to keep the Brita pitcher full and in the Fridge before heading outside, and go with just water and a little potassium when replenishing. Avoid empty sodas and sugary juices - the water will do just fine in thirst quenching, in my 3-consecutive-weekends of plant maintenance data points has demonstrated.

Cheesy Accompaniment

Organic dried apples from "Bare Fruit" are now being sold at Costco. I have found that when real, juicy, actual organic apples are not available to be sliced and dipped into warm brie, that these make a delicious cheesy accompaniment.

I was planning on a long post about dipping apples into brie, but my test results have "soured" my outlook on fruits somewhat, so I'll not laud them as much as previously planned, and instead, mention some alternatives I developed this last week, prior to hearing by from my primary care physician.

Hard cheeses, like sliced Gouda for example, make a wonderful accompaniment to organic hummus, for dipping and 'scooping'. I've not tried hard cheese with brie at home, but we DID eat at Sophie's Bistro last Friday night, and got the 3 cheese appetizer, wherein I scooped up the Camembert and the Murca Al Vino with the harder Fromager D'Affinois.

This afternoon, to finish off some organic hummus, I used a rolled slice of Polish ham from the Warsaw Market. Tasty, and complimentary.

And if you notice, the number 1 threat on the Colbert Threat Down - Bears! Bare Bears! LOL!

Silly marketers.

Don't get me started on Mad Men... ugh! Who is Don Draper? Just another pretender trying to be someone he's not while putting on a show for everyone, in-authentically - and the weeny likes to be slapped. That, I Do Not get at all. Hidden secret? No, classic character trait of a beta male who tries too hard - but what do I know, I'm no psychologist. I just know I'd never pay a hooker to slap me.

Minor Back Sliding

I had a vast array of semi-annual tests run last week on fasting blood and urine samples. Some good news, some so-so. No "terrible news", but I'm back sliding on sugar slightly. Hemoglobin A1C went from my admirably decreased 5.4 (last November) up to 5.7. Still less than 6, but I am eating far too many figs, dates, apricots, and sugary rum drinks. Have to scale back. I want to drive the A1C back down towards 5.

Now for the good news. The voice message my physician's office left started out with the statement "Your Cholesterol has risen from 182 to 187". Well, that's nearly measurement error, and they told me last November it was 184, but that's fine. LDL went DOWN from 117 to 111, and HDL went UP (thank you Almonds and exercise!) from 42 to 49. Triglycerides went from 142 mg/dl last year to 102 in November to 135 last week. Not alarming, and within normal dietary variation, but eating alot of animal fat will do that.

It's the A1C that is impossible to move in the short term, and has me somewhat concerned. I planned last week's test panels 1 day in advance - so I had no opportunity or lead time to try and bias the test with short term dietary modifications. With this new data, I will refocus on reduction of fruit intake, and work on the long term reduction in A1C, regardless of how delicious the organic fruit is =)

I did a bunch of yard work Sunday - anchoring my leaning lemon tree with 3 foot driven metal spikes and clove hitch knotted nylon rope, cleaning up mounds of fallen leaves, putting out ant bait around the back yard in an attempt to obliterate the Argentinian invaders, trimming encroaching mulberry branches, in 109F heat... and in the process dropped 9 lbs in 4 hours, flirting with 200 again for the first time in a few months. This time it was not exclusively water weight, since I consumed almost 64 ounces of water to replenish and quench thirst before weighing in at 201.

I still feel more healthy, stronger, and more in better shape physically than I've been since becoming a father nearly 2 dozen years ago. HFCS, gluten, nearly all grains, artificial sweeteners, and Franken-foods have no place in my pantry or my digestive tract, and yoga's gone from 2 times a week to 5 or 6 times a week. We shall see going forward... what the next 6 months bring.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Low Altitude Fly Bys

Having been to the Reno Air Show twice, and watched the Blue Angles low altitude fly bys (about 50 feet above the tops of the telephone poles), I can attest to the bizarre affinity that human beings (mostly guys) have with being THAT close to SO MUCH intense mechanical power.

It's really a site to see / something to experience ... at least once in your life. Thanks to my friend Matt for inviting us up to the Reno Air show! =)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Fun Loving Austrians

I've enjoyed each of my 3 trips to Austria for business. Vienna's (Wein) airport is efficient, clean, and friendly. Many people try to speak English and indulge my non-fluent German speaking attempts. The steel mill I visited had no smell, made only a murmur of noise outside the giant blast doors, and was located less than a kilometer away from a river side sewage treatment plant that neither Looked, Nor Smelled like a sewage treatment plant - painted in murals and without a nasty stench. In general, over 3 trips (each lasting 2 to 3 days) I've found Eastern Austria to be a wonderful place to visit, post card picturesque.

So today, when I got a humorous email from my Godfather regarding a particular small mountain village just north of Salzburg Austria, I chuckled. Then I checked Snopes (link here - but warning, have your Adblocker on), and then checked Google Maps (link here), and just Googled it (link here and here).

Oh, those silly Austrians!

[disclaimer - you MIGHT not want to check this link on a work computer, just in case you have draconian overlords watching all of your traffic]

Rick's Homologue

I think I have found my friend Rick Karr's homologue. At 27 years old, the 11th Doctor (Matt Smith) is too old to be Rick's son, unless Matt's lying about his age. My first thought, was that Smith was Rick's progeny, but Rick's appearance in the UK was not until Smith was in grade school, so the time line does not hold up.

Unconvinced? Look back at images from 1986 and 1989 ---->

See, the RGK of the late 80s is actually regenerated as the Eleventh Doctor, on Doctor Who!

I still think David Tennant's Tenth Doctor is a better incarnation than Smith's version - and he wore the same ties that we wore in the 80s, in contrast to Smith's anachronistic bow tie, but chacun ses merde.

If Rick had a sonic screw driver, he wouldn't need a lighter! LOL! =P

“There will be no more tax-funded bailouts, period”

“There will be no more tax-funded bailouts, period”
Yeah, we'll see. Video link here.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

When the Levee Breaks

The inflatable "dam" on Tempe Town "Lake" ruptured last night (link here)... sending a Very Wet Winter's worth of water downstream into the dry Salt River. In this case, it wasn't "if it keep on rainin" ... no, it was the relentless UV and +110F heat that degraded the elastomeric dam.

