April 18, 2014

Greets and Huggers.  Posted the evening of April 19, 2013.  Today is Good Friday.  This evening, as Roman Catholics we will celebrate the saddest Mass of the year.  “The Church – stripped of its ornaments, the altar bare, and with the door of the empty tabernacle standing open – is as if in mourning. In the fourth century the Apostolic Constitutions described this day as a ‘day of mourning, not a day of festive joy,’ and this day was called the ‘Pasch (passage) of the Crucifixion.’  The liturgical observance of this day of Christ’s suffering, crucifixion and death evidently has been in existence from the earliest days of the Church. No Mass is celebrated on this day, but the service of Good Friday is called the Mass of the Presanctified because Communion (in the species of bread) which had already been consecrated on Holy Thursday is given to the people. Traditionally, the organ is silent from Holy Thursday until the Alleluia at the Easter Vigil , as are all bells or other instruments, the only music during this period being unaccompanied chant. and sad Masses in the Catholic Church.”   

There really is a Small House Movement:  (BBC NEWS)  — Americans construct tiny houses – and new lives. “More and more Americans are building tiny houses, drawn to the prospect of financial freedom and a smaller ecological footprint. Gianna Palmer reports on the growing movement from Charlotte, North Carolina.”  People are building some really, really neat, small homes!!!!

Europeans eat a lot of rabbit:  (BBC NEWS)  — Call to review pet rabbit protection in UK. “Pet rabbits need better legal protection, according to an animal welfare scientist. James Oxley said that unlike some EU countries, the UK does not have legal requirements on the size of hutches, or that rabbits be kept in pairs. Writing in the World Rabbit Science Association’s journal, he said rules in the Animal Welfare Act 2006 were “non-specific”. He has also suggested a review of how existing law impacts on rabbits.”  In 1997, when I took Susan to visit the Timmerman Homestead in Germany   …  after a tasty evening meal  …  she remarked  …  “I didn’t know German Chickens had 4 drumsticks.”

Environment news:  BBC NEWS)  —  Report: One fifth of China’s soil contaminated. “Almost a fifth of China’s soil is contaminated, an official study released by the government has shown.  Conducted between 2005-2013, it found that 16.1% of China’s soil and 19.4% of its arable land showed contamination. The report, by the Environmental Protection Ministry, named cadmium, nickel and arsenic as top pollutants. There is growing concern, both from the government and the public, that China’s rapid industrialization is causing irreparable damage to its environment.”   Given the level of contamination   …  there may darn well be chickens with 4 drumsticks in the Chinese countryside.  Certainly would make for interesting “carryout” at Chinese Restaurants  …  the chickens walking themselves out to the car!

In the “I didn’t know that news”:  (BBC NEWS)  —  How 420 became code for marijuana. “The number 420 has become a popular code for marijuana. Where does the term come from and why did it catch on, asks Aidan Lewis. On Sunday pot smokers will gather across the US to mark what has become a hallowed date in their calendar – 4/20, or 20 April – by smoking marijuana, possibly at 4:20pm.  The 4/20 celebrations have taken off in the last few years, but their origins appear to lie in the escapades of a group of friends from San Rafael high school, northern California, in 1971. That autumn, the five teenagers came into possession of a hand-drawn map supposedly locating a marijuana crop at Point Reyes, north-west of San Francisco. The friends – who called themselves the Waldos because they used to hang out by a wall – met after school, at 4:20pm, and drove off on their treasure hunt. They never found the plot  …  The group began using the term 420. So did friends and acquaintances, who included – at a couple of steps removed – members of the Grateful Dead rock band.”   I didn’t know “420” is code for dope!!  Go figure!!  Guess it really shows my age.  My generation just called it “pot” or “dope”!

Science news?:   (BBC NEWS)  —  Beard trend is ‘guided by evolution’ “The ebb and flow of men’s beard fashions may be guided by Darwinian selection, according to a new study.  The more beards there are, the less attractive they become – giving clean-shaven men a competitive advantage, say scientists in Sydney, Australia.  When “peak beard” frequency is reached, the pendulum swings back toward lesser-bristled chins – a trend we may be witnessing now, the scientists say.”  I have had a beard since 1970, when I ETS’d out of the Army.   I wanted to look like a  “Hair” cast member, (Give me a Full Head of Hair!!)   …  and a “hippie”  …  certainly not a returning Vietvet!.

