Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The story continues: Rafter’s Redemption – Chapter 5


            Good Day World!

 Today I’m offering viewers a free read - my novella, “Rafter’s Redemption,” in a series form. One chapter per week. There’s 10 chapters, and this week features, Chapter Five: Plants and a Baby. 

 If you’re a new reader – no problem – I’ve got the back chapter links and prologue for you. To continue reading this fiction story, or to begin reading it: GO HERE.

Monday, April 22, 2013

A Disaster within a Disaster: Series of Explosions leaves a Tale of 2 Cities in Shock

Good Day World!

Let’s hope it is for all of us today and this week. Last week was hellish for the citizens of Boston and Texas.

Almost lost, in the 5-day saga of the Boston bombings, was the huge explosion in West, Texas. Investigators have located the spot where the fertilizer plant explosion occurred but don’t know what caused the deadly blast.

At least 14 were killed, 200 injured, and scores of nearby homes and businesses damaged or destroyed in one of the worst American industrial accidents in years. Sadly, most of the deaths were first responders.

Thus far, no signs of criminal activity. However, there is an ongoing investigation into the plant’s recent operations.


Satellite images show West, Texas before and after fertilizer plant explosion


As you know, the two deadly explosions at the Boston Marathon Finish line – three dead and over 140 injured – and the execution of the MIT Security guard – was a series of horrific events that began Monday and ended Friday with the capture of one of the suspects and the death of the other.

Two brothers - Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev - originally from Chechnya, a war-torn a southern Russian republic, were responsible. Tamerlan Tsarnaev died in a shoot-out with police, and his brother Dzhokhar was badly wounded and taken prisoner. His wounds have rendered him unable to communicate with authorities and his story hasn’t been told yet.

If you want to help out the victims, I strongly suggest you go to the following charity.

One Boston Fund here’s the reason why:

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Tom Menino have formed The One Fund Boston, Inc. to help the people most affected by the tragic events that occurred in Boston on April 15, 2013. It’s legit, and there are others out there that are scams.

Here’s 6 links telling the entire series of events as they went down. Current news, videos, and updates provided:

A Bad day in Boston

Manhunt for the surviving Boston Marathon bomber!

America on Alert!

Two explosions at Finish Line of the Boston Marathon

First Responders: Ready to give their lives to save yours

Heroes & Good Samaritans are the same thing

Time for me to walk on down the road.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

AS IT STANDS: Four reasons why the skies aren’t so friendly anymore

 By Dave Stancliff/For The Times-Standard
 It wasn’t that long ago when the jingle “Fly the Friendly Skies”  by United Airlines was true. Today’s skies are darkened with increasing challenges in air travel. Rather than totally dissect all of them, I’m offering four of the main reasons that show the state of the skies today:

 One - the cost of air travel. A recent article in the Chicago Tribune (1-3-13) warned travelers that the cost of flying will go up this year. “Airlines pushed through six fare increases in 2012. Expect a similar number in the new year,” said Rick Seaney, co-founder of FareCompare.com. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see airfares rise like they did last year, between 3 and 6 percent domestically,” Seaney said.
What you pay for an airline ticket is based upon four factors (listed in order of importance); competition, supply, demand, and oil prices. Speaking of competition, if the merger between United Airlines and American Airlines goes through, the nation will have three major airlines of similar size (American, United, Delta).
The Business Travel Coalition, an advocacy group, says a merger will result in higher fares and fees. (A February article in the Business Day section of The New York Times discussed the price consumers pay when airlines consolidate.)

 Two - food price increases, and in some cases food no more! It’s hard to believe that we once expected food as part of the ticket price. Free snacks and drinks were a given on even the shortest flights.
Some air transportation experts suggest that if United Airlines and American Airlines do merge there should be some competition on in-flight packages offering Wi- Fi, seats, and food. But consider this, US Airways research shows that passengers care more about getting to their destination than anything else.
Elite travelers on American Airlines expect to be fed in flight. Would the merger mean the loss of that luxury? A lot of concerned people right now wait to see what happens.
Edward Pizzarello, a founder of Milepoint.com, a leading frequent-flier forum, and an organizer of MegaDo, retreats for frequent-flier fanatics, expressed his concerns in a recent AP interview: “My biggest concern is there might be a reduction in the in-flight experience with the new leadership,” Mr. Pizzarello said.