Hearing Bonham's drumming (specifically his staccato snare and no-ring-thud-bass) reminds me happily of good ole Bernard Purdie (video link here courtesy of Todd M). Unconvinced? Listen to a 'drum only track' of Fool in the Rain (link here). Video at the 0:58 mark looks SO Much like Rob Klonel - the quad-tom & drum set player 2 years older than me in high school who was both freaky & cool at the same time. I still remember the September afternoon my sophomore year, during marching band drum sectional practice where Rob came running up say "Ohhhh Man! Bonzo's dead! The concert's canceled man!!"

'It's partly cloudy, and 102 at KJazz, the time is 3:48' - a balmy 30% relative humidity today.

Pilotless Drones in the US?

Pilotless drones being licensed by the FAA, to be flown in US air space? (link here). Not a very good idea. I've been in too many commercial aircraft, having too many "course changes" to avoid other aircraft - all of which had live pilots in cock pits - to think that putting some / dozens / hundreds of pilotless drones in the US is a good idea.

Pakistan, Yemen, Afghanistan, Somalia have much fewer commercial flights, private planes, electrical transmission lines and signal towers in their air space... and alot more "wanted dead or alive" terrorists on their ground. I do not think that pilotless drones in the US will have a positive result.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

What Does A Cat Dream Of?

What do old cats dream of when they are sleeping in the sun? I don't know... chasing mice or insects maybe? Catching the ever elusive hummingbird? When we used to live in Bloomington IN Dr Desert Flower put the cat out on the front porch to be a mouser, as a family of mice had moved in under our front porch concrete stoop. The cat did very well in getting one of the parents, and the rest of the mouse family moved out. Maybe she's reliving her glory days of mousing?

To me, watching a sleeping cat is very relaxing, and stress relieving. During some taxing / stressful work conference calls, it's nice to look over and see my familiar snoozing.

Monday, July 19, 2010

A Sky Full of Bugs

Millions, every cubic mile, passing by over head carried by the wind. Millions, seriously. I heard this on the radio last week (audio link here and transcript here). It really made me pause and think. "...a single male termite soaring 19,000 feet up" Termites... at -15C, where there's very little oxygen. Spiders, mites, eggs, all sorts of little critters, swirling over-head.

I've often floated in my pool, and have seen swifts and swallows flying diligent sorties, thousands of feet above my neighborhood, and I thought "are they just showing off? doing some kind of mating display?" Nope, they're eating, clouds of tiny insects we can't see from the ground. A virtual wind provided buffet. I had no idea.

Silly humans. We think we own this planet.

Whisky & Whiskey

The Irish & Tennesseans make Whiskey. The Scotch and Canadians make Whisky. I did not know there were two distinct spellings, until last week. I knew there were different styles, but didn't know the spelling mattered.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The UK's Hannity

I have a theory, that Pat Condell (link here) is the UK's version of Sean Hannity. He perhaps has a touch of Lou Dobb's thrown in there a well. 'Look, I'm an articulate Caucasian man, you can trust what I am saying, my fellow citizens of the Western World.'

Too bad that Pat's armed with as few facts as Dobbs or Hannity (or JD Hayworth, or Sharon Angle, or Ann Coulter, or Dimbulb, or often Keith Olbermann).

Unenlightened fools tend to irk me.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Gmail Mozilla Adblock Incompatibility

2 days ago, an advertisement appeared across the top of my Gmail inbox, and it was related to something I didn't care about whatsoever. Since I run Mozilla Firefox and have installed Adblock Plus and I detest intrusive ads, I right mouse clicked on it, and added it to my blocked list.


The next day, when I tried to log into my Gmail, it refused to load in "standard" mode, and would only load in the stripped down "basic HTML" mode. I had no idea why, and googled a few combinations... and then I recalled off-hand that I'd blocked it. Opening up Adblock Plus, I removed Gmail from the list, and viola, Gmail loaded normally again.

"Don't be evil" ... well, maybe... but "Don't be insidious / devious by requiring the downloading of ads FIRST before any email is loaded" is certainly not in Google's mission statement. And as of 2009, the lovely Marrissa Mayer quietly helped to rewrite their "Owner's Manual".

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Stupid NYC Ignorant Paranoids

I am getting very tired of hearing ignorant, emotionally charged, over-generalized protests against the Cordoba Initiative building a cultural center and mosque in lower Manhattan, adjacent to the site of the former World Trade Center. It is NOT a Sunni Wahhabi (Arabic: Al-Wahhābīyya‎ الوهابية) mosque. It's not an attempt to "take over NYC and fill it full of mosques" - only the minds of paranoid, delusional, ignorant Americans would believe such an "insidious plot" could be conceived, publicized, and propagated, and executed.

How can I say this confidently? Consider the facts:

- Look at the staff of the Cordoba Initiative.
Sayyed Nadeem Kazmi is a prominent Shia [Director of International Affairs at the Al-Khoei Foundation (the largest Shia Institute in the UK)]. Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf is a prominent Sufi (SUFI, not SUNNI). Neither is a fundamentalist fanatic. Both have been recognized by informed Jewish leaders as proponents of peace & understanding

- all of the 9-11 Hijackers were Sunni, practicing, or non-practicing. Bin Laden is a fanatical Wahhabi Muslim devotee. Mullah Omar is a Wahhabi Sunni. The vast majority of fundamentalist Muslims are Wahhabi and Deobandis (you're not going to find a moderate Wahhabi or Deobandis any easier than you'll find a moderate Assembly of God preacher)

- there are more Jews in NYC than in any other city in the US. You really think there will be more Muslims than any other religion in NYC, anytime in the next 200 years?

To say that the Cordoba Initiative is a hate-filled group of fundamentalist Muslims bent on global domination would be like saying the Unitarian Universalist Church is hell-bent on burning witches at the stake, Or that the Bahá'í religion secretly drinks the blood of infants and puppies. It's ludicrous.