Not much else to share.  Spent the day with a Dear Friend, explaining how to safely access file sharing sites on the Internet.  What programs are necessary and how to have a 100% unforgettable, unbreakable, passphrase, (247 raised to the 16th power, possible combinations).  Simple really   …  16 characters or longer   …  consisting of the same 5 characters at the beginning, ie  .  #3456   …  then the name of the site you are accessing, ie  …  amazon  …  then the same 5 characters at the end, ie  6543#, the same beginning and end for each passphrase.  For example   …   #3456paypal6543#, or #3456amazon6543#.  Think you could forget that?

Time to post these Ramblings and settle in to spend a quiet evening at Ft Timmerman.  I remain nicotine free, (418 days, 22,617 ciggybutts not smoked, $3,576.00 saved). Easter Sunday Lunch and a Movie?  My Dear Friend Cecil Caulkin gifted me his old Webber Smoker  …  will smoke a boneless Turkey Breast!!  The movie?  “The Dog Who Saved Easter [2013]”.  Later, when I say my Thank You’s for the many blessings in my life and Susan to share them with  …  I will remember the sacrifice made so many years ago, for my redemption.  I will also say a prayer for the safe return of our men and women in uniform   …  care to join me?  Be and sleep well  …  the best we have will spend this Easter Weekend, on watch, so you and yours can,  If my post offends, I apologize   …  that is not my intent.  As always  …

A Warm Brotherly Hug

KarlT (the dumb old country lawyer from Holden, Missouri and the Editorial Staff)

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April 11, 2014.

Greets and Huggers.  Posted the evening of April 11, 2014.  Short Ramblings this evening.  Makes me bleed to know  …  a Ramblings was not posted this past Friday evening due to the death of my father.  One has been posted each Friday evening since February 22, 2002.  As for me dealing with the death of my father?  Periods of extreme sadness, loss and a feeling of helplessness:  my safety net is gone.  No matter how old you get, knowing there is a parent supporting/loving you, imparts a feeling of security.  I have a new appreciation of “Existential angst”.

There was a time when “the State” maintained psychiatric hospitals, (a/k/a “Fruit Farms”). They still do.  Now, they are called “prisons”.  (Bloomberg Business Week)  — America’s Mentally Ill Prisoners Outnumber Hospital Patients, Tenfold.  “It’s a forgone conclusion that U.S. prisons and jails serve as the nation’s de facto asylums for a majority of people with serious mental illness. Now comes a report that applies hard numbers to the depressing picture: Ten times as many people with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other acute forms of brain disease reside in prisons and county jails than in state hospitals, according to the Treatment Advocacy Center.”  Wouldn’t it be cheaper, to treat psychiatric disorders in outpatient clinics   …  rather than prison hospitals?

And in the “Gee, I didn’t know that”,  medical news:  (BBC NEWS)  —  Doctors implant lab-grown vagina.  “Four women have had new vaginas grown in the laboratory and implanted by doctors in the US.  A tissue sample and a biodegradable scaffold were used to grow vaginas in the right size and shape for each woman as well as being a tissue match. They all reported normal levels of “desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, satisfaction” and painless intercourse.”  Apparently there is a birth defect called “Vaginal Aplasia”, the absence of a vagina (vaginal agenesis), or a deformed and nonfunctional vagina (vaginal atresia)  …  The situation is most urgent where the normal uterovaginal outflow is obstructed. In this case prompt medical action is required. Vaginal atresia is estimated to occur in 1 in 4000–5000 live female births. It is often unnoticed until adolescence, when pain and a lack of menstrual flow indicates the condition. When a doctor diagnoses Vaginal Atresia, there are numerous remedies based on the exact details of the condition. In some cases, surgery can repair the defect or a new vagina can be fabricated using an intestinal graft.”  Interesting  …  “1 in 4000–5000 live female births.”?  …  thats a lot of Ladies born with nonfunctioning parts! I wonder  … is improper to ask a Lady, (on your first date), “Are all your parts functional?”  Or should you wait for the second date?