Three - increasing safety concerns about air carriers. Take American Airlines for example; on April 16th they had a nationwide computer glitch that grounded all of their aircraft for hours, causing massive delays.
There was also that nagging little problem of rows of seats coming loose lately. Maintenance problems have driven them to the point of bankruptcy. Hence the possible merger with United Airlines.

And how about Boeing Co's 787 Dreamliner jet suffering three mishaps in as many days in January? The heightened safety concerns after this string of setbacks for the new aircraft is hardly reassuring to passengers.
Four - What airline passengers have to undergo these days for security purposes is stressful, to put it mildly. The greatest number of Americans that were affected in the post-9/11 world, are the ones who use the nation's commercial airports.
Prior to the attacks, passenger screening was done by private companies supervised by the Federal Aviation Administration. After 9/11, the government created the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), an agency despised by millions of Americans today. How controversial is the TSA? Kip Hawley, head of TSA from 2005 to 2009, said that airport security is “broken” in an NBC report last year.
He argued that TSA should forgo standardized procedures and the focus on prohibited items in favor of increased flexibility and mitigating risk. He even wrote a book, “Permanent Emergency: Inside the TSA and the Fight for the Future of American Security,” that’s worth a read if you want an insider’s view.

 I would be remiss not to mention how much controversy has occurred over full body scans and pat-downs. You constantly hear horror stories of individuals being humiliated and angry passengers refusing to be “groped.”
Airline employees are upset with pending new regulations that would allow carrying on a small knife. Unhappy employees don’t add to the overall traveling experience for anyone.
As It Stands, I quit being a fan of flying back in 1970 when a commercial airliner took me to Vietnam. I never forgave the planes, even though one brought me home!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Some Tea Party goals co-opted by Republicans who don’t want to be associated with their movement

      Good Day World!

Remember the Tea Party Movement?

Surely, you haven’t forgotten about those guys with the Tricorn hats and muskets parading around with protest signs? Are you wondering what happened to that fun bunch?

Like most social movements, according to some political scientists: a major political party co-opted them.

The GOP has done just that by weeding out some of it’s crazier crusaders like Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann. Consider the Tea Party's calls for balanced budgets, liberty, states’ rights, and the elimination of earmarks -- they're all staples of today's GOP.

One reason why the Tea Party, four years later, has moved from a political force to a relative afterthought is its unpopularity. Smart Republicans today, distance themselves from the Tea Party movement, or face angry constituents and voters who have rejected the angry rhetoric of the group.

According to a Jan. 2013 NBC/WSJ poll, only 23 percent of Americans viewed the Tea Party positively, versus 47 percent who viewed it negatively – down from its net-positive 28 percent-to-21 percent rating in Jan. 2010.

But the same 2013 poll found the Tea Party still remains popular among GOP respondents.

Related articles:
On immigration, Republicans grab Tea Party monster by the tail

List of Tea Party politicians

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Friday, April 19, 2013

CDC says stomach bug ‘Campylobacter’ & food poisoning with Salmonella, on the rise in the U.S.

        Good Day World!

 It bugs me to have to share this bad news (you may want to wear a protective surgical mask!) but I have to warn you to watch out for Campylobacters (stomach bugs) because the CDC’s said they’re becoming more common nationwide. It’s carried in chicken and unpasteurized milk and cheese.

Dr. Robert Tauxe, an expert in foodborne illness at CDC, said during a recent NBC interview, “Campylobacter has increased 14 percent since 2006-2008 and then there are the much less common Vibrio infections - and those have increased 43 percent.” There were 193 reported cases of Vibrio infection in 2012, with six deaths.

Vibrio bacteria are in the same family as cholera, but in this case not nearly as dangerous. They thrive in warm sea water and mostly sicken people who eat raw oysters or who go into affected waters with an open cut, Tauxe says. “The warmer it is, the more Vibrios there are,” he said. “It grows a lot when the water is warm. It is a problem in the summer much more than in the winter.”

But by far the most common cause of food poisoning is Salmonella, the CDC found using its Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network or FOODNet, which collects data in 10 states. “Salmonella is in the number one spot, causing 40 percent of the infections that the FOODNet system collected,” Tauxe said. “Campylobacter was number two, pretty close behind at 35 percent.”