If you are going to rail against hate-driven fundamentalists who love to kill Americans, DON'T over-generalize to label "ALL Muslims" as in league with, collaborators with, supportive of the Wahhabi way of thinking. To say that, and to believe that, is like saying every Christian, from Mother Theresa to Jim Wallis to St.Francis of Assisi to Joseph Smith to the Marquis de Sade all went to Bob Jones University or support Jerry Falwell's Liberty University. To lump all Muslims together as equally desiring of restoring the Caliphate, is to say that in Northern Ireland, it was the Christians killing the Christians, instead of the Protestants & Catholics killing themselves.

Look at how the Shia and Sunni Kurds have begun killing each other in Mosul, Baghdad, Ramadi, Samarra, Fallujah, Karkuk, and Tikrit in 2010 now that the American patrols are staying inside the FOBs for the most part, and sectarian violence is simmering to civil war. If a Sunni Wahhabi fanatic had 1 bullet but he wanted to kill an atheist, a Hindu, a Christian, and a Shia Muslim, he'd kill the Shia heretic first, who is anathema to a pure Sunni Wahhabi, and then try and convert the other three. Look at the recent Sufi Muslim shrine that was attacked by suicide bombers, killing 35 and wounding 175 worshipers. Sufi's are a tiny sect of Islam, the 'whirling dervishes' who sometimes speak in tongues and have a more mystic interpretation of their faith. A hate filled Sunni Wahhabi thinks they are even worse than the previously mentioned Shia.

So there are these various sects of Muslims who really really don't like each other in their most fundamentalist, narrow-minded forms - just as Southern Baptists hate Roman Catholics (and have burnt crosses in their yards and lynched them in the 50s and 60s in the guise of the KKK), Hutus hate Tutsies in Rwanda, Bele & Lokai hated each other, Spanish Inquisitors hated Jews, etc... but the Cordoba Initiative has been working for years to try and over-come those animosities and build cultural bridges, so that fundamentalist extremist groups like Al Qaeda (القاعدة‎) have fewer recruits, fewer foot soldiers, less financial support. Jewish community leaders in NYC have lauded and embraced the Cordoba Initiative's work, seriously.

So why do New Yorkers fear this moderate, community & consensus building organization's attempt to build a mosque in lower Manhattan? Because they are reacting emotionally, and out of ignorance. They believe ridiculous internet rumors, and latch onto over-generalization about all Muslims and all of Islam, making themselves look as base, ignorant, and vile as the fundamentalist, hate-filled Al Qaeda terrorists who over-generalized that All Americans are evil and need to be destroyed. Heck, these paranoid New Yorkers are REINFORCING Al Qaeda's stereotype of Americans. Ugh!

The Bible[TM] is FULL of references to intolerance, violence, and killing of non believers and conversion of them or destruction of their way of life. Do all Christians believe those passages and interpret them the same way? NO!! So stop over-generalizing that all Muslims are all fundamentalist Sunni Wahhabi!!!!! Calling a Sufi Iman a Wahhabi is like calling a Pentecostal preacher an Anglican priest (nothing against Anglican priests or Sufi Imans, they are just have very different beliefs. I don't know any Pentecostal preachers, other than the one I saw in "There Will Be Blood")

"Sam Nunberg of the Center for Law and Justice said: "It would be like removing the sunken ship in Pearl Harbor to erect a memorial to the Japanese kamikazes killed in the attack.""
No Mr.Nunberg, it would be like removing One Of the sunken battleships in Pearl Harbor, and erecting a memorial to the Japanese translators who served in the US Armed forces in WWII, or a museum dedicated to the evils of imperialism (Japanese Imperialism that lead to WWII in the Pacific... not the US Imperialism since then), or erecting a think tank and library dedicated to the study of why stupid stupid stupid easy manipulated, fearful citizens support dictatorial unilateral Executive regimes like Hitler's, Tojo's, George W Bush's, Mussolini's, Pol Pot's, Argentina's President Juan Perón, etc.

Such dumb, xenophobic Americans are part of the problem, not part of the solution. I am glad I do not live in NYC - I'd probably be arrested for getting in a physical confrontation with these hate & fear mongers.

I started this rant yesterday, before the NPR story aired on it today... I just did not have enough time to finish it yesterday.

Hot Hot Hot

Hot Hot Hot at 116F today in Phoenix. There was a radio story warning that pavement temperatures get to over 150F in direct afternoon sun, and to guard your pets, small children, and the elderly (thin skinned, per the radio) against 2nd degree burns, which Phoenix emergency rooms get a large influx each summer in July and August. My garage feels like an autoclave.

I refilled my hummingbird feeders this morning - there were 3 thirsty black throated and anna's hummingbird females hovering around the feeders, 2 of them had been previously drained. Gotta stay well hydrated.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Domaine du Moulié Madiran 2005 = Yum!

I just finished my 2nd glass - and finished the bottle, since I opened it yesterday afternoon at lunch and had one glass Tuesday lunch, one glass Tuesday dinner, and 2 glasses Wednesday dinner - an interminably long business conference call occupying my Wednesday lunch- of Domaine du Moulié Tradition AOC Madiran 2005... Wow! A delicious red wine! I'd never had a Madrian AOC before, but this will not be my last. Another under-rated, under-appreciated French domaine. $6 at Trader Joes! Six Dollars, seriously! Tastes like $26. Bottled on the "property" by a talented negotiant (Chiffre-Charrier, Cannet France - makes this a Southern Bordeaux / Northern Langedoc) , awesome for $6 a bottle. Wish I would have bought a case. Highly recommended.

As I sipped my 1st and 2nd glasses this evening, watching a glorious sunset and crescent moon rise to the west, I noted a creamy, smooth, delicious finish, with a HINT (just a tiny hint) of parsley - yes, parsley. I thought about it long and hard, and it was a subtle herbal scent... and the longer I rolled it on the tongue, the more it reminded me of a hint (not over-whelming) just a tiny nod towards parsley. Delightful, enjoyable, I'll be picking up several more bottles the next time I am at Trader Joes.