And in the “Good News”, “Bad News”?  The “Good News”?  (BBC NEWS)  — Dieting monkeys offer hope for long life. “Extreme calorie counting boosts lifespan in monkeys, according to new research. Until now, the rationale for following an ultra-low calorie diet to ward off ageing has been based on experiments in worms and mice  …  Advocates of the Calorie Restriction (CR) diet claim that by severely restricting the number of calories they consume they will live longer, perhaps into their hundreds. They cite a wealth of scientific evidence dating back more than 75 years. “CR works to delay ageing in primate species,” Dr Rozalyn Anderson of the department of medicine at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, told BBC News. “Our study data is consistent with that.”  The “Bad News”?  The monkeys were so hungry, they lost all interest in sex and they started eating each other.  Probably not a “winning strategy” for a species, if you believe in “Natural Selection”.

Tax news!!  (CNN MONEY)  — ‘My girlfriend is a tax break’.  “If you’re in a relationship with someone who is dependent on you financially, you might be able to claim them as a tax break. Wes Fusco, a 35-year-old from Manitowoc, Wisc., had been financially supporting his girlfriend, Danielle Wissbroeker, for more than 10 years. While she took care of their three children and earned no income, Fusco paid the bills and covered her expenses   …  your significant other must earn less than $3,900 per year and live with you throughout the year. You must also pay for more than half of their expenses and they can’t be claimed as a dependent by someone else.  If they meet those criteria, then claiming them as a dependent will result in an exemption of up to $3,900. Fusco said he qualified for the full exemption and that this tax break, along with being able to claim his children as dependents, allowed him to receive a refund of more than $8,000 each year for the 10 years he supported his girlfriend.  Fusco and Wissbroeker broke up last May, so this will be the first time in a decade that he can’t claim her as a dependent.”  I wonder how far back you can go to file amended returns?  Broke up with her after 3 children and 10 years living together? I wonder why they broke up?  Traded her in for a newer model?  I have no doubt this pilgrim will probably lose all his dependent exemptions and wind up paying child support.

Time to post these Ramblings:  there is nothing to say, other than I have an empty feeling, like something is missing.  I know with time, this empty spot in my life/heart will fill. The incredible hurt/pain of watching my mother cry over the loss of my father, will also dissipate. This is all part of the journey we face.  There is pain in this life, but there is also balance   …  meaning there is also joy.  I suppose, given “free will”,  we can focus on the pain   …   or the joy.  I chose to focus on the joy, the pain just being a reminder to look for and appreciate the joy.  Sunday Lunch and a Movie?   Have not thought about it.  Spent the afternoon visiting with a Dear Friend, Cecil C.  A couple of old guys, sharing memories from our respective lives. Strange how we come from entirely different backgrounds, (although we are both lawyers), yet have had similar experiences.  He, the loss of the love of his life and I  …  the loss of a parent.  NOT the same by any means, but no doubt, the same hormones triggering emotional pain, flow for both. There is commonality in the human condition.  Later, when I say my “Thank You’s” for the many blessings in my life and Susan to share them with, I will also say a prayer for the safe and soon return of our men and women in uniform.  Care to join me? Be and sleep well:  the best we have are on watch so you can.  If my post offends, I apologize  …  that is not my intent.  As always  … a warm brotherly hug.

KarlT (the dumb old country lawyer from Holden, Missouri  …  and the Editorial Staff).

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March 28, 2014

Greets and Huggers.  Posted the evening of March 28, 2014.  Tomorrow, Susan will celebrate her XX birthday, (and there is no way I would have the courage to actually share her age in these Ramblings!!!)  She was diagnosed as a Type I Diabetic when she was 13.  At that time, her life expectancy was 53.4 years. Today a person diagnosed as a Type I, insulin injecting diabetic can expect a long normal life, PROVIDED they manage their diabetes.  Managing your blood sugar levels consists of watching your diet, (specifically, carbohydrate intake),  frequent blood sugar level testing and the injection of insulin as needed. Diabetic medicine and medical technology have experienced incredible advances   …  one being the home glucose testing machines that became available in the early 80’s.  Now, like inkjet printers, companies give the testers away  …  and charge through the nose for test strips.   Insulin pumps, (although invented in 1961), didn’t become readily available until 1981.  They are becoming progressively smarter   …  but also progressively more expensive to use.  Like ink for inject printers, insulin pump consumables are very pricey. The effect of not managing your diabetes  …  keeping your Hemoglobin A1c within an acceptable range, (the goal for people with diabetes is a hemoglobin A1c of less than 7%).   A “normal” A1c reading is between 4% and 5.6%. “Hemoglobin A1c levels between 5.7% and 6.4% indicate increased risk of diabetes, and levels of 6.5% or higher indicate diabetes.”  In the kindest terms?  Over time, you die an inch at a time  …  body parts start to fail/fall off.  Diabetic retinopathy.  Loss of kidney and liver function.  Increased risk of stoke and heart attack.  The list goes on.  Pretty good incentive to manage your diabetes, isn’t it? The problem with Type I diabetics, early onset?  Typically, they do not manage well, until they have a wakeup call in the ER!!

