Friday, September 29, 2017

Getting my flu shot!

It was late September, in 2017, when I decided to go and get my flu shot! (Even though it was still early in the flu season). As the chart, (below right) illustrates, high rates of flu really start to get going from December on! But, this year I thought it prudent to get my shot now!  I decided to do this as the CDC was recording increased numbers of people coming down with the swine version of the flu (H1N1). So, I called the Taney County Health Department and scheduled an appointment for Friday, September the 29th. Hope I don't faint when they stick me with the needle!

The vaccine to be given out this season is as follows:
  • an A/Michigan/45/2015 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus (updated)
  • an A/Hong Kong/4801/2014 (H3N2)-like virus
  • a B/Brisbane/60/2008-like (B/Victoria lineage) virus
In my case (old age), I would also be given the slightly more powerful quadrivalent vaccine which also includes the B/Phuket/3073/2013-like (B/Yamagata lineage) virus!

Hey! What about the mercury content you may ask?

OK, here's some facts: Thiomersal*— A preservative that contains mercury — has never been shown to be harmful. The type of mercury linked with nervous system damage is methyl mercury. (Concerns over methyl mercury levels have led to recommendations that pregnant women avoid eating large amounts of certain types of fish, such as swordfish).

In contrast, thiomersal is an ethyl mercury compound.

Still, because the preservative raised controversy, especially over a now dis-proven link to autism, it was taken out of almost all U.S. Single does vaccines starting in 2001.

The injectable form of flu vaccine is available to health care providers in one of two ways — they can get large bottles of it, which contain many doses, or they can small bottles, which contain an individual dose of the vaccine.

There is a tiny amount of thiomersal in the multi-dose bottles. The preservative ensures that no bacteria will grow in the vaccine. The individual-dose bottles, however, contain no thiomerosal. So, anyone concerned about the compound's effects can ask their provider for an individual dose.

*Thiomersal, or thimerosal, is an organomercury compound. This compound is a well established antiseptic and antifungal agent. The pharmaceutical corporation Eli Lilly and Company gave thiomersal the trade name Merthiolate.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Protesters gather in front of Taney courthouse!

Forsyth MO. – Thursday, September 29, 2017 was the date that authorities had set for a courtroom hearing concerning Kyle W Williams; one of two men who have been accused of the death of a kitten by means of torture – The specific charges were; Animal Abuse - 2nd/Subsequent Offense Or By Torture And/Or Mutilation While Animal Was Alive along with a separate charge of Armed criminal action, both considered to be felony charges. See video:

The gruesome nature of the killing and methods used to torture the kitten to its death, (a video of which was posted on Facebook briefly before being taken down), has raised a great amount of ire in the community as the protesters signs would seem to indicate. Mr. William's attorney has filed both for a change of venue and another trail judge in the previous month. No word, as of yet, of how the hearing went down.

What's in the 2017-18 flu vaccine?

The strains of influenza covered by the vaccine vary from year to year; the composition of each year’s vaccine is based on recommendations from the World Health Organization.

Around the world, more than 100 countries have influenza centers that monitor flu-like illnesses. The centers test samples from patients to determine whether an illness is caused by an influenza virus, and if so, which type.

Those centers report data to a handful of WHO sites around the world, and those sites in turn track which strains are circulating. In February, the centers’ directors and other experts meet to prepare for flu season in the northern hemisphere.

“What’s circulating in the southern hemisphere (mainly H3N2 in late 2017) kind of gives us a determination of what we might expect to see in our season,” Stated Kayla DeBusk, a vaccine accountability specialist with the Spokane Regional Health District. .

Contrary to popular belief, the effectiveness of the vaccine isn’t usually determined by health departments selecting the right flu strains. More often, it depends on whether scientists have a similar virus mapped out well enough to produce vaccines for it.

“We don’t have a good virus match” for some strains, DeBusk said. Typically, a vaccine strain of the flu is about a 40 to 60 percent genetic match to the virus it’s supposed to provide immunity for.
Vaccines are more effective in years when the main types of flu have been seen before and already have effective vaccine strains. Strains for vaccines are grown in hen’s eggs.

Some people believe flu vaccines are rushed or “untested” because they change composition every year, but DeBusk said that’s far from the truth.

“We’ve been doing this method of manufacturing flu vaccines for about 70 years,” she said.
Swine flu, also known as the H1N1 virus, is circulating again this season and has been included in this year’s vaccine, though the variant is slightly different from the one included in last year’s.

All vaccines protect against two types of influenza A, which can be transmitted from animals. Those viruses, including H1N1, make up most cases during the early part of flu season. Influenza B strains, which only affect humans, tend to pick up later in the season.