So Much Aloe

So much aloe... in so little time (just a year).

Looking down.. it kinda looks like a sea anemone in some ways.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Homard Triste

After entering our lives (and our hearts, sniff) 34 months ago, bought on clearance in the Fall of 2007, our inflatable lobster has succumb to the relentless UV and +110F heat of Arizona.

'Alas poor Homer, I knew him well.'
(I do not know any Yoricks)

Homer was a little unwieldy to float upon or ride, whether you were a 40 lb three year old, or a 100 KG adult, his convex exoskeleton contour pushed the center of gravity of the rider high enough to be unstable.

I still remember the day when the little Mexican boys from next door, brought Homer to the front door on a rather windy August day in 2008, and said "he flew over da fence" and handed Homer to me. Bougainvilleas, Cacti, abrasive cinder blocks, Ocotillo, all were no match for Homer, as he survived each external threat, but the intense UV broke him down, on a molecular level, embrittling his very essence, until one final gasp, let the wind out of him.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Comments Enabled

Because of dumbass Chinese spammers, like 芸茂芸茂, 佳宣佳宣, 珮陽 and other made up / co-oped, fake names who try to impersonate Joe M, Pyker, and Matt, I've had to enable comment moderation here. Each of these "小女孩有小陰莖誰" (translated here) will have to go harass other bloggers and their readers with their sad little attempts at trying to trick gullible Westerners into clicking on blind links like _._._._._.. For anyone who has visited the JustJoeP blog and accidentally clicked on one of the previously posts by useless Asian grogans before I could delete their inane, feeble, relentless attempts, please let me know if any ill effects befell your computer. I hope all is well.

- JustJoeP, the troll exterminator ("
巨魔灭鼠药" - translated here)

TDS and Colbert Summer Hiatus

TDS and Colbert are taking a 2 week summer hiatus this week and next. The last month or so, they've been ON FIRE, with absolutely hilarious material, excellent writing, and perfect delivery. A few of my favorites were:


- Tangelo Americans

- Mr Clean giving the Brawny guy a Spic & Span

- "Your ears make you look like a gay Alfred E Neuman" (jump to 1:35 for this quote)

I am so glad we've got a DVR. And they've been equally brutal to both Democrats and Republicans, reminding Americans what plutocratic, self-absorbed, hypocritical morons we've elected. No shortage of source material.

Quote of the Day: Mobs

"A mob is no less a mob because they are with you." - John Adams, 2nd President of the United States of America.

The Koppel Gerard Coiffure

It occurred to me today, after stumbling across a picture of Erin Gray from Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, that in the 80s, somehow I think I was trying to covertly emulate the Gil Gerard character. You see, I had a massive freshman-year-in-high-school crush on Erin Gray. I was a geek coming from parochial school, going to the big public high school, knowing no one, and sporting what I used to think was the "Ted Koppel Hairdo". It wasn't Koppel's. In retrospect, it was Gil Gerard's.

The black and white thumbnail (left) was lifted from an old resume I used to send out in the 80s (in futile attempts to get a well paying summer job) that a good friend reminded me about last weekend. If I could get the hair do (and the "Member's Only" jacket) maybe I could land a woman like Colonel Wilma Deering too! The head of the United Space Federation's military forces, and awesome in low cut spandex... a 14 year old can only hope! And hope.. and hope... LOL!

Then, last Sunday, I saw a scene from Jurassic Park (which I had not seen in many years), wherein Dr. Ellie Sattler (aka Laura Dern, aka Dr DF in the 90s) was attending to a triceratops with gastro-intestinal distress... and yeah, there was some kind of learned-pattern / instinctual hard-wiring going on in the 80s and 90s inside my head.

You don't think Dr Desert Flower looks like Laura Dern? Once, in a Sam's Club in Bloomington Indiana, when Jurassic Park was playing on every single TV in the electronics aisle, an elderly redneck woman approached DFF and said "that's you!" pointing at the television screens, wanting an autograph!

And then of course, there's the Princess Di look-a-like declarers who insist DFF is a long lost twin sister of the former Princess of Wales, and I cannot really argue with them.

So, to reconstruct this theory: I adopted Gil Gerard's hair cut in the early 80s, to try and capture the attention of Col Wilma Deering initially, which then turned out later that I was married to Dr. Ellie Sattler before DDF had her actual doctorate. And little did I know, but she's the separated-at-birth twin of Diana Spencer... hmmm. At least I did not adopt Nicolas Cage's (Sailor Ripley) hair cut and ward-robe from Wild At Heart trying to woo Lula Fortune! LOL!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Ahoy Rotterdam, Rush Snakes & Arrows

Just finished watching (as I typed up the last 2 blog postings) the Rush, Snakes & Arrows concert in The Netherlands (congratulations Spain, on getting fewer damaging yellow cards earlier today). Direct TV had it in HD, and thanks to Dr. Todd, my wonderful wife DVR'ed it for me this week. Tip of the hat to Todd The -Man-Maney, the highly stressed Clinical Services VP, or I would have missed this TV airing completely.

"Blah Blah Blah" on Geddy's t-shirt? A herd of dinosaurs on the amps and stage? A guy in a chicken suit coming out to baste the rotisserie chickens on stage? A small pack of toll dolls bordering Alex Lifeson's taurus pedals? These are the things I did not notice when Rush played at Cricket Pavilion here in West Phoenix last year and I walked there from my home to see them. The aerial shots of Neal on the drum kit from above we're beautifully timed - though I noticed a distinct lack of any smile or positive emotion on Neal's face throughout 90% of the Direct TV broadcast. I make weird 'Michael Jordan-like" facial movements when I play, and when I try to mimic Peart's rhythms, I contort even more. Alex was having a great time playing in front of the Dutch. Geddy seemed to be enjoying the performance.. but Neal appeared to plod through most of the concert - "stoic" approaches the best word to describe how he looked. During "The Spirit of the Radio" when the absurd chicken baster came onstage, Neal actually smiled for the first time... but then returned to stoic, perhaps 'exhausted'... he has been at it for 30 years now...