And speaking of improvements in medicine?  (BBC NEWS)  —  Stool test ‘accurate for diagnosing bowel diseases’.  “UK scientists say they have found a way of diagnosing different types of bowel disease by testing the smells given off by patients’ stools. The test analyses the chemical compounds emitted and recognizes the profile of different diseases. In a study of 182 stool samples from patients with inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome, the results were 76% accurate.”  I don’t mean to poo-poo this finding   …  but will there now be a course in medical school called   …  “Diagnostic Poop Sniffing 101”?  All kidding aside?  We are training dogs to smell the onset of  low blood sugar in diabetics, onset of  epileptic convulsions and other medical conditions.  Dogs are natural butt sniffers.  The only difficulty in training a Chihuahua to be a poop examiner   …  is making sure it doesn’t eat the sample!!

In other crappy news?  (BBC NEWS)  —  Fecal transplant safe for gut treatment, says watchdog. “A treatment using fecal matter is a safe and effective procedure for people with a recurring gut infection, the NHS medicines watchdog has said  …  C. difficile, caused by an imbalance of bacteria in the gut, can be deadly.  Fecal transplants could be used where antibiotics have failed, NICE said. C. difficile bacteria live harmlessly in the lower intestine of about one in 33 healthy adults. Infections occur when an imbalance of bacteria develops, allowing the number of C. difficile bacteria to grow and produce toxins  …  C. difficile is most commonly acquired in hospital, but there are an increasing number of cases in the community.”  Doesn’t this support the premise that hospitals in the UK serve crap to their patients?

I guess “dating” is a BILLION dollar a year business.  CHRISTIAN MINGLEZOOSKMATCH. eHARMONEY. OUR TIMEMATE 1.  With new methods of meeting your “soul mate” springing up.  (BBC NEWS)  —  Chemistry of love: Using pheromones to find your match. “It is evening at Stories, a bar in east London, and here men and women are huddled around a table full of plastic bags stuffed with t-shirts.  They are taking out the shirts, pressing them to their noses – and sniffing them. Welcome to an event organized by the dating firm Pheromone Parties.  With the online dating market now worth over £2bn a year, it is among the firms turning to chemistry to create the perfect match between potential couples. They are using pheromones – a scent we all give off and which some believe plays a big role in attraction – and are encouraging us to smell our way to true love.  The idea is that would-be daters first sleep in the same t-shirt for three nights, and then on their arrival they put these shirts into numbered plastic bags. If someone then likes the smell of a shirt, they can have their photo taken holding the numbered bag.”  How “yucky” is that?  Let me guess   …  the next evolution in finding your “soul mate” is   …  after wearing them for a week, putting your socks in a plastic bag   …  for your prospective partner to sniff.  I guess the endgame would be   …  sniffing a potential soul mates dirty underwear.  Whatever happened to the “old fashioned” methods   …  like joining and being involved in organizations whose activities interest you?  But, I forget  …  this is the new, cool, improved method of finding a mate!

Science news?  (BBC NEWS)  —   Autism ‘begins long before birth’ “Scientists say they have new evidence that autism begins in the womb.  Patchy changes in the developing brain long before birth may cause symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), research suggests  …  It reinforces the need for early identification and treatment, says a University of California team.  US scientists analyzed post-mortem brain tissue of 22 children with and without autism, all between two and 15 years of age.  They used genetic markers to look at how the outermost part of the brain, the cortex, wired up and formed layers. Abnormalities were found in 90% of the children with autism compared with only about 10% of children without. The changes were dotted about in brain regions involved in social and emotional communication, and language, long before birth, they say. The researchers  …   say their patchy nature may explain why some toddlers with autism show signs of improvement if treated early enough. They think the plastic infant brain may have a chance of rewiring itself to compensate.”  Autism rates are increasing.  They are now 1 in 68 children.  Up from 1 in 88 children in 2012.  This is a 30% increase in 2 years!  That is an epidemic!  Time to allocate some serious resources, isn’t it? 