Quadrivalent vaccines include two types of influenza B, while trivalent vaccines have just one.
This year's trivalent vaccine will contain:
  • an A/Michigan/45/2015 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus (updated)
  • an A/Hong Kong/4801/2014 (H3N2)-like virus
  • a B/Brisbane/60/2008-like (B/Victoria lineage) virus
The quadrivalent vaccine will also include B/Phuket/3073/2013-like (B/Yamagata lineage) virus!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Congressional death spiral 101! Next up! Tax Reform!

Scientists often use a word called the 'action'. It describes something that moves. Congress has a similar word they like to also use quite often.... inaction!

OK, so after giving up on the repeal of ObamaCare, the Republicans have now set their sights on tax reform. The plan, as outlined in the framework, nearly doubles the standard deduction to $12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for families. This basically increases the amount of personal income that is tax-free. The plan also would collapse the number of personal tax brackets from seven to three. By simplifying the system, most Americans would be now be able to file their taxes on a postcard, or so the plan would indicate.

And while there are some other 'gee whiz' pieces and parts, I can almost hear many a Democrats teeth grind at the thought of even slowing down the gravy train a tad, has got their collective panties in a twist! You see, after working so hard to thwart the President's agenda at every turn, many on the Left are beginning to drool at the thought of taking back both Houses in 2018 and maybe even the Presidency come 2020! (Sabotage, like vengeance are meals both best served cold, and the Democrats are past masters of both)!

So, onward we will then go, everyone. As fall turns into winter, more and more of us will be left in the cold, standing on the outside of a clinic unable to get in. And, as system after system begins to fail, in earnest, only the shouting of politicians will be left. First up will be the ever declining level of healthcare Americans will receive, followed by failing entitlements, as the money to fund them also dries up. (You all really didn't think we could carry a 20 plus trillion dollar debt with NO consequences, did you)?

The 2017-18 flu season may be a bad one!

One of the indicators for determining how severe the coming flu season will be is to just look at the opposite hemisphere to see what is happening. The flu bug is always active somewhere in the world and tends to get worst in colder weather when people tend to become in closer contact. When it's October here and we are just getting into the cooler months, places like Australia are heading for spring.

Health experts say this is Australia’s worst flu outbreak thanks to a particularly nasty strain,
Influenza A (H3N2). More than 137,500 cases of flu have been reported so far this year including a record breaking 30,000 cases in August. That’s more than double the 53,159 cases confirmed by this time last year and more than the total 83,092 cases confirmed by the end of the flu season in 2016.

So, we have that same strain, (perhaps) to look forward to later this winter season! Thankfully, the vaccine that is being made available this year has an A/Hong Kong/4801/2014 (H3N2)-like deactivated virus as part of the mix!

Of interest is the fact that the flu is already hitting states like Colorado pretty hard.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

So, it's come down to this?

While in a never ending search for meals that would fit well into my latest diet (aka Ketogenic*), I've come across a real wiener, er, winner.

Column headers are; calories, carbs, fat, protein and sodium

OK! So, it don't look like very much and, you know what? It isn't! Just 166 calories (with enough salt to last me a few weeks). And, yes the salt issue aside, this is a low carb, high protein repast that was just the ticket for an otherwise so so Tuesday in September!

*The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, adequate-protein, low-carbohydrate diet that in medicine is used primarily to treat difficult-to-control (refractory) epilepsy in children. The diet forces the body to burn fats rather than carbohydrates. Normally, the carbohydrates contained in food are converted into glucose, which is then transported around the body and is particularly important in fueling brain-function. However, if there is very little carbohydrate in the diet, the liver converts fat into fatty acids and ketone bodies. The ketone bodies pass into the brain and replace glucose as an energy source.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Let's try someone new in 2020!

Bill the Cat for President!
Let's face it! Obama was a complete loser, while Trump has become somewhat of a cool bully! So, come 2020, I propose we elect a real idiot to give running our government a shot!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Right back at ya kneelers!

Trump urges fans to boycott the NFL!

Just hours before Sunday’s NFL games were to begin, President Trump urged fans to boycott the sport until owners “fire or suspend” players who protest during the national anthem.

“If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag & Country,” he tweeted, “you will see change take place fast. Fire or suspend!”

I agree 100%! The NFL is not a political engine – it is a sport that is played by highly paid men who get that sort of life, in part, because of the men and women soldiers who have died protecting and ensuring a life of freedom of which the flag is a symbol.

For that reason, I stand proudly with the President on this and will refuse to watch NFL games in the future...