These three still produce more technically difficult, synchronized sounds, fluidly, powerfully, than any other trio I've heard. I hope they keep it up for as long as they enjoy it.

Laura Linnie & Paul Giamatti, Tour de Force

HBO ran all seven episodes of the 2008 series John Adams on the Fourth of July weekend, and Dr. Desert Flower DVR'ed them all. I was skeptical, since I best remembered Adams for the Alien & Sedition Acts, and losing his 2nd term in a three way race against Jefferson & Burr where Adams got 20% of the electoral college and Jefferson & Burr split (evenly) the other 80% - a rather poor showing for a sitting president.

I had no idea of what an angry, spiteful, unpleasant ancient man he became as he ungracefully aged to finally die at 90. 90, in the 1800s, is like 120 or 130 today. I am very glad I was not one of his sons. A great patriot, a remarkable thinker and dedicated man, yes. But oh so unpleasant! How Abigail Adams ever put up with him I Do Not Know. Laura Linney as Abigail gave a powerful performance. Giamatti, man, can he act. Portraying a couple in their late 30s, up though their 80s, in all their beauty & ugliness, strengths & weaknesses, courage & fears. I found myself captivated, watching it - the fact that I threw out my knee on Tuesday night added to be captivity perhaps =)

...but HBO did a fine job on the mini-series. They REALLY made each historical character LOOK like the characters we have on US currency, that are sculpted and painted in Washington DC, and Mt.Vernon, and Independence Hall in Philadelphia, and elsewhere. Yellow fever, small pox, drinking alcohol with every meal (to avoid dysentery), treaties with the French & British... so many nuances I was not fully aware of the Impact they had on everyday life and the course of human events at the time. It's well worth a watch if you've not seen it.

"I've got to return some videotapes."

We DVR'ed and watched American Psycho on IFC last night. Neither Dr Desert Flower nor I had ever seen the movie in its entirety before. Sick, twisted, darkly hilarious in how over-the-top it was. I don't think Mary Harron meant for it to be funny in it's narcissistic, excess, materialistic, detached nature, but I could not stop from laughing, repeatedly, at the silliness & absurdity of many of the scenes. Parts of the sound track are awesome - especially the club music, but the in-depth analysis of the vacuous pop songs Patrick Bateman so thoroughly believes in - truly ridiculous.

Perhaps Harron has a misandrist streak in her... or just a low tolerance for the douche-baggery of Wall Street do-nothings who obsess about their business cards... I have not seen her other work, but she does appear to have potential. "I've got to return some videotapes."

Good Karma

Browsing my latest copy of Machine Design this weekend, I saw an article on the high end hybrid being introduced by California based Fisker Automotive, call the Karma. 22kW-hr lithium ion battery pack, 50 mile trip radius without gas, but for longer trips a 2.2l 4 cylinder engine gets the range to 250 miles, and boosts the output to 400hp. 0 to 6 in 6 sec, 125mph published top speed.

Solar celled roof for keeping the interior cool or adding a few miles to the battery charge each sunny day - coincidentally, when I take a cab to the airport on business trips, I request Discount Cab send a hybrid vehicle, and of the 4 Prius taxis I have ridden in, each driver says it's the AC that sucks down their gas mileage from the upper 50s and 60s down into the 30 mpg range. Each cabbie loves how his Prius sips gasoline (adding to their bottom line) compared to other vehicles they have driven, but it IS a dorky looking car, and as my friends Ron point out (links here and here), there's so many better vehicles out there, if gas mileage is the main CTQ.

It sucks that the Karma is going to be $80K. I don't have that kind of coin laying around. I am convinced though, that 20 years from now, large displacement, high output, fossil fuel powered vehicles will be a luxury item driven by only the richest 1% of Americans and Europeans. Large Gas Turbines will start running out of economically viable fuels to be burnt as well... as we approach "peak oil".

Friday, July 9, 2010

Ewans Style & Perspective

I finished Martin Ewans' "Afghanistan, a Short History of Its People and Politics" this week (while sipping a glass of Spanish red, in the bath tub, a nice way to end a book). I found Ewans' writing style to be logical, chronologically consistent, and straight forward. That's the way a historical record is supposed to be, in my opinion. Ewans' perspective on Afghanistan corroborated Ahmed Rashid's to a great extent - which was interesting, since Rashid is a Pakistani national who lives and works in Lahore as a journalist, and Sir Martin Ewans was the Head of Chancery in Kabul for the British Diplomatic Service.

Both authors' accounts of this land locked region that clings to it's 13th century mindset while embracing 21st century guerrilla tactics, weaponry, and fundamentalist-Islamic-rural-rule-by-fear-and-terror parallel each other quite well. Rashid's "Please do not abandon my troubled region Western Powers, after you funded and fostered these fanatics to fight the Soviets!!" pleas contrast to Ewans' "this rural society has been chronically corrupt and without a strong central government for centuries, no Czar, British Monarch, Parliament, Polit Bureau, Shah, Maharajah, Greek or American conquering force will ever be able to impose a sustainable, equitable (by Western Standards), tolerant society here" perspective. I gotta tell you... I tend to agree with Ewan's implied conclusions. Sorry Rashid. Enough non-Afghan blood and treasure has been spilled there.

Percussion Gun - White Rabbits

White Rabbits "Percussion Gun" Music Video from White Rabbits on Vimeo.

"Percussion Gun" by White Rabbits - lyrics are somewhat vacuous, but from the first time I heard this in my car last year on the radio, up-to-and-including this post, the background drum line gets my foot a tappin.

Hockey - Song Away

Song Away- Hockey

It's a catchy tune. Got a good beat, I can dance to it. =P
(When NPR runs a story about "A Single Man" and the former fashion director behind the film, the radio gets turned off and Pandora gets turned on)

360 Year Old Grudge Match

Spain vs The Netherlands. Hmmm. I wonder if on Monday they're gonna party like it's 1648 in Amsterdam? (link here) HuffPo has a nice post here on it (link here) - but they get it wrong in the title, it AIN'T "Holland" - it's "The Netherlands".