Sitting here editing these Ramblings, the Editorial Staff at my feet.  On the evening news, the massive Russian Troop buildup along the boarder with East Ukraine   …  and a note that our President, (who is at the Vatican), and Putin had a “curt” telephone conference.  I doubt Putin will be nominated for a Peace Prize. I can also picture our President in the voice of “Triumph, The Comic Dog” say to Putin   …  “Invade the Ukraine and I will poop on you!!”  I remain nicotine free and “Sunday Lunch and Movie?  BBQ’d Pulled Beef, French Fries and a garden salad.  The movie?  “300 – Rise Of An Empire  [2014]”.

Time to post these Ramblings and settle in for a quiet evening at Ft Timmerman.  Later when I say my Thank You’s for the many blessing I have in my life and Susan to share them with, I will also say a prayer for the safe and soon return of our men and women in uniform.  Care to join me?  Be and sleep well.  The best we have as a nation are on watch, so you and yours can.  If my post offends   …  I apologize.  That is not my intent. My intent?  A chuckle and some food for thought on a Friday evening. As always  …

A Warm Brotherly Hug

KarlT  (the dumb old country lawyer from Holden, Missouri  …  and the Editorial Staff.)

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March 21, 2014

Greets and Huggers.  Posted the evening of March 21, 2014.  Fred Phelps, (Westboro Baptist Church),  passed away yesterday.  Matthew7:15-20.  I pray Fred repented   …  but if not, I have no doubt the “Welcome Wagon” is waiting at the gates of hell, for this hate monger.

And speaking of which, (I wonder why the Republican Party attracts world class nut jobs!!):  (Huffington Post)  —  Susanne Atanus, Who Blames Gay Rights For Tornadoes, Wins GOP Nomination For Congress. “A Republican candidate who believes that God dictates weather patterns and that tornadoes, autism and dementia are God’s punishments for marriage equality and abortion access won the GOP nomination to challenge Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) in the Chicago-area 9th Congressional District. Susanne Atanus, of Niles, Ill., garnered 54 percent of the vote in her Tuesday win over David Earl Williams III. “I am not in favor of abortions, I am not in favor of gay rights,” Atanus told the Daily Herald, a suburban Chicago newspaper, in January. She blamed natural disasters and mental disorders on recent advances in LGBT equality and legal abortions. “God is angry. We are provoking him with abortions and same-sex marriage and civil unions,” she said. “Same-sex activity is going to increase AIDS. If it’s in our military, it will weaken our military. We need to respect God.”   Weather patterns? Tornadoes? Natural disasters?  “The LORD smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.” Geneses 8:21-22.

In other religious news:  (CNN)  — Does the Big Bang breakthrough offer proof of God? “The remarkable discovery, announced this week, of ripples in the space-time fabric of the universe rocked the world of science – and the world of religion. Touted as evidence for inflation (a faster-than-the-speed-of-light expansion of our universe), the new discovery of traces of gravity waves affirms scientific concepts in the fields of cosmology, general relativity, and particle physics.”  Proof of the “Big Bang Theory” supports the premise that our universe had a beginning, (instead of having always existed).  “If the universe did indeed have a beginning, by the simple logic of cause and effect, there had to be an agent – separate and apart from the effect – that caused It   …  scientific support to the idea that the universe was caused – or created – by something or someone outside it and not dependent on it.”  That something, we call “God”.

Didn’t realize how important ear wax is, (and also a way interesting read!!):  (BBC NEWS)  — Secretion secrets: things you didn’t know about ear wax. “Earwax is one of those bodily substances which few of us like to discuss in polite company  …   In the past, it has been used as a lip balm and salve for puncture wounds. But it can do a little more than that. Recent research suggests it can indicate a build up of pollutants in the body – and it could even be used to diagnose certain conditions.”   It is my understanding that men who have nagging wives, produce larger amounts of ear wax, to lesson the stressful impact of the nagging, (no doubt due to natural selection).  I understand Medtronic’s will soon be marketing an earwax analyzer to local police departments    …  the unit  checks for THC, (the active ingredient in marijuana).