And while the majority of the team owners have agreed that kneeling is a protected form of freedom of expression, I then also plan to mentally give all of them the 'finger' every Sunday about starting time. Individuals who disrespect the flag and what it stands for are complete cruds, in my view. I'm not going to waste my time cheering such individuals on in an arena where they make millions of dollars while others, who are now fighting and those who have fought and died for the flag and the nation it represents, pay the ultimate price tag for freedom.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

A ketogenic friendly style lunch!

After posting a short piece on counting calories in raw versus cooked hamburger patties, I decided to go that route for lunch on an otherwise nondescript Saturday in September!

My approach to dieting, in general is to go for a ketogenic approach which emphasizes a low carb high protein method of eating. This is a proven path to weight loss that is not without some cautionary warnings for people with certain health conditions.
Quarter pound, 4 oz, 113 grams!

OK, so my approach for this particular meal was to eliminate the buns, throw on a slice of onion and garnish with a side of Lima beans. Why Lima beans? Well, Lima beans are a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber, (as are most other legumes). In addition to lowering cholesterol, Lima beans high fiber content prevents blood sugar levels from rising too rapidly after a meal, making these beans an especially good choice for individuals with diabetes, insulin resistance or hypoglycemia. So, a high protein and fiber addition to this meal was not a bad thing!

When I cook my burgers, I like to use an old Joe Foreman grill. The design insures that a lot of the grease will be drained from the finished burger. After cooking, three on a slice of white onion along with a generous amount of ketchup. The pat of butter was the real thing while the salt I used was potassium chloride not table salt.

The end nutritional result? 260 calories, 15 carbs, 15 grams of fat and 16 grams of protein! The meal was also delicious and filling!

Calories in cooked versus uncooked ground beef!

The infamous DanO burger!
Whenever I eat anything, these days, I try and get some idea of the number of calories I'm putting in my mouth! For many foods, that's easy to do as you can read the number right off the package. However, some other foods are not so easy to figure out! Hamburger patties and spaghetti come to mind. Well, here's a tip. When looking at the published calories, nutritionists are most often referring to either the uncooked or dry weight of the product. That said, there can be other mitigating factors to consider. In the case of hamburger patties, there is also the fat to lean ratio to consider. Read on...  
So, which is healthier for us humans to consume? A hamburger made from 75% lean ground beef or one made from 95% extra-lean ground beef?

Here are the numbers. Let’s start with two uncooked hamburger patties, each weighing 4 ounces (a quarter pound or 113 grams). The uncooked 75% lean patty has about 330 calories, (28 grams of fat and 18 grams of protein). The uncooked 95% lean patty has only about 155 calories, (6 grams of fat and 24 grams of protein). As you can see, the leaner beef has more protein, and therefore far fewer calories than an equal weight of the less lean beef. (The leaner patty is also higher in water and a little lower in cholesterol).

Cooking results in a loss of weight (and nutrients) in both patties, as the drippings fall away. The 75 percent lean patty, which drops from 4 ounces to about 2.5 ounces after cooking, will now contain 195 calories, 13 grams of fat and 18 grams of protein. After cooking, the 95 percent lean patty, which drops to about 3 ounces in weight, has about 140 calories, 5 grams of fat and 22 grams of protein.

The above information was excerpted from an article by Edward R. Blonz, Ph.D. Written in August of 2013!

World running out of effective antibiotics!

World Heath Organization – A September 2017 report released by WHO shows a serious lack of new antibiotics under development to combat the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance. It seems that most of the drugs currently in the clinical pipeline are modifications of existing classes of antibiotics and are only short-term solutions. The report found very few potential treatment options for those antibiotic-resistant infections identified by WHO as posing the greatest threat to health, including drug-resistant tuberculosis which kills around 250,000 people each year.

"Antimicrobial resistance is a global health emergency that will seriously jeopardize progress in modern medicine," says Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO. "There is an urgent need for more investment in research and development for antibiotic-resistant infections including TB, otherwise we will be forced back to a time when people feared common infections and risked their lives from minor surgery."

The report went on to conclude that there is a serious lack of treatment options for multi-drug and extensively drug-resistant M. tuberculosis and gram-negative pathogens, including Acinetobacter and Enterobacteriaceae (such as Klebsiella and E.coli) which can cause severe and often deadly infections that pose a particular threat in hospitals and nursing homes....

See Antibacterial agents in clinical development.

Friday, September 22, 2017

A poem by someone who will not quit his day job!

On lazy days, while I sometimes ponder,
I find myself on roads to wander.
As late summer sun turns to fall,
my feet carry me forward body and all.
Eyes wide open in silent wonder,
I greedily suck in such visual plunder!

God Bless all who live in the US!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Flu season is right around the corner!

The last eight years have seen relatively mild cases of the flu. Here's a few stats that might be helpful...