Time for me to walk on down the road…

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Humboldt County under seige…what the hell is going on?

         Good Day World!

 Maybe not such a good day here in Humboldt County.

Already this morning we have reports of a bomb threat at College of the Redwoods, and follow-up stories on the recent  Suddenlink attacks (see links below).

On Suddenlink attacks: From the Times-Standard this morning

All Voices picked up the story today.

Locally, Redheaded Blackbelt blogger Kym Kemp has been following both the Suddenlink story & the College of the Redwoods story. In addition, she provides breaking local news.

With the recent bombings at the Boston Marathon, and poisoned letters to senators, and President Obama (suspect caught – he was an Elvis Presley impersonator!, it seems like a rash of domestic terrorism.

Some people have laughed at my suggestion that a domestic terrorist might be attacking our cable company Suddenlink. Most people around here I’ve talked to think it’s a disgruntled past employee who got fired earlier in the year. No one, however, has come up with a suspect yet.

The FBI has released videos of two men who they are calling suspects in the Boston Marathon Bombings.

The world we live in as changed again…possibly another 911 wake-up call in Boston that is going to result in even more security throughout the nation. Welcome to the 21st century. 

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

It's a toss-up! On the last day of the season the Laker's fate will be sealed

Dwight Howard & Pau Gasol have to play great tonight!  

It doesn't get anymore dramatic than this. This is what sports is all about. 
On the final day of the season, the Lakers must win or go home and watch the playoffs from their big screen TVs.
And the have to win without Kobe Bryant! Impossible? I don't think so. It's a home game against the Rockets, a team they beat twice this season, and who they hold the tie-breaker with in playoff seeding situations.
Look to Steve Blake to have a big game. He scored a season best in his last game to help beat the Spurs, sans the Black Mamba. Jamison will have to hit a lot of 3's as well as Meeks. Clark hasn't been too much of a presence lately, but look for him to break out of his mini-slump.
Will Steve Nash play? That's a game time decision. It just depends if he thinks he can compete with that bad hamstring. I wouldn't count on him playing however.
GO LAKERS! You can do it!

The Lakers beat Houston in Overtime to get the 7th seed!
What a game for Gasol (a triple-double), Howard & Blake. Meeks pitches in 10 and Jamison 16.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

RIP: NFL broadcaster & former player, Pat Summerall, dead at 82

A legend in broadcasting passes away.

Football fans will be sorry to hear that Pat Summerall, one of the most respected broadcasters for decades, has died at the age of 82, according to the Dallas Morning News.

The super voice is gone after suffering a cardiac arrest according to Jeff Carlton, spokesman for the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

Here’s some backround on Summerall’s career. From 1962 to 2002 he worked a record 16 Super Bowls.

His minimalist staccato style was his trademark as the pre-eminent NFL voice for a generation of television viewers.Going to miss ya Pat!


Free Novella - The story goes on: Rafter’s Redemption – Chapter Four

     Good Day World!

 Once a week, I offer up a chapter from my novella – Rafter’s Redemption – for readers to enjoy free.

  Today is Chapter Four – “Back In The World”


Time for me to walk on down the road…


Monday, April 15, 2013

This just isn’t good! Attack of the African Land Snails in South Florida!

   Good Day World!

Today’s topic is about South Florida’s growing infestation of one of the world's most destructive invasive species: the giant African land snail, which can grow as big as a rat and gnaw through stucco and plaster. Not a pretty picture.

Residents will soon likely begin encountering them more often, crunching them underfoot as the snails emerge from underground hibernation at the start of the state's rainy season in just seven weeks. The snails attack "over 500 known species of plants.

The snails' saga is something of a sequel to the Florida horror show of exotic species invasions, including the well-known infestation of giant Burmese pythons, which became established in the Everglades in 2000. There is a long list of destructive non-native species that thrive in the state's moist, subtropical climate.

Experts gathered last week in Gainesville, Florida, for a Giant African Land Snail Science Symposium, to seek the best ways to eradicate the mollusks, including use of a stronger bait approved recently by the federal government.

Investigators were trying to trace the snail infestation source. One possibility being examined is a Miami Santeria group, a religion with West African and Caribbean roots, which was found in 2010 to be using the large snails in its rituals.

