Month: July 2012

It’s A Bloody Day

picture of person giving blood
This is NOT me. This is NOT Maria.

For the first time in over ten years, I decided to donate blood. This is something I used to do regularly, but time and fear of pain have kept me off the phlebotomist lounge for a long time.

Yeah. Every time I have a physical exam, and pretty much every time I go to a doctor’s office, they take blood samples, and I always screw my face up and wince when they insert the needle. Wait! It is more complicated than that.

You see, I have lousy veins, and they have to really search and probe to find one, even  for the relatively small amount for a normal lab workup. To make matters worse, only my right arm has an accessible vein, with the left arm being useless for that purpose. According to my doctor, I am a tough stick.

Well, the people at the blood services office are full-time, experienced phlebotomists. I felt that if anybody could do the job, they were the ones. I don’t trust the Red Cross mobile units because that’s where they train the beginners, and I have had a couple of sad experiences with that crowd.

Maria, a ten-year employee and phlebotomist, was the one to work on  me. First, she took a small sample of blood from my right arm to test for incompatibilities. Then, she zeroed on the left arm for the “big daddy” needle through which my life’s blood would flow to help others.

That left arm stuff didn’t work. It was like I said, she couldn’t find a vein to use.

In the middle of this relative slaughter, a young woman in the office passed out after donating platelets. When they revived her, she started vomiting. I guess I wasn’t the only one to having a bad day.

Muttering apologies about the vomit and the pain, Maria tried the right arm with no luck. She had found it fifteen minutes prior for the sample, but with the bigger needle, she just couldn’t make it work.

Yes, it hurt. For both arms, not only did I get the familiar stick, but she had to move the big needle around under the skin on a wild-goose chase for the illusory veins. She probed and I grimaced.

She gave up on me and sent me home with maximum bandages on both arms.

There are a couple of things I can take from this. First, I could never be a heroine addict. Second, I always have an excuse for not donating.

All in all, it’s been a tough day.

Chick-fil-A And Gay Marriage

This subject has been going around all week, and I have waited until now to address my feelings on the matter.

The CEO of Chick-fil-A stated his Christian beliefs in an interview that he believed in the traditional marriage definition. Now, not only the media, but certain politicians have charged that the company itself it against gay people and gay marriage. Of course, this is all politics and convenient, incorrect interpretation by a liberal media.

There is nothing wrong with preferring marriage to be between a man and a woman. There is nothing unusual about this, at all. Just because I don’t always agree with this traditional definition doesn’t mean that I do not respect those with whom I disagree.

What we have seen is a complete lack of understanding of our First Amendment right of free speech from the Mayors of Chicago and Boston. Maybe we should expect this because both are politicians, and they are in the business of buying votes. The irony is that the Boston mayor says he will oppose Chick-fil-A’s expansion in Boston when he has no right or duty to do so. If Chick-fil-A goes to court, the mayor will be defeated in a battle costly to the City of Boston.

Boston and Chicago have picked lose-lose positions. They come across as anti-democracy, and anti-freedom. Both cities are run by crooked political machines.

In my opinion the argument about gay marriage is silly. Some people will tell you that a civil union is OK for homosexuals, but marriage is out of the question. Who are they kidding? A civil union, by any other name, is a marriage. Most unions are marriages, including just living together. Just ask some of those Hollywood live-in actresses if they can convince a court that living-in is a marriage. Of course it is.

You can argue that God doesn’t define marriage that way.  With the risk of offending our Maker, I don’t believe God sees any difference between a civil union, a marriage, or a live-in lover. It all comes down to the same thing.

Legally, there are many differences, but people wrote the laws, and people can change them. The morality was decided a long time ago, and all we have done is legalize immorality.

If there is any threat to the institution of marriage, we have already put it in place by accepting live-ins, civil unions, and anything that allows people to cohabit without assuming responsibility.

As I have said many times, marriage as an institution is threatened by married people who do not keep vows, and do not stay married. Homosexual marriages would be such a small number that its effect on the institution would be negligible. Plus, many of them will not be contributing to the gene pool.

There is no reason to castigate Chick-fil-A because its chairman has certain beliefs. The ravings we have heard are silly, and not well thought out. On the other hand, there is nothing wrong with gay marriage that is not already going on, either in civil unions, or as live-in lovers.

What do you think?

Our Handicapped Society

There is a 1961 short story, Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut, that is about the future in 2081 when everybody is equal. They are not only equal in God’s eyes and before the law, but “equal in every which way”. I learned of the story from an article at the Cato Institute on Income Inequality.

To make people equal in every way, beautiful people had to wear masks, strong people had to wear pounds and pounds of weights to slow them down, and intelligent people had to wear radio devices in their ears that made loud noises whenever a thought would occur, keeping them from thinking.