In other, (Oh!!  Give me a break!!), law enforcement news:  (BBC NEWS) —  Hawaii police call for ‘undercover’ prostitution law.  “Police officials in the US state of Hawaii have asked the state’s legislature to keep a measure in the law allowing undercover investigators to have sex with prostitutes. The authorities say it enables them to catch criminals in the act. Critics say it could hurt women who are already victims of sex trafficking. Local police have not said how often the provision has been used.  The measure has already passed the state House of Representatives.”   Certainly explains why an assignment to the Honolulu Vice Squad, is so highly sought after by Poi Pounders.

In the “How about that?” news:   (BBC NEWS)  — Nose can detect one trillion odors. “The human nose can detect one trillion different odors, far more than we previously thought, say US scientists. Until now, the long-held belief was that we can sniff out about 10,000 smells. New estimates published in Science suggest the human nose outperforms the eye and the ear in terms of the number of stimuli it can distinguish between. Researchers at the Rockefeller University say we use only a tiny part of our olfactory powers. The human eye uses three light receptors that work together to see up to 10 million colors, while the ear can hear almost half a million tones. Until now it was believed the nose, with its 400 olfactory receptors, could detect only about 10,000 different odors.”   One thing I can attest to, now being smoke/nicotine free 390 days, (21,096 ciggybutts not smoked and $3,428.00 not spent)   … this is one stinky-*ss world!!  I can smell a smoker from across the room! Supports the premise that humans can also react to pheromones, (smells that attract members of the opposite sex).  With that in mind, Fargginay has a new fragrance out based on “Daisey Duke”.  “Eau de Bacon.”    

Without a doubt, “mobile devices” are the PC’s of the future.  Susan’s “smart phone” has more computing power than the first space shuttle.  The system software that allows us to interact with the device is called an “Operating System”.  There are 4 major operating systems, Android, Blackberry, iOS and Windows Phone. The software these units use to perform given functions, are called “Apps”.     (BBC NEWS)  —  Cloak ‘anti-social’ app helps you avoid your friends. “While most social networks aim to connect people, one new service seeks to join the growing trend of doing the opposite and help you avoid them. Cloak  [available for iOS]  uses public location data from other social networks, Foursquare and Instagram, to determine the locations of others you know  …  Apps such as Snapchat – which deletes photographs and videos seconds after they have been viewed – and Secret – which broadcasts messages anonymously – are growing in popularity. Likewise WhatsApp, a private-messaging service recently bought by Facebook for $19bn, indicates a shift back to conducting online conversations in private.”  I wonder how many households have “land lines” any more?  Seems like the trend is to have combined services, Internet, Cable and VIOP all provided by one company.  I remember thinking when “cable TV” was first introduced   …  “Why would anyone pay to watch stuff on TV you can get for free with an antenna?”  The same with “mobile devices” now.  They have evolved into multifunction devices, with incorporated functions that were once only doable on a fully functioning computer.   The next step in their evolution is “wearable devices”.

Sitting here editing these Ramblings, the Editorial staff by the pellet stove with a steady steam of in’s and outs.  It’s 60 degrees outside  …  and for some reason, that triggers a “need to lift my leg” response.  Susan doesn’t have to work tomorrow, so we will spend the next two days together.  Yesterday, I ran by the Kansas City Zoo and captured some images. I posted the images on my KarlT, Digital Artist  Facebook page …  feel free to visit and “Like” the page, if you have an interest.   …  I was AMAZED at the number of folks who were there!

On the evening news, Russian Troops massing on the boarder with the Ukraine and still no sign of Flight 370.   “Sunday Lunch and a Movie?”  I have a taste for sautéed, garlic/rosemary boneless chicken breaks, French fries and steamed broccoli. I don’t know why I have had a craving for broccoli???  The movie?  “The Bag Man [2014]”  Time to post these Ramblings and settle in for a quiet evening at Ft Timmerman.  Later when I say my “Thank You’s for the many blessings in my life and Susan to share them with, I will also say a prayer for the safe and soon return of our men and women in uniform, (care to join me?)  Be and sleep well, the best we have are on watch so you can.  If my post offends    …  I apologize  …  that is not my intent.  As always  …

A Warm Brotherly Hug

KarlT (the dumn old country lawyer from Holden, Missouri …  and the Editorial Staff, Dinker, Karly, Floyd and My Little Buddy)