1918 Flu pandemic
An influenza pandemic is an epidemic of an influenza virus that spreads on a worldwide scale and infects a large proportion of the world population. In contrast to the regular seasonal epidemics of influenza, these pandemics occur irregularly—there have been about 9 influenza pandemics during the last 300 years. Pandemics can cause high levels of mortality, with the 1918 Spanish influenza pandemic being the worst in recorded history; this pandemic was estimated to be responsible for the deaths of approximately 50–100 million people. There have been about three influenza pandemics in each century for the last 300 years, the most recent one being the 2009 flu pandemic.

You should get a flu vaccine before flu begins spreading in your community. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body that protect against flu, so make plans to get vaccinated early in fall, before flu season begins. CDC recommends that people get a flu vaccine by the end of October, if possible. Getting vaccinated later, however, can still be beneficial and vaccination should continue to be offered throughout the flu season, even into January or later.

This fall of 2017, the composition of U.S. flu vaccines has been reviewed and updated as needed to match currently circulating flu viruses. Flu vaccines protect against the three or four viruses (depending on which type of vaccine you get shot up with) that research suggests might be most common. For 2017-2018, three-component vaccines are recommended to contain:
  • an A/Michigan/45/2015 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus (updated)
  • an A/Hong Kong/4801/2014 (H3N2)-like virus
  • a B/Brisbane/60/2008-like (B/Victoria lineage) virus
Quadrivalent (four-component) vaccines, which protect against a second lineage of B viruses, are recommended to be produced using the same viruses recommended for the trivalent vaccines, as well as a B/Phuket/3073/2013-like (B/Yamagata lineage) virus

As of mid September, the incidents of flu in the US remained very low.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Time for a change of air!

For many years I frequented a couple of bars that satisfied a couple of my needs; 1) they were close by and 2) they served beer! Now, even though I grumbled from time to time about the prices, I still enjoyed the social interaction that only a bar can offer to an old bachelor...

Sadly, that long time habit was going to have to change a bit. You see one of the bars is a smoking allowed establishment, while the other is not. One bar has lots of clean air swirling all around, while the other one is so polluted that I have to strip my clothes off after even a short visit. That bar was going to be 86'ed by me in favor of the cleaner one. Breathing clean air has become something I more and more strive for, especially in light of the findings from organizations like the CDC, The American Cancer Society and the AHA.

An aside: I have many good friends that smoke - heck, I used to go through 3 packs a day myself.  I just want a few of them, who might read this post, to understand the risks from here onward. I quit smoking many years ago and can attest to just how addictive the habit is....

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Breaking News - Equifax hacked - 143 million affected!

OK, so the cyber criminals are getting better at their craft! It was recently announced that about half the nation's financial information had been hacked. Names, addresses and social security information may now be in the hands of evil doers....

Many of the top execs have resigned this day and so one of the top three credit reporting agencies became soiled.

It would be a good idea, however, to check in at to verify if your personal data has been compromised. Good luck to all.

'As a personal aside, I'd love to see a global bounty put on the heads of the individuals who perpetrated this crime; one million USD dead or alive and preferably dead!'

My homemade Italian spaghetti sauce!

As I was at the tail end of a failed diet, I figured what the hell. I might as well cook up a nice plate of pasta with French garlic bread on the side. (Women really dig fat old guys, right)?

The recipe shown here was copied oh so carefully from an old Italian recipe. I then immediately did a total hatchet job on some of the ingredients and most all the amounts. (Did that mean I was a better cook than some old Italian master chef? Heck no, it meant that as a real life screw up, I thoroughly enjoy screwing up other things around me as well)!

2-28 ounce cans of crushed tomatoes
4 tbsp of finely chopped onion
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 tbsp of dried basil
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp olive oil
3 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1 minced green Problano pepper

I start off with a Le Crueset 2 quart mini pot. I add the oil and then heat it under medium heat for about 30 seconds. I then add the chopped onion and saute for these about 10 minutes until translucent, not burned. Next goes in the garlic for another two minutes after which I add in the black pepper, green peppers, basil and the tomatoes. (Note that the tomatoes had been blended in a food processor to a fine consistency). This mixture is brought to a slow boil, stirring often for a minute or so at which time the heat is reduced. The contents are then simmered, uncovered for about an hour after which time the contents are dumped into a slow cooker set on high for about two hours. Towards the end of the cooking cycle, I add in the cheese. Makes about 8 servings!

Like most of my 'creations', this deal did not come together in exactly the way I had imagined. The 'tomato sauce' was already thick right from the can, and so, I pretty much skipped the step where it simmered uncovered for an hour. It all went went right to the slow cooker (I did saute the peppers and onion), set to high for three hours! 

The sauce was very good - I'd score it a solid 8 on a scale of 10!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

World to end on September 23rd!