To enforce equality, there was a Handicapper General to make sure that everybody was equal in everything.

Severe penalties were instituted for being unequal ( or superior), and not abiding by the handicaps mandated by the Handicapper General’s government department.

Does this sound familiar to anyone? We are seeing the beginnings of this Handicapped Society, now, as universal healthcare, income redistribution, and tax-the-rich ideas are being pushed by the Federal Government.  Universal healthcare means that everybody gets the same, inadequate healthcare. Income redistribution means that incentive is sucked out of society. Taxing the rich is a simple-minded way to even out the tax burden that doesn’t need evening out.

It is all about jealousy.

Why do some people want everybody to be equal in every way? We all know that this is an impossibility, so why strive for something that is not achievable or desirable?

Total equality in society necessitates handicaps. It is that simple.

How do you see this working out?

High Definition TV

Three years ago we bought a forty-seven inch high definition LCD screen television for our den. We love it, and cannot imagine watching standard NTSC television.

Do you remember all the hoopla over the previous decade about the government forcing the termination of regular television signals? I was among the many people griping and bitching about this overbearing move.  However, it never had an affect on my television watching as I was a cable tv customer, and they did all the conversion for me.

We still had an old fashioned, seventeen inch CRT type television in our bedroom. The ATT Uverse box converted the digital signals to analog to satisfy the ancient little television.

picture of high definition televisionLast week we decided that it was time to upgrade the bedroom tv, and bought an off-brand television from Brandsmart for less than $250.00. It is a thirty-two inch high definition television with 720p HDTV format and an LED screen. Note that most thirty-two inch sets came with 720p, not the desired 1080p. The LED screen is brighter than the bigger LCD screen downstairs, and the picture is beautiful. It was made in China.

The good news is that now, we have a nice high definition television in our bedroom for late night and early morning viewing.

The bad news is that we, the United States of America, invented high definition television and have to buy devices made in Asia to enjoy our labors.

Yeah. I know that this story is repeated many times with pretty much any consumer grade electronic device. We don’t manufacture much of anything, anymore. The base problem is that the American worker (if you can find one) will not work for a wage that is competitive around the world. It is getting to the point that we will have to start outsourcing our defense manufacturing. I sure hope that statement is wrong.

Right now, life is good with cheap televisions from China, along with Apple iPads, iPods, and Apple computers coming from the same place.

So, what is left for us to do in the world economy? Any ideas? Anybody?

What’s For Breakfast?

Sans the political and economic stuff, I am focused on one thing, lately. Breakfast.

Left to my own devices, I am a bacon, egg, grits/hash browns guy. The medical community doesn’t like me to eat pork sausage, so I rely on bacon for generous doses of fat. Gotta love that fat.

Now, if you are of the Yankee or uncultured persuasion, you may not have had proper exposure to hominy grits. I don’t know how the hominy stuff comes into play, but if all you do is boil some water and dump in the grits, it will taste pretty much like cardboard. It is kind of like the plantains found on Caribbean islands, which also tastes like cardboard. You really have to add the spices for that stuff.

This is why grits are always served with generous gobs of butter, or even with cheese is cooked into the dish. Also, bacon bits can help immensely. Shrimp and grits is a popular entre at many fine restaurants. It is amazing how good simple hominy grits can be.

The docs don’t like me eating grits, either.

I have been experimenting with turkey sausage. The Jimmy Dean brand is good stuff, but has about 900  milligrams of sodium per serving. The Kroger brand tastes just as good, with a good bit less salt. Either way, there is too much sodium in the bacon/sausage replacements to consider for a healthy breakfast.

Morningstar soy sausage is actually good stuff, and a pattie with an English muffin is one of my preferred substitutions for eggs and bacon. They are pretty expensive per pattie, but are acceptable ingredient wise.

My breakfast preferences break down, here. I used to like fruit and cereal, but my nutritionist doesn’t. The fruit is OK, but cereal is all carbohydrates.

I am on the make for breakfasts. I need a better list. What is you favorite healthy breakfast? The medical profession is out to ruin my life, and I need some help.

Our Crazy World

Just in from the Indian Express (Journalism of Courage) Five Jealous Wives Rape Nigerian Man To Death!

What is our world coming to? I have a problem believing the story, much less picturing how this happened. Go ahead. Link to the story. Do you believe this, at all? Did they have to force viagra down his throat?

Is there a moral to this story? From my experience, only one jealous wife is needed to do the job, and her modus operandus would likely be a butcher knife, or 9 millimeter automatic. Forget the kill by sex thing.