The last known Florida invasion of the giant mollusks occurred in 1966, when a boy returning to Miami from a vacation in Hawaii brought back three of them, possibly in his jacket pockets. His grandmother eventually released the snails into her garden where the population grew in seven years to 17,000 snails. The state spent $1 million and 10 years eradicating them. (Condensed from U.S.News)

Time for me to walk on down the road…


Sunday, April 14, 2013

AS IT STANDS: A humorous look at the history of food

  By Dave Stancliff/For The Times-Standard

 Camera pans in; 338,000 years ago somewhere in Ethiopia two early humans are discussing the merits of meat:
   Ug -  “I’m sick and tired of eating grubs and berries!”
   Nug - “Me too. You know what we got to do?”
   Ug -   “Yep. Risk our lives hunting down meat that is many times bigger than Nug and Ug. It’s dangerous business, but a good dinosaur steak is hard to beat when you want something good to eat.”
   Nug - “Not according to Oop. He says he won’t eat anything with a face and is fine grubbing around for berries and insects.”
   Ug - “That’s because Oop is too lazy to hunt down a meat meal. Besides, he’s never been right since getting smacked by that big lizard’s tail.”
   Nug - “Okay then. I’ll go get my spear and tell the little lady we may be gone for a few days.”
   Ug - “Sounds good. My mouth is watering just thinking about the feast we’re going to have!”
   Two months later Nug’s wife and Ug’s girlfriend are now with new hunter-gathers that don’t like meat!

  Fast forward to 306 BC Rome. Three wealthy diners are gathered in the triclinium (special dining room) lying on specially design couches (Lectus triclinaris).
Around the table, the mensa, the three diners recline on their lectus and casually eat exotic food brought to them by slaves.

Over a spoonful (cochlear-type spoon with a needle-thin grip, which is also used as a prong to eat snails and molluscs) one of the diners speaks between mouthfuls of lentils imported from Egypt:
   Petronius: “Food this good should never be on a dirty peasant’s table. They wouldn’t appreciate the refined flavors.”

   Cassius: “Let them eat fava beans, chick peas, and lupins, I say!”
   Marcellus: “Let them eat what we deposit in the vomitorium this very day!”
   A hearty round of laughter is followed by gulps of imported wine.
   The following morning a city-wide slave revolt results in a round-up of wealthy Romans. It doesn’t take long before fava beans and chick peas become Petronius, Cassius, and Marcellus’ favorite (and only) food.

Fast Forward to the American Civil War - 1863:
When on campaign, soldiers were issued rations of hardtack crackers (generally 9 or 10 crackers) when bread was not available, which was most of the time. Some of the common problems with hardtack were being too hard, wet, moldy, or infested with maggots and weevils. If they boiled their hardtack in coffee they could scrape the weevils off the foam.
   Grumbling about hardtack was common and there was a popular song called “Hard Times.” The chorus went,
“Tis the song and the sign of the hungry,
Hard crackers, hard crackers, come again no more!
Many days have lingered on our stomach sore,
Oh hard crackers come again no more!”

    Soldiers through the ages have complained about rations, and the North and South armies were no different. They did however, exhibit a wonderful sense of humor when discussing their cuisine!

   Fast forward to today.
   Knock, knock who’s there? Lettuce…lettuce who? Lettuce in and we’ll tell you!”
  We eat some pretty weird foods in the good old USA. Sometimes I don’t know if I should chuckle or upchuck. Here are a few examples:
   Snake. No it doesn’t taste like chicken. Take it from me. I tried it. Try frog legs, alligator, or even quail, with a gamey seafood flavor. If you really want the whole experience you should catch your snake and cook him up yourself. Just remember to carry some anti-venom in case he’s quicker than you.

   Brain sandwiches. Deep-fried calves’ brains can be found in restaurants all along the Ohio River Valley. I read that squirrel brains were a popular Appalachia food for thought. Unless, that is, you get the wrong squirrel carrying a variation of mad cow disease!
   A popular Arizona restaurant serves Chapulines, aka grasshoppers. It’s a traditional food in Mexico and is said to taste like grass, hay, or shrimp. That’s quite a spread. Which is it? I’m not really tempted to find out.
    As It Stands,Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.” - Mark Twain

Back In The Public Eye: Ben Carson Pushes Hydroxychloroquine

The man who once said the Pyramids were built to store grain is back in the limelight with another ridiculous  claim: Hydroxychloroquine s...