Thursday, July 8, 2010


Stephen Colbert appeared to be not feeling well Monday, on his July 5th show (DVR'ed, and finally caught up today). The intro word he leapt over was "FLURPY" ? WTF is "flurpy"? Urban dictionary is not much help... and in this case could actually be a Colbert Nation plant.

In this same episode, Stephen sits fire side, with his mantle inscribed "videri quam esse" - 'to be, rather than seem to be'.

Just the "Fat Pad"

OK, well, it's good to have very smart friends, who are very good at their jobs and know their stuff. I know very little about human anatomy, and how to repair injuries, but that doesn't stop me from putting up misguided blog posts with my incorrect theories. While a pica synovialis mediopatelaris injury "sounds" more intense (and cooler) ... when consulting with a keenly observant, degreed, experienced Western Medical Doctor who is one of Maine's leading Hospitalists:

"if it is anterior (front of the knee pain) at the bottom and just below your knee cap, then your mechanism of injury suggests fat pad impingement or irritation, as in:
" if a swimmer presented reporting pain following ... a forceful extension of the knee, the practitioner should suspect an irritated fat pad"
  • Rest and avoiding aggravating activities.
  • Ice or cold therapy to reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Electrotherapy such as ultrasound and TENS.
  • Muscle strengthening exercises to maintain the strength and fitness of the surrounding muscle groups
  • Taping the patella is known to be highly effective in fat pad impingement. One method involves taping the upper surface of the patella to allow more space for the structures beneath the lower surfaces i.e. the fat pad, and so putting them under less stress.
  • anyway- ice, rest and anti-inflammatories (with food) are always good for knee pain."

    Dern it! It's just my "fat pad"!

    I have avoided irritating it, used cold compresses, and have been taking a NSAID to reduce the swelling.

    Now I seem to have a hankering for some tuna.... and a bowl of cream... =)

    Thanks Claudia, for the unofficial / anecdotal / but very helpful consult.

    Slithering Seattle Safeway

    Over at PR watch, they posted this sneaky, disturbing story (link here) about a Seattle Safeway grocery store who advertised a "Farmers Market", when all it consisted of was Safeway employees, with tables and tents in the parking lot, trying to sell trucked in Safeway produce, impersonating local farmers. Ugh! It's a violation of Washington State Statues to "pretend" to be a Farmer's Market.

    At the Safeway here in Goodyear AZ where Dr Desert Flower likes to shop sometimes, they play really cool music in the over-head speakers - we are usually there after dinner around 8 or 9pm, on a Thursday, Friday, or Saturday if we are there at all (about once every 2 months or so). They have an over-priced specialty food aisle, and a moderate selection of organic foods. The wine selection is typical big-chain grocery store blase'. Deli is so-so... but I've taken to getting my protein from the Warsaw Market Polish deli, which is 1/2 the distance away and 1/100th the square footage. With the Seattle caper now noted, I will keep a skeptical eye out for similar shenanigans here in Arizona.

    Wednesday, July 7, 2010

    No Longer an IKEA Virgin

    After the Treasures for Teachers drop off, we headed South down 48th Street, around South Mountain, to the Tempe IKEA just off I-10. Neither Dr. Desert Flower nor I had ever been to an IKEA before, and the curiosity was getting to us.

    What a massive place! Herds of Idiocracy shuffling through it... lots of useful stuff for dorm rooms and small European domiciles. I was somewhat over-whelmed by the rat-mazed upstairs show room, but the downstairs we found quite useful for gadgets. All of it made in China.

    The plumbing features were wholly unimpressive (kitchen, bath, et al). They were trying to look German, but had all the poor quality and ricketyness of the 50% failure rate of the "new" Beijing airport which I flew through 2 months after it opened back in 2001 - when 50% of the touchless sinks didn't work, about 30% of the lights didn't light or hummed at 50Hz, and the stall door hinges were cheesy at best. Walking through the IKEA and seeing ALL the "Made in China" tags was very reminiscent China trying to look good in their own capital city, but failing miserably. In the men's room, as a bright spot, they DID have Dyson Air Knives - those are awesome inventions.

    This laundry iron holder (pictured above) was all of $7 (Made in China - supplied without wall mounting hardware, but I found 2 studs with an old neodymium magnet I have). We also got a new apple corer ($4) and a new anodized aluminum egg frying pan, with double riveted handle for $19 (Teflon was beginning to flake off the existing pan at home), all of Chinese origin. A "breakfast in bed"tray was surprisingly made in Thailand, for less than 1/2 a dozen dollars - so maybe next weekend that'll get used for the first time.

    Lots of cheap stuff... we won't be sourcing our home's furniture there, but it is an interesting place to look at tons of gadgets and accouterments.

    Treasures For Teachers

    Last Thursday, just before I turned off the TV which had finished DVR'ing the "News Hour" on PBS, they were airing an interview with one of the board members of "Treasures For Teachers" in Tempe. The nice lady in the interview said they can not only use school supplies, but old buckets, pails, blanks, cleaned bottles, etc... and it Hit me! I had 50 Free Range Organic egg cartons I'd been saving up, about 3 dozen Trader Joe's coffee cans, an old Pentium 1 computer with a crashed hard disk, and a dozen Tidy Cat kitty litter buckets... someone can use them!

    So Saturday, Doctor Desert Flower and I trekked over to Tempe, which was not far from her newly relocated lab, and I emptied all the surplus raw material. I took with me, the old 1 HP pump with failed bearing seals, and an old Raintree sprinkler controller that had fried from lightening, and asked the guy handling receiving behind TforT "do you take materials for High School shop class projects?" "Sure!" he replied, so I left them the Irritrol box and the motor as well. Hopefully they'll help some kid learn how to rebuild a motor and a circuit board someday.

    Treasures For Teachers is a very large, apparently efficient operation. A dozen high school kids sorting materials, a few middle aged men doing some heavy lifting, and a handful of determined, 'get it done' women in charge. If you've got left-over, usable manufacturing materials, consider donating them there.