Maybe that poor Nigerian with six wives was being stimulated with clubs and knives.

Was Penn State Penalized Enough?

  • Sixty million dollars – equivalent to one year’s revenue from the football program
  • No bowl games for four years – football program once again slammed
  • Reducing football scholarships from 25 per year to 15 per year
  • Probation for five years
  • All football wins from 1998 to 2011 vacated

These are the fines and sanctions levied against Pennsylvania State University as announced this morning by Mark Emmert, President of the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

In a Sports Illustrated article, the writer says that Emmert overstepped his authority. It seems to me that if the NCAA doesn’t have the authority to punish an institution, who does? Do you leave it up to the students, faculty, or administration? Do you leave it up to the state legislature?

I am trying to decide in my mind if Penn State was punished enough. How do you get a young man’s life back after being abused by a famous man at a powerful university? Nobody wants to listen to you because there is so much money at stake in a football program like Penn State’s. There were at least ten of these young men who were inflicted with Jerry Sandusky’s attention multiple times.

Joe Paterno, famous and respected  head coach, knew about it. The university president knew about it. How many others in the university administration knew about it?

Many people don’t like the idea that the current students at the university will bear the brunt of the penalties. So what? Should not the students in former years have taken some of the shame when these crimes should have been reported?

I think it is a case of compounding guilt, similar to compound interest for money. The longer the crime goes unreported, the greater the guilt should grow. No, the students, today don’t deserve what they are getting. But they have alternatives.

The press has not gotten wind of another scandal that reveals the culture of corruption that Penn State has become. The famous Climate Gate email scandal in 2009 implicated Michael Mann, a Penn State climate studies professor in acts of academic malfeasance. This was an international scandal, and academics all  over the world were seen as scientists who had trashed the principles of science, and had published studies based on bad science, bad mathematics, and just plain lies.

Mann’s name was at the center of this scandal, and Penn State chose to investigate one of its own. There was no sign that anyone among the investigators was from anywhere other than Penn State,  and most of the outside scientists interviewed were friends of Dr Mann.  None of the complainants were interviewed. This is like having a trial without a prosecutor, jury, or judge. Penn State whitewashed the whole affair,

Dr Mann’s whitewash is just another cover up by Penn State’s president, Graham Spanier, who was ultimately responsible for the Sandusky cover up. How many other cover ups have been perpetrated by Penn State and its administration?

What do you think?

What Happened In Aurora?

picture of James Holmes, Aurora shooter
James Holmes

What is it about Colorado that the worst shooting incidents happen there? How does a 24-year-old honors student go bonkers preparing for his high-profile career? What happened to make him drop out of a graduate program?

There are so many questions and no answers. What is happening is there are hundreds and thousands of opinions, but very little in the way of facts. This blog article is speculative, too.

Try to put yourself in the place of Jimmy Holmes, honors student at the University of California, Riverside. He majored in neuroscience, a discipline which integrates real science into psychology. At least, that’s what I think it means. Anyway, James could not get a job after graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Neuroscience.

After not getting a job, James applied to and was accepted at the University of Colorado at Denver. According to articles, he was in a program leading to a PhD in Neuroscience. I cannot find where he had earned a Master’s Degree. Apparently, the PhD  program at UC, Denver includes the work for a Masters.

After starting the program in the fall of 2011, he was having academic problems.

What’s this? An honors student having academic problems? Yes, and I have my own ideas about why.

I remember the kick in the academic butt graduate school delivered to me when I first started in the MBA program. I had gotten my bachelor’s in engineering five years before my entry into graduate school. Graduate school is at a much higher level and is at a much faster pace. It takes maturity to compete. All of  the  students in graduate school are good students, and they are all ambitious. The competition is really stiff.

Holmes was quickly inundated with the massive amounts of material. I believe he was trying to get his Master’s Degree in one year.

Trying to assimilate mountains of new material, plus, having to review the stuff you thought you knew can be harder than anyone expects. This can be a physical and a mental brick wall. If you don’t have the maturity to handle it, you can easily get behind. Getting behind in graduate school can be academically terminal.

I read that Holmes didn’t do well on his comprehensive exams. Comprehensive exams are normally taken prior to achieving ones Masters Degree. If Holmes did poorly in the Master’s part of the program, his chance of success in the PhD program was almost non-existent.

Holmes had failed.

Here we have a former honors student not being able to get a job, and then failing at the subject thought to be his strength. This, my friends, does not bode well for his future. It is a terrifying thing to think about having to take a construction job, or do other manual labor just to get by. That’s not the way he was raised.

Holmes lived alone. When Holmes lived at home, he had no friends, either. The problem with being a loner is that you have a limited perspective on life. When things get tough and you are not used to going to family and friends for support and opinions, you are in danger of doing the wrong thing.