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March 14, 2014

Greets and Huggers.  Posted the evening of March 14, 2014.  Interesting times we live in.  While working, I have a TV on and listen to the news  …  flipping between MSNBC, CNN, FOX and AL JAZERA during the day.  Of course, the big news this week is the missing  Malaysian Airliner Flight 370, with CNN preempting its other broadcasts to cover, (read that to mean speculate about), each breaking piece of news.  Makes me wonder why a missing airliner, with 200+/- folks on it  …  is more news worthy than  …  the hundred plus civilians being murdered in Syria, each day  …  and what happened to the “red line” for chemical weapons? How many of those have been destroyed? None.  What happened to the “there will be consequences if Russia annexes the Crimea”?  Seems to me, that is already a done deal.  Apparently the Russians are also massing troops on the boarder with East Ukraine.  (LONDON CNN)  —  Lavrov: With no ‘common vision’ with U.S., Russia will honor Crimea vote.  “Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday that more than five hours of talks with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, showed that Russian President Vladimir Putin “is not prepared to make any decision regarding Ukraine until after” Sunday’s referendum in Crimea.  Kerry also said that Russia would face consequences if it remains unwilling to work out a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine crisis, declaring the United States strongly supports the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the interim Ukrainian government  ..  A key topic of the talks involved the “increased tension” caused by the deployment of Russian forces in Crimea and near the border with eastern Ukraine. Kerry said the United States wants those troops pulled back to “reduce that kind of tension.”   Bottom line?  Putin will get what he wants because he knows, the US, our European friends and NATO lack the stomach to confront him.  We have no rational foreign policy.  Our foreign policy consists of jumping from one foreign policy error/fiasco to another.  

Interesting article about the most corrupt city in the country, (and it’s not Chicago):  Hampton, Florida (CNN) —  Speed trap city accused of corruption, threatened with extinction. How off-the-charts corrupt do you have to be to capture somebody’s attention in the Sunshine State? You can lay claim to a 1,260-foot stretch of busy highway a mile outside of town and set up one of the nation’s most notorious speed traps. You can use the ticket money to build up a mighty police force — an officer for every 25 people in town — and, residents say, let drugs run rampant while your cops sit out by the highway on lawn chairs, pointing radar guns at everybody who passes by. Of course, none of those things are illegal. But when you lose track of the money and the mayor gets caught up in an oxy-dealing sting, that’s when the politicians at the state Capitol in Tallahassee take notice.”  Apparently, according to Integrity Florida, Florida leads the nation in federal corruption prosecutions with “more than 1,760 of Florida’s public officials  … convicted of corruption since 1976.”   I wonder how that compares to Illinois? 

And in the “ain’t that a hoot” news:  (BBC NATURE)  — Peacocks fake sex sounds to attract females. “Peacocks make fake sex sounds to attract females’ attention, scientists say. The birds are known for shaking their tail feathers but Canadian researchers have revealed a further sexual tactic. Peacocks have a wide vocabulary of calls, and during mating they make a distinctive hoot. Biologists also recorded males making this sound when out of sight of females and suggest such deception could prove rewarding for the birds  …  The mating behavior takes place in open areas of land referred to as a “lek”. When a male has successfully attracted a female, or peahen, it rushes at her making a distinctive hooting call before attempting to mate.”     …  definition of “Lek”?  “A lek is an aggregation of males that gather to engage in competitive displays that may entice visiting females who are surveying prospective partners for copulation. Leks are commonly formed before or during the breeding season. A lekking species is defined by the following characteristics: male displays, strong female mate choice, and the conferring of male indirect benefits. Although lekking is most prevalent among avian species, lekking behavior is found in a variety of animals such as insects, amphibians, and mammals.”    For humans   …  a “lek” has a difference name:  Sports Bar”. 

In the health news:  (BBC NEWS)  — Why puberty now begins at seven.  “Whether it is sprouting hair, budding breasts or a breaking voice, the signs that herald puberty can be distressing and difficult to cope with. In the western world there is much evidence children are reaching puberty at younger and younger ages – some girls at the age of seven. The reasons for this trend are unknown – and some dispute it is occurring at all.”  Some of the reasons postulated?  Too much TV, being overweight, pollution, pesticides, (like DDT), genes, not having a close relationship with your father   …  and of course, “Global Warming” may cause your sap to rise early   …  and over-heat the cockles of your heart.