    Like A Frog Jumps, Sorta

    Swimming last evening, without warming up, I stupidly thought it a good idea to see how many times, under water, I could traverse my pool's length without surfacing. Key to each "lap" was the initial powerful "push off", where I'd get as close as possible underwater to the wall, and Push as hard as I could, perpendicular to the wall, to go the first 10 to 15 feet without having to use any upper body strength. (Similar to the Scientific Amphibian diagram, with theta = zero)

    Well, when my left leg extended, at the end of the 2nd push off stroke, when the pool wall receded behind me and my leg became straight... ouch. Giant Ouch. I think I have a series of hyper-extension induced tears around the pica synovialis mediopatelaris. In compression, my left knee works just fine. In minor torsional loads and rotation it appears to work normally. When extended, without any weight on it whatsoever, the bright lights and stars I see from the intense shooting pain are lovely at first, but get old after about 1/2 a second, and the cortisol levels they pump into my blood stream are not good for extended exposure in humans. Naproxin sodium is helping. Standing at the sink long enough to shave this morning caused 'intense discomfort' in my left knee, and now it appears to be radiating heat as I sit in my office. Hmm.

    I REALLY hope I don't need to see an orthopedist, who'll wanna do an MRI on my knee after an interminably long waiting room episode... ugh. A week from now, I hope to be fully ambulatory once again. Il faut voir (lol, frog reference full circle!). Slow and steady... and don't forget to proactively stretch next time!

    Louis CK gets schooled on language usage

    Over at JoeMyGod, Joe (via Dan Savage) has a post on Louis CK's recent FX show (Louis basically plays himself - and it's a pretty funny & disturbing show) where Louis' only gay friend schools him and the other comedians playing poker on the etymology and context of using the word "faggot". Link here. It's a pretty poignant perspective.

    Caution to parents with children who have impressionable minds, and who may pick up new words like a sponge picks up dishwater- link is not appropriate for elementary school aged children whose vocabulary does not yet include bigoted, charged vocabulary.

    Tuesday, July 6, 2010

    You Like-a Da Juice?

    Yeah, we like-a da juice. Trader Joes is carrying high-fructose-corn-syrup (HFCS) free, organic juices now. Great stuff. Tasty in a rum drink, a vodka drink, a vodka & rum drink, poolside. Good to feed to well behaved kids who accompany their parents to come over & swim in a strange pool on a hot Arizona day. Inexpensive, refreshing, natural, and good for you.

    We've found it's quite difficult to find ANY Mango nectar without HFCS. Nearly every mass marketed juice has it (as well as yogurts, cereals, frozen dinners, et al). Scoring another delicious Trader Joes organic find, we feel triumphant. The low calorie lemonade doesn't have any fake sweeteners in it, just less sugar than most obese Americans apparently need to maintain their girth. On a hot day, after working in the yard from 9am to noon, I can quaff a quart of the lemonade without much pause. Yummy!

    Dr Desert Flower has a proclivity for Pelligrino. My attempts to illustrate to her the inordinate carbon foot print of the carbonated Italian water is dismissed off-hand by the draw of the Italian bubbly. Now, trader Joes has these delicious, inexpensive, local alternatives (at least they did not come via sea freight container, over the Atlantic) for less than a buck a piece. They offer both Lime and Lemon varieties, as well as unflavored bubbly. And yes, according to vodka aficionado DFF, go very well in a mixed drink when called upon to do so.

    Lastly, regarding coffee - the way caffeine was meant to be delivered, in high doses, in the morning and sometimes after a good evening meal, I've begun sourcing organic alternatives to the mass produced, mass grown, enmasse-song-bird-killing, massive carbon foot print imposing mega canister coffee.
    When in a hurry, and I don't have time to grind up a batch of beans - or I am talking on a conference call and can't go on "mute" to silence the grinder, I brew up some of Costco's Organic medium roast blend. It's pretty good - not awesome, but it does the trick when trying to wake up at 5am.

    When I have more time, there's healthy organic alternatives from Trader Joes, grown in Bolivia and Sumatra, each of which I've enjoyed a full pot throughout a week-day morning of conference calls. Yes, these have a larger carbon foot print than Mexican coffee, but I have not found a delicious Mexican coffee yet - and while I LOVE Kona coffee, I've not won the lottery yet to be able to afford drinking it every day. And, both the Bolivian and Sumatra beans are "Fair Trade" so they are supposed to be helping 'local growers' - perhaps they are, I don't know for sure. Long Before "Mad Men" I learned to distrust marketers.

    I wish I could find some "shade grown" coffee that is kind to endangered South American song birds... but in Red State Arizona, I am not sure I'll ever be able to. And even if I DO find some, I'll then have to convince DFF that it tastes good enough to be a staple in our pantry.

    Nothing Fails Like...

    I was reading Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish this morning (here and here), when I saw his recent posts as to 'whether we should pray for Hitch". Now, I don't often see eye to eye with the very abrasive Christopher Hitchens, but it appears he's going to under-go some extensive chemotherapy on his esophagus (Scotch doesn't ward off esophageal cancer it appears), and Conservative Sullivan, who is a religious man, was asking his readers "should we pray for Hitch?". The well published 2006 study (predating this blog, link here) that showed - at least in regards to "uncomplicated recovery after coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery" done on a large population of subjects by Harvard and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center - prayer does no good, and it actually had WORSE outcomes for those who were prayed for: "CONCLUSIONS: Intercessory prayer itself had no effect on complication-free recovery from CABG, but certainty of receiving intercessory prayer was associated with a higher incidence of complications." I thought it relevant to point out here.

    As Hitchens is one of his generation's most vocal atheists, praying for him, and telling him you are praying for him, would harm him more than it would help him as a patient. It might make the one praying feel better.... so Sullivan recommends praying for his friend Hitchens and not telling him. Chacun ses merde - whatever. Whether Hitchens lives or dies, is immaterial to me, as is whether anyone prays for him or not. I DO Understand that chemo SUCKS, and those who get it suffer tremendously - no such thing as a "gentle chemo". I am not a proponent of extending suffering anywhere in the world - my mother obsesses about her own, and everyone elses suffering, daily, and that's enough to cover most of the Western Hemisphere.