I believe there were other contributing factors to Holmes’ actions. In our nation today there is a drive to take God out of our lives. Our universities hammer our children with the idea of moral relativity. From this we get the “if it feels good, do it” people.

Were Holmes parents religious? Did they raise their child with a moral foundation? Did they teach him right from wrong?

When James was going through his vulnerable years in college, was he exposed to professors who made a joke of people who believe in God? Was he indoctrinated with the idea that what is moral for one person is not necessarily moral for another?

James Holmes became a victim. His future was snatched from him. He had no moral foundation. He was extremely disappointed in life.

I will be interested to find out if James had problems with depression. I believe that he was depressed, and could only see the low point of his life, which was now. He didn’t know how to deal with his problems, so he decided to strike back.

Was Holmes evil? Was he doing something to strike back at society because of his failures?

What do you think?

Update: Here’s a TMZ article about a profile James Holmes was reported to have established on a sex website.

Should Penn State Get The “Death” Penalty For Football?

A terrible tragedy has occurred on the campus and in the athletic dressing rooms at Pennsylvania State University. Assistant football coach, Jerry Sandusky, was found guilty of assaulting under aged boys in the locker room. Many of these kids were brought into contact with Sandusky through his charitable organization, The Second Mile.

Sandusky was convicted of 45 counts of child sexual abuse. These offenses occurred over a period of decades, and his boss, Penn State Head Coach Joe Paterno, along with the President of the University, were informed there was a problem. Those men ignored the rape of young boys to keep the University’s image sparkling clean. Penn State now has a new head coach and a new president, but the damage has been done.

Yahoo Sports has an article with an embedded Tavis Smiley interview video. Smiley is interviewing NCAA President Mark Emmert. Tavis asks the big question, “Should Penn State’s football program get the death penalty?”

Of course, Emmert could not answer the question because the NCAA is still going through their investigations. No charges or penalties will be accessed for a while, probably after the 2012 – 2013 football season.

If you are familiar with the Southern Methodist University football death penalty in 1986, you know that such action would have a decade long, negative effect on the university’s football program. SMU’s violations were about paying their football players. SMU had the best football team that money could buy for a couple of years .

Penn State University’s sins are in a whole new category. Because of the power given to former head football coach, Joe Paterno, an active pedophile was  allowed to continue his crimes while being shielded by Joe Paterno, and the Penn State University administration. This is shameful.

How severely do you think the NCAA should penalize the Penn State football program? Should the penalty extend itself further into other athletic programs? Should the Penn State football program receive the “death penalty” that Southern Methodist University got for a much lesser set of crimes?

What should we do with college football in the United States. I think you would agree that college football as we know it functions as a farm system for National Football League. Also, why are the universities allowed to make millions of dollars off their football programs, and not pay their athletes commensurately?

The reason that Penn State’s morals went off the tracks is simple. The athletic department and the university administration would not let any bad news be published about their programs. It was all about the money.

Our Best Beach Vacation, Ever

Conservatives on Fire (otherwise called, Jim) asked, “How’s the beach, Bob?”

Well, here it is!

This is the beach at Perdido Key, Florida, a barrier island on the Gulf Coast in the Florida Panhandle. It is frightfully close to Alabama . Of course, the beach is just as beautiful in one state as the other. The beaches in Alabama are reverently known as the Redneck Riviera. In the southern United States, everybody waits until the hottest time of the year to go to the beach, but we let the Yankees spend the big money in the winter months to escape their icy hells in New York, Michigan, Illinois, and Minnesota.

We vacationed on a beach last year, too. It was in North Carolina on Emerald Isle, a barrier island on the Atlantic Ocean. As you can see, the beach is not quite as white as those in Florida. However, the bikinis in both places are styled perfectly.  Here is a picture of the beach at Emerald Isle, North Carolina.

The reason for the Florida beach vacation being the best is not because of the beach. The real reason is that nobody got sick, hurt, or severely sun burned. Plus, our grandchildren were with us, but their parents had the duty of running and keeping up with a two year old and an almost four year old. That, my friends, is not an easy thing to do.

Over the years, when we would go to a beach, we were always tense about our kids getting into trouble, either in the water, or other places. You know, you can’t take them anywhere!

However, our kids were always little angels at restaurants. So are our grandkids. I suppose that is because they know they are about to be fed. Kids really like to feed. The little animals are always grazing out of the refrigerator when inside, and yelling to pull into the fast food joints when on the road.

Parents are cursed to never have a free moment. Grandparents can enjoy life.

Ya’ll enjoy your summer vacations.