In the “isn’t it about time we Decriminalize, Educate, Regulate and Tax” marijuana news?:  NEW YORK (CNNMoney)  — Colorado residents may get a refund for pot tax. “Colorado residents could see some green in their pockets thanks to the new recreational marijuana taxes. Budget advisers to the state legislature crunched the numbers, [$2 Million Dollars the first month] and revealed the state could be forced to refund as much as $100 million to taxpayers. The state’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights, known as TABOR, sets limits on taxes and government spending. If the government collects more than expected, it generally owes taxpayers a refund.  But Colorado Taxpayers shouldn’t expect a refund check in the mail. The state has several other procedures to handle a refund. The state could provide taxpayers a credit on the next year’s tax bill, for example, or reduce the sales tax.“   TABOR is the Colorado equivalent of Missouri’s 1980 Hancock Amendment“The Hancock Amendment requires the state to refund money to income tax payers when revenues are in excess of a percentage based upon the personal income of Missourians. If, in any given year, there is a revenue surplus greater than 1% of the revenue limitation, the state must refund the money to taxpayers. There were refunds in the late 1990s, but it is unlikely that the refund provision will be invoked any time soon because the state is at least $3 billion dollars below the revenue threshold.”  I have never seen any government refund tax money, (other than overpayments:  a “refund”).  Instead, the money collected is spent on some “worthy” program to “help” citizens.

In other financial news:  (CNN MONEY)  — Number of U.S. millionaires hits new high. “It looks like the rich have finally shaken off the recession.  The number of U.S. households with a net worth of $1 million or more, excluding primary residence, rose to 9.63 million in 2013, according to a new report from Spectrem Group, a consulting and research firm.  That’s more than a 600,000 leap up from 2012, and the highest number on record. This is the first year that the number has surpassed the pre-recession high of 9.2 million in 2007. Once the global financial meltdown hit and the bottom fell out of the market, the number tanked to 6.7 million in 2008.”  I have no doubt the Obama Administration is trying to figure out a way to make the 600,000 new millionaire households pay more   …  a fairer share.  After all   …  isn’t income inequality the biggest problem facing our America?

It is critical that 7 million folks sign up for Obamacare AND a significant number of those have to be young and healthy, to avoid a massive increase in premium costs.  The open enrollment deadline is March 31.  Young healthy adults are not signing up, because they elect to be covered by their parent’s coverage until age 26. A significant number of folks who have signed up, have preexisting conditions.   (BLOOMBRG NEWS)  —  Millions May Avoid Obamacare Penalty as Deadline Approaches.  “Obamacare’s requirement that all Americans carry insurance or face penalties, part of the effort to gain universal coverage, may not be much of a rule at all.  Millions of people may be exempt from the requirement known as the individual mandate under rules issued by the Obama administration. Homeless people or homeowners who’ve been foreclosed upon can apply for an exemption. So can those whose utilities have been shut off, who have suffered domestic violence or who have experienced a death in their families.  In December, the administration said people whose existing health plans had been canceled wouldn’t have to comply with the mandate. Last week, the government said that exemption will be extended through 2016. In a catch-all category, anybody who believes they’ve had a “hardship in obtaining insurance” can apply for an exemption — documentation is optional.”  Wasn’t the whole premise behind Obamacare succeeding, an increased risk pool? Young healthy folks paying more to cover older folks who would require more help?  Frankly, I continue to believe the numbers just don’t work. 

Sitting here editing these Ramblings and getting them ready to post.  The Editorial Staff, asleep by the pellet stove. 64 degrees today, and freezing rain/snow projected for Sunday.  Typical Missouri weather.  Sunday Lunch and a Movie?  Sautéed, Garlic/Rosemary, Boneless Chicken Breasts, refried rice and steamed Broccoli. The movie?  “Abner the Invisible Dog [2013]”.  Later when I say my Thank You’s for the many blessings in my life and Susan to share them with, I will also say a prayer for the safe and soon return of our men and women in uniform,  Care to join me?  Be and sleep well, the best we have are on watch you can.  If my post offends, I apologize   …  that is not my intent.  As always   …

A Warm Brotherly Hug

KarlT (the dumb old country lawyer from Holden, Missouri  …  and the Editorial Staff)

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