Christian numerologists claim that the world will end on Sept. 23, 2017 as they believe a planet will collide with Earth.

According to Christian numerologist David Meade, verses in Luke 21: 25 to 26 is the sign that recent events, such as the recent solar eclipse and Hurricane Harvey, are signs of the apocalypse.
The verses read:

25: There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken.'

"'26: Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.'

Sept. 23 is a date that was pinpointed using codes from the Bible, as well as a "date marker" in the pyramids of Giza in Egypt.

Meade has built his theory, which is viewed with a widely skeptical lens, on the so-called Planet X, which is also known as Nibiru, which he believes will pass Earth on Sept. 23, causing volcanic eruptions, tsunamis and earthquakes, according to British newspaper The Sun.

A plot to kill Kim Jong-un?

Just a few days after North Korea tested its sixth nuclear missile, South Korea announced its plans to create a special military “decapitation unit” with the goal of assassinating Kim Jong-un.

Why make such a plan public? More than likely it is just another form of deterrence that doesn't involve the threat of using nukes. Still, I do like the concept and am betting that within the upper ranks of Kim's dictatorship, there are some people close to him who would not mind seeing his head rolling down the capitol steps. I think that the real question, now that very tough sanctions are kicking in, will be just who will throttle Kim first?

In addition, recent UN approved sanctions have accomplished six major goals: cap North Korea's oil imports, ban textile exports, end additional overseas laborer contracts, suppress smuggling efforts, stop joint ventures with other nations and sanction designated North Korean government entities, according to a US official familiar with negotiations. The effect of these and other moves will reduce imports that the starving masses desperately need by 90%! so, I'm guessing that internal protests may become violent in record time. Were I Kim, I'd be making plans to move to Siberia post haste! []

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

A lunch only a dieter would love!

After losing a number of pounds on my way from 200 to 170, I had a chance to reflect on just how bad my lunch menu had become...

It was a Wednesday in September that found me at the dining table looking pensively downwards at a plate of 'food'. Hmm, let's see here; there were 4 thin slices of roast beef, a mini salad with some dressing composed of oil and vinegar. (Not what I'd call an inspiring culinary creation). However at just 182 calories, it reflected the seriousness of the times for moi. And no, not all my meals had been this poverty stricken. I'd actually had a few occasions to go out and commit food harikari by going to emporiums, like McDonald's, where I have even ordered a Big Mac and fries – God help me! Those type of insanity were reserved for once a month indulgences only done to preserve my sanity.

But, for this day, it was a few mouthfuls and I was done until dinner time.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Internet crud scams plague Mozilla! Here's one fix!

If you are browsing the Internet and suddenly a screen like the one above pops up, you are the victim of a criminal scam attempt. Do not call the number – you'll only dig yourself in deeper. What I do is a two stage process. First, I would hit Control Alt Delete after which I select Task Manager – I then right click on the Firefox icon and would select 'End Process'. That will force close the program.

Next, I would go to the Control Panel and select 'Uninstall Programs' – I would then select Mozilla Firefox and would delete it. Next, I would click on the Firefox icon that was the program I originally downloaded when I install it for the first time. This will install a fresh copy of the program which should be scam free – Note: when the program launches, it will ask if you want to resume – Do Not select that! Go for a new session...

Finally as a precaution, I will run an antiviral software like Malwarebites just to be sure....And, I would make sure to file and internet crime complaint with the FBI.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Is the Elio Motors a scam? Yes, it was!

According to a recent article I read in Clean Technica, Elio Motors has delayed the launch of its planned electric 3-wheeler once again, this time until 2018, according to a recent update by the company posted on its Facebook page. It should be remembered that the company had originally planned to have its trikes on the road by 2015 (the company was founded in 2009). So what's going on?

Apparently, the company is apparently having some financial problems, this according to some reports. Of course, some in the industry have claimed for years that the whole thing is a scam and that the trike would never be mass produced. Really?

Autoblog reports, “As of September 30th (2016), the company had $101,317 in cash, down from $6.87 million at the beginning of last year. And while it has collected $24.8 million in non-refundable customer deposits, the company also had $30.7 million in current liabilities, up from $20.2 million at the beginning of the year. Through September 30th, the company’s net loss widened to $34.8 million from $13.9 million a year.” Wow! I wonder where all that money went? Based on the company’s current deficit, I’d say that it looks like Paul Elio’s dream will never come to fruition, and those who paid to be among the first to own these cars will have to eat their money and call it a tough lesson learned. Although at least those big spenders can say they got a T-shirt and bumper sticker out of it… right?

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Where will Irma track?