    And even if the person is perceived by others as pure evil, irreproachable, I don't think they should be cruelly tortured and suffer from chemo - lock them up and throw away the key (like pedophiles, Al Queda, priests who rape children, other psychopaths), but don't make them suffer. Suffering just fuels hatred, disease, reciprocal acts of enmity, and it causes us (when used intentionally) to lose a little bit of our humanity, each time we propagate it - in my opinion.
    What do you think?

    Does praying for someone help you, to deal with their suffering / their difficulties / what they are experiencing that may be troubling you?

    Do you always tell those you pray for, that you are praying for them, even though scientifically it's been proven, that you are hurting that person's medical outcome?

    Have you ever "prayed against" someone? (a very un-Christian thing to do, but I've had blood relatives do this, despite my dearly departed and wonderful maternal grandmother's admonishing not to do so)

    And on suffering... do you think it's a good thing, to perpetuate someone's suffering when that someone is so deplorable in your perspective, so unrepentant and un-rehabilitate-able, that you might think they "deserve to suffer" for how they make you feel, or what you've understood that person may have done previously?

    I welcome your comments, as always.

    Monday, July 5, 2010

    Cash Incentives, To Do What Your Parents Should Have Taught You?

    Speaking of "Cash", on the other side of the spectrum, I heard a NPR story (link here) this morning that almost made my head explode. Cindy Rodriguez had a story of how "nonprofits are encouraging social change with cash incentives". HUH?!?!?! "Some results are in from a program in New York, where the city has been paying poor families to engage in positive behaviors, like going to the doctor more regularly. The goal is to boost incomes and help these families move out of poverty but after three years, the program ends this summer." It's gone on for 3 years?? Wha-wha-whaaaa??

    Paying people to go to the doctor and dentist? Paying kids to go to school? No no no!!! That is utter stupidity. It is not "encouraging social change". It's anti-evolutionary. You don't have to be a 'behavioral economist' like Dan Ariely to come to the conclusion that giving out cash payments to the poor devalues the very behaviors that humans need to do to stay alive, and to pull themselves up out of poverty eventually. It breeds dependency on the government every tiny step of the way.

    80 years ago, when my relatives used to walk down the rail road tracks in East Chicago near the steel mills, hoping to find stray pieces of coal that fell off the coal rail cars, in order to warm their homes, and when they searched for one more penny in the floor boards to buy a 16 cent loaf of bread, they were not expecting a government check in the mail to pay them to do essential things like going to the doctor and going to school. If you don't go to the doctor, to get your government subsidized medicaid, then you can get sick and you can die. If you don't go to school to LEARN SOMETHING, to better yourself, to pull yourself out of poverty someday, to be able to send your children to college someday if you ever have a child, then that's your choice. Stay in your rut of poverty, don't work hard, don't learn anything - But Do Not expect a check from the government to PAY YOU to go to school.

    "A bit controversial, and still unproven"? No, it's a dumb program that needs to end. It never should have been started. Upon listening to the story again, At Least it is not my tax dollars that have been used to fund it - it's been paid for by private charitable foundations. Good. "Terrence Flowers is a Junior at FDNY High School for Fire and Life Safety In Brooklyn, and over the last few years, the 17 year old has said his GPA went from a 75 average to a 90. "I just needed a push" Terrence said. Cindy Rodriguez then adds "The push came in the form of cash incentives". No, the push needed to come from Terrence's mother and father, who should have kicked his behind and made sure he was doing his school work. "Paying $50 a month for keeping near perfect attendance... it's also paying him $600 for each (standardized test) he passes. In all he's earned about $3000" - UUUGHHHH!! Must... Turn.. Off... Radio... Before.. Head.. Explodes!

    My paternal grand parents and father and maternal great grand parents immigrated to the US without so much as a pot to piss in. By working hard, and instill a strong work ethic into their families, and disciplining them to remain focused and make something of themselves, without cash payments to do the things that one needs to do to remain alive and to advance through life. Yes, we did eat blocks of government cheese that my maternal grand mother gave us for a year or so after my dad was laid off from Rand McNally in the early 70s, and we did scrape by, but we never expected a government check to go to the doctor, pass a test at school, or just to go to school. What kind of twisted, misguided, social incentive is that?? It instills all the wrong belief paradigms.

    "$1200 is in a savings account, and the rest has been spent on a new cell phone and plenty of designer clothes and shoes." UGGGGHHH!!! Ever hear of Wrangler, Mossimo, St John's Bay, Toughskins? They're ALOT less expensive... and how will designer clothes help to get you to even community college? "Deez are da Pradas"... This is not helping anyone out of poverty, it's perpetuating a welfare state and diving deeper into Idiocracy.

    I'm gonna play my drum set now, and think happy thoughts... and never think about Cindy Rodriguez's ridiculous radio story ever again. Enough said. Rant over.

    Gulf Cash Economy? Too Bad For You

    You don't get to live in a cash economy your whole life, avoiding paying taxes, embracing small government, voting reddest of the red state Republican, wanting no government involvement in your life (dag nab-it!) AND THEN demand the 'guvmint has to bail you out', when the end result of those "hands off" policies result in the destruction of your cash economy livelihood. There's a huge cash economy in the Gulf of Mexico - or rather, there used to be (link here). Now that fishing has been banned, that economic engine will begin to grind to a halt. Don't expect BP, or the Federal Government, or anyone else, to pay you for lost wages, when for years / generations you've not been claiming any income, not paying Federal or state taxes, and wanting the government to stay out of your life.

    I have no sympathy or compassion for small businessmen or individuals who have lived their whole Bubba-Gump-akin lives in a cash economy, and now angrily growl that their lives are ruined and they can't git no compensation. You've lived for, voted for, believed in, a "hands off", small government, libertarian paradise. Good luck trying to justify your claim for compensation. For those who have been paying their taxes, and living in an accountable economy, the $20 Billion compensation fund that the Obama administration requested BP set up, is already paying out claims.