It was early on a Saturday, September 9, 2017 and the projected path of Irma was coming into clearer focus. Hurricane experts were still projecting a turn of the path of the storm to the north at any time. They're watching this closely because, heaven forbid, that the eye of the storm wander a bit more to the west where it could stay over warm open ocean! Such a scenario would not bode well for the soft underbelly of the Gulf. Later on, even states like Missouri could be impacted, once the center of low pressure moves inland. In any case it looked as though the state of Florida was going to be raked from end to end over the next couple of days with damages in the billions of dollars!

As many media observers can attest to, the actual track any hurricane will take is, at best, good guesses. Here, I've spit the difference with a track more to the south that would result in an entirely new scenario. And no, I don't think that New Orleans would be at risk, as the steering winds should quickly push the system northwards by sometime later on Saturday. What would be more certain should it stay to the west of the Florida mainland, would be a re-strengthening of the storm to a Cat 4 or 5..... Tracking as of the Sept 9 10AM CST update!

 And then there's still Jose which had just become a Cat 4 storm....

Friday, September 8, 2017

Ah, the troubles caused by those who complain!

America is by most measure, still the best place to live in all the world! Lately, it's even improved somewhat, if you happen to follow the stock market. But, I fear that this momentum may well begin to flag soon. Not because of work force shortages, wars or rumors of wars, but because of those who seem to make living out of complaining!

Let me take a page out of the Democratic play book. There is something to be gained at times by stalling, pointing fingers and the outright spreading of falsehoods. For eight months now, nothing of any consequence has occurred in with the House or the Senate in terms of bill passing. Trump is witnessing obstructionism first hand as he has tried for Healthcare reform, tax reform and immigration control. The country, under Republican control, has drifted now for eight months! And sadly, it looks like that trend will continue indefinitely. Yes, things will just keep running along, until we hit a number of walls, that is.

Wall #1 – That pesky healthcare insurance hike, as figured by insurance actuaries each fall. 
Preliminary analysis suggests some of the most popular plans could see double-digit premium increases. Health care consulting firm Avalere analyzed initial rate estimates from eight states and found that premiums for "silver" plans (the most popular plans) are rising 18% next year, after a 12% increase this year! On top of that, 41% of counties in the U.S. will have just one insurer option on the marketplace. Not good and certainly something to complain about!

Wall #2 – The Debt Ceiling. Come December (and perhaps for every three months thereafter), Congress will be forced to raise the National Debt ceiling thereby kicking that old dented can down the road once again, as the country continues to struggle on. (This move is somewhat similar to the head of a family whose credit cards have all be maxed, yet with a sense pride, that same person announces at the dinner table that they have secured a new credit card)! Yes, problem solved... for awhile.

For those unsure as to exactly what the Debt Ceiling is: The debt ceiling is the legal limit on the total amount of federal debt that the government can accrue. The limit applies to almost all federal debt, including the roughly $14.4 trillion of debt held by the public and the roughly $5.5 trillion the government owes itself as a result of borrowing from various government accounts, like the Social Security and Medicare trust funds. As a result, the debt continues to increase due to both annual budget deficits financed by borrowing from the public and from trust fund surpluses, which are invested in Treasury bills with the promise to be repaid later with interest. Can I get a good laugh here? That money is never ever going to be repaid!

Wall #3 – Actually, this could be termed the lack of a wall. Illegal residents, here in the US, cost taxpayers about 113 billion dollars a year! Money that could have been used for infrastructure, education and better healthcare. Interestingly, there are many people who complain that we should have completely open our borders and perhaps even rename the country The United Banana Republic of America or UBRA! A great idea! Note that in a stereotypical banana republic, income inequality is dramatic: one finds an ultra-rich minority, a poor majority, a small or nonexistent middle class, and a lack of upward mobility for most of the population. Wow! Which one are you?

Well, there are many more walls that were are sure to hit, this assuming the average American's brain haven't become totally addled by the above three....

September 7 Bridge Project meeting. My personal observations!

Forsyth MO. It was more out of curiosity more than anything else, that found me attending a public meeting held at the Forsyth High school cafeteria on a Thursday, September 7, at 4:30 PM. The topic of the day concerned the Bull Shoals bridge project and roundabout that were slated to start very soon.

The $10.4 million dollar bridge in addition to the construction of a $1.4 million dollar roundabout were both scheduled to be completed at by the fall of 2018. I had the gut feeling that work of such magnitude was definitely going to impact travel times for anyone wishing to cross the Bull Shoals river. However, one of my concerns was about something I had read in a local newspaper and on the MODOT site which stated that Highway 76 was going to be closed at the bridge site for two weeks when the final changeover from the old bridge road to the new one was made late in 2018! (This same thought was also apparently on the minds of others who attended).

I arrived at the school at about 4:10 PM. At that time there we not too many vehicles in the lot and even fewer people in the cafeteria, perhaps about 15 or so. But, by 4:30 PM that number had swelled to well over 100! Sadly, I did not hear the name of the Lehman Construction representative out of California, Mo. An engineer (not an employee of MODOT) who was chosen (thrown under the bus?) to answer questions concerning the construction phase of the bridge. After making a brief introduction and overview of the project, things quickly went downhill (my opinion) as the crowd seemed more focused on the fact that Highway 76 was going to be closed for up to two weeks towards the end of the construction phase next fall. One individual kicked things off, not by asking a question, but by launching into a diatribe against MODOT. According to this individual, the two week closing was all about MODOT saving money at the expense of the people's convenience. (A statement that I felt was inappropriate and addressed to the wrong individual. Such questions would be much better answered by a company Public Relations officer, not an engineer)...

Very quickly the 'open meeting' went downhill (my opinion) to the point when another representative, a women that did work for MODOT, made a proposal that those who wanted to talk budgeting issues could move to another room! At which point, about half the people got up and began to move! (Such was the chaos, that I was unable to figure out which group was which)! And frankly, I was losing complete interest just fifteen minutes into the meeting! After all, budgeting issues had been settled years before the awarding of a contract to Lehman as one of a number of competitive bidders. So, I left out a side door and didn't look back....

For those who would like to see concept renderings; See Bridge Map and Roundabout Map!

An aside by me: MODOT is not our enemy. MODOT is a government agency that works with the public, transportation partners, state and federal legislators, and other state and local agencies to provide a safe and efficient transportation systems to the people of Missouri. MODOT is trying its best to replace an aging bridge structure that spans Bull Shoals (completed back in 1951) in a manner that is as conservative in terms of cost as is possible. This is a major project that will be sure to inconvenience motorists and emergency personnel, especially during the projected two week period when alternative access and assets will have to be addressed. Complaining serves no purpose whatsoever. Men and women coming forth, at meetings like this, with viable solutions would be much needed and preferred. In the end, the bridge and roundabout will be built. After a few years, no one will even remember the hassles, delays and traffic problems. But, I do predict that the number of complainers will far outweigh solution providers in future County projects...

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Shadowrock Park open?

New bridge to be erected just off to the right of this picture!
Forsyth Mo. - I was able to drive through the popular Shadowrock Park near the town of Forsyth recently and it seemed non the worst for wear, in spite of being flooded for over four months!
Shadowrock playground

While most areas were a bit dusty, it was nice to see grownups and kids using the park facilities once again. Fishermen were also out in some numbers using the boat ramp on that side of the lake. River Run, on the other hand was still a bit inundated with flood water and was closed. It was important to note that the campsites in both parks remained closed, pending cleanup of the premises.

River Run was still flooded out!
I had to wonder, however, what sort of negative impact that the building of a new bridge was going to have, especially next spring when construction would be in full swing? That's always assuming that the area doesn't suffer through flooding spring rains such as were seen in 2017!

Random thoughts for September 2017!

C's Pizza and Bowl-O-Rama!

Forsyth MO. – Call it divine inspiration, drunken meanderings or just an old brain that is short circuiting. Whichever is true, a thought came to me one afternoon while sitting on a bar stool at one of my favorite watering holes....

It is well know that the owner of Charlie's Steak, Ribs and Ale is planning on changing its name to C's Pizza and Pub or some such nonsense as that. OK, so it's gonna become a pizza joint that serves booze on the side. I can live with that. But wait! What if they were to throw in a nice bowling alley and then change the name to C's Pizza & Bowl-O-Rama Pub thingy or CPBORP for short? Now that would be something for the small town of Forsyth to be really proud of! You could meet your friends for a quick game, down some pizza, get drunk and then stagger on home. What fun! I can just hear the young people saying, 'Hey! How about we scoot on over to Sipborp's for a quick throw of some balls?'

The FCC and the Internet!

Washington DC – Whenever things get a little crazy and everyone is sure that the public attention is on other stuff, departments like the FCC like to make their best moves. When it's not attacking net neutrality, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is currently pushing a second proposal that could also limit internet freedom. It seems that Ajit Pai who serves as Chairman of the United States Federal Communications Commission has introduced legislation to impose new and more stringent restrictions on what is defined as 'broadband', which devices use it and at what speeds! According to a letter submitted by some politicians, 'such a striking change in policy would significantly and disproportionately disadvantage Americans in rural, tribal, and low income communities across the nation'. Just another example of your government working hard, while you sleep....

That Bull Shoals Bridge Project!

After years of delays, floods and other red tape, MODOT is finally getting ready to move on the building of a new bridge over the Bull Shoals Lake on Hwy 160 just to the south of the city of Forsyth Missouri. And, while I'm sure there will be some problems taking the form of traffic delays, I had to wonder about a line in a local paper. It that stated 'During the last two weeks of the project, Highway 76 will be closed so the new bridge can be connected with the existing road'! Hmm, I wondered, with that critical artery closed, just how in the world will commuters and emergency vehicles get from one side of the rive to the other? This is scheduled to happen just about one year from this this post in the fall of 2018. Should be interesting....

Public bridge meeting set for Thursday, Sept 7!

Forsyth MO. - The Missouri Department of Transportation (MODOT) will be holding a public meeting on September 7, 2017 concerning the Bull Shoals bridge project as construction of the 10.4 million dollar project is planned to kick off the same week!

The meeting will be held from 4:40 PM until 6PM at the Forsyth High School Cafeteria, located at 178 Panther Street in Forsyth.

Beth Schaller,  a district engineer for MODOT, stated that the meeting will be informational in nature and will contain display boards outlining the construction timeline which is expected to see completion sometime in the fall of 2018! Construction of the roundabout and how the roundabout will work and where it will be located will also be a part of the September 7 discussion.

During bridge construction (which starts in a few days), motorists can expect one-lane traffic at times, while the new bridge is being erected on the western side of the existing one. During the last two weeks of the project, Highway 76 will be closed so that the new bridge can be connected with the existing highway.

Blogger's Note: This will be a must attend meeting for myself. I'm curious as to how people who commute from areas like Cedar Creek will get to work in places like Hollister? 

[Source: Taney County Times]

Monday, September 4, 2017

Entropy - A beast without compassion!

Entropy - Def: A lack of order or predictability; gradual decline into disorder.

Thanks, in no large part to the efforts of the Far Left, America is fast becoming the living proof of how things that were once orderly and predictable have since become somewhat unhinged, unpredictable and a rather sad joke. 

Banning the cigarette! Has the time come?

Humankind, over millions of years of evolution, has always managed to find ways to harm themselves through the application of various and sundry drugs. (Of course, that also depended on how much leisure time there was to be had). Ten thousand or more years ago, during the Paleolithic times, we were not as tempted as life was a struggle just to live from one day to the next. As a species, we had only a few life threatening hazards back then; predation, starvation and 'accidents'. (Under the term 'accidents', I would include being hit by a rock or jabbed by a crude spear as we have never seemed to get along with one another for very long). Yet, for all that, the average Paleolithic man or woman was extremely healthy! Tooth decay, heart disease and cancer were completely unknown to those people. True, part of the reason was the fact that we didn't live very long as even a small nick of the flesh often resulted in life threatening infections. That said, while we did 'live', we lived well...

Flash forward to the 21st Century and now look at the means we have of harming ourselves; too many calories and too little exercise have increased mortality rates in an alarming fashion. Combine that with our utter fascination with drugs in the form of; prescription medicines, alcohol, antibiotics and nicotine and you have a recipe for a not so very healthy lifestyle. And, while it's true that we all have an inherent right to destroy our bodies in the manner of our choosing, what is not true is when we inadvertently kill others around us... And, that is the topic of my post for this day.

Of all the things the average human does that is personally harmful such as overeating, not exercising and filling their bodies with junk foods, only cigarettes and the secondhand smoke they produce stand out as being a clear and present danger to unsuspecting nonsmokers standing around them. The picture from the Center for Disease Control, at right, says it all! Heart disease is a silent and  very effective killer. Did you know that about 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year–that's 1 in every 4 deaths. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. More than half of the deaths due to heart disease in 2009 were in men. And, if that were not bad enough, you've also got lung cancer which is the leading cancer killer in both men and women in the U.S. In 1987, it surpassed breast cancer to become the leading cause of cancer deaths in women. An estimated 158,080 Americans are expected to die from lung cancer in 2016, accounting for approximately 27 percent of all cancer deaths. And guess what, many of those who are dying lived healthy lives and didn't smoke! My guess is that some of them are being killed, over time, by the silent death coming from the exhaled smoke of others around them! Fortunately, the movement to ban cigarettes and cigars has begun to gather some momentum here in the US as businesses and even towns have outlawed their use. Good for them! But, it will be a hard fought battle! As a smoker of many years, I can attest fully to just how horrible the addiction to nicotine can be. As of this post, I've been smoke free for almost 17 years, but still yearn for the 'good old days' when I'd work myself through three packs a day! Yet, little did I realize back over those years, that I was still being exposed! Second stream particles are real killers! The AMA has found it to be many times more dangerous. So perhaps the time is drawing near, when more and more people will realize that moving towards a more healthy lifestyle will not only benefit them, but those around them as well.